Sunday, June 30, 2013

Which One are You Again?

Her Highness, the Traitor by Susan Higginbotham

Summary: As Henry VIII draws his last breath, two very different women, Jane Dudley, Viscountess Lisle, and Frances Grey, Marchioness of Dorset, face the prospect of a boy king, Edward VI.

For Jane Dudley, basking in the affection of her large family, the coming of a new king means another step upward for her ambitious, able husband, John. For Frances Grey, increasingly alienated from her husband and her brilliant but arrogant daughter Lady Jane, it means that she—and the Lady Jane—are one step closer to the throne of England.

Then the young king falls deathly ill. Determined to keep England under Protestant rule, he concocts an audacious scheme that subverts his own father’s will. Suddenly, Jane Dudley and Frances Grey are reluctantly bound together in a common cause—one that will test their loyalties, their strength, and their faith, and that will change their lives beyond measure.

Review: A tale of Lady Jane Grey from the viewpoint of two women that are much too alike.

It was nice to read a story of Lady Jane Grey that didn't have Jane Grey portrayed as a saint who suffered at the hands of her mother. Although it's hard to get a good idea of her personality in this book since Jane Grey's story is told from two people: Frances Grey and Jane Dudley, I did get the feeling that Jane thought highly of herself, was proud, and would stick to her morals and beliefs even at the risk of harm. The conflict between Jane Grey and her mother mainly came from Jane's pride and adolescence.

Despite all that, this book was hindered by being told from two points, two different women who seemed the same. When there wasn't a good way to tell them apart, I found myself flipping to the next chapter to see whose chapter I was reading (the chapters switch off). I felt like the author was trying to take the blame off the women and place it squarely on the men's shoulders. It felt very fake and I can't believe the women not being the least excited about a daughter being queen or a son being married to a queen.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that are interested in a different story of Lady Jane Grey.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

As Darkness Ends and Redbacks by Aaron Crocco Reviews

Two enjoyable and quite horrifying end of the world novels.

Disclaimer: I received these books form the author in exchange for a review.

As Darkness Ends (As Darkness Ends) by Aaron Crocco

Summary: A powerful darkness spawning deadly hunters. An order from a messenger of God. A journey that will destroy all of humanity.

As Darkness Ends is a non-linear series. As such, you can read the books in any order!

When a devastating earthquake strikes Manhattan, Travis Hunter finds himself among the other survivors trying to make sense of a city in ruins. In the aftermath, word spreads among the displaced: New York City was only a small part of a global disaster. For the first time in human history an earthquake shook the entire world.

While trying to get back home, Travis is confronted by a being from another realm and tasked with a divine mission: help bring on the apocalypse or be killed. Faced with this directive from a messenger of God, Travis must assume a role dating back to the beginning of time and is forced to begin a journey that will destroy all of humanity.

Review: No book about the end of days could be especially happy, but a book can certainly be especially sad. As Darkness Ends was one of those books. Travis Hunter is told to bring judgment to all of humanity (through the darkness, Encautum) or everyone will be killed. It’s a pretty bleak scenario. He seems to have no control over where he stops or who he helps. I am not sure if everyone turned into what is termed a Redback or if that was what would happen to humanity if Travis didn’t complete his mission. The book was a good, quick read that left me with a lot of questions.

Redbacks (As Darkness Ends) by Aaron Crocco

Summary: They survived the quake, but it created something even more deadly.

As Darkness Ends is a non-linear series. As such, you can read the books in any order!

When a devastating global earthquake strikes, James Cole narrowly escapes the crumbling New York City skyscrapers with the help of a mysterious person. Now one of the precious few survivors, James’s goal is to get home to his wife through a locked-down Manhattan. But when an inexplicable darkness begins blanketing the city, deadly creatures appear and begin hunting anybody they can find. With James and his companion the only ones capable of fighting, they’ll put their lives at stake once more in order to save the last of the survivors.

Review: The second book in the series provides a different point of view. Redbacks shows the loss, agony, and struggle of those left behind. The story is told from the point of view of James Cole. He is one of the survivors and soon joins up with another group of survivors along with his new friend, Tuckey. I still am clueless at to what exactly Redbacks are. They are somewhat zombie like, but not in the traditional sense of zombies. James didn't connect with me as a character, but he certainly redeems himself at the end of the book. 

Rating (for both books):

Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that enjoy end of the world stories. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Flat Paper Doll

Wolf Hall (Thomas Cromwell Trilogy #1) by Hilary Mantel

Summary: Tudor England. Henry VIII is on the throne, but has no heir. Cardinal Wolsey is charged with securing his divorce. Into this atmosphere of distrust comes Thomas Cromwell - a man as ruthlessly ambitious in his wider politics as he is for himself. His reforming agenda is carried out in the grip of a self-interested parliament and a king who fluctuates between romantic passions and murderous rages.

