Monster Hunter International

Monster Hunter International by Larry Correia description:

Five days after Owen Zastava Pitt pushed his insufferable boss out of a fourteenth story window, he woke up in the hospital with a scarred face, an unbelievable memory, and a job offer.

It turns out that monsters are real. All the things from myth, legend, and B-movies are out there, waiting in the shadows. Officially secret, some of them are evil, and some are just hungry. On the other side are the people who kill monsters for a living. Monster Hunter International is the premier eradication company in the business. And now Owen is their newest recruit.

It’s actually a pretty sweet gig, except for one little problem. An ancient entity known as the Cursed One has returned to settle a centuries old vendetta. Should the Cursed One succeed, it means the end of the world, and MHI is the only thing standing in his way. With the clock ticking towards Armageddon, Owen finds himself trapped between legions of undead minions, belligerent federal agents, a cryptic ghost who has taken up residence inside his head, and the cursed family of the woman he loves.

Business is good… Welcome to Monster Hunter International.

BOOK 1: Monster Hunter International  4 STARS

This was an exciting book to say the least. It had a good mix of monsters they went up against, though the main ones were vampires. But even they were written with some interesting twists so that even the experienced hunters within the story got surprised at times. The characters altogether were a great bunch, to a degree they’re a lot alike to be drawn to this kind of work, but they each had their own backgrounds and personalities that helped thoroughly develop the book. However, the best part to me was the Old Man in Owen’s head. He was a spunky old guy that made life interesting for Owen, but truly gave more intensity to the story with his own past experiences and fear that drives him to try and prepare Owen for what’s to come. Honestly, my only complaint about this book is Correia’s need to describe every gun they come across in great detail, and every character in this book is loaded down with guns. That’s a lot of wasted space on gun descriptions.

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Murder on the Orient Express MOVIE vs MOVIE

I am ashamed to admit that I have never read an Agatha Christie book. I had tried to read one long ago when I was probably too young for such, and since then I’ve stayed away. Which is something I need to remedy soon. However, I loved Agatha Christie’s Poirot TV series. David Suchet was amazing, and while I didn’t read the books, it seemed that everyone who ever has said he fit the part perfectly. After years of watching him play Poirot, it’s hard to imagine anyone else doing so, even though there have been plenty of others that have. I’ve seen a few of the older versions, and Suchet is still just the best if for no other reason than he’s a great actor and made Poirot’s quirks loveable. One of the things I believe made him such a great detective was that he had empathy for others. Even at times showing himself as a romantic at heart, while never actually being one to date. Which was ultimately why I hated his version of Murder on the Orient Express.

There was Poirot being overly cold and calculating. To him the law is the law, no matter what. It starts out with him solving a crime, and obviously not caring why someone may have done such and not caring about the consequences of revealing the culprit. He furthermore didn’t care that a woman was about to be stoned, simply because she knew the law and chose to break it. Even if the crime wouldn’t be one that any other country would convict for, much less stone someone for.

This over emphasis on his caring only for the law, and his supposedly seeing everything in black and white, especially in comparison to his past cases and how he handled them, it was blindingly obvious that ultimately he was going to be in doubt as to whether the law was right and would possibly be even willing to let the perpetrator go. Between the obviousness of the plot and seeing a beloved character suddenly act so out of character, I actually barely made it past the murder before turning it off. It wasn’t worth my time.

Now here’s this new man that doesn’t look like Poirot, especially with this over the top mustache. Knowing how much I didn’t enjoy the one with Suchet, I knew there was just no way I was going to like this one. How wrong I was, and I’m glad I did finally watch it. We actually get to see Poirot solving the case that was only barely referenced in Suchet’s, and we get to see him doing so in a way that was professional, but not cold. It was simply him showing his brilliance. Instead of emphasizing the law always being right no matter what, this Poirot merely showed how he needed balance in all things. That he sees the world as it should be, and anything that is off is painfully obvious to him. It shows a man that cares about what is right and wrong, that laws matter, but not necessarily that that’s all that matters. Which makes for a better Poirot, and a better movie. So I suppose I’m saying, that while David Suchet was a great Poirot, Kenneth Branagh did a good job as well, and I hope to see more with him in it.

