Reaper: A Horror Novella by Jonathan Pongratz

Reaper: A Horror Novella
By: Jonathan Pongratz

reaper

Gregory and his little sister Imogen love spending Halloween with their parents. But this year is different. If he proves he can take care of Imogen all by himself, he’ll finally have the allowance he’s dreamed of.

That was before the basement door opened on its own. Before the strange door appeared in the basement and Imogen was taken from him by the monster.

Now everyone in town is blaming him for her disappearance, but no one is listening to his story. Where did the door come from? What was that creature? And most of all, can he find his sister before it’s too late, or will he bury his memories of her along with his parents? – Goodreads

*Book received in exchange of honest review*

The Reaper is an interesting novella to review. On one hand, there are a few elements here that aren’t exactly unique and yet, the execution and pacing of the story definitely gives it a boost because its length gives it a story that keeps moving forward, leaving enough space for mystery and resolution without ever feeling like it takes a break. Its definitely one of the more gripping stories. The story and set up itself is fairly predictable. I’m not someone who gets too bothered by horror tropes as long as its well-executed. Its where this novella works as its a gripping story from beginning to the end.

There is a bit of a lore in the making as it uses a few elements of beliefs like the Boogeyman, children as well as taking the door to another realm as a basis. At the same time, its much more than just believing a child’s side of the story but its set up as a recount of a situation which makes it start from the end. In some cases, those set-ups actually don’t work well especially for horror tales because they take away the threat to the protagonist. Reaper still manages to keep things moving at one direction and where it works really well is the twist of the end that gives substance to the ending as it leads into another rather unexpected situation.

Its not easy to talk about a novella without giving away spoilers so I’m going to keep this fairly short. There is quite a bit to like about Reaper. Seeing as I’ve been rather picky with horror stories since I’m a tad desensitized from the amount of horror movies that I watch in general, however, this one was definitely a page-turner. It had some creepy moments and the story does take a nice twist of events. Overall, its a fun one even if the set up feels familiar, the second half definitely makes up for it.

Score: 4.5 out of 5

To Wake The Dead (The Dead Dreamer #2) by Sarah Lampkin

Review for To Dream is To Die, Book 1 of The Dead Dreamer Series HERE

To Wake The Dead
(Dead Dreamer #2)
By: Sarah Lampkin

to wake the dead

*Book received in exchange for honest review*

Brenna Whit teeters the line between the living and the dead. Now that she’s back for her sophomore year at Nephesburg College, she’s determined to focus on the waking world. But when her own soul is trying to kill her and a new Dead Dreamer is fighting for power, Brenna is dragged back into the world of the dead.

The Gatekeepers are doing everything they can to restore the power they once held over the town of Nephesburg. With a mysterious set of twins arriving in town to help them prepare, Brenna must decide what’s important: continuing to hide her secret or reveal herself and fight for what she believes is right. The decision could end up leading to a permanent death for Brenna so she must choose wisely. – Goodreads

To Wake The Dead is the second book in The Dead Dreamer Series. The story picks up a few months after the events of the first book as university resumes again for Brenna. As a sequel, the story itself fully utilizes the foundation of the first one and builds from those events. However, its more of a second level deal. In the first book, it showed more of the general world of how the alternate plane, Fade would work and the different roles of Dead Dreams, Watcher, the Gatekeepers and more. The story goes further this time as it picks up those pieces and drives it towards something with a deeper scheme with even more characters and other elements involved and some more mysteries. It all says a lot to the entire world building for the premise itself and its incredibly well thought out as more factors come into play.

The characters are mostly the same as before. To Wake The Dead is in first person narration by its star Dead Dreamer, Brenna who tries to navigate the situation. What really builds on her character is that its not only a “battle” with the outside dangers in the Fade and the Gatekeepers but at the same time, its a battle with herself, the whole soul and spirit fight makes for a lot of the intrigue as her inner person, Maura, speaks up once in a while and then also has its danger elements. These unknown moments creates for changes in her mood and unexpected results of different severity and show of abilities that were unseen before. There’s a constant changing element presented each time and it makes Brenna become an intriguing character to follow in her adventures. Of course, it helps that her friends, Aeria and Damon also have a great part as they also get pulled deeper into the equation. The three actually find a balance in their characters especially with the banter between Damon and Brenna (which started off in the first book) and these situations that come up in the story also create some tension as expected.

