The Point by G. Nykanen

The Point by G. Nykanen(Cover picture courtesy of e-bookbuilders.)

Befuddled by her current relationship woes, Nora Reynolds leaves college at semester’s end to drive north of nowhere to her hometown of Iron Bay. Vulnerable and on the rebound, she is the perfect prey for fledgling felon Dane Buchman. Dane takes advantage of the unaware young woman, feeding his appetite for mischief until a rather violent shift in their relationship reveals to him what he’s really been craving. Driven by his new found hunger, Dane feels unstoppable, until former high school rival and town deputy, Doug Sanders, navigates the trail of Dane’s destruction.

The Point is a dark thriller that will allow you to witness a truly dangerous sociopath wander through madness guided by a treasured family heirloom, and a pensive young woman find her way after discovering, that which doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. With echoes of the Coen brothers’ Fargo, the folksy town of Iron Bay and the nearby north-woods community of Deer Lake are the destinations for Mr. Buchman’s many misdeeds.

[Full disclosure: I received a free ebook in conjunction with the blog tour in exchange for an honest review.]

When the blurb says that The Point is a dark thriller, it’s not kidding.  It is quite dark and it is quite a thriller, particularly from a psychological standpoint so I’ll talk about that first.

The plot is really the main focus of the novel whereas the characters are sort of secondary.  They’re well developed, but secondary to the plot.  The plot itself is far from unique, however; it follows pretty much your typical psychopath on the loose scenario and brings it to its logical conclusion as Dane’s mind deteriorates further.  You’ll be able to guess how it ends like I did but at the same time, Nykanen’s writing will absolutely grip you and you won’t be able to put The Point down.  So what this book lacks in originality it sure makes up for in thrills.

The characters were nothing special, but they were all quite well-developed.  Dane is your typical psychopath: has mother issues, no empathy for anyone, a sexual deviant.  Pretty much your textbook case, especially as the thrills of raping women wear thing and he desires other, darker things.  Nora is an interesting but sad character, I must admit.  She’s left in doubt at her relationship status when summer begins and it’s her lack of self-confidence that leads her into the charming Dane’s grasp.

Nora changes more than any other character over the course of the story but I can’t really tell you what changed her because that would be giving away some major spoilers.  In essence, things happen to her both good and bad (mostly bad) and she reacts in a realistic, believable and sympathetic way.  Nykanen is good at this sort of character development so being in Nora’s head for most of the story is pretty good.  The funny thing is that of all the characters, I hated Jake the most because his uncertainty and unwillingness to tell Nora what he was about to do is partly responsible for everything that happened to her.  Of course Dane bears full responsibility for his actions, but Jake drove Nora away into the arms of that psychopath.

As you can guess, there are some pretty heavy themes of guilt and betrayal.  They give The Point that truly emotional quality that makes you really connect with both the characters and the circumstances they fall into.  Other than the pretty cliche plot I rather enjoyed The Point and if you’re into thrillers I’d definitely recommend it.

I give this book 4/5 stars.

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“Game of Thrones man hatred” and More Weird Search Terms

It’s been a while since I rounded up any of the weird search terms I’ve received, so I figured I’d do it today to brighten up everyone’s Wednesday (including mine).  So here are the lovely search terms that people found my blog through:

rose leslie sex scene

writer self-deluded novel

is it really necessary for someone with chronic psin to moan out loud constantly

i hate slang

easiest chronic pain to write about

reasons why i hate teenage books

every girl on game of thrones naked

game of thrones man hatred

why do guys like game of thrones

Ah, Game of Thrones.  You either hate it or love it according to the internet.  And since I wrote about why it’s okay for women to like it in my chart-topping article I constantly get weird Game of Thrones search terms like the ones above.  Since I wrote about chronic pain a while back I get weird search terms from that.  (Also, no it’s not necessary but the person asking that question should be a little more empathetic.)  Basically, there are no seriously creepy search terms like I sometimes get, but there’s still a lot of naked women terms.

Seriously people: I don’t have naked women on my blog, especially not the Game of Thrones women.  If you want to see some of them naked go to Google Image Search or YouTube.

Zomburbia by Adam J. Gallardo

Zomburbia by Adam Gallardo(Cover picture courtesy of 100 Industries.)


