Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Shattered Spirits by L.L. Bartlett - My review

So, I'm a huge fan of The Jeff Resnick Mystery (7 Book Series)and was so happy to get this goodie into my hands. 

Mr. Resnick is a former insurance investigator with a currently—due to a brutal mugging—heightened sense of awareness in others.

Unfortunately, while his family and loved ones seemed to be experiencing the greatest highs of their lives (His brother, Richard, and Richard’s wife, Brenda, have their loveable, beautiful little Betsy and Jeff’s girlfriend, Maggie, is selling her home for financial benefit and to be closer to Jeff), he’s experiencing nothing but lows.

To start, he and his friend, Dave, are run down while on their motorcycles, an incident that Jeff’s abilities lead him to believe is no accident. Adding on to that, his financial record is hacked and wrecked, dealing a blow to his pride as he’s further forced to depend on his brother and Brenda.

Furthermore, in Shattered Spirits, Resnick’s gift is put to use in a different type of cold case.
It’s literally cold.
Working together with Richard, Jeff meets the center of said case, Alice Newcomb, a young woman in her early 20s who has been dead since the 1930s.

My mind was blown. I don’t think I’ve ever seen L.L. Bartlett do this with the Jeff Resnick. For you other readers of the series, correct me if I’m wrong.

Yes, he’s picked up on the auras of living people in the middle of examining other cold cases before, but I don’t recall him ever working with and talking to a dead person to solve said person’s murder. I thought that was so interesting. It felt as if I, as the reader, got another genuine characteristic element of Jeff Resnick. Within a series, that’s pretty rare and totally awesome to get to know an old character in a new dimension.


I also enjoyed the realism of the family and relationship element. Betsy was adorable and Brenda’s my favorite and an absolute trooper with everything that goes on. I liked Richard as well, though sometimes the older brother had his own things to work through and it often inhibited his own growth and stalled everyone else. But he tries and he loves his family so he’s a winner to me.


On the other hand, I did not like Maggie in this book. I understand that she had a great deal happening with the sale of her home, finances and the like, but she seemed more selfish than distracted.

I have my own life too. At the same time, if I had significant other who went through an ordeal that almost killed them, I’d like to think I would be at their side a lot more than she was.
Or at least show a drop more sensitivity, especially after all that they had gone through together. I was very surprised at her.  


Beginning middle to end, I enjoyed the book and did not want the adventurous to stop.

It's power-packed with page-turning tension and paranormal thrills. 
I give it 4 out of 5 stars; I would recommend it!

In this latest installment, L.L. Barlett shows us yet another element to Jeff Resnick while telling us an amazing story and bringing back the characters we’ve gotten to love so much. Despite the fact that Shattered Spirits (The Jeff Resnick Mysteries) (Volume 7) is part of a series, you can pick it up without having read the others and you won’t be lost.

Ms. Bartlett, if you’re reading this, I really need you to hurry with the next Resnick book. We’re patiently waiting!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

My Review: Away From the Dark (The Light Series Book 2) by Aleatha Romig

Hey! I’m back!

I hope you all are doing well.

So jumping right in with another part two book…

Away from the Dark by Aleatha Romig, the continuing story primarily following Sarah, a young woman who now is beginning to realize she needs out of the evil cult with too much reach beyond the mountainous, ski-lodge-like compound known as The Light.

In the previous book, Into the Light, Sarah had no idea about her former life and only knows what she’s been told by everyone around her including Jacob, her husband who is not at all what he seems.

Now, in Away from the Dark, the memories are coming back to her. Meanwhile, Jacob’s own guilt and secrets are eating away at him.

If I had to pick one theme for this book, I’d say it would be “Trust no one” because that’s honestly how I felt after this. I've been giving everything and everyone a second glance since I read this book.


Within these pages, no one was who they seemed to be and characters who you might think would be helpful, helpless, or even evil were anything but.


In Away from the Dark, there’s intrigue, suspense, thrills, paralyzing shock and the threat of murder in the middle of a stew of corruption. It felt so real that my heart raced, stopped, and broke all at once.

So if you love mysteries, you WILL want this book!

5 stars! No question about it!

Romig absolutely leaves you wanting more. Her style and delivery are unmatched. 

I would, however, caution you on reading this after dark. If you’re anything like me, your heart will be wound up tight long after you’re supposed to be asleep.


Thanks for joining me and check out Away from the Dark (The Light Series Book 2)!

You can also check out Into The Light here ----> 

Monday, February 27, 2017

My review: Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes

When last we left Joe—the stalker in search of true love in You—his involvement with Beck and everything he’d done to make said involvement possible failed. He falls for another woman who scams him and, if you know Joe, he will not let that go.

