Survive at Midnight by Kayla Krantz

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This is an amazing book to follow after the first two. Personally, I didn’t read either, but I didn’t need to. This is one book that gives you all the details you need to truly enjoy it. There was plenty of back story and the history was easy to follow. While I wish I had been able to start from the beginning, I’m still excited that I got to read this one.

Luna is probably the loneliest girl on the planet. Only a few years out of high school and pregnant with no friends. Why? Because mostly they are all dead. Murdered in numerous and vicious ways. Even the relationship with her mother, Rose, is painfully strained. She spends her days lamenting the loss of her loved ones and developing a connection with her baby. The father is her mortal enemy, so it’s not an easy thing to do, but she grows to love her baby immensely.

So much happens in this book that it is hard to discuss it without giving anything away. Suffice it to say that it’s a roller coaster of emotions and jumps from one “No way!” moment to the next. I wondered through the entire book whether what was happening was real. It seems her enemy is not exactly who she thought he was and that revelation has dire consequences. Chance, the villain from the previous books, did a marvelous job at isolating her and destroying everything of meaning in her life. He had a grand exit in the second book, but that doesn’t mean it’s the end of Chance.

The story does an incredible job of taking someone who is despicable in every way and whose past behavior can only be described as pure evil, and turning them into someone human and a person to sympathize with. It is not a task accomplished right away, though. So much goes on that the reader must grow along with the character to get the real emotion behind it. At times it is very difficult to read and disturbing doesn’t quite cover it. The question is who is Luna really. Who is she becoming? Was she always destined to become an extension of Chance? Can she turn around from the path she has started down? The answers are only found at the end of the book, when your jaw is on the floor and you feel Luna’s pain and desolation.

From the very beginning I was sucked in. I couldn’t believe what I was reading and I only saw three ways out: prison, asylum, death. The author proved that I wasn’t thinking outside the box and I was relieved to discover that it had the perfect ending. The story remains consistent from start to finish and carries you through Luna’s journey as she evolves. There were several issues that caught my attention. The story is definitely not your everyday tale with realistic interactions, but the fantastic never bothers me. It was the little things, like Rose expecting her daughter to pull herself out of her grief in a matter of weeks, or an obstetrician doing house calls in the matter of fifteen minutes. If only that was true, then a pregnant woman’s experience would be much easier. It was only these moments of un-believability that interferred with the flow of the story. Keep in mind, though, that I’m a stickler and pay attention to the little things.

The grading:

  • Genre and general reading age – Paranormal for adults. Definitely not for teens.
  • Level of sexuality – None. Her pregnancy is already a done deal when the book begins.
  • Is there graphic language? Nothing that impacted me or my reading experience.
  • Did I cry? No, but I felt her sorrow and her confusion acutely.
  • Did I laugh? Absolutely not.
  • Is this part of a series? You bet. This is book three in The Rituals of the Night series. Book four is due out later this year.
  • Level of character development – Luna has a complete makeover. Throughout the course of the book she becomes an entirely different person. It is a fantastic example of how a character can start out as one person and, through internal and external forces, do a one-eighty.

This is a suprising and chilling tale. Do not approach this book lightly and prepare yourself for many shocking moments. I love Luna and the way she is torn between her old life and her new. At times it felt like Stockholm syndrome, but she ultimately chooses who she becomes. The ending is satisfying and this is a book that I would gladly read again. I was so engrossed that I cannot give it anything under ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ stars. Well done, Ms. Krantz.

Available here on Amazon

Infected by Scott Sigler

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Originally, this was a slow read and took me several days to finish. It’s not bad writing, just wordy with a high page count. I would get bored and wander away – for the whole day. But that’s only for the first half. It gets better.

The writing is somewhat centered on Margaret and Amos, who are the only scientists in the nation that are allowed to know about the infection (the title gives that tidbit away) and will hopefully soon understand how to defeat it. This requires a good amount of guesswork and fiddling with disintegrating, goopy bodies. Overall, they’re almost as clueless as I am. I did grow to like them, but not a whole lot. They are trying to save the nation from this horrible infection, so I would expect to see a little more drive and ambition. Definitely some demands made upon their employer; they have very little to go on and a small amount of help or tools.

When Perry Dawsey was introduced, I was fascinated with his character. He’s full of emotion, a need to be the best, and the ambition to overcome his childhood raised by a highly abusive father. Fortunately, he has his best friend, Bill, who is the only source of stability Perry has ever had in his life. They met in college where he had earned the name of “Scarey Perry” as a football player. It’s safe to say that he’s got some anger management issues. He’s also the main character who is infected. I believe that it is his mental hang-ups that make him a man who will not go down without a fight.

