Review of The Sea Was a Fair Master by Calvin Demmer

Book Reviews, For Book Lovers, Mystery, Thriller, & Suspense, Publishing

I was offered a digital copy of The Sea Was a Fair Master for review and it’s a collection worth reading. I don’t publicly review every book I’m offered, so pay attention.

The Sea Was a Fair Master is currently on pre-order for just under $3, a generous price you can afford. Anyway, you can’t afford to miss this title…unless you’re a younger reader, who shouldn’t be reading books laced with curse words and  murder, anyway. Curse words are light, FYI.

After reading the first 3 stories, I knew that this collection was going to be a winner. It’s a collection of 23 short, thought- provoking stories that have one thing in common: they’re all dark and twisted somehow.  If you thought I was going to say that the common thread is the sea, don’t worry, I thought it would be, too. But, no. The subjects in the stories extend past, just ocean references.

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Calvin Demmer, author of The Sea Was a Fair Master.

Short stories aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I think it’s appropriate for today’s instant-gratification generation, or for anyone caught up in the daily hustles of life who can’t commit to reading a full-length novel. The stories are short (just a few pages or less) and well-written enough that it would be worth to spend a few minutes every night to read one story. It’s the kind of book to keep on your nightstand.

My favorite story in the collection is, “Underneath,” because of the twist at the end. A married couple end up burying a secret over another secret–literally. “Graves,” a story about a ghost is a sad one to consider, too.

My least favorite was, “Trashcan Sam,” a short about a garbage society members–think hobos gone wild or deranged–who compete to one-up each other.  I think it was still good, but felt it paled in comparison to the others.

Very excellent! And recommended!

-E

 

 

Review of A Giant Sparrow’s “What Remains of Edith Finch?”

Game Reviews, Mystery, Thriller, & Suspense

Put the book down! I mean it. Put it down!

A little wierded out by what I just said because I’m an editor and book lover? Don’t worry, I haven’t lost my mind or anything; I just want to bring  up another way to enjoy the beauty of storytelling. Storytelling is the one gripping detail that ties all of my interests together.

I’m really happy I stumbled across this game! This past week, after long days of staring at printed words running across a computer screen and more printed words peppered neatly across sheets of paper, the last thing I wanted was to look at a book. So, I searched through Steam–my account is InsanePizza3 by the way, if you’re on–and found What Remains of Edith Finch.

The PC game version cost me just $20. And though its strong story-base means there’s not much left in terms of replayability or open world-freedom, like in Fallout 4 and Skyrim, What Remains of Edith Finch is still a great experience worth having.

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What Remains of Edith Finch’s book-style home screen.

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Words that unfold on-screen, white orbs and hand icons lead the player.

What Remains of Edith Finch is an interactive storybook-style game that tells the player the legacy of the cursed Finch family. After several deaths and years passing, a surviving descendant of the Finches returns back to the property to revisit the past. It is here that the player is invited to dive into the worlds of the Finch family to uncover each member’s heartbreaking story.

I really loved that playing this game was like reading an interactive book, with words even popping up on-screen. The gameplay is simple enough for those unfamiliar with gaming to catch on quickly. There was only one story, the one about Gregory Finch,  where I struggled a bit because it wasn’t obvious to me that I needed to knock down a bar of soap! By far, my favorite Finch’s story is Lewis’, a Finch uncle who floats farther and farther into his fantasy world after getting a job at a fish cannery.  The “Lewis part” is beautifully illustrated; the player visits his tower-like home; as the player travels through Lewis’ story the player simultaneously works the conveyor belt and travels through mazes and sails a ship; and you get to watch Lewis crowned ruler.

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Gregory Finch’s story takes place in a bathtub.

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The player is immersed into a secret passage-rich world with unexpected entrances.

My only gripes are that the game isn’t just figuratively dark–it’s literally dark even with the game’s brightness turned all the way up. I also wish that it had been longer! You can blow through the game in just a few hours if you rush through it; but, this is just a personal gripe because I just wasn’t ready for the game to end when it did.

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Molly’s room is dark and beautiful–literally and figuratively.

I’m looking forward to seeing what else Giant Sparrow and Annapurna Interactive have in store for the future. Giant Sparrow is currently working on a new project with little publicized details to date. Hopefully, they’re working on another award-winning game like What Remains of Edith Finch.

For more on this game and a complete listing of the awards it’s received visit: http://edithfinch.com/ .

-E

Beneath Them is Now Available!

Edited, Mystery, Thriller, & Suspense, Portfolio

It’s finally happened! Beneath Them was just published today!

Beneath Them

This is a great novel for anyone looking for a story that’s out of the norm–something both heartbreaking and scary.

I may be a little biased since I personally edited it but, it’s one title that I’m extremely proud of and have high hopes for. Natalie Roers is definitely a woman going places!

