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Elisabeth Zguta's Book Reviews

Advocate for Independent Publishing

Dark, Compelling Story

Reblogged from Elisabeth Zguta's Book Reviews:
Sharp Objects - Gillian Flynn

Dark things can happen in people's lives, becoming something worse when buried deep. This story has a strong voice, and the protagonist has serious problems to confront. The topic of cutting is handled in a way the reader can empathize. As the story progresses, the protagonist exposes old wounds, not just physical but emotional as well. The reader discovers the layers of guilt alongside the main character, as she becomes horrified by the evil truth. The pace moves easily through the dysfunctional town and the sad shadows of her past. The psychological torture she endured soon is revealed. Issues and feelings, dredged up from the past, lead to a tense ending. Faded memories become clear and the danger is eminent. If you like the bizarre psychodrama and don't mind reading about sex and promiscuity, but love the danger of dealing with evil, then this is for you.

Criminal

Reblogged from Elisabeth Zguta's Book Reviews:
Criminal - Karin Slaughter This is a suspenseful story, with an authentic viewpoint of life as a woman officer in the 1970’s, and much more. We have come a long way baby, but the sad truth is revealed in this tale, of the ordeals women faced, and how they were treated not too long ago, right here in the good ole’ USA. Even though this is a fictional work, it hits hard on the head, of this tragic reality. Slaughter’s research was well worth the time, and enabled her to tell a tale reflecting clear images of the era. The characters were alive, and took on the life of the day. The reader is taken from the present, back to the 70’s, and to present again, in a flowing seamless manner.

It was great to experience some familiar characters, like Sara Linton and her new love interest Will Trent. The character Amanda was done well, showing her growth as a person through the years, and the struggles she overcame in time. She was a true heroine. There were many victims in this tale, those of society, of drugs and crime, and of discrimination. This is truly a great detective story, with a lot of historical flavor.

Karin Slaughter has surpassed herself, and reached into the individual character’s mindset, with honesty. I have been a fan of her work for years, but this to date is the best I have read so far. Looking forward to the next book – UNSEEN due to come out this summer of 2013.
Letters To The Damned - Austin Crawley

An old fashioned creepy tale that will immerse you into the world of an old village and pumps your imagination. The author brings character and detail, making the story authentic. At times a little redundant, but a great read overall. If you enjoy pondering what lies in the mist, this story is for you.

Psychological Crime Fiction

In the Woods  - Tana French, Steven Crossley

In The Woods is an excellent story. (This is a review for the audible book):


The book has an interesting plot and even better characters. The relationships were fleshed out well. This story has unique psychological twists -- A mystery and a previous mystery-- secrets were kept until the protagonist himself recognized the truth.

 

The pace was well spaced and kept my interest. The narrator did a great job with the voices, was clear and well understood. The writing was smooth, with a strong clear voice.

 

The story is set in Ireland and the descriptions well laid. The plot twists from the present murder investigation then back to a previous crime in which the protagonist is involved, doing so with smoothness and without any disruption to the flow.

 

The main character is flawed but brilliantly written so we can understand his POV. Why do we block out painful memories, why do certain situations tug at the threads until all unravels? This is the key to everything.

 

I recommend reading or listening to this wonderfully written story.

#FreebieFriday with audiobooks & short #Horror stories via YouTube

 

Chilling Tales For Dark Nights presents:

 

 

 

TIMEKEEPER   by John Morressy

 

Published on May 19, 2016

When a mysterious watch and timepiece repairman sets up in town, offering seemingly impossible turnaround times and producing clocks of near-magical construction, he quickly arouses the interest of the townspeople, and ruffles the feathers of the city's inner circle, who label him an interloper and a fraud.

https://youtu.be/9kRamSBCghA

 

 

 

 

Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9kRamSBCghA

Review of Voyager (Outlander book 3)

Voyager - Diana Gabaldon

The suspense continues with book three Voyager. The story goes from the 1700's to the 1960's and then back again. The reader experiences the troubles of Jamie and his tribulations after the battle at Culloden. Lots of pain and dark thoughts are touched, so not for the faint of heart. Also, the reader is plunged into the world of Claire and daughter Brianna in the 1960's. We see their relationship with each other and follow their search to find answers in the written history of Scotland.