Review: A tale of the Tudors from the eyes of Thomas Cromwell.

I knew very little about Thomas Cromwell. I had certainly heard the name and am certain that I had read about him before in Tudor related non-fiction, but for some reason, it didn’t seem to stick. I did a little Wikipedia reading after I finished Wolf Hall and plan to read more about him. Thomas Cromwell is indirectly and directly related to many actions that were taken and events that occurred concerning the Tudors. This book focuses on Thomas Cromwell so we see events unfold from his point of view. There is nothing to mark the thoughts of other characters from direct quotes or the third person narration.

All the characters that weren’t Thomas Cromwell seemed barely like characters at all, even Henry VIII. Events that should have been emotional impact don’t have any at all. It all falls flat even the death of Cardinal Wosley and his wife. Also, Thomas Cromwell felt flat as well. I am honestly not sure how Hilary Mantel wanted to portray him. I assume the man had more personality than he does in the book. He acts little better than a paper doll.


Recommendation: I would recommend this to those who like Tudor fiction about less popular historical figures.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Behind the Facade

Queen's Gambit by Elizabeth Fremantle

Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a review.

Summary: Widowed for the second time at age thirty-one Katherine Parr falls deeply for the dashing courtier Thomas Seymour and hopes at last to marry for love. However, obliged to return to court, she attracts the attentions of the ailing, egotistical, and dangerously powerful Henry VIII, who dispatches his love rival, Seymour, to the Continent. No one is in a position to refuse a royal proposal so, haunted by the fates of his previous wives—two executions, two annulments, one death in childbirth—Katherine must wed Henry and become his sixth queen.

Katherine has to employ all her instincts to navigate the treachery of the court, drawing a tight circle of women around her, including her stepdaughter, Meg, traumatized by events from their past that are shrouded in secrecy, and their loyal servant Dot, who knows and sees more than she understands. With the Catholic faction on the rise once more, reformers being burned for heresy, and those close to the king vying for position, Katherine’s survival seems unlikely. Yet as she treads the razor’s edge of court intrigue, she never quite gives up on love.

Review: An incredible portrayal of Katherine Parr.

I traditionally think of Katherine Parr as a kind, smart, and religious woman who proves to be a comfort to me in their old age. She’s not docile per say, but lacks a fiery spirit. Queen’s Gambit brings up the idea that Katherine Parr as we know her was just an act. She was a kind, smart, and religious woman, but had a strong, sometimes impetuous, personality and was a master dissembler. I have wondered as have other people (at least they do in reviews) why Katherine fell for Thomas Seymour when she was such a reasonable woman. Their relationship makes sense in this book since Katherine is much more similar to Thomas in this book than in other books.

The character of King Henry VIII is a complex one. Sometimes I felt pity for him and there were other times that I came close to hating him (one incident stands out in my mind). No woman should have had to marry him, but it at least made more sense for Katherine to marry him than Catherine Howard who was too young. A few important events were written differently than what is traditionally accepted or believed. This book again emphasizes how Katherine Parr got the short end of the stick.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that enjoy historical fiction about the Tudors.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Mechanical Eden

Crashing Eden by Michael Sussman

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for a review.

Summary: For one boy and his friends, the path to Paradise comes at a cost—one they may not be prepared to pay.

When a biking accident leaves 17-year-old Joss Kazdan with the ability to hear things others can't, reality as he knows it begins to unravel.

A world of legends exists beyond the ordinary life he's always known, and he is transported to the same Paradise he's studying in World Mythology. But the strange gets even stranger when his new friends build a device that delivers people through the gates of the Garden of Eden.

Now Samael, the Creator God, is furious. As Samael rains down his apocalyptic devastation on the ecstasy-seeking teens, Joss and his companions must find a way to appease Samael—or the world will be destroyed forever.

Review: An intriguing blend of technology, mythology, religion, and many gods.

This is the second young adult book that I have read involving the mixing of mythology, religion, the end of the world, and the modern day. Both happened to be equally good. The use of the Om frequency is very original. I also like the idea that when children turn six they lose the ability to hear the Om frequency. It explains (in the world of the book) why children lose their innocence. It is a happy coincidence that Joss whacks his head and is able to hear the Om frequency.

Through the use of the technology that Shakti and her boyfriend create, people find paradise. Of course there are the people who believe that paradise should be only found through God. What I really liked was how Joss questioned the usefulness of being tuned into the Om frequency all the time. You may gain paradise, but what do you lose? I liked Joss well enough although he could be quite a jerk at time. The confrontation between the seven and Samael, the blind god, was cool to read although I didn't quite believe Samael's very fast transformation.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that enjoy mythology and religion based young adult fantasy.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

It's the End of the World as We Know It...

The Faustian Host (Apocalypse Signs #1) by Dave Becker

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for a review. 

Summary: Plymouth Rock is bleeding. Day has turned to night. Hundred-pound hailstones level buildings. The small town of Clement seems cursed, and the residents know who's to blame: the new kid, Tony Marino.

