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Review: The First, by Lisa M. Green

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What an honest-to-God beautiful read!

The survivors are safe, but only within the walls. This nugget of an idea has formed the basis of many sci-fi, fantasy, or post-apocalyptic novels, but I can honestly say I have never enjoyed the way this concept was treated more than in this book.

What do you do when the trusted elders who are there to guide you turn out to be your guards? When you discovered you’re not merely being protected, but held prisoner?

This is a beautifully written novel, original, and a very enjoyable read. I loved the narrator’s voice – that of Corinne, a young girl who notices far more than she is expected to, and really far more than it’s good for her. The familiarity and ease of address certainly counts for half the fun because, let’s face it, which young girl’s thoughts are straight-flowing and completely logical? But the other half – the quest, the other characters, the plot twists – all blended superbly well to make a very satisfying read.

Absolutely, truly, hugely loved this book. The five stars I award it are fully deserved. I wholeheartedly recommend this novel to anyone, any age. It will bring you hours of fun and enjoyment. I’m certainly glad I found a new author voice to follow. Well done, Lisa M. Green.

 
3 Comments

Posted by on April 22, 2014 in Book Reviews

 

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Review: Circle of Five, by Jan Raymond

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A novel for young audiences, this was a surprisingly entertaining read, considering I am well past that age.

Refreshingly original and recounted with a good dose of wit and humor, the adventures these five youngsters were drawn into are full of heart and useful life lessons

The issues of friendship and trust are at its core, resourcefulness and confidence in one’s abilities, as well as social interactions – all these were well observed and used throughout the book in a down-to-earth manner sure to appeal to today’s young readership.

A smooth writing style did justice to all descriptions, but for me, the characters really stood out. Genuine, normal kids who had incredible powers thrust upon them. It was the way they dealt with this, the way they saw it – blessing or curse – the emotion, and the way they came together as a team to conquer evil, that made me really enjoy this book.

Full of action, a rollercoaster of adventure and fun, the Circle of Five fully deserves its shiny five stars. I wholeheartedly recommend it.

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2014 in Book Reviews

 

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Review: To Have & To Haunt, by J.A. Howell

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If you haven’t read this book yet, what’s keeping you? Such a breath of fresh air! Brilliant read, from the first page to the last.

Written in a very original voice, this novel is full of unexpected surprises. The characters are beautiful people, not perfect, yet still able to show so much love towards each other. The plot is chock-full of twists and turns. The concept – pure genius! A seer who gets on the wrong side of a ghost is not a new idea, but the way the story unfolds is unique. The action is non-stop. Dynamic, suspenseful, thrilling. Dialogues – natural and unforced, and so witty you won’t stop laughing.

The story of Nolan and Harley is not a funny one by any means, nor is it a drama. Regardless, this novel packs so many life lessons, so much wisdom and truth. Loved every word of it. The Irish and Scottish inflections are accentuated phonetically, and it was funny to read some of the dialogue aloud. Again, playing on the stereotypes proved to be a wonderful way to bring some extra fun to the more intense, suspenseful scenes.

As for the finale… Boy, does this author know how to build up a happy ending! Brilliant! Absolutely fantastic. Couldn’t have been improved in any way.

All in all, a very well-written book, which has given me hours of entertainment (and not only because I’ve recently moved to Ireland), To Have & To Haunt is well-deserving of five stars. Wholeheartedly recommend it.

 
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Posted by on March 17, 2014 in Book Reviews

 

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Review: Morrigan, by Laura DeLuca

Morrigan - Laura DeLucaAmazon US

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Essentially a fight between the forces of good and evil, Morrigan is an entertaining story inspired by Irish folklore. Stuck in a place where she clearly does not belong, Morrigan is eager to find her homeland and her family when a knight plucked right of the Middle Ages appears to escort her on the trip.

Suspense and adventure are pulling the story along, and the narration is peppered with wit and the humor arising from the change in circumstances. When used to the modern world, who would be prepared to see a cute kitten transform into a panther-guardian, for example? Lovely descriptions, and a very entertaining romance budding between Morrigan and her knight, Tiarn, keep the reader engaged. And then the story twists.

