Are There Enough Chairs In Heaven – Cullen Spurr

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Memories are the pathway to our souls…

I’d like to start by saying I am delighted to be the first person to review this author’s debut short story, bringing his work into the blogging world is truly an honour, as well as giving him the recognition he fully deserves. Pushing his work into the spotlight and paving the way for his future works to be shown to the world. If his other work is as good as this short story then we are all in for a treat!

Firstly we dive straight into the story with a stream of consciousness as the protagonist starts to describe his surroundings and the confusion in which they bring, already the sense of darkness fills the gaps as we go along the characters journey. Guessing at each turn on who this character is (as no names are given), where he is and what has happened to him, which only increases the mystery.

As we progress through the characters memories we are taken on a trip through his childhood, dipping into his adolescence and falling in love. However don’t let this description fool you, the darkness behind the words slips out as we slowly discover the character’s emotions (feeling numb to the world) with a glimmer of hope when ‘she’ walks into his life. Even when all seems like it could be a ‘happily ever after’ situation his world comes crashing down beneath him.

One of my favourite things about this story was the break of consciousness, snippets of the protagonist swaying from his past recollections and bringing more mystery into his words. The fact that he realises he’s breaking from his trip down memory lane and giving away clues to the reader without them knowing how they piece together.

Another way to know if a story is good usually falls into the lines of wanting to know more, with this story it is open to interpretation on what actually happened with this man. Not giving you a clear black and white ending you find yourself questioning whether the break in consciousness earlier in the story meant that the ending wasn’t all that it seemed.

If you like a bit of darkness, some mystery and a story that pulls you in from the beginning and doesn’t let go then this is a story I would definitely recommend. Cullen Spurr is an unknown author for now, but I have a feeling that his work is going to capture a wide audience and have something special behind every cover.

Until next time…

If you would like to read this yourself it is available for download by viewing the PDF here – Are There Enough Chairs In Heaven – Culln Spurr

Bio: Cullen Spurr
Throughout his school life he was reprimanded for being outspoken and a little different, with the exception of his English teachers, who praised his creative writing and inquisitive mind. He developed a passion for all forms of creative writing early on in his life. This developed through many mediums such as music, poetry and prose. He self-released a short novella through Amazon’s Kindle store in 2013 but then took a step back from writing to pursue music throughout university. After graduating university Cullen rekindled his passion for writing and started working on, what he hopes to be, his debut novel.

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Jadeite’s Journey – Lucinda Stein

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Living in a perfect world isn’t as good as it sounds…

Firstly I must say that returning to blogging after such a long break has been worth it thanks to this book, however the break has been very good for me. I’ve been able to get myself settled into my new home, start my new job without distractions and get used to my new surroundings up North (UK). I never wanted to be away from blogging this long but knew that I couldn’t continue with all the drastic changes happening in my life. This break is now over and I’m delighted to return with such a wonderful book ‘Jadeite’s Journey’ – hopefully you’ll agree!

We start off with the illusion of a ‘perfect world’ where everyone is happy and content, thinking that their part of the world is free of disease/illness and where everyone is immortal. However it is a controlled society, there are tests that determine your career, technology for everything (cooking, hobby activities and of course the drone guards) and rules no one must break. Yet everything isn’t as perfect as they are deemed to believe. Jadeite finds out her brother is sick and needs medicine from ‘over the ridge’ where the primitive outcasts live. After taking on her fathers responsibilities of going over the ridge, she has to learn to adapt to two worlds and make sure she doesn’t get caught!

The characters themselves each have a story to tell and the more we learn about them the deeper connection I seemed to get, Jadeite herself proves to be the smart, loving daughter who will do anything for her family which really shows when she starts to try and save her brother’s life and takes her father’s duties of crossing the ridge to protect him. Electra is the quirky best friend who doesn’t quite fit into the way United Society want her to be, she is creative and erratic and a free spirit. She is the first person we see having to bend to the rules ‘or else’ and puts it into perspective how controlling the United Society government are. Mattie I honestly liked in the beginning, he was confident and the teenage romance that blossomed between him and Jadeite did make me smile, until he started to show his true colours and became controlling, manipulative and dangerous. Finally the key character that stood out was Orion (a boy from over the ridge) he showed bravery, loyalty and love which made me root for him and Jadeite even more as he showed her the ‘new world’ she wasn’t accustomed to and kept her safe.

