Incubus Rake By Olivia Helling Review!

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Incubus Rake (2014) is the second book in the Damon Snow series of five books. I loved the first book and this second outing certainly didn’t disappoint.

In this book, we see a lot more of Damon’s vulnerability when the love of his life Byrne doesn’t want to see him when he visits and this does not suit Damon one bit. Though it’s hard for him to admit to himself, it hurts him and he misses spending time with Byrne because he’s head over heels in love with him. Something else the love cynic struggles to admit. My hope that Damon and Rogers might end together faded because the way Damon seems to feel about Byrne is so far removed from how he feels about Rogers. Gradually though, I quite got to like the partnership of Damon with Byrne. I loved the way Damon still loved him so much even when he didn’t want to see him. Even through the hurt he felt, his feelings for Byrne remained which was very romantic.

Now most good books need a bit of drama. So enter Frost who is an incubus like Damon who encourages Damon to use his incubus powers to seduce men. Damon begins a relationship with Frost and gradually we get to know Frost’s complete manner more and more. In short, not a very nice chap.

Meanwhile Rogers is trying to seduce Damon, although without the use of incubus powers he’s not having much luck. Does anything happen between them at all? Don’t want to give too much away. Possibly.

A huge theme in this story is who will be there for you when you need them most? It shows the wonderful relationships that Damon has in different ways with Byrne and Rogers. Like the first book, the characters in this book are so well-rounded and have distinct personalities that jump off the page. The reader will know who is talking before even reading who it is. The writing is also brilliant, very natural and to the point and I really like that style of writing.

This book, like the first, is hard to put down. I kept wanting to know what was going to happen next and that’s a very good sign. Really enjoyed it and am looking forward to reading the rest of the series!

The first book in the series is free on it’s own. My review of book one and details on where to get your free copy can be found here:

https://culturevultureexpress.wordpress.com/2017/12/03/nocturnal-lessons-by-olivia-helling-review/

While the first four books in the series together are 30% cheaper than the three other books on their own. To get the boxset go here:

Or to purchase Incubus Rake by Olivia Helling only go to:

And for more on Olivia Helling’s work go to:

http://oliviahelling.com/

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Spaceship Broken By Russell Nohelty Review!

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Spaceship Broken (2016) by Russell Nohelty is an interesting and stunningly written story about the ups and downs of life, forgiveness and family.

 

The book follows the story of a young boy, our protagonist Sammy. The story is told from Sammy’s point of view. Sammy has had a difficult start in life and has seen more pain already than most people see in a lifetime. His father has abused his mother on countless occasions and his mother decides to get Sammy and herself away from him. Eventually after running out of money and fears arising about Sammy’s terminal lung condition, they go and stay with her father and Sammy’s grandfather. Soon Sammy meets a young girl called Yva and a young boy called Frank. The three become friends and Yva soon confides to Sammy that she has started building a spaceship to get back to her planet. For the first time in his young life, Sammy has fell in love with his new alien friend Yva and the feeling is mutual and he becomes hell-bent on helping her get back to her planet even though he really doesn’t want her to go.

While the book is part sci-fi, it also deals a lot with more earthly aspects as well like family dynamics, first love, friendship and the run-of-the-mill aspects of daily life like school in Sammy’s case and his mother with work as she tries to hold life together for her son amidst her drug addiction.

There is a realness and grittiness in the writing. At no point is the story sugar-coated which can make it sometimes hard and emotional to read but that truth adds so much to the story. You can tell that the writer really cares about the characters. Scattered in parts of the book is much humour too.

A quirky, real and wonderful read.

To purchase Spaceship Broken by Russell Nohelty go to:

 

For more information about Russell Nohelty go to:

http://www.russellnohelty.com/

 

The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap By Paulette Mahurin Review!

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The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap (2012) by Paulette Mahurin is an intriguing and thought-provoking book which is written excellently by the author.

Set in the 1800s in a small town in Nevada, the story follows the love story of Mildred Dunlap and her cousin Edra. Following Oscar Wilde’s conviction in Britain, we see how the various people in the town react to the news and how their reactions affect the lives of Mildred and Edra. It’s a beautiful yet often sad story that shows just terrible human rights were back then and shows just how far we’ve come. Some of it would pull your heart to pieces. Reading the stress and fear these women are going through in the novel shows the kind of high levels of persecution people who weren’t straight faced in those days. Being pansexual, I felt angry at parts at how utterly cruel and prejudiced some of the characters were and I was glad that even though things are still not perfect today that I and many, many other people don’t have to live with those high levels of persecution and be feeling pretty powerless against it.

There is very rounded characters. Each with their own personality and journey in the book. Mildred and Edra are a wonderful couple who show so much strength in the face of adversity. They show that two ordinary women when pushed to do so will fight together to weather the storm. But it’s always nice to have people who care about you and thankfully in this book, there is Gus and Charley. Both of these chaps go on very different journeys in the book but are both very kind, non-prejudiced people.