Overall, To Wake The Dead is a very decent sequel. There’s more depth in world building, plot development and character development. The story does start off a little slower than the first book therefore, pacing at the beginning dragged just a little bit to set up the new situation. Once things started moving again, it was an engaging read. Solid sequel and can’t wait for the next book!

Score: 4 out of 5

Blog Tour: Double Barrel Horror #3 (Review)

Welcome to the blog tour for Double Barrel Horror Volume #3, a collection of thrills and chills by six amazing authors! Hold onto your pants folks!

Double Barrel Horror Vol. 3
By: Matthew Weber, Christine Morgan, Mark Matthews, Theresa Braun, Calvin Demmer, Glenn Rolfe, Robert Essig

double barrel horror vol. 3

Publication Date: March 22nd, 2020
Genre: Anthology/Horror/Suspense

Synopsis

Brace yourself for another two-barrel blast of unrelenting horror and suspense. Volume 3 of the ‘Double Barrel Horror’ anthology series delivers two chilling tales from each of six talented authors for a 12-story onslaught that will blow you out of your sneakers. This time around, your fate lies in the hands of Christine Morgan, Mark Matthews, Theresa Braun, Calvin Demmer, Glenn Rolfe, and Robert Essig

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Authors

Matthew Weber

Christine Morgan

Mark Matthews

Theresa Braun

Calvin Demmer

Glenn Rolfe

Robert Essig

Review

While I haven’t read any of the previous two volumes of Double Barrel Horror anthologies, Volume 3 is structured by its authors and their two stories each. For each of the author, it shows off their writing style and sometimes, even a little correlation in detail from one story to the next. Each of these stories are different in their premise and also have their own uniqueness and creativity. Its fairly imaginative and each one has their own twist. As with all kinds of anthologies, they usually have stories that will more and others that in contrast appeal a little less. Its rather nice to say that most of these stories all appeal rather well and it has to do with its variety and the different style that each author chooses while writing their horror stories.

Its never been my forte to review anthologies and I won’t go through each of these stories as there are twelve of them and its more important to highlight the authors and the stories and even the double feature story that hit the mark the best for my own preference. Christine Morgan starts off the anthology with Eye See You in a remarkable way. The descriptive and visual portrayal in Robert Essig’s From Unclean Spells is outstanding. At the same time, Mark Matthews, Theresa Braun, Calvin Demmer and Glenn Rolfe all present some fun double features. Among them, Glenn Rolfe definitely ends on a high with two awesome stories called The Guide and The House on Mayflower Street that definitely was a major highlight and two very strong entries. Different in their horror genre but both equally entertaining. Although, one of the more memorable reads did go to Theresa Braun’s Stillborn which had some chilling elements. Same goes for Mark Matthews two stories, Wicked Smart Carnie and Goodwin that also stood out a lot as well.

Overall, Double Barrel Horror Volume 3’s stories all have their flair but for myself, some definitely land better than others. Luckily, they definitely almost all land in one way or another with the minority that are a little less memorable. Plus, they also have the perk of introducing previously unknown authors (to myself).

Score: 4/5

Purchase Link: Amazon

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May 11th

Reads & Reels (Spotlight) http://readsandreels.com
Kim Knight (Spotlight) http://kimknightauthor.wordpress.com
Literary Dust (Review) https://literarydust.wordpress.com/

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The Celestial Assignment by Theresa Braun

The Celestial Assignment
By: Theresa Braun

celestial assignment

After a sudden death, Will, a misguided angel, is tasked with protecting a baby girl. Watching over her as she grows up and navigates the world appears a harsh punishment for his past failings. Can he redeem himself, or will he fall further from grace? – Goodreads

*Book received in exchange for honest review*

The Celestial Assignment is a short story running at around 28 pages. As much as its a story, its really a character analysis exercise. The main character Will has become an angel after his death and assigned to take care of a baby girl called Celeste, much to his surprise. Will is something of a character development analysis. His personality changes subtly, unknowing to himself that he no longer is that selfish man that he used to be and learns more by observing the things that happen to Celeste that he is looking over. Does he face his own problems and really address what makes him draw some parallels to the people that the baby girl meets as she gradually grows up and runs into her own problems and meets guys that are like him when he was alive.

