Mini Reviews #7

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Title: Temptation Trials Part 1

Author: B. Truly

Genre: Dystopian, Romance

3 stars

Goodreads | Amazon 

Synopsis: 

The Bachelorettes Meet Wild Things

Will You Be Tempted? Will Love Save Your Soul?

One nation under his reign.
Cardinal sins of man caused humanity to pay the price. Cali Nasser grew up in a world succeeding World War III. The aftermath forced the world dictatorship that she must now live in. A new Regime arose from the ashes. They demanded obedience and cooperation from every citizen, even in matters of the heart.
One domain … One accord … One nation. That is the moral code. In Cali’s eyes, it all revolves around a twisted plot for control.

It used to sicken Cali how people would allow the Regime to test their love through the Temptation Trials. That is, until she met Kincade. Cali’s entire point of view changes when she falls for him. She struggles with herself, debating if she should challenge the government’s law of arranged marriage.

Cali’s childhood friend, Stefani, always kept a positive perspective about their lives until she was threatened with the same dilemma, at odds over the man she loves.
Now Cali and Stefani face a desperate choice—submit to the Regime’s will, or fight for what they value most—love. Although lust, mistaken for love, could lead to damnation. Do they give up on love or sign up for the Temptation Trials, a reality TV show where every temptation is laid before them?

The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. Can love save their souls?

Review:

This was one of those plot-driven stories that I liked more for the plot and not much for the writing or characters.

The setting is after World War III and this dystopian world is now ruled by a dictator who has enforced a set of absurd rules, one of which is the compulsory arranged marriage that every individual of twenty-one year has to agree to. While Cali and Stefani, the main characters, are logically adamant on not letting their feelings reach a peak for anyone since it would all eventually result in a heartbreak, they find themselves falling in love with two handsome, rebellious guys, Cade and Tobias, respectively. Things work out differently, in a wrong way, and all four find themselves in a reality TV show where each of them is stranded on an island filled with temptations to test their lust. Wow, I definitely loved the concept of this book. 

Not only is the main idea intriguing but as the story plays out, there are twists that surprised me and an ending that makes me feel happy that I have the second book right next on my queue because I would’ve dreaded waiting for it. Having said that, I felt like the characters weren’t discretely developed and more often than not, I found myself being confused between the two girls despite of the alternating POVs of them both. The writing is too ‘telling’ and informative—it’s certainly not my cup of tea. There are instances when two characters talk to each other in the whole ‘as you know, Bob, syndrome’ and that irritated me so much because ugh, it’s a pet peeve of mine. Also, a few things were left unattended and that might’ve annoyed me a little but maybe the second book is for those so let’s see. The second book’s review is up now so you can read that too, if you want, here.

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book via the publisher as a par tof a blog tour but that in no way influences my rating and/or opinions about it. Thank you B.Truly!


 

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Title: The Damned Vol 1: Three Days Dead

Author: Cullen Bunn | Briana Hurtt | Cill Crabtree

Genre: Comic, Dark Supernatural

4 stars

Goodreads | Amazon 

Synopsis: 

From the creators of THE SIXTH GUN! During the prohibition era, gangsters grew rich on our vices, and rivalries between criminal organizations resulted in open war. But unknown to the masses, a more sinister power controlled the crime cartels, using greed, gluttony, lust, and other sins to fuel a much more lucrative trade: mortal souls. Three demon families—the Aligheris, the Roarkes, and the Verlochin—control soul-trafficking within the city, capitalizing on “the rackets” to lead unfortunates into their grasp and poor Eddie is caught in the middle… ‘

Review:

I really really really liked this. I don’t read that many comics or graphic novels but I make sure to pick up one once in a while, and when that one-time decision is so good, I’m the happiest reader on Earth. 

Shit, looks like 2018 would be me over-dramatizing everything, oops!

Three Days Dead is the first volume in The Damned and revolves around everything mysterious in the underworld with horror twists at every turn and characters that seem real even when they’re dead. The prime focus is on the mortal souls trading among Demon gangs and the usual whiskey trading among regular gangs, but soon the focus goes onto a missing demon whose disappearance is jeopardizing a possible crime families’ merging. In order to find this demon, a dead human—’damned’—is revived. Now, I might be new to the party and the whole mortal souls being traded trope is used often in comics but it was interesting enough for me, especially when Eddie (the dead human who had been revived) is carrying a probable curse that would not let him stay dead for long. This little bit might be slightly confusing and some might not be able to follow, but the story still proves itself. 

The Damned is a classic noir, certainly with quite a number of fatal killings and a femme fatale that I would talk about in a second. There are paranormal, supernatural undertones that don’t go over the top and are perfectly maintained with the mortal criminal world. However, the overall picture might be a little too much for readers who don’t prefer darker aspects in a story, so consider this a warning. 

Moving on to the graphical aspect of the comic; it was amazing and I loved it. The illustrations are on-pint with each scene having it’s own limelight, so a big shout out to the illustrators, too! I would take a moment to also comment on the consistent color scheme that the comic follows—dark blue, blacks and reds. All of them gives this eerie, dark feel to each graphic and doesn’t let me out from the sombre atmosphere that the story offers.

