Friday, October 17, 2014

Book Review: The Demon Stone by Christopher Datta

Today I'm excited to bring you a Guest Post and Kind Fire Giveaway from Chris Datta.  His first Novel Touched with Fire was a number one best-seller in the Historical Fiction category, and this supernatural thriller lives up to the high expectations readers have for this talented author.

The Demon Stone by Christoper Datta

The Demon Stone is a powerful supernatural thriller that leads you from the killing fields of Africa to the quiet Boundary Waters of Northern Minnesota. In braided narratives, Datta spins a terrifying story about the spiritual forces—both real and supernatural—that incite the basest, bloodiest and most frightening of human behaviors.
"Reading Chris Datta is like riding a rollercoaster. It’s a fast ride filled with twists and turns. His Demon Stone is scary fun. Stephen King, watch your back!"
-Richard Rashke, author of The Killing of Karen Silkwood
Amazon.comBarnes & Noble

Review of The Demon Stone

Title: The Demon Stone
Author: Christopher Datta
Publisher: Dystel & Goderich Literary Management
Date of Publication: May 4 2014
Source: received from author & Novel Publicity for review in exchange for my honest opinion

Book Summary:
The Demon Stone is a powerful supernatural thriller that leads you from the killing fields of Africa to the quiet Boundary Waters of Northern Minnesota. In braided narratives, Datta spins a terrifying story about the spiritual forces—both real and supernatural—that incite the basest, bloodiest and most frightening of human behaviors.
When Kevin volunteered to travel to a war-ravaged country in Africa to help out his childhood buddy, Bill, now a physician with Doctors Without Borders, he knew he might face danger. But he could not have envisioned the brief, nightmare encounter that would rob him of his friend, his principles, and quite possibly his sanity. When he returns to his family in the United States, he carries with him not only survivors’ guilt, but, according to a grizzled old juju man in the service of a warlord, a powerful demon.
Liz cannot understand why, precisely, she agreed to go camping with her old college friend Kevin and his sullen teenage daughter, but it was clear that in the wake of his sudden divorce and a horrific family tragedy, Kevin needed someone to lean on. The canoeing trip in the Boundary Waters was supposed to be an escape, an opportunity to bring back the old Kevin. But once in the forests, Kevin’s behavior grows increasingly off-kilter, and Liz feels a growing sense of unease, one that ripens into fear. As the trio glide further into the wilderness, it becomes clear that someone, or something, is stalking them
My Thoughts: 
This story just jumps right in with the horror factor and grabs you in the first few pages!  You find yourself asking yourself "Why is this happening?" before you even understand what is truly happening.  

The Demon Stone had some huge symbolism connected with it concerning the evil that is haunting our main characters.  It makes us question the things we see in the world now as compared to what is happening in the story line too.  Was the stone truly evil or was it the people in possession of it that was the monsters?  These are some intriguing questions that makes you think throughout the story as you delve deeper into the darkness.  

The characters are interesting enough, although, a few did irritate me personally.  Kevin, our main character, was infuriating because he seemed to flip flop a lot on so many things.  I thought him running to Africa to see a friend that he seemed to harbor mixed emotions for and leaving his family behind was crazy but he obviously craved something more in his life as well.    Then there was Bill.  I understand he was helping people and that is wonderful but he had this attitude that just got on my nerves.  He seemed so judgmental.  
Liz was likable enough and the one I seemed to connect with the most.  I also dislike camping and would not have been out in the middle of nowhere for my friend who was seriously creeping me out.  But hey, she was the most caring of all the characters, it seemed.  

The settings flip back and forth between the past and present.  Every other chapter explains the situations that happen in Africa, causing Kevin to come in contact with the demon stone.  Then, the opposite chapters are what is happening while they are camping in the woods.  These two places seem to be the perfect settings for terror to take true form.  Africa is a dangerous world, mixed with folklore and military evils; and the woods can have their own eeriness too.  

I would have liked a few more personal chapters with Morgan, Kevin's ex wife.  I enjoyed the dive into her darkness that we see but it would have been even more terrifying if we could have stayed with her as she goes through the different stages of releasing her darkness through the stone.  I also pitied her immensely, though I don't condone how she handled things in the end.  

