Since September by Noelle MacLeod

SINCE SEPTEMBER
by: Noelle MacLeod

Since September

*Book received in exchange for honest review*

For Sheridan St. John, things just haven’t been the same since September.

It’s early autumn when wall-flower Sheridan and her best friend, Cyndi, move to the city to begin their lives as young adults. On their own for the first time – and away from the harsh criticisms of Sheridan’s mom – the girls are enjoying their new independence. But after a wild night of partying, Sheridan’s grip on reality starts to weaken. When a gruesome tragedy then strikes her family, she’s convinced it’s all an epic nightmare… one from which she must somehow awaken if she is to survive. – Goodreads

Since September is a thrilling little psychological ride. Whether it lands in the horror zone is still on a fairly light degree although the imagery of some parts are done pretty well to give a good idea of the gruesome bits and the more creepy psychological bits. Structured as a novella, the story paces itself really well to never actually have any mundane down moments and it wraps together the false sense of security for its character Sheridan while also giving it some gripping moments which gives a lot of credit in the writing itself. Although the endgame is fairly obvious, Sheridan doesn’t know and having more knowledge in this case gives her character the space to develop a bit on why she is the way she is.

Essentially, the story is split into two parts: before and after the turning point event that changes the location pretty much. The second part is similar to the likes of movie Girl Interrupted, which is somewhat of a spoiler but is a compliment because of all those supporting characters in this space. Its important to have those supporting characters as they elevate the story a little more, giving it a bit of humor or the life it needs or the encouragement to move forward for Sheridan’s character. These supporting characters are all fairly shallow and that has to do with the novella territory which is a short length story so lacks the depth for growth.

This is a novella so to avoid any more spoilers, I’m going to wrap up. Overall, Since September is a fun read. Its a pageturner for sure. The story is character-driven and Sheridan is a good character to navigate. There still leaves some mystery to her at the end but the pieces presented in this story works together well enough. My only thing here is whether the readers figuring out the twist before the character revelation was deliberate or the fault of dropping a few too many clues beforehand. There is a very fine line in navigating the realm of psychological stories and while some scenes felt a bit repetitive in structure, decreasing its psychological horror elements, however there’s still a nice sense of thrills and the set-up at the beginning is done pretty well also.

Goodreads score: 4/5

Advertisements

Blog Tour: The Moonlight Pegasus by C.S. Johnson (Review/Giveaway)

Tour Banner (2)

The Moonlight Pegasus
By: C.S. Johnson

The+Moonlight+Pegasus+cover+ebook

Publication Date: July 2016
Genre: High Fantasy

SYNOPSIS

Sapphira is a desert world with little plant life, where the people live in the shadows of gray sunlight, sickened by the Dark Plague. To cure the people, the Guardian of Dreams sends the Spirit of Truth to bring the light back into his darkened world. In the form of Pegasus, he enters the world through the pure, innocent dreams of Selene, the reluctant princess and heir-apparent to the throne. Now, with her brother Dorian as king, another rebellion is stirring. All eyes are turning to Selene to bring peace through an arranged marriage. However, Selene only has eyes for her true love—her protector, Etoileon. As the rebellion unleashes its fury upon the kingdom of Sapphira and the supernatural forces collide, Selene is caught in the middle of all conflicts—the battle for her world, the battle for her love, and the battle for her very soul.

Add to Goodreads

REVIEW

The Moonlight Pegasus is a story with many faces. Its a story about love, faith, good and evil, war and family. Rightfully so, it also is quite lengthy but surprisingly also manages to keep a pretty good pacing right from the start. The world itself is set on a planet called Sapphira and revolves around kingdoms and the islands surrounding it. There would seem to be a presence of religion in terms of resurrection and faith and belief disguised in a higher entity called The Guardian that watches over the people and some levels of sacrifice for the greater good.

The Moonlight Pegasus is a bit overly long and that has to do with giving the time for these different elements to fall into place while merging together as the climax of the situation approaches. Its done in a pretty good way especially in the flow of events. At times however, it feels like one of the Chinese TV dramas, and the fairly soapy kind, in terms of the dialogue but considering the fantasy world it is set in, it seems to fit although there are some wordings that don’t seem to quite fit the characters here and there but they are not frequent.