After losing his family and his home, 14-year-old Tony is forced to move from Florida to Massachusetts to attend Kalos Academy, an unconventional school for gifted children. Strange things begin to happen the day he arrives, and soon stories of plagues, monsters, and mystical objects surround him. Refusing to believe superstitions, Tony struggles to explain the occurrences logically, until he comes face to face with a satanic cult determined to bring about the end of the world.

Review: A delightful young adult novel that mixes Bible stories, mythology, and the end of the world.

I really enjoyed The Faustian Host. It blends mythology from different cultures so well with likable characters and scarily realistic plagues. I liked Tony although I wished he could have learned to keep his mouth shut. I was a little wary of Kalos Academy at first. Exclusive schools, especially boarding schools have become a staple in young adult fiction as of late, at least in paranormal novels. I will admit that for a school full of geniuses, many of the students didn't seem to know much. As an aside, thanks to my voracious reading about the Tudors, I know who Hans Holbein is.

I liked how the curriculum of the school tied into the events of the book without being contrived. Despite the idea of curses, Satan, selling your soul to the devil, magical stones, plagues, and a special staff, the events of the book felt incredibly realistic. If I was in a similar situation, I probably would have reacted like Tony did, not wanting to believe in curses or god or satan even when the plagues began. I am looking forward to whenever the second book comes out. It promises to be action packed.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that enjoy young adult supernatural novels with end of the world themes.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

True Love and Monsters

The Tide Breaker by Sonya Watson

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for a review.

Summary: When it is discovered that Abrianna, an Amalgam, survived the mass cleansing orchestrated by Destiny her life becomes less then desirable since her only options are to be controlled or die.

Review: A supernatural book that actually has a different mythology, but suffers from jumps in the narrative.

I don’t believe I’ve read a book quite like The Tide Breaker. It contains creatures like wendigos, nephilims, guardians, primes, and amalgams. My favorite aspect of the mythology were the nephilims and how they once again bred with those who they weren’t supposed to (humans I assume). I was confused when it came to amalgams exactly where. I believe they are the offsprings of the nephilim and humans. I wasn’t exactly sure though and being unsure was the main issue I had when reading this book.

The book starts with Abrianna’s aunt just having been killed. It soon jumps to Graham, a wendigo, falling in lust with her and only wanting her for himself. He kidnaps and discovers she has this incredible power which has something to do with making creatures either being full blooded or not mutated anymore. Then there is another person thrown in the mix, a shape shifter that also wants her. Abrianna manages to feel something for all of them, her boyfriend included. There is plenty of action in the book, but the plot skips from event to event without any explanation in between, which left me quite confused.


Recommendation: I would tentatively recommend this book to those that are interested in young adult supernatural novels with unusual creatures.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

When Pigs Fly

Kingdom of the Nanosaurs (The Kingdoms of Time and Space #1) by David Callinan

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for a review. 

Summary: In the tradition of 'His Dark Materials', 'Mortal Engines' and 'Lord Of The Rings', this YA trilogy blends magic with leading edge science and the paranormal with artificial intelligence.

Morgan Lane (15), gifted with a superhuman memory, finds his life and the future of humanity thrown into chaos when chosen by the Guardians to memorise and protect with his very existence ‘The Cosmic Algorithm’, the source code of creation itself.

The Guardians, aware that seismic cosmic events are unfolding and space parasites known as The Shadix are approaching the planet, send a Sun Angel to protect Morgan who, together with companions Lin Rainbow and Winston their pet orangutan, becomes his guide on a journey to where time and space are one.

Morgan’s scientist father has used nanotechnology to create a microbe that will destroy pollution and reverse climate change. Unknown to Morgan, his father’s research is being funded and secretly stolen by a millionaire oligarch, Marius Natzler, controlled by the Shadix.

The comet Cygnus Hyperbole appears causing apocalyptic tsunamis, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions as the Guardians cause every animal on the planet save one to vanish. They transform Winston into a genius with the power of speech – a true missing link.

Morgan’s fate is to keep the ‘Cosmic Algorithm’ safe in order to reprogram the Continuum. Meanwhile, Marius Natzler has used nanotechnology to create ‘nanosaurs’, fantastical replacement animals: winged dogs, perfumed cats, air sharks, monstrous nano spiders and Taurus, a seventeen feet tall minotaur. Natzler craves the ‘Cosmic Algorithm’ to give him ultimate power.

Review: A decent fantasy book that suffers from a sometimes unbelievable main character and a weak sidekick.

Overall, this book had a middle grade school feel about it rather than a young adult feel like the book was supposed to have. That is not a bad thing although the reader must be prepared for a black and white division between good and evil with the good being very good and the bad being very bad. I know it is a fight between good and evil, but it could get a little much at times. I wouldn’t have been surprised if the main bad guy had started to twirl his mustache.