Theresa Braun is a pretty good writer. The Celestial Assignment has a good flow and knows what he tries to presents. With limited page count, the story stays on track all the time and knows exactly what it wants to deliver and the focus it needs to take while keeping everything at a minimum. Will comes to life on paper by how he is written through his reactions, whether its his remarks or his actions, whether you find it snarky, witty or sarcastic. At the beginning there is a real sense of disapproval for such a negative character who does experience the different changes because he is written so vividly.

Seeing as The Celestial Assignment is a shorter story, there isn’t much to talk about without sharing too much of the story. In that sense, I’d rather you go and read it yourself. Its an incredibly quick read. Character analysis like this one helps with the reflection of our own lives and for that, it becomes an intriguing read as we see how the character on the page comes to terms with the person before and now and how to move forward.

Previous books reviewed by Theresa Braun

Dead Over Heels
Fountain Dead

Blackthorn by Terry Tyler

Blackthorn
By: Terry Tyler

Blackthorn

The UK, year 2139
One hundred and fifteen years ago, a mysterious virus wiped out ninety-five per cent of humanity.  Blackthorn, the largest settlement in England, rose from the ashes of the devastated old world. It is a troubled city, where the workers live in crude shacks, and make do with the worst of everything.  It is a city of violent divisions, crime, and an over-populated jail block―until a charismatic traveller has a miraculous vision and promises to bring hope back to the people’s lives.  Blackthorn falls under Ryder Swift’s spell, and the most devoted of all is the governor’s loyal servant, Lieutenant August Hemsley.  Twenty-one-year-old Evie has lived her whole life in the shacks. She and disillusioned guard Byron Lewis are two of a minority who have doubts about Ryder’s message. Can they stand against the beliefs of an entire city? – Goodreads

Blackthorn is a story about beliefs and cults in a dystopian future where the balance has been offset. In the current state of the world, calculating back the years of how this story is sets up its future scenario, it almost hits a little too close to home. However, much like the other book that I read Hope from Terry Tyler, this author excels in building immersive dystopia worlds. In Blackthorn, its one that works thoroughly from the society’s lowered population built up and almost driving everything back to the basics in older times with different societal classes doing different jobs and someone ruling over the different cities/districts by richer families and the concept to carry on the family name by passing it on.

This brings in all kinds of characters that weave together a story of bringing back the concept of faith in the Bible and having the community come together to be better in order to reach the Light. With that, it brings up questions of how truthful the situation actually is as well as the motives of different decisions by the different characters that manage to bring in some deeper characters. Characters is where the story is executed well as it bounces between the perspective of three characters: Lieutenant August Hemsley, a lower class baker Evie and guard Byron Lewis. Their different perspectives of the different elements of the society completes the picture in many of the scenarios and fills in those blanks to connect the dots while at the same time, having perspectives from different characters also creates enough gaps of the unknown to have their own secrets and msyteries in the story that slowly unveil in the third part. With that said, the book is divided into three parts plus an epilogue, giving it a progression of time and shift in time and events as well as Blackthorn’s position.

If there was something to criticize about this book, its that the pacing at times felt lacking here and there. It had to do with its length perhaps and that some moments were made to create a link between the perspectives of the three. Provided that most of the time, the three views did work very well together but at times, it did make some situations a little longer to read. Plus, with three characters, it also needs to create enough dilemmas to solidify their purpose, push and feelings towards the society and predicament. Although, I say this, overall Blackthorn is a satisfying read. Its world-building and dystopian future plus the intricate details of putting all the three characters together from little events popping up in their passing at the beginning to having the three characters’ path intersect was done really well. Despite its little moments, its still well-executed in the scope of the story that it wants to tell.

