Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Review of Enchantment by Thaisa Frank

The short fiction of Thaisa Frank has captivated readers for two decades, and now many of those pieces are collected in one volume, along with several new stories. In the title story, a lonely mother and housewife orders an enchanted man from a website called The Wondrous Traveler, who arrives with instructions for use and a list of frequently asked questions about enchantment. In “Thread,” two circus performers who pass through the eye of a needle become undone by a complicated love triangle. In “Henna,” a young writing teacher must contend with an exotic student who will not write, her hands covered in dye and her fingers “sprouting innumerable gardens.” And in “The Loneliness of the Midwestern Vampire,” the undead descend upon the heartland of the country and become accustomed to its friendlier way of life, attending barn raisings and feasting on cattle in an attempt to normalize their darker passions.

These are vibrant, compelling stories that examine the distance between imagination and reality, and how characters bridge that gap in their attempt to reach one another.

3.5 stars

Enchantment by Thaisa Frank is a collection of short stories.  As with any similar collection there are stories that stand out to me as more enjoyable than others, but this is a solid collection overall.  A good portion of the stories take place in the world we are very familiar with, but with a hint of the fantastic mixed in.  They also deal with a lot of strong emotions love, loneliness, and death are common themes.  The stories within vary greatly in length giving a wide selection to choose from.  This is a great book for people who are looking for thought provoking stories filled with powerful emotions.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Review of Red Leaves and the Living Token by Benjamin Burrell

Doctors tell Raj that his son Emret won't survive his illness. As Raj struggles to prepare himself and Emret for the inevitable, he's confronted by Moslin, his son's nurse, who’s been filling Emret’s head with fairytales about heroic quests and powerful disease curing miracles. Emret now thinks that all he has to do is find the mythical Red Tree from the nurse's stories, and he'll live.

In an attempt to protect his son from further emotional damage, Raj asks Moslin to stay away from Emret. He returns hours later to find them both missing.

He searches the fairytales for clues to where they may have gone and stumbles upon stories that, strangely, he already knows. He saw them in a vision just before his son disappeared.

4 stars

One quick note before I get into the meat of my review, I received an early edition of this book before it had been seen by a professional editor (I have since received an edited copy but don't have time to reread the book in it's entirety).  As such I will be reviewing on characters, story, etc, ignoring any of the editing issues I saw within.

Red Leaves was originally written as a screenplay with the goal of a CG production in mind.  The cover shows off the skill that the characters can be rendered in and if it ever happens I will be eager to see it.  The story follows the journey of a young man, who is terminally ill, seeking a cure for his condition. When his nurse takes him to find the mythical Red for a cure without his father's permission a journey with far reaching consequences is begun.

The characters were interesting, but an index would have been helpful at the beginning.  I had trouble keeping the races straight at first, having to flip to the beginning to keep things straight.  Honestly that is not an uncommon experience for me when starting a new series with original species.  I really liked the young boy's father and his dedication to finding his son, the abilities he develops are also fantastic.

The whole story following the Token and the temple that can be reached using it has a ton of potential.  The only issue is the sudden stop at the end of this book.  There is obviously more to come, but there was very little resolution for the book.  I really am not a fan of cliffhanger endings so that was a bit of a negative for me, but not something that deducts from the story overall.  I believe the second book should be out soon and hopefully it will continue to keep the strength of the story going.

For more info or to purchase the book check out Amazon, Smashwords, or the author's website.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, July 27, 2012

A freebie and a notice of rock bottom pricing

Today is celebration of his second book, The Great Rift, being released Edward Robertson has decided to make his first book FREE.  You can pick up your copy of The White Tree at no cost and if it's something you like The Great Rift is currently sitting at an introductory low price so grab it now!!