The writer got the claustrophobic feeling of a small town spot-on with her descriptions of life in Red River Pass. The gossiping, the running down of anyone perceived to be ‘different’ in some way. And the absolute glee the people gossiping, especially Josie, feel in running another down and trying to make their life harder.

I have to admit, it threw me a little bit that Mildred and Edra were cousins. I think in modern times we tend to be thrown a bit by cousins falling in love with each other but putting things in context, back in the time this book was set, it probably wouldn’t have been uncommon. When you take out of the equation the fact they are cousins, they actually make a very beautiful, loving couple and you find yourself as a reader rooting for them, their love and their future.

This is a wonderful book, gorgeously written and it also has a wonderful cause that the profits from it’s sales are going to. All profits from the book are going to the Santa Paula Animal Rescue Center in Ventura County, CA which is the first and only no-kill animal shelter in Ventura County.

To purchase The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap by Paulette Mahurin and help the shelter go to:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Persecution-Mildred-Dunlap-Paulette-Mahurin/dp/097718661X

For more information about Paulette Mahurin:

https://thepersecutionofmildreddunlap.wordpress.com/

For more information about the Santa Paula Animal Rescue Center go to:

http://www.santapaulaarc.org/

 

My New Book In The Name of Allah Is Now Available On Amazon!

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My new book In The Name of Allah is now available on Amazon. It follows the story of two couples living in London, Calvin and Amir and Shane and Imran. Shane, Imran and Calvin are friends for years and then Calvin meets Amir who secretly has terrorist tendencies.

It is the hardest book I have ever written. With the subject matter being so dark, it was very difficult and emotionally-draining at times. The topic is so sensitive so I researched a lot for the story. While I love Calvin and Imran too, my favourite character was Shane. I just took to him very early on in the story.

This story as you can imagine is sad and hard-hitting but it was a book I felt that I had to write because terrorism and Radical Islam are sadly topics we hear about in terrible tragic circumstances far too often in our times and I feel a writer has a duty to write about the things that are happening in the world.

If you do purchase the book, thank you. 🙂

To purchase In The Name of Allah go to:

Echo Volume 2: The Taste of Ashes By Kent Wayne Review!

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Echo Volume 2: The Taste of Ashes (2016) by Kent Wayne is the second installment in the Echo trilogy. It is a slightly more introspective book with more focus given to the action but is just as intriguing as the first outing.

Now first thing’s first, you will need to have read the first book in the trilogy before this one to understand what is happening in this book so that’s definitely something I’d recommend because otherwise you might be lost. Our protagonist Atriya continues his introspective, spiritual journey as he heads into the Wastes which is a dangerous area where murderers, rapists, gangs and cannibals are lurking around. The book is very detailed and gives the reader a real sense of what war must be like. It’s a very visual book.

One of the scenes which sticks with me is the murder of the homeless man near the beginning of the book. It’s very horrifying and shows the dangers of been in the wrong place at the wrong time. The book very much shows the good and evil in society throughout in a very real way. The reader also gets a great inside into Atrya’s mind through his introspection and all the conflicts he faces in the various situations he finds himself in.

The entire book is set in one day. From a writer’s perspective, I have to say that it shows remarkable talent to be able to fill so much detail and scenes into just 24 hours. Kent does an excellent job of that in this book. The writing has a great sense of cohesiveness. This book is very gritty and violent and it shows how fragile life is and how to some people other peoples’ lives aren’t worth much. And this is one of the many things that cause Atriya so much conflict in his head. From someone who has never been to war, and has no plans to go, it gives you a sense of what it must be like from afar and instills in the reader even more admiration for the people who do go to war in real-life because there’s a lot of braveness in that even if one’s a pacifist.

Yet again, another stunningly crafted book. Lots of action and yet lots of drama and human aspects too. Loved it and looking forward to book 3!

To purchase Echo Volume 2: The Taste of Ashes by Kent Wayne go to:

To read my review on Echo Volume 1: Approaching Shatter and get details on where to purchase it go to:

https://culturevultureexpress.wordpress.com/2017/11/23/echo-volume-1-approaching-shatter-by-kent-wayne-review/

And for more information on Kent Wayne’s work go to:

Watching Glass Shatter By James J. Cudney Review!

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Watching Glass Shatter (2017) by James J. Cudney is a very riveting book that keeps you engaged from start to finish. Part family drama, part mystery, the book is filled with memorable characters which everyone will have their own favourites from because all the characters are very rounded and have their own distinct personality traits and ways of dealing with situations.

A word that springs to mind with this book is psychological. Told in the third person through the eyes of each main character at different points, the reader gets a real inside into the complexity of human nature and how problems occur between people coming from different perspectives. That element of the book is very interesting. The book’s main character is Olivia Glass who has just lost her husband Ben in a car crash after they have been married for 40 years. However Ben has a secret which he has been holding back from Olivia for many years and leaves behind a letter containing the secret: that one of their five sons isn’t their birth son and he switched the baby Olivia had given birth to who died with another baby after their births. However he doesn’t reveal which of the sons he switched the baby for. And so begins the mystery. Olivia goes to visit each of her sons before she finds out.