Score: 4.5/5

Check out my review of Terry Tyler’s other book, Hope HERE.

To Dream is to Die (Dead Dreamer #1) by Sarah Lampkin

To Dream is to Die (Dead Dreamer #1)
By: Sarah Lampkin

to dream is to die

Eighteen-year-old Brenna Whit is entering college as a freshman and starting to meet new people, but she hides a dark secret. Because of an accident that happened three years ago, her spirit wanders the Fade whenever she falls asleep. It’s something she wants to keep hidden from the world, but when she sees someone watching her in spirit form, she fears the secret’s out. With new friends, possibly new enemies, school, and a new crush, Brenna has too much to worry about for just her freshman year of college. – Goodreads

Feeling a lot along the lines of young adult shows, To Dream is To Die is the first book in the Dead Dreamer series. As a first book, it does a lot of things right especially in setting up a foundation quickly. The author Sarah Lampkin quickly lets us know the situation and what is the new situation that our main protagonist Brenna is in with her new phase in life, moving into her dorm in college and then revealing that she essentially doesn’t sleep and wanders in her spirit form instead, an ability that she has because of her near death experience. A secret that she soon has to divulge to her new friends, Aeria and Damon who the latter actually is also learning about his own abilities.

First books of series are always a little tricky. The author needs to be able to show off these characters and their charm while giving them a situation that lets them learn about their dilemma. Here it is set up very well and paced in an intriguing way as everything links to each other but also having pieces of the puzzle that need to be figured out and revealed gradually and more characters coming into the mix. At the same time, what helps this all is using chapters that switch their different narratives. Its mostly in the narrative from the point of view of Brenna but when the situation temporarily changes, it switches over to her friend and it adds a unique touch.  These types of narratives is something I personally enjoy a lot in novels as they help execute storytelling elements so well and let the readers connect with the characters better as well.

Every character here from Brenna, Aeria and Damon all have their value in the story while adding in some more supporting characters that get involved in the situation and the supernatural/paranormal elements of demons, fairies, spirits and possession. All three are fairly strong characters. There’s a lot to discover about their spiritual plane called the Fade, whether its the history or the mysteries, it really only feels like the type of the iceberg has been discovered. Book one shows that there is so much more room for the story to grow and expand and it’ll be interesting to see where they take the sequel which is already available.

Overall, To Dream Is To Die is a well-paced page-turner. Its paranormal and fantasy elements are pretty creative and intriguing to discover in this new world that Sarah Lampkin has created. At the same time, she also brings to life some strong characters. Its definitely one to follow as well as for myself, catch up with the second book.

*Book received in exchange for honest review via R&R Book Tours*

Blog Tour: The Weighing of the Heart by Paul Tudor Owen

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The Weighing of the Heart
By: Paul Tudor Owen

WOTHCoverfront

Publication Date: March 22, 2019 (Obliterati Press)
Genre: Literary Fiction

SYNOPSIS

Following a sudden break-up, Englishman in New York Nick Braeburn takes a room with the elderly Peacock sisters in their lavish Upper East Side apartment, and finds himself increasingly drawn to the priceless piece of Egyptian art on their study wall – and to Lydia, the beautiful Portuguese artist who lives across the roof garden.

But as Nick draws Lydia into a crime he hopes will bring them together, they both begin to unravel, and each find that the other is not quite who they seem.

Paul Tudor Owen’s intriguing debut novel brilliantly evokes the New York of Paul Auster and Joseph O’Neill.

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REVIEW

The Weighing of the Heart is a wonderfully written novel by Paul Tudor Owen. Its one that essentially follows the main character Nick who truly starts off as a very likeable character and appealing to all of those people around him. However, throughout the slender length and with that, a well-paced storytelling skills, Nick’s character starts to fall apart. His character becomes the central focus as it seems that there is a lot more than what is shown with a lot of questions of his past and the little details that pop up. Its because Nick is such a character that it makes the story develop in a way that when the decision to go through with a wrong act leads both him and his girlfriend Lydia start showing their division. Their characters span out to how they cope with the whatever guilt they have.

