Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Altercation of What Now?

The Altercation of Vira by Kenechi Udogu

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

Summary: The people of Vira have long awaited the arrival of their lost princess, Elve. Legend has foretold a season of great change in the dawn of her return. For the Maracans, she brings the promise of fortified control over their rival kindred. For the Cefans, a glimmer of hope in an existence filled with oppression.

The only problem is their princess is eighteen year old Ama Brown, an ordinary girl living an ordinary life, who has no idea that she is about to be drawn into a world where an age old battle is brewing and nothing is quite as it seems.

Review: A sometimes confusing book about a young girl living in our world who is actually a princess in another world.

On a science level (and science fiction stories) I love the idea of multiple worlds, multiple universes, other dimensions, wormholes, and the like. I will admit that for fantasy and supernatural stories I prefer the story to take place in only one world, unless there is a good reason for another world (such as part of the plot taking place in hell or heaven). I was interested to see how Ama was going to get to Vira and what she would do when she was there.

I will admit that The Altercation of Vira was not as good as The Other Slipper. I am glad I read The Other Slipperfirst since I knew the author could write well. There’s a prophecy that involves Ama and civil unrest in a nation where one group persecutes the other group. It is not clear how Ama gets to Vira and the confusion starts from there. There is very little known about the world and most of what is told is confusing. I am not sure what changes Ama will accomplish that fulfills the prophecy or why she has to do the things she does as queen.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that enjoy fantasy that takes place in multiple realms.

Friday, August 30, 2013

If The Shoe Fits...

The Other Slipper by Kenechi Udogu

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

Summary: When Jo finds a lone glass slipper on the night of the royal ball, she realises that there is more to the seemingly ordinary object than meets the eye. Searching for its owner, she is led to the palace where the princess sets her on a journey that thrusts her into an unexpected world of magic and illusions. It soon becomes clear that there is a lot more to her mission as she discovers startling secrets about her past and struggles to embrace her destiny.

Review: An enjoyable retelling of Cinderella that focuses a young girl accidentally caught up in the wake of Cinderella’s grand adventure.

I enjoy fairy tale retellings, especially if there is a twist involved. All the stories that I’ve so far about fairy tale retellings always focused on one of the main characters in the story such as Sleeping Beauty or Cinderella. The Other Slipper focuses on a young girl who happens to find a glass slipper after the ball where Ella meets the prince and manages to mess up the enchantment. Ella was barely actually in the story and the prince even less.

I liked the explanation behind the slippers and why Jo finding the slipper messes up the enchantment. What starts as a seemingly simple request goes very wrong. I liked the connections between the two families and how the slippers (as a magical object) have affected much over the years. There was some magic involved in the story, but the focus was more on Jo and her brother Ron develop over their journey. I mostly liked Jo. She was strong willed, thought with her brain, and was understandably wary of people. She could get a bit too stubborn for her own good and hated to accept help when it was freely given.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that enjoy fairy tales and fairy tale retellings.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

To Save Them All

Andor Awakening by Brendan O'Keeffe

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

Summary: War is everywhere.

Shae is consumed by a vicious war between the human Imperium and a brutal race known only as the Raz. Humanity stands on the edge of destruction as the Razian forces advance city by city, burning everything in their path. Waking to find no memory of his troubled past and haunted by the implications of his abilities, Andor must find his place in this violent world, discover who he was, who he is, and what all of this means for Shae...

Review: A pretty standard fantasy with evil bad guys, a prophecy, and magic.

Andor Awakening is an enjoyable book although it is a pretty standard fantasy. It involves magic, a prophecy, evil baddies, and a love interest. I am a bit ambivalent about amnesia, perhaps because it was overdone in rpgs at one point. It seems like an excuse to have an info dump and I really don't like those. Thankfully, while this book does reveal information in big clumps to Andor, it is not all at once and follows a pretty logical progression. Andor's past also gets revealed slowly.

I liked the setting of this world with the idea of magical gifts (but a person only gets one), different nations, nations across the sea, werewolves, visions of what may come to pass, and prophecies. I really liked the idea of Andor's multiple abilities. It was a reason for him being special. So this book is a pretty standard fantasy, but is still enjoyable. I couldn't personally connect with any of the characters (even Andor). The characters besides Andor, Vo, and the ranger (forgot his name) all seem to blend together. I would have liked more developed characters.


Recommendation: I would recommend this to those that enjoy fantasy with traditional elements such as magic and prophecy.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Under Control?

Final Solution by Michael Davis

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

Summary: Three stellar wars have stretched the ability of Earth’s ruling authority, the Council, to control the populace across twelve star systems. Unrest among the people threatens the oppressive reign of the government and they’re left with one option: to execute the Final Solution. Their grand scheme is so abominable; should the truth leak out, it could threaten stability of the Order and incite open rebellion.