I know Morgan has an incredible memory and that he is a genius character, but he was often too useful and too helpful. He also seemed to deride logical decisions like Lin deciding to take food when them when they were trying to escape. I liked Lin, but I hated how she was a useless character at times. She always seemed to be fainting or passing out. I personally liked the nanosaurs although some combinations of the animals seemed downright silly. I certainly wouldn’t mind having a nanosaur or two.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that enjoy middle grade school fantasy.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Is Your Soul Your Own?

Bodyswitch by David Callinan

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for a review. 

Summary: So you think your body belongs to you – think again!

Jack Madigan has the perfect life. He runs a mission in the Bronx helping New York's poor and homeless, the lost souls of the city. His wife Kerry works on a campaigning newspaper. They are not rich but they are fulfilled. And they are about to have their first child.

Sadistic sociopath Ernie Mason is released from prison; the poor black kid from the Bronx brutalised by a lifetime of abuse, drugs and crime until he becomes a killer; a walking time-bomb. He gets drunk, steals a car and goes joyriding in central Manhattan.

Jack says goodbye to Kerry after a routine medical examination and she crosses the busy street.

Ernie Mason hits Kerry full on, killing her instantly and killing himself.

The bottom falls out of Jack Madigan's life. But then he is made an offer no other human being has ever received. The chance to say a final goodbye to Kerry on 'the other side'.

But there is a price to pay.

He must allow a recently departed soul to occupy his body while he is in spiritual limbo to be given one last chance of redemption.

That's when the cosmic switch clicks and a dark soul enters Jack Madigan's body.

Guess who?

Review: A tale of souls, redemption, second chances, and a very strange beyond.

I did enjoy this book. I am glad I read it. However, I can see someone being put off by the cover. I am not sure what it has to do with the book. Regardless, please still give this book a chance. It's an enjoyable supernatural read. Bodyswitch really does make you think. I found myself hating Ernie, but other times I felt bad for him since I saw glimmers of hope. Life is never black and white and neither are people. Where there is death, there is also life.

The oddest aspect of the book was the beyond. I wasn't quite sure what to make of it although since everyone makes their own beyond, I wonder what mine would look like. The idea of reincarnation was used well and I liked the idea of developing enough as a person to finally move on to a higher plane. There was a lot of sex and desire in this book, both in the beyond and in the corporeal world. Some of it had purpose, but the rest of felt added on. The ending was very satisfying.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that enjoy supernatural fiction or stories dealing with life after death and reincarnation.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Not Quite a Dog

The Caline Conspiracy by M.H. Mead

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for a review.

Summary: Calines are the perfect pets. Smarter than border collies, playful as otters, elegant as cats, calines have been genetically engineered to be everything a pet owner could want.

Except that they might kill you one day.

The world is shocked when geneticist Ivan Frithke is murdered, and his own pet caline, Madeline, is the prime suspect. Is this an isolated case, a flaw in the calines’ design, or something more? The widow doesn’t believe her darling could kill, and hires PI Aidra Scott to prove Madeline’s innocence.

Aidra wants nothing to do with animals—genetically engineered perfection or not. Losing her beloved Doberman was so painful that she’s sworn off pet ownership forever. But the more she investigates, the more Aidra becomes convinced an innocent animal is being framed, and murder is only the beginning of the conspiracy.

Review: A detective story with murder, conspiracy, and genetic engineering.

I normally wouldn't read mysteries. I can't remember the last time I read one. The Caline Conspiracy is a mystery novel, but at heart, it is a science fiction novel. Genetic engineering plays a huge role in this book. Genetic engineering is no longer performed on humans, at least in the United States, legally anyways, because a tragedy occurred. Very little good comes from playing god. Genetic engineering on animals is still ok, which shows how animals are considered less important than humans.

I kept trying to picture calines in my head, but it didn't work too well (even with the caline on the cover). I can only imagine what sort of creatures could be created with genetic engineering. It's scary yet thrilling. As much as Aidra says she cares about her son, I don't see much evidence of that to be honest. Though this book was on the short side, the action started early and built throughout the novel. The ending came rather quickly and was something of a letdown. I wanted to see the reactions of people to Aidra's discovery. I would read another book with Aidra.


Recommendation: I would recommend this to those that enjoy mysteries or science fiction.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

In Our Memories

Glimmers by Barbara Brooke

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for a review. 

Summary: A simple touch and suddenly, Paige is in the past - living someone else's life, seeing the world through their eyes, and feeling their deepest emotions.

Paige used to think memories only existed in one's mind. But now, she knows better. She can't explain how or why, but she has glimmers: special moments that have remained behind - clinging to a letter, a ring, even a worn-out pair of boots.

When Paige returns from each glimmer, a small part of her has changed. Who is this gourmet cook, fashion designer, feisty lover? And how is she supposed to explain this to her family without them thinking she has completely lost her mind?