Morrigan’s family is not what she expects, and the intrigue and power-play between family members takes center stage. Alone and lost in a world she doesn’t understand, Morrigan has to save herself and join the good side in battle, for the sake of the greater good.

Full of fantastical elements, this book kept me sucked in all the way through. I read it in one go, and that rarely happens. A very well-deserved 5 stars. If you like werewolves, faeries and witchcraft, you can’t go wrong with this book. Suitable for young adults.

 
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Posted by on March 11, 2014 in Book Reviews

 

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Review: Secrets Room, by Kim Faulks

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Another razor-sharp, super-intuitive read from this amazing author. Secrets Room is every person’s worst nightmare, horror like you’ve never read before. Whatever unresolved issues you may have in your life, fix them, before it’s too late. Because, once in the room, it’ll be almost impossible to face your fears whilst fighting the demons.

If you want dark, you’ll get dark. If you want shocking, you’ll get that, too. If you want incredible insight into human nature, you can do no better than read Kim Faulks’ books. I consider myself an avid reader, averaging several titles a week, and I can honestly say I haven’t read a more untamed, free writing style in many a year.

I read this book as an ARC, and after all this time, it’s still vivid and fresh in my mind. I still have chills when I think of Morgan observing the strangers she’s locked in with, all of which have touched hers or each other’s lives in subtle but very real ways.

The characters are something else! Who would have thought there was so much sadness behind rich-girl Rachel, so much disturbed, unprincipled and misplaced loyalty behind Coulton. Carmen, Dee, Glib – all these characters are so real, so troubled and so afraid, you’ll be thanking your lucky stars you are not them.

The ending is a surprise, and it fits the horror theme of the story perfectly. Nail-biting and impossible to tear your eyes away from the page (and for those of us who are born softies, there is an alternative ending, too). I kept wishing for Slade and Morgan’s love to be given another chance. In a way, they get that. In many others, everyone gets what they deserve.

award ellaA dark, gritty, strikingly visual read with no sugar coating, Secrets Room is a book that deserves more than the five stars I can give it.

For the second time, the only time this has happened so far, Kim Faulks receives the Life Changing Read Award from me.

Congratulations, Kim!

Please visit the Awesome Authors Gallery on my Awards page, to meet Kim Faulks and other very talented authors you would do well to read.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on February 17, 2014 in Book Reviews

 

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Review: Surviving Mancation, by L.J. Noker

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Nine friends in one remote holiday house for a long weekend of R&R. What could possibly go wrong?

I mean, they’ve got enough food.

Surviving Mancation is an original mix of mystery, crime and thriller, at times introspective and often hilarious, with enough twists to make you pleasantly dizzy. A classic ‘whodunnit’ with a contemporary and entirely plausible ring to it.

I loved the concept of this book, and the beautiful descriptions. I could picture only too well the house, the forest, the lake, even the watcher in the woods. The nine guys spending the weekend together are a motley bunch, each with his own backstory and motivation, intrigue and deep-rooted emotions running pretty close to the surface. Right from the beginning, you wonder: quite how good and how close are these friends?

I enjoyed the banter between friends, the silly antics of Mac and Cody, and even the last-minute betrayal. Really loved them all. There is a scene in a confessional right at the end, so good, it’ll leave you thinking. And then BAM – the ending.

Fully deserving of five stars, Surviving Mancation is one of the few books I’ll likely read again. I recommend it. Scenes of violence and some adult language make it unsuitable for young readers.

 
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Posted by on January 8, 2014 in Book Reviews

 

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Review: The Darkness Comes, by Bruce Blake

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When Shadows Fall, The Darkness Comes…

Please tell me you can see what the author is doing with this series. The names of the books, when in order, will create a coherent sentence. That is clever, and symptomatic of this author’s thinking.

It would be easy to say this is no less than I would have expected from someone as talented as Bruce Blake, but there is more to writing a book than expectation. This author is a man completely invested in his writing, so deeply involved with every story and each character that nothing short of exceptional prose will ever be printed under his name. An admirable personality.