For their plan to succeed, they must depend on the unique talents of one telepathic man and his blue skinned wife. The couple becomes unwilling pawns to help the Council expand beyond Dominion space into new regions of the galaxy. They unravel lies within lies and discover the scheme risks, not just the New Earth Empire, but the very fabric of the universe. The destiny of humanity itself, and the quest to resolve the ultimate enigma of all sentient beings, falls upon the unlikely duo.

Review: A decent science fiction setting and story marred by women characters that are there to be petite and/or had sex or want to have sex with the main character.

Throughout the whole novel, I noticed that almost all of the women characters were petite and/or wanted to have sex with the main character or did have sex with the main character. There were constant descriptions of Cali as small, petite, weighing a hundred pounds, and having a nice rump (there were lots of rumps in this story). Her only role in the story seemed to be was to be small, have sex with Logan, and be a plot mover. Yes, some women are small and petite, but not all women are small and petite. Some women are tall and big. I also didn’t like the idea of stereotypically feminine thoughts and behavior. You can’t characterize all women so please don’t.

The women in the story really killed my enjoyment of this book, which is a shame since it had a decent setting and decent story. I liked the idea of rebellion against an oppressive government who will stop at nothing to achieve their objectives. The history was fascinating and I would like to know more about the experiments that were done on humans. I’m always a sucker for telepaths and mental powers since I personally would love to be able to read peoples’ minds and move objects with my mind. The story did jerk around a bit, but came to a logical conclusion.


Recommendation: I would recommend this to science fiction fans who enjoy telepaths and conspiracies.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Dogs in Politics

The Fitzy Resolution by A.D. DeSena, William Bergin (Illustrator)

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

Summary: A fictional book about the sociopolitical world of dogs following one senator's mission to investigate mysterious disappearances of dogs in her government. Through her investigation, she discovers certain truths to be false, and she is in constant conflict to keep government control away from the more ruthless factions of her government.

Review: A story of politics, intrigue, secret alliances, danger from foreign enemies, and political divides – with dogs!

I am really impressed by A. D. DeSena and all the detail that the author put into this book. It really is incredible. DeSena takes the world of dogs as we know it and turns it on its head. I have read books before that are from the point of the animal and sometimes that animal is a part of an animal society (Redwall is an example of this and an enjoyable series too), but nothing this detailed, nothing this complex. It packs so much information in 178 pages.

The Central Canine Government functions just like a government in the book. There are political parties, infighting, alliances, and posturing. While I love the complexity of this book, it does suffer from too much detail. I liked the story the best when it focusing on Casey and the mysteries of the fanamas, the disappearing dogs, the Wilds, and the rats. I like seeing how everything unfolds and how Casey eventually learns the truth. It seems like an ill situation has been worked out and turned for the better. Only time will tell.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those enjoy books told from animals' points of view, especially dogs.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Experiments and Religion

The Invention of Religion by Alexander Drake

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

Summary: In this book, the author explores the question of whether religions were invented by humans or given to us by some other means. It is a scientific look at how ancient humans made sense of the world and the phenomena they encountered around them.

In the past, arguments against the existence of gods have mainly come in the form of scientific inquiries that attempt to show there is no evidence for their existence. The Invention of Religion, however, investigates the psychological mechanisms that cause religions to originate and it sets out to prove that when humans have neither science nor religion, these mechanisms cause them to invent new religions. It also investigates how the differences (like monotheism vs. pantheism) between religions arise and how probable these differences are.

Review: An intriguing thought experiment with science based experiments to back up the author’s theories.

As the summary states, most books I’ve read dealing with arguments against the existence of god focus on science, logic, and facts. I have never read a book before that uses science to try and explain why religion may have been formed in the past by uninformed humans. Uninformed is the key term here. Ancient man would have little to no idea about concepts that are common knowledge to us such as lightning being caused by electrons. These ancient humans aren’t lesser; they just didn’t know or have the ability to know.

It really is fascinating the number of experiments that Alexander Drake cites that can help to explain certain religious phenomena. The experiments mentioned were ones that I had never heard of before. Drake uses a Man on an Island as the basis of his thought experiment and creates plausible scenarios in which the Man (could be one or many) develops religion. Drake covers the basic aspects and tenets of a religion. While Drake argues that religion may have been developed by ancient man and is not god given, he never derides religion.


Recommendation: I would recommend this to those interested in early religions.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

It's All in Your Head

The Philosophy of a Mad Man by Steven Colborne

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

Summary: It has often been said that there is a fine line between madness and genius, and this saying finds true expression the work of diagnosed schizophrenic and philosopher Steven Colborne. This book is Colborne's first published work, and offers a fascinating insight into the life story and philosophy of this deeply original thinker.

Review: Part memoir and part philosophy of a troubled young man.

Steven Colborne is a troubled young man and it's not a phrase I use lately. He has schizoaffective disorder, which is a terrible combination of schizophrenia and affective disorders (such as major depressive disorder). As someone who suffers from depression, anxiety, and sleeping issues, I understand the problems of mental illness, but I can't imagine suffering from delusions or having psychotic breaks. What I like about Steven is how he constantly tries to get better, to feel better. He continues to search for his version of enlightenment and happiness even though the search is a hard one.