The narrative itself was somewhat hard to follow sometimes, due to it flicking from one section to the other but the story-line had me turning each page with intrigue and kept me wanting to find out what happens next. I loved the contrast between United Society and over the Ridge, it really painted the picture of how corrupt United Society is and how with little technology the people over the Ridge had freedom which meant more to them than living a ‘convenient’ but controlled life. The way that the cracks in United Society slowly unfolded worked brilliantly, it had me questioning whether it was just coincidences or mistakes that Jadeite was uncovering but really built up to how wrong this place was. I did feel myself following Jadeite’s journey with held breath, especially her constant trips over the Ridge and hoping she doesn’t get caught but also her charade whilst in United Society and her fooling Mattie that she was still his and happy in that relationship.

Without giving away any spoilers there were two major twists that had me shocked, one being the Vilàne family and all their secrets. The mother in particular and the secret she kept from not only her own son Mattie but the entire United Society government, I had to re-read the whole section to make sure I wasn’t just imagining the deception. The second twist was with the Journeyman family, particularly Jadeite’s mother and the secret that had been kept from Jadeite and her brother. Two very different twists but both delightfully shocking.

The one downside to this book was the ending, I was happy with the way it seemed to be going and gave me hope that everything would be alright. However it did end rather suddenly without answering some of the questions I had about the Vilàne family, will Mattie ever know the truth about his father? How would Jadeite cope with life outside of United Society? What would her and Orion’s relationship be like? I do hope there will be another book that follows from this as I would be very keen to read it!

Until next time…

If you want to read ‘Jadeite’s Journey’ yourself you can purchase it on Amazon by following the link here.

Bio: Lucinda Stein
As a former school librarian, Lucinda Stein enjoyed sharing books with students. Jadeite’s Journey is her first YA novel. Her collection of short stories, Sanctuary: Family, Friends, and Strangers, was a 2015 Colorado Book Award finalist. Her story, “Sulfur Springs,” won the 2011 LAURA Short Fiction Award judged by Pam Houston. Lucinda loves reading, anything vintage, camping, and hiking with her shelter-rescue dog, Opie. She also enjoys creating bookstagrams. Follow her on Instagram at lucindastein.

Guess who’s back…

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Blogger break over, ready to start again…

Firstly I just wanted to say that having a break from blogging was not due to my lack of interest, I just happened to have a few big life events that came faster than anticipated and therefore I needed to pause my blogging to focus on that.

I do appreciate the continued support which really makes me thankful for the community of book lovers/authors that have been with me though this journey. I know that I made some promises to authors to review their books and I do intend to keep those promises (it just may have a shift in timelines now).

So, the reasons behind my disappearance are as follows…

  1. I have re-located up north to Leeds (UK) which included finding a new place to live, finding a new job and then actually moving up there (plus getting settled).
  2. As previously mentioned, I got a new job to support my move therefore having to start at a new place, meet new people and learn a WHOLE lot of new things.

As you can imagine these two events have taken up most of my time and regrettably I’ve not had time to focus on The Book Box or had the time to relax and enjoy the wonderful books I have lined up.

However, it is with great pleasure that I announce my return! I am fully settled into my new place and gotten off to a good start at my new job so I will be taking more time to focus on The Book Box again – planning to have a new book review this weekend!

Finally I would like to thank those that have stood by me in my absence and continued to support my love of reading and blogging and I promise that I will return stronger than ever.

Until next time…

She Will Rise – Calvin Demmer

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Five tips to definitely live (or die) by…

Following from last week’s short story ‘Spring Outbreak’ we continue down the road of Calvin Demmer’s Dark Celebrations series with yet another spectacular addition ‘She Will Rise’. If reading is an addiction then I must confess to being completely hooked to these short stories, I cannot get enough! Hoping to continue through the whole collection I am already so engrossed with each individual story and this one is no exception!

This story actually came across rather differently than the others, almost softer and more toned down to what I was expecting. Needless to say this didn’t last long as we are given wonderful twists and taken down a dark path no one can return from. However I really enjoyed the build up of this story, even though most short stories dive straight into the action this one allowed us to feel what the protagonist Luna was feeling (love towards her ill mother, grief for her dead twin sister and hatred for her step-father). By building these relationships and background we are able to mirror those emotions and understand the reasoning behind the actions taken.

We are drawn in straight away by Luna coming home from college for Easter break, knowing her mother is ill she wishes to make this weekend special. Little does she know that this Easter will change her life forever. Building on the relationship that Luna has with her mother really hit home for me, it takes a lot to care for someone but even more so to stand up for them! Luna shows courage and bravery to stand up to Ralph (step-father) and when all hope is lost, an unexpected ‘helper’ arrives.