Olivia is on a journey. And that seems pretty apt because I went on a journey with her. Throughout most of the book I couldn’t stand her. That isn’t to say I didn’t think she was a good character but I just didn’t particularly like her. She has many flaws ranging from prejudices to been controlling to thinking that she lives perfectly while everybody else doesn’t. I don’t want to give too much away but I did like her by the end. She was big enough to admit her mistakes and she was more human and compassionate by the end. In short, I’m saying give her a chance even if early on she’ll probably drive you mad.

Secrets are a huge part of this story and each of the five sons have their own secrets which they have been keeping from Olivia and from each other too. In the interests of giving nothing away, I’ll leave it at that. But secrets is a huge theme of this book as is the family dynamics caused by secrets.

The five sons are Zach who works in The Atlantis Lair in Brooklyn who has a daughter but is no longer with the mother of his daughter and who in the past has had drug problems but is now getting his life back on track, Teddy who is the eldest son, works for the family business and is married to Sarah and has been trying to get her pregnant unsuccessfully for a while, Matt who is under more stress than he’s letting on and is married to Margaret who he has three daughters with and who is pregnant with their fourth child, the baby of the bunch Ethan who gets engaged to Emma but hasn’t long to live and my favourite character Caleb who lives in Maine with my other favourite character his husband Jake and they are planning to adopt their first child together. Each of the brothers comes across very likable in their own ways and as a reader you are wishing them all to be a lot closer because they seem like great guys. Jake is my favourite of the other halves but the others are nice too. I think Margaret’s great too but Emma and Sarah come across well too.

This book is very well-written. It has a mix of a John Grisham feel with the mystery element without someone been killed and a Barbara Taylor Bradford feel with the whole family dynamics and family drama. A lot of work has clearly been put into this book and the writer is very talented. You definitely won’t be disappointed if you purchase this book.

To purchase Watching Glass Shatter by James J. Cudney go to:

 

 

For more on James J. Cudney’s work go to:

https://thisismytruthnow.com/

Candlemoth: A Holy City Romance By Pauline West Book Review!

 

What struck me most about Candlemoth: A Holy City Romance (2015) by Pauline West was the realness of it. Page by page, it felt like a fictional look at real life and the real emotions people feel inwardly as well outwardly. Each character is very well rounded and we get to know even characters that aren’t the two central characters Lily and Ry very well.

Set in Charleston in South Carolina, the book is the first in a three-part series and follows the main character Lily Inoue who is a waitress who falls in love with the wealthy Ry Calhoun. Without spoiling anything, there is many ups and downs in their journey of love which is all very interesting and keeps you turning the page. What is great about these two characters is that they are both quite complicated and have so many different aspects to their personalities. I especially love the feistiness of Lily and the gentleness of Ry. I think it’s always an interesting romantic starting point when you pair a working-class person and a rich person and show that their love can cross that boundary of class and that they want to be together despite outside pressure from other people and society in general so as a reader, you’re always going to be fighting for them to bypass those boundaries and pressures in the pursuit of love. Lily and Ry are polar opposites in so many ways and yet very similar in more ways. There’s also a lot of background information about both Lily and Ry which helps the reader know where they are coming from more in situations that occur. What is really good about both of them, and in general most of the characters, is that they feel imperfect but not overly imperfect and therefore real. I also loved Lily’s relationship with her father Steve too.

There is quite a steamy element to the book which I didn’t mind but if that’s not your bag than this book might not be for you. Just warning you all of that! 🙂

As much as I like Lily and Ry, my favourite characters were Beren and Chandler. I took to the two of them instantly and was very invested in their love story. I knew someone who reminded me of Beren in the past so he reminded me of him which was nice because he was a lovely person. So yes, I didn’t want Lily and Ry to not be together but I really didn’t want Beren and Chandler not to be together! I absolutely loved them and like Lily and Ry, they were very real and rounded characters.

My only slight problem character-wise was with Madison. I know she’s supposed to be the bitch who is trying to tear Lily and Ry apart but she felt very one-dimensional to me. I felt like that was her only purpose in the story. Don’t get me wrong, I was never going to like her but I just felt she should have some good qualities as even people who aren’t nice do and I felt nothing. It felt like she was a robot instead of human and very much there just to show how Ry would want to be with Lily instead of her. In saying that, some of Lily’s lines in scenes with Madison were classic and I found myself chuckling along and saying, “You tell her girl!”. Madison is probably a difficult character to make human but still.

This book ends on a cliffhanger like all good trilogies so I was delighted to have the follow-up books on stand-by because, and this is a very good sign, I wanted to know what happened next. There’s clearly been a lot of work put into this book and as both a reader and writer I appreciated that. And this is a gorgeously written and intriguing romance that like me, I’m sure you’ll enjoy very much.

I will be reviewing the next two books in the trilogy over time so keep your eyes open for those two reviews. 🙂

I received an ARC from the author, with no obligation to review.

To purchase Candlemoth: A Holy City Romance by Pauline West go to: