• Ashley Nicole

Book Review Recap of 2019

I started late in the year with my reading goal, so I don’t have many reviews to show. However, the books I did read, I thoroughly enjoyed! All thee titles are from my new writer friends on Twitter. If you’re looking for a new read, maybe one of these will pique your interest.


Books Featured in this Post

  • The Curio Cabinet

  • Ten Sigma

  • Imprint

  • Night Zero

  • Innogen Forest

  • The Cherries

  • Dripping with Blood Trilogy


The Curio Cabinet by Carol Beth Anderson


Description

Enchanted tattoos, slashed tires, and first kisses . . .

Peek inside The Curio Cabinet for an assortment of 150 stories, each about fifty words long.

Explore all four shelves:

In Other Worlds Mind-bending fantasy, sci-fi, and horror

Love in Miniature Romance to savor

Rhythm & Rhyme Vibrant poetry

Curios Eclectic, unique tales


My Review

(5 Stars)

I absolutely enjoyed this read! The "In Other Worlds" was my favorite section, but it was all captivating. I enjoy miniature stories because I can read a couple here and there when I have time. A lot of the stories really had me wondering what's next! I also enjoyed the aesthetic feel that this book had. I highly recommend this book and it's one I will read again!


Ten Sigma by A. W. Wang


Description

During the twilight of America, Mary, a married stay-at-home bookworm, is dying of incurable cancer. One wintry night, a mysterious scientist visits. He offers to nullify her enormous medical bills in exchange for transferring her consciousness into a virtual environment as part of a secret military program called Ten Sigma. A year later, weighed by the imminent bankruptcy of her husband and family, Mary reluctantly accepts knowing she’ll return as a super-soldier in a new, healthy body upon passing certain tests.

But the virtual universe holds dark secrets.

After her mind downloads, the shadowy tinkerers of her new reality erase her name and shred her essence. What’s left gets reassembled with every type of martial knowledge and combat experience. Trapped on the road to becoming a perfect killer, she learns of the program’s true nature.

Everyone is a dead man walking.

Despite the unimaginable odds, she grimly embarks on the impossible journey to return to her family or die trying...

For Mature Audiences only - contains graphic violence, elements of horror, and some sex.


My Review

(5 Stars)

I hands down loved this book! I didn't know what to expect with it being a military science fiction because that's not a genre I normally read but I decided to go a little out of the norm and I have no regrets! I found the idea of being virtually uploaded to be new and exciting.

I instantly connected with the main character and her journey. Although some scenes were very graphic, I was warned and it was not off-putting to me. The vivid descriptions of every new scene (and there was a lot of them) gave me very clear pictures. Throughout the book I piled on more questions which were answered in due time. The emotional roller coaster was big too. With some deaths and betrayls I actually became sad and with the main character losing her memories my heart ached for her.

I'm excited to see where the author goes next with this series!


Imprint by Nicholas Adams


Description

Doctor. Savior. Prisoner.

Malcolm Silvestra’s Synthetic Organ Replacement technique saved the lives of thousands of people.

Then “The Scald” deformed and killed millions more.

Imprisoned above the Arctic Circle in the Canadian Northwest Territories, Malcolm's only hope to stave off his execution is to find the cure to save not only humanity but more importantly, his beloved wife.

Will Malcolm’s brilliance unlock the secret to freeing Cynthiana from her prison of flesh? Or will he watch her die like all the others?


My Review

(4 Stars)

SPOILERS AHEAD!

The love story spun between Malcolm and Cynthiana is well written. I also enjoyed the uniqueness of Synthia and sympathized with her need to be her own person. It became eerie toward the end as Cynthiana realized Synthia was taking control at some points and I loved the fear it caused right up until the climax. I felt the ending couldn't have been different and still leave as much impact. The only reason I give 4 instead of 5 stars is I feel a few important questions were left unanswered, such as with the warden in the beginning. He was mentioned with a heavy threat, and then never brought up again. I know the story was meant to focus on the two lovers, but I would like to know how that resolved. Being a novella, the book was an easy read and a nice break from the longer books I was reading at the time. Congrats to the author for writing a compelling story!


Night Zero by Rob Horner


Description

Scientists have developed a way to vaccinate entire cities without consent or the possibility of refusal. The theory is sound, but something goes wrong, and a highly contagious combination of virus and prion is unleashed, a middle-stage organism too dangerous to test.

With emergency services overwhelmed, a small community hospital tries to combat the unthinkable--an illness that causes aggression, spreads through violence, and won’t allow the dead to rest.


My Review

(5 Stars)

Fantastic read! When I read the summery on Twitter I was instantly drawn to the idea of rabid zombies terrorizing a hospital. Admittedly I had high expectations but this book did not fail to deliver! I loved the unique third person spotlight looks at all the characters. It let you become familiar with such a large cast and feel for them when the unthinkable happened. This also let you inside the minds of those who had “become” and that was such a unique look compared to other zombie books. This book had so much science and medical backup that made it feel more real and for those who aren’t familiar with these things, the explanations were strategically woven into the storyline in a way that did not pull you away from the actions. Another cool aspect of this book is seeing the same scene from a selection of different character viewpoints, cutting it off right before the action. This really built the tension and seriousness up for me. I highly recommend this book and the ending left me craving more. Talk of a Night Zero 2 had me excited for sure!


