Friday, February 3, 2012

8: The Previously Untold Story of the Previously Unknown 8th Dwarf by Michael Mullin

Published Synopsis:

This is the previously untold story of the previously unknown 8th dwarf, named Creepy. He was banished to the basement for being different and , well, weird. Yet he played a vital - and of course previously unknown - role in the popular tale of Snow White (whose title character is an intruder Creepy refers to as "the Maid").


Fairy tales have changed drastically over time. The brothers Grimm told stories that were much darker than the tales that are told today. Possibly, as time went by, their tales that often dealt with death and danger were not needed as much as they once were. Or, we simply reject the idea of fairy tale having anything other than a happy ending nowadays.

That certainly is not the direction that Michael Mullin takes his version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Getting back to the roots of what fairy tales were supposed to do, he tells the tale of Creepy, the 8th dwarf. Creepy is different from his housemates. His sense of humor, the way he does things and even his silence is looked upon as too much for the other seven to bear. Different is bad. He must be dealt with.

Locked in the cellar, Creepy is the only one privy to what really happened between Snow White and the disguised queen. And Snow White doesn’t necessarily come off as the sharpest tool in the shed. With kindness in his heart, and minor grumbling on his lips, Creepy does his best to help her out. But, even though purported to be pure as the driven snow, innocent and guileless, Snow White has her own issues with first impressions and judging a book by its cover. Read how Michael Mullin changes this classic story into one that teaches that even beautiful princesses can be afflicted with prejudice if not taught that ‘different’ can be a good thing. I thank the author for a review copy and I give this story 5 stars.

Purchase 8: The Previously Untold Story of the Previously Unknown 8th Dwarf by Michael Mullin

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Ashlyn's Radio by Norah Wilson and Heather Doherty

Published synopsis:

When her mother is hospitalized after a mental breakdown, Ashlyn is crushed to have to leave Toronto to go live with her grandmother in Prescott Junction, Maine, where nothing happens. Nothing except for the ghost train that rolls through on the rusted lines on dark nights – the one the townsfolk pretend not to hear as it comes to claim troubled, lost souls. Ashlyn scoffs at the idea ... until she witnesses it herself, with its evil, seductive conductor and the wailing of souls trapped on board. The string of unexplained deaths by the tracks throughout the village's history (Ashlyn's father included, before she was even born) lends credence to the tale. As frightened as she is at the conductor’s pull, more terror awaits when the antique radio in her grandmother’s basement comes to life. Ashlyn’s grandmother tells her the radio is a Caverhill curse, and can’t be destroyed or discarded. It keeps coming back, and it keeps broadcasting "reports" of events yet to happen. Her grandmother begs her to stay away from the radio, but Ashlyn cannot help but listen. And to her horror, it tells her she is bound to board the ghost train. Ashlyn will need the help of her newfound friends – the troubled Rachel and the very sexy Caden – if she is going to get through the coming horrors with her sanity intact and her soul unclaimed.


What could possibly be worse than having your mother have a complete mental breakdown and be institutionalized? Or being forced to leave behind all your friends in Toronto at the beginning of your senior year and move to a Podunk little town in Maine with a grandmother you barely know? Ashlyn Caverhill finds out.

Prescott Junction isn’t just a sleepy little town in the middle of nowhere. The town is deserted at night, and people do stay in their beds after dark, but sleep is hard to come by when a ghost train intent on stealing souls rumbles through town several nights a week. Add to that an indestructible radio that only Ashlyn’s family can hear – it predicts the future, but only the sad and tragic future – and suddenly, Prescott Junction is far from a boring little town. Unless a seductive, skeletal ghost train conductor can be considered boring.

Ashlyn is thrown into a situation where she may be the town’s only hope. As if that isn’t enough, her new best friend, Rachel, believes that she is next to board the train. Abused, lonely and self-destructive, Rachel believes it may be her only chance to escape the hell she lives in. Caden, Ashlyn’s sexy new boyfriend, cares about them both and will do whatever he can to keep them safe.

Ashlyn’s Radio by Norah Wilson and Heather Doherty, is a unique look at curses, the supernatural and real life issues such as abuse. The characters in the book face not just a ghost train and a doomsday warning radio, they also have to face the real life issues of prejudice, depression, fear, physical and emotional abuse, and falling in love. Wilson and Doherty do an excellent job addressing all of the above. With the exception of being too blasé in the beginning of the book about the idea of cutting to deal with anger, depression and pain, I believe they did a good job of getting into the teenage mind. I was happy to read that the act of cutting is taken more seriously later in the book. Speaking as an adult, the abuse issues were also hard to read without wanting to shake the characters and want them to do something about it, to stop it. But, in situations like that, most teenagers don’t have the slightest idea what to do when a friend is in this kind of trouble. That’s not a problem with the book. Ashlyn’s Radio simply points out a societal squeamishness to address the problem head on, leaving children at a loss as to how to help or get help.