A big element of the first half of the story is about the love between the main characters which the princess Selene and her protector Etoileon. Their roles and back stories on how they met are described and their current situation and even their feelings for each other, which really emphasizes on how those involved are the most blind, because the way the interact with each other and the words they use is almost too obvious that they have feelings for each other and yet, they both are reluctant to say anything, which is the type of drama that I personally find a tad frustrating. However, these two characters are written really well and suitably so as we see what is in their destiny by the end of the novel. The “surprise” I would expect wasn’t exactly a surprise either maybe like I said, a lot of the stuff that happens here is almost straight out of a normal Chinese TV drama, especially those set in dynastic China and dealing with royalty.

On the other hand, what is taken a little lighter and less focused on was the war side which only had glimpses of its affect and the going ons, putting the King Dorian more in the backdrop. Fact is, there was a good deal of characters as well. A lot of the story was giving space to the “good” characters including meeting Pegasus whereas, it makes the evil on the other side with only a few bits here and there in the spectrum of the story as a whole.

The Moonlight Pegasus has some issues in dialogue and some imbalance in the different elements it tackles. However, it is a fun book to dive into because of the fantasy world that it builds and the two characters leading the story.  While there is a sequel to the story, this first book does set the stage quite well while still wrapping things up so it can stand alone keeping its story contained, which is always a plus.

Goodreads score: 4

Purchase link: Amazon

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

author-pic

C. S. Johnson is the award-winning, genre-hopping author of several novels, including young adult sci-fi and fantasy adventures such as the Starlight Chronicles, the Once Upon a Princess saga, and the Divine Space Pirates trilogy. With a gift for sarcasm and an apologetic heart, she currently lives in Atlanta with her family. Find out more at http://www.csjohnson.me

Website
Twitter
Facebook
Instagram
Pinterest

GIVEAWAY

Giveaway Details: An Ebook Version of the book

Rafflecopter Link

BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE

September 9th

Reads & Reels (Spotlight) http://readsandreels.com
The Faerie Review (Review) http://www.thefaeriereview.com
I Love Books and Stuff (Spotlight) https://ilovebooksandstuffblog.wordpress.com
Read & Rated (Spotlight) https://readandrated.com/
The Reading Chemist (Spotlight) https://thereadingchemist.com/

September 10th

Jessica Belmont (Review) https://jessicabelmont.wordpress.com/
My Bookish Bliss (Review) http://www.mybookishbliss.com
Crossroads Reviews (Review) http://www.crossroadreviews.com
Lunarian Press (Spotlight) https://www.lunarianpress.com/

September 11th

Breakeven Books (Spotlight) https://breakevenbooks.com
Reading Nook (Spotlight) http://readingnook84.wordpress.com
The Voluptuous Book Diva (Spotlight) http://www.thevoluptuousbookdiva.com/
The Bookish Mrs. Harding (Spotlight) http://thebookishmrsharding.home.blog

September 12th

I’m Into Books (Spotlight) https://www.imintobooks.com/
The Magic of Wor(l)ds (Spotlight) http://themagicofworlds.wordpress.com
J Bronder’s Book Reviews (Review) https://jbronderbookreviews.com/

September 13th

Tranquil Dreams (Review) https://klling.wordpress.com/
Didi Oviatt (Spotlight) https://didioviatt.wordpress.com
Reviews & Promos by Nyx (Spotlight) https://nyxblogs.wordpress.com/
Sophril Reads (Spotlight) http://sophrilreads.wordpress.com

Blog Tour hosted by:

R&RButto200x200
R&R Book Tours

 

Twisted Pines by Lane Baker

TWISTED PINES
By: Lane Baker

Twisted Pines

Where have all the children gone? At rustic summer camp Mendocino Pines, that’s the question on everyone’s mind. First one, then two, then three campers vanish—only to reappear a short while later with no recollection of the missing time. The disappearances raise questions about the children’s safety, not to mention the camp’s time-honored reputation.