Enter Hidden Bodies. After reading You, I couldn't wait to pick this up. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~MY REVIEW ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Searching for the woman who scammed him, Joe ends up in LA. Along the way, he gets friends among Tinseltown's hopefuls, establishes a Facebook account, and begins building his writing career as the collateral damage—specifically bodies—in his quest for love with Beck remains far behind him and long buried.

Kepnes is phenomenal. She not only is brilliant in setting the scene of ambitious young Hollywood but—just as in You—creating the characters. For instance, while Joe was a clear-cut psychopath and an all-too-calm one at that as he committed murders and buried bodies with the expert ease of an experienced surgeon, there were times where I, as the reader, almost felt bad for him, especially when he ultimately finds his perfect match and is desperate to hide his past. A few times, I shook myself loose as if to say “No, you’re bad. I cannot feel for you.” That’s how good Kepnes is.

One of my favorite lines she wrote was the following:  “So I Lyfted to Home Depot where I bought random stuff, rope and duct tape, plastic bags, cable ties, and plastic gloves. The girl at the register winked and said she's also a big fan of Fifty Shades and this is what has become of our society. Fucking and killing are the same damn thing.”

I laughed aloud because Kepnes read my mind. If I worked at Home Depot and saw someone buying all those things at once, I would do more asking questions and less talking about 50 Shades of Grey.

Hidden Bodies is a wonderfully eerie, spine-chilling body of work that I did not want to end. I hope the story of Joe continues. 5 stars!

My Review: Jagged Edge of the Sky by Paula Marie Coomer


A free black man in London wanders too close to the docks on the wrong day. A woman gives birth alone in a barn loft near an Australian outback crossroads. A mother removes her apron, walks away from her family, and tells her secrets only once. A woman in a California living room sobs as her husband informs the assembled adult children that the youngest is only half-brother to the rest. A mental health agent in Idaho struggles with addiction, bureaucracy, and an affection for one of her charges, a dark-haired transient from Australia. In Paula Marie Coomer's Jagged Edge of the Sky connections of blood and circumstance emerge from a kaleidoscopic narrative in which these and other characters navigate rugged personal terrains of loss and hope. The resulting literary landscape is spare and challenging as the Australian outback, mythical as the American West. With a relentless eye, Paula Marie Coomer flinches from neither the gruesome nor the humorous in this fractured tale of loners, siblings, parents, and lovers.

                      ~~~~~~~MY REVIEW~~~~~~~

When I first read the premise of Jagged Edge of the Sky, I was intrigued and I must say a bit wary as I was worried if I would be able to follow the characters described. Once I opened the book and consumed the story, the case was to the contrary.

While I hit a small snag in identifying who was who in the beginning, I must say that it didn’t last long. I was able to catch on and follow along relatively quickly.

Believe it or not, I enjoy it when an author stretches beyond the bounds of what the common place number of characters would be in a given story. I love it because there are no rules to how many characters should be written into a book. Therefore I love to see what that author will do and what rules they will write for themselves.

Ms. Coomer, I feel, was on fire in this work. Her written imagery of lust, links, location, and even generational time periods was on point. Situations were interspersed and yet seamless. For instance, even though the characters are different and reside in various locations, they are interconnected and Ms. Coomer illustrates the links with more than just the use of simple sheer coincidence.  You actually feel these bonds.  

With Jagged Edge of the Sky, Paula Marie Coomer is upfront and in-your-face. Her language pulls no punches. At the same time, her genius is quiet and understated. I give this 4 out of stars. I’m definitely going to pick up another one of Paula Coomer’s works and I recommend that you do, too.


You can find it here on book depository where I'm an affiliate. You can also learn more about Paula and her amazing works!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Left Hand Tree by Jay Gunter (My Review)

Hey guys, back with my review of Left Hand Tree!!

In all my years of reading, I don't think I’ve ever beheld a debut novel quite like this one. When I’m first introduced to an author through their work, particularly when said work is fiction, it’s usually a huge body of one big story. 

Left Hand Tree is different from that. I enjoy pretty much anything that is a bit out of the box from the norm so I gave it a point right at the beginning for that. Instead of a large quantity words surrounding one horror-based fictional account,  Jay Gunter gives the readers of Left Hand Tree a gripping tale followed by multiple short stories that are just as riveting. 

From the Prologue, I was hooked and, while I enjoyed the descriptive terror that Gunter brings to his words, I will say my skin crawled quite a bit. He gives you just enough to get your imagination working, which, for me, made the work all the more scary and spellbinding.