Also his mustache wasn’t too bad in the end, and surprisingly might actually fit with how it was described in the books. I guess I’ll have to read them to find out for myself.

Rebecca Kightlinger has been INTERVIEWED!!!

What’s your name? Where can we find you? Blog? Twitter? Facebook?

My name is Rebecca Kightlinger. You can find me on my websites, RebeccaKightlinger.com and BuryDownChronicles.com; on Facebook pages “Rebecca Kightlinger” and “Bury Down Chronicles”; and on Twitter at @RS_Kightlinger.

  1. Tell us a little about your life outside of the world of writing

My husband and I have a big old farmhouse in a small town, and two Border Collies, a Chihuahua, three cats, and a little rooster. Most of my life revolves around them, researching and writing the Bury Down Chronicles series, swimming, walking, and, most of the year, watering roses, berries, and tomatoes.

  1. How long have you been writing? What genres have you written? They don’t have to be published.

I began writing medical articles in the 1990s; then with the medical team I worked with in Guyana, clinical research papers about work we did. I started writing fiction in the 1990s, but not seriously until about 7 years ago. I now write historical fiction and magical realism, but I have published some short stories set in the present day.

  1. What has been the greatest influence to your writing? Other authors, life experiences, etc…

Since many of the characters in my story are healers and there is a strong element of afterlife existence, I would guess that my novels may have been influenced by my own life experiences and theories about the hereafter.

  1. Are you currently writing anything now? If so tell us about it? If not make something up…

I’m working on book two of the series. New people are showing up in Megge’s life, and one of them, Faye, has something to teach Megge in her own home village, out on the northern cliffs of Cornwall.

  1. How do you typically begin your projects? Do you create outlines and character profiles or jump in head first with the initial idea? And do you focus on just one at a time?

I begin by sitting down with a clear head and watching in my mind’s eye for an image to appear. As it does, I start typing, describing what I see and hear. The story takes shape from there. In Megge’s case, she either narrates her story or simply shows a scene, which I describe as clearly as I can. I do have to keep track of characters and timelines so I don’t make errors there, and I do a lot of research after writing out a scene to make sure what I’m seeing was even plausible. Usually it is, but sometimes I have to revise when my understanding was wrong.

I usually focus on my novel, but now and then I feel like writing a short story. Or, when I sit down to work on the novel, a different narrator shows up and that person’s story—often just a vignette—takes shape. In those cases, I just go with it and write that story.

But I only work on one novel at a time!

  1. What aspect of your writing do you consider your strength? Your weakness?

Readers frequently remark that they feel they are right there, in the story, as it plays out, so I guess my strength is evoking the setting. I enjoy creating the atmosphere through the senses and trying to convey to readers what I feel as I live inside the scene the narrator is showing me.

Describing a character’s physical appearance is always awkward, but it is especially difficult in this narrative since Megge would only ever describe a person if their appearance strikes her as remarkable or if it has a direct bearing on the scene. Usually readers formulate their own image of characters anyway, and I think many prefer to do so, so I feel comfortable keeping description spare.

  1. After publishing, the next trouble facing writers is marketing. What do you typically do when marketing your novel? Do you have tips you’d like to share?

The final class in our MFA program a transition to the real world of writing and marketing our work, and in that class we had to make a website. Thank goodness for Suzanne Strempek Shea guiding us through that, because I had no idea how to create one! The website has made it easier for readers to learn more about Megge. Suzanne also taught us about using social media, which I was inexperienced with, and I gave The Bury Down Chronicles a Facebook page. That’s made it easier to let readers know what’s happening now with the book and with author events. But beyond that, marketing is incomprehensible to me! It is a profession, so I leave it to professionals.

For Megge, I found a publicity firm that works exclusively with authors, and I just do everything they recommend. The important thing is to reach readers who might enjoy the book, and that’s what they’re helping me to do.

