Category Archives: Book

Book review: The Forest Demands Its Due by Kosoko Jackson

Before I get into the proper review, I want to mention that I just joined The Storygraph, which is a new alternative to Goodreads. If you are worried about losing all of your collected ratings and reviews, you can export your stuff from Goodreads, and then import it to The Storygraph. (Which does take a while, but I can confirm it got both my ratings and reviews over.) Anyway, if you want to check out my profile click here. And if you’re already a member and want to add me as a friend, please do. I don’t yet know anyone over there, and it’s kinda lonely. (‘;_;)

With that out of the way, you may notice that this is my first book review of the year, and I hope to do more of these in 2024. One because I’ve missed reviewing books, and two because most of the games I’m playing lately need a lot more than a week to get through. (And I was serious about playing Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands again. In fact I’m playing two builds on alternating days, it’s that good. But I digress.) Don’t call it a resolution, more like a flickering flame of hope. I can say that it would be a hope easier to keep alight if all the books I tried were as good as The Forest Demands Its Due.

I will confess though, that for someone who has often lamented not judging books by their cover, the vividly, morbidly gorgeous cover was definitely what caught my eye and convinced me to go to Amazon to read the blurb. Everything about it, from the creepy scrawled font to the spooky forest background and deer skull with majestic antlers spoke to me, and it said, “Zoe, this is a book for you.”

And I said, “Okay!” Continue reading


Book review: I Am Behind You by John A. Lindqvist

A book review? Do I even know how to do this anymore? I’ll tell you what, let me do two short hit jobs on a couple of other books that I didn’t finish as warm up stretches before getting to the real review. Sound fun? Let’s begin.

First up is that book I mentioned reading at work that got stolen along with my bike. I said before that I had maybe 30 pages left and I wasn’t sure if I cared how it ended. With more time to reflect, I can now say I don’t. The book is The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer, and I know I said in reviewing The Host that I would read her work in any genre, a spy thriller featuring a romance between a CIA torturer and her victim was apparently a bridge too far for me. Sorry, Steph, but better luck next time. Oh, and hey, good on you for having twins in a book and not using the hackneyed psychic twin connection trope, unlike my next victim.

Book 2 on the hit list is Sleeping Beauties by Stephen and Clone, er, Owen King, and I shit you not, I tried sticking with this book for well over a year and a half even through reading each chapter felt like crawling across a carpet made of thumbtacks and table salt. Leave it to King to come up with a premise where all the women get transported to a magical land where they can rebuild society over many months, hold social circles, and eventually decide they really need the D. Meanwhile, over in the man’s world, only a few hours have passed, and that short time is a fucking endless treadmill of “Man, men sure are shit, right?” Yeah, I get it. I got it after the first five examples, and after that shit got drainingly repetitive, not even the promise of an explosive man battle could get me through the last 100 pages. I still remember King saying he was retiring because his stuff was getting repetitive, and while I have a top ten list comprised solely of his works, I kinda wish he’d either get back to retirement, or get back on the kinds of drugs that made his earlier work more interesting.

Right, with those victims dispatched, let’s talk about I Am Behind You by John A. Lindqvist, or rather, let’s take a moment to appreciate what a shitty choice of English title this is compared to the original. The original title is Himmelstrand, which refers to the songwriter and journalist Peter Himmelstrand. Peter’s songs are part of the story, as well as the writer himself. So even if the original title is a bit meh, it at least fits the story. Meanwhile, I Am Behind You is just meaningless. There is never a killer behind a victim. No one is ever behind anyone, for that matter. I Am Inside You might have worked, but whoever chose the English title needs to reread the story over and over until they come up with something more fitting. I know, it’s a moot point since they already published a trilogy and tripled down on these garbage names, but a girl can dream, yo. Continue reading


Book Review: The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

It’s been ages since I put out a book review, and it took me several months to work my way through The Fifth Season. I want to assure you right away, this was not because it was a bad book. Quite the opposite, really. I’ve just been having brain problems because of MS relapses, and there were days when I couldn’t retain anything I tried to read. This makes it hard to review something if I can’t remember it, so I usually put the book down on those days and wandered off to play Dark Souls.

Let us begin with where my interest in the series started because it wasn’t with me buying the first book. I bought it for my husband, who was about to go on another long distance flight for work, and I remembered N.K. Jemisin being a writer I followed on Twitter who writes fantasy, and hubby loves fantasy. So one book purchase later, I went back to work on my stuff and promptly forgot about it.

