October readings | Dragons, Mysteries and Dead Things

Title: Dead Until Dark
Series: Sookie Stackhouse book 1
Author: Charlaine Harris
Genre(s): Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Supernatural, Horror, Fantasy, Mystery
Page count: 292 pages
Published: 1 May 2001

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Title: One Of Us Is Lying
Author: Karen M. McManus
Genre(s): Young Adult, Mystery, Thriller, Crime, Fiction
Page count: 360 pages
Published: 30 May 2017

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Title: Origin
Series: Scales’N’Spells 1
Author: A.J. Sherwood, Jocelynn Drake
Genre(s): Contemporary, Fantasy
Page count: 392 pages
Published: 1 October 2020

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Title: Silk & Steel
Series: Silk & Steel #1
Author: Ariana Nash, Pippa DaCosta
Genre(s): Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance, MM
Page count: 380 pages
Published: 18 January 2019

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The Necromancer’s Reckoning | S.J. Himes

Every action has consequences.
For a decade, Angel Salvatore has been the most powerful sorcerer and only necromancer in all the Northeast. Never one to ask permission nor apologies, he has acted with near impunity for years.
Until now.
The High Council of Sorcery has come to Boston, and Angel is their target. Charged with numerous violations of practitioner laws, his freedom and family are placed in jeopardy.
If found guilty, Angel’s apprentice Daniel will be imprisoned to serve out the remaining years of his apprenticeship. Isaac, his brother, is too vulnerable to be left unguarded, and Angel fears for his sanity and health. And Simeon, Elder vampire and Angel’s mate, refuses to see Angel convicted under the laws of the Council and his actions to keep Angel free threaten to start a war that could destroy their world. And Angel faces the severest of punishments—the castration of his gifts.
The Council has never cared for the people of Boston, and Angel doubts their motives. They have come for some insidious reason, and it has nothing to do with upholding the law and everything to do with Angel.
Dealing with an impending trial, a wayward ghost, and a grave robbing ring of thieves leaves Angel on the edge. He thinks he may have a handle on things until violence erupts across the city, and a stranger comes to town…a stranger with his own dark powers of necromancy.

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How was it?

The Beacon Hills Sorcerer series is among the best books in the genre. The storytelling is smooth and smart, from Dance, Dilemma to Reckoning it’s a captivating saga that’s unfolding bit by bit and gets better each time. The characters are amazing, they keep growing and evolving, and it’s always earned. Nothing is rushed but the story is far from a slow burn.

In fact Reckoning is fast paced with plenty of action and mayhem. The “magic police”, the High Council of Sorcery, is back in town after a long absence. A Sorcerer civil war didn’t capture their attention but it seems that the growing fame and power that Angel’s latest accomplishments afforded him doesn’t sit well with them.

There always was some kind of geopolitical aspects to the series. The sphere of influence and rules for Vampires, Humans, and Practitioners have always permeated the story, but here it’s centered stage and it’s entertaining as hell. Angel, Simeon and Eroch are just badass. I pity the fools that underestimate them.

The Necromancer’s Reckoning is gripping, exciting and sweet entry to the series.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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Fear Street Part Three: 1666 | Subverting Some Expectations & Closing the Loop

The final installment of the ‘Fear Street‘ trilogy is penned by director Leigh Janiak with Phil Graziadei (Honeymoon) and Kate Trefy (Stranger Things). The most of the cast from the previous two movies return in new roles to gives us a glimpse at how it all started.

Premise: In 1666, a colony is gripped by a hysterical witch-hunt that has deadly consequences for centuries to come. The origins of Sarah Fier’s curse are finally revealed as history comes full circle. Meanwhile, the teenagers in 1994 and 1978 try to finally put an end to the town’s curse, before it is too late.

Review: I may have been pleasantly surprised by Fear Street 1994 and thoroughly enjoyed Fear Street 1978 but for some reason I expected Fear Street 1666 to be far more predictable than it was. Even before watching the trailer I thought I had this movie’s plot figured out. Since I suspected the story would be about pilgrims I thought this movie would be dealing with some religion-induced hysteria and Sarah Fier. I figured the young woman might either be wrongly accused of witchcraft and would turn to it trying to save herself before failing and cursing the town, or she’d be a good witch would who get caught to be killed and cursing the town in her rage. That’s how I thought this movie would probably go, but it wasn’t as predictable as that.

The actual story has shades of that the religious hysteria is a 100% there but it’s a little more interesting. The plot is constructed in a way that would make you think that the town’s problems is be blamed on Sarah because of who she is. I know it sounds like one of the plot I described but it’s not, I don’t want to spoil even if it’s a minor spoiler. Sarah kisses and run through other bases with someone people in the town think she should have. So when things starts to go awry When I look at this movie on its own, of course all eyes turn on her. I really like that aspect of the story, it was a good and original way to use the puritanical way of thinking of that time, a nice twist that could have meshed well with one of my theories about the film.