Lifeless. Slow-moving. Brain-dead.
Welcome To Zomburbia.

My name is Courtney Hart, and I’m here to tell you about things that suck. Being born in a podunk town like Salem, Oregon, for one. Living in a world infested with zombies? That, too. And the meat heads I go to school with? I think I’d actually take the undead over them most days. But I have a plan to get out of here and move to New York. I just have to keep selling Vitamin Z along with your fries at The Bully Burger. The secret ingredient? Zombie brains.

I’ve noticed things are getting even worse lately, if that’s even possible. The zombies seem to be getting smarter and faster. If I can avoid being arrested, eaten by shufflers, or catching the eye of some stupid boy, I should be able to make it through finals week still breathing. . .

[Full disclosure: I requested and received a free ebook copy of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]

Sometimes you read a blurb and think a novel has a good premise.  However when you read that book you learn that you have a huge, insurmountable problem with it: the narrator.

Courtney is snarky, constantly putting her friends down, arrogant, clueless, bratty, hot-tempered and thoughtless.  So she’s pretty much your typical teenager except for the fact that throughout the novel I kept wishing for her to die because she was so awful.  I can’t go into much detail because I don’t want to get into too many spoilers, but it’s hard to believe she went through so many traumatic, possibly life-changing events and came out exactly the same at the end of the novel.  As I’ve said before, I don’t mind unsympathetic characters (like Jorg from Prince of Thorns) but Courtney is just intolerable.  She’s your typical teenager with attitude magnified by 10 and given an added dose of blindness about the world around her.

Being stuck in the head of such a horrible human being for the whole novel was trying.  I kept fruitlessly wishing she’d die so I could get in the head of someone who at least acted like a human, like Willie or even Brandon.  But no such luck; Courtney lives while people around her die like flies.  The only mildly interesting thing about her is that she thinks she has a plan to fix the zombie problem.  She goes on and on about how much smarter she is than everyone and yet we never hear the details of this wonderful plan that hinges on the army clearing New York of all its zombies in the next year or so.

Okay, even with that wretched girl for a narrator, this book may have redeemed itself with a good premise.  I’ll admit that it doesn’t have a bad premise, just not a great one.  If everyone has moved out into the suburbs because the cities are infested with zombies, why don’t the zombies follow them into the suburbs?  Predators like to go where the food is, especially when said food is wandering around near wooded areas where there’s lots of shelter.

As for the drug Vitamin Z, I’ve never underestimated the determination of people to get high.  Yes, I believe that people would try to get high off zombie brains but I also think Gallardo needed to explain more of why the drug makes people act like they do when they’re on it.  That could be in the next installment of the series, but I’m not so curious as to consider reading the sequel.  Not unless Courtney gets a personality transplant.

This book doesn’t come out until August 26 but I can’t honestly recommend it to anyone.  Courtney is a rather poor excuse for a human being and the plot isn’t even all that exciting.  To top it all off, the zombies (while having some unique qualities like being able to lay ambushes it seems) are pretty boring.  They show up when it’s convenient for the plot and that’s about it.  We’re told that they seem to be evolving pack behaviour and see that actually happen during the novel but we’re told exactly 0 about it or its possible consequences.  And that’s pretty much how the whole novel goes, in one big cycle where we end up back at square one in the end.

I give this book 1/5 stars.

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Feyguard: Royal by Anthea Sharp

Feyguard; Royal by Anthea Sharp(Cover picture courtesy of Barnes & Noble.)

The adventures begun in the Feyland trilogy continue, where a high-tech computer game becomes a gateway to the treacherous Realm of Faerie.

Rich-boy gamer Royal Lassiter lives on easy mode—until everything falls apart. Dark faeries are plotting to invade the mortal world, his controlling mom has turned home into enemy territory, and he can’t deny his irresistible attraction to newcomer Brea, despite the danger lurking in her mysterious eyes.

Forced to undertake a perilous mission for the Dark Queen of Faerie, Brea Cairgead finds living among humans and hiding her true nature as one of the fey folk a fearsome challenge—especially when her emotions prove all too vulnerable to a certain human boy. Torn between impossible loyalties, she must serve her queen… though it may cost her heart.

Can love between mortal and fey ever have a happy ending?

[Full disclosure: I received a free ebook from Anthea Sharp in exchange for an honest review.]