Innogen Forest by Camilla Margiana


Description

'On a petrified stump from a tree felled by a lance of the gods' is the story that her sisters weave for Innogen. This tall tale is the only link that Innogen has with the reality of who she really is. Left to live with nymphs between this world and that of the immortals, Innogen started her young life in a fairy-tale world that ended the second her father walked away from her as she slept in the forest.

"Innogen Forest" is a mystical trek into a time before the Kings of Rome when Venus sprinkled Albion with the dust of the gods. Caelus gave us the creatures of the Otherworld through suffering and tragedy. On these isles they sing, dance and play...

When the immortals left this world and stopped guiding our destiny, a chasm formed between their light and the darkness that lived within us. The half-gods who remained between our worlds could rarely intercede.

Until Innogen found favor with Venus herself.

As the dust of immortals was left to Innogen and her sisters, magic was created for all of us all by the suffering of these ancient mortals. Innogen faces the toughest obstacles in her life as she is grows up in this vast wilderness.

Will she survive?

Dance wearing crowns of Myrtle with Innogen as Innogen finds strength, hope and the magic of the immortals in the forest of her sisters.

Based upon the play "Cymbeline" by William Shakespeare, "Innogen Forest" is an epic tragedy.My Review(4 Stars)

Admittedly I did not know much about Shakespeare’s Cymbeline so I read a quick synopsis before reading this book to know what I was getting into. I also did not know what to expect from this book, but as I began reading it did not take long for me to be swept up into the world of Innogen and Cnits.

The story is well done and kept me interested in all the characters as well as leaving me wander “what’s next?” at the end of each chapter. Adding in the lyrical poetry of the Innogen gave the story a stronger voice.

There were a few grammatical errors but they did not pull me from the story itself. The intricate, but easy to read plot was refreshing compared to trying to read works of Shakespeare himself!

I do recommend this read if you are looking for a good folklore story with love and betrayal that will keep you interested until the end!


The Cherries by D. B. Carter


Description

When they have broken you, when you have been humiliated, bullied, deserted and destitute, can you find a place where you may dare to be happy?

Susan travels with her mother, escaping a life of heartbreak and poverty in the city, to live with their one remaining friend in a small rural village.

At twenty Susan is still bound by the trauma of her youth, but starts to blossom into womanhood, thanks to the tender encouragement of Luke, the eccentric occupant of ‘The Cherries’, who lives surrounded by books and art. It is a journey of tears and laughter, helping to heal mind and spirit.

But can the past ever be truly behind you?

Feeling safe and secure at last, mother and daughter nurture artistic talents that they had long since thought worthless, and their lives take directions they could never have imagined.

Yet, amongst the kindness and love in their new community, there lies hidden grief and a long-suppressed secret that must come to light. Something that might force Susan to another life beyond the confines of the village.


My Review

(5 Stars)

Let me start by saying romance is not a genre I read often. However, this tale offers so much more as I began reading. The cast of characters all have their own stories to tell and I became invested in the lives of so many. Outside of their love lives, the characters also face real life situations involving mental illnesses, bullying, faith questioning, growing up, and death. This riveting read shows the effects of all these circumstances on several characters. The main character’s arc of growing up is exponential and inspiring. The story stays relatively mild, following life as it happens, but every so often the author will throw the reader a curve ball (especially toward the end) that pulls at your own emotions. This story ranks as one of my favorite reads this year so a big congratulations to the author on an amazing debut.


Dripping with Blood Trilogy by C. J. Whitcomb and J. C. Evelyn


Description

A group of friends set out for a dream weekend only to realize they're trapped in a nightmare. As they are dying off one by one, can anyone escape the killer who's hunting them? Ashley’s story continues in the next book, Dripping With Blood; The Executioner’s Mansion. A group of college students is sent on a trip to Ireland for their International Relations and Affairs class. When they find themselves trapped with a psychopathic killer in a remote castle refurbished into a bed and breakfast. Their exploration throughout the castle is more than they bargained for, with puzzles and riddles to solve. Who will survive, and how is Ashley connected? A finale in Dripping With Blood: Below Deck steers things in a new direction. Ambrosia is severely injured, and Ashley’s body has disappeared. When Nick boards a large deep-sea fishing vessel, will he be able to help everyone survive the night, or are they in too deep? What will happen when everything comes crashing down in a storm of fury and battle of wills?


My Review

(4 Stars)

These three short stories are the kind of cheap horror I love when it comes to movies so it was a nice change of pace to read them! I like that they are offered in a set because I read them back to back to back, but you of course can buy them separately if you wish.

The first two books in this series were my favorite and I love the psychological factors of the first one specifically. The third one felt a bit rushed and lacked the detail of the first two but it still wasn’t a bad read.

Even as short stories the authors were very good at creating strong characters. I got enough of their background to care about them right before they were viciously murdered. I also enjoyed the plot twists sprinkled in, especially the one in the third book because I didn’t see it coming. I also enjoyed the wide array of characters. There was a gay couple, lesbians, a few questioning their sexuality, etc. I feel it added depth to the slasher like story.

The first book, I have to say was my favorite. It had the vibe of a character based, butterfly effect horror game, much like Until Dawn, where the characters are cliche and their actions make you want to scream sometimes, but you can’t help but want more.

There were a few typos and grammatical errors throughout the series but they did not take away from the story itself.

Kudos to both authors! This is a series I recommend if you’re in the move for a fast, easy to read, slasher story!


That wraps up 2019!


This year I set my goal to reading 36 books, which averages to 3 a month! I’ll be starting monthly blog posts reviewing my reads!


Mondays will become my regular blog day so I’ll see you all back here next week!

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