 

It is a precarious situation, balancing the truth with what the heart yearns. The pace is often fast, yet the author is laborious with words, at time verbose, but I could not skip a sentence. Every character and new place is described in detail and lends to the reason I became so involved with the story of their lives.

 

This is not a quick read, nor a book to skip through parts because each detail quickly propels into a turn of events. Suspenseful, emotional and heart rendering situations throughout. The ending reveals clues to future scenarios and definitely hooks the reader into the next book, which I am currently reading. Well done and captivating characters.

Review of Dragonfly In Amber (Outlander book 2)

Dragonfly in Amber - Diana Gabaldon

  Dragonfly in Amber - by Diana Gabaldon 

 

After reading the first book we have come to expect a story filled with in-depth characterization and a meandering plot, and this book delivers. The pace is character driven and very creative. Excellent description of the time period and setting, and an imaginative tale of Claire and Jamie's travels. You'll love to see their love grow, despite some painful knots of loss they endure.
I enjoyed the history of Paris, the customs, and dress. The unrest the characters experienced due to the times in Europe with the War of Religions still an afterglow, added to the tension. Taboo topics of the time like rape, sorcery and women rights are touched upon. This author is not afraid of married love scenes, nor does she shy from the horrors many women faced back in that era concerning their treatment.
The story moves from Paris back to Scotland. The war to bring back the old king pulls apart all clan life. The politics and the back stabbing is very complicated and makes for a true political thriller (for the 1700's).
I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book. Bravo, looking forward to next story in the series.

Get Swept Across The highlands

This story swept me right along with the characters, across the Highland countryside, while plunging them into the deepest core of degradation, then lifting them to the ecstasy of humanity—all in one book.

 

This novel is a cross between historical fiction, thriller adventure, and romantic tragedy. The reader will discover more about the Scottish clans and truly feel as if sitting beside them. Although this is the first book by Diana Gabaldon in this series, the author managed to deliver a full and hearty plot, wonderfully described characters each with their own unique strong voice, and many swings up and down, pacing an epic adventure.

 

The protagonists, Claire and Jamie, are bigger than life. I am adding the next book in the series to my must read list. I highly recommend this novel—great reading!

 

Some reviews posted of the story on this site have postured that rape violence was used by the author as a gimmick plot device, however I wholeheartedly disagree. Some topics are dramatic by themselves surely, however the author delved into the heart of the matter and brought out a real human experience from the violence. She also portrayed the characters as real sexual beings, which I find most people are, and fleshed out how the characters reacted to the horror. All topics that touch upon humanity should be fair game to use in our writing - if not, what would be left to write about?

Source: http://www.amazon.com/Outlander-Novel-Book-1-ebook/dp/B000FC2L1O/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Review of newly released GREYLOCK by Paula Cappa

Greylock - Paula Cappa

Greylock’s unique horror style, explores the deep currents of human emotion and compulsion. Like in a Grimm tale, basic life lessons are fleshed out using surprising twists. How far should one go to pursue a dream? An individual’s definition of true happiness, acceptable behavior for the good of society, is explored using classic Goth style with an added modern flair.


Paula Cappa merges old tales of Siberian witches and the other side of life’s river’s flow, with nature’s inexplicable wonders—the music of whales. Bleak settings at the fringe of nature—the eerie woods of Mount Greylock, and the frigid White Sea, keep the story’s tone of horror well defined. Bold characters, larger than life with the loftiest of dreams, lead the reader to jagged truths about humanity.


