Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Kings, Queens, Heroes, & Fools by M.R. Mathias review

Join Hyden Hawk Skyler, and some great new friends, on an adventurous quest, over land and sea, to find the Silver Skull of Zorellin.

Fight with Mikahl, Ironspike, and fierce King Jarrek as they try to free the enslaved people of Wildermont from King Ra'Gren and his Dakaneese Overlords.

Patrol the skies with Shaella, and her new black dragon, Vrot. With her father's spell books, and the Priests of Kraw, she decides to aid King Ra'Gren, while scheming to free her lover, Gerard, from the hellish Nethers.

Demonic love, valiant battles, and foolhardy heroics await readers in this 175k word (600+ page) continuation of the epic 'Wardstone Trilogy' that was written in a Texas prison cell, by author, M. R. Mathias.

5 stars

Kings, Queens, Heroes, & Fools is the second book in the Wardstone Trilogy.  M.R. Mathias picks up where he left off in The Sword and the Dragon.  I am really enjoying this series and can't wait for the third book to be released.  This book keeps all the strengths of the first book, but with a lot of the world building out of the way the characters and story are really given room to shine.

Since I don't want to give away any plot spoilers I'll skip the description and just say that if you were on the fence about the first book this is definitely worth checking out and if you enjoyed the The Sword and the Dragon this will be right up your alley.

For more info check out the book's Amazon listing or visit the author's webpage.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Best Laid Plans by D.P. Prior review

The reavers are swarming and this time their prey is the supreme ruler of the Templum, the Ipsissimus himself.

With Shader dead and his piece of the Statue of Eingana in the hands of Shadrak the Unseen, the threat of the Unweaving of all Creation is one step nearer.

Dr Cadman realizes he’s in too deep and there’s nothing for it but to go on the offensive. If he’s to survive the coming war for the statue, what better allies could he have than an army of the living dead?

As Sektis Gandaw closes in and a clash of cultures threatens the land of Sahul, the philosopher Aristodeus still has ideas of his own that could decide the fate of all existence.

But with the passage to the heavenly realm of Araboth covered by the Abyss, nothing is as it should be. Aristodeus knows that even Shader’s death can be turned to his advantage; after all, it’s a long game, and he holds all the cards.

But even the best laid plans …

4.5 stars

Best Laid Plans is the second book in the Shader series and I felt there were some major improvements from the first book.  The world that Derek uses has a massive backstory and covers a huge amount of ground.  This lead to a lot of explanation in the first book that gave it a bit slower of a plot.  In this book you have a basic understanding of the world and characters already so the story is free to flow.  There is still some background revealed about some of the characters, but it is in small sections that directly link to a current situation leading to a much more even flow.  

I really am starting to enjoy Deacon Shader as a person.  He is a man conflicted, living his life as a warrior, while trying to hold onto religious ideals of peace.  This conflict leads to some inner turmoil which help to reveal the depth of the character, but unlike some Derek doesn't harp on it trying to drive home how conflicted Deacon is.  

The story being told is complex (I believe there are 6 planned volumes for the series) and follows several viewpoints.  If done incorrectly this can lead to passages of extreme boredom for me, but Derek manages to avoid that by keeping the action moving.  The fight scenes are fantastic, my favorite take place against the mawgs while at sea, and beautifully written.  This series is one that I will be following all the way to the end.  The end is the only thing that I didn't really like, as there is a huge action sequence in which the book ends with things being left pretty wide open.  I'm not a huge fan of cliff hangers as I'm not patient and don't like to wait for the next book in the series, but honestly that's a pretty minor complaint.

For more info go to the Amazon page for the book or visit the author's blog.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Jaguar Sun by Martha Bourke FREE today only!!

Just an FYI to all the faithful readers of the Indie Book Blog Jaguar Sun by Martha Bourke is free for today only.

December 21, 2012 - Will that fateful day destroy our world, or did the Mayans have something else in mind? Maya Delaney knows. Unfortunately.

Maya Delaney is just an average sixteen-year- old. She’s busy dealing with exams, her soon to be ex-boyfriend and fitting in. But Maya’s got bigger problems. She’s hiding a major secret from her dad and having strange visions she can’t control. In her struggle to figure out who she is, she learns that she is meant to fulfill an ancient Mayan Prophesy and bring forth a New Age on earth. Will the spirit magic Maya wields be enough to defeat Toltec, an evil society bent on keeping her from her destiny? Or will that destiny destroy her?

Check out my review of the book here.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Kingdoms of Evil by Daniel Bensen review

The Kingdoms of Evil cast a shadow of death and horror over half a continent and Freetrick Feend is next in line to be their king.

A college student in a comfortable and civilized nation not so different from yours, Freetrick suddenly finds himself kidnapped by monsters, engaged to a dominatrix, and put in charge of a country where Maniacal Laughter is a performance art and Assassination a competitive sport, with extra points awarded for creative cruelty.

