Book Review: Terror on the Deseret Trail

It’s been awhile since I posted a book review. I’ve been reading and reviewing on Amazon, just not on my blog and Goodreads. Those reviews were only requested on Amazon. I am extremely backed up so I won’t be able to take anymore request at this time.

This book I just finished, “Terror on the Deseret Trail,” was a shocking read, but it was written so well that I couldn’t resist sharing the review. Let me know what you think if you get the chance to read it. Be warned though. It’s over-the-top gruesome, gory, and just foul.

Title: Terror on the Deseret Trail
Author: Jack Hazen
Genre: Historical Fiction, Adventure Thriller
Year Published: March 13, 2021

Wasn’t sure exactly what to expect but what a wild ride! This story is about a bunch of people. The main ones being Reuben Taz and a paleontologist named Hannah Monroe, and her group. At first, you’d think this was your average wild west story, but the further you get into it, the more you realize it’s one really crazy grown-up story with a bunch of strange and unique characters. Everyone has somewhere to go, and out in the west there’s a lot of land and a lot of bad things going on. It’s wise to travel in a group or at least with someone who knows how to shoot a gun or use a knife.

Reuben Taz is the most interesting character in the story. He has an agenda, and it’s to find and kill his father’s killer. However, he’s not anything you’d think him to be. He enjoys eating a good set of dainty toes. Aside from traveling with a whore named Rhonda for some time, a Mark Twain joins them and then a couple of other men later on. The group with the paleontologist consists of assistants, a handicap named Tiny Tim, an Arapaho princess named Sweet Water, and a few others. There were dinosaur bones out there in Utah and Paleontologist Hanna wanted to find them first. Helen James, a Pinkerton detective and a trans, later joins Hannah’s group. The detective was on a case about a kidnapped Mormon daughter and was set to find her. With all the chaos in the Utah and Nevada lands in the late 1800’s it was a very scary time to be traveling, but somehow these people were brave enough to do it.

I loved everything about this story. It was dirty, gruesome, disgusting, there was satire, dark humor, etc., and I enjoyed it all. I wanted so bad to give it five stars but there were so many missing open/closed speech quotes that I struggled somewhat as to when someone was speaking and done speaking. There were also a few misspells but not enough to distract from the story (definitely should get it edited though, it’s such an extraordinary story that I’d love to see it turn into a movie!). Definitely give this book a read if you enjoy settings in the wild west and deep dark themes and conflicts.

Book Review: Gold Spun

Title: Gold Spun
Author: Brandie June
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Published: June 8th, 2021

Date finished: September 17, 2021

Gold Spun by Brandie June is a Rumpelstiltskin retell about a 17-year-old girl named Nora who finds herself in a mess after rescuing a fae. The fae gifts her with a golden thread and promises to return to her every time she calls upon him. Excited about this golden thread, in her haste, Nora comes up with a plan to make money using it. This captures the attention of the prince who tells her if she could spin a room full of straw into gold, he’ll marry her. If not, she’ll pay a heavy price.

It’s been a long time since I read Rumpelstiltskin, so I had to search it up and brief through it. Gold Spun follows the storyline somewhat but with slightly different characters. I like the idea of the fae and the way he was portrayed. He felt likeable, yet you couldn’t really tell if he was trustworthy, so there was a mysterious edge to him. The prince at first seemed cocky and full of himself, but he turned out likeable. His affection for Nora made him protective and supportive and a real gentleman. As for Nora, I liked that she was always quick on her toes. She doesn’t give up and she has so much love in her for her family and the villagers. However, I also found her a bit childlike. I think she was meant to be intelligent and brave and was supposed to play it down, but I didn’t get that. I wanted her to be a little more mature for someone who was responsible for a lot of things.

The overall story was enjoyable. I love retells and Gold Spun did an excellent job with it. I found the love triangle just so cute. Also, Ms. June’s writing style is flowy and smooth and makes you want to keep reading.

Who should read this book: All lovers of retells, love triangles, and fairytales. This was a truly fun read with magic, faeries, royalty, and everything you could ever ask for in a fast-paced young adult fantasy romance story.

Note: I was given this book to read and review but the opinion is purely my own.

Book Review: Scythe

Title: Scythe
Author: Neal Shusterman
Genre: YA, dystopian
Year Published: 2017

Date finished: August 10, 2021

Scythe by Neal Shusterman is a young adult dystopian novel about two teenagers who were chosen to become scythes. The setting is far future in a world of chaos where rules were put in to control the people. One of the rules was the creation of Scythes whose jobs are to take lives, and thus putting fear into the people to maintain order.

The two main characters are Citra and Rowan. They were both chosen to learn the role of the scythe and thus were trained in the skills required for the job. Along the way, a mysterious death occurred leading to a bit of chaos. Lies and deception rang among the scythes in power creating disagreements between the leaders. The decisions Citra and Rowan made were difficult because they had grown to respect (and liked) each other.