As charming as Nick’s character is drawn out, its the central focus on a piece of artwork called The Weighing of the Heart that dives into Egyptian mythology and becomes something that, in some ways, haunts Nick and with that, it further emphasizes on the elements of this picture that builds up the story and how the choices that Nick and Lydia make actually matches up to the whole Weighing of the Heart ceremony (I had to do a little research here to clear some things up). It ends up corresponding to the issues of different values as well as the concept of right and wrong. This is a refreshing element to use.

Overall, The Weighing of the Heart is a good read. It starts off fairly lighthearted and quickly becomes something of a romantic story but takes a turn into something more of a thrilling mystery as the possibility of success gets thrown into the equation and how far someone will go to meet an end. At the same time, the thrilling elements intrigue as Nick’s character starts showing more and more of the lesser side and he starts viewing his world in a comparison to this obsession over The Weighing of the Heart. Its a very unique reading experience.

Score: 4.5/5

Purchase Links

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Author Pic (2)

Paul Tudor Owen was born in Manchester in 1978, and was educated at the University of Sheffield, the University of Pittsburgh, and the London School of Economics.

He began his career as a local newspaper reporter in north-west London, and currently works at the Guardian, where he spent three years as deputy head of US news at the paper’s New York office.

His debut novel, The Weighing of the Heart, was shortlisted for the People’s Book Prize 2019 and longlisted for Not the Booker Prize 2019.

Paul Tudor Owen
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January 13th

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Vick’s Bookish Writing (Review) https://vicksblogcom.home.blog/
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January 14th

The Magic of Wor(l)ds (Guest Post) http://themagicofworlds.wordpress.com
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Viviana MacKade (Guest Post) https://viviana-mackade.blog/
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Jessica Belmont (Review) https://jessicabelmont.wordpress.com/
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Life’s a Novelty (Review) https://lifesanovelty.blogspot.com/
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January 17th

Port Jerricho (Spotlight – Review to Follow) http://www.aislynndmerricksson.com
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Blog Tour: Death in Smoke by Barbara Elle (Review/Giveaway)

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Death in Smoke (The Cape Mysteries #2)
By: Barbara Elle

Death in Smoke

Publication Date: December 5, 2019
Genre: Psychological Thriller

SYNOPSIS

*Each book in The Cape Mysteries can be read as a standalone novel*

A bloodied body buried in a snow bank on a remote island off Cape Cod.

A cold case in Kansas.

What’s the connection between two unrelated murders over a thousand miles away and decades apart?

In Death In Smoke, the thrilling sequel to Death In Vermilion, artist Leila Goodfriend unravels the truth about two brutal killings.

From Cuttyhunk Island to a Native American casino in Kansas, Leila tracks a trail of blood and revenge, littered with smoke screens and stone relics of a faded past.

Once again, Leila has to trust her instincts, which puts her at odds with Detective John Grace—a relationship of attraction that, in the end, reveals a tragic secret from her own past.

Despite the detective’s warnings, Leila puts her life at risk, obsessed with proving her friend’s innocence, at least of murder.

Death In Smoke, the new psychological thriller from acclaimed author Barbara Elle, takes readers on an inner and physical journey across clashing cultures and time, challenging assumptions about what is truth—what remains a mystery.

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REVIEW

Death in Smoke is the second book in the Cape Mysteries Series and yet, while the main sleuth carries forward from the previous book, this mystery is pretty much a standalone with only a little bit of reference to the previous book and it makes to effort to fill in those spaces for new readers (like myself). At least its the feeling that I got here which is always good to not feel like starting in the middle of a series is an intrusion and it stands alone as it promotes itself.

Psychological thrillers are always tricky business. Death in Smoke does a relatively good job. It starts off on a strong note in its set up its foundation with the discovery of the body and the well-described scenario and the forensic and detective work that follows. While the story does seem to a bit deliberate in some of its leads and the discoveries making it seem a bit predictable in certain plot progression, it does redeem itself in the second half when it shifts its scenario from the murders on an island, which is always an intriguing setting, to the link to another case in Kansas and brings in the Indigenous American elements. This brings in the unique angle for this mystery.