As the new focus of all evil in the world, Freetrick must survive court intrigues, well-justified foreign invasion, internal rebellions, and a looming environmental catastrophe that might just kill everyone anyway. Because in a land of constant shadow, what do the monsters eat?

Aside from each other.

The Kingdoms of Evil is an epic fantasy humor novel for those of us who root for the bad guy.

4 stars

Kingdoms of Evil has a very unique story to it.  In simple terms the world is divided into three parts good, neutral, and evil.  When a kid attending school on the good side of the world receives a letter telling him he is the newest overlord of evil he figures it's some kind of prank.  None of his friends will fess up and things change radically when a chariot that seems to feel pain arrives to take him to his new kingdom.

This book has a great story, but it takes a bit to get to it.  Early on when Skree is showing Feerborg the ropes his groveling is a bit long winded for my taste.  Later in the book there is enough other stuff going on that it doesn't become a distraction, early on however it really kind of drones for a bit.  After getting through the beginning Feerborg's time in the Kingdom of Evil the book really picks up in pace and brings some humor to the mix.  Everything in evil is done horribly inefficiently and since he was raised in the Kingdom of Good it bothers Feerborg immensely.  While he is trying to survive the seemingly national pastime of assassinating the Emperor his friends begin journey's of their own.

I'm giving this book a solid 4 stars since as I said if you make it through the early stuff you have a real gem of a story.  The magic in the Kingdom of Evil is pretty awesome and there are plenty of examples of it to get the reader interested.  The systems used by the other peoples are good too, but the Evil was by far the coolest.  If you're looking for a fantasy book that takes a look at the evil side of life, this is a great choice.  Feerborg isn't a bad guy, he could even be considered a good guy, but being surrounded by evil beings that he is expected to lead gives the story a different feel than most.

For more info check out the book Amazon listing or go to the book's webpage.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Cadman's Gambit by D.P. Prior FREE for the next two days.

That's right the first book of the Shader series by D.P. Prior is going to be available free on Amazon for Thursday and Friday only.  This is a great book and was recently discussed by the Indie Book Club to check out the discussion click here.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Trial of Tears by Chris Semal review

‘Pulp Fiction’ meets ‘This Is Spinal Tap’ in this tough, funny, sexy and fast-paced story.

Pete Watts is a former undercover narcotics cop who got way too close to his job. He now runs a music rehearsal studio in which all manner of eccentric musicians come through. His soon to be ex-girlfriend is a talented singer with a sleazy manager who is in the habit of giving his clients drug habits, occasionally overdosing them to move their recordings up the charts, with the full support of the shady entertainment company for whom he works.

This universe of people is inexorably drawn into a war between two violent drug gangs, viewed through the perspective of the Napoleonic leader of one gang. He has recently signed on a strange, but beautiful ex-mercenary, who wears makeup in the form of multi-colored tears running down her face. These tears are, in fact, decals on which different poisons are concealed, hence the title. Some survive the Trial of Tears, some don’t. The story’s taut climax is set in a posh townhouse in which only the courageous will emerge unscathed.

While it certainly has its share of humor, action and suspense, it is also a story of friendship and redemption, as well as being a love letter to New York City.

4 stars

Trial of Tears follows Pete, an ex-undercover narcotic cop who now runs a small time recording studio.  While out enjoying himself with some friends at a local club he finds a member of the performing band dead in the bathroom of an OD, bringing his old life rushing back to him.  

I really enjoyed this book a lot.  I have never been to New York myself, but can tell that the city has great meaning for the author.  The descriptions of the places and the nightlife are vivid and well done.  The characters are really the highlight of the book though.   Pete and his best friend Styx are two pretty average guys, which contributes greatly to their appeal.  They have a great back and forth with their dialogue, leading to a good amount of humor being thrown into a book that is pretty serious in nature.  Most of the bad guys are pretty serious sociopaths who are believable enough to make the thought of them a bit frightening.  I know I never want to meet people who would make jokes while lighting a homeless man on fire.  

The story flows smoothly and did a wonderful job pulling me into Chris's world.  By the end of the book I was taking my copy with me everywhere I went to see how it ended.  I checked his webpage and saw that there is a sequel in the works and that is something I will be checking out for sure.

For more info check out the book's Amazon listing or go to the author's website.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Wind-Scarred by Sky Corbelli review

Ezra Hawkins is going to change the world.

Although, honestly, there isn't that much world left to change. After the Great War that nearly destroyed the Earth, mankind has been reduced to a single city: Sanctuary. Hidden from the ravages of the world, the last scions of humanity have eked out their existence through hard work and ingenuity, managing survival, maybe even a little happiness.

But Ezra Hawkins, last heir to the legacy of wormhole technology, will show them something that no human in over a thousand years has known: hope.