Back to story now, and I can tell you the second installment of the Small Gods Series is advancing at the same action-packed pace as book one. We learn more about Ailyssa, the barren Mother left to fend for herself in the middle of the wilderness, blind and hopeless, by the only people she had known and trusted in her life. Her faith is still strong, but her new circumstances require that she make significant adjustments – and when is that easy? Thorn, the little grey man who dropped from the skies, also takes a more significant share of the story. Princess Danya and Prince Teryk, too, continue on their quests, and while one is making some progress in untangling the meaning of the prophecy, the other is at the mercy of the fates. Add to the cast a golem on a rampage, and you have the makings of a book you won’t be able to put down. I know I couldn’t.

Once again, I was awed at the skill and elegance with which the many strands of this story were braided together. Will the Small Gods return and therefore endanger the whole of mankind, or will the Goddess win? The original question still stands, and the adventures of the characters mentioned in the prophecy are more and more heart-stoppingly intense. The back-story intrigue is thick with deep-seated implications, showing an exceptional knack on the part of the author for observing and understanding human nature.

I wholeheartedly recommend this series. It is epic fantasy at its best. From what I can see, Bruce Blake is a prolific author, so you won’t have long to wait until the next book. Five shiny stars – and I would give it ten if I only could – for a book I cannot fault in any way. It sucked me in and allowed me to dream. Loved it.

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A few excerpts to whet your appetite

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This is Horace Seaman, one of my ten favourite characters – and I’m thinking of all my reading, ever (to give you an idea, that’s a good few thousand books, both classic and modern):

The fire’d done a fine job charrin’ one side o’ the pig leg to a dry, cracked bit o’ charcoal, but the other side what faced away from the flames looked worth chokin’ down. Horace wrapped his fingers ’round the knobby exposed bone end, then pulled away right quick. He weren’t no cook, so it didn’t occur to him the fire’s heat might’ve made the bone hot enough to burn him. Now he knew.

Horace shook his hand as though doin’ so might loosen up the pain. It didn’t do nothin’ to take away the burnin’, so he blew on it instead, puffin’ his cheeks out like one o’ them spiny fish when he did. Blowin’ didn’t help, neither, so he decided to resort to cursin’.

The writing style alone paints a good picture of Horace, man of the sea, who is struggling to make it on land, don’t you think?

~~~

Meet Princess Danya, a courageous young woman, who is by far more suited to the role of World Savior than her older brother.

“Why have you brought me here?” she demanded.

Her voice—too loud for the quiet room—bounced from wall to wall. The masked girl at her side laid a hand on the princess’ arm and leaned close to her ear.

“Sshh.”

Danya shot the girl an angered look, then returned her gaze to the so-called Mother of Death. The old woman’s eyes had slipped shut again, as though they weighed more than a woman of her age could manage to hold open for too long.

“A barren Mother, the seed of life.” The words floated up from the woman’s barely moving lips. “Do you understand what they speak of, princess?”

Before she thought about what she was doing, Danya responded by shaking her head. When she realized her mistake, she parted her lips, but the old woman interrupted.

“These are important words; words that may decide the fate of the world.”

The icy feeling crept across her flesh again; the princess stared at the woman’s wizened face.

“You were right in coming here.” The Mother of Death opened her cloudy eyes. “The barren Mother serves the Goddess, but she is not here. She is lost.”

Danya shook her head, unable to accept that the woman knew of her quest. Did she know about Teryk’s death, too?

“Your brother is not dead.”

~~~

And here is Bieta and her son, Stirk:

“How you going to get us water?”

“By sneaking into the tanner’s through the cellar, see if he’s got any.”

Stirk’s eyebrows met above the bridge of his nose. “You said we should never steal from old Flenge. Said it’s like biting his hand.”

“Biting the hand that feeds us,” she corrected. “But this ain’t a usual happening, Stirk. I don’t know how long it’ll be before Enin comes back. If we don’t get water, we ain’t going to be around to enjoy no gold.”

Bieta went to the open trap door in the corner and peered into the dark. Beside her, Stirk looked over her shoulder.