However, one thing bothered me too much—one single female character in the entirety of the book and she’s a seductive, gets-things-done-for-the-lead-male heroine that I’m not a particular fan of. I know it’s almost impossible to expect anything else in terms of female leads from a classic noir, but is it too much to ask for, especially in a time where things are changing and change might be good? Anyway, that’s the only side that let me down.

I’ll be recommending it to all those who are comfortable with dark, normal and paranormal, facets inspired comic with perfect illustrations to resonate along.

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book via Netgalley but that in no way influences my rating and/or opinions about it.

 


 

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Title: Much Needed Rain

Author: R.G. Oram

Genre: Mystery, Crime-Thriller

3.5 stars

Goodreads | Amazon 

Synopsis: 

“The door a fraction away, the lock still secured, a turn, that’s all it needed. Nearly ripping the doorknob from the wood as she gripped it savagely, it yielded quickly to her hand. Then, an unexpected feeling of metallic coldness touched the back of her head.” 

Introducing David Lewelyn. He can read your mind. No, not really. But he does know when you’re lying. He’s a lie hunter. You can keep your face as still as wall. You can stiffen yourself like a corpse. You can shut your mouth tight. It won’t matter, because he’ll know. You can’t hide the truth, not from him. But does this make him the perfect liar? 

When Lewelyn’s secretary, Hannah Miller, is found dead in her apartment with her wrists and ankles bound and countless slashes across her body, he is the LAPD’s immediate suspect, since he was seen at the apartment just hours before the murder. His DNA does not match the sample found at the crime scene, but does that really rule him out as a suspect and should he be allowed to help the police? 

As the investigation progresses there are few leads to follow. The crime scene is near spotless. The DNA found at the apartment is not registered in the National Database. The few suspects that do emerge provide concrete alibis. And the only person who seems to know anything about Hannah is Lewelyn. As the investigators close in on the truth the prime motive behind the murder emerges. What they uncover is, murder is high in demand. 

Review:

That fact that this book casts a body language expert as the main character was already so interesting, I was in it completely for the character. David has set up a new business where he ‘reads’ people and is experienced enough to have had worked with reputed investigation agencies. His secretary is found dead one day and David becomes the prime suspect, though he’s soon crossed off the list. A detective, Thomas, gets hold of the murder investigation and asks David to help him in this. The rest of the story is a crime suspense that is crafted quite well and the writing definitely uplifts an-almost-predictable revelation. 

While the inspection aspects of the story are good, I felt the characters lagging behind in terms of development. While I wanted to know how it would all end, I wasn’t feeling anything for David or Thomas, and definitely not for Sara (David’s wife) who suddenly shows up toward the end. Also, though I like open endings, this one felt a tad bit too randomly fast, leaving the readers in dark about the future of the characters. I’m not aware if there are any future projects to bring them back but as of now, I ain’t very happy with it.

Having said that, I would still recommend it to those looking for an intriguing enough mystery with appreciable writing to get your through it all

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book via Netgalley but that in no way influences my opinions and/or rating about it. Thank you Troubador Publishing and R.G. Oram!


 

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Title: Saving Hope

Author: Liese Sherwood-Fabre

Genre: Emotional, Tragedy

4 stars

Goodreads | Amazon 

Synopsis: 

In one of Siberia’s formerly closed cities, Alexandra Pavlova, an unemployed microbiologist, struggles to save her daughter’s life. When she turns to Vladimir, her oldest friend, for help, she’s drawn into Russia’s underworld. His business dealings with the Iranians come to the attention of Sergei Borisov, an FSB (formerly the KGB) agent. Alexandra finds herself joining forces with Sergei to stop the export of a deadly virus in a race to save both her daughter and the world.

Review:

Saving Hope is a good thriller set with a plot that does intrigue but characters who interest more.

The story revolves around emotions, actions and realistic conflicts. Alexandra, a female microbiologist-scientist, is determined to help her daughter who requires medical attention for a heart defect she suffers from. However, things don’t play in her, or her daughter’s, favour and problems arise from realistic but sad circumstances and situations. There are underdeveloped medical facilities and people who clearly don’t support the feminist-ic viewpoint of our protagonist. 

The poignant scenes and frustration depicted by the lead is too heart-wrenching and is super affecting to a reader. She’s a mother and is out to save her child—if this doesn’t shout empathy, I don’t know what would. The appreciable aspect is how she evolves; her calmness gets peeled layer by layer as the story progresses and makes her come alive for me. I also liked it for the deeper perspective it gave into the Russian systems and used the setting to its fullest. However, it didn’t excite me as a thriller. The story isn’t plotted as well as it could’ve been, especially since the focus frequently shifts from the deadly virus that’s supposed to be stopped from exporting to her relationships with other characters. 

I would recommend this to all those who like a female protagonist you can sympathise with while she’s struggling amidst conflicts too realistically sad.

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book via Netgalley but that in no way influences my rating and/or opinions about it. Thank you Little Elm Press and Liese Sherwood-Fabre!

 


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