She Will Rise – Calvin Demmer

Screenshot_20170611-184159
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

Screenshot_20170604-152257
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

Screenshot_20170529-112008
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

Screenshot_20170522-181717
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.

Joyful Trouble – Patricia Furstenberg

Screenshot_20170514-152209
What a joy this book is…

This book is actually the first ‘children’ book I’ve reviewed and I got worried that being in my early 20’s I wouldn’t be able to connect with it. How wrong I was! This book brings so much joy (pun intended) that I would highly recommend to anyone no matter your age. As I’m a dog lover this book was already something I was looking forward too, as I prepared myself to falling in love with Joyful Trouble I was taken on a beautiful journey that Patricia Furstenberg created.

As mentioned before I am a dog lover, which made this story really hit home as we are shown that even the biggest of breeds (Great Dane) can be gentle giants, even if they are a little mischievous. This story follows the journey of Joyful Trouble, a Great Dane that serves in the Navy due to his love of the seamen. Showing true friendship between man and ‘beast’ we see how humans rely on dogs for more than just companionship but for specific services too.

The story itself flows beautifully, narrated by the granddad of two small children (Ana and Tommy) who tells the tale as part of bedtime stories. As we flick between the granddad reminiscing of his time in the Navy (alongside Joyful Trouble) and current time with his family after he has retired you get to see fully how Joyful Trouble effected so many people throughout the years. The writing style is aimed at young children yet still emphasised the important areas needed to make sense of the story, reflecting that of a bedtime story really gives this book a clean and easy reading opportunity with room to get completely engrossed and captivated (bringing me back to my childhood when I got read bedtime stories!).

The key to a good book is not getting bored, connecting with characters or the story and feeling a sense of happiness when finished. Joyful Trouble produced all of these, I knew that the story wasn’t too long but happily finished it in two sittings (only pausing due to work or sleep) but I did try to prolong the reading experience as long as possible. As for the connection, it made me nostalgic – bringing me back to my childhood where I fell in love with reading due to the stories my parents would read to me. The happiness is due to the book being so well written and even with it being based on a true event added that twist of original creativity that allows you to laugh, cry and love alongside the characters.

Personally this story would be wonderful to read to your own children but also if you’re looking for a book that you want to make you smile then Joyful Trouble is the one for you. No matter your age, anyone can benefit from reading this gem of a book! Honestly I would be happy to read more of Patricia Furstenberg’s work and hopefully find some more beautiful stories.

Until next time…

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

Bio: Patricia Furstenberg
Patricia Furstenberg came to writing through reading, her passion for books being something she inherited from her parents. She loves to write children’s stories and poems about amazing animals. She believes each creature has a story and a voice, if only we stop to listen. She writes the ‘Sunday Dog Tales’ column for mypuppyclub.net, an Australian website shortlisted for Australia’s Top Influencers Award. Patricia is passionate about children’s right to read and she often writes on this topic for The Huffington Post South Africa.

The Calling – Louise White

Screenshot_20170507-191948
Portal travel can lead you down a dangerous road…

I always love finding a good fantasy book that is different and really stands out, it is quite hard as there are so many books out there that follow similar story lines which can get quite repetitive and predicable. The Calling is not one of those books, it’s such a refreshing narrative and story that really draws you in and gives you hours of escaping your own reality and following the life of Carolyn our strong willed female protagonist. I had no issues getting into this book and got taken on a journey that crosses realms, encounters demons and involves a romantic twist, a little bit of everything you’d need to enjoy a fantasy novel!

The story follows our female heroine Carolyn, who has lost her mother and brother to another realm and spends years in the unknown about her new found ‘magical’ powers. Being drawn to the gateways to complete tasks of killing demons she becomes ‘The Destroyer’ without having much insight into why she does this ‘job’. The book itself is quite confusing to begin with, especially as it flicks between the present/past and Carolyn’s internal thoughts but once you’ve sussed out what section your reading it does flow quite nicely. The story is full of amazing detail that really brings the story to life and creates the perfect balance of realism and fantasy!

The characters are something that really stood out for me, we see a lot of Carolyn and her strong feminine attitude which gets broken down somewhat by the demon Note who unexpectedly takes our protagonists heart (romantically of course) but the character development is brilliant! You really feel connected to each character you meet and understand their purpose in this book to the full, blending the bonds of friendship and love with some key characters along the way (Ethan) you really get a wide variety of people and each one stood out on their own, connecting with you on a personal level.

