Oddball in 3G by Marc Berlin

Trigger Warnings: This novel discusses the following topics that may be difficult for some readers: mental health, physical abuse, profanity, violence.

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  • Published: September 19, 2019 by Black Rose Writing
  • Genre: Psychological Thriller
  • Edition: Kindle
  • Pages: 207
  • Rating: 3 stars

Robert Krieger’s life is quickly falling apart.

He’s been fired from his job, split with his sexy girlfriend, and has a controlling overbearing mother he feels obligated to call at least once a week. As a result, he’s developed a distressing anxiety disorder.

Robert lends money to an acquaintance across the hall in his building, a small-time drug dealer named Skids. When Skids is later assaulted by enforcers working for an inner-city drug gang, the Dragons, he hands Robert a package to hold for him until he either asks for it back, or dies.

Lonely but determined to find a new girlfriend, while jogging one morning Robert meets the beautiful and willowy Lindsay Marriott, whom he awkwardly begins to romance. Not long afterward, he finds himself in a bloody one-man war with the Dragons, who believe Robert possesses money Skids owes them.

Robert is soon juggling an increasing array of anxiety-heightening issues, which together conspire to wreak havoc on his fragile sanity.

I have read quite a few psychological thrillers where the author establishes some unreliable narrators, but Mr. Berlin’s character of Robert takes the cake! The author begins the story by introducing a quote from Norman Bates, which should have alerted me of the events that would soon unfold.

As the synopsis indicates, the main character struggles with his mental health; I, personally, struggle with anxiety and found Robert to be someone I quickly resonated with. Readers will constantly see him battling with his mental thoughts and trying to overcome them through weekly therapy sessions and daily medications.

As one might expect from someone who is anxious in nature, Robert is socially awkward and finds it hard to establish long-term relationships with other individuals. Readers will notice these complications when introduced to Skids, his next-door neighbor of several months who frequently borrows money from him despite having no other contact, and Lindsay, a woman he runs into by accident and quickly develops feelings for.

Until the halfway mark, this book is a very slow-burn which is not normally something I enjoy; I honestly felt like I would be rating this one as a solid two-stars, but events took a turn and was non-stop action until the end! As I do not give away spoilers in my reviews, it makes it hard to express why this book is worth the read but I urge you to give a chance because you won’t be disappointed.

*I’d like to thank the author for reaching out to me and gifting me a free copy in exchange for a honest review.

The War Beneath by S.R. Hughes

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  • Published: October 1, 2019 by Permuted Press
  • Genres: Paranormal, Suspense, Thriller
  • Edition: Hardcover
  • Pages: 320
  • Rating: 3.5 stars

“There is a war going on behind things, beneath them.”

Paul had been a forensic psychologist. But after his daughter’s funeral, he hit the rock bottom of a spiraling addiction. When the spirits of the dead started rasping their wishes in his ears, he fled New York for withering Oceanrest—a flat-broke city barnacled to Maine’s coast. There, he’s spent the last five years scraping by, trying to shake off the burdens of his past, pretending to be a man without context, without history, without the secret ability to speak with the dead. But soon, all of that will be taken away from him.

Deirdre’s spent the past fourteen years as a resident of Squatter City—the most distal and dilapidated of Oceanrest’s gangrenous appendages. Growing and harvesting a hydroponic farm of mystic flora and esoteric plantlife, she’s built a business as a drug dealer and apothecary. After years of relative peace, Deirdre’s life finally seems tenable. But when one of her regular clients double-crosses her, what little serenity she’s discovered quickly unravels.

Deirdre and Paul soon find themselves under attack from criminals and cultists, on the run from Quebecois mobsters, Aryan Nationalists, and a group of young men who seem dedicated to a cause of brutality and destruction on an apocalyptic scale.

S. R. Hughes inhabits the glittering darknesses between dreams but writes from Queens, NY. He’s been published in Sanitarium, the Wild Hunt eZine, and has had stories featured on several podcasts.