  1. What advice would you give a writer who is starting out?

There’s nothing better than starting something new! I’d say just start writing and see what comes out. If it turns out you enjoy writing and want to write with the skill and focus of a professional, learn the craft. Right down to the ground. Grammar, punctuation, sentence structure—it all matters.

Consider investing in formal education. Workshops and in-person courses with a professor will challenge you to look critically at your work and learn how to make it better. It will also give you colleagues and the understanding that you are not the only one sitting alone in a room scribbling!

Finally—and everybody says this because it’s true—persevere! If you write something but can’t find an agent or publisher right away, write some more, maybe something entirely different. Give each piece—and yourself—the necessary time to find a publishing home and enthusiastic readers.

A Study in Scarlet

A Study in Scarlet  by  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle  description:

‘There’s a scarlet thread of murder running through the colourless skein of life, and our duty is to unravel it, and isolate it, and expose every inch of it.’

From the moment Dr. John Watson takes lodgings in Baker Street with the consulting detective Sherlock Holmes, he becomes intimately acquainted with the bloody violence and frightening ingenuity of the criminal mind.

In A Study in Scarlet, Holmes and Watson’s first mystery, the pair are summoned to a south London house where they find a dead man whose contorted face is a twisted mask of horror. The body is unmarked by violence but on the wall a mysterious word has been written in blood.

The police are baffled by the crime and its circumstances. But when Sherlock Holmes applies his brilliantly logical mind to the problem he uncovers a tragic tale of love and deadly revenge…

A Study in Scarlet   3 STARS

While I have read a few Sherlock stories, it’s been years, and so I figured I should start at the beginning. This was exactly the sort of story you expect from such a detective, and I loved how Watson and Sherlock came to be together. How they seem to get along, even as Sherlock is strange, Watson acknowledges his own quirks. The case itself was exciting right from the beginning. It was fast paced, and interesting how the police detectives were going about solving it in comparison to Sherlock’s own means. However, once it got to the part of giving background to the perpetrator the story slowed considerably. While it was nice getting a thorough account of why this man had done what he did, Doyle really dallied there a bit too long, and with far more detail to everything than there needed to be. I found myself just scanning over paragraphs describing the landscape and such, and even once we got to the final bit of the killers own testimony I was just ready to have it over and done with. Still a good start for the stories, but rather prefer the shorter tales to this.

Catching a Man

Catching a Man  by  Elizabeth Corrigan   description:

Kadin Stone’s life is finally going according to plan. She’s starting her new job as a homicide detective’s aide at one of the premier criminal investigation companies in Valeriel City, the capital of a 1950’s-style kingdom. Kadin is certain her new position will introduce her to any number of eligible men, so she’ll finally be able to get married and stop burdening the brother who insists on supporting her.

On Kadin’s first day, the royal family calls in her team to investigate the murder of gossip-rag cover girl Queen Callista. Kadin’s superiors think it’s an open and shut case. The queen’s jilted lover Duke Baurus DeValeriel had motive, means, and opportunity, but Kadin can’t help but spot holes in their theory.

After checking into a few leads of her own, Kadin inadvertently ends up in the confidence of Duke Baurus. When she tries to share what she knows with the rest of the team, she finds them unwilling to listen to the opinion of a girl who they know is only after a ring on her finger. In order to see justice served, Kadin finds herself doing the last thing she expected when she started working for a homicide detective—solve a murder!

BOOK 1: Catching a Man   5 STARS

I’ll admit, I went into this book thinking it’d be a fluff romance with a murder mystery in the background for a bit of plot. Instead it was an intense and very well developed mystery, that had twists you never saw coming, and an ending that left me completely surprised and yet the most logical. I loved that this was set in a 50’s style world, you get the clothes and the technology that is familiar to us for that era. Even the misogynistic views of women, where the only stable life for a girl is to find a man and get married while she’s still young and pretty. However, that is where the similarities to this world ends. Corrigan has built an entirely different society and government that vividly brought this world to life, and left so much to be discovered. I found it fascinating that here the medical field is run by the government, and so easily accessible to all, while investigations is the service you need insurance for. Meaning if a family member can’t afford or chooses not to pay for an investigation a criminal just goes free. Even the way women are rated, and what they go through to stay employed or to receive benefits, just shows how much thought Corrigan put into this. The mystery itself was also well calculated, and I loved how Kadin became a woman not just looking for a man, but one looking for justice. She was never the ditzy sort willing to do whatever to get married, she’s just a reasonable woman that understands the rules of this world, and doesn’t want to be a burden on her brother anymore. But more so, she’s clever and observant, and is willing to put her career and life in jeopardy in order to find the truth. Absolutely hoping there are more in this series to come, and it better come soon.