Mystery and confusion are two things that spring to mind when I thought about describing this book, the mystery side of it is due to never truly knowing what will happen next (always on your toes) but also being slightly sceptical of some characters and their motives, wondering if a character is actually right for our main lead and judging people before we truly understand them. All of these aspects make you so hooked to this book it’s unreal, I never wanted to put it down as I was always hoping to get more information on the next page! Confusion is another description due to this being the first novel in the series I’m hoping some of my questions will be answered, especially how the book ended I am desperate to find out more!

Overall I would say if you are a fan of fantasy I would highly recommend this book as Louise G. White has created a world (or two) that you can get lost in! This book has a bit of everything for everyone and is so well written I cannot wait to read the next novel in the Gateway series! The story line is flawless and really grabs your attention straight away, you won’t be putting this book down at any point until you’ve finished it!

Until next time…

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

Bio: Louise G. White
The scenic west coast of Scotland is where she lives with her family. She didn’t set out to write Fantasy, but when she sat with her laptop to begin The Calling, It became apparent that she still believed in Bogey Men, the Monster in the cupboard and of course, the Faeries at the bottom of our garden. Suddenly she found that she was writing a story of heroes who could be found both on our doorsteps and in the realms that lie beyond.

Spells & Persuasions – S.J.Budd

Screenshot_20170430-142054
Dark, twisted and extremely believable…

Now this review will be slightly different to my usual book reviews, as this collection features 9 short stories in the dark fantasy genre but I will try to review them as a whole and pick out some highlights from each. Before we begin I would not suggest reading these before bedtime as they have such an element of realism, making you think about situations in your own life that these events could occur as well as giving you twists to leave you shocked!

As mentioned before this collection has 9 short stories in, I actually read this book twice! Not only because it was such a well written book but because I wanted to make the experience of reading it last longer and really take in each story as a whole (letting the twists and turns really sink in). Each story draws you in straight away, not needing a long build up to realise what is happening. By doing this you are already engaged with the characters situation and follow the story word by word.

The style of each story varies from modern day to fantasy (witches and spells) but all have an underlying theme that is ‘relationships’ whether this be in the form of mother and son, husband and wife or teenage crushes. Each story delves deeper into these relationships and shows the darkness behind them, even the most innocent of characters are not as they seem (A Most Devoted Son, The Little Orphan Girl & Hold Me Tight). These stories really make you think about your own experiences (especially Spells and Persuasions) where teenage crushes can turn into something horrific, especially when magic is involved.

Now the genre of all these stories is dark fantasy and as it is a genre I most enjoy reading, I must say I wasn’t disappointed. Each story took me down a route that I thought I would suss out the ending but always shocked me and left me wanting more answers when the plot twists came out of the woodwork! The writing is so well done that you turn each page with ease, completely engrossed with the story that S. J. Budd has provided. The darkness within these stories is done in a way that makes you want to keep reading but part of you knows that something frightening is yet to come.

Just to pick out some of the stories that I enjoyed the most (honestly I wish I could write a whole review for each one) – ‘The Mound’ was one story that felt very close to being a real life event, yes it had magic and ghosts but the underlying theme of adultery made it full of possible realism. Not to give away any spoilers but let’s just say that if your husband is cheating on you and you find out, be careful what you wish for!

Another one that I enjoyed thoroughly was ‘The Little Orphan Girl‘ this story was one that wasn’t set in the modern world but in a world that had witches. The reason for picking this was the fact it really creeped me out! Normally I don’t like little girls in anything remotely scary (films or books) but this story really showed that innocence can be misleading. Again not giving away any spoilers but this twist really had me, I kept trying to work out what would happen as I was reading but I would have never guessed that ending.

In all honestly I would highly recommend this collection as it does have a little something for everyone (even if you’re not a huge horror/ dark fantasy fan) as the story lines are very well thought out and the twists will leave you speechless. I will definitely be looking forward to any future works of S. J. Budd as her writing is spectacular (and scary!).

Until next time…

If you want to read ‘Spells and Persuasions’ yourself you can purchase it on Amazon by following the link here.

Bio: S. J. Budd
Originally born in Cornwall, south west England, her childhood was surrounded by myths and legends and she has always been fascinated by anything out of the ordinary. It was in this strange and ancient land where she developed a passion for writing.
S.J.Budd loves writing short stories exploring dark fictional worlds and its mysterious inhabitants, and is currently working on her first novel. Her day job involves working as journalist for http://www.findahood.com and she also blogs on her site http://www.sjbudd.co.uk
Her work has appeared in Sanitarium Magazine, Siren’s Call Publications, Deadman’s Tome, Innersins , Aphelion, Bewildering Stories, Blood Moon Rising Magazine, Shadows at the Door and Danse Macabre Magazine, The Wild Hunt, Morpheus Tales and Freedom Fiction. Twitter @sjbuddj