This is a story of science against magic, of people who can bend the elements to their will and the shadowy forces that police them. And most of all, this is the tale of a young man desperate to learn the true nature of the past, and of a planet that has its own ideas about the future.

5 stars

I will have to say that Wind-Scarred is the beginning of what has become one of my favorite series this year.  Granted only two books have been released at this point, but I've been drawn in by the magnificent characters and the unique story.  Ezra Hawkins is a member of the privileged elite, his family legacy has set him up for life and he has the brains to continue to honor their memory.  

In the past there was an event that caused humanity to isolate and protect itself from complete destruction.  Several generations later they are still living in their safe haven, but Ezra believes that the world is ready for re population.  He designs an experiment to get him outside the protective dome that covers the city and sees the planet is in wonderful shape and he even sees some people living peacefully.  Upon his return to his domed city he is ready to reveal the truth of the outside world to all the people and expects to be a hero, but his triumphant return changes into something he never saw coming.  

When Ezra hooks up with the group that he goes on his adventures with the story really comes alive.  The interactions are fantastic and the book is filled with pop-culture references that add a solid layer of humor to the book.  The magic system is what really sets the book apart, but since it's not really explained until a bit later I don't want to go into a lot of detail with it.  It is based around the major elements and lightning is added as a fifth.  Another excellent aspect of this book is the advanced technology.  There are some amazingly cool toys that everyone gets to play with and Sky has a strong mathmatical background so there seems to be some solid theory behind some of the stuff.  The fact that Ezra is vastly intelligent surrounded by people who are better fighters than him also leads to more creative action sequences than just two people swinging swords or shooting guns.  All of these things combine to make a book that has everything it takes to succeed and thrive. Do yourselves a favor and take the time to check this one out if you are a fan of fantasy at all.

For more info check out the books Amazon listing or check out Sky's blog.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Calling all authors, please help if you can!

JH Sked a friend and featured author here on the Indie Book Blog is currently engaged in a very serious project and looking for donated short story contributions to go into a collection to raise money for a young woman with a brain tumor.  She has a couple of posts on her blog with more info about the situation for info on the girl she trying to help check this out.  For details on how to contribute a story (you retain full rights to the work it's just a donation to the collection for the purpose of fund raising) use this link.

I can't imagine the difficulty of this situation and since I don't write anything but reviews I'm a little useless.  However if you are willing to donate a story to the collection and are waiting for a review from me, I will give you a priority status and move you to the top of my TBR pile.

If you do this please leave me a comment on this post with what book you are having reviewed by me and I will coordinate with JH for confirmation of a contribution.  Then depending on how many people jump in on this I will get the reviews done ASAP.

Thank you very much for your time everyone.

Edit:  Here is the submission instructions from the FAQ JH has on her blog

How do I submit?
Please send submissions through as an attachment on a word document to jhsked (at) Please also include a short bio about yourself, and any other work you have available - this will go into the book as a bit of a showcase for you.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Shadowed Path by Simon Stone review

In the west the ancient empire of Prast crumbles, an old man too sick to climb out of his deathbed. To the east an upstart nation of sun worshipers spread their heathen ways, swallowing up city-states and small kingdoms as they tread ever closer to Prast’s borders. War is inevitable. A war greater and more bloodthirsty than any seen since the old gods left the world.
And yet, war is as nothing compared to the greatest danger.

The Shadowland.

A vast swathe of corrupted jungles, deserts and mountains, saturated in malevolence. Ever since the time of myth it has separated east from west, a mark on the world to remind all men of the anger of their gods. Now it has begun to spread, spewing out its deadly creatures on the nations, threatening to corrupt and consume everything.

Only one man carries the key to stopping the Shadowland’s progress. A man battered and scarred from his years alone in its deadly grasp. To stop it he must first make a friend of his greatest enemy…

…and then he must enter the Shadowland again…

4 stars

The Shadowed Path takes place in a Roman like world starting out with a gladiatorial scene that unveils the most unique race of the book, the inhumanii.  This race specializes in guiding people through the horribly dark forest that separates the Parsian Empire from the rest of the world.  The warriors are called waystalkers and they are completely unable to raise their arms against the empire ensuring their continuing slavery.

The story follows a group of merchants travelling through the forest in order to make their fortunes.  When their inhumanii guides turn out to be fake the caravan gets attacked and almost wiped out.  There are only three survivors who have bonded for life after making it through the trials in the forest.

I really enjoyed the book as the similarity to Roman times has always intrigued me.  The characters were well done although towards the end I really didn't like the way that Tyacles started to act.  The special armor that the waystalkers used was also a very cool idea that I would like to see some more info on as the series progresses. This is one that I will be following this series for certain.