Crystal Kingdom

BOOK 1: Frostfire  by  Amanda Hocking

BOOK 2: Ice Kissed

Crystal Kingdom   description:

The kingdom she loves has turned against her. Can she save it before it’s too late?

Bryn Aven—unjustly charged with murder and treason—is on the run. The one person who can help is her greatest enemy, the gorgeous and enigmatic Konstantin Black. Konstantin is her only ally against those who have taken over her kingdom and threaten to destroy everything she holds dear. But can she trust him?

As Bryn fights to clear her name, the Kanin rulers’ darkest secrets are coming to light…and now the entire troll world is on the brink of war. Will it tear Bryn from Ridley Dresden, the only guy she’s ever loved? And can she join forces with Finn Holms and the Trylle kingdom? Nothing is as it seems, but one thing is certain: an epic battle is under way—and when it’s over, nothing will ever be the same…

BOOK 3: Crystal Kingdom  4 STARS

Hocking definitely knows how to end a trilogy. I was very excited when we got to see the other tribes more. It’s the first time really going to the Omte tribe, and they’re definitely a different sort, but I was happy getting to see the Trylle and Vittra more, and knowing how the characters we came to know in the Trylle series are doing now. There was a fair amount of surprises, and it was interesting to see how they came to really knowing the truth of the plots that had been against the Kanin kingdom this whole time. The only thing that bothered me was Bryn. She’s intelligent and well trained in defending herself, and has now gone through so much, but obviously she was never really a soldier so I get her not exactly having been used to dealing with the things that were coming about in having to bring down Mina. Yet, even as no one would want war, and no one would want to hurt people who are simply being manipulated, I also think Bryn was just a bit too naive about a lot of things. As well as being very reactive, constantly trying to go on what would’ve amounted to suicide missions, which repeatedly led to Konstantine having to talk her down. That part got a bit old at times, but the rest of it was really well done. The war and dealing with those just trying to serve their kingdom, and those that are simply dealing with greed, and sadly the innocents who are caught in the crossfire. She didn’t wash over the bad side, and it made for a heart wrenching but realistic and worthy ending to the story.

Murder in Little Shendon

Murder in Little Shendon  by  A.H. Richardson  description:

MURDER IN LITTLE SHENDON Picture, if you will, a picturesque village called Little Shendon, suddenly caught up in dealing with a murder of one of its citizens – not a particularly well-liked one at that. Which makes it all the more intriguing because the list of suspects becomes very long. This tantalizing tale unfolds with delightful twists and turns to find out whodunit to Mr. Bartholomew Fynche, the murdered shopkeeper. Fear grips the community as the investigation slowly progresses. Everyone is interviewed; everyone is suspect! From the murdered man’s housekeeper to Lady Armstrong, her staff and her nephew. Or could it be the shy librarian new in town? Or the defiant retired army major and his ladyfriend, the post mistress? Or perhaps the weird sisters who live on the edge of town? Then there is the couple who own the local inn and pub, along with the two Americans who are staying there? Even the vicar and his wife fall under the gloom of suspicion. Uncertainty, wariness, and terror reign as neighbors watch neighbors to discover the evil that permeates their upturned lives. No one feels safe in this charming little village. A.H. Richardson, noted author, places in your trembling hands a mystery murder that will keep you reading until you learn the details, uncovered by Police Inspector Stanley Burgess and his two amateur detectives, his friend Sir Victor Hazlitt and the famed Shakespearean actor Beresford Brandon. Scratch your head with them over the strange clues that turn up. Follow them as they tread carefully among the landmines that appear innocent as they lie hidden beneath the surface of mystery. Something evil skulks in this tiny country village. Who is the murderer? And why was this strange uncivil man dispatched in such a seemingly civil community? You are challenged to discover the culprit before the last few pages. And no fair looking ahead – it’s the journey that proves the most enticing.

