Sangre: The Wrong Side of Tomorrow -Carlos Colon [Blackthorn Book Tours]

received_2714049208646313Blurb

The Story of a Reluctant, Undead Vigilante.

The harrowing saga of Nicky Negron’s tortured soul continues as the inner and outer demons shadowing Newark, New Jersey’s undead vigilante have no intention of letting him rest in peace.

Knowing his paranormal existence can only lead to complications, Nicky tries not to draw too much attention to himself. This becomes difficult as he learns that he has captured the interest of an unrelenting federal agent.

Suspected of being an assassin for a South American drug cartel, Nicky finds himself dealing with the exact kind of scrutiny he’s been trying to avoid since he was turned almost thirty years ago. It complicates matters even more when Nicky is confronted with another undead presence that is threatening to commit atrocities to the children of a friend Nicky had sworn to protect. This pits the foul-mouthed night stalker, Nicky Negron, against the most horrifying monsters – both the human and non-human variety.

An absolute rollercoaster of a novel, Sangre: The Wrong Side of Tomorrow delivers even more suspense, insight, laughs, and emotional wallop than its predecessor. Nicky is back! See you on the other side…

Review

Sangre: The Wrong Side of Tomorrow is the sequel to Colon’s Sangre: The Color of Dying. I hadn’t read the first book, but that really didn’t impact my enjoyment of The Wrong Side of Tomorrow. It very much read as a standalone novel, though has made me curious about the first book and what happens to Nicky when he originally gets turned.

The novel is told in two strands. The past, giving us glimpses into Nicky’s life as a teenager, his decaying relationship with his mother and his crush on a young woman who works at a nearby department store. But the main story is focused on the present, as Nicky comes up against the same vampire who killed and turned him, tries to enlist the help of a doctor researching vampires and intent on killing them, and facing off against an FBI Agent determined to pin recent killings on him.

Nicky is an interesting character. The vampirism in Sangre is fairly different to the type in most vampire novels. Nicky has a resistance to it, meaning he retains much of his humanity, and is all too aware of the monster he is, as much as he struggles against it. But Nicky puts this down to just being a vampire, when the flashbacks show us he wasn’t exactly a ‘good guy’ before he died either. He practically stalks his crush, leers over women, and sleeps with the wife of the supervisor who looked after him after his mother left.

Put simply, Nicky is a bit more complicated than just the brooding, moping type of vampire often found in teen fiction, and the strong, don’t-give-a-shit type found in some urban fantasties. It works really well, painting a picture of someone who feels, well, human.

The book is a good, enjoyable read, with plenty of action to keep the reader entertained. However, there were a couple of small things that bugged me.

Firstly, it feels too long. There was quite a bit of repetition, especially around the middle to end parts, and it felt like there was a lot that could have easily been cut without losing anything. We’re told over and over how Nicky is resistant, how Stacey is beautiful, that the doctor has injected herself with a serum, etc. The repetition made these sections feel like filler, relaying information the reader is already well aware of, and stretching the book out longer than needed. In some flashback scenes, too, it feels too much like we’re being told the same things, seeing the same scenes, with little added until later in the novel.

The other thing – and this is totally personal preference – was it felt like an overuse of exclamation marks, almost like trying to force a gasp from the reader. At times it got a little annoying, especially in the climax of the novel.

Overall, however, I really did enjoy this book, and found it to be a thoroughly fun ride. I’d recommend it if you like vampire focused urban fantasy, with an interesting anti-hero and lots of action.

Purchase on Amazon

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The Author

Born in Spanish Harlem and raised by Puerto Rican parents in the South Bronx, Carlos Colón drew attention from his high school teachers with his penchant for storytelling. Before long, they nicknamed him Hemingway. After graduating from CUNY’ s Herbert H. Lehman College, Carlos dabbled in screenwriting for a few years before settling into the insurance business. Several decades later, Carlos returned to the entertainment world when he formed the retro rock ‘n’ roll band, the Jersey Shore Roustabouts. After twelve successful years performing live and producing two albums, the band moved on after their farewell concert in 2018.

Prior to that, 2016 saw the release of Carlos’ first novel, “Sangre: The Color of Dying”. It was later that year named as one of the Top Ten novels written by a Latino author.  After receiving extraordinary praise from literary critics and the unexpected devotion of readers to his foul-mouthed, yet oddly endearing anti-hero, Nicky Negrón, Carlos knew he had little choice but to begin working on a sequel. In 2019, the follow up “Sangre: The Wrong Side of Tomorrow” was released and it received just as much praise as its predecessor. Readers are already hoping that there is a third installment in the works.

When not busy with his multiple projects, Carlos enjoys his private time living in the Jersey Shore area with Maria, his wife of 40 years, and their cat, Tuco.

