Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Book Review #4 - The Ritual

Title: The Ritual by Adam Nevill
Released: May 01, 2011. First published January 01, 2011
Copy Owned: Another freebie from the Goodreads First Reads Program, this is by far my favorite.

I wrote a pretty general review for this on the Goodreads site, but I'm going to be a bit more extensive here, so be warned that my entire review will pretty much be a spoiler.

We begin in the woods...

Four, much older, university buddies decide to go traipsing through Europe in an effort to reconnect with one another and leave the stress of their everyday lives behind for a weekend. Sounds simple and normal enough, doesn't it? I thought so, too.

Early on we discover that the "friends" aren't as friendly as we'd expect. Two of the four are a bit estranged from our protagonist, Luke. They're older, seemingly bitter, and in the essence of wandering through the woods, they're extremely out of shape. Marriage didn't do well for both Dom and Phil and neither did their business ventures. Because of this, Luke, our free-spirited ends up being the butt of their jokes and frustrations. Hutch, who seems to take the role of mediator, is the only one that seems to at least keep a cordial tone with Luke.

From there, we enter the woods, which are creepy in general...but imagine woods that haven't been touched much less walked through for what could be centuries. Woods where you're first greeted by an animal corpse hanging from a tree. Wouldn't that be enough to make you turn around and say "F*** THIS?"

It wasn't for the four explorers.

Hutch decides to take a short cut through the woods because of Dom and Phil's inability to keep up and that's where it all went down hill.

First, it was the dead animal in the tree. Next it was an abandoned house. Considering that if you were lost in a wood that hasn't been seen by humans for so log, you'd think an abandoned house would be a god-send...shelter. This wasn't your ordinary abandoned house. The foursome soon find bones, odd markings, an every other weird thing you can imagine that'd have you running into the darkness, trying to get as far away from the house as possible. Up the stairs, they find something worse...something grotesque...something that should have told them how much danger they were in, but they stupidly decide that even though it's shocking, it's nothing to be weary of.

They ransack they house, break anything wooden to burn for heat. Another thing that unsettled Luke.

That night, in that house, they all went to sleep fine...and woke up broken. Each had horrible dreams or visions about the monstrosity in the room above. Each were found in different places, suffering a different invisible torture. After trying to sort themselves out, they left the house, finally realizing they needed to find their way out.

Through the woods, they'd feel an intense ominous presence...they'd encounter makings, and try to distract each other.

They find a church...a rotten church...and discover more ancient markings and upon caving through the floor, they find human bones that are old enough to be noted as old but not old enough to be considered ancient. What freaks them out is some of the bones look like they came from children.

This is when Luke goes in survival mode. He's on guard, nervous, but set on not letting whatever it is that's out there take him without a fight.

One by one, they're taken by an unseen monster, marked only by it's scent and the time Luke makes it outside of the woods, he's alone. Battered, bruised, and on the verge of dieing but he made it out.

Is this where we celebrate?


Enter 3 sociopaths and a hag.

The hag isn't really that bad. The 3 in her company are demon spawn, though...literally and figuratively speaking. What Luke endures in the wake of the 3 idiot-teers is almost as bad as what was in the woods. What makes it worse is that the 3 morons praise it, worship it, want to be of it...and on that notion, they want to make Luke their it.

The hag has something hiding in her "upstairs" room as well...I'll leave that to you to find out what it is, though.

This is the part of the story that irritates me. The part of the book that I'd have to stop reading every so often because of the annoyance it invokes. Imagine running from the biggest danger you could imagine, think you just got saved, and find out that you could possibly be in a worse spot.

The best part of this part of the story is that Luke gets much as he could.

Exit 3 dead dummies and an old freak show.

This book is worthy of being called a horror story. Although, the plot seemed simple and cliche, Nevill painted extremely detailed scenarios, gave each character a purpose and infused it with a spirit that left me anxious, angsty, and afraid. I read tons of horror, and let me tell you that it takes a lot for me to feel this way. I literally had a knot in my stomach that wouldn't go away until it was time to put the book down.

The parts where he was describing their surroundings were so complete, one need only to shut their eyes and picture it. Nothing was left to imagination, not even the odors, the insects, the taste of blood, the aches and pains that were suffered. It was all there for you to read. Hell, at times it felt like more than felt like experiencing.

I loved this book...and don't let the 4.5 out of 5 stars that I gave it make you think otherwise. I deducted to .5 for personal reasons...okay, it was because he didn't get to beat the sh** out of one of the characters I truly despised, and although she died eventually, I felt cheated because he wasn't the one to kill her.

Yes, I'm petty like that.

I did love the book, though. This is one of those stories you know would be a good movie as it has all of the elements us horror fanatics enjoy. Too bad the world's still stuck on vampires and werewolves.

Horror fans, survival horror fans, I recommend this to you all. The end is a bit of a let down, but I guess when you've been through what Luke has, it's the only end to be had. He was alive.

