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Thicker Than Blood, by Madeline Sheehan and Claire C. Riley

Thicker Than Blood______________________________________________

A true friendship never dies.

Leisel and Evelyn lost everything. Husbands. Families. Friends. Lives that made sense. All they had left was each other, and a friendship that could withstand anything…

Even an apocalypse.

Until one fateful night, the marginal safety they’d come to rely on comes to a vicious and brutal end. With the help of Alex & Jami, both unlikely allies, Leisel and Evelyn are able to escape their shattered sanctuary only to find themselves face-to-face with a much altered, much crueler life where they have to find the way—and the will—to stay alive in a world they no longer recognize.

Traveling across a broken and infection-ridden country; the road-weary group are pitted against endless violence, improbable circumstances, and the ultimate loss.
Everything comes at a price—especially safety, the cost of which could very well strip them of the one thing they’ve tried so hard to cling to: their humanity.

Yet along with all the trials they’re forced to endure, there’s also hope in the form of love. Having loved Leisel from afar, Alex attempts to put the pieces of her fractured heart back together.

But in such a savage world, is there room for love?

In a place of nightmares-made-reality, where the living should be feared far more than the dead, an unbreakable friendship and a love amongst all odds can mean the difference between life and death.

There are friends…

And then there are Leisel and Evelyn. ______________________________________________

Okay, so, if I had to define this book in a word, I’d say intense. Like reeeeeeeally intense!

I really enjoyed it though. Of course, it’s not really what you’d call a feel good novel, what with all the people dying or killing each other or trying to rape women. But I still enjoyed reading this book. I was really engaged in it from the start.

“But when it did, when the first American fell to his knees, the government was ill prepared for the fallout and the sickness spread like wildfire.”

I really enjoyed the prologue that set the mood and the atmosphere of the whole book. I thought the way the epidemic and the end of the world as we know it was really well described and I almost felt like a documentary or a historic novel. And then comes chapter one. We get pretty quickly into the thick of the matter since the book opens when Leisel just killed the man she was forced to marry. 

It took me more time than usual to read this book (10 days to be exact), but it was so dense I felt like I had just ran for an hour every time I picked it up. But mostly, it was because some of the things that happen in the story are so awful and sometimes disturbing that I had a hard time keeping on reading. Sometimes, I was afraid to read the next line, especially when the scene depicted was a difficult and sexual one.

“We should have learned by now that nothing was ever easy in this world. Yet, like children, we remained forever hopeful, optimistic that just once something would go right for us.”

At some point, I started wondering if I wasn’t watching a Game of Thrones episode because every time I started trusting or liking someone, they ended up dead. I knew it was dumb of me to hope, but I couldn’t help myself and always ended up wanting to slap my book around for hurting the characters again and again when they had already gone through so much.

“To always having someone to rely on, a person in your corner to fight for you no matter the reason, no matter the cost. To having more than a friend, more than a sister, but a soul mate. To the hope they give us, the strength they provide us, and the unconditional love they empower us with. To best friends.”

I really enjoyed Evelyn and Leisel’s relationship and how strong it was. They really cared for each other and were looking out for each other. What really moved me was Evelyn’s attitude when Leisel and Alex started falling for each other. It could have been really easy for Evelyn to feel left out and resentful toward Leisel for finding happiness and comfort in someone else. But even if sometimes she did feel alone, she was always happy for Leisel and I really enjoyed that because it surprised me.

“Where was the humanity? Dead, I thought bitterly. Dead, like everything else.”

I really enjoyed the change in Leisel’s personality and how she grew as a character and a person. She’s really the character you expect the less from and who ends up making the biggest change while still being the one that stays true to herself. It’s so easy in their situation to forget what is right and what is wrong and to let the lines blur. Leisel always stayed “good”, at least considering the world she has to live in while getting stronger.

“It had been worth it to learn there was someone else in the world, other than just Evelyn and me who hadn’t succumbed to the corruption and the wickedness everyone else had seemed to.”

I really enjoyed the romance in the book too. It was really what helped make the book lighter with the good and tender moments that aloud Evelyn and Leisel’s friendship. The romance wasn’t overwhelmingly present in the book, but the amount there was of it gave the book a little something more.

“Everything good left in this world was going to be eventually snuffed out altogether, one by one, and not by the infected but at the hands of the selfish, greedy people who’d taken control, who’d turned a worldwide devastation into their own personal playground.”

Toward the end though I was really concerned with how things were getting and where the story was going. I knew when I started the book that there wouldn’t be a happy ending per se, but I was still concerned. Especially since I caved and started reading reviews to get an idea of what was to come. Let’s just say that it didn’t help all that much. I knew bad things were coming, I could feel it even before I took a look at the reviews, but I really didn’t want the book to end on something bad. Someone wrote in their review that the ending was bittersweet and that some would be find comfort with this ending, while others may not. Personally, I liked the ending. It was bittersweet indeed and left me not knowing if I wanted to smile or cry, but I liked it. I liked what happens to Leisel and the ray of hope she gets after so much heartache and I really liked the Evelyn was finally at peace. They both got a “happy ending” but,and I’m not going to say why I’m saying this because it would involve spoilers, it was still bittersweet.