Overall, I enjoyed this book and loved how it ended. I’m curious as to why it ended the way it did with one of the characters. My only gripe is that because it’s young adult, I found the killings a bit too morbid. Don’t get me wrong, I love me a good grimdark with all the things (ASOIAF comes to mind), but this was definitely a young adult leaning more toward the younger end of the age group, so there were moments where I just couldn’t stomach it, because I couldn’t stop thinking about how a young person would deal with it. If this book was adult with a more mature writing style, I’d totally dig it a lot more.

Who should read this book: If you enjoy stories about teenagers put into a challenge with each other in a world where the authoritarian comes from adults who seem a bit clueless and/or who’ve gained power for their own greed, and the teenagers sort of “fix” the problem, then you’ll enjoy this book.

Book Review: Fate is a Hunter

Title: Fate is a Hunter
Author: Susan Wuthrich
Genre: Suspense Thriller
Year Published: 2020

Date finished: July 13, 2021

Fate is a Hunter is a suspense thriller by Susan Withrich. The story is about a woman named Lydia who goes on a search for her husband and children. She hires a private investigator to help her find them, but it wasn’t as easy as she’d thought.

The story is fast paced and has three point-of-views. Lydia’s story is in first point-of-view, the husband is in third limited, and then there’s third omniscient where we’re able to see the story from afar. I found these point-of-views a little confusing because at times I wasn’t sure who’s story it was about. I didn’t think it was necessary to do multiple povs in this way. I also couldn’t really understand the motivation behind what the husband did, but it sounded like he was suffering from depression. The whole story just appeared pretty sad and heartbreaking.

Overall, it was an enjoyable read. I was curious to find out what happened with Lydia and her husband and was pleasantly surprised by the ending.

Who should read this book: Anyone into fast-paced suspense thrillers such as The Widow by Fiona Barter, Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris, and The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins.

Book Review: The Tattooist of Auschwitz

Title: The Tattooist of Auschwitz
Author: Heather Morris
Genre: Historical fiction, Based on a true story
Year Published: 2018

Date finished: June 29, 2021

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris is a historical fiction story about a man named Lale Sokolov. He is a Slovakian Jew who was taken to a concentration camp to tattoo Jews being brought into the camp. His story is about survival and staying positive during this time of atrocious genocide.

Lale befriends some of the workers at the camp who were not Jews and begins to trade for food. He sees a girl that catches his eye and makes promises to himself and the girl that they would be together after the war ends, not realizing the extent of all that’s going on with Hitler’s motive.

I enjoyed this story. Even though it’s fiction, based on a Lale’s memory, I’m sure there was a lot of truth to it, even in scenes where it didn’t involve him. It makes sense that Lale didn’t see the big picture and I liked this point of view because it goes to show that when you’re inside the storm, you really can’t see how big the storm is. Lale had so much hope and positivity that you almost felt that if all fails, this story was going to be the saddest book out there. But on the other hand, I believe that his confidence helped him stay alive.

There is something special about the angle of this book. We follow Lale and get glimpses of other less fortunate Jews (and even some non-Jews) who ended up losing their lives, yet the glimpses are so powerful that without explaining all the details, you just know that the situation was beyond horrific.

Who should read this book: If you enjoy books about WWII and/or the holocaust such as The Nightingale, The Book Thief, All the Lights We Cannot See, The Whispers of War, etc., this one fits right in.

Book Review: Off the Furrow

Title: Off the Furrow
Author: Mark Lages
Genre: Literary Fiction
Year Published: 2021

Date finished: June 5, 2021

Off the Furrow by Mark Lages is a story about a man named Howard Mirth who suffers from a mental illness and was admitted to the hospital. Howard is, overall, a normal person with a normal family life and a good job. He goes through bouts of schizophrenia where it leaves you feeling both sad and sorry for him, but you also laugh with him and at his humor. He questions life and humanity, and it makes you wonder the same things.

Wow. I loved this book. There was a lot to take in, but every chapter had meaning. My favorite chapter was 34, when Howard called his uncle. I enjoyed the whole book, but that chapter was really deep. I found the humor and jokes throughout the book just simply hilarious. Some (maybe most) were dark humor but that’s what I like about this author’s style. This book is relatable to just about everyone. Every character has a flaw, and you can probably find yourself in one of them.

Who should read this book: If you like literary stories about man vs. self, mental illness, family dynamics, and life lessons, this is for you. Also, if you like the style of Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five and Fredrik Backman’s A Man Called Ove, you’ll definitely enjoy this.

Book Review: For the Wolf

Title: For the Wolf
Author: Hannah Whitten
Genre: Fantasy, Grimdark
Year Published: June 2021

Date finished: May 12, 2021

For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten is a dark fantasy about a forest that takes from the living. The main character is a nineteen-year-old girl named Red who has a special power within her and she’s afraid to hurt family with this power she doesn’t think she can contain. The forest is where she thinks she could do more to help her family and the town’s people. Secondary characters are her sister and the Wolf.

At first, I thought this was going to be a retell about Red Riding Hood, but it is far from it. The only thing similar to that story is pretty much Red’s crimson cape. However, there are other fairytales that are depicted in this story in a sort of retell, such as Beauty and the Beast. It’s done well with its own unique twist, so it keeps you curious.

