Monday, May 4, 2015

Book Review and Giveaway - Under Dark Skies by A.J. Scudiere

Release Date: November 4th, 2014
Genre: Adult Paranormal Thriller
My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Where to Buy:

Here's the Summary:

In NightShade nothing is as it seems . . .

Eleri Eames didn’t think she’d ever be allowed to work for the FBI again, so the special FBI division of NightShade seems like an amazing opportunity. But all too soon, her chance to start over starts to disturb her.

When the FBI offers Donovan a chance to leave his job as a medical examiner and try his hand at something new, he takes a chance on the NightShade division. Somehow, he has to try to escape from his shadows, but can he trust Eleri with the truth?

Thrown together on their first case, Eleri and Donovan must deal with a charismatic cult leader and his true-believers. The cult is mixed up with several decade-old kidnapping cases and the missing daughter of a prominent FBI Agent. As Eleri and Donovan dig deeper, they discover that NightShade’s mysteries aren’t coincidence.

Their secrets will save them . . . or destroy them.

My Review:

This book was given to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.

The Good:

The character development. I can't stress to authors enough how important this is!!! I felt like Eleri and Donovan were real people I could eventually meet one day. I know about their upbringings, what makes them tick, their strengths, weaknesses, how they interact in social situations... even what they like to eat. Some readers might see this overkill, that it makes the story drag in places, but when done right, building your characters into believable, relatable people is what makes readers invest in a story. Because when readers feel like they know the characters, they care what happens to them, and I love these characters enough that I'll be impatiently waiting the next book in the series! And that ending!!! Hopefully Book Two will pick right up where it left off.

The writing. While her writing can be a bit wordy in places, Ms. Scudiere has a way with descriptions. She inserts you right into the scenes and you experience everything as the character does. For specific examples within the story, when Eleri feels betrayed by Donovan, you feel betrayed. When Donovan goes on his runs *wink* you're right there with him. When they're both exhausted and malnourished and spread thin while they're trying to solve the case, you'll feel as if you need a power nap and a dose of vitamins to keep going.

The storyline. It's obvious that the author took the time to plot out a meticulous storyline with little twists and turns along the way. When an author plots everything out down to the smallest of details, and executes it flawlessly, I feel like that story is worth my time. Nothing ruins my reading mojo like a sloppy story rife with plot holes and inconsistencies. Yet another reason why this book with grab hold of you, pull you beneath the surface and won't let go until the end.

The Bad:

While Ms. Scudiere has all the details covered in Under Dark Skies, I did feel a sense that something was missing. In thrillers and mysteries, I look for grit and tension. The story delivered in the suspense category, and yes, I felt like I was a part of the story, but sometimes I found myself wanting more. There were no major twists, no major difficulties, and other than the one betrayal (and quick forgiveness) there was no major tension with any of the main characters. I kept thinking, "oh, here's where they'll learn that they were wrong about who's responsible for the killings." Or, "here's where this person will also be involved, but they didn't see it to begin with." Or, "here's where an attraction will happen." Or, "here's where they'll find something horrifying and it will knock me on my butt." Nothing like that really happened.

I will add, though, that the ending was satisfying, and all the things I'd been craving throughout the story I found a little bit of in the end. So I wouldn't say the the story didn't deliver at all in the grit and tension departments, just not as much as I prefer. Of course, it could just be a matter of personal preference.

Also, if you're expecting any kind of romance/ attraction/ lovemaking in any capacity between the opposite sex POV characters, or with any other characters for that matter, you've been forewarned that there is zilch. Not saying this is necessarily a bad thing - romance doesn't necessarily have to be in a story for me to enjoy it. Afterall, my favorite movie is Kill Bill lol - but just wanted to let readers know in case they're hoping for it.

The Ugly:

Nothing to say in this category.

In conclusion, if you're looking for a character-driven paranormal thriller with a good helping of suspense, then Under Dark Skies is for you!!!

Favorite Quote: 

Eleri didn't hate much. She knew people got into bad things, knew that most people were either too stupid to know what they were getting into or just got tangled and struggled their way deeper and deeper into their problems. But this man in front of her? Eleri hated him.

About the Author:

After not making the advanced reading group in kindergarten, AJ decided to 'show them all!' and become the best reader possible. This led to reading "The Amityville Horror," "Flowers in the Attic," and "Carrie" all before the age of seven. By eight, armed with a pen and notebook, she'd gone to the other side and written a novella . . . which shall never again see the light of day. As the daughter of a physicist and a lawyer, AJ always wants to make sure the stories 'work': by the time you get to the end, you'll realize you were holding all the pieces all along. AJ is the author of multiple award-winning suspense novels.

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