When Abe, a freshman camp counselor from UCLA film school, stumbles upon a ghoulish-looking humanoid roaming the coast, he suspects this creature might be responsible for the children’s unsettling disappearances. Armed with a camera, a journal, and a thirst for the truth, Abe sets out to pry the lid off the uncanny mystery hidden among Mendocino’s Twisted Pines. – Goodreads

*Received in exchange for an honest review*

There is an obvious fascination of Lane Baker with science fiction and aliens in particular. Following the previous story Slippery Things (review), this new story is also along the same lines. This time around, the main character is a young adult Abe who takes up a summer job as camp counselor when weird things happen and he discovers what is the cause. As the story unravels about this mysterious lurker, the motives come together.

There are few things done well here. The first is execution. It has something of a novella length which gives it space to develop a story but also a quick pace for events to happen without things lingering and dragging therefore making it a nice little page turner, more and more so as the story pulls together and the heart of the situation and the two central characters start interacting.

Another element done really well here is characters. There are quite a few because of the setting in the summer camp with counselor names bouncing around the pages and young campers being caught up in the mystery. However, there is a definite focus on Abe as the main character and a lot of this going from his perspective. Telling a story from a perspective always works well to still create mystery out of what is unknown to the character. The two sided (both good and bad depending on the part of the story) is that while the humanoid does have some character development and as gaps of mystery behind him because of taking Abe’s perspective, it also has the issue that the character doesn’t have quite the depth and is more of a supporting sort of deal. At times, it works and at times, it doesn’t.

Overall, Twisted Pines is a well-paced YA sci-fi novel. There’s an obvious improvement in dialogue here (in comparison to the previous story).  A lot of Twisted Pines is well-written, whether its building up the suspense or how the chapters are structured and the progression of the Abe’s character and his discoveries, especially on how it starts and ends. I can’t say that Abe, as well done of the character as it is, is too memorable but feels suitable in this story. There’s a lot more that can be explored with this story especially in terms of the humanoid however, its a simple page-turner story that keeps things straight forward and because of that, it also manages to keep it intriguing enough to keep want to know more about what happens next. This one is well worth the read.

Toronto & Fan Expo Canada 2019 Haul

On a much needed weekend getaway, Toronto and Fan Expo Canada 2019 was a really great time to say the least. Arriving in the early afternoon on Friday, we all had the day to just get into town and settle into the Airbnb. My to-do list had quite a few things including Vaughan Mills to check out a few stores and stock up on stuff on sale as well as hit T&T Supermarket for groceries like breakfast and snacks and stuff to bring home and of course, taking a stop at LCBO to see what there is new there to check out.

Uniqlo

Uniqlo

Some very normal stuff here. I was at Uniqlo looking for T-Shirts and found one. I don’t know any of the manga that they were doing T-shirts for but I liked this one the most. Other than that, I was looking for tank tops and whatnot. Its a really good selection over here so I picked up some stuff that I think will be good.

Disney Store

20190827_003543.jpg

While there was a lot of cool plushes at this Disney store, there was no doubt that Sebastian was the one that caught my eye mostly because it was the 30th anniversary new arrival that the sales rep said just got to the store that week. Plus, I already have a lonely Flounder sitting next to my bed and have been meaning to wrap up The Little Mermaid collection.

LCBO

20190825_211358.jpg

We also make a stop at LCBO (or whichever provincial alcohol store) whenever we head out of town to try and find something that we can’t find here. One of the things is the VQA Niagara Peninsula always has more choices and then there’s a lot more selection for the ciders. We bought a few more than these three but over the time on the trip, it was consumed between us. I had the Queen Street 501 that I had already written about before on a Wine Recap and we also had the Molson Cider as well as a few flavors from the Crazy Uncle collection other than the root beer, an orange crush version, cream soda version and lemonade version. These three are what made it back: Smirnoff Sangria (red – which means I won’t be drinking it but might give it a sip to try), Thornbury Village Craft Apple Cider and a Riesling white wine.

FAN EXPO CANADA 2019

If you didn’t catch my Fan Expo recap, I didn’t have a lot of time to do much wandering and shopping during the event so really only went through the North Building and didn’t look at any of the retailers or artist alley in the South Building.