Paige thought her new talent was a gift, until…she was suddenly transported into her sister’s memory, and caught a glimmer of her secret life.

Take this humorous and romantic journey, as Paige learns about true love through the lives of three extraordinary women.

Review: A tale of an ordinary woman with an extraordinary talent.

Objects, though they are never permanent, can have strong emotional meaning. I personally have a few objects that I hang onto and would be very sad if they were lost or destroyed. What I find more important are the memories that make those objects so special. I like Paige's talent. It's a way to live another life, even if for a few moments, a way to understand other ways of living. It must be somewhat of a pain though since you never know when you will be pulled into a memory.

While I liked all the stories, Emma's was my favorite. It was like reading a historical romance novel, which I do so enjoy. Delilah's story ended sooner than I expected, but I was pleased to see how her story fits into the rest of the novel. Hailey's story was painful since I felt so bad for her fiance and also for Hailey herself. I hope she says satisfied with her decision. The one aspect that bothered me about Paige's glimmers was how she picked talents from the memories she experienced. I can understand getting a little better at sewing or cooking, but she becomes an expert in a matter of hours.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that enjoy light fantasy that takes place in the modern world.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Don't Get Lost in Time

Broken Time by Emily Devenport

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for a review.

Summary: Siggy Lindquist is a janitor at The Institute, home to the galaxy's deadliest criminals. When two of the most dangerous inmates take a twisted interest in Siggy, she becomes caught in a potential war between two races -- a war that only a forgotten secret from her past can prevent...

Review: A somewhat confusing, but certainly mind bending science fiction story with plenty of time travel.

Time travel and time itself are fascinating concepts and not always well understood. As far as I know, we do not know why when an object travels very close to the speed of light time slows down. It has been proven that this occurs. Our universe is mysterious and I’m sure there are many more wonders to be found. Enigma is one of those mind bending objects. Broken Time focuses heavily on Enigma, time, and time travel. Even after finishing the book, I still wasn’t sure exactly what Enigma is, which is why I guess it is named that way.

There is plenty of action, alien species, and romance. I wasn’t sure what role Siggy would play, but it certainly was a fascinating one. What makes her so special that the time pockets would seek her out? What about her got the Professor to talk? The Speedies seemed a bit hobbled together for an alien race. I was much more interested in who was behind the Professor. The threads come together in the end although I get the feeling that the Professor’s story isn’t finished yet.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that enjoy science fiction with time travel.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Truth is Stranger than Fiction

In My Mind's Eye by Justin Marciano

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for a review.

Summary: Chased by the Klan, assaulted by family, influenced by friends, and shaped by environment, this narrative takes the reader through one man's life as a suburban teenager in Connecticut.

The story is told in narrative shorts that go from violence to the guilt of stealing from a church. The reader will feel sympathy in one story, anger in the next, and frustrating humor throughout. The author purposely takes the reader on a joyride through the lunacy that is captured in every story. His perspective eminates from every page.

Open the book and be captured by the elegant insanity that becomes In My Mind's Eye.

Review: A collection of stories that proves the saying truth is stranger than fiction.

Justin Marciano certainly has had an interesting life. As Marciano mentions, his childhood was normal to him, but to most other people, Marciano's life was scary, sad, and abusive at times. Even so, he manages to make his stories funny.

My favorite was when he asks his preschool teacher to have sex with him to get her to stay with him. Although Marciano says he doesn't remember where he heard the phrase, it is certainly fun to imagine where he heard the phrase.

I am sure it was scary for Marciano, but I thoroughly enjoyed the story when he went into the city with his cousin and he cousin managed to scare him straight from going into the gang life. Another scary yet funny story is the author's run in with the Ku Klux Klan.

In short, an eclectic collection of stories that are sad, funny, and poignant.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that enjoy short stories or memoirs.

Monday, June 10, 2013

More than Teenage Angst

In Leah's Wake by Terri Giuliano Long

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for a review.

Summary: A Story of Love, Loss, Connection, and Grace

At the heart of the seemingly perfect Tyler family stands sixteen-year-old Leah. Her proud parents are happily married, successful professionals. Her adoring younger sister is wise and responsible beyond her years. And Leah herself is a talented athlete with a bright collegiate future. But living out her father’s lost dreams, and living up to her sister’s worshipful expectations, is no easy task for a teenager. And when temptation enters her life in the form of drugs, desire, and a dangerously exciting boy, Leah’s world turns on a dime from idyllic to chaotic to nearly tragic.

As Leah’s conflicted emotions take their toll on those she loves—turning them against each other and pushing them to destructive extremes—In Leah’s Wake powerfully explores one of fiction’s most enduring themes: the struggle of teenagers coming of age, and coming to terms with the overwhelming feelings that rule them and the demanding world that challenges them. Terri Giuliano Long’s skillfully styled and insightfully informed debut novel captures the intensely personal tragedies, victories, and revelations each new generation faces during those tumultuous transitional years.

