ARC Review: Ravens In The Rain: A Noir Love Story by by Christie Santo and Jeff Santo

Book Details:

Author: Christie Santo &  Jeff Santo
Release Date: 22nd September 2021
Genre: Romance
Series:
Format: E-book 
Pages: 248 pages
Publisher: BookBaby
Blurb:
Ravens In The Rain centers around Pru and Carney, she’s a woman with a past, and he’s a man with no future. Down on luck and down on love, they meet over a game of chance at an off-strip Vegas casino, and Carney wonders if Pru’s sparkle is what he needs to lift him from his darkness. He doesn’t even mind that she swiped a hundred-dollar bill from an old cowboy. It excites him. 
While Pru, disillusioned by her sparkle, is now accustomed to the cynical disposition of vagabond life. She’s not looking for a one-night stand; she’s looking for survival and sizing Carney up as a comfortable solution, for the moment. When she finds out who he really is, she’ll ante up for the game of her life. 
This romantic noir is a turbulent flight; like dating in the 21st century, it’s dangerous and daring.

Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Ravens In The Rain by Christie Santo & Jeff Santo is an intriguing and entertaining noir love story.

Being a mystery and crime fiction fan, I’ve read some noir crime mysteries but a noir romance novel was a first for me and I’m glad that I read It because I enjoyed it more than the normal romance novels. Ravens In The Rain is a well-written novel with a great concept that is executed really well. I enjoyed the imagery invoked by the author’s writing style that bordered on magic realism while staying true to the noir story elements.

It was an experience in itself. I enjoyed the characterisation as they are richly developed and had really good background stories. Overall it is a great story and I’d definitely recommend it to all readers, romance readers and others alike.


You can also read this review on:

Goodreads


Amazon


ARC Review: When Love Sticks Around by Danielle Dayney

Book Details:

Author:  Danielle Dayney 
Release Date: 15th November 2021
Genre: Memoir
Series:
Format: E-book 
Pages: 156 pages
Publisher: Belle Isle Books
Blurb:
Hand-me-down pants that don’t quite fit, twilight bike rides down sleepy neighborhood streets, sweaty family camping trips, the things that almost break you, and the things you barely notice-it’s hard to see the shape of your life until you’re looking back on it.
In this collection of short essays, Danielle Dayney recounts her experiences as an awkward child in the piecemeal family that raised her. From her biological father’s absence to her mother’s battle with cancer to the birth of her daughter, Dayney’s stories venture beyond anecdote to nest safely among the tangled experiences that shape the people we become. With a keen eye for the pebbles of humor and glimmers of beauty along the rough roads of her life, Dayney has crafted a book that feels as familiar as a home-cooked meal and as exciting as the first night in a new city.
When Love Sticks Around is a memoir of love, loss, humor, identity, and above all, family-the one you’re born into and the one you gather along the way.
Those are the things worth sticking around for.

Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

“…it’s hard to see the shape of your life until you’re looking back on it.”

Danielle Dayney

When Love Sticks Around by Danielle Dayney is a beautiful memoir that is an ode to her past life and her beautiful family. This book is in the form of essays that will not only tell you about the author’s life and her experiences but will also make you relieve your own past because her writing is very relatable.

I am so glad that I got the opportunity to read this book because When Love Sticks Around is one of those books that feel less like a story (stories in this case) and more like an experience that is whole in itself. The author’s nostalgic reminiscence of her life, which was so filled with love and sometimes heartbreak, made me deeply connect to her on a level that is hard to explain. And these kind of feelings can only be evoked in a reader when the book is written from the heart and with a lot of love – not to mention with exceptional writing skills.

I would like to congratulate the author on penning down such an emotional journey in such an elegant and relatable way. I would definitely recommend this beautiful memoir to every reader as I am sure this book will speak to each and every one of its readers on some level or another. This is not a book to be missed.


