Wednesday, March 9, 2016

"Elysium Dreams" by Hadena James

Elysium Dreams
(Dreams & Reality Book 2)
by Hadena James

Elysium Dreams is currently on tour with Enchanted Book Promotions. The tour stops here today for my review, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

He skins his victims alive, taking pleasure from their pain.
In the cold, dark nights of Alaska, a hunter is stalking his prey. Once found, he takes them into the woods and skins them alive, prolonging the experience as much as he can, but the satisfaction always wanes.
Aislinn Cain and the Serial Crimes Tracking Unit have just finished up another case when they get the call. Now they are packing their bags and heading for Alaska in March. The team must overcome the hostile locals and harsh climate to catch a killer before he strikes again.

Barren trees covered in icicles and a crunchy snow covered landscape gave the impression of being in a winter wonderland. Hard to believe a dead body had been found here the day before, unless you looked at the ground.
The hard, crunchy snow was covered in footprints.  Some of them were dirty, some clean, some buried under others, it looked like hundreds of people had come and gone down this path. My own snow-boots were leaving impressions as we continued forward, my footsteps falling in the impressions being left by Lucas’s shoes. There were already enough prints without adding mine. So I carefully walked in Lucas’s. His feet were almost twice the size of mine, making it easy.
Finally, the men stopped. I came up even with them and stared at the scene. There was a rope hanging from the tree with a hook on it. The rope looped over a branch and came down to where it was staked into the hardened ground.
There wasn’t nearly as much blood on the ground as I had expected. A few drops here and a medium sized puddle there were all that showed. There was another area though.  It was distinctly different from the other. It looked as if the snow had partially melted and refroze.
“What’s that?”  I pointed to the altered snow.
“His signature,” a trooper said to me. He walked over to it, I followed him.
“It doesn’t look like much,” I squinted to see if I could find any discernible features.
“We found skin here, laid out on the ground in the shape of a drawn back bow and arrow ready to be released. We removed the skin, but the salt melted the snow anyway.”

Praise for the Book
"In this installment we get a lesson in the minds of psychopaths, sociopaths, their differences and how their brains work. This book is not only told from Aislinn's point of view, but also from that of the killer. I liked that, it let you know what was going on in the killer's head, giving you insight as to why he was doing what he was doing. another great story. ready for the next one." ~ Amazon Reader
"This book is even better than the first ... the main characters really are a team now, and it's great to read the interaction between them and how they look out for each other ... the storyline itself is great, very well told, alternating between the marshal's and the killer's point of view. I can't wait to start with the next book in this great series." ~ Olga
"The story was great and the characters were very well drawn, especially Aislinn. I didn't want the book to end and had a tough time putting it down. Take my word for it, this is a must read!!" ~ baray
"Another amazing book by Hadena James in the Dreams & Reality series! The characters draw you in and easily become people you can envision sitting around bantering with. Once again, another sleepless night because once I started reading, I couldn't put this book down!" ~ Amazon Customer
"Once I started reading, I couldn’t stop. Not only does the author have an engaging writing style that truly pulls the reader in, the story is just that good too. The pacing was very fast, with the killer taking a new victim the same day a previous one was found. The investigation is puzzling, and there’s a continuous sense of suspense and foreboding, making it impossible to stop reading once you get started." ~ Majanka

My Review

By Lynda Dickson
Aislinn Cain is not your typical protagonist. For one, she has a personality disorder usually associated with serial killers; she's a sociopath. Maybe that's what makes her so good at catching them. Aislinn is now several months into her job as a member of the Serial Crimes Tracking Unit with the US Marshals. This time, the team travels to Anchorage, Alaska, to hunt down "The Flesh Hunter", a serial killer who skins his victims alive and leaves behind a signature of a bow and arrow made out of the victim's skin. Aislinn is a magnet for serial killers and this one already has his eye on her. Will she get out of this one alive?
Although this is a complete story, I suggest you read the first book (Tortured Dreams - it's FREE) in order to get to know the characters, as they are not introduced well in this book. There is mention of Aislinn's stalker and her propensity to attract serial killers, but what we learn in the first book is not re-hashed here. While the editing of this book is better than that of the first book, there are some character inconsistencies with first book: we are now told that Lucas has a photographic memory, but this was not mentioned before; he also has a major phobia of rats in the first book but barely bats an eyelid when he encounters one this time; Aislinn's debilitating migraines are a major part of this book but aren't even mentioned in the previous book.
The story is told mainly from Aislinn's point-of-view, interspersed with chapters from the killer's point-of-view (these chapters have names as opposed to numbers). While the identity of the killer is revealed in the second of these chapters, the author manages to maintain the suspense, as we still need to figure out how the SCTU will unmask him. We also get an interesting insight into the killer's motivations.
Chilling and suspenseful.
Warnings: graphic violence, coarse language, sex scenes.

About the Author
Hadena James began writing at the age of eight. By the time she graduated high school, she had published a couple of short stories in literary magazines. She completed writing her first novel at seventeen. Hadena began college as an English major, but quickly changed to a history major. However, she continued to write and took several extra classes in creative writing.
College showed her that while she could write short stories, novel writing was truly where her heart lay. She graduated from the University of Missouri with a degree in European History with minors in German and Russian Studies. During this time, she received a couple of contract offers from publishing houses, but ultimately turned them all down.
In August 2012, she self-published her first novel. In retrospect, she is appreciative of the contracts offers she received when she was younger, but believes she made the right decision with self-publishing.
When she isn’t busy writing, Hadena enjoys playing in a steel-tip dart league. She loves to travel throughout North America and Europe. Her favorite cities to visit are Chicago, Illinois and Berlin, Germany. She is an avid reader, with her favorites being classic literature; Edgar Allen Poe, HP Lovecraft, Gaston LeRoux, and Jane Austen; modern favorites include Clive Barker, James Patterson, Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams. Her favorite book is Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. She writes all of her books while listening to music and the bands tend to get "honorable mentions" within the pages. Some of her favorite bands are Nine Inch Nails, KMFDM, Rammstein, U2, Marilyn Manson, Oomph!, and Rob Zombie.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card.