Darkness is a common theme in Calvin Demmer’s work and sometimes the characters you least expect to have a dark twist emerge and bring with them sinister behavior. Without giving away any spoilers, Luna really surprised me with her characteristics towards the end. Not just the compassionate daughter, there is always more than meets the eye with people. Honestly I didn’t expect the ending (the VERY end sentence) which is why I enjoy these types of books, you never know what you’re going to get.

All the way through I was actually hating Ralph myself, getting that connected to another characters emotions is so hard to achieve but I was thinking about how repulsive he is and how Luna and her mother could do so much better (I think it was the throwing away the VCR tapes that did it for me). The fact that there were so many twists to this story kept me on my toes and I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next!

Hopefully I will get the chance to read more of Calvin Demmer’s work (I do aim to read the whole collection) as he always seems to surprise me. Even if you’re not a fan of horror genre you can still appreciate a good plot twist!

Until next time…

If you want to read ‘She Will Rise’ yourself you can purchase it on Amazon by following the link here.

Bio: Calvin Demmer
Calvin Demmer is a crime, mystery, and speculative fiction author. He has had over thirty stories published in various magazines and anthologies. When not writing, he is intrigued by that which goes bump in the night and the sciences of our universe.

Spring Outbreak – Calvin Demmer

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Never fall asleep at the beach…

As you may have known I’ve reviewed Calvin Demmer’s work before, already accustomed to his style of writing I was very eager to read another addition of his Dark Celebration collection. With short stories you never know what you’re going to get and they have to move in a fast paced situation to get the detail across effectively and this book delivered that completely!

Normally with short stories they jump straight into the action without having much background information on the characters, this however was not one of those books. You get a glimpse into Gwen’s backstory bit by bit, firstly we find out about her recent breakup and how something like that could bring sad memories even in the happiest of scenarios. Secondly we find out that Gwen is not only mourning a past relationship but also the loss of her younger brother Thomas. By having this information the reader is able to really connect with Gwen and understand the pain she must be feeling.

This story really flowed well building on the emotions of the characters, one of the main ones that I really saw was fear. Without giving away the story there are certain levels of fear Gwen goes through. Fear of upsetting her friend who is there to cheer her up and celebrate a great first year of college (spring break in Mexico kind of cheering up). Then there is the fear of being alone, followed by the fear of needing to survive and finally the fear of the unknown. By having such a strong emotional connection with the character you get fully drawn into what might happen next and I feel that this book really delivers that!

Another thing I’ve noticed with short stories, especially the horror genre is that they end in surprising, cliffhanging ways. This book however challenged that way of ending and even though it was still shocking I felt it really fit with the way the book was going, also on a more real note I think that if this book happened in real life the ending may not be as far fetched as you’d think!

Normally with these types of stories I try to guess what will happen (not that all are that predicable) but with this one I struggled, on some levels I did guess what may happen (even the title clicked half way through) but there were times that I must admit stood out to me.

I will be looking out for more of Calvin Demmer’s work (I do have another one of his short stories lined up for next weekend) as I think that his work is very well written and definitely stands out in the horror/ short story genres.

Until next time…

If you want to read ‘Spring Outbreak’ yourself you can purchase it on Amazon by following the link here.

Bio: Calvin Demmer
Calvin Demmer is a crime, mystery, and speculative fiction author. He has had over thirty stories published in various magazines and anthologies. When not writing, he is intrigued by that which goes bump in the night and the sciences of our universe.

The Solitary Path Of Courage – M. B. Tosi

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You can be taught how to be ladylike, but courage is always within…

This book is actually the fifth in ‘The Indian Path Series’ so I was a little apprehensive that I wouldn’t know what is going on straight away, however from doing some research each book has its own standalone story that you can enjoy without having read the whole series beforehand. This genre of book is not usually one that I would choose but I’m glad it was brought to my attention as it involves bravery, adventure, hope and discovery. All of these come together to create an in-depth story that give us an insight into how the Old West 1800’s would have been like, hard at the best of times but even harder for a young orphaned woman.

The female protagonist is not the stereotypical ‘tough’ heroine, Sam O’Brien is a strong willed and courageous young lady that has been leading a double life. Being raised by only her father for most of her life she learnt that ‘hiding’ as a male made it safer, especially if she wished to stay close to her father on the railroads construction sites. Not learning how to be ladylike she adapted to the male environment (perhaps not necessarily for the best) which allowed her to have a straightforward talking personality and hard skinned attitude. Once her father passed away she soon learned that in her new family this kind of attitude would not be accepted.