You can also read this review on:

Goodreads


Amazon


ARC Review: Finding Happiness In The Dark by Kenneth Liddane

Book Details:

Author: Kenneth Liddane
Release Date: 19th September 2021
Genre: Non-Fiction, Self-Development, Self-Help
Series:
Format: E-book 
Pages: 190 pages
Publisher: A Helping Mind
Blurb:
Have you ever said “I WILL BE HAPPY IF…”?
Did you ever achieve that? And if so, what happened next? Are you living happily ever after, or did you set new goals and update your “I will be happy if…” statement? Why does your happiness have to be conditional?
By searching for happiness, we are basically telling ourselves “I am not happy now”, and happiness itself becomes a temporary solution to distract ourselves from how we are actually feeling.
By re-introducing ourselves to our core instincts and drives, we can start to see how we developed unhelpful thoughts, feelings, emotions and behaviours. With this insight, these negative aspects of ourselves are no longer “bad”, instead they are logical and justified.
By considering the knowledge, skills and possible supports highlighted in this book, you will see that you no longer need to avoid, suppress or endure any part of your true self. 
By using your full potential, you are better able to face any challenge and life experience, and in doing so, experience, welcome and acknowledge all of the associated feelings and emotions naturally. 
What are you waiting for?

Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Finding Happiness In The Dark by Kenneth Liddane is a very well-written and well-executed book on helping oneself in times of need when the mind goes into the dark seat and we start to feel alone and unhappy.

This is a book by a very experienced person who is not only equipped with dealing with his own patients for consultations but also has the education and the drive for it. This book had some really great concepts, understandable and relatable answers to some common questions and some brilliant techniques and tricks that can help a person come out of the recesses of depression, anxiety and the com orbit conditions. At least on the surface level. In order to get treated or to know more, you can always consult with the author.

I would recommend this book to everyone who is either going through a dark phase or knows someone who is suffering because of it.


You can also read this review on:

Goodreads


Amazon


ARC Review: Destiny of Dreams: Time Is Dear by Cathy Burnham Martin

Book Details:

Author: Cathy Burnham Martin
Release Date: 31st August 2021
Genre: Historical Fiction
Series:
Format: E-book 
Pages: 242 pages
Publisher: Quiet Thunder Publishing
Blurb:
What happens when an American girl of Eurasian descent finds herself suddenly immersed in all facets of her Armenian ancestry? Told with an often soulfully introspective voice, “Destiny of Dreams” follows the true story of a teenager and her grandfather, retracing loving, learning, and terrifying footprints of the past. While survival remains center stage, love and courage must emerge, or all will be both lost and forgotten. More fact than fiction, the author reveals her Armenian roots in this historical novel, chronicling her family members’ love, strength, and resolve to both survive and thrive in treacherous times. Reflecting the traumas suffered by all people displaced from their original homelands, this Armenian story focuses on one family’s challenge to find light in the dark days of the waning Ottoman Empire. Anyone with the diaspora in their family heritage will relate. Whether thinking of Jewish people from Israel, Africans scattered through slavery, Armenians fleeing annihilation in Turkey, so-called boat people escaping Asia, or Syrians fleeing life-threatening violence in their own nation, humans continue to rise up in the face of the toughest times. Who would emerge from extraordinarily desperate places, and how could they choose to set positive examples of humanity during highly inhumane times? Set in the early 1900s and flashing forward to the 1960s, the story’s themes ring with tolerance and intolerance, dreams and destroyers, family and friends, amidst challenges that eerily parallel life in current judgmental scenarios.

Written for Young Adult and Adult audiences, the book contains some explicit descriptions and a couple of disturbing, though not graphic, violent scenes. While not gratuitous, the depictions may be unsuitable for young readers

Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Destiny Of Dreams: Time Is Dear by Cathy Burnham Martin is a beautifully written historical fiction book about survival and the darkness that plagues our society.

This book was a rollercoaster ride of emotions, along with quiet graphic descriptions of violence, which lent this book an air of seriousness that otherwise would have been missing. I liked reading this book from cover to cover because the plot was very engaging, the writing was good, the characterisation was well done and the execution of the story was really good.

I would recommend this book to all historical fiction buffs. Although do keep in mind that this book has some graphic violent scenes (for those who might find them triggering.)


