Alice in Wonderland as a horror story.

Alice

by Christina Henry

We begin in a mental hospital, where Alice is alone, save for her next door neighbor, who she only sees through a small hole in the wall. Hatcher, so named because he killed using an ax, has been the only voice she hears for years. There is a fire and they escape.

Thus begins an adventure where Alice seeks to find the perpetrator of her downfall, Rabbit. Rabbit left her with a scar across half her face, but he did not escape the encounter with Alice unscathed. Along the way she meets the traditional but enhanced characters Cheshire, Caterpillar, Walrus, and Jabberwock. In this extended version of the Alice in Wonderland story, the bad guys are like gang bosses, controlling parts of The New City. The action starts after Alice’s adventures down the rabbit hole are over. The traditional elements of the Alice tale, including roses, food stuffs that change your size, talking animals and such, are twisted into a unique story that sails along after a slow start. There is quite a lot of violence and blood, what with a character who favors an ax, but it is not too much to handle.

There is enough story left at the end that I am expecting a sequel. I am looking forward to hearing Hatcher’s story in the next volume.

I received an advance copy for review.

I read this in August, 2015

 

Distance: Streetlights Like Fireworks book 3 By David Pandolfe

 

This time it’s not all about them!!! Lauren and Jack are young adults just beginning college. They were brought together for a journey of discovery to find Jack’s birth parents and Lauren’s brother. Beginning with the first two books in the series they are guided by their unique psychic powers. They get flashes of insight when holding objects that belonged to someone, and dreams that compel them to act.

This time, Lauren sees a little girl trailing fire from her hands and Jack sees a teenager in a hoodie with a haunted face. They don’t recognize either one or their connection to them. This time there is a sense of danger, and their police contacts tell them that a girl, Tamara Watts, is missing after her mother died, running away from her unhinged step-father.
Will they find her in time to save her from the dread they sense for her? Sometimes being psychic isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

I’m glad David Pandolfe has continued his stories about Jack and Lauren. I wondered if their journey would continue when their personal story resolved and I’m happy to say Pandolfe has just the right tone for their continued story. Their dialogs are always natural and unforced; the setting is present day, with musical references and technology mentions that place you firmly in the here and now.

I received an advance copy of the e-book for my unbiased review.

 

i read this book in October 2015

The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman

imageThe Invisible Library is a dense tale, a world building so immense it holds a veritable Library itself in it. Our heroine, Irene Winter, is a creature whose whole existence serves an entity called the Library. Her life has been given over to this service and her superiors expect her to do whatever it takes to complete the tasks they set for her.

 

This time it’s to retrieve a copy of Grimm’s Fairy tales from an alternative London. She is not told why this particular book is important, it isn’t for her to know. She has certain abilities that allow her to manipulate objects and people. She speaks the language of the Library, and though to others it sounds like their native language, to the Librarians, it allows them to open locks, freeze people’s actions; pretty much anything can happen if the Universe hears her voice speaking the command.

 

 

She is to fetch this book, a simple task, with her new assistant, Kai. What she finds, even before she walks into the alternative space, is a colleague who warns her off of the job, a cat burglar named Belphegor, dragons, a mythic Rogue Librarian, zeppelins, Magic, Fae, blackmail, mechanical alligators and centipedes, and all manner of obstacles. This is not turning out to be Irene’s week.

 
I liked this book but it is an intense experience. The troubles Irene faces don’t give her space to take a deep breath. It’s told entirely from her viewpoint. Irene doubts herself, but she really shouldn’t. She quite competent but in this world it is better that she appear to be Kai’s assistant and Kai be seen as the head of the investigation. The famous detective Vale joins their search for the book and a vampire named Silver is the main bad guy who sends wave after wave of henchmen and creatures after the three good guys. But Irene can’t be sure of anyone’s real motive, even Kai and Vale, as they have secrets.

 
I’m looking forward to the sequel.

 

I received this e-book for free in return for my unbiased review.

Night Shift by Charlaine Harris

image.jpeg 

Something is wrong in Midnight, Texas. Not the usual things, the pale man who only comes out at night, the famous psychic, the Rev, who only dresses in black and has an animal cemetery at his church. Something bad is happening and no one can seem to stop it. People are showing up at the crossroads and committing suicide. If the group of people who have become a family to each other don’t stop them, the world will have something to worry about too.

Charlaine Harris’s latest book about the town of Midnight is about danger, mystery, and family. Fiji, the resident witch, is not very happy to find her sister on her doorstep. Kiki (short for Waikiki, their parents having a thing for tropical paradise) has left her husband and rather than go home to stay with their mother, has decided to inflict her annoying self on Fiji. Fiji’s great-aunt Mildred had left her the house her shop was in and Kiki had always been jealous. In fact, Kiki always wanted what Fiji had, and since arriving in town was sniffing around all the eligible males in sight.

In the meantime, Olivia was worried her father had finally found her. She suspected Teacher, the local handyman, and would be taking steps to confirm her suspicions. It’s just that they needed to pull together as a town and figure out why everyone was literally dying to be there at the crossroads in the middle of Nowhere, Texas. In my last review for this series, I suspected there would be a greater role for Teacher and Madonna Reed. I wasn’t wrong.

I loved this latest novel by Charlaine Harris, who isn’t having a problem moving on from the Sookie Stackhouse books. Some authors never rise above their first great triumphs, but Ms. Harris is doing just fine, thank you very much. There is talk of a TV movie for this series also.

I received an ebook from Ace/Roc for my unbiased review.