So I enjoyed how the story was developed and how well it works with the other two movies. The full circle aspect of it was great but I wasn’t as engaged while watching this movie than I was for the other two. I can’t really put my finger on it but I checked my phone many times and weren’t totally paying attention. Maybe it’s having the same cast playing different roles but I don’t think so. It might just be the time period it’s set in that I don’t vibe with, because the cast did a great job.

Fear Street 1666 brings the story full circle showing us how the curse originated and how it has lasted for so long. The movie is good and the Fear Street Trilogy is better as a whole. 1978 still has a special place in my heart but it’s a solid trilogy and I wouldn’t be oppose to see it evolve into something else. Have you seen this film? Did Sarah’s story surprise you?

Rating: 7 out of 10.

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The Necromancer’s Dilemma | S.J. Himes

Even love can die without trust.

Angel’s brother, Isaac, has returned home, and the pair begin to make slow and awkward attempts back to each other. Learning how to be a brother to a grown man instead of a parental figure has Angel adjusting his behaviors and habits, and Isaac still remains a mystery. Was it merely entering adulthood that turned Isaac away from an overprotective Angel, or does Isaac carry a secret that will keep them from finally being a real family?

Daniel Macavoy, Angel’s new apprentice, is torn between his bond with Angel and the grasping machinations of his father. Dealing with a traumatized apprentice with dangerous holes in his magical education, saving Daniel may be harder than Angel first thought—especially since the biggest problem is not revenge, but guilt.

The one shining beacon in his life is Simeon, Elder vampire of Boston’s only Bloodclan. Four hundred years old and sexy as sin, Simeon is warrior and sage, patient and cunning. The strength Angel draws from Simeon’s devotion and the newborn mate-bond between them is steadfast and true…and the fount of death magic that animates the undead lord places Angel in the midst of a power struggle for control over himself, his lover, and his family.

Through it all, Angel is beleaguered by the unwanted attention of a troll-hybrid, the adventures of a dragon in the city, and a serial killer has decided to hunt the back alleys and midnight streets of Boston.

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How was it?

The Necromancer’s Dance sets up these characters and the world they live in so well that it’s easy to get back into it. The focus might be a bit more on Angelus and Simeon but all of the side characters grow along with them. It doesn’t feel as contained as other books in the genre feel. It’s like a TV show with a comprehensive cast but they all get their moments in the spotlight.

Since Angel now consults for the police,  there’s also a mystery woven into the story. It’s attention grabbing and allows for a broader understanding of Simeon and Angelus’ bond while giving us more information on the people around the couple. I throughly enjoyed the story, it has sweet and comedic moments, as well as great action sequences and character moments, some that had me going “funk yeah get him!”

This series is slowly becoming a favorite. All of the characters are compelling, they each have their strength and weaknesses, they have baggage, a history and it comes across throughout the two books. Also because of who Angel and Simeon are, a Necromancer and an elder vampire, so can see how their bond might become a problem, because that’s never been done, and also what it implies for the balance of power in that world.

The Necromancer’s Dilemma is a good read that’s made even better when reading right after The Necromancer’s Dance. I think it could be read as a stand alone, since the story on its own is great but for the full effect the two blend into each other perfectly. Of all the books in the series I probably remember this one the most because it also feature a favorite character of mine, a little creature that I garante that you’ll fall in love with as well.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

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Fear Street Part Two: 1978 | An Excellent Step-Up

After the entertaining surprise that was Fear Street 1994, the second installment of the trilogy inspired by R.L. Stine‘s book series of the same name brings us to the late 70s. Leigh Janiak is still helming, with a script co-written by Zak Olkewikz. This time the cast include Sadie Sink (Stranger Things), Emily Rudd (Dynasty, Electric Dreams), McCabe Slye (Destroyer), Ted Sutherland (The Walkind Dead: World Beyond, Eye Candy), and Gillian Jacobs (Invincible, Love).

Premise: In 1978, Camp Nightwing is divided by the campers and counselors who hail from the prosperous town of Sunnyvale and the campers and maintenance staffers from the downtrodden town of Shadyside, but when horrors from their towns shared history come alive, they must band together to solve a terrifying mystery before it is too late.

Review: For a trilogy that goes backward, I didn’t think they’d be much if any surprises in this movie. I was wrong. Fear Street 1978 is engrossing, maybe it’s the way the story unfolds, how the characters interact, the directing or the cast but I was captivated. It’s gruesome for sure and for someone like myself who avoids horror movies, because I get scared, I could watch this no problem.