Then in mid August, the 2018 Hugo awards winners were announced, and here’s N.K. Jemisin’s The Stone Sky winning Best Novel of the Year. So I do a bit of digging and see that all three books in the trilogy won a Hugo, and The Stone Sky also picked up a Nebula and a Locus award. That makes the whole series a bit more intriguing. I mean, sure, one book in a series wins, you’ve done good. But if the whole series wins year on year? Then you must have done something special to earn that kind of praise. So, is that the case? Continue reading


Book excerpt 4 from Wolf in the Headlights

Here we are with the fourth and final excerpt from Wolf in the Headlights (Alice the Wolf 4), this time from chapter 47. I hope you’ve enjoyed these previews of the story, and that you’ll consider picking it up for some fun Halloween reading. In any case, now that this is done, I’ve got some paid editing work coming up soon, and then I’ll be getting to work on my next book release, which should be in December if I don’t get too lazy with the editing. But for now, here’s Alice involved in yet another bad day already in progress…
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Okay, I need to think and put together a plan. My apartment is off limits with the cops looking for me, and I don’t want to be seen in town looking like I tripped and fell in a swamp. If I’m dealing with a warlock, I’ll need help from friends better equipped to handle magic. So, that’s Peter, who’s probably at work right now. I can’t fathom a run to Matilda’s, and Sophia is out given that she’s in Philadelphia for an art exhibit. I’ll give her a call after I’ve got some clean clothes, though.

I call Mona’s cell phone first. After two rings, she picks up and says, “Alice?”

“Mona, I need you to pack up a clean change of clothes for me, along with my pelt and my geode. If the cops show up before you leave and ask about me, tell them you don’t know where I am.” Continue reading


Book excerpt 3 from Wolf in the Headlights

Welcome back to the sneak peekage into my newest novel, Wolf in the Headlights (Alice the Wolf 4), and this time I’m posting short cuts from two chapters, 29 and 30. (Quite a jump ahead from the first two samples.) Neither of these are complete chapters, but they help show how Alice is having a bad night out while trying to help one of her newer packmates out of their shell.

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Half an hour passes in this sweltering crowd, and my throat soon feels dry and raw. I look for Mona and Jesse, and I find them not far away. Mona wears a huge grin despite being covered in a shiny layer of sweat.

Jasmine leans closer to shout. “She’s doing fine. How about we go and get a drink?”

I nod and shout, “Jesse!” He looks around. “We’re going to the bar!” Continue reading


Book excerpt 2 from Wolf in the Headlights

Here’s the second excerpt from Wolf in the Headlights (Alice the Wolf 4), this time from chapter 9. You may notice that instead of posting these one day after another, I’m posting them a week apart. I’m doing it this way to spread out the promotions a bit longer. If I do them in the same week, I’ve spent all my efforts too soon, and with the way social media streams run so fast, it’s practically an eye-blink before I’m off the social radar. So, new plan, yeah? One post a week and multiple promotions in the stream, hopefully leading to catching more peepers.

Aren’t these glimpses into indie marketing for social media so fascinating? No? Yeah, I didn’t think so either. So, let’s move on to the book excerpt…
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Monica is surrounded in her bed, with me and Jesse standing over one side, and her parents on the other. Pi and Josie are at the foot of the bed, and Evan is sitting in a chair across the room with Uncle John and Brandon standing on either side of him. Continue reading


Book excerpt from Wolf in the Headlights

This is the first of several excerpts I’ll be posting over the next few weeks for Wolf in the Headlights (Alice the Wolf 4), as has become my custom when I release new books. This time, I’m offering at peek a part of chapter 6, following immediately after a big fight. (Wouldn’t want to give away all the best bits, right?)
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The gauntlet is breaking down as most of our opponents divide to run left or right up the halls to deal with the larger packs of dogs led by the Prestons. At this point, I have trouble finding anyone to hit because one member or the other from my pack is mauling them before I get within range.

I get to the corner where the counselor’s office is, and I’m thinking this is way, way too easy. Aisha and Regina have a huge army at their disposal, so why are there so few skilled fighters involved in this attack? The only conclusion I can come to is that this is a diversion.

Maybe Aisha will humor me with an answer.