The author draws the reader into the music world of Alexei, a classical modern composer, who was born into a family with generations of musical history. Old family secrets are the tip of the iceberg. Alexei must dive in deep, not only with whales to write his composition, but also deep into the story behind his most successful piece of music to date. Alexei must choose the kind of person he wants to be.


The protagonist loves Raymond Chandler’s character, Marlowe, which serves as a great correlation. The author also sprinkles in literary quotes and music, which keep the musical tone of the story floating throughout, like a refined brush stroke. The romance that develops between Alexei and Lia also sets a heated stage. Other relationships are also developed, and each character faces some sort of pivot and must choose their fate. Alexei, and his family and friends, each grow or change by the end. This is an excellent, moving story. Bravo!

Source: http://www.amazon.com/review/R265XYCGL15789/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm

Terrifying Short Horror Story - Great Writing

Black Canyon (A Suspense Horror Thriller & Mystery Short Story) - Jeremy Bates

 

The author Jeremy Bates is one of my favorites. My experience with his stories began in 2012, when I read his award winning novel, White Lies. Then he wrote: Taste of Fear, Suicide Forest, Catacombs and more. His style of delving into the mind of characters, in well paced suspense plots, keeps the horrific thrills going. The chilling twisted endings are the best and will keep any horror fan returning to his work.

 

Black Canyon is a short story but delivers a big punch of terror.

 

Great writing! A quick read but not short on suspense and character development. The plot unfolds in a well-paced excursion and the unhealthy psyche of Brian, the protagonist, is revealed as his survival is challenged. Total surprise and twisted ending! Try to read the story without reading spoilers for best effect.

This is a great horror short story that will keep you engrossed and send shivers up your spine, until the end. It may change your camping habits, as well.

SPOILER ALERT!

REVIEW of Linger 5: "The Death of Dreams" Escalates the Psychological Horror

Linger 5: The Death of Dreams (A Linger Thriller) - Edward Fallon, Rob Cornell

The Death of Dreams, book five of the Linger series, is an intense story.

 

The plot uses psychological horror, leading our three protagonists down a twisted path. This story is not for the lighthearted, there is gore and monstrous elements that make it a real grisly thriller that will have you biting your nails (if you have any left after reading the first four books). The creepy small town and frigid winter storm will keep you shivering, as well.

 

Kate Messenger tries to remain in control but quickly discovers her police training is of no use here, when she comes up against a foe with abilities she has never confronted before. The pain of their individual loss is used against each companion and takes control of their minds. This force hits the target head on, when Weston is compelled by memories which he could not fight off. The urge for one more experience with his family, even though not real, is too strong. At a few pivotal scenes the heroes are doomed, leaving doubt about their survival from this abominable situation. Once again Christopher shows how strong his powers are and is able to pull his friends back to safety, maybe . . . The last story of the first five in the Linger series has an acceptable ending.

The reader is left with some ideas of what is going to happen to them now that they have faced so many horrors together. Once you've finished reading book five, you will want more books to be written in this series, because it's easy to imagine so much more that could happen to this odd ball group of friends, Kate, Weston and Chris, during their suspenseful quest for the beast.

 

I've been lucky to read the ARC copies, and all 5 stories are available for preorder now -  to be released July 1st. Once you begin your reading journey you will keep reading . . .


This is a GREAT SERIES that's well worth your time. Hoping that more stories will be written about this courageous band of characters. (heard more to come :D )

 

Bravo, well done, leaving the reader wanting more.  

This Series Is Compelling - This Story is an Uber Creepy Addictive Read

Linger 4: Here There Be Monsters (A Linger Thriller) - Edward Fallon, Will Graham

REVIEW of Linger 4: Here There Be Monsters from ARC received

 

Another great story in the Linger series- book four, Here There Be Monsters, is yet another terrifying experience especially for Kate Messenger. The three companions: Kate, Weston, and Chris, are still traveling and chasing the beast together, however, Kate decides to take on more of the burden. Worried as she witnesses Christopher’s continued breakdowns and bad dreams, she pulls in resources that will assist to make use of her crime fighting training. Kate asks for help from her network of friends in the field, and the reader is introduced to colorful personalities: a confidant of hers, a cop from Chicago named Mooch, and his Texan sister MK (officially named Colonel Baxter), and more—homicide detectives and yes, Rangers, too. The setting is Texas after all!

