Hiatus for education

My deepest apologies, but I am suspending my reviews for all books not submitted through Awesome Indies in order to embark into a new endeavor – technical writing. I will continue to work on my current list and I will announce future opening of my reviews on this blog.

Starley’s Rust by J.B. Dutton

Starley’s Rust

by J.B. Dutton

Genre: Paranormal Fantasy

ThreeStars

Kari has just lost her mother to trans-dimensional beings called the Embodied, some of whom planned to use Mom to prove that humanity could be symmetrical and therefore worthy to be spared from annihilation. The human world still has no idea any of that exists, and while they consider Kari an orphan, she is convinced that her mother is not dead. But how can Kari get her mom back? Noon, an Embodied and a friend, is gone and Cruz, her human boyfriend, just wants to go back to regular life, wants her to “get past it”. But a poster for an art show leads Kari to a magnetic and fascinating artist named Starley who has a fantastic connection to the Embodied. Should she trust the quirky Englishman? Can Starley help Kari find her mother, or will he just use her for his own plans?

This second book of the trilogy is definitely a second book. Situations become weirder, but Kari doesn’t save the world yet. It has been a while since I read the first book, so I felt a little disoriented at first. JB summarizes the previous action well, but not so much that it interferes with the story.

I enjoyed the plucky, persevering nature of Kari. She is a character that shows a lot of loyalty and careful thought about those around her. She also stays true to herself. I felt like she became a little more crass in this second book, and I didn’t love it. The cute exclamations from book 1 turned into full-on swearing sometimes, and while it makes her seem more hardcore, it also makes her somewhat less likable for me. I also felt like her repeated requests to Starley to explain what he said made her seem less intelligent. I had to remind myself that she probably had trouble with his accent, which distracted me from what they said.

New creatures and more information about the Embodied added a lot of interest to this second book. I liked discovering the answers to the mysteries. Starley and his interesting back story gave the plot some sparkle. The sudden, spontaneous changes of scenery provide a jet-setting element to the story, complete with some famous landmarks. Cilic’s strange and ominous activities add some creepiness and foreboding to the plans of the unsuspecting heroes.

Unfortunately, some editing issues got in the way of the star rating for this book. I wanted to give it more, because the story was fun, whimsical, and owned the strangeness of the situations with a lot of flair. I look forward to reading the final book in the trilogy!

 

Buy on Amazon

Breaking free!

As a change of pace for my review site, I am shaking things up. This winter and spring is busy for me with non-reading activities. I know! It’s a crime! I have not much time for reading and reviewing. But summer is coming!!!

My shake-up plan for summer starts now: Except for special-date books or already-reading books, I will now begin choosing from my (enormous) list based on the titles and synopses that interest me most. (No, it’s not fair to those authors who have been waiting so long. Sorry!) I want to blast through this mountain and get some reading done. I need me some books!

I’ll craft a special post on my author site for each book explaining why I think have the best synopses and why, and I will read as many as I can as quickly as I can.

Ready, set, read!

Treason by S.M. Boyce

Treason

Book Two of The Grimoire Trilogy

Genre: Fantasy, Epic

Kara the Vagabond is still trying to bring peace to the land of Ourea. The Yakona rulers, the Bloods are not making it easy, fighting at every turn and backstabbing for all they’re worth. Kara and Braeden both must face their identity, the parts they know and the parts they don’t. They must overcome their faults and the faults of others to grasp at peace. Even Kara’s mentor gets in on the bickering. Death threatens, beckons, and sometimes has a good point. Can they overcome the pettiness of the Bloods and understandable excuses to bail on the backstabbing jerks? Will they survive the murderous Carden and all the other nasties out to kill, torture, maim, and destroy? Will they be able to overcome their  own fears and admit that they love each other?

The second book in the Grimoire Trilogy is just as fascinating as the first. (I felt a little disappointed that there are only three. I loved the explorations of the hidden parts of the self, the ones we hide from ourselves and the ones we discover to our dismay. The theme of “the monster within” was given so many great twists and turns! I loved the guilt and the fears of the characters. Their motives were true-to-life and full of errors just like all of us poor dummies. The hunger for love, revenge, justice, truth, and salvation almost had a flavor.

As in the first, there were a few of the same hidden errors, but I didn’t stop long enough to note them because I wanted to hear what happened next.

Once again, S.M. brought a personal narrative into an epic tale again and again, making me care about, hate, love, and want to smack all manner of imaginary creatures as if I knew them. Her world is so well thought-out and rich that I could completely immerse myself in it.