I must confess that I have not read many books that fall into the paranormal category, but have been slowly adding some titles from this genre into my reading and have discovered that I love it! This was my first time reading a title by this author, but after enjoying this one I will definitely be adding more of his work to my TBR.

Hughes finds a way to combine all sorts of elements into his plot without it confusing the readers or adding unnecessary substance. I started this book yesterday and found myself wrapping it up early this morning! I am a sucker for novels that are nonstop action and constantly throwing blows at you until the very end.

I highly suggest this one to readers who enjoy paranormal reads, who enjoy paranormal shows like Supernatural and Ghost Whisperer, and readers who enjoy fast-paced thrillers. I urge others to grab a copy of this book because I assure you that you will not regret it!

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Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Books-A-Million

*I would like to take a moment to thank Trish Collins from TLC Book Tours for reaching out to me about participating in this tour.

Red Hail by Jamie Killen

Trigger Warnings: This novel contains the following content that may be sensitive to certain readers: abortion, slight violence.

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  • Published: January 21, 2020 by Red Adept Publishing, LLC
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Edition: Kindle
  • Pages: 206
  • Rating: 3 stars

Professor Colin Ayres has spent years researching the strange story of Galina, Arizona, a sleepy border town ripped apart by violence and paranoia after the outbreak of a mysterious illness in 1960. Colin is certain the Galina Incident was simply a case of mass hysteria. But when his partner, Alonzo, starts exhibiting strange symptoms, Colin is shocked to realize they are the same as those that emerged in Galina decades ago.

As Alonzo’s condition worsens, Colin scrambles to piece together what really happened during that terrible summer in the past. He uncovers a story of murder, corruption, and fanaticism. The deeper he digs, the more he becomes convinced that what happened in Galina wasn’t mass hysteria after all.

When others start to develop the same eerie symptoms, Colin must confront the possibility that someone—or something—is driving the plague. Guided by rumors of a person who found a way to stop the plague in the sixties, Colin races to find answers before the disease destroys Alonzo and everyone else it touches.

Red Hail is a novel that is broken down into two timelines with two different set of main characters. In 1960, the readers are introduced to Anza, a sixteen year old girl; Dove, a former ward nurse; and Father Santiago, a priest. After a hail storm paints their town red, strange things begin to happen to almost all the citizens in their small town of Galina; with officials chalking it up to mass hysteria, these three set out on a mission to uncover the real reason behind the incidents.

Flash forward to present time in 2020, readers are introduced to Colin, a man who has done an extensive amount of research on Galina’s illnesses and until recently believed in the mass hysteria theory; Alonzo, his significant other who has family ties to Galina; and Sonia, a young mother who is experiencing the same symptoms as Alonzo. Together the three of them pursue leads to finally solve the decades long case and not only save themselves, but others in the future.

This novel is a quick read that will have you hooked until the very end; the author does a wonderful job at writing something scientific, but with enough dark mystery that it will be a hit for any reader that does not normally read from this genre. I will definitely be reading more of Killen’s work!

* I was given a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Lost Girl by Holly Kammier

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  • Published: January 5, 2020 by Acorn Publishing
  • Genres: Romance, Suspense, Young Adult
  • Edition: Kindle
  • Pages: 292
  • Rating: 3 stars

AN APPALLING ACT OF VIOLENCE AND AN UNSOLVED DOUBLE MURDER.

SMALL-TOWN INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, SHELBY DAY, IS DETERMINED TO HUNT A KILLER. 

As her search draws closer to uncovering the twisted truth, she begins receiving ominous warnings to stay quiet and drop the story. The young journalist is in danger. Her cameraman and best friend, a person with his own secret past, says he wants to protect her. But Shelby is headstrong and dodging anything that could lead to love. She can’t allow anyone to distract her as she fights for the two women who deserve justice. 

She never expects along the way she’ll have to stop and save herself.

Ticktock… If Shelby doesn’t solve the crime soon, she’ll become the killer’s next victim. 

This is my first book by this author and it will certainly not be my last! I sat down with this book and only planned to get a few chapters knocked out, but ended up binge-reading it in one sitting! This book has a little bit of everything: an unsolved double murder, a budding romance, and unexpected reveals!

