Ravaged (The Hunger #3), by Jason Brant

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A review by Terri Kinckner

Book description from Amazon:

Welcome to the mountains of Pennsylvania, one of the last vestiges of the human race.

Lance York, a self-described loser in another life, has rediscovered himself in the midst of the apocalypse. Along with a cadre of other survivors, including the hardened, sexy Cass, Lance has taken refuge in a compound, struggling to survive the onslaught of monstrosities descending upon them each night.

The horrors that have devoured mankind are changing, their minds rebooting like a computer. Intelligence, the lone advantage of the humans, is returning to the infected. They ravage the compound with calculated, precise strikes, chiseling away at the defenses Lance and his friends have erected.

With the help of new ally, Major Frank Colt, the flickering flame of the old world must fight to stave off the extinguishing tidal wave of the new one.

My take:

I was lucky enough to be chosen to beta read this book by the author.  This is the third book in The Hunger series, and I didn’t think he could top book two.  Book two was a fast-paced Hell ride through an apocalyptic nightmare.  I was wrong.  Book three blew me away and had me thinking of the book when I had to put it down and walk away and deal with real life.  I desperately wanted to lock myself away from everyone and read this book in one sitting.

The “Vladdies” as they’re referred to in the book are changing yet again.  They’re becoming more than just killing and eating machines, they’re thinking and communicating with each other.  Lance, Cass, Eifort, Doc Brown and the rest of the bunch found safety in the second book, but their safe haven became more of a trap once the Vladdies started planning ways to breach the security measures.  A rouge but small band of “military” also moves in to complicate things.  Making matters even worse, Cass is pregnant, making Lance’s need to protect her even stronger.

This book had non stop action, from beginning to end.  I barely had time to catch my breath before being dragged into the next crisis.  This is definitely a book for those who hate filler fluff, as there is absolutely none in this entire series.  I held my breath one minute, and laughed the next.  I was terrified to read the next page, and even cried a little at the end.

My fiance, who doesn’t read at all, paid rapt attention to my narration of this entire series as I’ve read it so far and insists that Jason needs to find a way to make these books into a movie.  I usually balk at those comments, but I tend to agree with him on this one.  I’d love to watch this and the last two books as movies… as long as:

1. Jason writes, directs, produces and casts said movie
2.  It’s a huge epic movie leaving absolutely NOTHING out.

I give this book 5 heart pounding stars out of 5

Dark Playgrounds By Benjamin Daniels

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Buy on Amazon:   http://www.amazon.com/Dark-Playgrounds-Benjamin-Daniels-ebook/dp/B00IAR44I4/ref=cm_cr-mr-title

A Review by Terri Kinckner

Book description from the Amazon website:

Have you ever believed that your life is too hard?
Ever think that it is impossible for anything horrible in this world to happento you?
It’s always a friend of a friend, someone you don’t know, whose tale is dark and dismal,
a tale about wild and wonder that you just can’t believe.
There is always a story to tell, but this is one that must be told.
It is a tale filled with heartbreak, lost hope, and shattered dreams.
This is the story about the life of a small but happy boy,
who must learn the lessons of life well before his time. When reality turns to nightmares
and nightmares than become reality, he had to learn to survive. Everything is always by choice,
but this is the hand that life has dealt him. Always having to pick the lesser of two evils.
This path is dark but one that has an ending by choice. Follow the trials
and tribulations of one man as he grows and, ultimately you will find him, and
maybe then you will understand why he lives in his Dark Playgrounds.

My take:

This book is a wake up call. A true story of a life affected by choices made by the author and circumstances beyond his control. It is a story that everyone should read, of love and loss, of childhood hurt, teenage angst, and adult anger and loss. A story of a man who maybe trusted the wrong people and made a few decisions that weren’t in his best interest, but impacted his entire world. A story of friends gone too soon, and a child whose father just wanted to be an involved parent.

I have walked a lot of the same path the author has myself, and this book hit me hard in the heart. I have felt the hurt, the resentment, the anger, the fear, and I have wanted to end it all. I’m glad I didn’t, and I’m glad the author didn’t either. Every parent should read this book, and I believe every teenager should, too. I think  sometimes focus too much on day to day struggles and lose sight of what their children are going through. I also think teens sometimes forget that an impulse decision they make may alter or even end their lives completely.

Another wonderful aspect of this book is that ALL proceeds from the purchase of this book are going to The Yellow Ribbon Suicide prevention foundation. You can find their page here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Yellow-Ribbon-Suicide-Prevention-Save-A-Life/345052469216

This book hit me on such a personal level that I have to give it 5 out of 5 stars!

Ash by Jason Brant

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A review by Terri Kinckner

Synopsis from Amazon:  

Some things should remain a secret.

My name is Asher Benson, and I can read your mind. Sounds great, right? It’s a nightmare. Every skeleton in your closet, every condescending thought flitting through your head, blares in my mind like a foghorn when you get close to me. I’ve been living in relative solitude for half a decade, scraping by with copious amounts of alcohol and self-loathing.