BOOK 1: Murder in Little Shendon   3 STARS

This book has an interesting premise, and a mystery that enjoys its’ share of twist and turns. The cast of characters are varied, which helped move the story along. It’s failings, though, begin with the setting. I’m not really sure when it is. The further you get in the more you can figure it’s some time right after WWII, I’m guessing, but it was rather odd not having an exact way to know. Which is even more strange, considering how factual the style of writing is, for it to not give you this one fact that would help create the image of the world better in your mind. And yes, the writing style was very matter-of-fact. You meet a person and the author gives you a detailed description of their looks along with little habits they might have and their level of intelligence all right off the bat. It’s a lot of tell and very little show. You don’t really get other characters perspectives of whoever you’re dealing with. It makes for a rather one-dimensional view, because the author just tells you exactly what is happening in a straight forward manner that can make it almost monotonous. They hang up the phone, they let their hand linger, they think about the conversation and then they turn to do whatever action they’re about to do. It’s very precise, but it’s not exactly the sort that brings things to life. And in being precise, Richardson also gets repetitive. Information that is in no way important will be repeated ad nauseam, and after a while it just feels like filler to stretch the story out. An okay book that could’ve done with better editing, and a little livening up.

Rosehead

Rosehead  by  Ksenia Anske  description:

Misunderstood and overmedicated, twelve-year-old Lilith Bloom finds the prospect of a grand family reunion decidedly dull… That is, until she discovers that the rose garden surrounding her grandfather’s Berlin mansion is, well, completely and utterly carnivorous. Armed with Panther, her talking pet whippet, and the help of the mute boy next door, Lilith must unravel the secrets behind the mysterious estate, all while her family remains gloriously unaware that they are about to be devoured.

Rosehead  2 STARS

In many ways this reminded me of Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events. Where it’s only Lilith and Ed who see the truth of the sinister garden and her grandfather, while all the adults are oblivious and think the children are lying, and toss in Lilith’s use of “big words” and you can’t help but see the similarities. In most ways this really reads like a Young Readers book. It’s fun and fanciful with a possibly murderous garden and talking dogs, and it’s kids saving the day. However, it’s almost like Anske isn’t sure if she wants it to be for young readers or adults as she delves into topics that seem a bit too mature and out of place for the tale. Such as Lilith’s parents putting her own medications and arguing over what they see as a mental disability. It’s practically borderline abusive. Then the talk of suicide and so much death. Even how Lilith talks, while it’s nice for her to sound intelligent for her age, it’s off putting how much she just doesn’t sound like a kid at times. What ultimately dropped it stars was in part the typos, which aren’t too many, but they’re noticeable. And the somewhat repetitiveness of the characters going over the same ground again and again, both figuratively and literally. But more so, it’s basically solved from the get-go, there’s no real build, there’s no spooky hints to create a sense of mystery, it’s more about Lilith knowing what’s really going on and everyone thinking she’s completely insane. It makes it a bit frustrating to get through.

A Girl in Black and White

BOOK 1: A Girl Named Calamity  by  Danielle Lori

A Girl in Black and White   description:

My once upon a time didn’t end with happily ever after—but with blood-stained hands and cold blue eyes. The story of my life had been laid beneath my feet since childhood, but until death, I’d never known that road was paved with stones called lies.

In this city of sun and heat, cloaked in dark, both inside and out, I became somebody other than Farm Girl. There was no assassin behind my back. No, my shackles were just as tight but came in a different form.

Like Death’s icy fingers running down my spine, the ones that had gripped me for months, my past haunted my present in the guise of nostalgia. My old chains still left marks on my skin, their owner’s gaze following behind. But he didn’t know I lived. He didn’t know I was so close, that I heard his name spoken every day. That I still hated him. Until my hate started tasting suspiciously different.