Looking at the characters of Death in Smoke, the main sleuth is an artist called Leila who has unexpectedly been around for this and in this story, feels the urge to follow the leads and help solve it as she finds the body and therefore responsible to follow through (or at least it seems that way). There’s a nice little bit of what would probably be a link to the previous book in terms of the little love tangent it goes on but done in a classy way. All these elements build up on Leila’s character.

Overall, there are some small pacing issues where with Death in Smoke. However, the book is well-written with some vivid descriptions and a decent main character Leila leading the mystery. The mystery itself also is well structured with gradual layers that eventually build up to the finale. The ending isn’t hard to completely figure out but it does redeem itself also with finding a unique twist. Plus, the grand finale shares a little on the origins of dreamcatcher which a lot of people know about but never the art of it or the different elements and the meanings. I’m not sure if it was meant to end to give Leila some more depth in its ending or to give it a little informative moment for the readers but whichever the reason, the ending does add to the experience.

Score: 3.5/5

Available on Amazon

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

BARBARA ELLE

In her stunning debut thriller, Death In Vermilion (The Cape Mysteries Book 1), acclaimed author Barbara Elle paints a clever and twisted picture of women and sisters, whose lives are entwined by a brutal murder in a Cape Cod town. Who can you trust?

Now, Death In Smoke (The Cape Mysteries Book 2) asks what’s the connection between a bloodied body buried in a snow bank on a remote island off the Cape and a cold case in Kansas? Can artist and amateur sleuth Leila Goodfriend solve this new mystery?

Barbara Elle fell in love with books and writing at a young age, honing her writing chops as a copywriter at major publishers and as a freelance journalist.

Growing up in Boston, but she became a New Yorker as an adult. Her writing draws on people and places she remembers, setting The Cape Mysteries on Cape Cod, a place of memories.

Barbara Elle continues collecting characters and plots, often travelling the world with her touring musician husband, the musical director for rock and roll icon Cyndi Lauper. In her travels, Barbara has explored Buddhist temples in Beijing, crypts in Vienna and Kabuki Theater in Tokyo.

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Love Potions and Other Calamities by Charlie Laidlaw

Love Potions and Other Calamities
by: Charlie Laidlaw

love potions and other calamities

Rosie McLeod, pub proprietor and a gifted herbalist of local renown, is thirty-nine and holding, but only just. The talons of her fortieth birthday are in her back and her bloody, bloody husband hasn’t laid a lustful hand on her for months.

Rosie sets out to discover if her husband is having an affair, using deductive powers based solely on the careful preparation of plants and herbs. But as her well-laid plans entirely fall apart, the sighting of a large black cat sets off another chain of events.

Rosie now realises that a psychopath is on the loose and that she’s been selected as his next victim. – Goodreads

*Book received in exchange for honest review*

After reading two novels by Charlie Laidlaw, there is no doubt that he is a writer with a lot of creativity as he mixes genres and adds in very unique twists. It is usually those sharp ideas that makes his books such a pleasure to read and also why Love Potions and Other Calamities was one that I wanted to read. Blending mystery, romance and humor is a risky move especially the last third of the equation as humor is such a subjective element. Luckily, the humor does deliver most of the time especially with some of the outrageous things that do happen and the fact that a lot of the doing wrong things with the best intentions actually do backfire a lot and ends up creating some right especially as it highlights some of the elements of mystery.

Let’s start with the positives! Love Potions and Other Calamities is a charming little book. One of the main elements of charms is the characters that truly do come to life through the words. There’s a heavy focus on Rosie, a woman awaiting her 40th birthday like its her death bed and really having a heavy hit of self-esteem issues about her attraction to her husband Jack due to lack of intimacy. Her solution is to make him drinks and food that she believes that he likes to build up the urge and motivation at the very least. However, things go awry when he doesn’t really like those things and it ends up somewhere else and consumed by someone else. As we read these parts, its truly a “Oh no” moment over and over again as things go really awkward and at times bad, creating situations that eventually have more misunderstandings and it all propels to have even more funny and awkward and weird moments.

