Natasha McNeely's Author Blog

Never stop dreaming, 'cause the day you stop dreaming, is the day you stop living.

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Book Review: “The Transient (The Castle Trilogy, #1)” by M.W. Russell

Welcome to my review of The Transient by M.W. Russell!

I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. Stick around while I give you my opinion about it; you might even realize it’s something you’d like!

the transient bk 1 cover 1She never believed. Not in ghosts, not in friendship, and especially not in love.

When Melodie Gibson moves halfway around the world to upstate New York, her entire world turns upside down. Living in a quirky castle turned bed and breakfast, she finds herself confronted with someone watching her every move. That someone is Joseph, who captivates Melodie’s heart, fulfilling her dreams and drawing her into his world—a world that is beautiful, magical… and treacherous. It will take all the courage Melodie has to face those who will stop at nothing to rip them apart.

From the pages of a Victorian Gothic novel transplanted into modern times, The Transient is the first in The Castle Trilogy, a powerful fantasy romance series for teens.

Rating: 4/5 stars

This book is aimed at teenagers and that’s obvious when reading it. It touches on common issues teenagers have (such as moving and needing to make new friends, romance, etc) and guides readers through the novel.

The paranormal in this book drew me in. The concept is interesting and something I’m eager to read more of. It feels as if in this book, only the surface of the paranormal has been touched upon, and that there is much more to come in the future. I’m excited for that time and can’t wait to learn more about the unique mechanics and the paranormal that this trilogy has to offer.

This book got better as it progressed. The start, in my opinion, wasn’t as good as later parts of the novel. It felt boring, almost, and I had to push my way through it. Once I reached about the 10% mark, things started to pick up a bit and it just got better along the way. If you can get through the first few chapters, this novel definitely picks up the pace and becomes a lot more interesting.

Some bits felt a tad rushed, but other than that, I enjoyed reading this. The characters were diverse and I had a lot of fun envisioning the scenes with them. Some characters intrigued me more from the beginning and the author did well in making me dislike and like specific characters.

Overall, I’d say this is definitely worth the read. Some minor issues made me give it 4 rather than 5 stars, but I’m still looking forward to the second book – especially after revelations that happened at the end of this one!

Pick it up on Amazon in paperback ($11.99) or Kindle ($1.99): The Transient

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Book Review – “Fading Light: An Anthology of the Monstrous”

Things go bump in the night. That’s something we’re all told when we’re young and something we’re afraid of then, but eventually grow out of. But what happens if it’s actually true? What happens if, due to horrific events, you can no longer tell the difference between night and day?

That’s what this anthology of thirty short stories is about. First, enjoy the cover and the back cover synopsis, and then my review. It’s a doozy, I swear it.

The light has failed: the era of man is at its end.

Born of darkness, the creatures of myth, legend, and nightmare have long called the shadows home. Now, with the cruel touch of the sun fading into memory, they’ve returned to claim their rightful place amidst humanity; as its masters.

Fading Light collects 30 monstrous stories by authors new and experienced, in the genres of horror, science fiction, and fantasy, each bringing their own interpretation of what lurks in the dark.

Contributors: Mark Lawrence, Gene O’Neill, William Meikle, David Dalglish, Gord Rollo, Nick Cato, Adam Millard, Stephen McQuiggan, Gary W Olson, Tom Olbert, Mark Pantoja, Malon Edwards, Carl Barker, Jake Elliot, Lee Mather, Georgina Kamsika, Dorian Dawes, Timothy Baker, DL Seymour, Wayne Ligon, TSP Sweeney, Stacey Turner, Gef Fox, Edward M Erdelac, Henry P Gravelle, & Ryan Lawler, with bonus stories from CM Saunders, Regan Campbell, Jonathan Pine, Peter Welmerink, & Alex Marshall.

Phew! What a list. So many names, so many stories, and so much awesome. Without further ado, enjoy my review and if you’re intrigued, pick up the book!

Star Rating: 5/5

I received an Advance Reading Copy of this from one of the contributors, Mark Lawrence, in exchange for an unbiased and honest review. I intend to give just that.

First I’ll give an overview of my general thoughts concerning this anthology and then I’ll delve a bit deeper into a small handful of my favorite stories. Here goes!

General Thoughts
Horror isn’t a genre I’ve read much of; I’ll be the first to admit that. However, I’ve been reading more and more of it lately and this is an anthology I’d recommend to anyone intending to broaden their reading horizons.
It consists of a multitude of stories, each focusing on different topics, though each with that same dark touch that makes them so interesting to read. Be prepared to read about the sun dying, darkness creeping over the lands, and even some unconventional topics that I never saw coming.
Not all stories had a chilling effect on me or kept my interest as much, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t all good. There’s bound to be at least one story for every reading in here, so pick it up and give it a try!

“Wrath” by Lee Mather.
A man fighting his alcoholism decides it’s time to fight to regain custody of his son. What he doesn’t count on is the wrath of God coming to force people to believe.
A powerful and emotional story, this tale chilled me to the bones and inspired me all at the same time. One thing’s for sure: After reading this, I’d think twice about letting my potential-children out of my sight in the future.