“Whatever happens Lei, it was worth it.”

So all in all, I’d say that you should give this book a try if you think it is a story that could be for you. I know I usually enjoy zombie themed books with a little steam in it and I did enjoy this one too even though it was darker than the ones I have read in the genre before. But it is important to say that this book touches a lot of serious and heavy topics. The place and role of women in this world in truly awful and it makes for really awful scenes and situations sometimes. This book is definitely not for the weak of heart and you will most likely be shocked by the event taking place in the novel. But if you feel up for it, you should definitely give it a try.

“The infection ran so much deeper than just turning people into mindless cannibals. It destroyed people’s souls.”

This book was the first one in a series of standalones. The next book in the serie, Beneath Blood And Bone, is about one of the truly awful characters we met in this book, Eagle and a new character, Autumn. And I can’t wait to see how big bad E and savage Autumn will work out.


Donners of the Dead, by Karina Halle


***A Standalone Horror Romance***

A note about this book: Donners of the Dead is set in 1851 – couples were often thrust into marriage together with short courtships, racism was widespread and not overly frowned upon, and women had little to no rights. What wouldn’t fly in today’s day and age was unfortunately the norm back then – it is worth keeping that in mind when reading this book.

Jake McGraw was unlike anyone I’d ever known. He was brash, rude, unapologetic and arrogant; chauvinistic, close-minded, and terribly stubborn. He was built like a tree, tall with a hard chest and wide shoulders and hands that looked like they could wrestle a bear. He was a cigar-chomping, scruffy-faced, beast of a man. I was pretty sure I hated him. And I know he hated me. But among the flesh-eating monsters in these snow-capped mountains, he was the only thing keeping me alive

The year is 1851 and pioneers in search of California gold are still afraid to travel on the same route as the tragic Donner party did years before. When the last wagon train to go into the Sierra Nevada mountains fails to arrive at their destination, Eve Smith, an 18-year old half-native girl with immense tracking skills is brought along with the search party, headed by an enigmatic former Texas Ranger, Jake McGraw.

What they find deep in the dangerous snow-covered terrain is a terrifying consequence of cannibalism, giving new meaning to the term “monster.” While the search party is slowly picked off, one by one, Eve must learn to trust Jake, who harbors more than a few secrets of his own, in order to survive and prevent the monstrosities from reaching civilization.


I’m a sucker for Karina Halle’s books! Ever since I started reading the Experiment In Terror serie, I have been addicted to her stories, her characters and her writing style.

What I really like about her is that she isn’t afraid of mixing the genres. I hope for you that you’re not too hung up on the concept of genres because Karina Halle isn’t afraid to shake things up where genre boundaries are concerned. And that’s how you end up with a book like Donners of the Dead, a historical horror western romance where zombies are the bad guys. It’s the first book I read about sexy cowboys fighting flesh-eating creatures and I was not disappointed.

“Chills gripped my chest with an iron fist the moment Isaac turned his head and stared down at me. Half of his face was gone, his eyeball blasted into his face leaving a dark red and black hole of bone, brain and blood.” 

Donners of the Dead was beautifully written. I was sucked into the book the moment I started reading and did not put it down until it was finished.

I really liked that this story was inspired by real events that happened in 1851 (minus the zombies of course). I like when a story is grounded into reality to a certain extent. Here, Karina made a great job of setting the decor and ambiance of the time. As is mentioned in the blurb, women status was very different then and our main character Eve, has it even worse because she is mixed-race (her dad was Indian and her mother a white girl) which was something highly frowned upon at the time and didn’t help when it came to integration.

“There was a loud, solid thunk on the porch, followed by another. The house shook slightly. I kept my eyes trained on the outside but couldn’t see anything. But I could smell it. It was blood and sweat and hay and horse and something unfathomable. A severe chill threaded down my back.” 

The dark, creepy tone of the book is set from the start and from there, it only gets scarier. In the first few pages you’re already facing strange, blood-thirsty creatures, and from there, my mind was suspecting every little movement and noise described in the book to be a possible ambush. No need to say that my nerves where on edge. But then again, Karina knows how to creep you out and I wouldn’t be surprised if you kept the lights on when you read her books. She really has a talent when it comes to making you shiver with fear.

“You must draw strength from fear or fear will make you weak.”

“Men are the real monsters. They often are.”

Here Eve, because of her tracking skills, is sent on a party in the mountains with a bunch of strangers to help them find someone who has been missing for a year. Even though she does want to go, no one really asked her if she was okay with going and she probably won’t see the money she is due for her services. And on top of that, the men of the group, even though they need her, don’t show a lot of appreciation. 

“I tend to tune out when a woman’s speaking.” I leaned further into Sadie, as if that would help me escape his chauvinism. “That’s probably because a woman’s never said a good thing about you.” (…) “You’re damn right about that.” He cocked his head and looked me over. “Except where it counts, if you know where that is, and judging by what you’re wearing to bed, I reckon you don’t.”

