Provided for review: After Hope Dies by Lilly Haraden

This book was provided for review by the folks at NetGalley

This is what happens after America dies: the monsters take over.

A young prostitute’s reanimated soul prowls the streets, seeking revenge against her killers. The reclusive nerd who lives next door suffers from a serious problem that goes far beyond the time-bending demon infesting his body. And across town, an occult guide owns a brothel where you can buy a child for cheap.

Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this dark literary fantasy debut examines life for the most disadvantaged who call post-prosperity America home.

Author/Publisher/Reviewers Note: This book deals with darker themes including racist content, depictions of rape, and strong themes of child sexualization/exploitation. If ANY of these subjects make you uncomfortable, then this is not the story for you.

My dearest reader, if the above paragraph in bold as well as the brief description above has not already convinced you, let me state it AGAIN – this book contains disturbing imagery. It is NOT for the faint of heart or easily offended. There are numerous passages that require the reader to have a strong constitution. Several of the reviews I have seen, the person reading it did not take the warning seriously and sadly suffered for it.

All of that aside: After Hope Dies is an excellent book. It provides a truly scary “What if…?” that once the reader finishes the book – including the epilogue – will leave them wondering just how much could potentially occur.

In three short stories, After Hope Dies, follows several individuals in a not to distant future. The city they are in could be anywhere in the United States and the persons the overall story centers on live in one of the poorest sections. Drug use as well as vices of other kinds run rampant and all of the characters are affected in one way or another.

While each individual story has its own main character, they also cross over in to the other stories. The child prostitute in the first story is the next door neighbor of the game playing introvert of the second story, and she goes to school with the younger sister who features in the third story. The introvert runs in the same gaming circles as the older sister in the third story. And between them all is the brothel owner and his assistant. They all play off of one another, acting and reacting to events as they occur.

Each person has their own story and Haraden does an admirable job of delving in to each one. It is certainly not an easy task, some of the jobs that these characters take on could be described as distasteful, yet they all do what they must. They make deals with demons with the intent of living another day.

Haraden’s writing is smooth and strong. As disturbing as some scenes are, they are penned in a way that is not difficult to imagine. The stories are easy to follow and the characters can be related to by most. As someone who is whiter than the proverbial sour cream, I will never be able to fully relate to the discrimination (both internal and external) faced by many. Reading After Hope Dies however, gave me a tiny inkling and takes me one step closer to understanding.

At times hard to read and hard to stomach, it is an engrossing book and one I simply must recommend.

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My goodness how time flies!

Capture

Wow, it is so hard to believe that it’s been 4 years here already! Four years – and while there have been many ups and downs, I haven’t regretted a single moment. So far it has been a fun ride and I am looking forward to many more!

Provided for Review: A Prayer for the Necromancer (The Shinigami Tomes #1) by C. Wain

This book was provided for review by the kind folks at Netgalley

Blood… Fear… Death… Love…

The legends of old tell of a primordial Creator. Merciful and lonely he was when he breathed new life into the barren womb of Oar, the everlasting universe. The Creator’s very essence and mana stood silently for stability and life.

Amidst gods and mages, the warming darkness of a mysterious man enshrouds the life of a young village girl. What happens when common beliefs hide the true evil in light? What happens when a rogue and despised necromancer sacrifices his own flesh for the sake of others?

A Prayer for the Necromancer is the story of Kaze Niss. A necromancer living in disgrace, feared and hated by many. He is on a dark path, searching for a way to avenge the wrongful death of his father. Travelling this path has so far led to death and destruction, but it has done little to deter Kaze. He will have his revenge.

Personally, I found A Prayer for the Necromancer to be one of those books that has an interesting premise but fails in the execution. Kaze is supposed to be the kind of character that has a gray morality, yet I found him to be quite unlikable. He is selfish and even when we are meant to be rooting for him, it was difficult for me to do so.

Wain’s style of writing was also troublesome. Many of the same words and phrases are used continuously throughout the story. One particular word that Wain seems to like to use is “giggle”. From young female characters to older male characters, they all giggle. Personally, I found this a bit off putting since no man I know giggles. Chuckles? Yes. Laughs out loud? Sure. Giggles? No.

For me, A Prayer for the Necromancer is very much a diamond in the rough. The overall premise and world building is interesting and given some more work via editors and such, it could be a must read. In time it could do well, it just needs a bit more polish.

Provided for Review – The Autobiography of Satan (Authorized Edition) by William Glasser

This book was provided as an e-copy by BookGlow.net in exchange for an honest review. 

The Story of Satan’s Many Struggles, Across the History of Human Existence, to Unshackle the Human Mind, and Open the Gates to Forbidden Knowledge.

From the moment of his first emergence as a single spark in the dimness of prehistory, to the more enlightening force into which he evolves across the full span of human existence, Satan has been urging human beings to open their eyes to the world around them, and to continue seeking, with unfettered minds, for ultimate answers. To do so he must struggle against the persistent attempts to stifle that urge by the “spoon feeders,” as he calls them, individuals who have insisted, within every age, and often with a bloody fist, that they, and they alone, are the possessors of the only beliefs that every human being should accept and live by, without question.