Overall, Ashlyn’s radio is a wonderful read with just enough eeriness to keep it interesting, and enough memorable characters to make it lovable. Though the issues in the book could have made this book a sad journey, Wilson and Doherty were able to keep it a light, entertaining read while still getting their points across. I thank the authors for a review copy and I give the book 4 ½ stars.

Purchase Ashlyn's Radio by Norah Wilson and Heather Doherty

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Merzetti Effect by Norah Wilson

Published synopsis:

Delano Bowen has been a medical doctor for a very long time. More than 170 years, in fact. For much of that time, he’s been searching for a way to reverse the curse foisted on him by a vampress who sought to own him. With the emergence of medical technology, he now also aims to develop a vaccine to protect the vulnerable from predation by rogue vampires. After a century of searching, he thinks he's found the key to his vaccine – a surviving descendent of the Merzetti family. The Merzettis were virtually hunted to extinction over the years by rogue vampires who feared the anti-vampirism properties in their blood.

A foundling, nurse Ainsley Crawford has no idea that she carries a genetic gift, and Delano aims to keep it that way. He must keep her close, and ignorant, for he can leave nothing to chance. He manipulates events to ensure her unwitting cooperation. But when Delano's arch enemy Radak Janecek mounts an all-out assault to destroy Delano and the fruits of his research, Delano is forced to draw Ainsley even closer to protect her. Inevitably, the attraction that has sparked between them from the first flares hot and urgent. Ainsley sees no reason why that attraction shouldn't be consummated, but Delano knows succumbing to it is not just ill-advised; it could literally be the death of him.


Vampires aren’t all bad. Most of them live productive lives working right next to us at their night jobs while, for the most part, leaving humans alone. It’s not those vampires Delano Bowen is after. He’s after the rogue vampires, like the one that turned him all those years ago against his will. The ones who prey on the innocent and see humans as nothing more than a lower species in the food chain. In order to stop them, he has to track down the last descendent of a powerful bloodline and prove that the Merzetti effect is more than a scary bedtime story for vampires. And then, he has to determine how willing he is to sacrifice his feelings for her to further his cause.

Ainsley has her own troubles in the human world. Forced out of her job as a trauma nurse, she must find another one ASAP because people she loves are counting on her. Which is the only reason she agreed to meet Dr. Bowen at night for her job interview. And walk through a dark alley to get to his office. She had no idea that short walk was going to irreversibly change her life. Thrust into a world of vampires, she faces danger, lies, assassins, betrayals and love. Now, she has to figure out what scares her the most and what she’s willing to do to protect the human race. And her heart.

In The Merzetti Effect, Norah Wilson gives the reader surprises, plot twists, and a romance that will get your heart pumping loud enough for the nearest vampire to hear. The tension between Ainsley and Delano is there from the beginning, but both struggle against it. Some times more than others. But, when making love may be tantamount to a death sentence, that’s a lot of motivation to resist each other.

I enjoyed the fact that Norah Wilson made Ainsley a strong character; one who is willing to do whatever it takes for the ones she loves. Often, in romances, especially those about vampires, the female character is made into a victim who must be rescued. Ainsley is thrown into a situation that does make her a victim, but she does not have typical victim qualities. She doesn’t fall apart at the first sight of danger, she doesn’t back down when she learns she has been betrayed. Instead, she bolsters who courage and trudges on, willing to meet the danger head on if she must. Being scared is no reason to be a coward or not get the job done.

Delano is written as the epitome of scientist. He is always looking to the greater good, even if that means sacrifices have to be made along the way. He has surrounded himself with humans who have sworn their allegiance to his cause and it has been his single-mindedness that has gotten him this close to finding a cure. Now, if he can only keep his hands off the cure, everything will be fine. Apparently, that’s asking too much.

If you are looking for a fast-paced story that will make you wish your own vampire was waiting for you in the next dark alley you pass, pick up a copy of The Merzetti Effect. It’s the next best thing to finding your own paranormal romance. I thank the author for a review copy and I give the book five stars.

Purchase The Merzetti Effect by Norah Wilson