In other news regularly featured author Derek Prior is running a promo on Cadman's Gambit right now for the low price of .99.  If you haven't checked out this series it is a great time to do so, as the series is fantastic.  Check out Derek's blog for more info on this special promotion.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Giveaway: The first 3 books in the Black Earth series by David Alderman

If the review from yesterday sounded appealing to you here is your chance to win the entire series that has been released so far!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Review of Black Earth: Dark Masquerade (Vol 3) by David Alderman

Darkness has engulfed the world, and the nightmare has begun... Two weeks have passed since Nathan Pierce battled the Great Witch, Evanescence, and rescued Pearl from her mother's corrupt influence. Nathan now finds himself inhabiting a mall in northern California with members of Absolute's Rebellion, holding onto hope that his sister, Daisy, hasn't been executed for treason yet and keeping a watchful eye on Pearl—an immortal girl branded with a black key mark that could unlock destruction upon the earth. When a stranger strolls in from the darkness with a lead on Daisy's whereabouts, Nathan sets off on a journey into the Broken Lands to find her. But to save his doomed sibling, Nathan must maneuver through a horrifying landscape of terrifying creatures and violence, dodging both the President of the United States and Legion—an alien entity intent on destroying the world.

4 stars

The third book of the Black Earth series really starts to advance the action.  The world is crumbling with only certain areas that are even able to see the sun anymore, there are lighthouses that shoot beams that cause violent insanity, and the President of the US has implemented a plan to give herself power on a global scale.  I really enjoyed this chapter of the series as there are certain elements that are beginning to get an explanation, such some background on the man in red who is holding Daisy while she waits for her execution.  The christian theme is also becoming a bit more pronounced as the story develops.  That is not to say that this is what you would normally consider to be a religious story, but the relationship that some of the characters are developing with God is becoming more apparent.  There is a lot of violence and other adult situations that may turn some readers away, but the underlying message of faith is still pretty apparent to those willing to read.

The story takes place following the characters that have been introduced in the first two books, but they have separated for the most part leading to a fair amount of scene jumping.  This honestly had me a bit confused at first since it has been a while since I read either of the first two books in the series.  I did pick up everything pretty quickly once I started to get pulled into the story though.  The flow of the book was excellent and had me locked into the story after the introductory getting my bearings.  Nathan is still a decent guy, who has some character flaws, but he is easy to respect.  Daisy is a tragic figure being held for execution for refusing to bow to the presidential mandates and being used as an example.  Cyn is still a bit of a mystery as her story has seemed to have a few different possibilities through the series and a pretty big question mark about her is left open in this book.  Heather is also a character I still have some questions about and hope to see a bit more about her in the next book of the series.  

If you are looking for a good series to get into the deals with the end of the world, magic, religion, or any combination this is a good one to check out.  David has made the first two books available in a Black Earth Double Pack at a bit cheaper price than buying them separately as well.

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

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Another decade older

Today I turned 30.  Since I have been extremely busy lately, I didn't have time to set up the giveaway I wanted to have to celebrate with my blogging friends.  Stay tuned for more info and to get in on some great giveaways!

Here is a picture of of sushi themed cupcakes similar to what my wife made me as a surprise.  She used fruit roll up as seaweed with various candies for the decoration.  They were extremely cool looking.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Firecracker by Charles R Verhey review

A team of eccentric psychics who assist local authorities with difficult cases has reluctantly hired Aideen Cassidy, a timid pyrokinetic who has managed to accidentally burn to rubble every building she’s ever worked in. “It takes some real power and talent to melt a slushy machine.” Now, after months of scraping by on the last of her savings and spending every day terrified of her own gifts, she’s being given the chance to prove her worth. To be accepted for who and what she is.

But there’s more happening behind the scenes than anyone realizes, and Aideen soon finds herself caught in a conspiracy of evil monsters and dangerous assassins that dates back over six hundred years.

All she wanted to do was fit in. Now the lives of her new friends depend on her talents for fiery destruction...