Once again there’s a quite a lot of gore, just like if not more than in Fear Street 1994. The blood, feces and body parts didn’t faze me at all because I was so invested in the characters. I wanted some to die – Sheila – in fact I was waiting for it. I was also curious to see how those alive in 1994 came to keep their heads. Since the kills are swift and ruthless the characters are what sucks you in. They all have different dynamics and personalities, which keeps things interesting. There’s also a brilliant misdirect in the film that keeps your focus on one thing and it’s the wrong one. It was a nice surprise for me. Giving that the characters are the heart of this movie, it wouldn’t have work if the cast wasn’t strong. They are good and delivered excellent performances.

Fear Street 1978 is a captivating horror movie with little scares, a good story and greats characters.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

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Fear Street Part One: 1994 | A Fast Paced Entertaining Intro to Horror

Unless it’s a spoof on horror movies / slasher film I’m usually out, but for some reason this one intrigued me. I think it’s because of R.L. Stine giving that he writes scary stories for preteens I figure I could probably handle this one. Fear Street 1994 is the first part of a trilogy, each movie goes back in time until we get to the origin of what’s causing the evil the protagonists have to face.
Directed by Leigh Janiak, with a script by Janiak herself and Phil Grazaidei, the movie is inspired by the book series Fear Street by R.L. Stine. The main cast include Kiana Madeira (Trinkets), Olivia Welch (Unbelievable, Panic), Benjamin Flores Jr. (Your Honor), Julia rehwald (Mukbang Masarap), and Fred Hechinger (The Woman in the Window).

Premise: In 1994, after another series of brutal slayings, a group of teenagers find out that the terrifying events that have occurred in their cursed town of Shadyside, Ohio, may be connected to an evil force plaguing the town, and that they may be the next targets.

Review: For whatever reason that may be, if you’re not a horror fan, this movie might be the palatable kind. It’s a bit gruesome with scary-ish moments, enough to give it its horror / slasher movie cred and that’s about it. I had more fun watching this than I expected, whether it was because of the characters’ funny quips or the little twists and turns that are somewhat predictable, I was entertained.

However, if you’re looking thrills, the feeling of being on the edge of your seat, stressed out by what might happen, this might not be the movie for you. To me it kind of feels like an intro to horror before graduating to bigger scarier films. There’s still violence, blood, and even a bit of sex – first based only – but the tone is a bit light. The visual effects and the acting are solid. The cast does a good job, I almost felt bad for the fate of some of them. I also liked the soundtrack, there’s a lot of cool 90s music in it.

Fear Street 1994 has enough fairly gruesome moments to satiate horror fans while not scarring away the others.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10.

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May readings | A Lot of Mystery with Some Sport and Magic

Title: Love is a Stranger
Series: More Heat Than The Sun #1
Author: John Wiltshire
Genre(s): Romance, Military Fiction, Contemporary, Mystery, LGBT
Page count: 505 pages (ebook)
Published: 8 January 2021

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Title: Rueberry Orchard
Series: Beyond the Realm: Remember #1
Author: Michele Notaro
Genre(s): Urban Fantasy, MM Romance, Action
Page count: 343 pages (ebook)
Published: 6 October 2020

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Title: The Woman in the Window
Author: A.J. Finn
Genre(s): Thriller, Mystery, Crime
Page count: 455 pages
Published: 2 January 2018

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Title: Truckers
Author: Various authors
Editor: Johnny Hansen
Genre(s): Gay Erotica
Page count: 192 pages (paperback)
Published: 17 July 2006

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Title: The Endgame
Author: Riley Hart
Genre(s): Contemporary, Sports Romance, MM
Page count: 336 pages (ebook)
Published: 20 April 2021

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Title: Bell, Book and Scandal
Series: Bedknobs and Broomsticks #3
Author: Josh Lanyon
Genre(s): Urban Fantasy, Mystery, Thriller, MM
Page count: 204 pages (ebook)
Published: 30 March 2021

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Title: The Fantastic Fluke
Series: The Fantastic Fluke #1
Author: Sam Burns
Genre(s): Urban Fantasy, Mystery, MM
Page count: 288 pages (ebook)
Published: 6 August 2020

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Title: Jon’s Boom Shaka Laka Problem
Series: Jon’s Mysteries #4
Author: A.J. Sherwood
Genre(s): Mystery, Urban Fantasy, MM
Page count: 238 pages (ebook)
Published: 7 February 2021

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Title: Following the Rules
Series: The Script Club
Author: Lane Hayes
Genre(s): Contemporary, Sports, Romance
Page count: 200 pages
Published: 7 May 2021

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Title: Goal Lines & First Times
Series: CU Hockey #3
Author: Eden Finley, Saxon James
Genre(s): Contemporary, Sports, Romance
Page count: 294 pages (ebook)
Published: 10 February 2021

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Title: Other Half
Series: Psycop 12
Author: Jordan Castillo Price
Genre(s): Paranormal, Mystery, Romance
Page count: 200 pages
Published: 7 January 2021

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