Nevill, you're a genius.


Book Review #3 - Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories

Title: Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories by M.G. Edwards
Released: November 15, 2011.
Copy Owned: I received this book for free through the Goodreads First Reads Giveaway Program.

There isn't much to say about this sweet little freebie. It's a quick read of what seems like teasers to full, detailed stories. There is a variety of stories included from nonfiction memoirs to mythology and horror. Personally, my favorite was the mythology tidbit on Mysterious, being that I've never heard of that God in Greek mythology before. It was also the only short story that felt complete, even though it left me wanting more.

I also enjoyed the short story about the grandmother that had premonitions. Being that it's a short story, I feel like even if I said a little, I'd be saying too much.

You can pretty tell which stories were written earlier in Edwards' life because the feel of the stories, themselves, show different maturity levels as you read through.

This wasn't an ideal read for me because teasers leave me anxious, but I don't regret the short amount of time it took to read it.

I recommend this book to light readers that don't want to deal with anything heavy or too complex. I gave it 3 stars out of 5.

Happy Reading!


Book Review #2 - Diary of an Online Junkie

Title: Diary of an Online Dating Junkie by Dawn Marie
Released: November 11, 2011.
Copy Owned: I received a free copy of this book through the Goodreads First Reads Giveaway Program

Just in case you're wondering, Goodreads only requires me to mention that I got the book for free from them on their own site. I mention it on my blogs here because maybe you, the viewer, have never heard of it before and would be interested in the program as well.

What bookworm wouldn't be interested in free books? Exactly! None!

Back to the review.

This is actually based on a true story, mainly, the author's very own. It's about Dawn, a thirty-something, mother of one, divorcee that's trying to find her "Mr. Right."

Now, let me say, I know absolute ZERO about this online dating business. I always thought it was the last resort for the lonely desperados of the world that had some physical issue or personality malfunction that didn't allow them to connect with people. Although, the book proves that's the case with some online daters, it's not the case for all of them.

Here's a little more of Dawn's background. She married a successful "party guy" type that wanted a "trophy wife." She had other ideas in mind and he eventually grew verbally and emotionally abusive before they parted ways.
Her childhood best-friend, Alec, had been in love with her during their younger years...and even though he was perfect...well, you know what happens once a guy's been a friend too long.

Anyway, it's her divorce and her present day bestie that pushes her to try online dating. Her first day, she becomes an addict. Is it really that addictive?

Needless to say, she chronicles all of her experiences with every man she dates, the good, the bad, and the disgusting and during this, she starts setting up little rules that she thinks will help narrow the choices and weed out the grodies. It doesn't work. There is something wrong with every man she meets.

"This one's fat and old."

"This one has kids and didn't mention it on his profile."

"This one isn't over 6'."

"This one isn't fashionable."

"This one sounds like Kermit the frog."

"This one would be perfect, but he's starting to bald."

Those aren't direct quotes from the book, but there's lots of that going on in the book. It makes her come across shallow, picky, and insensitive.

To be honest, it irritated the hell out of me.

Who the hell is she to be that much of a stickler when as perfect as she thinks she is, she's on a dating site because she can't find a man, herself!?!?

If this was a case of a man writing women off for being too old, too fat, too skinny, too flat-chested, etc, women all over would be outraged! Don't get me wrong, many men DO do that, but does that mean it's okay for us to do it to the good ones just in case?

We as women always want The Prince Charming and when one hops online in search of one then starts nitpicking, it's annoying to watch/read as it unfolds. Not only that, in my opinion, it makes jerks out of the already-small pool of good guys that still exist in the world.

Now, during her dates with the real weirdos, I can completely sympathize.


For instance, a guy that fits every criteria of Mr. Perfect on the surface, yet starts farting away when they start making out? Yeah, that one you can let go. If they were already seriously dating, farting wouldn't be a big deal, but we're talking about a few little nothing type dates. I nearly cried laughing about the entire situation, but when I thought back, it was gross...and soooo not sexy.

Then there was the potential date rape guy that made her fill out a questionaire before turning on the perverted charm. Yes, he slipped her a rufie, but lucky for her she left before any major damage could be done.

Finally, there was the male gold digger that she ended up marrying after just 9 days of knowing. He ended up being a verbally abusive drunkard that thought she'd be turned on by him prancing around in her lingerie. When she finally left him, he had ran through all of her money.

Those were the "attractive winners" she had chemistry with.


There were more bad experiences, but those stuck out to me...more so because I thought she was getting what she was advertising for. (Minus the date rape guy, NO woman deserves that!)

Aside from bad dates, nitpicking the wrong guys, and falling for losers, you find a lot of self-victimizing going on.

This woman really thought her sh*t didn't stink. Everything was "why me?" And "Why do I get all the losers?"

Uh...DUH...because that's what you want!!