For more info check out the Amazon page or go to the author's website.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Nameless Dwarf Ominbus by D.P. Prior review

The Nameless Dwarf Omnibus contains the first three books of the highly acclaimed Chronicles of the Nameless Dwarf:

The Ant-Man of Malfen
The Axe of the Dwarf Lords
The Scout and the Serpent

Following the massacre of the dwarves in their ravine city, the Nameless Dwarf pursues the survivors to the brigand town of Malfen, where he learns they have crossed the mountains into the lands of nightmare. His only intention is to save his people from extinction, but he's the last person they'd want to find them.

4.5 stars

The Nameless Dwarf Omnibus contains the first three stories following the dwarf known only as Nameless.  If you have read some of Derek's other work than you may be familiar with him as he has been a companion of Shadrak the Unseen and Deacon Shader.  

The book starts out with Nameless being a very mysterious figure who has hired a boy from the Night Hawks (a criminal group) to help him find information on where his people have fled to.  Nils, his companion, is the son of the leader of the guild out to prove his worth as a man.  During the journey they meet up with Silas, a magic user, who is studying the stolen grimoire of the Liche Lord Otto Blightey.  At the end of Ant-Man Ilesa joins up with the group as well.  She is a woman who seems to have some level of skill with shapeshifting/illusion magic.  As the stories progress the characters true natures are revealed as their stories are unraveled.  Derek has done a wonderful job keeping the main story on point while gradually revealing the backgrounds of all the people involved.  

The book starts out with a lot of information and someone who is unfamiliar with the world Derek has created might struggle a bit at first.  As the book progresses everything comes together beautifully and by the end I didn't want to stop reading for any reason.   I will also be checking out the next story in the series, The Ebon Staff as soon as possible to see what will happen.

For more information on the book series check out the Amazon listing or the author's blog.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Four: A Zombie Novel by Zack Gorlick review

Friendship tested in the zombie apocalypse.

Alec, Jeff, Scott and Kale are childhood friends who experienced a life changing event during high school. Upon their senior year they had a falling out and went their separate ways. Nearly five years later the friends decide to have a reunion. Unfortunately, the night of the reunion occurs when the dead start to rise.

Now, joined by other survivors and a squad of Marines, the friends try and survive the beginning of the zombie apocalypse. Little do they know, the affects of the event that has haunted them since high school, just might be their only hope for survival, and the salvation of mankind...unless the issues from their past get in the way first.

4 stars

Four starts out with a similar feeling to a lot of zombie stories.  A vault is opened in California and the undead pour out of it and begin to bite everyone they see, turning those bitten.  The story differs as the mysterious secret a group of four friends share gets revealed.  The friends: Alec, Kale, Jeff (aka Homer), and Scott have grown apart since highschool and after Jeff nearly dies in a submarine accident decide to have a reunion.

At first the secret is alluded to with no real information being revealed.  Eventually though the truth comes out and the story takes a major turn away from what would be found in a standard zombie novel.

There are a few disclaimers to go with this book.  There is a lot of graphic violence and sex.  There is also a fair amount of profanity.  This didn't bother me, but I could see it not being great for all audiences.  Another thing is the book could use a little tightening up.  There were a typos and word misuses (ie coward used instead of cowered) not enough to wreck the story, but enough to pull a little attention away.

The book had some really good aspects as well.   I really liked the way the book was formatted.  It was divided into books that were broken into short chapters.  The view switched between following one of the four friends allowing the action to be covered from various locations.  There is a lot going on in the story and longer chapters could have made it seem like you were reading about the same time frame over and over.  I also enjoyed the characters, I didn't like all of them necessarily, but I think that was sort of the point.  There were times when they were jerks and the fact that I didn't like them spoke to the realism of their actions.  Finally the twist that is employed for the creation of the zombies, I'm not going to give anything away, I'll just say that it's not the typical government cover up of a super virus.

With the popularity of zombies right now I can see this book doing very well.  So if you are a fan on zombie and want a new twist on the creatures pick this one up.

For more info check out the book on Amazon or the publisher's website.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Spoonful by Chris Mendius review

Michael Lira has a problem. Living in the Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago during the late nineties, he sees everyone else getting ahead except for him and his friends, a bunch of junkies, artists and has-beens. Between slamming dope and slipping away for trysts with Lila, a free-spirited painter who strips to pay the rent, Michael has what he needs but it s not enough. He wants to make a real move. When he meets two frat boys from Northwestern University looking to score, Michael sees his chance and takes it. With the help of Sal, his partner in crime, Michael pulls together a bundle of money. After getting the hard sell from a shady broker, he puts it in the stock market. Everyone else is getting rich. Why can t he? One hot tip leads to another until it all erupts in a bloody confrontation that will change his life forever.

4.5 stars

Spoonful follows Michael and his best friend Sal.  The two are roommates who share an addiction to heroin and aren't above the occasional illegal activity to score some cash to support the habit.  When they are introduced to some local college kids who are looking for a drug hookup Michael decides to start dealing and begins to make pretty good money.  A fight at a party results in Michael and Sal getting arrested where they decide to get clean and focus on improving their lives.  A customer of Michael's is a stockbroker and convinces him to invest a portion of his profits, promising huge returns.  He decides to take a chance and gives the guy some cash which immediately starts to grow.  Things are really looking good for the two friends, but what goes up must come down....