Review: A story about a family nearly broken apart by tragedy.

In Leah's Wake is certainly a roller coaster ride. There are so many times when you think the Tyler family might be ok, but so many other times when you wonder if they will ever be the same. This book demonstrates the saying that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Leah's parents did have her best interests at heart (or at least they thought they did), but didn't stop to think about Leah's needs, dreams, and aspirations. While I am not a parent, I know what it's like when children don't turn out as you expected and the heartache that comes along with it.

I was prepared to hate Leah. I was expecting someone who was selfish, only cared about her own needs, and thought she knew best. Leah has all of those traits, but is so much more. She wants what she thinks is best, but truly wants to be loved by her family and for them to be reunited again. Leah and her whole family are expects at planning to do one thing and saying something completely different. I don't always understand Leah's motivations, but I am glad that she finally reunites with her family.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that enjoy family based fiction.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Plug Me In

Shaman, Friend, Enemy (Olivia Lawson, Techno-Shaman #2) by M. Terry Green

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for a review. 

Summary: Patients with fractured souls, clients threatened by deadly ancestor spirits, and now the paparazzi–it’s all in a day’s work for techno-shaman Olivia Lawson. Livvy has rocketed to the top of the shaman world, bringing old friends with her but also attracting new enemies.

Even as her career soars, her personal life spirals downward. Broken bonds and lost love finally force her to confront the terrible secret of her beginning in shamanism. Despite being attacked by dark shamans and navigating a spiritual plane that seems out of control, Livvy’s single-minded quest steers her into dangerous territory and puts her on a collision course with those dearest to her.

No longer interested in walking a fine line, Livvy discovers that–when the one thing you need is the one thing you can’t have–you’ll risk everything.

Review: A fantasy novel that blends the traditional with technology.

I enjoy a good fantasy story although I most familiar with mages, warriors, elves, dwarves, rogues, and the like. I also did play a shaman for a little in World of Warcraft. So in short, I don't know much about shamans although this book definitely peaked my interest in shamans and I plan on learning more about them. I have not read the first Techno-Shaman novel, but it didn't hurt my enjoyment of this novel. Livvy provides enough information to tell the reader about what happened in the first novel.

The blending of magic and technology was seemless in this novel. Magic and technology are usually at odds, but in this book, they work together. And when you get down to it, electricity is lightning and Livvy is a lightning shaman so technology and lightning go hand in hand. I also enjoyed the romance between Livvy and SK. It was nice to see a romance between characters that are actually human, not just perfect one sided dolls. I will admit to being lost sometimes when it came the actual shamanism but that could be because I kno very little about shamanism.


Recommendation: I would recommend this to those that enjoy urban fantasy or fantasy set in the modern age.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

I Can Think of Another Name

A Rogue by Any Other Name (The Rules of Scoundrels #1) by Sarah MacLean

Summary: A decade ago, the Marquess of Bourne was cast from society with nothing but his title. Now a partner in London’s most exclusive gaming hell, the cold, ruthless Bourne will do whatever it takes to regain his inheritance—including marrying perfect, proper Lady Penelope Marbury.

A broken engagement and years of disappointing courtships have left Penelope with little interest in a quiet, comfortable marriage, and a longing for something more. How lucky that her new husband has access to such unexplored pleasures.

Bourne may be a prince of London’s underworld, but he vows to keep Penelope untouched by its wickedness—a challenge indeed as the lady discovers her own desires, and her willingness to wager anything for them... even her heart.

Review: A forced marriage "romance" story with a complete asshole for a main male character.

I had wanted to read this for a while. Honestly, it was mostly because I liked the cover a lot. I'm a sucker for pretty covers, especially when there are pretty dresses and/or the cover isn't too terribly embarrassing. Perhaps I should have not been expecting too much since I read Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake and didn't it enjoy it much (it got two stars). The main character in that book, Ralston, was a jerk that took advantage of the heroine too many times to count.

What really bothered me was how Bourne went about forcing Penelope to marry him. They had been childhood friends and should have known damn well that Penelope would have still cared about him. He could have easily asked her to marry him (without trying to ruin her) and I'm pretty sure she would have said yes. Instead, he forces her into marry and acts like a jackass the whole novel. I know that Bourne was her childhood friend, but Bourne as a man was a completely different person and there wasn't a good reason for his change in character. There was nothing to redeem him.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that historical romances with childhood friends becoming more.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

A Curse Never Forgets

One Blood by Qwantu Amaru

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for a review. 

Summary: A long-suffering convict. A villainous governor with an unbelievable past soaked incurses and blood. A kidnapped

Review: An incredible horror story of revenge gone wrong (or horribly right?) with magic and voodoo.