Reading the memoir half of the book was certainly interesting. Steven experiences a lot of loss, especially with regards to cancer. Steven tried a lot of Eastern methods, some of which I had never heard of, to try and find inner peace. I am not exactly sure how Christianity came into play since Steven had never mentioned it before, but perhaps he had always believe in a god. While Steven's philosophy was interesting and certainly an interesting way to look at the world, it didn't resonate with me. As an atheist, I was probably not the intended audience for this book.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those interested in mental illness with a Christian aspect.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Review of The Mummy's Foot and The Woman's Ghost

Disclaimer: I received these short stories from the publisher in exchange for a review. 

Those two stories are part of a couple new e-book collections that Red Wheel/Weiser Books has published, The Paranormal Parlor Collection and Magical Creatures Collection.

The Mummy’s Foot by Théophile Gautier 

Summary: Theophile Gautier’s gothic tale, The Mummy’s Foot, tells of a man’s magical adventures when he serendipitously walks into a Parisian curiosity shoppe to purchase a bauble, and becomes owner of a 3,000 year-old ancient Egyptian princess’ mummified foot.

Review: A tale of Ancient Egypt and the quest to be whole.

A mummified foot is not something I would think of as an acceptable paperweight. Mostly, I would be afraid of damaging such an old item. The idea of maiming a mummy would have been very serious due to what the Egyptians believed of the afterlife. The princess would have been without her foot in the afterlife. I liked how long lived the princess and king were, but how short lived the man was. Though there may be no afterlife, humans today have lost the art of preserving bodies as the Egyptians did. 


The Woman’s Ghost by Algernon Blackwood

Summary: In The Woman’s Ghost, master of horror Algernon Blackwood presents a chilling tale of a woman, her ghost, andthe surprising love between them.

Review: The sudden relationship between a woman and a ghost.

I liked this one less than The Mummy's Foot. I did like the idea of a man who died because he hated his fellow men so much and himself coming back a ghost that needed love to pass on. What I didn't like too much was how quickly the woman seemed to feel love for the ghost even though she had just meet him. I can understand feeling sympathy or pity, but not the genuine love she supposedly felt. I know this is a short story, but a little more development would have been appreciated.


Recommendation: I would recommend these two stories to anyone who enjoys classical horror stories. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Immortality is Forever

Our Blissful Bayou Beginnings (The Duck And The Doe, #1) by Danielle Peterson

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

Summary: The Duck And The Doe is the tale of two immortal beings whose eternal love has soured a bit in the last two centuries. Written as memoir by the "hero," this novella is a musing on both what love is and how much America has changed since the early 19th century. The first volume deals with both the supernatural and the racism of the old American south. Told with humor and passion (and the occasional rant) the story of these strong characters, including a wealthy young lawyer and a clever courtsean, will change your idea of what "love forever'' really means.

Review: A thoroughly enjoyable tale of the supernatural and love.

As much as I love the supernatural, especially vampires, I can easily get sick of all the supernatural books out now. Adult supernatural novels are still popular, but what's worse are the young adult novels. Don't get me wrong. I love supernatural young adult novels, but it's nice to read something different and Our Blissful Bayou Beginnings is certainly different. The story is told from Remi's point of view so a reader can get into his head. While Violet was a main character, she wasn't as easily knowable and seemed rather cruel at times.

Remi has a very interesting perspective on how much life has changed since the early 19th century. He does remind me that I really need to appreciate how easy we have it, in certain aspects, today. The story of Remi and Violet was tragic although Remi acted like a typical love sick desperate young man. Remi does jump and skip around in time, but it made sense considering how he was telling the story. While I wasn't the biggest fan of Violet, I do feel bad that she was brought into immortality without being asked. It really wasn't fair to her.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that like supernatural stories.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Frozen Hearts

The Speed of Winter (Four Seasons #1) by B. Morris Allen

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

Summary: Seeds need water, sun, ... and soil.

Elyse was a forbidden child. Her parents gave up their youth for the dream of a new start for humanity. They broke the rules to give their daughter a head start. But when their colony ship arrives, the target planet is a ball of ice, and Elyse is left to watch the adults around her cope with devastating failure, and try to make something out of her own life at the same time.

The Speed of Winter is the first in the Four Seasons quintet, which explores the voyages of four arkships and the fate of those left on Earth. Winter will be followed by A Heading for Fall, The Loss of Summer, A Commitment to Spring, and Salted the Earth.

Review: A story of interstellar colonization gone horribly wrong.

Humans will eventually need to leave the confines of the earth and travel beyond the solar system. Of course we still need a faster propulsion system than we do now. Even an ark ship would take too many years to get to wherever it's going. I also was surprised with how little information was truly known about the planet that thousands of people were going to. Perhaps it's because while I know that we are searching for earth-like planets, I am not truly aware of how much detail is obtained about those planets. Still, I would have expected a second or third probe to have been sent to any planet that humans would be traveling to.