4.5 stars

The story of Firecracker follows Cas, a pyrokinetic with a very tenuous control of her powers.  She starts her adventure unemployed, running out of money, and praying that her next job interview goes well so she can turn it all around.

Her last hope for a job is with PsychTeam, a group of psychics that consulate with authorities to help find missing people and solve other crimes.  When she arrives for her interview she meets Li, a mysterious guy who really doesn't seem to like her.  It takes the intervention of Miyuki, who is the head honcho of the team, to get her a job.

The book reveals some interesting psychic powers that the various team members possess as well as having a few story arcs.  The main story involves mysterious shadow creatures that seem to be hunting people with the Zoe blood type (the genetic marker for psychic abilities).  There is also a small story about the relationship between Li and Cas as well as an arc involving Cas finding a missing girl.

The characters were great in this book and I really enjoyed Cas.  It was nice to see someone who had immense power, but had no real control over it.  The difficulties Cas had with wage garnishment due to accidental damage and the constant threat of immolating some random object made her a character it was easy to feel for.  Li was a bit further out there, but hey I might just have trouble relating to world class martial arts millionaires lol.  His tragic past made him a bit easier to come to terms with, he wasn't the perfect example of everything either.

The story flowed pretty well for the most part, although there were a few parts that seemed a little rougher.  The book was a very entertaining read that I finished in two days.  I imagine there will be more books to follow and I will be waiting for those eagerly.

Get the book on Amazon, or learn more at Charles' blog.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Lil' Glimmer by Angela Muse review

Lil Glimmer is the story of a star who learns patience and sharing. He gets frustrated when he doesn't get his way, but in the end he listens to his mother and realizes that waiting and taking his turn is the right thing to do. These lessons can be hard to accept as a toddler, but this story helped me illustrate the principles of patience and sharing to my own children. This book is intended for children aged 3 and under. Check out The Nutt Family: An Acorny Adventure and The Pig Princess also by this author.

This is the first children's book that I have reviewed on this blog, but it is a genre that I have an interest in since I'm always looking for good books for my daughter.  Does anyone know any good authors to go with Angela?

4 stars

Lil' Glimmer is a very cute children's book about a star who is impatient for his turn to play.  His mother explains he must wait until nighttime when it is his turn, imparting a message of patience.

My daughter (18 months) really seemed to like the pictures and would pick this book out of her stack as a goodnight story pretty regularly.  The also seems like it would be good for beginning readers.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Review Troll or Derby by Red Tash

In Troll Or Derby, fifteen-year-old Roller Deb is singled out by town bullies for both her skates, and her sexual orientation. When her popular homecoming queen of a sister is kidnapped by a scuzzy drug dealer, Deb must flee the trailer park in which she's grown up, and rescue her. Along the way, Deb becomes enmeshed in the magical realm of trolls and fairies, and the blood-thirsty version of roller derby at which these beings excel. But spending too much time among the fairies comes with a price. Will Deb choose to save her sister, with the aid of a mysterious troll? Or will she be lost to the lures of roller derby, and the blonde temptress April, forever?

4.5 stars

Red Tash has taken some fairly standard character types (trolls, fairies, etc...) and done some pretty new crazy stuff with them.  When a young woman's shallow sister goes missing she begins to find things out about herself she never would have guessed.  Her (adopted) mother is screaming at her about how it is her job to protect her sister since that was the deal.  Deb, the young woman, begins a hunt for her sister that will unmask some strange realities in her world including the truth about her past.

The chapters in this book switch viewpoints from Deb to Harlow, her troll protector.  There were a few times where the time change that accompanied a view change took some time to reorient, but other than that it was a very useful tool enabling the reader to get a much broader view of the story.  The story's strength is in it's originality, the characters are great, the scenes well done, and the pacing is nearly perfect but having trolls and fairies living among us participating in roller derby really set this book apart for me.