So if you love horror, you’re going to love this. I’d highly recommend Left Hand Tree and I'm looking forward to seeing more from Jay Gunter. Five stars!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Interview: Jay Gunter, author of Left Hand Tree

Q: This is your first book. Where'd you get the idea to do a collection of short stories instead of a full-length novel? 
A: I actually like to call the book an “anthology novel.”  It started out as a short novel, Left Hand Tree, the first actual story in the book.  When I was finished, I wound up writing a number of other stories that took place in the same “universe,” with similar themes.  I wanted to publish them all, but story collections are somewhat difficult to sell to readers, especially those who may be used to reading a book that tells just one story, all the way through, with no breaks.  My solution was to do what one of my favorite authors, Ray Bradbury did with books like The Martian Chronicles and The Illustrated Man.  He created a central story to run through a number of his short stories and he “bound” them all together.  The stories in Left Hand Tree were already bound together with recurring mythic images and themes, but I wanted something more tangible than that.  Hopefully, the story of a fictional version of myself being contacted by a strange storyteller will keep readers turning pages to the end the book, even after one of the shorter stories within has ended.

Q: How did you begin writing?
A: I’ve written screenplays, poems, short stories and lots of odds and ends--almost none of which sold--especially after graduating as an undergraduate.  All throughout that time, I’ve had many bouts of looking at myself in the mirror, so to speak, and asking if I’m just wasting my time.  I’ve wanted to write full time since I was in middle school, but it’s easy for me to get into a rut and let the writing dwindle down to nothing.  I just wanted to finish and publish this particular book and get it out there, so these crazy ideas I had about horror and monsters and the nature of the universe would be read by someone other than myself and a handful of other people.  I did publish the first story in the book, the short novel “Left Hand Tree”, with another small publishing company, but the book, to me at least, felt like it needed the presence of those other stories to give it a framework and a reason for existing beyond just being a strange, gothic crime story with supernatural elements.  I conceived the universe of Left Hand Tree to be something strongly within the horror genre, with all that genre’s attributes and attitudes.

Q: What authors do you like to read?
A: I mention them, or I have my mysterious storyteller in the book, mention them.  Ray Bradbury with The October Country.  Stephen King with ‘Salem’s Lot and Pet Sematary.  H.P. Lovecraft and The Dunwich Horror.  Also, Arthur Machen, M.R. James and Daphne du Maurier from over across the pond.  I also learned to enjoy authors who are considered “Christian” authors, such as C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Charles Williams and George MacDonald.  When I was younger, I never went near Lewis and the Narnia stories, but I developed an appreciation of him and other Christian writers when I saw how they used their imaginations to take those things they loved, those Gothic conventions and mythic images, and expressed their faith through them.  I tried to do the same thing with the stories in Left Hand Tree, using the otherworldly whisperings from the Lovecraftian darkness outside of space and time to express my Christian beliefs, rather than elves and lions.  My ultimate hope is that I can delight a reader with what Lovecraft termed “cosmic horror” that transports you to realms beyond the bounds of this one, and yet offer a message of strange hope beyond human understanding, where he mostly just dealt with existential despair.  I never want to simply depress a reader, but at the same time, I don’t want to be guilty of serving up a Sunday school lesson in a Halloween mask!   

Q: Do you have any writing rituals?
A: Nope.  Butt in the chair, fingers on the keyboard, keep writing ‘til I’m done.  I do write better in silence than with music or background noise, however.

Q: What's more important: characters or plot?
A: Characters are what draw you into a story.  Plot is what keeps you there.  If either is weak, the whole narrative will suffer.  Basically, it’s a 50/50 balance.  In the case of the first story of Left Hand Tree, I had a character to begin with, a no-nonsense customer who would stop and nothing to get a job done.  I decided to give him a non-typical job, and have him save an infant in peril, rather than recover stolen money or kill someone for revenge.  The otherworldly horror elements occurred to me afterwards, and the plot began to weave itself around this tough character.  The central character in the second story, “The Fourth Son of Adam,” however, was pretty formless—an everyman.  That story’s development was almost exactly opposite.  I had the plot in mind first, and I discovered that as the protagonist I created to travel through those events did what he did, his personality, his motives, and his desires all began to develop—to reveal themselves—as the plot took its course.  I tend to agree with Stephen King that the best stories write themselves, and that the process is a lot like unearthing something that has lain buried for a long time.  And sometimes, when you approach a story like that, you find that the story can take on a life of its own and take you, the writer, to places you never expected to go!

Thanks for joining Forward Scribes, Jay!

*Readers, be sure to like and/or share the Left Hand Tree Facebook page for your chance at this custom-designed necklace!* 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Coming Up Next...

Also reviewing...
Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes 
Away from the Dark by Aleatha Romig
Shattered Spirits by L.L. Bartlett

To get on this list for review, interview, etc, tweet or message me! Thanks for your support!