This is a pretty depressing story. It starts out with hope and joy, including the birth of Elyse. Once the truth is known about the planet (it's covered with ice and snow), everything goes to hell. There is death, murder, rape, violence, despair, grief, resentment, and jealously. Elyse is a complicated character. After her traumatic experience as a child, it is understandable how she reacts and deals with life. What does surprise me is how at times she seems rather sane, but at others is downright insane. The ending is very creepy.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that enjoy science fiction stories.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Better Not Blink

Blink by Lloyd Poast

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

Summary: A teenage boy wanders into a mystical forest ruled by a gypsy goddess named Amaisia Moon.

The forest changes with every blink or head turn and he discovers an ocean where dreams and nightmares literally come alive.

Review: A quick, but enjoyable fantasy short story read.

I will admit this reminded me of Alice in Wonderland a little, but certainly not in a bad way. Who doesn't want to go exploring in mysterious forests? I like how the forest acted as a place out of time and space and how so many ways lead to the forest. As you can figure from the title, blinking plays a part in this short story. It is amazing how such a simple action can have such great consequences. I would love to see this short story expanded into a novella or even a novel. The world has much potential.


Recommendation: I would recommend this short story to those that enjoy Alice in Wonderland-like fantasy stories.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Blue is Only Temporary

The Mine (Northwest Passage #1) by John A. Heldt

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

Summary: In May 2000, Joel Smith is a cocky, adventurous young man who sees the world as his playground. But when the college senior, days from graduation, enters an abandoned Montana mine, he discovers the price of reckless curiosity. He emerges in May 1941 with a cell phone he can't use, money he can't spend, and little but his wits to guide his way. Stuck in the age of Whirlaway, swing dancing, and a peacetime draft, Joel begins a new life as the nation drifts toward war. With the help of his 21-year-old trailblazing grandmother and her friends, he finds his place in a world he knew only from movies and books. But when an opportunity comes to return to the present, Joel must decide whether to leave his new love in the past or choose a course that will alter their lives forever. THE MINE is a love story that follows a humbled man through a critical time in history as he adjusts to new surroundings and wrestles with the knowledge of things to come.

Review: A decent time travel novel spoiled by a unlikable a main character.

Planets align and people will freak out. People were concerned that planets would align in 2012 and somehow effect the end of the world. That didn't happen and planetary alignments occur with some regularity. Still, it's an interesting explanation for time travel and in a mine no less. I like that Joel Smith didn't go back too far in time. 1941 was far enough to be a shock, but not too far for it to be impossible for Joel to fit in. It's amazing how a few decades can be so different from the present.

Joel does a pretty good job for someone who accidentally goes back in time. He acclimatizes very well and I am surprised how quickly he does it. If I were him, I would have been actively trying to go back to my future. He also manages to fall in love within a month, which I found extremely unbelievable. Though he could have done it much more, I didn't like how Joel took advantage of his future knowledge to gain money. Personally, I found Joel to be too cocky and he just annoyed me with his 'witty' comments.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those interested in time travel stories in the first half of the 20th century.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Don't Go Hiding in Closets

Capturing Cora (Romps & Rakehells #1) by Madelynne Ellis

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

Summary: A botched marriage proposal. A mischievous wager. All leading to a game of hide and seek that turns highly erotic…
Branwell “Tinker” Locke believes in grand gestures. However, when his marriage proposal to Miss Cora Reeve is dismissed as a jape, Bran has to find another way to persuade Cora of his utmost sincerity. Even if it means using his tongue for something other than pretty words.

Cora fears that her former childhood friend is simply set upon helping her win a wager, that is, until they’re thrust together during a game of hide and seek and previously un-expressed passion blooms between them. Then, Cora is left wondering if she’s made a terrible mistake. Does Bran really love her, or was that forbidden pleasure between them in the cupboard just a moment that’s gone forever?

The onus is now on her to convince Bran that she really does want him. She’s ready to bare not just her heart and emotions, but all she has. Things a lady should never give without a promise of forever…

Review: A quick erotic read with a little romance thrown in.

Part of what I love about historical romance is that it takes a bit to get to the sex and there are often misunderstandings, ill timing, disastrous events, or other reasons as to why two people wouldn't get to have sex. In short, I like the buildup to the sex. I liked the wager between Cora and her friends. I also liked how it led to a misunderstanding between Cora and Branwell when he proposes to her right after hearing about the proposal. The sexual aspect between Cora and Branwell was well done. I had just hoped for a bit more misunderstanding before they made up.


Recommendation: I would recommend this to those who want a quick erotic historical romance.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Weirder and Weirder

Merciful Flush by Lance Manion

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

Summary: Merciful of Flush is a collection blogs written over the past 5 years. Sometimes funny, often thought-provoking, and occasionally rude they seek to act as a catalyst for creativity. Details are kept to a minimum so the reader can fill in their own blanks and take from the stories something unique to them. A perfect book for commuters, people in need of a little inspiration and anyone who likes to read on the toilet. A self-help book for those looking to think weirder.

Review: A very eclectic and downright weird collection of stories.

This collection of stories is perfect to read a little at a time. You can read one or two stories in a few minutes. So technically, it's perfect for reading on the toilet. Through these stories, you can tell that Lance Manion doesn't take himself very seriously and that he is a mysterious creature (aka doesn't provide many details about himself). All of these stories are odd or weird in some way. Some are weirder and odder than others. I would not recommend this collection of stories to someone who does not have a sense of humor since you certainly need one to read Merciful Flush.

Since there are so many stories, there are bound to be some that a reader really enjoys, likes, and those they don't like. Most of the stories fell into the likes category with a few falling into really enjoys and ones that I didn't like. There are two stories that I remembered as really enjoying. The first one was about the spider and how the spider made its web even though it was supposed to rain. The other was the one where convicts could take the place of someone who was dying and criminals wound up in positions of power, such as CEOs of companies.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that enjoy humorous short stories that can be downright weird at times.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Can You Read My Mind?

First Visions (Second Sight #1) by Heather Topham Wood

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

Summary: Two years ago, 21-year-old Kate Edwards became deathly ill and slipped into a coma. While unconscious, she crept into the mind of a missing boy and awoke with the knowledge of his location. Friends and family were skeptical and wary of her new ability to see into the minds of others. Their fears prompted Kate to keep her psychic powers a secret. Feeling alienated, she dropped out of college and spent most of her days holed up at her mother's home. Now another child has been abducted. Police detective Jared Corbett seeks out Kate for her help in solving the case. Reluctantly, Kate agrees and they must work together to bring 8-year-old Cori Preston home to her family. Although attracted to one another, Jared has a girlfriend with ties to the abduction case and Kate is sarcastic and guarded since her coma. With visions she can't control and an uncontrollable attraction to the detective, she wonders if she can leave the past behind and finally stop hiding from the world. Otherwise, Cori may be lost forever.

Review: A story of a young girl troubled by an unwanted gift.

I liked that Kate's psychic abilities were a fluke and something that had no logical explanation. Meningitis is a serious disease with a fatality rate of at about 10% (depending on what type of meningitis it is) and certainly effects the body in unpleasant ways. Since psychic abilities make no logical sense, it's acceptable that meningitis cased it. I found it very logical that even though Kate used her abilities to help save a child, everyone was either skeptical of her (and thought she was faking) or wanted her help. It makes sense that Kate would want to hide her abilities.

I know Kate went through a traumatic event, but I wasn't a big fan of her character. She acted like a teenager instead of a 21 year old (although 21 year olds aren't always better than teenagers). I can understand why Jared would seek out Kate if he was desperate, but I don't understand their relationship or why is blossomed so quickly. Considering how hot Jared was and how Kate thought of herself, their relationship felt like wish fulfillment. I also wished the story focused more on Kate's ability than her attraction to Jared.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those who enjoy supernatural romances.

Friday, August 16, 2013

It's Technically Heaven

Heaven 2.0 by Scott Haworth

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

Summary: Having been born in the 28th century, Mike Kepler never believed in the existence of Heaven or Hell. The myths of the old faiths had been abandoned and replaced with the teachings of The Church many centuries earlier. The young physicist is shocked to learn that there is an afterlife when he is recruited by the Taipei Corporation. It was created by a team of scientists rather than God.

Mike’s job is to travel to the past and save people at the time of their deaths using advanced medical technology. The individuals are then brought back to the 28th century, judged on the sins they committed and sentenced to an eternity in the artificial Heaven or Hell. Mike quickly learns that the project is far less noble than it appears. He discovers that many of the people sentenced to eternal torment in Hell do not deserve their fate...

Review: A story about heaven if it was ruled by a bureaucracy.

This is a very unusual story. You can tell that from the plot alone, but reading Heaven 2.0 really drove home how unusual this tale was. What I liked most about this book was the questions that it brought up: Is a man made heaven really heaven? Is there really life after death (not just the heaven provided by the Taipei Corporation)? Do people have a right to choose death over living on in a created body? I don't believe in a heaven or a hell, but I would not want to live in a heaven without my family and my husband, which isn't guaranteed with this version of heaven and hell.

It doesn't take very long for me to realize how unfair the Taipei Corporation's heaven and hell was. I wonder how it came about, including The Church. Why would a corporation follow old fashioned rules on who gets to go to heaven and hell? I am really surprised it took people as long as it did for people to actively try to topple the Taipei Corporation.


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

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Curse Is Gonna Get You

Inside Evil by Geoffrey Wakeling

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

Summary: Life in the secluded town of Ridgewood is charming, simple, safe - isn't it? The bubble that isolates the hamlet protects, or so the eclectic residents believe. Lurking in the background of every day life is a curse that comes in cycles and picks off the innocent as it pleases. But this time there's something different,this time the curse wants more.