The beginning of this book really reminded me a lot of the movie Requiem for a Dream.  The similarities of some friends who begin to sell drugs and turn their lives around is the big comparable point.  This book is really well written and sucked me into the dark world of drugs in Chicago.  Mike and Sal both seem like pretty decent guys overall who would probably be pretty stand up if not for their need to score heroin.  They are fiercely loyal to their friends and not afraid to risk bodily harm while standing up for each other.  The book really took some unexpected turns in the second half and had me reading as quickly as possible in order to see what was going to happen.  The end of the book really took me by surprise I really had no idea that what happened was coming.  

This book isn't for everyone for sure.  It features a lot of graphic drug usage and there is a fair amount of sex as well.  It is however well worth a read for people who aren't overly offended by those kind of situations.  Finishing the book really made me think about life in general and how easily life can be changed.  

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Jaguar Sun by Martha Bourke review

December 21, 2012 Will that fateful day destroy our world, or did the Mayans have something else in mind? Maya Delaney knows. Unfortunately. Maya Delaney is just an average sixteen-year-old. She's busy dealing with exams, her soon to be ex-boyfriend and fitting in. But Maya's got bigger problems. She's hiding a major secret from her dad and having strange visions she can't control. In her struggle to figure out who she is, she learns that she is meant to fulfill an ancient Mayan Prophesy and bring forth a New Age on earth. Will the spirit magic Maya wields be enough to defeat Toltec, an evil society bent on keeping her from her destiny? Or will that destiny itself destroy her?

4 stars

The story of Jaguar Sun follows a young woman named Maya.  She is a bit socially awkward and very self conscious of the fact, it doesn't help that she has a Hispanic background in New Mexico and speaks no Spanish at all.  Luckily for her she still has a few very strong friends.  Alyssa and Damian are twins who have been around Maya for a long time and are wonderfully supportive, Matt is her boyfriend and dream guy.  When Maya begins to be haunted by a shadowy figure that has been figuring in her dreams lately she thinks she is losing her mind.  She goes to see her grandmother who is a Mayan elder for advice.  Her grandmother tells her she may be becoming a shifter, and as the story progresses Maya discovers that there is a lot riding on her ability to master her new found abilities.

I really enjoyed the role that shifters had in this book.  It is a fairly rare occurrence, but not at all unheard of.  They face some negative societal stigmas and some live normal lives without revealing their abilities.  Maya's manifestation brings about some internal strife that would be expected in any teenager whose life gets turned upside down.  The only aspect of the characters that I didn't really enjoy is the relationship between Matt and Maya.  It was a bit too teen romance novely for me.  The seemed to be inseparable and distance actually caused them discomfort.  There is an explanation for this provided in the book, but it was still a bit overdone for me.  

There are many good aspects to appeal to readers highschool and up.  The story is well done, the characters are easy to relate to, and there are multiple cultures that are highlighted.  The Mayan culture is at the forefront, but there is also a lot of other South American cultures mentioned and Damian is gay and totally comfortable with it.  There is a scene where he gets bullied and someone stands up for him and I really liked to see that acceptance displayed in a highschool setting. The variety of shifter is also very cool and the spiritual magic that Maya learns about as the story progresses seems to have very cool applications.  This is a story that I plan to follow to the conclusion and I am really looking forward to the second volume.

For more information check out the book on Amazon or visit the author's blog.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Gifted Ones by Lisa Vaughn review by Shaylin

This review was written for this blog by my 16 year old niece.  This is her first contribution, but more could be coming to get a more age appropriate feel for books aimed at that audience.

Lisa was conservatively raised in a Catholic family in no-where middle America, where excitement is scarce and dreams are for sleeping. Little did she know, at age thirteen, she would suddenly find herself on a totally different path. Through an unlikely chance meeting of a fellow classmate, she's surprisingly mesmerized, almost consumed, to befriend a girl who is obviously from the other side of the tracks...the cool side. Lisa does whatever she has to just to be accepted into this small club of coolness. Little did she realize, she was signing up for a lot more than social status. The two best friends find themselves innocently taking their relationship to a foreign level neither had experienced or saw coming. A rollercoaster ride littered with choices and challenges Lisa never fathomed facing, especially in no-where middle America. She will find out what she is made of as she faces the consequences and struggles that come along with going against the grain. Throughout their six year relationship, you will witness a touching story of human nature at it's best...and at it's worst. Showing just how far the human spirit can be challenged and pushed to a point where your “fight or flight” instincts naturally kick in. Struggling just to survive in a world where you are not like everyone else, but at the same time you really are. The daily struggles- both internal and external- are exhausting, yet necessary in their quest for one simple human Finally breaking through all constraints that hold them back, reaching levels of one-ness that few actually obtain in a lifetime with their partner...only to find once they've reached that special place, it's not quite the right fit...for one of them, at least. This contemporary story will lead the reader through highs and lows, giving insight to the every day challenges of the socially unaccepted, which will no doubt leave them rooting for the underdog. A true story of human resilience and the power of love...plain and simple.