I found Eve’s character very brave and likable. She is strong and knows how to stand her own even though she is still very young. Her life prior the expedition isn’t easy and nothing is given to her. Her father went missing a while back and her mother is the shell of the woman she once was, leaving Eve to fend for herself. Her uncle and aunt are supposed to take care of her but let’s just say that Mr. Smith isn’t exactly thrilled about that. I liked her and her voice a lot in the book. She was a very interesting character to read about.

And then, between the bad guys and the creepy monsters lurking in the dark, there’s Jake McGraw.

“My goodness he had large feet”

“If you asked someone to tell you what a “man” was, I was certain he’d be their description.”

To me, the cherry on top of the delicious cake that is this book is that even though we are surrounded by horror, there is still a whole lot of steamy romance happening.

Jake and Eve’s relationship was great to witness. I loved the nickname he gave her, even though it starts out of an act of douchery. He is far from a gentleman and openly shows to Eve that he doesn’t like or trust her because she is half-Indian. He’s been through a lot and that’s why he is so “rough” on the edges.

“He may have “saved” me, but it was still Indian-hating Jake McGraw, and we mixed about as well as oil and vinegar.”

Basically, if it wasn’t for this expedition, there was no change in hell for them to ever be together. She’s a small town girl, he has seen world (or at least most of the US). She’s half-native american, he is a broody cowboy. You get the picture. But as the story evolves and things get tough for them, they start to care for each other and find out that they need each other more than they realized in order to survive.

“We were a tribe of two but a tribe all the same. Two broken people looking for their place in the world and finding each other.”  

Their relationship grows steadily and naturally. What I really like about Karina’s characters, is that they are not perfect. They are flawed and out of the norm, just like us, and it makes you relate to them on some level. The make mistakes, they curse, they lie and they doubt but they are still very likable. And even though they might not be people you would normally like, she makes you like and care for them with all their flaws. That’s why I very easily have crushes on her characters and am always excited to see new book release from her.

“No matter his age though, he was a rude bastard”

“I couldn’t find the words. Jake McGraw just kissed me. Not Avery as I’d imagined, but Jake. A man. A Texan. A liar and a jackass.” 

This book was a great one that I really enjoyed reading even though it made me jump at every noise I can hear in my house. It was the right mix of fright and romance and I recommend it highly to anyone looking for a thrill!

“There are only monsters inside of angels and angels inside of monsters. Choose wisely.”

Red Hill, by Jamie McGuire



When the world ends, can love survive?

For Scarlet, raising her two daughters alone makes fighting for tomorrow an everyday battle. Nathan has a wife, but can’t remember what it’s like to be in love; only his young daughter Zoe makes coming home worthwhile. Miranda’s biggest concern is whether her new VW Bug is big enough to carry her sister and their boyfriends on a weekend escape from college finals.

When reports of a widespread, deadly “outbreak” begin to surface, these ordinary people face extraordinary circumstances and suddenly their fates are intertwined. Recognizing they can’t outrun the danger, Scarlet, Nathan, and Miranda desperately seek shelter at the same secluded ranch, Red Hill. Emotions run high while old and new relationships are tested in the face of a terrifying enemy—an enemy who no longer remembers what it’s like to be human.

Set against the backdrop of a brilliantly realized apocalyptic world, love somehow finds a way to survive. But what happens when the one you’d die for becomes the one who could destroy you?


Wow! I think I’m at a loss for words. Which, all things considered, is not convenient right now since I’m gonna try to write a review that does justice to this book. But as is usually the case when I loved a book, it’s probably going to be more blabbering than anything else. So bear with me 😉

And to add to that, I am so book hangovered right now! I finished Red Hill at four in the morning because I couldn’t put it down.
I think it’s my first horror (romance?) fiction and I’m so glad I picked this one to be the first. Jamie McGuire wrote a fantastic story that had me scared, stressed, nervous, hoping ,smiling and on the brink of tears at times.

Here’s a kaleidoscope of how I felt while reading:





I might have driven my roommates crazy while reading Red Hill. But this is the perfect example of how this book makes you feel, and if you’re a tiny bit like me, for your own sanity you’ll have to talk it out. But I digress.

The story will grab you from page one until the last and not once will you be bored or skip pages.

“I wasn’t sure how long we could survive, but I knew I wasn’t dying on day one of the fucking zombie apocalypse.”

I got so attached to the characters in such a short amount of time it’s scary. I was right there with every one of them and even though very creepy at times, it was a great feeling and I loved it. Everyone of them reveal themselves as the story goes and you discover great people full of wonders. You’ll feel like part of their family.
I was so sad when something tragic happened to them. And more than once I felt as frustrated, sad and/or angered as the characters were.

This book broke my heart and lifted it too. It was an emotional roller coaster but boy did I enjoy it. I was more than impressed by this book and its author’s talent. If you were hesitating about reading this book, I cannot tell you enough to give it a chance because you won’t be disappointed. That is if you don’t mind reading about the end of the world as we know it of course.

I could repeat myself over and over now to tell you to grab a copy and start reading but I won’t. Hopefully, this review will do it for me. 🙂

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