One mistake and everything I’d created unraveled. A liar. Corruptor. He stood in front of me now. The air was heavy with expectation, tense with the possibilities of how this would unfold, of what he would do.

But there was always two sides to every story, and maybe in this version, the corruptor wasn’t him, but me.

BOOK 2: A Girl in Black and White   5 STARS

I really enjoyed the first book, but wow this one was a total step up. It’s nearly a year after the end of the first book, and a lot has happened in this time, and during such Calamity has clearly matured. She’s also started figuring out her powers, as well as the truth about her life, her mother, and all the plans her grandmother had for her. While it initially bothered me how much of the first book turns out to be a facade, hiding basically all of the truth and everyone’s intentions to the extent that by the end of this book it feels like everything was just a lie. It’s also sort of amazing to read a book that pulls it off so well that by the end you’re just stunned into silence and wondering where the hell you can get the next book, because you need it right now. Everything, from the Sisterhood she’s being forced into, the return of the Untouchable Prince, as well as Weston who is still just such a psycho murderous dreamboat, is all so perfectly laid out and balanced to make for a book you can’t put down. I glad so many of the characters that I loved from the first book make an appearance, but I also enjoyed the fact that since this all takes place in one city this time we get a full new cast of different sorts of people and all the interactions and relationships that have formed around Calamity. It makes for a very involved plot with so many possibilities. But mostly I loved the development of her relationship with Weston, and how it no longer feels like a silly girl with a crush, but an actual woman dealing with feelings she has for a man she knows she shouldn’t have feelings for. Altogether a great book.

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Dracula by Bram Stoker description:

‘Alone with the dead! I dare not go out, for I can hear the low howl of the wolf through the broken window’

When Jonathan Harker visits Transylvania to help Count Dracula with the purchase of a London house, he makes horrifying discoveries about his client and his castle. Soon afterwards, a number of disturbing incidents unfold in England: an unmanned ship is wrecked at Whitby; strange puncture marks appear on a young woman’s neck; and the inmate of a lunatic asylum raves about the imminent arrival of his ‘Master’. In the ensuing battle of wits between the sinister Count Dracula and a determined group of adversaries, Bram Stoker created a masterpiece of the horror genre, probing deeply into questions of human identity and sanity, and illuminating dark corners of Victorian sexuality and desire.

Dracula   5 STARS

You know that scene in a horror movie when it gets dark and ominous music begins to play and you know that at any moment the killer is going to suddenly appear and murder everyone in a horrible fashion. That intense build up, and the anxiety of wondering exactly when you’re going to be scared, because you already know it’s coming. That’s this entire book. I had to take breaks at times to read some short stories that were a bit lighter, because the unnerving fear for the characters, as we the reader know what’s happening, could be a bit much at times. However, it’s easy to see why this is a classic, and how it has inspired others to delve into the dark world of vampires. Though, considering I’ve mainly read paranormal romance, it’s a bit disconcerting to see how the original was so completely evil. The vampires in this are soulless, not misunderstood, and kill children and anyone that gets in their way without remorse. More so, it’s incredible all the powers they are given, not just immortality and strength, but real mystical sort of powers, that I wish hadn’t been pushed off to the side in the other stories I’ve read. Beyond all of that though, I don’t believe I have ever come across a story written in this style, and it was this style that really made the tale such an intriguing one. Sure there have been plenty who have done rotating first person, but this is told in pieces of people’s diaries, the letters they’ve written to others, and even newspaper clippings. You’re getting the events after the characters have experience them and have pondered over them, as they try to understand what exactly is going on. Because of this you get to see how it all slowly melds together, and what each character really is thinking, and a much more personal aspect of the story that allows you to really feel for each of them as if these were actual historical letters that someone has stitched together. And I do so hope people were ever like this, this goodness and bravery and the way in which they talk so passionately about everything. It’s really a wonderful book. Though I would advise getting a version that has footnotes to explain certain things. Such as words that are no longer used in this way. As well as some of things that are referenced. I’m sure you could easily enjoy this book without such, but it was rather nice to have.