Roberta Arlington's life changes the moment she finds one of
her pupils, pale, frozen, DEAD. Her mind is filled with uncharacteristic thoughts, dreams and visions create bizarre scenes, and her blood boils as she lashes out at those she loves. Amidst her turmoil there are friends, and enemies, who come to her aid, piecing together the puzzle laid before them.

But with the ancient evil having struck down so many through
the centuries, Roberta will have to muster every ounce of strength she has to survive. An entire world, a strange land, has unveiled itself. If Roberta knows one thing for sure, it's that she alone won't be able to escape as death comes calling......

Review: An enjoyable though somewhat confusing supernatural tale of horror.

I would consider this a supernatural book although there are big horror elements. The curse that effects the citizens of Ridgewood is pretty damn terrifying especially since there seems to be no way to break it. I wasn't sure how the curse would play out and I am still a bit confused by the ending. People have died, both now and in the past, and they all share similar aspects of their death. I can only imagine the horror of living in a seemingly safe place when an evil lurks.

The characters felt like they were there mostly to move the story along. They won't bad, but they weren't too bad either. They felt pretty similar and I found myself having to double check to see who I was reading about. I understood the basics behind the curse and how the curse seemed to travel from to person. I would have liked some more information on how the curse got started. Some aspects of the book seemed unnecessary or just plain confusing. Were the mysterious hooded men behind the curse? What does solving a riddle have to do with getting rid of the curse?


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

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

More than Just Numbers

ec·o·nom·ics: a simple twist on normalcy by Kersten L. Kelly

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

Summary: Professional football players, corporate tobacco advertisers, volatile gasoline prices, and the Cold War all share an undetected commonality-each is an intrinsic part of economics. Though not obvious to the naked eye, each entity shares a pattern with the others. This book helps to shed light on these mutual characteristics. It is an extensive compilation of theories interpreted using supportive examples. Economics is an enthralling science that encompasses our actions, thoughts, and emotional rationality every day in the unconscious. This book dissects economic theory into bite-size, entertaining snippets that anyone can understand and apply to their routines. It is a compelling depiction of history, pop culture, and social movements intertwined with relevant economic trends. Economics is part of daily life, and this book challenges readers to question how and why people make decisions by adding a simple twist on normalcy.

Review: An informative book about the basics of economy.

For me at least, economics isn't the most exciting subject to read about even though economics effects so much in our lives. I know very little about economics. I have read Freakonomics and Superfreakonomics and enjoyed them to a decent amount. I personally found the first to have connections that were common sense to me. The second was more enjoyable, but I personally found that people were more than statistics. So when I read in the introduction that Kelly was inspired by Freakonomics, I was certainly interested to see what this book would be like.

ec·o·nom·ics was an entertaining and informative book. Kelly uses stories to illustrate the economic principles that she mentions. I suspect that Kelly only selected a few of the many economic theories (and I'm sure that some are more easily easy to explain with stories than others). I learned a few basic economic principles and I would recommend this book to those with little to no knowledge about economics. I am interested enough to learn more about economics. Be warned though, this book only scratches the surface of economics and should not be viewed a complete guidebook. 


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those interested in learning about economics.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

A Heart Wrenching Dystopian Read

Night of the Purple Moon (The Toucan Trilogy #1) by Scott Cramer

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

Summary: Abby Leigh is looking forward to watching the moon turn purple, unaware that deadly bacteria from a passing comet will soon kill off older teens and adults. The lightning-fast epidemic sweeps across the planet when the germs attack the hormones produced during puberty.

On a small island off the coast of Maine, Abby must help her brother and baby sister survive in this new world, but all the while she has a ticking time bomb inside of her -- adolescence.

Review: A dystopian novel with a slightly unbelievable plot, but heart wrenching ending.

I would personally call this a science fiction novel with dystopian elements since the world Abby finds herself in after the comet is more of an apocalyptic one. I can see the world quickly becoming a dystopian world. Of course, this is all just nitpicking with genres. I found it a bit silly that an epidemic from a comment only attacks people who have reached puberty. There is a decent explanation for it, but it still was a bit odd. This book reminded me of the Gone series since all the adults are gone although Night of the Purple covers more time and manages to fit it all in one book and not two or three or four.

I did find it a little hard to believe that the kids on the island could work together well enough to create a farm, ration food, create work schedules, etc, but I gave them the benefit of the doubt. The disease itself was rather nasty, especially the rash. It was painful to watch as the kids died. It was heartbreaking to read about Abby and Jordan's journey near the end of the novel.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that enjoy young adult dystopian fiction.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Will the Real Monster Please Stand Up?

The Boo Hag by David Morgan

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

Summary: Lenny Petrakas is worried about her skin. Not the way you're thinking. Not like that at all. While most people spend time concerned about dirt and elasticity, temperature and moisture, Lenny has a more pressing problem. Something is after her. Something evil that won't stop until it has peeled every last inch of skin from the teen's body. And then, it may end her misery quickly, or it may dump her body in the woods. Let infection and dehydration run its course.