Black Fawn Distribution

20190824_231917.jpg

I realized that Black Fawn Distribution was going to be there really close to when I decided to head out. Luckily, they were in the North building and we had time to do that on Saturday and they had the movies that I was looking for since they haven’t been to Fantasia in a year or two (I think). We did talk to them and they are hoping to be at Fantasia next year so crossing my fingers for that. Either way, they had a whole signing thing going on so I managed to sneak back during the afternoon between some lining up to get The Heretics signed but didn’t realize that on Sunday they also had signing for I’ll Take Your Dead so that one only has the director that signed. Looking forward to watching these as always since I’ve always liked Black Fawn films and appreciated what they’d do for indie horror films.

Myth Hawker Travelling Bookstore

20190825_193340.jpg

What’s really impressive about Fan Expo is the amount of authors and books that are sold there. Some big publishers are there also. Its incredibly amazing which makes me want to slap myself a little for not trying to find more time to go through South Building but then, where we were had a lot of choices too and they had this one: Myth Hawker Travelling Bookstore which had a lot of books that looked and sounded really good when I read their synopsis. In the end, I went back to pick up this Asian sci-fi and fantasy anthology called Where the Stars Rise. The premise and such caught my eye right away so I’m excited to check this out after my string of reading commitments is done.

Aside from this haul, we did get a free poster of The Fanatic from the advanced screening. We also each got a free Fan Expo T-Shirt from past expos that were given out. I skipped sharing T&T Supermarket stuff as there’s nothing too extraordinary except that I bought moon cakes in anticipation for the upcoming Midautumn Festival and stocked up on some drinks and such.

That’s it for this Toronto/Fan Expo haul!!
Did you go to Fan Expo Canada?

Blog Tour: Wild Dark Times by Austin Case (Review/Excerpt)

Tour Banner (1)

Wild Dark Times
By: Austin Case

Wild Dark Times

Genre: Urban Fantasy/Paranormal
Publication Date: July 23, 2019

SYNOPSIS

It’s the summer of 2012 and Elizabeth Megalos is a disillusioned art-school grad getting by as a bank teller in St. Louis. One evening, she’s attacked by a possessed coworker and saved by a mysterious, wise-cracking sorcerer named Eddy. He drags Elizabeth and Hugh—a skeptical scholar of the occult—to Europe, where he introduces them to his three magical celebrity friends. Once there, Eddy explains the group’s mission: preventing a Demiurge—a creature out of Gnostic Christian mythology—from fulfilling the visions of doom in the Book of Revelation. The Demiurge has been drawing power from the misguided beliefs in the Mayan apocalypse and is set to start the destruction on Dec. 21st, 2012. Through ritual magic and a series of psychedelic experiences, the group learns that Elizabeth is the key to taking down the Demiurge, though she can’t imagine how she will be the one to stop Armageddon.

Add to Goodreads

EXCERPT

“Elizabeth, I don’t think this is the first time that an apocalypse has almost happened. There have been people claiming that the end is nigh for thousands of years. The way things have gone in the past—what, with the awful things people have done to each other and the large-scale tragedies that have occurred—I can’t imagine things didn’t get close to ending quite a few times. But there are good people out there, people who care about the world and struggle to help. People who can see the beautiful in the world and strive for compassion and peace instead of destruction. Have you ever heard of the Gospel of Thomas?”

Elizabeth shook her head.

“It’s a Gnostic gospel. A book of sayings attributed to Jesus but which was left out of the Bible. While the New Testament talks about the Kingdom of God and the apocalypse that would lead to this perfected place, Jesus in the Gospel of Thomas says that it’s here already. That, essentially, it’s a matter of perceiving the perfection of things that are already here. This view is common to lots of other mystical traditions. In a way, the apocalypse could be seen as that Gnostic or mystical insight, where the world as we know or understand it falls apart around us, and all that is left is the Kingdom of God. The falling apart is just a matter of perception and is necessary to see the true beauty before us already… 

Amazon

REVIEW

Wild Dark Times takes a magical twist set in the few months with a group of people with various magical powers joined together to stop the apocalypse set to happen on December 21, 2012. Taking a more enchanted and dangerous adventure towards how to stop it all, the premise itself is intriguing because with fantasy of these types, there is always its own little twist on its own magical world of creatures and elements and how magic works in this urban fantasy reality. Due to those adventure elements, Wild Dark Times is quite a page-turning experience, more so as the novel dives deeper and further into each location that it moves to and the next event that happens as they approach doomsday itself, the stakes are higher just as the characters developed have taken a certain level of importance to the story as a whole as well.