Feeling empowered, Kate decides to go the extra mile. Although filled with confidence, she has no idea the depth of the horrors she would get herself into . . . I will not say more because I don’t want to be a spoiler. Let’s just say the story creeps forward building up, and then something unexpected happens that will force you to turn the lights on.

The monsters that Kate faces are darker than any she has ever confronted before. The climax scene is not for the light hearted—and reads like a true hard horror that would make King proud. The story pulls together the threads and the three companions come to realize just how serious, no heinous, their quest has become . . . The dangers they face concern various law enforcement entities, as well. The beast is on everyone’s radar and yet to be confronted. The hero trio knows the beast has to be stopped. I’m going off to read book five now—can’t put it off any longer. This is a very exciting series.

REVIEW of Reckoning for the Damned Book 3 of the LINGER Series

The quest continues with book three of the Linger series—

Reckoning for the Damned.

 

After leaving Alabama, the three loners are led to Apalache Springs Florida, still trying to avenge the loss of loved ones. Noah Weston, Kate Messenger and a boy named Christopher, begin trusting each other and accepting their limitations as well as talents, as they continue the search for the Beast. The characters get confused as they chase down clues that lead them following another crime by a former associate of Kate’s, Judge Hoffman, while they try to make sense of possible correlations. The story has many angles to follow and new characters to flesh out,

as well as another killer, the Harbinger—or is it two killers?

(show spoiler)

They mix it up with the FBI and have no idea what they are getting into . . . some real cliff hangers. The protagonists try to understand what is relevant, who is trustworthy, and just what the hell is happening to them. Christopher undergoes strange physical possession, while Kate is pushed into a new paranormal experience of her own and loses control. Whatever could go wrong, does go wrong, in this twisted story plot, which unfolds some surprising revelations. Great character development, intense story progression, and another coaxing end, will leave you wanting to read the next book in the series. Lucky for you there are two more.

 

Trail of the Beast - Review of book two of Linger series (pre-order now)

— feeling amazing

Reading this second Linger  book was total enjoyment. I was fortunate to have an advanced reader's copy.

 

Literally I couldn't wait to keep reading. Not that it's a happy story - but it pulls you into the bizarro world filled with tension and suspense.

 

Book two of the Linger series, Trail of the Beast, takes off and never stops, beginning with page one, when ex-detective Kate Messenger joins her two friends in order to chase a murderer.

 

The three characters unite in the pursuit of the 'Beast', a name they branded the killer of their loved ones. Avenging her mother’s murderer, Kate joins a strange blind clairvoyant boy named Christopher and a man named Noah Weston—together they follow the trail left by a little girl named Lucy, who through mental telepathy communicates with the boy Chris.

 

The setting is a small town in Alabama, Singer, and the reason for its name is eerie enough to have them turn around. The heroes, confronted with unusual circumstances, seek the assistance of the local Catholic priest, Morales.

 

The main plot—to chase down the beast, soon becomes a game of hide and seek, and set ups. The twisted becomes even more bizarre as paranormal activity of a nearby river intertwines with the forces that they are already dealing with. Like book one, the story reads smoothly and is so suspenseful that I could not stop reading, riveted to every word.

 

The relationship between the three companions is explored, as well as the interaction with the new people they meet, and feels genuine. The storyline compels the reader into the heart pounding fear for them all, as they are literally running for their lives, almost scared to death. The protagonists learn that together they will succeed but only if they trust each other.