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Harrow Lake – Kat Ellis [WriteReads Ultimate Blog Tour]

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Goodreads Summary

Welcome to Harrow Lake.

Someone’s expecting you.

Lola Nox is the daughter of a celebrated horror filmmaker – she thinks nothing can scare her.

But when her father is brutally attacked in their New York apartment, she’s swiftly packed off to live with a grandmother she’s never met in Harrow Lake, the eerie town where her father’s most iconic horror movie was shot. The locals are weirdly obsessed with the film that put their town on the map – and then there are strange disappearances, which the police seem determined to explain away.

And there’s someone – or something – stalking her every move.

The more Lola discovers about the town, the more terrifying it becomes. Because Lola’s got secrets of her own. And if she can’t find a way out of Harrow Lake, they might just be the death of her . . .

Review

Firstly, the characters. Well, the main character. I found Lola Nox to be interesting and engaging right from the start. A girl with a rich, famous father trying to keep her out of the spotlight, who seems to crave some sort of attention. She writes out her secrets, and hides them, something she was told to do by her mother.

Lola is clearly still suffering from her mother’s disappearance. Years before, her mother left her and her father, and since then, Nolan Nox has been very controlling over Lola’s life, which she puts down to his fear of losing her, too.  I cannot imagine how difficult it is for a character like Lola, who has to deal with her mother abandoning her as a child, then being sent to live with her grandmother – if temporarily – while her father is in hospital.

Lola’s conflicted feelings – about both her parents – come through really well. She wants to be with her dad, wants to be there to see he’s okay, but can’t even get through to him, and she’s dimly aware he’s done a lot to hold her back. She views her visit to Harrow Lake as an opportunity to get to know both her parents better, but she resists wearing her mother’s old clothes, instead picking out the costumes of the character she played in Nolan’s most popular film, filmed at Harrow Lake.

But as Lola explores the town, she starts to uncover something else, something dark and dangerous. From a new friend she learns the story of ‘Mr Jitters’, an entity believed to be haunting the town. She explores the old fairground, where she discovers a mural from the film, her mother’s image destroyed.  Lola is determined to find out exactly what is going on, driving her to some places she perhaps shouldn’t go.

Harrow Lake is YA Horror at its finest. There are trappings of YA – growing friendships, a possible love interest, a young woman trying to really find her place in the world – executed really well, alongside some wonderfully creepy horror moments. Mr Jitters is a terrifying entity. Lola’s discoveries deepen the town’s mysteries, and everything about Harrow Lake, including the people, is designed to put – and keep – the reader on edge.

As the mystery deepens, the number of unanswered questions increases, and Ellis really keeps the reader engaged without giving too much away, or making it feel like there is too much going on. It’s easy to see the town through Lola’s eyes, easy to follow her around and really picture the locations Ellis delves into. And it’s easy to connect with Lola, to really identify with her and want to see her emerge from this.

Throughout, Lola is confused and uncertain, trying to make sense of what different people want from her. and what she wants from life. Does her father want her home, or in Harrow Lake? Does her grandmother want her to replace her own missing daughter, and does the cute boy actually want to help Lola, or does he have other motivations?

Basically, I really enjoyed this book. It had some great, creepy horror moments, a fantastic cast of characters, and a thrilling, engaging plot that’ll definitely keep readers on their toes. It’s fast-paced without getting confusing, and I can easily imagine this being a really good gateway book to get teenager readers into horror.

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The Author

Kat Ellis lives in North Wales with her husband and their two cats. When she isn’t writing, she spends her time watching every horror movie under the sun and exploring the picturesque views and creepy ruins of the Welsh countryside.

 

Venators: Magic Unleashed – Devri Walls [WriteReads Ultimate Blog Tour]

venatorsBlurb

From Goodreads:

Six years ago, Grey Malteer was attacked by creatures he thought couldn’t possibly exist. They repeated a word, calling him a name he’d never heard before…Venator. Since then, his life has been a hellhole of secrecy—hiding old pain alongside strange new abilities.

Rune Jenkins has an itch, as she calls it, but it’s more than that. It’s an anger that builds up like the inside of a boiler whenever she’s around anything remotely supernatural. The pressure is growing steadily worse and she can’t understand why. All she knows is—her control is slipping.

By order of an unknown council Grey and Rune are pulled through a portal in the St. Louis arch, landing them in an alternate dimension where creatures of myth and legend exist. A realm that calls them, Venators.

Made up of centuries old fae, vampires, werewolves, elves and succubi the council’s corrupt nature becomes obvious as they seek to wield the newly returned Venators as weapons. Wedged in an impossible position, Grey and Rune must decide their fate—do they go against the council’s wishes and help the innocents of this unforgiving land, or face the possibility of execution by the council.