You can also read this review on:

Goodreads



ARC Review: Winning Streak – Tales and Trivia of the 40 Most Popular Board Games by John-Michael Gariepy

Author: John-Michael Gariepy
Release Date: 13th January 2021
Genre: Humour, Non-Fiction, Games
Series:
Format: E-book 
Pages: 196 pages
Publisher: Popcorn Roulette
Blurb:
Did you ever wonder:
♞ What makes Clue the best movie based on a game franchise?
♝ What does the doubling cube in backgammon do?
♜ How trains are even supposed to operate in Ticket to Ride: Antarctica?
♛ How the designer of the board game Pandemic feels now that he’s lived through an actual global pandemic?
♚ Whatever happened to the Monopoly game show from the 90s?

Based on Ranker’s poll of almost 400,000 votes, these games define us. From multiple-award winning masterpieces of the past decade, to indestructible classics still going strong after 5,000 years of play, these are the games you must play before you die. Well, except for Sorry!. That game is a blight upon this list and mankind as a whole. 

Excuse me. What I’m trying to say is that I wrote this book about games, and I thought you might like it.

Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Winning Streak: Tales and Trivia of the 40 Most Popular Board Games by John-Michael Gariepy is a fun, informative and entertaining read about the most iconic and loved games int he history of games!

This book was deliciously entertaining and I enjoyed reading ever scrap of information this book had to offer. I loved the writing style of the author because it made the book a quick and easy affair and the straightforwardness only made it all the more engaging.

I would definitely recommend this book to everyone because this book contains trivia and fun bits about games we all have played or heard of at some point or another. So do go for it as it an a delightful and quick read!

You can also read this review on Goodreads.

ARC Review: Peerless Minds: An Arc of Achievement by Pritish Nandy And Tapan Chaki

Author: Pritish Nandy Tapan Chaki
Release Date: 21 January 2021
Genre: Non-Fiction, Motivational, Self-Help
Series: 
Edition: Hardback
Pages: 500
Publisher: Harper India
Blurb:
‘Peerless Minds brings together the finest minds that sustain India as a riveting and relentless idea. The exceptional life stories featured in this book reaffirm the truth that the luckiest of nations are the ones that continue to be rebuilt and reimagined by peerless minds.’ S. PRASANNARAJAN, Editor, Open magazine Three Nobel Prize winners. Two Bharat Ratnas. Three Knights of the British Empire. A Pulitzer Prize winner. A two-time Best of the Bookers winner. An Abel Prize winner. A Pritzker Prize winner. A Fields Medallist. Two Fukuoka Prize winners. A Turner Prize winner. Two Praemium Imperiale recipients. A double Academy Award winner. Many Padma Vibhushans and Padma Bhushans. But that is not why these people are really here. They are here because they, as Indians and people of Indian origin, have had extraordinary achievements and have inspired, each in their own way, a generation of Indians. Here you will find, among others, economist Amartya Sen; authors V.S. Naipaul, Salman Rushdie; mythologist Devdutt Pattanaik; philanthropist Azim Premji; mathematician Manjul Bhargava; from the world of music, Annapurna Devi, Lata Mangeshkar and Zubin Mehta; industrialist Ratan Tata; sculptor Anish Kapoor; architect Balkrishna Doshi; spymaster A.S. Dulat; historian Irfan Habib; Michelin-starred chef Vikas Khanna; poet Javed Akhtar; and stand-up comic Hasan Minhaj. In conversation with them are authors and journalists such as James Astill, Prannoy Roy, Vir Sanghvi, Aatish Taseer, Shereen Bhan, Karan Mahajan, Rajdeep Sardesai, Khalid Mohamed, Priya Khanchandani, Indu Bhan and Anil Dharker. A fascinating collection of long-form interviews with some of the greatest minds and biggest achievers of our time, Peerless Minds is a book to be cherished and preserved.

REVIEW

★★★★

Peerless Minds by Pritish Nandy is a motivational non-fiction book that is a brilliant and inspiring book especially when one needs a little ‘pick-me-up.’ This book is full of interviews with various brightest minds of India and is full of their individual journeys, struggles, dilemmas, etc throughout their lives and careers.