3 stars

The Gifted Ones by Lisa Vaughn is the memoir of Lisa's life.  The book dabbles in her childhood, but focuses on her adolescent years.  As the book develops Lisa shares her struggles with her sexuality, family, relationships, and drugs.

Vaughn did a pretty great job at telling her story in this book.  It was both heartwarming and entertaining.  Lisa's great use of detail made her very relate able as a character.  Her descriptive writing made me, as a reader, feel like I was right there with her throughout the book.  The only downside to this book would be the constant profanity, it really took away from the writing.  I do not usually find memoirs appealing, however Lisa was able to write her's in such a fun, intriguing way that I really enjoyed reading it.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Blood of Requiem by Daniel Arenson review

Long ago stood the kingdom of Requiem, a land of men who could grow wings and scales, breathe fire, and take flight as dragons. Requiem ruled the sky.

But Dies Irae, a tyrant leading an army of griffins, hunted Requiem's people, burned their forests, and shattered their temples. Requiem fell. This ancient land now lies in ruin, its halls crumbled, its cries silenced, its skeletons littering the burned earth.

In the wilderness, a scattering of survivors lives in hiding. The griffins still hunt them, and every day promises death. Will Requiem's last children perish in exile... or once more become dragons and fly to war?

3 stars

Blood of Requiem by Daniel Arenson tells the story of the Vir Requis or weredragons.  When the first son, Dies Irae, of the royal family lacked the shape changing gift that would have made him the next King his inheritance was given to his younger brother Benedictus.  This made Dies Irae upset in a way there really aren't words for.  He killed his father and stole a magical amulet that allowed him to control all the griffins of the world.  With that Dies Irae began his quest to annihilate the Vir Requis.  Early in the book we are shown the the battle that amounts to the final stand of the Vir Requis, with them being led by Benedictus and the humans and Griffins following Dies Irae.  The battle is long and bloody with the weredragons being on the losing side.  When Benedictus gets a chance to kill his brother, he cannot do it and flies away to hide.  As the story progresses you are shown that a very small number of the Vir Requis did survive by living in hiding.

This book has one of the strongest starts of any book I have read this year.  Daniel is a master of description and he can truly bring the images from the book to life.  The deeper into the book I got however, the less into the book I became.  The characters that showed such promise in the beginning began to be a bit flat.  The descriptions of the environments and the battles remained top notch, but I found myself wanting to understand the characters a bit better.  They seemed to be stuck in a repetitive cycle of fight, lose, flee.  There was a little bit of a twist thrown in dealing with the girl Dies Irae claims as a daughter, but she has shown herself to be a terrible person so I was not as interested in her character.

This book has many positive aspects to appeal to a variety of readers.  As I mentioned earlier Daniel is truly gifted in sharing his vision of the world he has created.  The Vir Requis is an outstanding race with some wonderful abilities and can draw in many fantasy fans.  Dies Irae is a truly evil villain and his daughter looks to be following in his footsteps.  The cover art is also absolutely amazing.  I just wish the characters had been a bit more dynamic and the fight sequences had a bit more variety.

I will probably pick up the second book in the series to see where the story goes.

Review copy provided by author.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Scene by R.M. Gilmore review

"It did seem a little ridiculous that two female reporters were headed off to solve a crime that no detective could. The entire thing began to sound like a cheesy made for TV movie, where good defeats evil, and all is well.
I still wasn't one-hundred percent sure what the evil was in this story, and if I was the good, how the hell was I supposed to defeat it.
A stake and hammer might do the trick."

In the opening novel of R.M. Gilmore's 'Odyssey of the Occult' series, entitled "The Scene", we find Dylan Hart in her hometown of Hollywood, California. The bodies of seven exsanguinated prostitutes have been found from the Central Valley to Southern California. The media has dubbed them the "Vampire Massacres".

Dylan has decided to cash in on the tragedy and write a true crime novel. She begins her odyssey with research into the underground vampire lifestyle. All seemed to be going as planned, and as long as fiction can keep its ass away from fact, she should be alright.

But let's face it, someone is draining women of all their blood.
There is no way in hell it's going to end pretty.

4 stars

When I was first contacted by R.M. to review her book, The Scene, I was a bit wary.  A vampire novel with some reviews talking about a possible romantic angle?  That could go horribly wrong for my taste.  Luckily I gave the book a shot and read the sample.  This story is nothing like I expected, it would actually be hard to get further from what I thought would happen.  