This morning was like any other, until a senator shot himself on live television and an entire floor of government analysts committed mass suicide. That was the rough start of a horrible day.

Now, I’m on the run with my only friend, an old Army buddy-turned-detective, as cops, spies, and a mind-controlling terrorist chase us through Baltimore’s violent streets. The government discovered my secret, and they’re upending Heaven and Hell to take me out. 

My take:

I received this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.  I honestly loved it!  I read the original novella, Echos, a long time ago and enjoyed it tremendously, but thought there could have been so much more to Asher Benson.  I was hoping for a sequel, but this is so much better!  I really got to know Ash better in this book, and his “friends” in this story are completely original and wonderful characters!

Ash is a horribly flawed person, though not through any fault of his own.   He’s an alcoholic who lives in squalor, and barely gets by on his disability check.  After suffering an injury in Afghanistan, he awakes to the realization he can hear people’s thoughts.  All of them.  Alcohol and isolation helps him to drown them out and numb himself.  A routine beer run changed his life when he walked past a bank and heard the terrified thoughts of the bank patrons as the bank was being robbed.  He stepped into the bank and his world turned on its axis.

Government corruption, espionage, a mass-murdering psychic, and a whole lot of action make up this book.  It was incredibly well written and had me on the edge of my seat (literally).  The thing I love the most about Jason Brants book is that his characters always make me laugh, even in the worst situations.  This book is no different.  The characters are completely different, yet meld together perfectly to create a comedic masterpiece in the midst of complete terror.  That’s the only way I can think to describe them.  Brilliant!

I am really hoping to see more of Asher Benson and his interesting group of friends, and the ending of this book seems to leave that possibility open.  I have my fingers crossed for many sequels!

I give this book 5 stars out of 5!

Consumed (The Hunger #2) by Jason Brant

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A review by:  Terri Kinckner

(I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest, unbiased review)

Wow.  Where do I begin?  This book takes off exactly where Devoured (book 1) ends.  This is not really a stand alone, so I recommend that you read the first in the series before this one.  Actually, the awesomeness of this book doubles when you read Jason’s short story, Lotion, that was in Cynthia Shepp’s Apocalypse Anthology.  Lotion was the story that started this entire series, introduced us to this world, and to a couple of the characters.  This latest installment in this series does not disappoint!

The action was intense and pretty much nonstop throughout the book.  That’s not the only great thing about this story.  This book is well-balanced.  What I mean by this is that the characters are written beautifully and grow through the story, the action is intense, the horror is vividly real, and there is just enough humor and even the occasional “Awww” moment to keep the scary stuff from overwhelming the reader.  This book has it all!

When this book starts off, Lance and Cass, Eifort and Dr. Emmett Brown (haha), are living on the Duchess, a boat, in the middle of the Allegheny River to avoid the victims of the Xavier virus.  These vampire-like once humans have taken over the night and have infected or eaten the majority of the population.  When their boat is destroyed, they have to move on and find another safe place to hide out from the monsters.

To make matters worse, a militia-like group of survivalists headed by a psychopath named Ralph are on a mission to wipe them out, too, thanks to Lance unwittingly angering Ralph in a restaurant in the previous book.  This just adds to the horror, as the group of four can’t seem to avoid one nightmare encounter after another.

There are several moments of hilarity in this book.  The banter between Lance and Cass had me laughing even through the scary moments, the Doc Brown and Back To the Future references and jokes made this geek giggle, and the daily ham radio reports from the Wild Man of Monroeville.  The Wild Man seemed to know exactly what was going on in the Pittsburgh area from his seemingly impenetrable hidden location, and his descriptions of the people and events had me literally laughing out loud.

There are some serious developments in this book that I didn’t see coming, and wow… that’s all I can say about that without giving away spoilers.  The end of the book had the stories coming full circle, with characters from the short story Lotion making their appearance, and the ending really threw me for a loop!  I didn’t want to put this book down, and re-read several sections after I finished because I simply was not ready to be done with these wonderful characters in this frightening but realistic world!

 

I give this book 5 stars out of 5!

WIN “Juliette’s Bracelet” from the Cover of “Just Live, Juliette!” A novel by Stephanie Andrassy

You didn’t read that wrong. One lucky winner will become the proud owner of the custom-designed, hand crafted, sterling silver, one-of-a-kind “Juliette Bracelet” used on the cover of “Just Live, Juliette!” and detailed in the novel. This bracelet was created by award-winning artist, Mary Anne Helmond. www.mabeads.com“Just Live, Juliette!” is scheduled for release on May 29th, 2013.

First Prize:
“Juliette’s Bracelet” used on the cover of “Just Live, Juliette!”
Free ebook copy of “Just Live, Juliette!”
Autographed compilation of covers for “The White Peacock” and “Just Live, Juliette!”

Second Prize:
Free ebook copy of “Just Live, Juliette!”
Autographed compilation of covers for “The White Peacock” and “Just Live, Juliette!”