Review

I was absolutely delighted with this book. I have to admit, I am a complete sucker for fantasies which use a variety of different creatures, and that is something Magic Unleashed does really well, introducing us to a world where vampires, werewolves, succubi and others live side by side, and where Venators were once revered, Venators being humans powerful enough to withstand most the effects from the other types of beings.

The opening introduces us to the two main characters. Rune, desperately trying to take care of her twin brother, putting him first and herself second, and Grey, who brushed against the supernatural years before, and has been training himself and studying up on it ever since.

Through the eyes of these two characters, taken from their world into the world of the supernatural, we get introduced to the various other inhabitants, and witness the dangers threatening the Venators. They work their way through a fae forest and a pack of werewolves to reach the Council. All Grey wants is to be a hero, to save the innocent and protect those around him, while Rune just wants to be reunited with her brother.

I really liked the main characters. There’s an instant connection between them and the reader, giving us plenty of reasons to cheer them on and want to see them succeed. The idea of Venators is explained really well, without the story slowing down or stopping completely to convey exactly what it means to us. Instead it feels natural, just as the world Walls has created does.

And they don’t feel overpowered, despite their abilities. When they do come up against the supernatural creatures, they feel all too human and vulnerable, unsure and with no idea how to actually fight in the various situations they’re put in.

The novel is fast-paced and tightly packed, especially once the set-up is over and Grey and Rune leave our world. From there, we’re taken on a rollercoaster ride, leaving us to wonder what exactly will happen next to our two heroes.

The only thing I didn’t really like was the way it ended. It felt too unresolved. Of course, if a book is part of a series there has to be questions left unanswered, but for the first book in a series it felt like there was too much missing. The ending felt a little abrupt.

Despite this, Magic Unleashed is a really good introduction to this world and characters, and feels unique in the setting and the way various supernatural creatures are used. It’s definitely a series I can really see myself really getting into.

Devri Walls

devriDevri Walls is an international best selling author. She lives in Meridian, Idaho with her husband, two children and one adorable little mutt. Writing in all things fantasy, she would do just about anything for a working magic wand.

Mostly because she’s a walking disaster and a wand would be of enormous help…although she’d probably trip and break it. So, there’s that.

She graduated with a degree in theater and has studied vocal performance most of her life. She now teaches voice lessons when she’s not writing novels, cooking dinner, playing taxi, spending time with her amazingly supportive husband or trying to read.”

My question for Devri Walls: What’s your favourite part of the writing process?

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Follow Him: Craig Stewart – Blackthorn Blog Tour

BLACKTHORN BOOK TOURS PRESENTS (1) (2).pngFirstly, thank you very much to Blackthorn for inviting me onto this book tour, and providing a free ebook of Follow Him. Today is my stop on the tour, and you should definitely check out the other bloggers to see what they’ve said about this novel, too.

Blurb

True love doesn’t die – it devours. Just outside the sleepy town of Dreury, a mysterious cult known as The Shared Heart has planted its stakes. Its followers are numerous. More join every day. Those who are lost and suffering seem to be drawn to it; a home for the broken. When Jacob finds himself in need of such a home, he abandons his dead name and gives himself over to the will of The Great Collector. However, love refuses to let Jacob go so easily; his ex-fiancé, Nina, kidnaps him in the hopes that he can be deprogrammed. As she attempts to return Jacob to the life they once had, a terrible fear creeps in: what if there isn’t enough of her Jacob left? When The Great Collector learns of his missing follower, the true nature of The Shared Heart is unleashed. Nina discovers what Jacob already knows: that hidden behind the warm songs and soaring bonfires is a terrifying and ancient secret; one that lives and breathes and hungers. And it’s coming for them.

Review

Follow Him is a dark, twisted novel with the sort of imagery that would be hard to shake off in a hurry. It’s told through different perspectives, mainly focusing on Jacob and Nina, a young couple, who have very contrasting views about The Shared Heart. After a slight breakdown of their relationship, Jacob seeks comfort in the cult and falls completely for what he’s told. Nina, desperate to locate her missing boyfriend, tracks him down, kidnaps him and takes him back home, where she discovers just how far she’s willing to go to keep him from the clutches of The Great Collector and The First.

And the beauty – and horror – in this book lies in discovery. In the discovery of what, exactly, The Great Collector has been doing to the cult members. In finding out why Jacob really left, and the slow revelations scattered throughout the book.

The gore is really amped up towards the end, as the Harvest approaches and the plans of The Shared Heart start to be revealed. This is not a novel for the faint of heart, with uncomfortable moments scattered throughout the book, and scenes that might just turn a reader’s stomach.