Amazon: USA | UK | Germany |  France | Spain | Italy

Barnes & Noble | Smashwords

Buy the Paperback

Lichgates by S.M. Boyce

Lichgates

Book One of the Grimoire Trilogy

by S.M. Boyce

Genre: Fantasy, Epic

Kara has wandered into another world and her life will never be the same. She wanted a hike in an area she had never seen before, and boy did she get her wish! Ourea is a world parallel to ours, hidden, and accessible by portals called Lichgates. What Kara finds on the other side of the Lichgate transforms her into The Vagabond and sets her on a course to unite the stubborn, divided Yakona races and bring peace to Ourea once again. Threatening everyone is the evil Carden and his terrifying Stelian race. Joined by a mysterious and alluring man named Braeden, she explores this new land and learns what it is to be The Vagabond.

S.M. Boyce has created a lush world of fascinating creatures and high drama. Politics, age-old vendettas, secret kingdoms, and mysterious creatures are just some of the fascinating world. This book, the beginning of the series, is really rather epic.

Kara struggles in a very real way with the guilt and grief of losing those close to her. Her grief and guilt shape her and inhibit her. I loved the scenes where she relived her painful memories, not because I’m a sadist or anything, but because they were so well-written and truthful.

I did see one or two errors in the editing, but it really didn’t detract from the story at all. I just wanted to hear what was going to happen next.

The world of Ourea is so full of variety and completeness that it’s kind of hard to believe that somebody created it and that it isn’t real. S.M’s characters are vivid and believable. No one is perfect. All have their flaws and hang-ups, including Kara. I just really loved this book and can’t wait to get to the next one!

Buy on Amazon US |UK Germany |  France Spain | Italy

Buy the Paperback

The End of the World Sucks by Sharon Trembley

The End of the World Sucks

by Sharon Trembley

Genre: Fantasy

Vanna is a young, intelligent woman hard at work surviving the zombie apocalypse. By hard at work, I mean washing laundry. What? Stuck in the makeshift washroom at a local college/makeshift fortress, Vanna relies on the guys with guns to protect her from the walking dead. Unfortunately that means she has to wash their dirty clothes obey their lazy, critical mamma. The two families with the most votes in the group, the Cornfields and the Russos, are not in agreement about who should get what, when. Neither are concerned about fairness. Waiting for hunky Marines to helicopter in and save her isn’t getting Vanna very far. The peace is fraying and the greed is growing among the holdouts. When Thanos the vampire arrives, things just get more complicated.

I was fascinated by this book. I loved the main character and her critical but fair point of view and her deep desire for peace and understanding despite all the awful circumstances she encounters. I wanted to see her escape the bad guys and get to safety.

Thanos was both intriguing and repelling. I kind of wanted him to find what he wanted among the humans because he was such a great contrast. He looked like a teen and had the young guy perverted side, but he was an ancient vampire. He liked Vanna and respected the other humans and wanted to help them…or did he?

The Prologue with its foul old man language was a bit of a turnoff, but the rest of the book was filled with realistic, complicated problems and much less swearing.  Sharon thought about every challenge that would face a group of random strangers united in battle against walking death, and she didn’t always choose the most obvious solution. Greed, sadism, nepotism, theft, rape, murder, and blood drinking all have a place in the truly sucky end of the world. Sharon paints them well through Vanna’s honest perspective.

It sounds like this was just the first book of more of Vanna’s adventures. If it is, I’ll be sure to keep an eye out for the next one.

Buy on Amazon

Thrall by Jennifer Quintenz

Thrall

by Jennifer Quintenz

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Braedyn is a high-school wallflower, facing the same insecurities and complexes that most of us do. Bullies, snobs, and jerks pull their typical pranks and harassments. With her best buddies, Royal and Cassie, she can face all the troubles of high school. But when a new boy named Luke moves in next door, her world is dumped upside-down. Humanity is fighting a war with mythical creatures. Secret armies defend humanity against them. Other worlds barely divided from ours threaten to release a horde of soul-sucking monsters. This was so not what she had planned for her junior year!

This book was everything I look for in an entertaining novel. Jennifer gave us a little romance, a little supernatural, a little danger, a little conflict, and a lot of fun. I loved the conflicts that she put Braedyn through. She was afraid of her peers and the agony they could inflict with so little effort. Her fear of being abandoned haunted her, and she came very close to realizing it. Her identity was challenged and her capability of good was called into question. I could relate to these fears and the way Jennifer wrote them was gripping. Will Braedyn be humiliated? Will she be rejected by everyone? What will she do if she is?

I also loved the moral struggle Braedyn faced during her adventures. She had to make big decisions about herself and others that could have drastic consequences. Very adult responsibilities were suddenly thrust upon her. She thought a lot about right and wrong and how her decisions changed and shaped her. She didn’t face easy decisions either. These were some tough calls.