I open the door and walk inside. Aisha has Monica tied to a chair with duct tape, and she has a knife to Monica’s throat. Monica’s mouth is covered in more tape, a move I almost understand given Monica’s typical bluntness. Continue reading


New Release! Wolf in the Headlights

This has been a long, long time coming, but at long last, I have a new book out. (Hard to believe that when I started writing, I was able to put out a book every three months.) Here, finally, is the cover and blurb for Wolf in the Headlights (Alice the Wolf 4):

Life as a pack alpha hasn’t been easy for Alice. She’s lost loved ones, struggled with raising a child on her own, battled an army intent on slaughtering her and her allies, and barely survived a deadly disease that’s left her scarred and weakened. A quiet life seems even more impossible with the looming threat of war against Regina Burke and Aisha Warner and their combined forces.

But her enemies have come up with a new plan to publicly expose her as a lycanthrope. Alice is forced to play along, polishing her public image while at the same time building her pack into an army of her own. As if that weren’t enough to keep her nerves frayed, she has to take responsibility for a packmate fleeing from a bad home, avoid a band of determined assassins, and still find time for homework. It’s a tall order even for Alice the unflappable.

Could life get any more complicated? Unfortunately, yes.

Wolf in the Headlights is $4.99 and can be found at Amazon, Kobo, Nook, and on the blog bookstore. (Keep in mind the price will be different if you live outside the US.)

Continue reading


Book review: After We Collided by Anna Todd

After We Collided, the second book in the After series, is a slow train wreck, but I don’t mean that in a negative sense. I mean it’s a story in which I know something bad is going to happen, and yet I can’t look away. But actually, it may be more accurate to say the book is a series of slow train wrecks, as it is a very long story with several smaller disasters for Hardin and Tessa to alternately create and then overcome. I must be a sucker for reading about these kinds of disastrous relationships because while book hunting around town, I picked up a spin off featuring a side character whose relationship had seemed so stable as seen through Tessa’s eyes, and the prospect of that story turning into another train wreck had me running to the cashier with ridiculous enthusiasm.

In this second installment in the series, Tessa is often just as responsible for the friction in her relationship with Hardin. But I’m perhaps getting ahead of myself. After the first book ended with Hardin and Tessa seemingly separated for good, Tessa attends a book convention in Seattle as part of her internship working for Vance, and after a night out on the town, she drunks dials Hardin, who of course comes running to see her. This encounter ends about as well as I expected, but it does get them back on a path to becoming a couple again.

Their relationship is never going to win the feminism seal of approval for totally healthy relationships. Hardin is a jealous jerk with a tendency to speak first and think later, and Tessa has a few really dumb moments, usually inspired by drinking more and thinking less. Alcohol plays a big role in a lot of their mistakes, which is sorta hypocritical given the histories of both their fathers. But the kids of alcoholics statistically do have more problems with alcohol, so I’m not saying it’s unrealistic, just hypocritical. Continue reading


Book review: Days Long Dead by Gina Rinalli

Amnesia as a starting point into a story is a trope so often used that it is mocked for being a cliché, but there’s a reason so many stories return to it. That’s because amnesia is the perfect unreliable narrator. Someone with amnesia can’t tell you if they’re good or evil. They can’t tell you who is friend or foe, and so every connection they make is viewed with the same nervous tension. Amnesia can make even the most mundane character instantly more thrilling.

Days Long Dead uses amnesia to bring the reader into an event that could have been far more terrifying if it had been allowed to expand into a full-sized novel or even a novella. Julie Travis wakes up from a car crash and discovers her passenger is dead. Closer inspection reveals that he has been dead a long time, and Julie must trace her path away from the crash to find help. At first, it seems she has, but then the people she encounters are just as suddenly long dead for no explainable reason.

It’s hard to explain more than that without spoilers because this is a short story that explores three locations very briefly before revealing the truth. It’s not a bad way to finish the story either, but as I said, the main problem is, it’s not nearly enough running time within this world to properly build a sense of terror or even dread before the final revelation. Normally I’d say this is the best kind of complaint, that I want more, but in this case, the story doesn’t have enough time to explore its setting before the finale. It desperately needs more time to develop a connection to Julie so that I as a reader feel invested in her well being. I’m not, so when the truth is revealed, I can only react with a shrug and, “Well that was a thing, I guess.”

Days Long Dead is still a pretty good story, so I’ll give it 4 stars and recommend it to fans of mysteries and ghost stories. It could have been a great horror story with more time to build tension, but maybe the author wasn’t aiming for the full horror show.