First off the characters, Dylan is a woman who is not what normally appears in books (at least the ones I have read).  She is a pretty strong female character that has times of doubt, but manages to do so without becoming whiny and needy.  That would have been a signal for me to stop reading that I never received.  The self confidence she has seems totally realistic, there are some situations where she is totally in control, but when she is out of her comfort zone she is not afraid to lean on people around her to get the job done.  Tatum is Dylan's best friend and sounding board.  They are also a comic duo that works pretty well to keep things interesting as the story progresses.  Cyrus is the male underwear model that seems to be a little too interested in Dylan for her own comfort and Mike is her over protective, still hasn't let go ex-boyfriend.  Out of that cast of characters Mike is the only one that is pretty much what you would expect.  He is over protective, jealous, and a bit predictable in his role.  

Second the story.  Honestly this is a very difficult thing to discuss without giving things away.  I'll say that Dylan and Tatum team up to investigate some strange killings that have been happening.  The victims, all women, have been found totally drained of blood with their bodies dumped.   Dylan is thinking that with the current vampire craze she can write a book based around the events and make a mint so she leans on Mike who is a detective on the case.  After an epic fail while attempting to meet someone who can give her some insight to the vampire sub-culture in L.A. she enlists Tatum's aid in finding a good club where she may get some decent info.  Enter Cyrus into the story.  When the amazingly gorgeous man turns out to be the figure from the underwear billboard near her place Dylan can't believe that he is actually talking to her and for the most part ignoring Tatum.  When he offers to get them into an exclusive club that caters to the vampire lifestyle she couldn't have turned him down if she wanted to.  That begins a whole lot of strange discoveries and plot twists that had me guessing for the length of the book.

The only real downside I found was there were a few parts towards the middle where the mystery became less fun and more annoying.  Again I can't go into details without spoiling anything, but I will say that by the end I was totally involved again and I am 100% going to be looking into the second book when it becomes available.

If you are looking for a book that will keep you guessing with excellent characters and a good amount of humor be sure to check this one out.

Get a copy of the book on Amazon or check out the author's website for more details.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Interview with George Kittleman author of The Great Peace

Hi George, thanks for taking the time to stop by the Indie Book Blog and share a little about your new book The Great Peace. First off lets give the readers a bit of background, so tell us little about yourself.

Originally from upstate New York, I've called San Francisco home for the last eight years. By day, I run a boutique law firm with a focus on the art and entertainment industries. At night, I write fiction and compose music. Occasionally, I sleep.

Are you still active in any bands?

I'm mostly a solo artists these days, although I occasionally collaborate with old friends back east. Slowly but surely I've been recording a new album, which I'm hoping to finish sometime this summer.

So you have a pretty impressive background in the arts. Do the characters have any basis off of people you have actually met?

Just about all of the characters are based on real people to some extent. With the exception of one or two, they're mainly composites that I stitched together from different sources then caricatured and exaggerated to fit the narrative.

Why did you go with name Droit Moral for the name of the oppressive faction in the book?

Droit Moral is an old French legal term that gives artists the right to control the look and feel of their  work. For example, let's say you own the Mona Lisa (congrats on being uber-rich!)  Ownership doesn't necessarily entitle you to, say, draw a mustache on her, no matter how much you may want to. This idea of artistic control and integrity jives well with the hardline beliefs of the book's revolutionaries, who take it to illogical extremes, of course. As a practical consideration: it also looks really cool when written out, so I went for it.

A major theme in the book is the struggle for art as an expression of the individual vs art that is manufactured without true expression. Where did the inspiration for that come from?

I think making art is inherently a selfish act, even if the desire for expression is coming from a genuine place. So when we talk about an art-world or an art-scene, we're really just talking about a group of disparate individuals bound together by what they do, not necessarily how they do it. In The Great Peace I wanted to explore the consequences of artistic hegemony and see what happens when everyone adopts a single dogma. As you can imagine, the results aren't pretty.

Do you have any more books on the horizon?

I'm about halfway through the first draft of a new novel, which is something of a departure from The Great Peace. So far, so good.

Any idea of when we can expect to see the next project?

Ideally I'd like to see my next book release sometime next year, but that's probably a little unrealistic. I'm just going to keep plugging away and see what happens.

Well I'd like to thank George for taking the time to stop by and answer a few questions.  Be sure to check out the book as it was an entertaining read for sure.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Great Peace by George Kittleman review

A small American city is under siege. A group of starving artists- led by a reclusive, sweatpants-wearing billionaire- are determined to overthrow the government by any means necessary. With little hope for peace, a neurotic young gadabout- fresh off a failed suicide attempt- takes it upon himself to save his hometown from ruin. Along the way he encounters revolutionaries, nitwits, weirdos, perverts, dreamers, and something called Danceramics. Humorous, absurd, and often profound, The Great Peace takes on art, politics, philosophy, and class with unflinching verve and wit.