As each of the characters chases down one location to the next and figures out one clue to the next, each of this group has their shine in the spotlight and their worth in the group especially the two people acquired throughout this who initially seem like they don’t quite fit into any particular use in this whole equation. One of such is the the female leading character that somehow gets pulled into this and seems like it is way over her head because of her lack of knowledge and yet the group keeps her and the other more educational fellow along. It gives these characters a space to develop and they do work out quite well despite the fact that perhaps at times, it does feel like for the length of this novel, some of the characters in this group feel a little underdeveloped and some of them don’t quite leave quite the impression making it at times hard to track who is who at the beginning except for some of their more specific uses.

Wild Dark Times is pretty clever with the pacing of the whole story. While some of the characters are quite used as they should, the constant string of things happening does help to keep it very intriguing to follow despite it feeling slightly like its going through a formula for this magic to work as they figure out one place to the next and when and where which feels like it might need a little more back story but somehow still manages to tie it together in the end. What also does work well here is the stakes do seemingly increase as it moves along as the forces they fight against also creep closer as well. Overall, everything balances out between the urban fantasy and the paranormal along with the magic elements and whole saving the world from the apocalypse take in a fun and adventurous way.

Goodreads score: 4 out of 5

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Author Pic

Austin Case received a Master’s Degree from the University of Amsterdam in Western Esotericism and Mysticism. His academic knowledge of the occult and other peripheral phenomena has given him a unique take on fantasy and speculative fiction.

Website
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads

BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE

August 26th

Reads & Reels (Spotlight) http://readsandreels.com
Jessica Belmont (Review) https://jessicabelmont.wordpress.com/
Entertainingly Nerdy (Spotlight) https://www.entertaininglynerdy.com
I Smell Sheep (Spotlight) http://www.ismellsheep.com/
Tranquil Dreams (Review) https://klling.wordpress.com/

August 27th

The Faerie Review (Review) http://www.thefaeriereview.com
Breakeven Books (Spotlight) https://breakevenbooks.com
Touch My Spine Book Reviews (Spotlight) https://touchmyspinebookreviews.com

August 28th

My Bookish Bliss (Review) http://mybookishbliss.com
Didi Oviatt (Spotlight) https://didioviatt.wordpress.com
Shalini’s Books and Reviews (Spotlight) https://bookreviewsbyshalini.com/

August 29th

Inked and Blonde (Review) http://www.inkedandblondeonline.co.uk
Just 4 My Books (Spotlight) http://www.just4mybooks.wordpress.com
Scarlett Readz & Runz (Spotlight) https://scarlettreadzandrunz.com/

August 30th

The Magic of Wor(l)ds (Interview) http://themagicofworlds.wordpress.com
J Bronder Book Reviews (Spotlight) https://jbronderbookreviews.com/

Blog Tour hosted by: 

R&RButton350x350
R&R Book Tours

Book Review: Within by Clare C. Marshall

Within
By: Clare C. Marshall

Within

Trinity Hartell’s life changed after the accident. Left with irreversible brain damage, she becomes a burden to her mother, a cause for heartbreak for her boyfriend Zack, and a flattened obstacle for her best friend, Ellie.

But then she starts writing. Perhaps it’s a coincidence that the psychotic, murdering protagonist of her novel bears a striking similarity to the charming Wiley Dalton, a mayoral candidate in the upcoming election.

Or, perhaps not… – Goodreads

While it sounds like the plot for a lot of young adult novels out there, especially at the start with the accident and has the potential of going in a very generic direction, however, author Clare C. Marshall has her own unique vision for the story and while it still has the YA elements here, the story takes a much more intriguing turn of events and drags a connection between different elements in the society and the city that these teens live in. The story changes form, touching from one genre to another and making it quite a page-turner.