If I didn't feel obligated to finish reading it so that I can write a review, I'd have tossed it. Not because I didn't like the book, but because I didn't like Dawn. I almost wish it was fiction because she's too whiny, clingy, and self-absorbed to wish upon the world.

Do I recommend this book to anyone? Maybe the people that have gone through similar experiences and want to laugh about the same things happening to someone else.

It's fast paced and there are parts in it that were funny enough to earn the book 3.5 stars out of 5 from me...but minus the comical parts, this book is irritating.

I didn't feel anything for Dawn at all. Well, nothing kind. I'm glad she finally found her Mr. Right, but the fact that she could've had him early in life if she wasn't such a dramatic pain-in-the-ass, just leaves me rolling my eyes.

The best thing about this book?

The eye-catching cover.

Book Review #1 - Yours, Mines, and Ours

Title: Yours, Mine, and Ours by MaryJanice Davidson
Released: February 28, 2012.
Copy Owned: I received an ARC of this book through the Goodreads First Reads Giveaway Program.

This was my first free book.

Now, let me say this, I had my doubts about the program, which is why I started entering for every book I seen show up on the listing. I didn't even remember entering for this because by the cover alone, I'd have assumed it was some gushy love story and the only love stories I'd read are historical ones. I checked my account and seen there wasn't a mistake and since I didn't want to be banned from the program on my first round, I gave it a shot.

This is not a gushy love story.

The book is the sequel to Davidson's Me, Myself, and Why? I never read the first book, but it had no affect on the read as the book felt like a stand-alone to me. If it didn't make the few references to the first story, I wouldn't have known there was a first story. Don't you mind that, though, they fill in what you don't know without it making you feel like you have to stop and wait until you find the first book.

The story is about an FBI Agent named Cadence Jones, her sisters, which are actually other personalities, her psychotic partner, George, and their new partner that suffers from mirror delusions, Emma Jan.

Already sounds strange, doesn't it? According to the book, they work for a government agency that hires agents upon their disabilities which, in this book, are their strengths.

The plan is to catch a serial murderer that's eluded them for three years and upon further investigation, or should I say fluke, they discovered the murders have actually gone on longer...much, longer.

That's kinda the boring stuff (if you can call this book boring, that is.) The fun stuff is the other 98 percent of the story. The book moves at a really fast pace and if you find yourself slightly confused, Adrienne, Cadence's sister might be why. Adrienne pops up at random intervals wreaking havoc and then disappearing as quick as she came. If you feel as if things suddenly shifted in the prickly direction, Shiro, Cadence's other, more controlled sister might be in control. Like I said, it moves fast and don't worry it's not as complicated as I'm making it seem.

My favorite part of reading this, is George. He's inappropriate, sarcastic, overly-sexed, yet in all of his dysfunction, he's compassionate and protective. It won't hit you until the end, though. He is literary comedy. Without him in this book, I doubt I would've enjoyed it as much as I did. His clever little quips, among his other ridiculous antics made the story for me.

Emma Jan is a new member with a weird dysfunction and an even weirder habit. I'll leave that for the reader to discover since I probably said too much about the other characters as it is.

Just know this. If you like quick, witty reads, more-than-your-average strange quirks, women that kick major butt, and smart mouthed men, you'll love this. I give it 4.5 stars out of 5, only because I hate the cover. The story, itself, would be a 5.

I reviewed it on Goodreads, but since it's still not out, I thought I'd write one here as well.

Happy Reading!


"Say Hello to my Little Friend"

Contrary to the heading, this has nothing to do with Scarface! HA! Wordpress' "Hello World" felt too generic and everything else that came to mind felt way too "cheeseball," so here I am along with my misleading title. :D

I don't watch too much television, I'm prone to starting art projects and abandoning them because I get bored after awhile, actually the same serves true for my crafts, too. One thing I can do is finish reading a good book.

Guess what else I can do! :o I can write about what I read! (oooh)

Not because I have to (aside from a freebie/review trade, but a review for getting a free book isn't asking for much, right?), not because I was asked to, but simply because the book and author don't expect anything but for the reader to enjoy or get something out of the experience.

I've noticed that self-published authors have a harder time of getting "out there," but truth be told, I rarely notice if one is self-published or not. Maybe, because it doesn't matter to me. Sure, I'm as guilty as the next for seeing a popular author's name and gravitating to the book, assuming it'll be great. Yet, I don't really discriminate. I'm just as likely to be drawn to a book from someone I've never ever heard of, get intrigued by the synopsis, and wanting to read it just as much.

I'm not above reading any book from anyone if I'm into the genre.

I don't expect a to get a stampede of followers or anything, but it can't hurt to have yet one more blog dedicated to my favorite and most active hobby.

On that note, you can find me on Goodreads and Wattpad voting, reading, and reviewing. Now, I have a blog to add my GR reviews, too. ;)