Characters

I don’t always have a section dedicated to characters in a review, but I wanted to have one here, because I feel it’s important. The two main characters of the novel are Jacob and Nina, and both conceal things from the reader and those around them. Nothing that feels forced when revealed, but information that deepens our understanding of both of them.

For Nina, we begin to understand her desperation in getting her boyfriend back, her close relationship with her brother, her fears about what is and isn’t out there, and it all combines to form a strong woman who may not always act in the best way, but who definitely has us, as readers, rooting for her, as she’s lured towards The Shared Heart but constantly pushes herself away from the cliffedge.

Jacob, on the other hand…

I started off rooting for Jacob, not necessarily wanting him to achieve what he wanted, but wanting to see him, in some way, succeed, anyway. That changed – Jacob is not the hero of the story, and by the mid-way point, I was almost wishing for his death. He’s just not a good guy, at all, as much as he pretends otherwise. He’s selfish, and cruel, even before he joined The Shared Heart.

But the way these two characters are put together, then apart, then opposite each other, it works really well, and carried me throughout the novel.

All in all, Follow Him is a twisted, creepy, gory novel, with plenty of tense and stomach-twisting moments, with a fantastic ending. Definitely gets a recommendation from me.

follow him

Author

Craig Stewart is a Canadian author and filmmaker who learned how to count from the rhyme, “One, two Freddy’s coming for you.” He’s a creator and connoisseur of everything horror; never afraid to delve into the dark. His first novel, Worship Me, received the New Apple Literary Award of Excellence for horror in 2018. He has also written and directed several short films that have enjoyed screenings across North America. He currently wanders dark hallways in Toronto, Canada.

Find out more about Blackthorn Book Tours 

The Devil’s Apprentice: Kenneth B. Anderson – Write Reads Blog Tour

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Welcome to my stop on the Write Reads blog tour for dark YA Fantasy The Devil’s Apprentice. This book is the first volume in The Great Devil War series, drawing the reader into this vivid reimagining of hell.

Review

Philip is a very good boy; he always does his homework ahead of time, is polite to adults, and can’t tell a lie at all. Yet he finds himself in Hell, where he discovers Lucifer is dying, and requires an heir. Philip might be the wrong boy for the job, but with no other choice, Lucifer trains him, working to shape Philip into a devil ready to take over the throne.

the devil's apprentice

The Devil’s Apprentice is an imaginative take on Hell and The Devil, introducing sympathetic demonic beings and a young boy caught in a dark plot against Lucifer. But more than that, the novel shows how easy it is to fall to temptation, the ways in which our emotions can blind us, how even the smallest acts of kindness can have far-reaching effects, and elements of cruelty can cause consequences. Philip’s arc is interesting and engaging, drawing the reader effectively along. He starts off as almost insufferably sweet, a boy who for all his goodness has no friends. But in Hell, he learns about who he is and what he could be, and how sometimes, it’s not completely evil to tell a lie.

The characters are multi-layered and engaging, and Philip is surrounded by an interesting cast, including Lucifax, the Devil’s cat, love interest Satina, enemy Aziel and a Hagrid-like gatekeeper at the entrance to Hell.

There were some really dark moments in the novel, and a couple of times it felt like it was leaning too much into the morality aspects. The exploration of temptation is good, but there was a particular scene I personally felt was a little unnecessary, in terms of the people being punished and what their ‘sin’ was. And some elements of Philip’s character arc, especially towards the end, felt just a little bit rushed.

Overall, however, I did enjoy reading this novel, and would without a doubt continue with the series. It feels fresh and unique, and though it perhaps might not be suitable for the younger end of YA, slightly older teens would probably enjoy reading about the dark, dangerous landscape of Hell and Philip’s journey.

the devil's apprentice cover

Blurb

Philip is a good boy, a really good boy, who accidentally gets sent to Hell to become the Devil’s heir. The Devil, Lucifer, is dying and desperately in need of a successor, but there’s been a mistake and Philip is the wrong boy. Philip is terrible at being bad, but Lucifer has no other choice than to begin the difficult task of training him in the ways of evil. Philip gets both friends and enemies in this odd, gloomy underworld—but who can he trust, when he discovers an evil-minded plot against the dark throne?

The Devil’s Apprentice is volume 1 in The Great Devil War-series.

kenneth b andersonThe Author

Kenneth B. Andersen (1976) is an award-winning Danish writer. He has published more than forty books for children and young adults, including both fantasy, horror, and science fiction.

His books have been translated into more than 15 languages and his hit-series about the superhero Antboy has been turned into three movies. A musical adaptation of The Devil’s Apprentice, the first book in The Great Devil War series, opened in the fall 2018 and film rights for the series have been optioned.

Kenneth lives in Copenhagen with his wife, two boys, a dog named Milo, and spiders in the basement.

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Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the tour, too!

the great devil war series