For more info check out the book on Amazon or head over to Red's website.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Bookmaker by Chris Fraser review

Preston Walker, a living legend in his hometown of Oxford, Mississippi is dying. But before he goes, he has something he has to get off his chest. A secret so profound it would alter the landscape of American history. Trent Oster, a struggling writer and small time bookmaker is lured from his weary existence into Preston’s deceptively enticing world. Trent’s job is to capture Preston’s story and reveal the answer to the most asked question of the 20th century: Who killed the Kennedy’s? Take a gritty uncensored look into the exclusive world of illegal bookmaking combined with a mind-bending take on the Kennedy conspiracy. Chris Fraser’s gripping debut novel The Bookmaker, will keep the pages turning for traditional fiction readers, sports enthusiasts, history buffs, mystery fans and suspense aficionados alike. Step into a world that seldom reveals its secrets, but tread lightly as you may not like what you find

5 stars

The Bookmaker by Chris Fraser has a whole new take on the Kennedy deaths.  The conspiracy theories aren't wrong, but the source of them is unknown to everyone.

When a small time California bookie is offered a book deal as a way to pay off the debt that one of his clients has accumulated he gets a whole lot more than he thought.  Trent is just a young man trying to figure out what to do with his life while making his money as a bookie.  Since he went to school to be a writer he figures flying out to Oxford to talk to an old man about his story isn't any big deal, especially since it pays so well.  Upon arriving he steps into a whole new world.

Preston is an old man with a burning secret and a fatal disease.  In order to die with a clearer conscience he decides to dictate his story to a young writer who will not judge him as harshly as an established professional would.  When his grandson racks up a debt with a bookie who studied to be a writer he gets just what he wanted.

The Bookmaker is a remarkably well told story. Chris runs two storylines simultaneously taking the reader back in the past while Preston tells his story and keeping up with the current times with Trent's role in Preston's household.  All of the characters are well written and believable and the story itself even keeps grounded enough to be believable.  I was sucked into the story as soon as Trent arrived in the South and didn't want to put the book down after that.  The tragedy that Preston described made his story all the more real.  This is a great book and I'm glad that a review copy made it's way to me.

Review copy provided by the publisher.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Shooters: The Toughest Men in Professional Wrestling by Jonathon Snowden review

From William Muldoon to Brock Lesnar, this history covers those who have divided themselves as tough guys on the professional wrestling circuit and legitimate confrontations. From catch wrestling master Billy Robinson to the Japanese professional wrestler who gave birth to the global phenomenon that is modern mixed martial arts (MMA), this investigation travels from the shadowy carnival tent and the dingy training hall to the bright lights of the squared circle and the Las Vegas glitz of the octagon. Billy Riley's legendary Wigan Snake Pit and the rigorous UWF Dojo in Tokyo are explored, revealing the secret history of both professional wrestling and the rising sport of MMA. Squared circle icons Strangler Lewis and Lou Thesz and Olympic heroes Danny Hodge and Kurt Angle are also featured.

5 stars

First off I'll give a quick disclaimer, I don't care for professional wrestling at all.  I watched it in the late 80's early 90's but since then it hasn't held any interest for me.  I got a copy of this book based on a review I saw on it on MMATorch.

This book gives a great look at the history of wrestling back in the days when some contests were real and there were a lot of promoters running their own smaller shows.  Starting with the first big name pro wrestlers in the late 1800's the book takes a trip all the way through the days of Brock Lesnar having to leave the UFC due to his illness.

I found the stories of the old school wrestlers pretty incredible.  While the winners and losers were mostly chosen through internal promotion politics there was always a chance your opponent wouldn't be happy to take a fall and would actually fight back for real.  The days were men were fighting many times a day in carnivals, taking all challengers with survivors earning a cash prize.

All of those stories were interesting, but the book really drew me in with the stories of the pro wrestling in Japan.  That was where I started to see more names that I recognized due to being an MMA fan.  There is a lot of great info on a lot of the names that currently are spoken of on a regular basis.  Sakuraba was especially cool to learn about for me.