Lenny is just your normal sixteen-year-old girl. Was. Was just your normal sixteen-year-old girl. Quiet and polite. Petite. Introspective, but not to the point of isolation. Loyal? Fiercely so. Outstanding? Noteworthy? Different? No, no, and no. Or so she thought. What started as an eerie feeling, a certainty that someone had been in her room while she slept, has spiraled into something far worse. Something was in her room. Something that finds her highly different, extremely noteworthy, and intensely outstanding.

Game over? Wrong. Lenny's a fighter, and she isn't about to lie down and take what's coming to her. Enlisting the help of her best friend, a not-so-secret admirer, the hottest guy in school, one odious cheerleader, and a paranormalist teacher, Lenny is facing her fears head on, in a battle she knows can only end in death.

Review: A story of how teenagers deal with the threat of a supernatural monster.

This book is called The Boo Hag, but it was surprising how little the boo hag actually showed up. A boo hag is certainly not a monster that is popular in supernatural fiction right now. Even when authors try to use less popular monsters (such as gargoyles and banshees), boo hags never seem to come up. So I was very interested to read this book. It starts out strong and the boo hag is very creepy. Then the story progresses and the boo hag only shows up a few times. Even the ending didn't have much of the boo hag.

What this book really seems to focus on is Lenny, Anna, their relationship, and how they deal with the boo hag. Lenny is competent, smart, and doesn't back down when times get tough. The character I really felt bad for was Anna. She was a good friend to Lenny, but had fallen hard for Brian who only has interest in Katie whom I hated. Katie was your stereotypical cheerleader who only cared about herself and how hot she was. The book ends on a cliffhanger although it's an intriguing cliffhanger.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those interested in supernatural stories that feature unusual monsters.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Story of Elizabeth and Dudley

Death and the Virgin Queen: Elizabeth I and the Dark Scandal That Rocked the Throne by Chris Skidmore

Summary: On the morning of September 8, 1560, at the isolated manor of Cunmor place, the body of a young woman was found at the bottom of a staircase, her neck broken. But this was no ordinary death. Amy Robsart was the wife of Elizabeth I’s great favorite, Robert Dudley, the man who many believed she would marry, were he free. Immediately people suspected foul play and Elizabeth’s own reputation was in danger of serious damage. Many felt she might even lose her throne. An inquest was begun, witnesses called, and ultimately a verdict of death by accident was reached. But the mystery refused to die and cast a long shadow over Elizabeth’s reign.

Using recently discovered forensic evidence from the original investigation, Skidmore is able to put an end to centuries of speculation as to the true causes of Robsart’s death. This is the story of a treacherous period in Elizabeth’s life: a tale of love, death, and tragedy, exploring the dramatic early life of England’s Virgin Queen.

Review: A book about the relationship between Queen Elizabeth and Robert Dudley that is much too long.

The title of this book is quite deceptive. I was expecting it to be about the scandal surrounding Robert Dudley after his wife's death. It's actually about the relationship between Queen Elizabeth and Robert Dudley although the death of Amy Robsart does play a large role in their relationship. The book did seem a bit long to be only about Amy's death. Even so, I didn't like how the book was mislabeled. The summary promises that Skidmore is able to put an end to the speculation of Amy's death, which it doesn't.

A reader mentioned some errors in the book. I didn't notice any glaring errors, but the fact that there were errors in the book hindered my enjoyment. Fact checking is something that needs to be to done in a non-fiction book. I also got tired of the numerous listings of what Robert Dudley or others bought and the exact prices. I know that sometimes can be useful, but too much is too much. It was slow going reading this book, but at least there wasn't too much speculation which I've noticed in non-fiction books where there isn't much evidence.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that are interested in the relationship between Queen Elizabeth and Robert Dudley.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

It's A Whole Other World

The Backworlds (Book 1) by M. Pax

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

Summary: In the far future, humanity settles the stars, bioengineering its descendents to survive in a harsh universe.

After the war with the Foreworlders, Backworlders scatter across the planets left. Competition is fierce and pickings are scant. Scant enough that Craze’s father decides to improve his fortunes by destroying his son.

Cut off from family and friends with little money and even less knowledge of the worlds beyond his own, Craze heads into an uncertain future. Boarding the transport to Elstwhere, he vows to make his father regret this day.

Review: An enjoyable but quick science fiction novel set in a fascinating universe with interesting races.

I will admit that it was nice to have a story told from the point of view of a non-human for once. Even when there are stories that have non-human races and non-human characters, the focus is usually always on the human characters. That certainly isn’t a bad thing (I am a human after all), but it’s nice to have a story told from a non-human character. The setting the book takes place in is fascinating, especially with Earth being mythical and common items (in our world at least) being very rare expensive like chocolate.