Inherit The Stars By Tony Peak

image

An old fashioned space drama with mystic elements. Kivita Narbas had always wanted to salvage like her father. He left her his ship, the Terredyn Narbas, against the Inheritor laws forbidding the passing down of technology. She grew up on Haldon Prime waiting for her father between his trips salvaging space junk. She never knew her mother. Now that he was gone, it was her turn to make her way in the cold dark vacuum that was Space. She spent most of her time in a cryo chamber, aging slowly while those left behind on the planets she visited aged and forgot her.
Her one lost love was Sar Redryll. A fellow salvager, she had separated from him to her regret. A salvager couldn’t have emotional attachments and survive. Now the head of the Inheritor religion, Rector Dunaar, has contracted Kivita to retrieve the Juxj Star, a gem that held a vast amount of data and was coveted by pirates and governments alike. Only Kivita could remove the gem from its hiding place. And was Sar hired to keep her from her mission?
This is a rip roaring novel of intrigue and weaponry that soars across light years to a satisfying conclusion. Our heroine doubts herself many times. Will she prevail? Read it and see!

I received an advanced copy in return for a review.

Day Shift by Charlaine Harris

In preparation for the last volume of this series release, here is my review of the second volume of the series, which I read as an Ace/Roc reviewer.

 

In Midnight, Texas, there is a psychic, a witch, her talking cat, an angel, a vampire, a hired killer, and other mysterious residents. In Day Shift, this second novel about Midnight, the psychic, Manfred Bernardo, is unfortunate enough to have one of his clients die during a session and her grasping son accuses him of stealing the jewels that she hid from him. It takes a village to get Manfred out of this predicament.

Charlaine Harris’s newest series is set in the same world as her Sookie Stackhouse universe, where vampires and weres are “out” but those of other natures haven’t quite revealed themselves. Manfred is the real thing, a psychic with a large clientele who sometimes schedules meetings at hotels where he will see successive clients over a few days in nicer settings than his living room in Midnight. This time. Rachel Goldthorpe wants to talk to her dead husband, Morton, about their son, Lewis, who is badgering her about his inheritance and basically making her life miserable.

Written in a sparse, yet precise and descriptive style, the mix of characters and flow of plot is just right. The characters are all connected in logical ways that make sense in the framework of the story. They all seem to be given equal time to live and breathe with the exception of Madonna and her husband, Teacher, the proprietors of the local diner. They remain mysterious, but there are hints that the next novel might concern them.

A new character in town is Deideric, a small boy who is mysteriously left in the care of the Rev, the taciturn caretaker of the local chapel, who spends his time holding funerals for pets and marrying young couples who pass through. He is not a good choice for the boy, who seems to be growing by leaps and bounds each day.

When Manfred is questioned by the police, his fellow Midnight neighbors want to clear his name, get rid of the reporters lurking around town, get their lives back to normal, and get the spotlight off their quiet town. With the help of some surprise visitors from Harris’s previous books about Sookie, the book sets out to do just that. It doesn’t help that an old abandoned hotel has been renovated and filled with what appears to be indigent seniors with no known relatives. The motives of the hotel owners are hidden and the publicity of the new enterprise is not welcomed by the town residents, who would prefer to live anonymously.

I really like this new series and was very happy to have been given a chance to review the novel in advance as a member of Ace/Roc Stars. If the rest of the selection of books I received are this good, I will be in bookworm heaven for the rest of the year! Thank you Ace/Roc!

 

The Library Of Alexandria

Review of Ink and Bone (The Great Library, #1)

By Rachael Caine

What if instead of inventing the device that changed the world of knowledge, Gutenberg was branded a heretic and the printing press was suppressed? Books were never freely distributed among the populace , but were the private property of the Library of Alexandria, and artifices guarded the Library against any incursion. That is the premise of Ink and Bone, Rachel Caine’s fascinating new series. I was given an advanced copy from Ace/Roc for a fair review.

Jess Brightwell was raised in a family that outwardly appeared to be honorable, though not extremely wealthy. In 2025 London, books were only in your home if you purchased a special dispensation to have an electronic copy, somewhat like our tablets. No book was original, hand printed, or special….unless you were a collector, and you trafficked in bootleg, black market books. That was the secret sideline of the Brightwells. Jess had been running books to those who could afford to pay for them since he was a child. Some of these were true collectors and scholars who treasured the written page, but some were perverts. Jess brought the last book in his running career to one of these, an Ink Licker, who purchased a one of a kind book and proceeded to eat each page in front of him, like a drug addict.

Jess’s father purchased a commission to have Jess join the Library, and learn all it’s secrets. He was to go to their school with the end result of being offered a lifelong job within the sacred walls and spy for his family. But it wasn’t going to be easy, and certainly not as simple as his father and brother expect it to be. The world is in turmoil, with war between Wales and England, and the Burners, people who want all books abolished. When his education is done, where will his loyalties lie?

I appreciate the completely unique world Caine has invented, one which is at once archaic and technologically up to date. Intellectual suppression and innate mechanical skill has created an odd mix of automatons and Victorian styled society whose every thought is urged to be set down daily in their Codex (diary) but if they produce anything new, it is only allowed if authorized by the Library. Individuals that have skills that the Library can use are often conscripted against their will. One group of people who have almost magical powers are the Obscurists. When their powers manifest, they are whisked away to the Iron Tower, never to set foot outside again.

Our story follows Jess and his fellow group of postulants who are striving to be the last six to be accepted into the Library. They all have different talents that the Library can use, and they all have secrets. They are led by Scholar Wolfe, who has his own mysteries. Is he their guardian or their enemy?
I am looking forward to the next volume in this series, as this one has only whetted my appetite.

 

I finished this book  on April 26, 2015.