If you currently follow MMA, were ever a fan of pro wrestling, or appreciate the stories of the men who pioneered popularity of some of the combat sports this is a great book for you.  It will really bring into focus the fact that, while the outcomes are predetermined, there is nothing fake about the athleticism of the men who dedicate their lives to entertainment wrestling.

Check out this book on Amazon.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Heir to the Sun by Jennifer Allis Provost review

The Faerie King has entered into a pact with the demon lord, trading his people's freedom for the might to conquer the nine realms. Two unlikely allies are determined to stop him: Asherah, enslaved by demons, and Caol'nir, a warrior sworn to defend the king.

When Asherah, stripped of both her memory and her dignity, learns that King Sahlgren is responsible for her captivity, she leads her fellow slaves in a daring escape and burns their prison to the ground. Then she learns that there are many more prisons across Parthalan, and embarks upon a campaign to free every last faerie.

In stark contrast to Asherah's struggles, Caol'nir lives the comfortable life of a temple guard. He is sworn to serve and defend the king, as his ancestors have done since time immemorial. Now a priestess has been murdered, and Caol'nir learns that Sahlgren's scheming is to blame. Determined to thwart the king, sacred oath or no, Caol'nir joins Asherah's rebellion. What Caol'nir doesn't know is that Sahlgren has promised the demon lord a woman of rare and singular beauty, a woman who is rumored to be the sun god's daughter. She also happens to be Caol'nir's mate.

4 stars

Heir to the Sun by Jennifer Allis Provost is the follow up novel to Rise of the Deva'shi.  It does work as a standalone however.  I personally think I would not have enjoyed it as much without having read Rise of the Deva'shi and having an idea about where Asherah ends up.

When the book starts out you follow two separate story lines.  The first follows Hillel (later becoming Asherah) and Torim.  The ladies are in a prison camp run by demons.  They are there basically to be breeding mares.  The second story follow Caol'nir, a temple guard who is in love with one of the priestesses it is his duty to protect.

The stories progress at an even pace and after Hillel and Torim manage to organize an escape that turns into a rebellion.  Freeing as many slaves from the prison camps that they find they flee into Elven lands to ask King Lormac for help.

I enjoyed this book a bit more than the first.  There was still a lot of romance for my taste, but it was balanced well with intermittent action and some strong character development.  I think going with the background of Asherah was an excellent choice by Jennifer.  She was such a strong character in the first book and showing the amount of adversity she overcame to reach her position really made for a wonderful tale.  This book is great for fans of romantics fantasies filled with faeries and elves.

Also available on Smashwords.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Tapestry of Enchantment by Karen Ann Webb review

Buried in the past and scattered around a magician's well-guarded lair, pieces of an enchanted tapestry hold the secrets to unlocking the future. In the present, a group of questors struggle to find the knowledge to reassemble the tapestry and free a fallen friend from captivity. To do so, they must solve the puzzles hidden in the magicians lair, to collect pieces of the tapestry. But solving the puzzles required to find the missing tapestry pieces causes the questors to disappear, one by one. In the end, will there be anyone left to reassemble The Tapestry of Enchantment and save their comrade?

4 stars

Tapestry of Enchantment by Karen Ann Webb is the second book in the Adventures of the Carotian Union series.  The gang from The Chalice of Life (Book 1) has all returned including one new addition from the first book.  This story takes them to the land of Mosaia's ancestors.  They are there to save a distant relative from the evil magician Sigurd.  While battling Sigurd the group of heroes sees another glimpse of Syndycyr, the extremely powerful evil force that they feel is working against them on their quest.

I enjoyed this book a bit more than the first in the series.  The story picked up much quicker since almost all of the character introductions have been done.  The beginning and the end of the book still have a lot of the philosophical discussions between the group coming to terms with their differences.  Overall I would say the adventure is really starting to pick up and I am interested in seeing where the story will go in the remaining books.