What an interesting and scary conversation between Liz and Abgado!!!  That was a very enjoyable part of the story and I am super glad that it was in it.  

We had a very centralized theme throughout the story.  It seemed to be the question, Where does evil truly come from?  that kept running through my brain as I read 
The Demon Stone.  The stone was a symbol for what we as a society blame the darkness and wickedness that we see in our lives.  

The Demon Stone was a disturbingly riveting thriller that had moments of extreme terror but also moments of deep reflection.  I may not have enjoyed  all of the characters but I was invested in the plot enough that I found it hard to put down.  If you love horror but also love a novel that forces you to think about where the terror is originating from, then I encourage you to give The Demon Stone a try.  

But be warned: you might find a little darkness inside yourself.


About the Author

Chris1Debut author CHRISTOPHER DATTA is no stranger to civil conflict or the still-extant scourge of slavery. Most recently the acting ambassador to the Republic of South Sudan where he helped end a war in April of 2012, he has spent a distinguished career moving from one strife-torn country to another, including Lebanon, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. A lifelong student of the American Civil War, his research for Touched with Fire is exacting and based in part on a true story.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Mini Book Reviews: Be Patient, Pandora & Play Nice, Hercules by Joan Holub, Leslie Patricelli

Title: Be Patient, Pandora!
Series: Mini Myths
Author: Joan Holub
Illustrator: Leslie Patricelli
Publisher: Abrams Appleseed
Date of Publication: Sept. 24 2014
Source: received from author in exchange for my honest opinion of it

Book Summary:
Ages 1-4, board book. First in series.
When Pandora is warned by her mother not to open a box, her spirited curiosity trumps her obedience. Pandora harmlessly touches the box, innocently leans on the box, and eventually, albeit accidentally, bursts the box open! The cupcakes that were hidden inside are ruined, except for one last vestige, which Pandora presents in the hope that her mother still loves her. Leslie Patricelli’s depictions of this physical comedy bring a lively narrative to Joan Holub’s carefully crafted text. Includes a summary of the original Pandora’s Box myth at the end.

My Thoughts: 

I was so lucky and honored to be picked to review these books!  I want to send a big thanks to Renee at Mother Daughter Book Reviews and Mrs. Joan Holub for giving me the opportunity to dive into these adorable books.
So I have four boys and my youngest is six years old, which didn't exactly fit into the age limit for the book, but I have to say he still enjoyed these books very much!  And I did too!  He is still learning to read and we really enjoyed the easiness of the words in Be Patient, Pandora.  These board books are also a great way to get our little ones interested in the Greek mythology we love so much.  They are so colorful and the pictures are fun and adorable, getting even my older sons (9 &11 yrs old)  peeking over our shoulders as we read.

Mrs. Holub does a fantastic job of introducing some of the popular myths to younger kids with situations that are much easier to grasp for a 6 year old and under.  In Be Patient, Pandora  our main character learns that her curiosity can get her in trouble if she doesn't heed her Mother's warnings.  These books are adorable and I am totally in love with them!  My only problem is I wish they were around when my twins were this young.  This is definitely a five heart book!

Title:  Play Nice, Hercules
Author: Joan Holub
Illustrator: Leslie Patricelli
Series: Mini Myths
Publisher: Abrams Appleseed
Date of Publication: Sept. 16 2014

Book Summary:
Hercules is not as interested in “playing nice” as he is in playing strong! But when one feat of strength destroys his little sister’s 12-piece tower, he must use his powers for good to restore the tower and seek her forgiveness. She forgives him indeed, and then shows her own strength by gleefully knocking down the stacked blocks herself! Joan Holub’s expertly focused text pairs perfectly with Leslie Patricelli’s famously humorous illustrations. Includes a summary of the original Hercules’s Twelve Labors myth at the end.

My Thoughts: 

I think my son, Jace, really loved Play Nice, Hercules the most, probably because it reminds him of himself.   So because he loved it so much I am going to let him do the review for it!