A must-read for everyone.

You can also read this review on Goodreads

ARC Review: Stillwater Girls by Minka Kent

Author: Minka Kent
Release Date: 9th April 2019
Genre: Thriller, Mystery
Series:
Edition: E-book
Pages: 256
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Blurb:
Two sisters raised in fear are about to find out why in a chilling novel of psychological suspense from the author of The Thinnest Air.
Ignorant of civilization and cautioned against its evils, nineteen-year-old Wren and her two sisters, Sage and Evie, were raised in off-the-grid isolation in a primitive cabin in upstate New York. When the youngest grows gravely ill, their mother leaves with the child to get help from a nearby town. And they never return.
As months pass, hope vanishes. Supplies are low. Livestock are dying. A brutal winter is bearing down. Then comes the stranger. He claims to be looking for the girls’ mother, and he’s not leaving without them.
To escape, Wren and her sister must break the rule they’ve grown up with: never go beyond the forest.
Past the thicket of dread, they come upon a house on the other side of the pines. This is where Wren and Sage must confront something more chilling than the unknowable. They’ll discover what’s been hidden from them, what they’re running from, and the secrets that have left them in the dark their entire lives.

REVIEW

★★★★

The Stillwater Girlsby Minka Kent is one of those few books that managed to grab my attention on NetGalley with a beautiful blurb and cover image when I was trying hard not to request any new titles at all. I was very excited to read this book and finally when I dove in expecting a mind-blowing thriller, I ended up marking it as another disappointing DNF read.

For some reason, I was not able to get past the first 8% of the book. Even though I really wanted to read this book, a couple of intolerable things led me to abandon this book even though when I almost made up my mind to simply skim over the pages in order to at least find out the mystery:

  1. Chapters full of fragmented sentences for exposition which led to overtreatment of a technique I otherwise love and use in my own works.
  2. Excessive foreshadowing. Foreshadowing is good, necessary even in thrillers for building suspense, but here it was too much.
  3. I felt forced by the author to feel sympathetic to the girls living alone. It felt like the girls themselves (or at least the POV one) were screaming at the readers to feel sorry for them and their conditions. As a result, I simply felt irritation and nothing more.
  4. focus on the unnecessary details and overall, the writing felt immature; it felt like the author wanted to go for Gillian Flynn’s writing style but ended up totally botching it up.

All in all, I think this book has a lot of potential in terms of the plot, or so the blurb has led me to believe but failed miserably.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and NetGalley

ARC Review: Treading The Uneven Road by L.M. Brown

Author: L.M. Brown
Release Date: 15th March 2019
Genre: Short Story Collection, World Fiction
Series: 
Edition: E-book
Pages: 206
Publisher: Fomite
Blurb:
The stories in this linked collection are set in a small village in the Northwest of Ireland in the early 1980’s and 90’s. A by-pass around the village has rid them of their once busy traffic. The residents feel forgotten by the world. The need to reach out and be heard is explored in every story, from the young woman who starts to have phone conversations with her husband’s gay lover, to the dyslexic man who confronts his cruel teacher years later.

The collection is not only about the characters need for salvation but it is about a society that is unraveling. In Amends, we hear about the Bishop who has fathered a child. A priest is beckoned by a dying man to be mocked. The world inside and outside the village is changing. In every story the characters need to make a choice on how they might carry on.

REVIEW

★★★★+1/2

Treading The Uneven Road by L.M. Brown is a beautiful collection of short stories about a small town in Ireland in the early ’80s and ’90s. I had a very good time reading this book and the thing I found most impressive about this story collection is that each and every story bore a plethora of emotions that were very real and relatable. Being from a small town myself, I enjoy books that display the lives of people in small towns, the highs and the lows of living in a close-knit and ever-watching society. So I really enjoyed this book.

All the stories were related in some way or the other and so they felt more like chapters than individual stories which was another thing that I liked as this made the overall theme more interesting. The characterization was good, the writing was good and the pacing was very good. I’d say this book would make for an excellent coffee table book.