I gather that there is a lot of history and a lot of conflict. There is a divide between the Foreworlds and the Backworlds. The Backworlds seem to be where the undesirables were sent to eke out an existence as best as possible. The Foreworlds seem like heaven where the very wealthy reside. I’m sure it’s more complex than that, but that’s the feeling that I got. The story itself was a bit of a letdown compared to the setting. I liked Craze and the aviarmen and the trouble they got themselves in, but the story wrapped up too quickly and too neatly.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that enjoy science fiction novels, especially space opera.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Supernaturally Different

Children of the Cross by Lawrence Van Hoof

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

Summary: A golden fireball crashes into the Walters’ car during their drive to the cottage for summer vacation. Thirteen-year-old Cora survives without a scratch. Her twin brother, Nathan, spends two weeks in critical care and endures months of rehabilitation.

Nine years later, Cora works as a high-end call girl in Toronto and looks after her brother, who began suffering from schizophrenia during their last year of high school. On the streets, meanwhile, a supernatural mafia hunts for the Light. None of them knows where it will manifest. None of them knows how it will manifest. But their leader, Teresa, believes the Light is her only chance to destroy their progenitor before he wakes from his centuries-long sleep.

When their search finally bears fruit, Cora’s daily struggles explode into one for the pair’s very survival, perhaps requiring the ultimate sacrifice of all.

Review: A supernatural novel that has original supernatural beings, but suffers from a confusing plot.

The cover is a bit off putting since I am not sure what it has to do with the story at all except for it being Cora who happens to be a prostitute. The summary talks about a supernatural mafia looking for the Light. Not much detail is provided which makes sense since the author doesn't want to give any secrets away, but a reader could certainly expect more detail in the book. Unfortunately, very little detail is given about the Light, Teresa, and her mafia are. I personally kept thinking of them as vampires.

Teresa is searching for the Light for reasons that were never made clear. Teresa is supposed to be a leader, but I felt she was more of a spoiled teenager with servants who had to cater to her every whim. She had very little self control. My confusion and uncertainty only increased as the novel went on. I started off enjoying the book, but kept expecting answers that never came. The ending only tells me that a lot of people died and that the Light was actually a real thing. I would have loved more explanation.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that enjoy action based supernatural novels.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Young Prince

Young Henry: The Rise Of Henry VIII by Robert Hutchinson

Summary: Set during the same years of Henry VIII's life as "The Tudors, " this book charts his rise as a magnificent and ruthless monarch.

Few men have changed history as decisively as King Henry VIII. Who, though, was the prince that would be king? While Henry's elder brother Arthur, heir-apparent, was scrupulously groomed for the crown, the "spare heir" Henry enjoyed a rather indulgent childhood. Made Constable of Dover Castle at age two, and Duke of York at three, he was prepared for a comfortable life in a clerical career.

Everything changed for the ten-year-old prince when Arthur died. As King, Henry loved magnificence and merriment, and quickly swept away the musty cobwebs of his father's court. But at thirty-five and lacking an heir, the time for youthful frolic had ended. The executions would begin.

"Young Henry" provides readers with a captivating vision of the splendors and tragedies of the royal court, presided over by a resplendent yet truculent monarch.

Review: A decent biography of Henry VIII as a young man and into his early kingship.

If you are a fan of Henry VIII and the Tudors and have read non-fiction about the family and the time period or even accurate historical fiction then a reader will find little new information about Henry VIII. I do like the time period it focuses on. I especially like how it has information about Henry VII and the type of person and ruler he was. People focus so much on Henry VIII, but oftentimes seem to forget or ignore the man that fathered him and influenced him.

Henry VII seems like a fascinating figure and has some extreme contradictions like his son. I certainly plan on reading more about Henry VII along with Richard III. This books follows his life pretty chronologically although the chapters themselves are slightly focused on different aspects of his life. Despite the title, this biography is rather light on detail and also somewhat short (only 254 pages if you don’t count the index, notes, etc). I had hoped for more in depth information along with more information. I did enjoy this book, but would have really hoped for a more in-depth analysis. 


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those who enjoy reading about the Tudors, especially Henry VIII. 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Life Down the Wrong Road

Lily of the Springs by Carole Bellacera

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

Summary: The 50's...Drive-in Movies, Doo-wop Music...and Love in the Back Seat of a '51...

Review: A tragic tale of a woman forced into a marriage, the question of what could have been, and how she finally finds happiness.

This book made me quite glad that I was not a woman of marrying age in the 1950s. Condoms and birth control are readily available and even if a condom breaks or a woman forgets to take her pill, there is a morning after option. Of course people still have to remember use methods of birth control. The one time that Jake forgot to use a condom, Lily got pregnant. Today, women (in the United States at least) are not forced to marry the man who got them pregnant and have the option to either have the baby, have an abortion, or give the baby up for adoption.

Even though Lily loved Jake, he didn’t really love her. Though he does mention that he loves her a few times, it was not a real love. It was a twisted love. Jake was physically, verbally, and emotionally abusive. It pains me to see Lily and how she gives up on her dream because of Jake. I am glad that she did have some spirit and was able to eventually realize how bad Jake was her and the children. She was finally able to leave and realize her dream.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to fans of chick lit or fiction concerning women in the 1950s to 1970s.