I have no complaints whatsoever about anything. The editing was excellent, the plot flowed effortlessly, and even the unbelievable worked. This was a definite page-turner for me! Jennifer has written a truly engaging book.

Buy on Amazon

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/14112002-thrall

The Dark Song by Piia Brendenburg

The Dark Song

by Piia Brendenberg

In the short novel, The Dark Song, songwriter India has bought the perfect artist’s retreat home. Nestled into an ideally tiny and remote town, the house draws her in–supernaturally. Something mysterious and sinister lurks within the Bakery House. Will India succumb to its beautiful, dangerous allure, surrendering herself to its perilous inspiration?
Reading this story was like listening to a song. I was carried along with the wonder and danger of the exciting tale. I liked the main character, India, a genuine, typical woman. Though personal descriptions of her were not abundant, she came alive through her genuine, amusing impressions and reactions to her circumstances and to others in her life. Her courage and innate sense of abandon carry her through her ordeal with flair.
Piia definitely filled her story with Great Sentences (see Reading Like A Writer by Francine Prose). I wanted to clean that house even though I knew it was imaginary! I couldn’t find anything in this story I thought could be improved, except for wanting to hear more from Piia Brendenberg! And guess what! She has more coming soon. Keep an eye on this author!

The Dark Song on AmazonThe Dark Song on Smashwords 

About Piia Brendenberg: from Amazon

Piia was born in Helsinki, Finland, in the middle of the winter, and she’s been freezing ever since.

A lover of fantasy, history and a good mystery, all of which also feature in her stories, she writes Urban Fantasy and Gaslight Fantasy, both in English and in Finnish.
She lives in a slightly haunted house with her cat, her chocolate, and her overactive imagination, and when she’s not writing or revising, she reads, knits a lot of warm socks, sculpts and paints.

Here is the story behind the Bakery House!

Farsighted by Emlyn Chand

Farsighted

By Emlyn Chand

Genre: Fantasy

My rating: Four out of Five Stars

Bonus! This blog tour has a $100 prize for one random commenter as chosen by random.org. Leave comments on this post your chance to win! You can also visit other tour hosts and leave comments on their blogs to enter for the random commenter prize.

This is my first Blog Tour participation. I’m a person who learns by doing, so this is me doing. My review will live at the “Book Reviews” page.

Description:

Alex Kosmitoras, blind from birth, is an otherwise normal high school boy, until he develops powers of foretelling the future, as well as perceiving events currently happening elsewhere. His new friends Simmi and Shapri, two girls in his class, have been drawn to him because they also have powers. Simmi can affect people’s moods and Shapri can speak to the dead. Shortly after meeting Simmi, Alex begins to have feelings for her. Then he has a vision of her gruesome death. Prevention of this disaster becomes his obsession, compelling him to hone his powers and push his own boundaries. Alex must crack the mystery of his  visions and stop a telekinetic boy named Dax from killing the girl he loves.

Review:

Farsighted was exciting and engaging. Emlyn’s characters were lovable and she made me want to know what happened to them.

Alex’s bravery through his challenges and his manliness was refreshing and made me respect him. I connected with him from the first few pages, loving his frank perspective and unique challenges. His many, shifting emotions were dead-on for a sixteen-year-old boy, and they enriched the story. I really enjoyed the view into his sightless world under the context that he had never seen before. Omitting that aspect from his descriptions made the descriptions sizzle, and that takes talent. Only once or twice did I think, “Would a blind boy be able to tell that was happening?” The plot engaged me as I was pulled through the book by the
momentum of the story, not left hanging by too much description or rabbit trails.

A few of the dramatic scenes seemed rushed. With all the great emotional description of Alex’s feelings through the rest of the book, I was surprised how little some of the big scenes were explored in this way. The scenes of Alex’s dad’s disappearance and reappearance, the false breakup with Simmi, the fake romance with Shapri, Alex’s mom knowing the whole time about his powers, and the final confrontation with Dax left me wishing for more details, particularly in how everyone felt. The characters’ feelings here so richly described elsewhere that I expected it to flow through the whole narrative.

The description of Alex’s identification of people by their smell, and his awareness of what was happening through sound was fantastic. I wanted to hear all about his perceptions and impressions in this unique perspective.

Alex’s numerous and dramatic visions belied the quick ending. There was so much buildup to the horror of Simmi’s death and the evil nature of Dax that the tame ending felt a bit like an anticlimax. This is truer with real life than with a novel, and I felt Emlyn could have gotten more out of her ending.

The segue into a second book was obvious, but not so abrupt that I felt cheated. I’m looking forward to the next book in this series!