When this book opens, readers are quickly introduced to the main character: Shelby Day. The protagonist’s career is in reporting and she is currently tasked with interviewing individuals close to the two murdered victims whose killer still hasn’t been caught.

Day’s character is very career driven and feels like she does not have time for a committed relationship while opting for casual flings instead. However, things get complicated when she starts acknowledging her deeper feelings for a longtime male friend.

The mixture of suspense and feelings of love continue to build as this novel goes on, which leads to one killer ending. You see what I did there?

I hope those who read this enjoy my review and are encouraged to pick this one up! I’d also like to take a moment and thank Giselle from Xpresso Book Tours for allowing me a spot on this tour.

Amber Hollow by Edgar Swamp

Trigger Warnings: This novel contains the following topics that may be upsetting to readers: gore, mass murders, sexual assault, and suicide.

  • Published: October 10, 2019 by Swampland Enterprises
  • Genre: Horror, Mystery, Suspense
  • Edition: Kindle
  • Pages: 471
  • Rating: 2 stars

On July 14, 1991, an isolated village in Northern Wisconsin is ground zero for an unprecedented, fiery tragedy. Of the community’s 600 residents, there are only five survivors. Detailed accounts by the victims contradict one another; the only link they have in common is a man named Anthony Guntram, who they allege is the primary suspect. Because he is presumably dead, this claim can’t be verified. Further inquiries expose a culture enshrouded in mystery. What are the survivors are hiding? Only the villagers know the secret of Amber Hollow, a place where sanity is checked at the town line, and the parameters of reality become blurred. An unconventional horror story by design, Edgar Swamp delivers an action-driven page-turner that will keep readers guessing until the calamitous ending.

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I must confess that the book’s cover and synopsis is what initially drew me to sign up for this tour. Once I started reading, I quickly became hooked; the readers are introduced to two detectives: Sadie and Jeremy, who are working a case about a suspicious fire set in the community known as “Amber Hollow.” The duo begin questioning their limited survivors, but soon realize that their stories aren’t lining up, but can’t seem to figure out why…yet. Unfortunately, it is shortly after these events that the book begins to lose my interest. I felt like this book had the potential to be a great horror read, but the author’s mentions of known serial killers and a climactic buildup that fizzled out by the end really put a damper on this one for me.

Throughout the novel, the author makes references to well-known serial killers such as: Jeffrey Dahmer, Jim Jones, and Ed Gein. I can understand his reasoning for including them as the case the detectives are working on involves elements drawn from these three in particular, but I felt it took away from the story a tadbit for me personally.

Throughout this novel, Swamp is slowly rewarding the readers with the pieces needed to complete the overall investigation puzzle. Readers are gaining insight from survivors’ testimonies, exploring the isolated community, and more with each new chapter. However, by the time the “big reveal” occurs, it came across as rushed and did not pack the punch it could have for me.

Overall, I found this book to be an okay read that was a fast read; I’d still recommend others to check it out. Perhaps, this one would be best for those readers that enjoy slow-burners.

Thank you, Goddess Fish Promotions for allowing me a spot on this tour and providing me a copy of this one in exchange for an honest review.

Glass Half Full by Katia Rose

  • Publication date: January 8, 2020
  • Genre: Romantic Comedy
  • Edition: Kindle
  • Rating: 3 stars

You win some, you lose some.

Back at home with half a college degree after the fiasco of the century sent her packing, it’s safe to say that Renee Nyobé is losing some. She’s a hot mess, and not the cute kind. No, if hot messes had categories, hers would be ‘littering the stairs of the metro station with your sweaty underwear because you were too busy rushing to the job interview you’re already late for to zip up your yoga bag.’

A job—any job—is just what she needs to get her life back on track, and it might as well be at Montreal’s most famous dive bar, Taverne Toulouse.

Dylan Trottard is winning some. As Taverne Toulouse’s new manager, he’s got one rule for himself: don’t screw up. Following that rule gets a lot harder when the woman he’s spent the past three years trying to forget starts working behind the bar.
They were never supposed to want each other, and they sure as hell aren’t supposed to want each other now. She’s the girl that got away before he even had her, and he’s the guy she didn’t think would ever give her a second glance.

Now they can’t keep their eyes off one another, and the stakes are even higher than before. There’s a lot to lose, but as the pull between them gets harder and harder to ignore, Renee and Dylan start asking how much winning is worth.

Those who follow my blog are probably aware of the fact that romance is the least likely genre to find me reading, but I have been making more of an effort to embrace more titles in this particular category. Although this book is the second in a series by the author, each book can be read as a standalone. I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly I became invested in the budding relationship between the two main characters: Dylan and Renee; both individuals have flaws that readers can relate to and keep them rooting for a happy ending for the duo.

Renee is a twenty-one year old woman who finds herself back at home after her overseas education was cut short due to her suffering a mental breakdown. Even though it has been months since her incident, her family still feels the need to treat her like a fragile human-being. While trying to adjust to living life with anxiety and a different outcome of the life she had pictured for herself, Renee decides to apply for a job at a local dive bar. Unbeknownst to her, the newly promoted manager is someone from her past.

Dylan is a twenty-something year old who readers find has been recently promoted to manager at the dive bar that he has been working at for quite some time. When Renee comes walking through the doors, he cannot help but be taken on a journey through the past when he was crushing on her in their poetry group. Even though this is a second chance at being an item, he feels conflicted to pursue anything as he is hiding a secret that he seems unable to truly forgive himself for.

Over the course of the novel, readers see the characters work through their own personal struggles and find themselves drawn closer to one another. I read this book rather quickly and already wish it was time for the release of book three! Trust me, you will want to go ahead and preorder this one!

I was provided an advanced reader’s copy of this book via the author in exchange for an honest review.

The Bridge of Little Jeremy by Indrajit GARAI

  • Published: March 17, 2019
  • Genre: Fiction
  • Edition: Kindle
  • Pages: 278
  • Rating: 3 stars

Jeremy’s mother is about to go to prison for their debt to the State. He is trying everything within his means to save her, but his options are running out fast.

Then Jeremy discovers a treasure under Paris.

This discovery may save his mother, but it doesn’t come for free. And he has to ride over several obstacles for his plan to work.

Meanwhile, something else is limiting his time…

The Bridge of Little Jeremy starts out with the readers being introduced to the narrator: Little Jeremy himself, who is a twelve year old boy suffering from a medical condition that readers will quickly be informed about. He lives with his mother and his beloved pet dog in the city of Paris, but finances are particularly tight at the moment. From medical bills to the newly discovered inheritance tax, his mother’s nursing home salary is not enough to cover all the expenses; this is when Little Jeremy starts using his art skills to secretly sell his paintings to help ease the burden for his mother. This venture sets the stage for the journey the narrator takes through the European city, where he uncovers a valuable artifact, uncovers knowledge about his heritage, and uncovers the importance of love.

The protagonist of this story is quite adventurous and is often left to roam freely around the city, which may be unimaginable to some of those who decide to pick up this book. On one of these explorations, he finds himself in the presence of a valuable Vittorio painting; he decides to take it upon himself to restore the painting and collect a profit that will eliminate any financial stress that his family is currently battling. In his process of restoring the painting, Little Jeremy becomes engrossed in his work and begins seeking out any tidbit of information that can be given pertaining to the piece of art.

When the narrator is not at work on the painting, readers will find him wandering about Paris following leads that may gain him some knowledge about his valuable find. One of these trips finds Little Jeremy making the acquaintance of someone who purchased property from his great-grandfather; on the site of the property, the boy spots a portrait of a woman holding a child that sparks his curiosity. He is sure that he recognizes that face, but cannot seem to recall who or were he may have saw the woman. He begins chatting with the landowner and learns that he has ancestral ties to the painting he has been working on, but that his mother must not know of its existence!

The restoration mission comes to an end and not a moment too soon! Little Jeremy’s mother has received notice that they must leave their flat and she is facing a few years behind bars due to the impending debts she has accumulated. The protagonist comes clean to his mother about the painting; she is shocked to learn of her son’s unknown trips and hobbies, but appreciates him trying to help. She agrees to sign the authorization allowing him to sell the painting, so the family can be released from their economical stress. As it is starting to seem like the family is receiving their happy ending, things take a turn for the worse fast; I cannot say much without giving the resolution away, but I will say that I did not expect it and it has stayed with me even after finishing the book.

I truly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to those that enjoy books with character-driven plots, in particular.

* I was gifted a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Heist by Kezzy Sparks

  • Published: October 31, 2019
  • Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Thriller
  • Edition: Kindle
  • Pages: 364
  • Rating: 3 stars

In this debut instalment, a dark mage acting on behalf of a vengeful ex has magically removed the genitals of a man and vanished, leaving him wiped clean down there. And unfortunately for the victim, he is set to wed…now imagine saying ‘I do’ while in that deprived state. 

No wonder when a shell-shocked and heartbroken Casey walks into Melanie’s office to report the incident, the witch hunter immediately goes on a chase, risking her own life as she encounters dark creatures and malevolent spirits in the city’s darkest corners.

The pressure is indeed on Mel: the wedding is fast approaching and leads remain few. Will she be able to corner the mage, recover the taken goods and save a doomed marriage, while bringing the conspirators to justice?

I must confess that once I read the synopsis on this one, I knew I had to read it! I love thrillers, but I haven’t read many with paranormal elements involved; however, this one did not disappoint! This title has a little bit of everything: a man looking forward to marrying his beloved, a mage hired to extract revenge, and a woman tasked with hunting down said mage.

The readers are introduced to Casey grabbing drinks at a bar before his upcoming wedding. He is looking forward to married life despite the feedback from his buddies. It is here that Casey encounters the mage, but her appearance has been altered by one of her spells; to Casey, she appears as this attractive, young woman that he can’t seem to resist. Her spell works and she manages to isolate him and perform her removal.

Alone with the victim, the mage performs the operation while he is in a drunken stupor. Upon awaking the next morning, he quickly spots the violation and begins seeking out solutions for his situation. While looking for answers, he is pointed in the direction of Melanie; she’s a witch hunter and agrees to help him out.

Melanie definitely has her work cut out for her, but remains optimistic that she can help restore Casey’s manhood. The wedding is days away, the mage has to be found, the stolen goods have to be returned…will justice prevail? You’ll have to read to find out!

* I’d like to thank Giselle from Xpresso Book Tours for allowing me a spot on this tour and for providing me with a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review.

Once Upon a Time Bitches by Branden Lanette

Trigger Warning: This book contains topics that may be difficult for some readers: foster parenting and profanity.

  • Published: October 5, 2019 by Success in 100 Pages
  • Genre: Self-Help
  • Edition: Paperback
  • Pages: 112
  • Rating: 3 stars

Once upon a time I realized we all have a story, we all have a struggle and happiness is relative. I am not cynical or hardened, I am just stating the facts. Here’s the deal:

  • Prince Charming doesn’t exist. 
  • Fairy Godmother is drunk.
  • Glass slippers don’t come 2 Day Prime Shipping from Amazon.

There is no magic fairytale, but if YOU work at it enough you can come pretty close creating your version with a happy ending. The best part is, in life you can continue to make edits until that sh*t reads exactly how you want it to. 
You may not agree with everything I say in this book but the most important takeaway is that YOU have to be your own f-ing hero. No more damsel locked in a tower, bullsh*t. That ends now. Join me as I take you through my 7 Magical Maxims for creating a fairytale life. (I know what you are thinking: Branden, no one gets a fairytale life.) Can you stop being so damn cynical for two seconds and just go with this? 

Is it possible to design a fairytale life? Control your destiny? Be the hero in your story? I believe you can and that’s why I wrote this book. I am going to make you a little uncomfortable. Back out now if you aren’t ready. 
Sh*t is about to get real bitches…

Personally, I have not read many books pertaining to the self-help category; the most recent one that I read was Girl, Wash Your Face. Surprisingly, I found there were quite a few similarities between Hollis and Lanette; both authors dealt with challenges when it came to intimate relationships and foster parenting, but what made Lanette stand out was her confidence and no filter writing style. The author addresses the judgments she has faced, addresses the hardships she has dealt with, and addresses the work she put into turning her life around and shares those tips with her readers.