Perry, along with several others, has no knowledge of being infected and when he starts having a most amazing case of itching, he thinks he can wait it out. When this turns into a continuous distraction and hinderance, he is finally sent home by his employer. Perry sees no purpose in doctors or anti-itch creams, but comes to think that he just might need both. Pulling up his sleeve, he sees a blue triangle under his skin and soon discovers others on his body. I found the triangle intriguing, but the itching business needed to be dealt with straightaway. Fortunately, it does subside, but the triangles don’t. In fact, they’re rather busy making themselves at home in his body.

I don’t want to give away the whole story, but the second half of the book is where I got caught up in the story. We follow Perry as he battles physically and mentally against the infection. Also, the other characters come into play and, finally, we have a fascinating story. Suddenly, everyone, including me, is enlightened and we get an inkling as to who, what, why, and maybe when. I couldn’t tear myself away from it and finished the last half in one day. My final say on this book, is give it a try.

Now, the rating:

  • Genre and general reading age – Science fiction and for adults.
  • Level of sexuality – There wasn’t enough room in the plot for sex.
  • Was there graphic language? Yes. If I had uncontrollable itching and blue triangles I’d swear too.
  • Did I cry? No.
  • Did I laugh? No, it’s not that kind of story.
  • Is this part of a series? This is a cliffhanger. The second is Contagious, which is followed by Pandemic.
  • Level of character development – They developed slowly and not fully to my satisfaction, except for Perry.

Because I found the first half of the story slow, but a powerhouse of action in the second, I have to give it ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 stars. Perseverance paid off. The last half was powerfully written, grab your skirts (ladies) and go, go, go!

Available here on Amazon

Arisen: Nemesis by Michael Stephen Fuchs

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Staff Sgt. Kate Dunajski is military through and through. Eighteen months ago she was in the reserves, hoping to pay for school. Then she was called upon to serve in Afghanistan and finds, after three deployments, that her niche is helping the people of that country. Instead, the military decides she belongs in Somalia, Africa. This is where it starts.

Her arrival is met with utter chaos, spilling throughout the town and a certain amount of confusion at Camp Lemonnier, her station. People are firing guns and fighting to get through the gate, onto the base. Helicopters are bringing in wounded soldiers and suddenly the bullets are coming her way. About this time I was able to put myself in her shoes and wonder, “What would I do in this situation?” She does the same thing I would have. She ducks and hides. After that she makes the decision to run for the JOC, or Joint Operations Center. FYI: There are a ton of acronyms in this book, so you might want to jot them down for reference.

At first I was completely confused, until I realised, just keep your eyes on the people; that’s where the action is. Bullets herald her boisterous entrance into the building, but the numerous people around her, sitting at tactical stations, hardly take notice. Each person has a specific job and each is utterly absorbed by it. Thankfully, she is approached by a soldier who introduces himself as her teammate, Elijah. He takes her under his wing and she is able to observe, without the fear of being shot.

From this point on, the story becomes more about the team. All, except for Kate, have been together for a long time and know each others’ quirks, vices, and aspirations: the fun they have quoting movie lines that fit any given moment in their daily lives, to knowing that when times are frighteningly serious they can count on each other to have the primary goal of protecting the team.

I enjoyed this book quite a bit. There is a lot of action and it’s not just about Kate. It’s about her blending into the unit and being a soldier just as much as anyone else. It’s about these capable men realizing that she is as driven as any other soldier when it comes to the fight. The title alone informs readers that there is a nemesis. However, is it Triple Nickel or is it someone else? That question is part of the excitement of the book. Even though there is an epidemic and, unfortunately, there are zombies running around, that is not the focus of the story. This is a large series with plenty of room for zombies and everybody else. The undead do affect how some things get accomplished or not, but I recommend this book for several other reasons. First, the action is a huge draw, then there are the exhilarating wins and devastating losses, and overall, I wasn’t bored for a single minute. The characters were engaging and the ending was a surprise. Although, I did find that the epilogue is just a lead-in to the next book and it was not particularly interesting.

My rating:

  • Genre and reading age: Definitely action. I think a teenager interested in military action would enjoy this book and, of course, adults.
  • Level of sexuality: Very little.
  • Was there graphic language? Some, but not too bad.
  • Did I cry? No. It’s almost as if the story prepares you for the fact that there are losses in battle. Was I saddened? Absolutely.
  • Is it part of a series? Yes, there are several other Arisen novels, including a prequel.
  • Level of character development: It was very well done.
  • Did I laugh? The subject was serious, but there were a few grin-worthy moments.