I really liked One Blood. It was a horrific in its subject matter, but it wasn’t over the top horror or even what I would think of as a standard horror novel (I haven’t read too many to be honest). The idea of a curse is made so very real in this book. It stretches back hundreds of years and will not rest until revenge is had. I know little about voodoo, but the use of it in the book added a nice paranormal element to the story. Although I know this is a work of fiction, the curse felt so real.

There were a lot of characters to keep track of and more connections were made between the characters as time went on. It seemed like everyone was related to one another. I tried to keep track of everyone’s motives, but I am still not really sure exactly what everyone wanted. The story was very fast paced and certainly kept me on the edge of my seat. I was glad the story found its way to a conclusive and satisfying ending.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that enjoy horror.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

In Plain Sight

Soy Sauce Face by Sedonia Guillone

Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a review. 

Summary: Sometimes the best kept secret is the one you keep from yourself…

“I’m an ordinary man with an ordinary life in every way. Except for Jun. That’s what I think to myself every night when I watch Jun getting ready for his work as a bar host in Kabukicho. He’s everything I’m not. He’s the beautiful, graceful, sociable and ambitious counterpart to me—a hulking, reclusive, completely unambitious guy who’d rather fix car and motorcycle engines all day than interact with people… I’d be happy if Jun just stayed here with me the rest of our lives, in this little apartment we’d once shared with Dad. But Jun has other plans.”

Or so Jun thinks. One night he gets ready and goes to work. But a tragic occurrence derails his career and all his plans for the future.

Through the eyes of his best friend, Tomo, the man who loves him above all others, Jun will be forced to confront himself, his deepest fears, hates, desires. And his deepest love.

Review: A cute, sweet, and very angsty story about two people finally getting together.

I had never heard of the term soy sauce face before so I imagine that term is known in Asian culture. But I can gather from Tomo’s description of Jun that a soy sauce face is a pretty boy. Soy Sauce Face is short, but packs a lot within its pages. There is plenty of angst, drama, past trauma, unrequited love, lust, and desire. Tomo and Jun seem like two very different people, but they really do need each other although I feel they need each other much more than is healthy.

Tomo is a very solitary guy and I understand that he wants to be home when Jun gets home, but that means that he doesn’t go out nor does he seem to have any friends besides Jun. Jun has kept his feeling hidden from Tomo for so long that they barely interact. It takes a life threatening experience for Tomo to come out of his shell. I am happy that they get together, but I feel that Jun and possibly Tomo will need a good deal of counseling before they can work through their own problems before they can be a healthy couple.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that enjoy angsty m-m romance.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

I Doth Be a Warlock

The Brotherhood Of Piaxia by Michael Drakich

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for a review. 

Summary: Years have passed since the overthrow of the monarchy by the Brotherhood of Warlocks and they rule Piaxia in peaceful accord. But now forces are at work to disrupt this rule from outside the Brotherhood as well as within! Follow Tarlok, Savan and Tessia as their paths intertwine, with the Brotherhood in pursuit and the powerful merchant’s guild manipulating the populace for their own end.

Review: A decent fantasy novel that suffered from stilted conversation and too quick resolution.

I enjoy fantasy although I haven’t been reading enough of it lately. It is a genre that I always enjoy because I do so love the idea of being able to do magic, living with elves, flying on dragons, and going on quests. I usually like my fantasy epic and with a variety of different races, but I can still enjoy less epic fantasy. Since spell casters are the main characters, I thought Brotherhood of Piaxia would be an enjoyable read. It was a decent read and I do like the world that the book took place in.

The interaction of the Brotherhood with the monarchy shows how power can corrupt people and how power can be used for ill means. Piaxia is one country or area and it would be interesting to see what other countries or areas in the world were like. I thought it was cool to have magic users be in charge of Piaxia. I didn’t like that girls did not seem to be magic users. Also, while the characters themselves were decent, the conversation between the characters was stilted. I felt the revolution happened much too quickly although I would be interested to see what the future holds for Piaxia.


Recommendation: I would recommend this to those that enjoy fantasy with political aspects.

Monday, June 3, 2013

A Heart Blinded by Love

Secrets of the Tudor Court by D.L. Bogdan

Summary: When young Mary Howard receives the news that she will be leaving her home for the grand court of King Henry VIII, to attend his mistress Anne Boleyn, she is ecstatic. Everything Anne touches seems to turn to gold, and Mary is certain Anne will one day become Queen. But Mary has also seen the King's fickle nature and how easily he discards those who were once close to him. . .

Discovering that she is a pawn in a carefully orchestrated plot devised by her father, the duke of Norfolk, Mary dare not disobey him. Yet despite all of her efforts to please him, she too falls prey to his cold wrath. Not until she becomes betrothed to Harry Fitzroy, the Duke of Richmond and son to King Henry VIII, does Mary finds the love and approval she's been seeking. But just when Mary believes she is finally free of her father, the tides turn. Now Mary must learn to play her part well in a dangerous chess game that could change her life--and the course of history.