Branden Lanette acknowledges that she has a boy’s name, but does not feel ashamed about it and instead owns it. The author is the mother of six children and has no problem admitting that she has a “mom bod,” but would not trade it for anything. She may have several tattoos, but does not apologize for expressing herself the way she chooses. The list of things the author has been judged on is endless, but she does not let it prevent her from living the life she wants for her family and herself.

Sometimes, life can be overwhelming and it can appear as if dreams could not be further from reach; Lanette understands this a little too well. The author grew up with an uninvolved mother, which resulted in her emancipation and finding herself in a toxic relationship with a man that she would end up marrying TWICE. These difficulties that she faced made her continue to ignore the whispers inside her that said she should write her own book until one day something within her changed her mind.

Branden’s life has been far from a happily ever after; Lanette has made several mistakes along her journey, but has learned from them all and ends up providing the readers with her seven steps to living a fairy-tale life like the one she now does. These tips are ones that the readers will find fairly easy to achieve and will want to keep with them as they navigate obstacles in life.

I personally enjoyed this book, so much so that I finished it in one sitting! The page total is fairly short and Branden’s writing style will have you laughing throughout the book’s entirety. I highly recommend others to give this book a read as it provides for an uplifting and enjoyable read.

* l was provided a copy of this book via the author as part of Lola’s Blog Tours and in exchange for an honest review.

Grimworld by Avery Moray

  • Publication date: November 1, 2019 by Our Street Books
  • Genres: Fantasy, Mystery
  • Edition: Paperback
  • Pages: 160
  • Rating: 3 stars

Every day, thirteen year old Henry Bats has his usual bowl of Sugar Slugs, helps tend Cobalt Sidewinders at Frank’s Peculiar Pets, and keeps to himself with his comic book collection. Just your typical day in Grimworld, where the sky is always dark and shadows lurk in the streets. What’s not typical is a suspicious Nightspook luring Henry into a cemetery in the middle of the night with the promise of a prized comic book. The Nightspook steals part of Henry’s lifespan with a pocket watch, which begins counting down to his death. Henry is running out of time, and the pocket watch won’t stop ticking…

Following a nightly experience of being tricked by what he believed to be a Nightspook, Henry Bats awakes to find that there is a pocket watch permanently clasped to his neck; the pocket watch’s arrow is pointing to a number that he later discovers predicts how many years he has left to live. Filled with questions and desperate for a cure, he sets out on a quest that leads him to befriending a boy who shares his predicament, strengthening the relationship he has with his sister, and saving his world from darkness.

During his walk home from school, Bats crosses paths with a boy that seems to be wearing the same sort of pocket watch around his neck as him. He approaches the boy and has his suspicions confirmed, but is shocked to discover the boy’s situation is far more dire than his. Realizing that in order to find a way out, they decide to work together; however, they run into some problems that will require outside help from unlikely sources.

Henry has never really had anything in common with his sister; she’s always been into her dolls and he’s always been into comic books. Through the course of this book’s plot, we see their relationship start to change as Henry requires help from his sister when it comes to gathering ingredients for a spell that will supposedly remove the necklaces and spare their short lifespans.

Everything that occurs throughout the book sets the reader up for one highly anticipated climax in the form of a showdown between Henry Bats and his trickster. Can he defeat his foe and claim victory, or is he at a loss and must accept that his life will remain short-lived? You’ll have to read it for yourself in order to find out!

Grimworld is a middle grades story, but can be enjoyed by all ages. This book is short in length, but packed with action all the way to the end and will provide an adequate amount of Halloween vibes. I definitely recommend this one to parents of children who enjoy reading and to readers looking for something to fitting for the season.

* I was provided an advanced reader’s copy of this book as part of Lola’s Blog Tours and in exchange for an honest review.