I’d recommend this book to everyone who loves exploring new cultures and distinct works fo literature.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon

ARC Review: Little Darlings by Melanie Golding

Author: Melanie Golding
Release Date: 30th April 2019
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Adult Fiction, Horro, Supernatural, Suspense
Series: 
Edition: Ebook
Pages: 304
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Blurb:
“Mother knows best” takes on a sinister new meaning in this unsettling thriller perfect for fans of Neil Gaiman, Grimms’ Fairy Tales, and Aimee Molloy’s The Perfect Mother.
Everyone says Lauren Tranter is exhausted, that she needs rest. And they’re right; with newborn twins, Morgan and Riley, she’s never been more tired in her life. But she knows what she saw: that night, in her hospital room, a woman tried to take her babies and replace them with her own…creatures. Yet when the police arrived, they saw no one. Everyone, from her doctor to her husband, thinks she’s imagining things.
A month passes. And one bright summer morning, the babies disappear from Lauren’s side in a park. But when they’re found, something is different about them. The infants look like Morgan and Riley—to everyone else. But to Lauren, something is off. As everyone around her celebrates their return, Lauren begins to scream, These are not my babies.
Determined to bring her true infant sons home, Lauren will risk the unthinkable. But if she’s wrong about what she saw…she’ll be making the biggest mistake of her life.
Compulsive, creepy, and inspired by some our darkest fairy tales, Little Darlings will have you checking—and rechecking—your own little ones. Just to be sure. Just to be safe.

REVIEW

Let me begin by saying that when I first saw this book’s listing on NetGalley, I was totally in awe! It had the most amazing cover, an incredible blurb and (upon further research) some really good reviews in the book’s favour. So basically it had it all and I was positive that this will be one heck of a read.
To be honest, I couldn’t start reading this book fast enough and I felt like this right till the moment I started reading this book:

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But when I started reading this book, say about 20-25 pages in, I was really not sure if I was reading the right book because the writing felt very forceful and unnecessarily dramatic. For one, the author kept going on and on about how the main character (don’t even remember the name) did not feel “the rush of love” for her newborn twins. I am all for complex and grey characters, but after a while, it did start to feel like the author was unnecessarily pressing the point on the readers in order to make them hate the MC (or maybe they just wanted to make the readers feel that the character was very complex) either way, it felt too forced and outright fake. Still, I kept on reading in the hopes that maybe once this part gets over the good part would begin.

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Then came the part where the MC was being checked by the doctor in order to see if her womb (?) was okay (not even sure if I even understood that part) and then everything went to hell because the descriptions got so crazily gross that it’s going to take me a long time to get over it. I mean, if you haven’t been pregnant ever, then I recommend not to read this part as it sure as hell scared the shit out of me!!

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AND THAT WAS IT FOR ME!
I COULDN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE!!

If you’ve read this book and liked it, then hats off to you! But you haven’t yet read this book and are planning to read it, then I’d suggest to check out some other book on twins and/or pregnant-female-horror fiction like Cleaving Souls by Chauncey Rogers or stick to the plain ol’ decent thrillers like Sister Sister by Sue Fortin or The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena.

You can also read this review on Goodreads

ARC Review: Extinction 6 by Hosein Kouros-Mehr

Author: Hosein Kouros-Mehr
Release Date: 12th December 2018
Genre: Dystopian Fiction
Series:
Edition: e-book
Pages: 305
Publisher:
Blurb:
By mid-century, Arctic oil drilling accelerates global warming and triggers famine and world war. A team of scientists launches Project Titan to reverse climate change and end fossil fuel addiction. Without a radical solution, humanity faces catastrophe.Earth’s sixth mass extinction is underway. One hope remains.

Review

★★★★

Extinction 6 by Hosein Kouros-Mehr is a very well-written dystopian read that highlights one of the most serious issues that threatens the entire planet.

First off, the book was a fantastic read – it was equal parts enjoyable, interesting and thought-provoking. Once I started the book, I was easily able to flow through the pages at a very fast speed which says a lot about the smooth flow of the writing and the simple yet effective use of the language. The plot progression was good and the pacing decent.