Jace:   I love the pictures!  All the colors makes the pictures look 3D to me! It was fun to read about Hercules and watch him stomp around knocking things down.  I remember doing this to my older brothers a lot and now I know a little more of how it feels.  But Hercules learns his lesson and helps his little sister build the blocks back up.  After my mom read me the 12 Labors of Hercules, I went back the story and found the different pictures on the blocks.  These are the 12 Labors!!  I am really in love with these books and I can't wait till I can read the next in the series!! Everyone should try these out!

Pick up your own at:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble|

Connect with the Author:

Goodreads| Website| Twitter |

Connect with the Illustrator:

Goodreads | Website | Twitter |

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Book Review: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

Title: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown
Author: Holly Black
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Date of Publication: Sept. 3 2013
Source: bought, paperback, YA, Horror,

Book Synopsis:
Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.
One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a wholly original story of rage and revenge, of guilt and horror, and of love and loathing from bestselling and acclaimed author Holly Black.

My Thoughts: 

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is really fantastic!  It delivers so much more than just horror but it also gives us a big dose of that too!  I am pretty much loving this book and could read it over and over again.  

It encompasses every facet of what we love about the old vampire classic books, while still adding something new and original to the mix.  And if you read the acknowledgments, you will see that Holly Black gives thanks to all the masters of vampire literature and this book is somewhat of an ode to them.  
As you read, you will notice the similarities with the classic authors but Black does add her own voice to this masterpiece and we get something wholly different and terrifyingly perfect.   The way that Black interprets vampire culture was an eye-opener.  She showed us the love affair that this society has with the vampires; but then gives us the grisly side of them also.  It makes us take off our rose colored glasses and see what is really there- monsters.  
And in doing that, made the story a thousand times better!  I loved the gritty raw side to it all.  There is gore and there is destruction and it just enhances the story so much more.  

Black takes our society right now and our fascination with the undead monsters and adds an supernatural element to it.  She gives her story the perfect setting and a strange and frightening alternate universe.  The nightmare, then, has come to life.  

I am also a huge fan of Holly Black's writing style.  She uses pretty awesome phrases that tend to give the reader a couple of different ideas as they read.  For example, her use of the word "orgy" was a plus for me, because I haven't heard it used in this way:
"orgy of grief"
"orgy of death"
In using such phrases, I can really feel the intensity of the scenes she is trying to convey to us.  She also introduces us to more symbolism in the story.  I love how she personifies Death and makes it the main theme of the book.
"Every night in Coldtown, people die. People are fragile.  They die of mistakes, of overdoses, of sicknesses.  But mostly they die of Death."
page 247
Death seems to be almost as important as our main character, Tana, is.  In fact, it seems all of the characters share a few traits with each other, like their being flawed, but they also seem to have Death shadowing them everyday.  Some of their flaws are simple and some are so strange and frightening that it makes them seem so disconnected from society.  
   And of course, I can't forget the many beautiful and hypnotizing poetry that she puts at the beginning of each chapter.  I am huge fan of poetry, so I was literally writing down poets I loved so I could learn more about them.  
Besides all of this, there is this morbid and creep chill factor that sets the scenes in all of their horrific glory.  It is pure macabre and I was in love every minute as I cringed and eagerly wanted more and more.  And what added to this display of terror was the foreshadowing in the novel.  Like this one here that just makes tingles run down my spine:

"The clerk took a long look at Tana.  
"You're never getting out, honey.  So don't you worry about it."
page 152
Is this a dire warning or is it just the prejudice of a mundane character?  I don't know but that just really gives me the creeps.  There is no hope in that person's outlook.  Sad.  

Through all these wonderful additions to the story, there is an even more important detail to the book and it is the plot.  While reading The Coldest Girl in Coldtown I was thrown for a loop so many times.  There are many of twists and turns that I wasn't expecting in a million years, but am glad that they were there.  

Simply put, Holly Black is one of the most fantastic, most amazing, and decidedly one of the best storytellers this generation is lucky enough to read.  I look forward to more from her and I am in awe of the creativity that was put into this book.  Hands down this is a five heart book!

Pick up a copy of The Coldest Girl in Coldtown:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble |

Connect with Holly Black:

Website | Twitter | Goodreads |

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