Overall, I give it ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ stars.

Available here on Amazon

No Such Thing as Werewolves by Chris Fox

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With such a fascinating title, how could I not read this book? If for no other reason than to find out “DO werewolves exist?” Well, right from the get-go…almost.

First off, a little backstory. A team of mercenaries discover a huge, black pyramid in Peru, that might or might not be from some ancient civilization. They don’t so much discover it, as watch it erupt from the ground. Safely ensconced in their helicopters they witness it seamlessly appear through a shimmer of heat. A bit weird and hard to describe; I’m at a loss as how better to describe it. The obvious next step is to investigate. Where would the story be if they didn’t? Just like in horror movies where you scream at the heroine, “Don’t open the door! Jason’s behind it!” The curiosity and stupidity is necessary for the story to go on. The author is lucky he’s not writing about normal people who would high-tail it out of what is clearly a big no-no.

In the beginning it’s only a two-man team sent to venture inside with the strict order to return in ten minutes. Precisely at nine minutes and sixteen seconds they hear gunfire and the sound of people desperately running. So far, the story is strange, yet predictable. Two men dash inside, one wounded, hoping to find safety. But what is following close behind them? Non other than the scary being every reader knew was coming. It’s massive, at least eight feet tall, and is too fast for a barrage of bullets to stop. It comes complete with pretty fur, enormous teeth, and handy claws. Sure enough, it runs like a man, but it howls like a werewolf. The situation only gets worse in a very serious way and you’re left saying, “I told you not to go in there.”

The story wouldn’t be complete without a group of characters trying to save the world, maybe. The obvious hero is Blair, a good man to have when the sun no longer shines. Everybody knows that the really scary stuff comes out at night. Voila, permanent night. Then there’s Bridget, who is not a hero and turns on Blair. Next is Steve, who turns on Blair with Bridget. Liz is a runaway bride, who is important enough to warrant one of the eighty-two chapters named after her. Then there is her brother Trevor, a scientist who obviously loves the gun range, and Jordan, who may or may not be a nasty mercenary. The question is, will humanity survive long enough to find out?

There’s a whole crew of other characters that add to the mix, including the director of the evil corporation Mohn, Co. This expedition obviously wasn’t funded by the government, so it’s clearly backed by a soulless company with too much money and no regard for human lives. It’s obvious early on that Mohn is the one who stationed the mercenaries to be at just the right place at just the right time. Mercenaries are rarely a good sign in a book, especially if it’s Armageddon, but they are expendable.

It’s not a small book and has a whopping eighty-two chapters. So, don’t go into this lightly. It has the predictability of an obviously bad decision in the beginning, which leads to certain death, but then is followed by a lot of weird. Like I said, this is not a light, fluffy read, as you find out by the ensuing chaos.

If you’re confused, you’re not alone. The team sent inside after it’s initial eruption and consequent slaughter, is directed to protect a group of scientists who are hopefully smart enough to figure out the pictographs on the walls. Their job is to get inside and do who knows what. After all, this is all being funded by an evil corporation. Think Umbrella from Resident Evil, who had no qualms about destroying all of mankind. Mohn is much the same and don’t think twice about sending these people into the jungle, totally ignorant of what is roaming around outside the pyramid.

These characters, with varying levels of good and bad, are for the most part supportive of each other, as far as it will get them. There’s a smattering of wanna-be romance and old grudges. The book hits upon a lot of emotions and typical human interaction, which makes it more enjoyable. Needless to say, it was packed with action. It’s not horror, but just the right mixture of weird and fantasy.

This is a solid start to a good-sized series. A lot happens and it’s not even halfway through. I was left with several pertinent questions: Who is a werewolf? Who is going to become one? Why are there even werewolves? How does one become a werewolf? Should you want to be one? And once you become a werewolf, is that all there really is to life?

  • Genre and reading age – like I said, it’s not quite horror and not quite fantasy. Due to the excessive bloodloss, it’s definitely a mature read.
  • Sex – there was absolutely no sex, but it’s hard to fit that in when you’re running for your life.
  • Number of tears shed – zero, there simply was no time.
  • Graphic language – surprisingly, not that much, considering what the characters are going through.
  • This is the first book in the Deathless Series, which has numerous books, including novellas and a prequel. The second one is about zombies and the third is about vampires. I think you get where this is going.
  • Number of laughs – there were a few chuckles, but there was too much action for big ha-ha’s.

This is an action-packed, fun read and I’m happy to give it ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ shiny stars.

Available here on Amazon