4 stars

When I started to read The Great Peace I'll admit I really wasn't sure what to expect.  The first couple of chapters kept me guessing as I started the book, but the more I read the more I was pulled into the story.  Rufus Wiggin is a man whose father made enough money that he was comfortably distant from the reality of life.  Though when Polo Younger starts to build his power Rufus sees his frivolous lifestyle diminish.  His legendary parties begin to fall to the wayside and eventually he runs out of things to amuse himself with.  He decides to head to a local tavern and make a grand gesture by taking his own life after a poetic speech, dreaming of his own martyrdom.  After his attempt fails on every conceivable level, he lives and no one really cared that he tried to kill himself, he decides to watch the band that is playing their final show ever.  The music speaks to him and awakens a desire for life that he had been missing.  His first interaction with the band members really doesn't go according to plan, although it does have some decent hilarity for the reader.  

As Rufus gets to know the band members he becomes more conscious of the struggle that people who don't have a nearly unlimited bank account are going through.  Polo Younger worked his way through the bureaucracy using the apathy of existing members with his extremely deep pockets to start a movement giving him as much if not more power than the city council.  He has his own thug squad that patrols the street and make sure that no unlawful art is being produced.  

The book has a very dystopian feel reminiscent of 1984 by Orwell.  There are also several humorous descriptions used by Rufus to describe Polo.  I'll have to say I was surprised how interested in the book I became since it had such an unusual (for me) story.  The way the characters were written and the interactions they had were where the appeal came from for me.  Rufus was a guy who was evolving through the story, first he just wanted to change and thought a simple thing would do it, but he actually began to see why evolution was required.  Satch was also a great character, although he mainly provided a bit of comic relief.  

The author has a lot of time invested in various forms of art so there is some insider knowledge when it comes to some of the things discussed in the book.  Personally I have no talent in any kind of artistic endeavor so I never would have thought about a lot of the more serious aspects of this book without being exposed to them through reading it.  The book does a wonderful job of presenting a rather serious topic without taking itself too seriously.  The conflict of freedom of expression vs censorship from those in power is a prevalent theme through the book, although to be honest I'm not sure censorship is actually the best word to describe the situation.  This is a great book if you liked 1984 or if you are just looking for a unique story set in a slightly altered America.

If this sounds like a book for you check out the Amazon listing, or get more info from the author's webpage, or you can always stop back by tomorrow for my interview with the author here on the Indie Book Blog.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Shadow on the Wall by Pavarti K. Tyler review

Recai Osman: Muslim, philosopher, billionaire and Superhero?

Controversial and daring, Shadow on the Wall details the transformation of Recai Osman from complicated man to Superhero. Forced to witness the cruelty of the Morality Police in his home city of Elih, Turkey, Recai is called upon by the power of the desert to be the vehicle of change. Does he have the strength to answer Allah's call or will his dark past and self doubt stand in his way?

Pulling on his faith in Allah, the friendship of a Jewish father-figure and a deeply held belief that his people deserve better, Recai Osman must become The SandStorm.

In the tradition of books by Margaret Atwood and Salman Rushdie, Shadow on the Wall tackles issues of religion, gender, corruption and the basic human condition. Beautiful and challenging, this is not a book to miss.

4.5 stars

First off I will say that this book is not for everyone as the author does not pull any punches when she is describing the despicable acts that are perpetrated by the villains in this book.  It has a very dark, gritty feel that helps to add a real emotional edge, but is not suitable for all audiences.

Shadow on the Wall is a new take on the Batman mythos.  A man who is very rich through his families dealings has tragedy strike very close to him and totally changes the way he looks at his world.  When the people who are charged with enforcing the laws are using their authority to get whatever they want someone must stand up.  That very scenario is what awakens Recai, whose family money has sheltered him from the truth of what is going on around him, to the tragedies that normal people are experiencing almost daily.

I enjoyed this book quite a bit, even though at times I was forced to cringe at the actions taken by certain characters.  Pavarti made her city have a very distinct, realistic feel to it, while hinting at a bit of otherworldly possibilities.  The characters were made to inspire strong emotional reactions as the bad guys were horrific people who go through life holding the power to rape and kill as they please without any real consequence.  A lot of the good guys in the book are just normal people who are resisting the oppression of their society in small but powerful ways.  This makes them a lot easier to respect, as they show kindness when it could mean their death.  That kind of courage is a rare and powerful thing.

Recai starts out a bit naive, but that is quickly taken from him.  When he finds himself after tragedy he is a vastly changed man who wants to restart the humanitarian projects that his father founded.  He is also looking to help clean up his city in a much more direct way.  There is a bit of mystery about Recai as he begins his career as a hero, I'm not going to spoil anything (hopefully) but I will say I am very curious to see where the series goes.

Pick up a copy of the book on Amazon or get more info from the author's website.