Overall, I thought it was a good read. It’s slightly on the fast-paced side with some excellent world building. At times I felt Red appeared a little younger than her age, so I wasn’t super clear if this was going to be a young adult novel or not. About halfway through, it was clear it wasn’t young adult just by the writing style and the grimdarkness of it.

Who should read this book: If you’re into fairytale retells or just fairytale style stories, this is for you. There is magic, romance, friendship, family. There is also a love triangle but it’s subtle and done very well, I’d have to say.

Note: This book was sent to me for free to review, but the opinion is purely my own.

Book Review: The Unity Game

Title: The Unity Game
Author: Leonora Meriel
Genre: Sci-fi, Spiritual, Metaphysical
Year Published: 2017

Date finished: May 7, 2021

The Unity Game by Leonora Meriel is a story about three main characters whose lives somehow intertwine. The first character lives in the modern world and struggles with drug abuse and sex addiction; the second character is an alien in a far-off world; and the third character is someone who has died and ends up in a library of sorts.

This was an intriguing read. I’ve only read one other metaphysical book, so I don’t have a lot to compare it to regarding form and style, but I found this one really enjoyable. I liked the way it was written. Lots of information about being connected and being one with others was provided in a way that felt like it was teaching rather than forcing you to believe. The idea of connecting is something to think about. I also found the library fascinating. It would be so cool if that was possible.

The characters were well developed and had a lasting impression. I felt the modern world character’s story was the strongest of the three. The relationships he had with multiple women, never fully settling on the “right” one, was a real struggle for him and I’m pretty sure, relatable to many. The way the erotica scenes were written depicted him perfectly. It made me feel sorry for him, yet I hoped he would pull through and overcome his addiction.

The alien character was interesting. He was a little hazy for me but there was something about him in the way he cared that had me believe aliens could understand the complexities of the human mind.

The man who’d died and his spirit had gone to a huge library of lived lives had me thinking about the realism of the idea. I would totally love to walk into one and just read about lives and purposes and such and just be filled with knowledge of all things that have passed.

Who should read this book: Anyone curious about the metaphysical and spiritual world, but it’s an overall great read for anyone who wants to enjoy a book with excellent characters and themes.

Book Review: Newdawn Roamers

Title: Newdawn Roamers
Author: Dominique Luchart
Genre: Sci-fi, YA
Year Published: 2020

Date finished: May 3, 2021

Newdawn Roamers by Dominique Luchart is a young adult science fiction novel about an advanced future earth with artificial intelligence. An intelligent entity was located making its way toward earth and scientists think it could be an invasion. They created a team called the Roamers to travel back in time to locate scientists who could possibly help them stop this invasion.

There are multiple main characters but eventually the story focuses in on the girl named Tesh. Her relationship with one of the Roamer takes a backseat until near the end when it leads into a love triangle. Also, the chapters are broken down by time periods and characters, so if you don’t pay attention, you can easily get confused.

I liked the advanced technology, especially the AI. There’s a lot of information to take in which I thought really helped create the world they lived in. I’m glad I came upon this book because it was a hidden gem.

Who should read this book: Anyone who’s into future worlds, advanced technology, time travel, and YA triangle. This book hits all those spots perfectly. In fact, I think it reads a little closer to new adult, but the YA vibe is very much there.

Book Review: Exile

Title: Exile
Author: Martin Owton
Genre: Fantasy
Year Published: 2019

Date finished: April 20, 2021

Exile by Martin Owton is a fantasy novel about a man named Aron who was exiled from his home and ends up being asked to protect an earl’s son. Things seem to go smoothly until a brawl ensues and suddenly nothing is going as planned.

This was a good read. I enjoyed the world building. It felt dark and dreary and medieval. No one could be trusted which I felt really made this story exciting. The main character was likeable. He came across almost perfect until danger hit and then his faults appeared. I thought that was well done. Some of the other characters were also nicely developed.

This is one of those stories where the pacing is consistent, and the actions aren’t so overly exciting all the time. There are exciting and action-packed scenes that are thrown in at the right time to create that tension and rush, but it’s kept to a minimal. I found that nicely done.

The only thing that bothered me, and it might not be an issue for you, was that I received an ebook copy from the author and for some reason the spacing was off. At times, the book was double-spaced, and other times, it was single-spaced. I also found a lot of grammatical errors. Often, if there are between one and three, I’ll let it go because that’s not enough to need to mention, but when there’s about six plus, it can get annoying. Normally, when I come across this many errors, I won’t continue reading, but the errors were found later in the story and I’d already invested time into the characters. This was so unfortunate because it impeded a smooth read. Other than that, the story itself was excellent.

Who should read this book: Anyone who enjoys a good story with a hero and magic. It’s rare to find a simple fantasy these days without too much gore or too much romance and whatnot. I find that sometimes stories get too complex or there are too many subplots, and the end doesn’t really tie everything together. This book is your clean-cut, simple fantasy with a touch of grimdark magic, and with an ending that leaves you satisfied.