I liked the characterization, though I wasn’t able to overly connect or relate to the protagonist. Still, I enjoyed the story enough to not have a big problem with it and overall it was a very good read.

I enjoyed the book right until the very end and want to keep exploring more titles by the author. I’d recommend this book to all dystopian and sci-fi reads and to those who take a special interest in the main subject – climate change.

this review is also posted on Goodreads and Amazon (not yet available on the ‘Zon)

ARC Review: Eighth Day by Joseph John

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Author: Joseph John
Release Date: March 31, 2016
Series: 
Genre: Suspense, Thriller, Mystery, Speculative Fiction
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 250
Publisher: Obsidian Dawn
Source: Author
Buy it here: Amazon

Rating: ★★★★★

Blurb:

A warning from a stranger.
“Nothing you know is real. Your name isn’t Shawn Jaffe, you’re not an investment broker, and you’re not from Ohio.”
But the stranger is murdered before he can explain.
Now Shawn isn’t sure who he can trust.
Even his own memories are suspect.
Someone is watching him, controlling him, using him.
To survive, he’ll need to find out who and why.
But the stakes are much higher than one man.
Our humanity is on the line, and on the eighth day, it could be the beginning of the end.

Review

The Eighth Day is an outstanding book and I truly enjoyed reading it. The book is written in multiple POVs and captures each and everyone’s viewpoint beautifully. The author has skillfully woven a tale that feels nothing short of magical, but in a speculative way. One thing that I’d like to mention here is that the timing of the POVs (the order in which the information or story line was revealed) was perfect and it was due to this that the book hit the bull’s eye for me.

The concept itself is out-of-the-world-brilliant and the blurb made it all the more exciting by conspicuously revealing only a few details at a time, only enough to make the reader go “hmm… that sounds interesting.”

The writing is sharp and the sentence formation is really clean and crisp. I enjoyed reading the way the author has this unique style of describing stuff using parallels without, but being blatant. And that’s one thing I’m looking forward to learning from this book. I admire the author’s ability to keep me engaged and speculating throughout the book.

 

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Right from the imaginative plot to the characterization, the author came out as a winner on all fronts. I felt a strong connection with the lead as well as the supporting characters, and even the bad guys. They were so well crafter and thought out that I even sympathized when one of the bad guys lands in trouble. This book had the give-enough-details-and-you-start-understanding-the-bad-guy’s-purpose sort of thing.

The fast pace of the book keeps things interesting right until the end where the book ends with an explosive climax. The ending is perfect and I really hope that the author writes a sequel to this book(?) and that too soon!

I’d recommend this book to anyone who’s looking for a good speculative or even a sic-fi read. Mystery lovers will also enjoy this book equally.

My Bookstagram

Other Stuff

Opening Line: “They’re watching you.”

Highlights: Writing.

Lowlights: None.

Memorable Quotes:

He was darkness in a world of darkness, and soon he’d dance again.

He was a shadow. He was the night. And nothing would stop him now.

Memorable Paragraphs:

Each morning, he woke and took a shower. He suited up and ate breakfast. He drove to work, and each day he faced countless acts of immorality and ungodliness that deepened his contempt for humanity. Evil came in the form of colorful pills, white powder, and a syringe. It dressed in blue jeans and a T-shirt, a business suite, and sometimes it wore a uniform and carried a badge. It wielded a pistol, a rifle, a knife, a baseball bat, and anything else it could get its hands on to shoot, stab, and bludgeon. It stole cars, money and lives. It raped, and it murdered, and it was everywhere.

Final Thoughts: An exceptionally brilliant book!


You can also read this review at Goodreads and Amazon.

Book Review: The Fifth House (ARC)

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Author: Andy Goldman
Release Date: May 11th, 2015
Series: Book 2 of The Only City Left series
Genre: Science Fiction
Edition: Kindle (Mobi)
Pages: 5581
Publisher: Self-Published
Source: Author (Thanks Andy!)
Buy it here: Amazon