As for the story itself, it really keeps you entertained and educated as we follow Sam on her journey (from orphan to outcast then professional) as we already know Sam is able to disguise herself as a male, after she leaves for Lewiston she becomes a newspaper reporter (being a talented writer already this suits her perfectly). Able to write about the current issues with the Indian’s she makes a name for herself. This story really flows beautifully allowing the reader to become fully engaged with Sam’s journey but also with the characters she meets along the way. It is a fast paced book that is full of adventure that will keep you turning the pages with excitement and intrigue.

As for the educational side of this book, don’t think I mean you will be reading a textbook on Indian history, this is much more exciting than that! It really gives you an insight into how life would have been in that era, especially for young women like Sam but also the Indian tribes. How things such as the gold-rush can cause issues (always the case when money is involved) and how we need to think about other people rather than just ourselves. There will always be conflict in this world but if we choose to be courageous, kind and fair then hopefully we can live in peace with one another.

This story really comes to life, making you feel what Sam is feeling. The grief for her father, the anger for her stepbrother, the fear of the unknown and the happiness of discovery. It really is a whirlwind of emotions that you feel when you read this book, painting the story in your mind (from imagining hiding from the Indians in the haystack, to working as a man on the railway site to journey’s into the unknown towns). A good book gives you all of these things, this one most definitely allows your imagination to run wild!

I must say that I will be reading the rest of the series (even if I’ve done it a bit backwards) as I really think that the writing style and story line that M. B. Tosi has created really speaks out to me and I wish to see what else she has in store.

Until next time…

Bio: M. B. Tosi
M.B. TOSI is a bestselling author of The Indian Path Series, which includes five books, The Sacred Path of Tears, The Secret Path of Destiny, The Crimson Path of Honor, The Thundering Path of Spirit, and The Solitary Path of Courage. She also has been an editor of non-fiction books and a weekly newspaper. She teaches piano and has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in education. Born in Pierre, South Dakota, she has lived in Alexandria, Virginia; Bucks County, Pennsylvania; and Toledo, Ohio. She has three children, five grandchildren, and a spunky Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Ava.

Hell Will Rise – Skyla Murphy

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Always be one step ahead when dealing with the Mafia…

This is the first book I’ve read that had a Mafia theme and quite honestly I was intrigued to see how much my innocence to this theme would filter down into the book and impact my reading experience. It is safe to say I was pleasantly surprised with the story that unravelled, giving me a bit of everything (romance, violence and revenge) to keep me on my toes and turning each page with held breath!

Before you even begin the book you are told by the main protagonist ‘Hunter Garciez’ that you are reading his story, his tale of misery and warning you that Hell Will Rise! If that doesn’t give you enough persuasion to keep reading then I don’t know what will… This book splits the story between two perspectives, one of the male protagonist (Hunter) and one of the female protagonist (Shayla), this gives you a way into how each see the same situation but dealing with them in complete opposite ways, but also insight into their separate lives.

One of the plot twists unfolds early in the story (no spoilers here!) and allows the reader to almost anticipate what each character will do with that information, slowly having the characters realise the connection between them makes you really question the actions that may follow. The suspense built with this book really kept me going, always wanting to know what will happen next whilst really connecting with the characters and their own struggles and actions that lead them to be where they are now.

Now, the characters are just something else! I was a bit sceptical of Shayla as I’m not usually the kind of person who likes the whole ‘damsel in distress’ story line, but she is most definitely not that kind of girl! Shayla proves to be a headstrong, sassy and durable character, who has been dealt a rough hand yet keeps on fighting! Hunter being in the mafia is shown to have a sensitive side even after the years of gore, violence and malicious behaviour he’s endured and dealt out. Protecting his little sister after his parents died, his love for her shows no boundaries even after he is tested again and again!

This actually is the first book of ‘The Bloodthirst Mafia Series’ and from what Skyla Murphy has provided in ‘Hell Will Rise’ I most definitely cannot wait to read the rest of this series! Considering this is Skyla Murphy’s first book I must admit I’m impressed with the level of detail to the storyline, character creation and development and overall keeping me hooked onto every word she provided.

Until next time…

If you want to read ‘Hell Will Rise’ yourself you can purchase it on Amazon by following the link here.

Bio: Skyla Murphy
Skyla Murphy is a highland junkie from the West Coast of Canada. When she’s not searching the Rocky Mountains for Sasquatch, she can be found researching every other conspiracy theory known to mankind. Her Yorkshire Terrier is usually clung to her side, but he doesn’t buy into her philosophies much. Therefore, she writes about them instead.