I’ve never really liked Roy as a character in Anthea Sharp’s novels, both Feyland (the original series) and Feyguard (this new spinoff series) so I’ll admit I was a little reluctant to read things from his point of view for a whole book.  It’s a testament to Anthea Sharp’s writing talent that once I actually got going, I really didn’t mind him so much.

Roy is the kind of person that hides his true self behind a facade, both at school and at home because people would disapprove.  In the case of school there’s the usual peer pressure to stay cool but at home his mum really is more of a ruthless CEO type rather than the type of mum who would approve of Roy’s forays into art.  In a situation like that, it’s easy for him to fall back on the rich playboy facade rather than expose his innermost self.  Into all this, enter Brea Cairgead, a fey girl sent by the Dark Queen to make more humans susceptible to falling into Feyland so that they may live.  She can see beyond his facade even while she creates her own, so when they start falling in love it makes for an interesting relationship dynamic.

At the same time this book isn’t just about Roy as a character.  We see Jennet and Tamlin and some of the other Feyguard as well, but it sort of continues the story of how the fey are desperate to bring unsuspecting humans into their world.  In a way I feel sorry for them since most of the mortal realm doesn’t believe in them and their very survival is in peril because of that.  However, their methods don’t lend much sympathy and in the end the fey are capricious and often quite vicious so I can’t feel too sorry for them.

This is in many ways a character driven novel, but as you can probably guess there’s also a pretty interesting plot as well.  There was nothing all that unexpected in the plot until the end, where there’s a huge twist.  I don’t want to give too much away, but it solves the problem of Roy and Brea’s fey-human attraction in a brilliant if semi-tragic way.  I’m a sucker for some portrayals of star-crossed love and this is definitely one of them.

All in all, Anthea Sharp’s second book in the Feyguard series was even better than I expected.  Roy still gave off rich playboy vibes in the beginning of the novel but by the end he’s actually a pretty nice guy.  So there you have it: magic, character development and a pretty fast-paced plot.  I certainly can’t ask for more than that.

I give this book 5/5 stars.

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Discussion: Who are Book Reviews For?

One night as I travelled down the terrible depths of YouTube I came across several videos of authors ranting about reviewers and book reviews in general.  Later that same week I was given a link by a reader to a particularly incoherent rant that I won’t link to.  All of this vitriol and empty rhetoric really made me thing, though: who are book reviews for?

Well, my opinion is pretty simple:

1.  Book reviews are primarily for my own enjoyment because I like analyzing books but in general book reviews are targeted at readers.

2.  This is not to say that authors, publishers and/or editors can’t benefit from book reviews, but that those benefits aren’t intentional.

If you’re an author and expect an unpaid volunteer book reviewer like myself to write a 2000+ critique of your novel, you’re insane.  Hire yourself an editor if you need a critique that detailed.  (Also: a person can have an informed opinion about literature without having a degree in English Literature or the like.  Just like a person can be perfectly fluent in a second language without having a degree in it.)

My question for you guys this week is this: Who do you think book reviews (and other reviews) are for?  Why?

Off Topic: Gremlins and Traumatic Veterinarians

As you guys probably noticed, I didn’t post a thing on Monday and this post is pretty late today.  Well, that’s in part because little Tyrion is still settling in but also because I discovered one thing: he has ear mites.  The poor little guy was born in a garage on a farm so I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised but taking him to the vet was a little unexpected.

While the vet was syringing a cleaning fluid into his ears as I held him (he was not happy in the least) he pooped on the examination table and promptly fainted.  In hindsight it’s funny but at the time he gave me quite a scare, just laying there like a limp rag with his tongue sticking out.  Apparently fainting is a normal nervous response to getting fluid syringed into ones’ ears; it’s how my RN friend told me they check for brain dead patients in the ER.  So at least I know Tyrion’s brain is working fine?  (Although he’s really not too keen on vets right now.)

On the upside though, he’s making himself right at home and the gremlins that were plaguing me seem to be gone for now.  I have consistent internet access and I think I’ve discovered what’s wrong with my printer so things are on the upside now.  And now that I have wireless internet I can finally download the books that have been sitting in my NetGalley dashboard for a little while.  Things are looking up but even if they weren’t, there are no such things are gratuitous kitten pictures: