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Book Review: Black Forest, by Laramie Dean

I accepted a review copy of Laramie Dean’s Black Forest for review through Pride Book Tours. And I try really hard to stay on top of any commitment I make. But I owe profuse apologies for this one. I got buried in schoolwork and just had to set the book aside for about two weeks and didn’t get it done in time. It sat on my side table, haunting me in a manner truly worthy of its content.

black forest cover

Nathan has always been haunted by what he calls “deaders,” frightening, disfigured creatures—once human but now hungry and relentless ghosts. After a séance to banish them goes awry, Nathan escapes high school to start over at Waxman University in idyllic Garden City, Montana. But when young men begin to go missing from campus, Nathan finds that the deaders have returned, more frightening and hungrier than ever.

With the help of the mysterious Theo, Nathan seeks to learn the truth behind the disappearances. But something worse than the deaders begins to haunt Nathan . . . something with glowing yellow eyes and giant wings. As reality grows thin, things emerge from the cracks. Is Theo what he seems? Or could he be some kind of monster? Will Nathan learn the truth before he vanishes into the darkness? 

my review

I’m torn about how to feel about this book. On the one hand, I enjoyed it. I liked the realness of it and Nathan’s unreliable self-destructiveness. I thought the writing purple as hell, which will probably bother some people, but I enjoy it. But on the other, I felt like (after a strong start) the book flagged, and I got bored.

Plus, the blurb talks about Theo and disappearances, etc. Theo and Nathan don’t truly meet until well PAST THE HALFWAY MARK. So, I have to quibble with that being in the blurb as if it’s the most significant plotline. It’s important, don’t get me wrong. But if I have to read 200+ pages before I get to it, I can’t consider it prime real estate blurb-worthy.

All in all, this is atmospheric and mind-bending (if at times mind-numbing). But I enjoyed more of it than I didn’t. So, I’ll give it a thumbs-up.


Other Reviews:

Black Forest by Laramie Dean _ Book Review

 

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Book Review: The Stalking Dead, by Eva Chase

I purchased a copy of Eva Chase‘s The Stalking Dead.
the stalking dead cover

Kinda dead. Straight-up psycho. Totally obsessed with her.

I did a bad, bad thing.

Thanks to a blank in my memory, I’m not sure what that thing was, but it was horrible enough to get me locked up in the mental ward for seven years. Horrible enough that my little sister won’t even speak to me.

But when I’m released back into a town determined to rub my unknown sins in my face, the past isn’t the only thing that’s haunting me. The four “imaginary” friends who made my childhood bearable barge into my life in a very real way.

They’re crude, criminally inclined, and more than a little unstable after ages trapped in afterlife limbo. All they want is to protect me. Worship me. Avenge me.

So they’ll bludgeon, maim, eviscerate—tear a strip of havoc right through this sleepy town.

Even rise from the dead.

Maybe I’m still not all that sane either, because part of me finds them strangely appealing. In ways very different from how I felt as a kid. And that’s not the only strangeness stirring inside me…

I promised myself I’d stick to the straight and narrow from here on. But what if the only way to set things right is to get a little ghoulish?

my review

The writing and editing are perfectly competent. The book is easily readable. But…’Meh.’ I thought this was entertaining enough but ultimately disappointing.

First off, the blurb set my expectation of the ‘Gang of Ghouls’ high. Sure, the blurb says afterlife, but the title says ghouls. So, I expected something at least a little monster-like. Instead, the ghosts just possess the main character’s bullies. So, they are fully phenotypically human. Then, the blurb tells us they “bludgeon, maim, eviscerate—tear a strip of havoc right through this sleepy town.” They do no such thing. They’re violently inclined, sure, but she is constantly telling them not to be and stopping them. They do very little in the grand scheme of things, honestly.

And while I thought them funny (and Ivery much appreciated how low-angst the why choose aspect was between them), I also thought they were idiots. It just got hard to take the chuckle-heads seriously enough to be true bad-boy romantic leads.

Add to that the fact that most of the tension in the book comes from campus bullies—the college campus feels a little too like a high school, really—and I found it all just a little too cliched. Her main foil, for example, is a girl who is jealous because the boy she likes is paying attention to the main character. Can we let this jealous girl villain—which has to be one of the most over-used in all of romance—dies already? I’m tired of reading it. I’m tired of what it tells me we’ve all internalized about other women and ourselves.

I spent a lot of this book waiting for it to grab my attention. But there are obviously some more interesting things happening in the wings that will come up in future books. The cliffhanger ending [and how tired am I of books that don’t end…very] speaks to that. But I felt like they all the stalking dead photogot held until about the last 1/3 of the book. So, for a lot of the time, I was waiting, waiting, waiting.

I would continue the series to see how those things develop if I could find a copy at a library, borrow one, or find a freebie. But I don’t think I’d buy it. (I rarely do if it looks like each one will end on a cliffie. Why bother unless you get them all? And that’s a different decision matrix entirely.)

So, all in all, not a complete dud. But still, a ‘Meh’ read for me.


Other Reviews:

@knottygirlreviewer The Stalking Dead Review #evachaseauthor #booktok #5starreviews #seriesstarter #reverseharem #bookwithspice ♬ original sound – Sandie

WE RIDE TITANS

Book Review: We Ride Titans, by Tres Dean

I accepted a review copy of We Ride Titans, by Tres Dean (author), Dee Cunniffe (colorist), Sebastián Píriz (Illustrator), Jim Campbell, Adrian F. Wassel (Editor). The book was also featured over on Sadie’s Spotlight. So, you can hop over there for a sample page, author and illustrator info, the tour schedule, and a chance to win a copy of the graphic novel for yourself.

Pacific Rim meets Shameless in this sci-fi kaiju action adventure, female helmed thrill ride where one woman must keep the monsters in check – as well as her explosive family!

It’s Mechs vs. Kaiju in this hard-hitting, action sci-fi adventure!

Kaiju hit hard. Family hits harder.

Just when you break free … you get pulled back in.

Trying to keep your family from imploding is a tall order. Titan-rider Kit Hobbs is about to find out it’s an even taller order when that family has been piloting the Titan that protects New Hyperion from the monstrous kaiju for generations. With an addicted, spiraling brother, a powder keg of a father, and a whole bunch of twenty-story monsters, she’s got her work cut out for her.

my review

I enjoyed the heck out of this. I liked the art and use of color. I appreciated the sibling affection and inter-generational discord. There is little bit of background romance and I liked that it wasn’t sullied by needless cheating to give the story artificial grit. There’s diversity and appropriate use of mental health services to address the result of generational trauma.

I did think that the introduction of the villain was abrupt and I could have done with a little more backstory. The mother’s role was never defined in any significant way and the kaiju just exist; we’re not told anything about them. All of this could have been improved with a little more length and time to unfurl. All in all, however, I’ll call this one a winner. If you’re at all into the mecha genre, check this out.

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Other reviews:

The Real World According to Sam: Blog tour review, We Ride Titans

You Are The Wall – Character Outshines Spectacle in Vault Comics’ We Ride Titans