Review: An incredibly emotion story of Mary Howard that demonstrates the impact that Henry VIII had on people's lives.

Henry VIII's reign affected so many lives. So many people were murdered and many families lost a family member, be it a mother, father, son, daughter, cousin, etc. I've read a number of historical fiction novels about the Tudors and there has been a number of deaths in those books. Some of those books have been told from the viewpoint of queens that have been executed. None of those books have affected me as much as this book has. Mary Howard witnesses many deaths including those of her brother and cousins.

Along with all the great loss, comes the death of her true love. You can feel Mary's pain throughout the book and her burning desire to be happy, which includes being out of the grasp of her father. As much as I like Mary Howard, I do not understand her love of her father. He is downright abusive to her, puts her to work as a spy, and puts her in danger, yet she still wants to seek his approval and love. He is not a man worthy of admiration, much less love.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that enjoy historical fiction about the Tudors.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Revenge Gone Wrong

Big Deal, Volume 1: Lust for Vengeance (Big Deal #1) by Katsura, Yuramei (Illustrator)

Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a review. 

Summary: Bank robbers, bordellos and a whole lot of bed-hopping, as British black comedy meets Yaoi in a head on collision.

Fergus Campbell is straight out of prison with only one thought in his mind, to pay back his former friend and partner in crime, Judas MacGregor for stitching him up and sending him there in the first place. What he least expects on his return to his old haunts, is to fall head over heels in love with Mikhail, the stunningly beautiful owner of the best little whorehouse in town.

After one night of bliss with Mikhail, Fergus resolves to make the blond bombshell his own. But there is one thing that stands in the way between him and a relationship with the man of his dreams. He is already married the psychotic young alcoholic, Hugo. Although their marriage has been falling apart for years, the spoiled Hugo won’t let go of his meal ticket so easily. What follows can only be a wild ride of lust, mayhem and revenge!

Review: A m-m romance with plenty of sex, murder, and revenge.

I enjoy m-m romances so decided to give this book a shot. The first thing I must say is that the illustrations are wonderful and I would love to see this as a manga or graphic novel. The dramatic story line would lend itself well to illustration. While the pictures were certainly titillating, I didn't enjoy the book very much. The story line itself was ok. I personally don't watch or read too many mobster based books or movies. I am willing to read most yaoi or m-m regardless of the setting, but unfortunately, this setting really wasn't for me.

This book still could have been an enjoyable read if not for the characters. Vinny was my favorite character. He truly seemed to care about Judas although Judas certainly didn't see it. Judas was certainly no saint, but he had a sense of humor and swagger that was mildly amusing. Mikhail was too much. He honestly didn't seem real. I found myself detesting Fergus. I'm sure Hugo wasn't the easiest to deal with, but he didn't deserve to get hit, ignored, or verbally abused by Fergus. He's also so quick to cheat on Hugo yet wouldn't stand for Hugo doing the same.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that enjoy darker m-m stories.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

A Dangerous She Wolf

Rival to the Queen by Carolly Erickson

Summary: Powerful, dramatic and full of the rich history that has made Carolly Erickson’s novels perennial bestsellers, this is the story of the only woman to ever stand up to the Virgin Queen— her own cousin, Lettie Knollys. Far more attractive than the queen, Lettie soon won the attention of the handsome and ambitious Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, a man so enamored of the queen and determined to share her throne that it was rumored he had murdered his own wife in order to become her royal consort. The enigmatic Elizabeth allowed Dudley into her heart, and relied on his devoted service, but shied away from the personal and political risks of marriage.

When Elizabeth discovered that he had married her cousin Lettie in secret, Lettie would pay a terrible price, fighting to keep her husband’s love and ultimately losing her beloved son, the Earl of Essex, to the queen’s headsman.

This is the unforgettable story of two women related by blood, yet destined to clash over one of Tudor England’s most charismatic men.

Review: A tale of rivalry, lust, and love starring Lettice Knollys, Robert Dudley, and Queen Elizabeth.

Lettice Knollys is a great historical figure to write a book about. She and Robert Dudley risk the great wrath of Queen Elizabeth by marrying. Lettice Knollys was relatively lucky that she was only banished from court and still managed to see her husband. I am reminded of the poor Grey sisters who married with Elizabeth’s permission and became separated from their husbands permanently. With how much Queen Elizabeth cared for Dudley and how jealous she became when any woman paid attention to him, it is amazing that Lettice was only banned from court.

Rival to the Queen is a quick read that covers a number of years. Years could pass in a single chapter. A reader has to be paying attention to notice the time passing. I found Lettice to be a sympathetic and likeable character at first. She shows great sympathy and understanding towards those of a different religious faith. As the novel goes on, Lettice is shown to be a person that only cares about looks and fulfilling her lustful desires. Very soon after Robert Dudley dies, she marries a younger handsome man, because of his looks and money.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that enjoy reading about the Tudors.