On the other side, the story also focuses on another couple with Mara being a younger girl and waitress at Rosie and Jack’s pub (I think, its a pub) and the events ends up turning out better for her as her relationship with her cop boyfriend Richie improves. Richie becomes the center of the mystery as he starts working hard to connect the dots of the mysterious events happening. Richie and Mara bring in some elements of intimacy and younger relationships but also bringing forward a character like Richie from outside that helps have that connection to explain some of the beliefs and history that hangs in this town.

While at the same time, there is some political issues with voting around the corner and all kinds of characters that pop in the scene. They all have their own charm and intrigue as it all adds to how the situations are blown up to incredible proportions and Rosie starts to wonder whether what she did is right and the issue with the black cat being a sign towards witches and bad omens. There’s a lot of little bits and pieces that work well together. The little description of different types of herbs at the beginning of each chapter actually did bring a lot of fun elements to this as it was the extra bits of knowledge and gave it a lot of substance.

With that said, one element that wasn’t done was well was the execution. The pacing was a bit odd at times. At the same time, the separation of chapters and the abrupt jumps from one scene to the next sometimes made it slightly hard to follow especially as the situation got more complex in the middle section. Its really the one issue that was a tad annoying but as the characters became more familiar, the issue in the second half becomes less of an issue.

Overall, Love Potions and Other Calamities is a pretty decent novel. The idea of using potions and witches and a little town with their own beliefs and history gave it a lot of character. Not to mention the characters here were also rather charming and had its unique elements that made them a lot of fun to read. Sure, there’s some execution issues but its still a fun book with some unexpected twists to the outcomes of the misdirected potion (or poison?) attempts, misunderstanding and other sudden scenarios. This one is a fun read.

Check out reviews of other books by Charlie Laidlaw:

The Things We Learn When We’re Dead
The Space Between Time

Murder in Montague Falls by Russ Colchamiro, Sawney Hatton & Patrick Thomas

MURDER IN MONTAGUE FALLS
By: Russ Colchamiro, Sawney Hatton & Patrick Thomas

Murder in Montague Falls

*Book received in exchange for honest review*

Murder in Montague Falls are three stories set in the same place relating to different characters and also giving them a different element of noir-inspired stories whether its about Satanism or witnessing a murder to bring involved in a murder. All the stories are executed fairly well and have their own little levels of twist. As with most batch of separate stories put together, it each has their pros and cons and some work better than others. It seems natural to review each of the stories separately as they are individual stories.

The first story, Red Ink by Russ Colchamiro, and the only author in the three that I’ve previously read a novel of, is through and through a story, somewhat in the veins of movies like Disturbia where a paperboy witnesses a murder and suspects who does it but ends up being denied and tries to take actions into his own hands to find out the truth. Its the best of the three stories which is great as it starts off the book in a very good pace. The story itself and the main character has a good level of depth and the murder and investigation all are pretty clever with how everything unfolds. It borders a little on whether the murderer he suspects is actually it while also have two sides of the spectrums in play with the paperboy as well as the detective on the case also have parts with his suspicions.

The second story is The Devil’s Delinquents which is very well-written as well. It drags a little longer than it should at some points, however, the trio here are written very well. The whole Satanism concept mixed with the endgame of the entire story is one that I rarely read so it feels like a breath of fresh air to break through the norm. At the same time, what is excellent here is mostly in the descriptions whether its the more blood and gory bits or even in how the group dresses or what they do are all described in such detail that its easy to visualize the scenes as they happen which brings immersion. Its not an easy thing to do and yet, Sawney Hatton does a great job at it.

The third story is A Many Splendid Thing which is probably the weaker of the three stories. It touches onto something of a flipped side of an erotic thriller kind of deal while also having some fairly familiar and obvious outcomes of the story itself. Its predictability takes away from it while the characters are designed to be rather unpleasant to read about making it hard to root for the main character. At the same time, what does work in this one is the final twist, while still easy to figure out, still manages to use the little details to piece together something that works out especially as the ending page or two definitely speaks a rather raw level of truth as a result of what the character went through that seems a given but yet a lot of stories of this variety never say it straight forward like that which has a certain level of satisfaction to read.