Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews

REVIEW: Stoker’s Wilde (Fiction Without Frontiers #1) By Steven Hopstaken and Melissa Prusi

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*No Major Spoilers*

Years before either becomes a literary legend, Bram Stoker and Oscar Wilde must overcome their disdain for one another to battle the Black Bishop, a mysterious madman wielding supernatural forces to bend the British Empire to his will. With the help of a European vampire expert, a spirited actress and an American businessman, our heroes fight werewolves, vampires and the chains of Victorian morality. The fight will take them through dark forests in Ireland, the upper-class London theater world and Stonehenge, where Bram and Oscar must stop a vampire cult from opening the gates of Hell.

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I have read about the supernatural and paranormal in the past, but Stoker’s Wilde comes with a twist. A story about two historical writers coming together and battle the world of the supernatural. I knew I had to read this as soon as I discovered the sequel to this novel has Teddy Roosevelt joining the duo. So let’s dive into Stoker’s Wilde

First off, I love how Bram Stoker was just a friend of Oscar Wilde’s brother in this story. He didn’t want to go on this wild goose chase to hunt a werewolf. Werewolves don’t exist. However, with the help of Stoker’s curse, they soon find the werewolf was the captain on one of the ships in the harbor. Afterward, the duo set off into the world of the supernatural, willingly or not.

One thing I liked was how the story progressed through journal entries and letters to loved ones and friends. However, I was getting confused because I started getting minor characters mixed up. I’m not sure if I would still be confused if I read the ebook or not. However, this was a small complaint I had as I was listening through the audiobook. 

Stoker’s Wilde was a tale full of twists and turns. I couldn’t put this book down until I found out who was the leader of London’s vampires as well as what a member of royalty had to do in all of this puzzle. The conclusion will leave you breathless and ready for more! 

I would highly recommend Stoker’s Wilde for fans of horror, historical fiction, and alternative history. I can’t wait to dive into the sequel of this novel and reuniting with these lovable characters again.

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Posted in Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: Oscawana: A Monster Novel by Frank Martin

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*No Major Spoilers*

*Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault/Child Molestation*

Located just forty-five miles north of New York City and isolated in the hills of Putnam Valley, Lake Oscawana is the perfect summer getaway. At least, that was what April’s mother told her when she dropped April and her brother off to spend the season at their uncle’s lake house. It wasn’t bad at first. April thought she might’ve finally found someone that made her feel like family and a place she could actually call home. But April grew worried when she found something living in the water. Something strange. Something growing. She wanted to tell someone and sound the alarm, but April would have to learn the hard way that not all monsters lurk beneath the water.

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I found this novel on Twitter, a lot of authors I follow retweet their friends’ works. I thought the premise was unique and I couldn’t wait to jump into Oscawana: A Monster Novel!

I feel that the author did a really good job of making Lake Oscawana seem isolated and far away from civilization even though it is in Upstate New York. I felt like I was in the depths of Canada for as far as April had to travel just to get to the nearest small town.

Early in the novel, April stumbles upon the monster when he’s still small and not threatening. They quickly develop a friendship that grows as the monster, who April named Oscar after the lake he lives in, grows in size.

The build-up to the climax is really slow, we’re mostly following April as she watches Oscar grow into an actual killing machine. Even when April comes to this realization, I found Oscar just as adorable and harmless as when April first found him. Oscar reminded me of a genetically modified dog.

April as a character feels so ingenuine from one moment to the next, more or less for the first half of the novel she is your standard teenager who has been let down by the adults around her. Then after the climax, her motives and reasons flip flop. I can’t go into more detail due to spoilers, but it was frustrating.

Shocked, Brad pulled back from the water and watched in horror as what he assumed to be blood spread out like a blooming flower. The crimson tinge was thick and slimy, bouncing a blinding ray of light in Brad’s eyes. He couldn’t look away, though. Brad stared at the ever-expanding slick of blood as it continued to grow until it completely surrounded the boat. –Oscawana: A Monster Story

I feel the ending to be lackluster, the ending feels like there could have been enough for a sequel or even a short story sequel. The ending left me feeling unsatisfying and left me with a lot of questions. Will April reunite with Oscar? Where did Oscar come from? What will happen to Oscar? Maybe these questions will be answered in some way.

Overall, I have mixed feelings towards Oscawana. I think it’s an alright story. I was expecting more monster action but was disappointed when 80% was about the human characters and their drama. If you’re looking for a quick read, I would recommend this novel. The action was great, and the heart and emotion were as well.

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Posted in Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: Ghostland by Duncan Ralston

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*No Spoilers*

After a near-death experience caused by the park’s star haunted attraction, Ben has come to Ghostland seeking to reconnect with his former best friend Lilian, whose post-traumatic stress won’t let her live life to the fullest. She’s come at the insistence of her therapist, Dr. Allison Wexler, who tags along out of professional curiosity, eager to study the new tech’s psychological effect on the user.

But when a computer virus sets the ghosts free and the park goes into lockdown, the trio finds themselves trapped in an endless nightmare.