The novel follows the different characters as it flows through the story. With a more focus on its few leading characters and their observation of Tiffany, it gives each of them a certain level of development. At the heart of this, the main mystery will have to be for Tiffany who doesn’t really get her own narrative but as she is being observed and has each of her episodes, it is suspenseful as it is never certain whether her episodes are supernatural or something else as a result of her accident. On the other side of the spectrum, Ellie as her best friend definitely has her spot and drives the plot development but somehow has some elements that develops which makes her not quite likeable. However, Ellie and Zack are two teenagers dealing with something which is quite over their heads. However, there are always those staple characters like Tiffany’s mother who seems to genuinely lack the understanding and caught up in a situation which causes things to be slightly frustrating at times. However, a really nicely written character is the main character of Tiffany’s character and the politician in running as mayoral candidate who finds his place somewhere near the middle of the story but does have quite a presence and depth. Its one of the well-written characters in the story.

With that said, there are slight pacing issues here. The beginning bits as the youths deal with the accident and their friend with a bright future suddenly reverting back to a child’s mentality is fairly dramatic and very much in the generic which also moves too fast without the characters lacking depth to make it as involving as it should be however, the characters each have their layers and as the plot thickens, the pacing picks up to its advantage creating its suspense and mystery. There are some really plot ideas here and the execution overall works.

Goodreads score: 3/5 (would be 3.5)

Book Review: Lifel1k3 (Lifelike #1) by Jay Kristoff

Lifel1k3 (Lifelike #1)
by: Jay Kristoff

Lifelike

On a floating junkyard beneath a radiation sky, a deadly secret lies buried in the scrap. Eve isn’t looking for secrets—she’s too busy looking over her shoulder. The robot gladiator she’s just spent six months building has been reduced to a smoking wreck, and the only thing keeping her Grandpa from the grave was the fistful of credits she just lost to the bookies. To top it off, she’s discovered she can destroy electronics with the power of her mind, and the puritanical Brotherhood are building a coffin her size. If she’s ever had a worse day, Eve can’t remember it. But when Eve discovers the ruins of an android boy named Ezekiel in the scrap pile she calls home, her entire world comes crashing down. With her best friend Lemon Fresh and her robotic conscience, Cricket, in tow, she and Ezekiel will trek across deserts of irradiated glass, infiltrate towering megacities and scour the graveyard of humanity’s greatest folly to save the ones Eve loves, and learn the dark secrets of her past. Even if those secrets were better off staying buried. – Goodreads

Post-apocalypse, YA, Androids: it seems like a rising theme in the next phase of science-fiction fantasy novels. Its not a bad thing to say the least. After the success of The Illuminae Trilogy, its hard to not give some regard to what comes up next for the two authors. While I have yet to look into Amie Kaufman’s solo novels, I’ve been stocking up on Jay Kristoff’s (coming soon is reading Nevernight). Since I’ve been on this sci-fi roll, I decided to give Lifelike a go, the first novel in a currently ongoing series where the second book has been released recently.

While the end game of the story, the twist and such wasn’t exactly hard to figure out, what works a lot here is the execution of the story. Lifelike introduces its characters very well. It also keeps a decent limit to how many characters are in focus while being able to make sure that all the characters serve their purpose in their existence in the story itself. The world itself gives it a lot more to think about because the main girls are Eve and her best friend Lemon Fresh who end up with their robot dog of sorts Cricket while finding a lifelike android which is referred as the almost-boy Ezekiel who starts waking up the memory of Eve throughout their journey to save Eve’s grandfather from the evil androids. There are relationships and conflicts and dilemmas as more secrets get dug up and remembered. Lemon and Eve’s friendship/sisterhood doesn’t get enough depth, but builds a general foundation, while Eve and Ezekiel end up having a lot of the drama involved.

While there isn’t anything particularly issues with the story, its a pity that the world doesn’t have more focus (although I’m sure as the story moves along in the sequels that it will). The future and the technology and the android lifelikes and such in this mass world feels very intriguing to discover and yet, its more focused on the people in the story than using it to build up. While I can’t say that I liked Lifelike quite as much as say the entirety of the Illuminae Files, even at its lowest point (which was very rare because that trilogy ranks very high on my favorites), Lifel1k3 as the first book does a good build for the foundation and has a decent reveal in establishing its characters. While there is some drag at a little part, it does do itself justice in the big finale and reveal.

Goodreads Score: 4/5