“Born of Darkness” by Stacey Turner.
This story may be my favorite of them all. It goes from hopelessness as darkness ravages the land, to a spark of hope, a spark of light, illuminating the path that could lead to what everyone is hoping for; the light returning.
This short story has the makings of a brilliant novel, if not a series. My imagination went wild focusing on what things would happen to the characters in the months and years to come.

“Where Coyotes Fear to Tread” by Gef Fox.
This was a bit of a toss-up for me. It’s a brilliant story and like the previous one, I could see it as a full-length novel. It felt more like an epic fantasy with a touch of darkness to me. Because of that, it felt a bit out of place compared to the other stories, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t less good.
Personally, I would prefer it as a novel. It feels too short. The world and idea is too broad to be confined in a short story. All that aside, it has amazing potential and the characters are interesting, which is why it’s one of my favorites.

“Dark Tide” by Mark Lawrence.
The reason this made it into my list of favorites is quite simple. It focuses on hope – and self-sacrifice. It shows a man not willing to give up, even as darkness threatens to swallow him and his family.
The concept in this story in interesting and unique, which drew me into it immediately (and made me afraid of cellars, admittedly) and kept my focus until the very end. Speaking of the end: The ending is open and gives readers the chance to imagine for themselves where things will go from there.

Like I said before, all the stories were good in their own way; the four mentioned above were simply my personal favorites. Again, I highly recommend this anthology to anyone who enjoys reading about the darkness, and anyone looking to try something new.

If you’re interested, Fading Light is available at the following places:

Amazon (Kindle & Paperback) | Smashwords (eBook) | CreateSpace (Paperback)

Last but not least, add it on Goodreads!

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Werewolf’s Lair: Progress + Snippet!

Work on Werewolf’s Lair finally resumed this week. Two day and just over 6,000 words written, which put me at the one-third mark of the book. At nearly 30k, I’m making good progress and intend to finish the first draft by my August 31st deadline.

A lot of major scenes happened in the past few chapters, including new characters being introduced, emotions unraveling, and sheer bloody carnage. It wasn’t all pretty. Heck, most of it wasn’t. Paige’s luck in life is plummeting and spiraling out of control.

At this point, it’s hard to say how things will turn out for her.

Not that I don’t know, though.

Overall, I’m happy with how it’s progressing and can’t wait to dive deeper into the story – not to mention the two sequels that will follow. I’m having a lot of fun writing this and can’t wait to get back into it, after taking the day off today.

Relationships are definitely getting more interesting now and little curves are being thrown into the mix to shake things up. Before I end this post, here’s a little snippet for all of you to enjoy:

A hunt. It was a hunt.

And Matt was the hunted.

The scent was strong and grew stronger by the second. A mile away. They’d reach him before he even had a chance to flee. No matter his speed, he couldn’t outrun them. He didn’t stand a chance.

How had she been so oblivious? They paid attention to more than just their territory.

The thoughts whirled in her mind and by the time she made sense of them, the scent strengthened. Within moments, she saw Matt in the distance. He stood in a clearing – the same spot he told her he would wait for her at. He saw them; she knew he did. His gaze fixated on the incoming group of wolves.

He had less than thirty seconds.

Ideas. Options. What would she do? Paige snarled, an act natural enough that it came across as disgust at the sight of the vampire. Destroy her relationship with the pack by saving him? Let them kill him and betray the trust Matt and her had? If she helped Matt, they would both die. The odds were not in their favor. They’d brand Paige a traitor and kill her alongside the vampire she sacrificed her life to help.

They entered the clearing and Paul lowered himself mid-run to lunge at the vampire. Three seconds. He’d clamp his jaw around Matt’s neck in three seconds. His pack would grant him the highest honor for killing a hideous vampire – one of their enemies.

Paige thought back to her night with Matt and something tugged at her chest. She turned left and lunged just as Paul did the same. Her body slammed into his halfway through his lip, throwing him off course. He crashed to the ground and Paige followed him down. She landed on top of him and snarled, before she quickly found her way to her feet and backed away until she stood near Matt.

Her heart pounded in her chest, hard and fast. She didn’t think. Instinct threw her at Paul before she could make her decision. The pack stood opposite of her now, their bodies rigid and their stares intense.

Paul found his footing again and returned to stand in front of the others. He snarled, loud and ferocious. “How dare you,” she understood. “Traitor!”

That’s all for now. While you’re here, don’t forget to enter my giveaway of Dominant Race by Elisa Nuckle. The deadline is Sunday!


Book Review + Giveaway of “Dominant Race” by Elisa Nuckle!

On Sunday, July 1st, Elisa Nuckle released her novella, Dominant Race, the first in The Modified Trilogy. As a friend and beta reader, I was lucky enough to read the novella twice before its release and immediately after its publication, I purchased the Kindle version and read it a third time.

To celebrate the release of Dominant Race, I would like to share my review. Additionally, Elisa has graciously allowed me to host a giveaway of two copies of her new novella.