 

I had to keep reading the next book. That's the beauty of this series - on July 1st you will have books 1-5 to feed your reading needs. . . This book is filled with great suspense, great character development, and a very eerie and scary story.

 

Available now  for preorder here: Amazon

Don't Miss this New Suspense Series: Linger (Worth every second of reading)

I am fortunate to have received ARC copies of the first five books of a new series - Linger by Edward Fallon.

 

This is one supernatural suspense series you won't want to miss. The greatest part is that we have five books ready to be released to satisfy our reading frenzy -- and you will want to keep reading!

 

I have submitted my advance review below- It's GREAT!  You can preorder for July 1st release here: Amazon

 

Read more about book one

A Wild Night  . . .

 

Linger: Dying Is A Wild Night is a captivating story that draws the reader into the suspense. Once you begin reading you'll have to finish. The characters are intriguing and likable. The plot twists and sends the reader into surprising directions, while the fluent writing of Edward Fallon easily pulls you along for the ride. It is an excellent first story for the Linger series, comfortably setting the stage for future adventures.

I liked the paranormal aspects of the storyline, using the boy Christopher as the medium, from whom all else stems. The supernatural occurrences are described in a succinct and believable manner, and make one stop to ponder some questions. What are our minds capable of? Can we experience more if we push limitations? How can we use our minds for good? I always enjoy a story that stretches my imagination. Like any good suspense drama, we have gruesome murderers who you'll like to hate, as well as a great last minute reveal.

Last but not least, there is a compelling protagonist who will win you over. She is Detective Lieutenant Kate Messenger, a strong willed, decisive, woman who rolls with the tide; willing to do what needs to be done to find a killer, the beast. Encouraged by her actions, the truth is revealed. She stands as a woman who won't be pushed around or tolerate bad behavior, and she manages bad situations with intelligence. During the storyline, you see her character grow, learning with each new development. I whole heartily recommend this book and looking forward to the next.

Intense Thriller - that will scare the pants off you

The Catacombs (World's Scariest Places) (Volume 2) - Jeremy Bates

What can be scarier than wandering the catacombs under Paris in darkness? You will discover how horrific it can be below the city. The story plunges you underground with the four explorers, as they journey through the catacombs, pursuing a quest inspired by a mysterious video Pascal had found during a previous trip below.

Pascal and Daniele are both experienced cataphiles—the colloquial term for underground urban explorers of the catacombs. They guide Rob and Will through some treacherous terrain and tight conditions. The setting is described fully, and you will feel as if you are there in the tunnels as well, inching through every fissure crack. You want suspense and horror—look no further. The surprise will be not only whom they meet below, but also the shadows they each carry within themselves. As they trek, the characters naturally unfold their own stories.

The bizarre and shocking encounters underground trigger their reveries and innermost thoughts. The reader has a front row seat and glimpses into the past of Will, the main protagonist, as he reveals his nightmare while trying to come to terms with his own ghosts. The author does this with a smooth and compassionate brush.

This brings us right back to their horrendous situation that they are dealing with. We travel beside them, sharing their troubles; the deeper into the tunnels and the story, the bigger the shock becomes. Twists and turns are found not only through the catacombs, but the with each action decision the characters opt as well.

No more details told. I do not want to give anything away. Nevertheless, I have to disclose that I never expected the end as it unfolded. Not a fairytale ending but it is very much acceptable.
Well done—suspenseful to the end!

This is book two in the series "A World's Scariest Places". The first “Suicide Forest” was also a great suspense thriller. For both of these stories, the series name is not enough to prepare you for what you will experience as a reader. You will learn new things about our world, and survive through our worst fears as well.

I have read both books in the series so far, and both are intense. These books have become my favorites, a modern writer surpassing King and Koontz. Jeremy Bates not only delivers maximum suspense and horror, but you are right there with the characters. The style of writing is honest, vivid, compelling and never a dull moment.

There will be no skipping parts—and no putting this book down until it has finished. I recommend this book.