As Satan traces the history of their many attempts to stop human beings from thinking for themselves, he also takes his readers on a search for the ultimate source of all evil in this world. Readers will obviously enter the book with the standard concept of Satan as a supernatural figure of evil. They will leave the book, however, with a better understanding of how such mind-twisting concepts have been used to keep people away from the “forbidden” knowledge that lies beyond the borders of entrenched beliefs.

I’m not quite sure what I was expecting when I began reading The Autobiography of Satan, but a metaphorical think piece was certainly not it. And while it is certainly not a bad thing, again it just wasn’t what I was expecting.

Though it claims itself to be an autobiography, it comes across as more of a kind of history of religion. Satan himself – in whatever form he currently inhabited – is a only a minor character, watching from the sidelines and giving only minimal “nudges” to the humans he encounters. There were some good points made though – ie. that many of the major religions share basic mythology and clearly borrowed from one another in some point in time.

For every “serious” chapter following the path of Satan’s life, there are also more humorous chapters. These are little outtake chapters with Satan speaking to his assistant Wag, who is doing the writing while his boss talks. These are cute little chapters that perhaps make an effort to show a more human side to Satan. Funny and interesting, they however add little to the story itself.

As much as I enjoyed the story, the ending left me scratching my head. It felt disconnected and not even part of the preceding pages. Like perhaps it was tacked on at a later date. While I won’t divulge too many details for fear of spoilers, I’ll let the reader decide how they feel on the subject should they read the book themselves.

 

Provided for Review – The Lady in the Cellar: Murder, Scandal, and Insanity in Victorian Bloomsbury by Sinclair McKay

Number 4, Euston Square was a home like many in Victorian London. A boarding house, it was respectable, well-kept, and hospitable to those staying there. Yet beneath that veneer there seemed to be a darkness lurking.

In early May 1879, the corpse of a woman is discovered in the coal cellar. An investigation discovers she is an elderly woman named Matilda Hacker, a former resident of the boarding house. Questions are immediately raised. How did she die? How did she come to be buried in the coal cellar? And most importantly, who could have killed her?

In the investigation that followed, every resident of the home was scrutinized and more than a few secrets were brought to light. Someone in that house had killed Matilda Hacker and someone knew the truth.

I would like to thank NetGalley and the publishers for a copy of this ebook in exchange for a review.

The Lady in the Cellar is a true story. In the early summer of 1879, a body was discovered in the coal cellar of a boarding house. Almost every person who was there was a potential suspect. It was a story the newspapers grabbed on to, especially once more and more details started to come to light. And in a time when the so called ‘middle class’ were coming in to their own and the lines between classes were sometimes blurred, there were an abundance of details to titillate and delight.

The case of the murder of Matilda Hacker is a bizarre one. And it is one that the author covers in great detail. At times it feels like McKay is trying to reach a page count with their writing as there are long passages going in to details that nothing to do with the case itself. While it can be interesting to read about some of history about the family that owned the boarding house, with no actual relevancy, it leaves one to wonder why it was included.

Some of the other reviews I have seen where the reader did not finish the book lament the fact that McKay’s writing can be a bit tedious at times. It is an opinion I must agree with. Attention to detail is one thing, but to inundate a reader with information can be a it much. The actual trial and its aftermath take up roughly half of the book. And it is this half of the book that is the most interesting. It is slogging through the first half of the book and getting to the ‘good bits’ however, that can be difficult.

It is very obvious that McKay did a great amount of research in writing The Lady in the Cellar. The book is chock full of information and little details to draw the reader in. And while the actual case of the murder of Ms. Hacker was never solved, McKay gives a plausible ‘what if?’ scenario towards the end.

While I am sure there are those readers who dislike true crime books for one reason or another, I urge my readers to give this one a try when it hits shelves. In a day and age of sensational media such as ours, it is little wonder that the case of the lady in the cellar was so fascinating to the reading public of the day. It is my hope that modern day readers will enjoy it as well.

Corpse Rider by Tim Curran

Poor Christina is young and alone. Her every relationship seems cursed, each one slowly turning to poison. The only one that doesn’t seem to have soured is the one with her co-worker.

Christina is also at times kind. When visiting her mother’s grave, she notices a nearby grave left derelict. Thinking she is helping, she pulls the weeds growing around and tidies the tombstone up a bit.

Her simple act of kindness causes someone to notice and Christina realizes she is no longer alone. For what was laid to rest beneath that stone has attached itself to her and to it she will be the perfect wife. And, God help her, the perfect mother.

Corpse Rider by Tim Curran is the perfect creepy story to start off the month of October with. It is a short story – more a novella than a novel – and is therefore a fairly quick read.

This is the first book by Curran that I have read, but judging from his titles on GoodReads, he has a flair for the strange. His books run the gambit and it looks like his readers love them.

Corpse Rider is very much a psychological book. Written in a way that makes the reader wonder just how much is real and how much is in Christina’s mind. Did she really see a figure in black on that hot, sunny day in the cemetery? Was there really a hearse driven by that same figure at her work a few days later? As Christina is the only one seeing these things, one cannot help but wonder if perhaps she is going insane.

At times, it certainly feels that way. Every one around her is skeptical as there simply isn’t any proof. No proof until the very, very end.

I won’t go too far in to what happens next because to do so will ruin the ending for any one who decides to read this. Personally, I recommend it to my readers. Especially to those who like a good, creepy read. So grab your favorite hot drink, a warm fuzzy blanket, and curl up with this great thriller.