Third Prize:
Free ebook copy of “Just Live, Juliette!”

Enter by clicking on that helicopter Giveaway tab shown at the top of her page or follow this link: http://bit.ly/10XzTMG

Good luck!

Some fine print…
The “Official Rules” governing this Giveaway can be found in the notes section of my page. Please read them. This Giveaway is open to legal residents of Canada (excluding Quebec), the United States, and the United Kingdom, and who have reached the age of majority. Rafflecopter is a third-party application that will randomly select the winners at the end of the giveaway. Odds of winning depend on the total number of entries received. Sign in using your Facebook account or your email address. Contest closes at midnight (Eastern Time) on Sunday, May 26th, 2013. Winners will be drawn on May 27th, 2013 and contacted via email. Information supplied via the Rafflecopter widget is not being provided to Facebook. This Giveaway is in no way sponsored, endorsed, or administered by, or affiliated with Facebook.

Duality: Vol 1, Melancholia by Elle Casey

 

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A review by Terri Kinckner

Book description from Amazon:  Malcolm’s had a problem for as long as he can remember. No matter where he goes or what he does, he leaves misery in his wake. Sadness and negativity are his constant companions, influencing others around him until they cannot bear to live.

But then Rae shows up in his life, and everything changes. Darkness cleaves to light. Anger yields to joy. The question is whether she’ll be his salvation or his destruction.

DUALITY is a 3-book Young Adult/New Adult Paranormal Romance. Volume 1 will be published April 30, Volume II May 31, and Volume III June 30, 2013.

My take:

This book was so different than any books of Elle’s I’ve read before, but it’s still Elle! I loved it! The characters were amazing (as usual) and their banter had me laughing SO hard through most of this book! Jazzy was by far my favorite character… who knew a “neutral” could be so awesome? Rae and Malcom were remarkably wonderful, considering their “gifts” (curses?). I just wanted to hug them both! I think I’d be a miserable rainbow, but hey… maybe they’d feel better! I’m not sure I’d be nearly as well adjusted as they were! They still had their fair share of teen angst and were written as such so accurately. I often wonder if Elle hides out in high schools listening to the interaction, because she is always so spot on! Kootch was hysterical, his and Jazzy’s conversations had me belly laughing and at the same time, I wanted to knock both of their heads together for not seeing the chemistry that was between them!

Speaking of chemistry… the chemistry teacher Holder and his lackey Derek were ultra creepy. Not only was their behavior creepy, Holder had a comb over. Gross AND creepy! I’m very interested to see exactly why they are after Rae, and what their game is! All in all, I loved this book. It’s unique, witty, scary at all the right places, romantic without being sappy, and had a cliffhanger ending! You all know how much I love those…seriously, I do!

I give this 5 rainbow stars out of 5!

Apocalypsis: Book 4: Haven, by Elle Casey

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A review by Terri Kinckner

I was given a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest and fair review. Any review I can do providing detail will be nothing but spoilers, so I will not. This final book was incredible! I gave the previous books in this series a five star rating, and if I could, I’d give this book ten!

When you get to know a group of characters like you do when reading a series, they become your family. Everyone wants their family to have a happy ending. There were plenty of those, but not without their fair share of heartbreak and loss. This post-apocalyptic America was so believable, these characters so unique and diverse, that one can’t help but be drawn into this world themselves. These young people are adjusting to their new life, and finding ways to make it better. Bryn has transformed. We all knew she was tough and rational and hilarious, but it was really nice to see her mature and let her kindness show. I laughed and cried with her (A LOT) during this book, and held my breath in the tense situations. I loved that she wrestled with her guilt, and chose honesty over the easy way out. Bodo has grown a lot in this series as well. Looking back to the first book, the change in them both is evident, and for the better. I am going to miss them both immensely! I’m sad that I won’t get to know Jackson and his sister better. They were a really cool addition to the book!

The “canners” in this book got even more horrible. They were vicious, heartless killing machines, and they truly scared me. I forgot that they were humans, let alone kids! On the subject of gore, being a post-apocalyptic world, they had a lot of unpleasant things to do. These scenes turned my stomach, but they were integral to the book and frankly, written extremely well! The combination of horror and characters that you absolutely forget are fictional is an amazing combination.

The book did NOT end the way I thought it would. I knew Elle couldn’t end the series on a cliffhanger (that would be so mean!), so I was prepared for her to find a way to stun us in the end. She sure delivered! Oddly enough, it’s not the ending I imagined, but it was perfect. At first, I literally yelled “NO!”, but by the time I finished the last page it seemed that there was no other way for it end.

I only have one gripe, and that is with the epilogue. Five years later. This tied up the entire story…almost. I loved it, but I wish I knew what happened to a certain someone that left Haven. I don’t want to spoil the story by giving a name, but man… I really wish I knew what the future held for them! I am now forcing myself to let these characters go, but even just typing that brought tears to my eyes. This is definitely a series I’ll keep reading over and over again!

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars (and a tissue rating of one whole box…sniff sniff, I’ll miss you!)