Names of Power (The Angel), by Travis Galvan

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4 stars

Names of Power reads very much like a young adult book. It feels jovial, goofy, lighthearted–much like Maximum Ride, by James Patterson. Except narrated in third person, rather than first.

 

We follow siblings Bo and Ren on a very supernatural journey. With some help, they uncover a series of mysteries that will change their lives forever.

 

The authors’ hook is pretty intense without context. It sets a very promising narrative.

 

The very first thing that jumped out at me for this novel was the family dynamic. Ren and Bo come from a very loving home. With a single father, no less. Both of which are so nice to see in YA. Their father is so supportive and loving–sometimes a little too much. Brother and sister have arguments within normal parameters. They all love each other. The author sets up that this novel won’t follow all stereotypes.

 

For the most part, it doesn’t. Ren is a girl that’s not always thinking about boys. She’s smart, capable, and doesn’t need rescuing. She’s not “the chosen one destined to save the world” (yet). Her character development isn’t focused on love and finding “the one.” She gets a storyline that’s about her, and not a plot device that allows someone else to take the spotlight. I thought her character development went in a clear, logical direction.

 

It’s fast paced, so all the action feels nonstop. These kids never rest. Sometimes things felt too easy–like their father being too accepting, but it works. Everything flows from one scene to the next, without any weird breaks or jumps. The tone and style are very lighthearted. Very positive. Even when conflict happens, it doesn’t feel like it gets anyone down.

 

The story is well put together. Everything gets tied up, and makes sense from beginning to end. Even the mystery is well done. It takes unexpected twists and turns and unravels at the right pace. Characters feel like contributors to the resolution. All the information presented to the reader feels necessary, and never feels overwhelming. I can say without shame that it kept me guessing.

 

There’s a little editing needed, but nothing deal-breaking.

 

Given the title and the ending, Names of Power (The Angel), sets itself up as only a fraction of the actual story. It introduces a complete mystery, with a larger one lurking behind. This sets the stage for a story arc of epic proportions.

 

Buy it here!

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Fear Inducer, by Ellie Douglas

5_2_17 Fear Inducer

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I’m not very sure where to start with Fear Inducer. It was about equal in strengths and opportunities.
 
Felix Bloom is a psychiatrist with a penchant for murder. His latest toy is a pill to induce intense hallucinations in people with severe phobias. Reactions strong enough that people start killing themselves. And it’s graphic. Good for horror, bad for the squeamish. Some of the scenes were so intense that even my toes curled–not an easy feat!
 
What’s unique about this novel is that it’s told from the antagonists’ point of view. We never see much of a protagonist, and the good doctor is no way an anti-hero. As a horror movie, Fear Inducer would follow the killer, not the victims. Sort of like “How to be a Serial Killer,” only less comedic. Things go a little longer in the novel than they should have. Especially given the ending. The same formula occurs over and over enough times that it becomes monotonous. It’s what you come to expect. When it’s time for the ending–it smacks you in the face so hard. I can’t emphasize that point enough. I’ve never read an ending that made me absolutely reel. In some ways it’s well-done. In others, well…resolution was lacking something fierce.
 
Bloom’s character was an interesting dynamic between the caring doctor and murderous villain. Interactions with others outside of the doctor-patient relationship adds further character layers.
 
Writing style was good, but there were some areas that needed visible editing. Paragraphs were long-winded and didn’t break where they should. It didn’t have the right pacing to enhance the feeling of apprehension conveyed. The “what’s going to happen next?” page-turning fear. The excess chapters contribute to this. Readers are able to guess what’s going to happen, and it breaks the mood.
 
Things were way to easy for Bloom. The conflict was there, but he was too smart. Always. Nigh infallible. Sure, he stumbles on occasion, but it’s brief and not very noticeable.
 
The ending was. It ended without warning. There wasn’t a satisfying “I got away with it!” moment, or an intense struggle. It leaves things wide open for a sequel, but still feels unfinished. I have so many questions.
 
When it comes to inducing fear, this book does a decent job. The scenes of violence did well with description and evoking emotion. It will raise your blood pressure. A phobic variety is available, which helps a little in changing up the scenes. Crafted to elicit anxiety, they usually do their job. A fear inducing start.
Buy it here!

Hallow Mass, by JP Mac

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All the time, people want to use the Necronomicon as a pivotal plot point for their novel. Often, it’s misused and misrepresented, contorted to whatever special need the author decries

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Imagine my delight and surprise then, in Hallow Mass, to find that the book’s used as intended. And what a narrative built around it.

 

Told through third-person, the novel follows two groups: the “good” guys and the “bad” guys. Or, those trying to use the Necronomicon and those trying to prevent its use. Chapters headings are newspaper clippings or quotes related to the story. They provide hints, bits and pieces of background story, and foreshadowing. The narrative uses book excerpts or scripts to give the readers an easy information dump. With the author’s tone and informal style, it fits. Not once did it rip me from the story.

 

The author did a wonderful job taking potshots at big corporations. Hilarious, and exactly how things pan out in the real world. Creative and so well done. The characterization was great. All the characters were different, and it was diverse. Even without naming the characters during dialogue, it was easy to keep up and know who was who. With exceptions, each character had their own plot and series of development. And it’s easy to discern. Grammar and punctuation were all on-point, contributing to the tongue-in-cheek narration.

 

I’m always wary of female protagonists. Wary, but I love them. Only because nine time out of ten, they’re not written well. They always seem to fall back into some lame trope that destroys their character. Which explains why Mercy’s character stood out. Best of all, there’s no love story that every female protagonist seems to have to succeed as a character. There was none of that. She was her own personality without relying on others for it. The supporting characters did that: support without being overbearing or “I’m the man, I’m in charge now.” And boy, is she easy to identify with. All college students have been there at one point or another.

 

Even the description was right where it needed to be. There’s plenty of information on the characters, but the setting requires attention too. And the author delivered. The description of the small-town nature set the scene.

 

Things felt a little too easy during the climax, but given the cliffhanger at the end, there’s more to come. If things are easy on the protagonist at first, only to embroil them deeper later, then so be it.

 

I’m ready for next year’s Hallow Mass.

 

Buy it here!

Murder Red Ink, by Mord McGhee

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Mord McGhee has done it again!

In this stunning and positively horrific prequel to his masterpiece “Ghosts of San Fransisco,” Mord has taken the readers to where it all began.

And Jack the Ripper has never been more terrifying.

Ghosts come to life in an era of technology close enough to smell. Joseph is haunted by dreams so real, it’s almost as if he’s there. Allena is on the run for her life, caught up in something much bigger than she realizes. It’s so much bigger than any of us realize. By the time things come to a head, it’s almost too late.

The characters were excellent. Each one had their own voice, their own individuality. Never once did I feel as though they were cardboard cutouts simply going through the motions of their narrative. A heavy change in tone takes place when the settings switch and it will send shivers down your spine. The reactions his word choice evokes is so strong you begin to wonder if you yourself aren’t there, watching, almost…participating.

There were a few errors throughout the book, but not enough to detract from the overall experience. The ending was a fast-paced thriller that sets things up perfectly for the follow-up.

A stunning penchant for murder, lust, and the most brilliant conspiracy theories, Murder Red Ink is like the grisly crime scene you can’t stop staring at.

Buy it here!