Book Description

Lilia is a genetically altered human – a modified – with special animal instincts and abilities. She is half wolf and half human under the microscope, and it shows in her territorial pack mentality.

When Lilia learns about a growing threat against all modified, she leaves home for the first time to join a militia that, like her and her family, survive in the fragmented remnants of the United States, the Old People country.

Their enemies? The Eighth General of the Greater Cities and the ever-expanding devolved, degenerate modified that are mindless killers, blind instinct and rage in human form. When a coup occurs in the First City, Lilia and the other defenders must choose: help reinstate a government in the business of killing their kind, or defend a radical modified in the business of killing everyone else?

Dominant Race is a 32,000 word novella and the first book in the Modified Trilogy.

Doesn’t that sound awesome? Well, trust me, it is. Here’s my review, if the description alone wasn’t enough to convince you:


Disclaimer: I am the author’s friend. I did, however, buy my own copy of the book to read and review and I do not regret sticking with her during the journey of writing this book, nor do I regret spending $2.99 to get it.

In Dominant Race, the author has created a dystopian world with scientific aspects and merged them alongside unique and interesting characters to create a world that I want to know more about.

Lilia, the main character, is strong-willed and a touch rebellious as she leaves behind the only life she ever knew to help others like her. She is a modified; a human with DNA enhanced by animal DNA. The story focuses on the modified struggle with the normals – the humans without genetic enhancement.

Between the war that blossoms as this novella progresses, there is love, heartbreak, and a family struggle. Elisa Nuckle tells only the basics of the Earth’s past, which leaves readers with plenty of room to envision the history of the Old People (the original humans on Earth) and how things turned into their current state.

Emotions get in the way and create a spectacular story that left me wondering how it will progress. It is war. A brutal war. Not everyone will survive. Judge for yourself if it’s a happy ending.

If you enjoy science fiction, dystopian, or fantasy, then I recommend this novella that contains a touch of all of the above.

4 1/2 stars from me. It is worth the read and I’m looking forward to the rest of the trilogy!

Dominant Race is available for purchase on:

Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Apple Store coming soon!

You can also add it to your shelf and review it on Goodreads.


Two random commenters will receive a copy of Dominant Race via Smashwords coupons. Leave a comment and you will be automatically entered into the drawing, which will happen via a random number generator.

The giveaway ends next Sunday, July 15th! Get your comments posted on this blog post before then. Winners will be announced in that day’s blog post.

To help the author along, it would be great if you could spread the word about the giveaway! Reviews after reading the novella would also be much appreciated. Reviews should be posted on at least one of the above-listed websites.

To wrap this up, follow Elisa Nuckle, without whom this giveaway wouldn’t be possible at all. Check out her websites:

WordPress | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Enjoy the giveaway and spread the word about it! And even if you don’t win, pick up Dominant Race; for only $2.99, it’s well worth it!

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Friday Fortune #7 – Book Review of “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins

Friday Fortune #7

Welcome to the seventh edition of Friday Fortune!

What is Friday Fortune? On Wednesdays and Sundays, my posts are generally serious and focus on specific aspects of writing or even life in general. Fridays are here to mix it up a bit. On Fridays, you’ll be surprised with giveaways, free snippets, general questions, and so much more! If you have any suggestions for questions I could ask or things I could do; let me know so we can make this interactive!

This week, I’ll be sharing my review of The Hunger Games, which I read back in May.

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Most of you have heard about the book and the series it belongs to you. Many of you have read it and others have seen the movie. Some of you even both. I figured I’d share my opinion in the humongous sea of opinions that are available on the internet. Enjoy the first review I’ve posted on my blog!

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is the first book in a trilogy. I will admit that I saw the movie first, but I always make sure to read the books of movies I see. No comparison will be drawn between the two.

The main character, Katniss, is a skilled hunter who provides food for her mother and younger sister. In the world of Panem, The Hunger Games take place once a year and force one boy and girl between 12 and 18 years old from each of the twelve districts to fight to the death. A chain of events leads to the fact that Katniss, this year, is the so called tribute for District 12.

The characters in this book are unique and diverse. Katniss is strong-willed and surrounded by a variety of characters that each have their own unique personality. I grew to love almost every one of them in some way or another.

My one issue is that we did not get the chance to learn more about the other tributes, aside from very basic information. While I do understand that Katniss, herself, could not learn much about them or else it would ruin the game, I still feel it would have been nice to know a bit more.

That aside, Suzanne Collins did a good job keeping me interested in the story. It was not packed with action at every moment; the start is much slower and there are moments of rest, despite the threat that looms overhead.

Overall, I enjoyed this book and will be reading its sequel soon. Four out of five stars due to small things that I feel could have been improved upon, like getting to know the other tributes, but it’s still a great book.

I recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good dystopian novel.

You can read all my reviews by keeping an eye on my Goodreads Author page. If not, look forward to the next review I share on WordPress!

Tune in next week for whatever I have up my sleeve for you in edition eight of Friday Fortune.