Official synopsis:

Beneath Them–a novel based on the screenplay by Natalie Roers and Mali Elfman–is about Derek Fisher, a teenage vagrant with a troubled past. Beneath Them–a novel based on the screenplay by Natalie Roers and Mali Elfman–is about Derek Fisher, a teenage vagrant with a troubled past.

Interested in a copy? Get Beneath Them

-E

Review: Holy Ghosts: Or, How a (Not So) Good Catholic Boy Became a Believer in Things That Go Bump in the Night by Gary Jansen (Audio)

Book Reviews, Mystery, Thriller, & Suspense, Other Genre

This book was a fun little read, but when I finally reached the end, I felt like I needed more; not that the book was lacking any creep factor or anything. The visions that Jansen’s own mother has will haunt you and you’ll definitely want to meet the clairvoyant who ends up helping him piece together the mystery going on in his son’s room.

Jansen does a great job of introducing interesting characters. I was also tickled by the fact he’s a fellow publishing industry worker and recorded the audio version himself! He did a really great job with the audio actually. He’s got a great voice and can read well.

For the most part, I liked it. For my ranking system, I gave it a 4.

Who this book is really for: This would be an interesting read for someone curious about how religion responds to the supernatural because–as you can expect from the title–it’s addressed quite a bit. This is what interested me, personally. I wanted to know how he dealt with his religion while facing things he couldn’t explain. Like Jansen, I grew up in a Catholic household, though I’m not anymore. Growing up Catholic, I was encouraged to ignore, deny, and avoid talking about ghosts and the supernatural. I actually learned a thing or two and was particularly interested in the bits about angels and supernatural events that are recorded in the Bible.4

Book Review: The Things We Wish Were True

Book Reviews, Mystery, Thriller, & Suspense

 The Things We Wish Were True by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen is a random audio book I found on Amazon one day. I wanted to have something for my long drives to work and around town. It’s not normally something that I would’ve picked but I was curious to see what the hype was about. It’s currently got over 2,000 reviews on Amazon! That’s pretty amazing considering there are just way too many books there as it is. Did I mention that it’s also fairly new? Like, it was published last month and it’s already done unbelievably well. It’s published by Lake Union Publishing, an Amazon imprint, so this is probably why.

So did it live up to expectations? I’d say yes, four stars, yes.

4

 

This is a great read for anyone who likes drama with mystery sewn in. The audio book was pretty worth the money! I’ll admit that initially, I didn’t like the actress’ scratchy voice but she’s better farther in the book so give her a chance. She’s also really good at accents!

What’s it about?

It’s got a Hope Floats vibe to it; one of the main characters returns home after a devastating event pretty much ends her marriage. And the story is pretty much about a group of people in a small town. Don’t get me wrong,  there’s definitely enough drama in this story to really keep you interested!

Your stomach will churn when you learn the creepy guy on the street really is creepy! You’ll want to burst when he goes after a young girl. You may even want to vomit a little. You’ll feel really bad for one of the families when you learn how a stalker is related to them in the story, too.

I was most tickled by all the love relationships going on in the story! I was really entertained by the strange love triangle dynamic going on with Bright, a woman who after finally winning the man she’s always wanted, has to deal with her his first love coming back to town. To add to the drama, his first love was her best friend growing up.

Get your copy here: The Things We Wish Were True: A Novel

Hidden Secrets (Secrets and Second Chances Book 2), by Donna M. Zadunajsky Review

Book Reviews, Mystery, Thriller, & Suspense

“But, the thing was, if I hadn’t tried to kill myself, then I wouldn’t be the person I was today.”Hidden Secrets, Donna M. Zadunajsky

4I’ve finally finished reading this book and what can I say? Donna M. Zadunajsky really delivered because I was thrown for a loop at the end.  As you can tell from the quote, it’s a story about loss, depression, and finding oneself. Most important, it’s a story about discovering truth and finding happiness. After the main character, Carla, loses her husband and her baby on the same day, it sets her on a path that leads her to discover major events that happened without her knowing.

It wasn’t the nailbiter-mystery story I had hoped for however. And you can definitely get the same gust of pow skipping over part one and going straight to part two where it finally gets good. There were some weird/awkward editing choices in the text, too. Regardless, this book has great drama and if you love books with unexpected outcomes, definitely put this one on your list.

I also need to add that when it comes to the audio book, the author picked a winner. Thank goodness, too! I’ve had a few occurrences where I lost interest just because I couldn’t stand listening to the narrator. The audio book was pretty good and I had no complaints listening in for almost 7 hours of the narrator transitioning between characters. If you like a dry narrator who doesn’t do voice changes, you’ll be better off with reading this book.

Grab your copy of this book here. You can also read my author interview with Donna here.

Best,

Ella