With time running short and the dead quickly outnumbering the living, the survivors must tap into their knowledge of horror and video games to escape… or become Ghostland’s newest exhibits.

”If they didn’t get out of there soon, they would all die at the hands of the exhibits, then they too would become a part of Ghostland, a part of Garrote’s ghost army.” – Ghostland

I found this novel when I renewed my Kindle Unlimited subscription. I found the concept of a haunted amusement park to be intriguing and exciting. The thought of ghosts being the museum exhibits instead of the objects or buildings being the exhibits.

I will warn you upfront, this novel gets to be a gorefest at points. So if you are the squeamish type, I’d pass on this one. Otherwise, it is clearly a love letter to the classic horror movies that weren’t afraid of showing blood and letting out curse words.

I love how the author built this universe from the ground up. He even included footnotes for the ghosts and exhibits in case you wanted to know more about these fictional ghosts. Even though you learned about the barebones of the universe through dialogue and the main characters’ knowledge of the exhibits, it was nice to read more into each of the famous attractions. I think my favorite one was about a guy who got lost in his own mirror maze and ended up cutting off pieces of himself to try and keep from going around in circles.

I don’t want to spoil too much, but each character has depth and personality. Both Ben and Lillian change throughout the novel. Not only through witnessing so much trauma and horror, but just by trying to survive the murderous park. Lillian was so affected by Ben’s near-death that she stopped living life.

I was gripped to the edge of my seat until the epilogue. The anticipation of wanting to know who was going to survive, and who was going to have a gruesome demise kept me guessing until the end. One thing I did like was that the author wasn’t afraid to kill any characters. I often wondered if no one was safe.

I often found myself forgetting that Ben and Lillian were only able to see the ghosts through the artificial reality headsets they wore throughout the majority of the story. I kept forgetting about this and was amazed at how the fictional technology seamlessly blended into the background.

Overall, I really enjoyed Ghostland it was a breath of fresh air to the horror genre for me, the author wasn’t afraid to kill off characters, and even though the story is from the perspective of two teenagers, I feel like it was written for adults. If you are looking for a novel to help with your horror genre burnout, then I would highly recommend Ghostland.

Click here to read an interview I did with Duncan Ralston.

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Posted in Audiobooks, Book Club Reads, Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: Asylum (Asylum #1) by Madeleine Roux

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*No Major Spoilers*

For sixteen-year-old Dan Crawford, New Hampshire College Prep is more than a summer program—it’s a lifeline. An outcast at his high school, Dan is excited to finally make some friends in his last summer before college. But when he arrives at the program, Dan learns that his dorm for the summer used to be a sanatorium, more commonly known as an asylum. And not just any asylum—a last resort for the criminally insane.

As Dan and his new friends, Abby and Jordan, explore the hidden recesses of their creepy summer home, they soon discover it’s no coincidence that the three of them ended up here. Because the asylum holds the key to a terrifying past. And there are some secrets that refuse to stay buried.

This was this month’s Book Club read. I voted for it solely from the title alone. Just to be finished with the Gone Girl clones and Stephen King novels was a major factor in my decision for voting for this novel.

“If someone tells you you’re crazy enough times, eventually it becomes true. It’s that old psychiatrist’s joke: insanity’s all in your head.” – Madeleine Roux, Asylum

From all the sleepless nights I’ve spent watching Ghost Adventures, Paranormal State, to several paranormal podcasts, most asylums are preserved as historical sites. Mostly to show how the mentally ill were treated and for Zac Bagans (from Ghost Adventures) to show how “macho” he is.

The subject of psychology and mental health is something near and dear to my heart. Not only do I have an associate’s degree in psychology, but I have always wanted to learn about people and how they think, feel, and react to stressful situations.

Nevertheless, let’s move on to my review.

Besides the fact that any asylum would be converted into a dormitory for a university would be highly improbable. But hey, this is a young adult fiction novel, let’s just go with this idea. It’s not like this novel gets any more ridiculous (insert sarcasm here).

Dan is a relatable character to me. High school was the worst years of my life, but for somewhat different reasons than Dan. So I can understand his excitement at the prospect of making new friends while he’s at this new place.

As weird things start to happen, I start trying to solve the mystery. I think in another life, I could’ve been an FBI agent. Always trying to solve the mysteries that are presented to me. However, I will proudly call myself an “armchair detective”.

I found the mystery and how it affects Dan and his friends intriguing. Who can you trust? The police don’t believe you, so you have to figure it out for yourself. Dan’s grip on his sanity towards the end was understandable. The mysteries and horrors of the asylum are terrifying. Those walls hold the emotions and energies of those who lived and worked there.

This story scratched my itch for a good haunted house story. Even though it was slightly ridiculous, I still enjoyed it all the same. The ending is somewhat predictable, so that was frustrating to me. But hey, what can you do? *shrug*

Overall, I enjoyed this story. There’s horror, psychological horror, murder, and a boy who is losing his sanity the longer he stays at the university. If you’re looking for a decent horror story, then I would recommend this one.