“You didn’t piss on the ladder, did you?” she asked.

“Naw. Careful of your step at the bottom, though. Had to shit before you woke up.”

She rolled her eye. “Get me the taper,” she said, holding out her hand.

Stirk hesitated. Bieta fixed her gaze on him.

“But it’ll be dark in here if you take it,” he said, a vague whimper hidden beneath his tone.

~~~

Through this feature, I’m hoping to have given you reason to try a new author. You’ll find a lot of entertainment in these pages, a good deal of nail-biting moments, and many chuckles, too. A very worthy read.

~~~

And here’s book one, When Shadows Fall. My review is here.

6

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Posted by on December 28, 2013 in Book Reviews, Guest Posts

 

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Review: Good Side of Sin, by K.S. Haigwood

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This book is a K.S. Haigwood classic! Good Side of Sin is the third book in the Save My Soul series and and absolute whirlwind of romance, action and adventure.

This installment of the story follows the adventures of Josselyn as she completes her Line of Defense Academy training and is sent out in the field to bring an undesirable situation under control. The deal with Lucifer is not as good as it seems, and this time he has solid plans to take over Heaven and Earth. His half-souled demons are wreaking havoc on Earth and the angels have been struck by common human afflictions. Should they be even able to lie? Should they want to?

As with the other books in the series, what gives life to all the action are the incredibly well-developed characters. They don’t feel made-up, but real, like normal people, who feel, think, love the same way any of us would.

There is one tiny surprise towards the end of the book, a little link that connects two of Haigwood’s series – I won’t tell you what it is; you’ll  have to read it in order to find out. As its is, it’s perfectly done, and blends the two thus far-separate stories together smoothly.

K.S. Haigwood takes the simple concept of a battle between good and evil and turns it on its head. This riveting read is a rollercoaster of emotion, some of the best writing this author has ever produced. Inspired and original, and gripping till the very end, this is not the kind of read you can come back to later. You’ll want to read it in one go. Genius on the page. I loved it. Five sweet gorgeous stars for Good Side of Sin from me.

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SPECIAL NOTE FOR MY READERS

I happen to have a little inside knowledge about these books, and I can tell you that book one, Save My Soul, is FREE to download at the moment, and book two, Hell’s Gift, is $2.99. You’d be mad to miss them. Links below.

SMS series

US Save My Soul UK

US Hell’s Gift UK

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ONE MORE NOTE FOR MY READERS

Another bit of inside knowledge: Kristie Haigwood is preparing to launch her new blog (over and above her current one) on the 1st of January 2014, with promises of chocolate treats and wine… or something like that… for her friends and followers. Here’s where it is. Help yourself, and say I sent you. :)

 
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Posted by on December 14, 2013 in Book Reviews

 

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Review: Equilibrium, by Patti Roberts

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The Paradox saga continues with an impressive twist in the tale. Dark forces are at play and there’s no respite for the guardians and protectors. Grace takes a few more steps towards learning about her legacy, but her impetuousness lands her in the path of danger yet again.

I have been watching out for new releases in this series and I can honestly say this is the best episode so far. Absolutely love the world in which the action takes place, the richness and diversity of characters, the beautiful descriptions and the depth of emotion. Not for the first time, I found myself moved to tears reading scenes written by this amazing author.

I can see how easy it would be to transfer these books into a YA serial for television, and I’m not ashamed to say I would watch it, too, though I’m far out of the age range. Marvel’s Superheroes comes to mind, only on a much wider background, and with a breadth of characters far easier to stage-manage and adjust. The possibilities are endless – so much potential for entertainment! And with a classic battle between good and evil – some overt, some discreet or merely hinted at – this is a winning format that simply can’t go wrong.

Keep it going, Patti Roberts! Five shiny stars!

 
4 Comments

Posted by on December 13, 2013 in Book Reviews

 

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Review: Beatrysel, by Johnny Worthen

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I’m going to start with the last ten percent of this book. Un-believable! I could not stop reading. For a storyline centering around the occult and metaphysical experiences, that fact is spooky in itself. What sort of magic did the author put within those pages?

Beatrysel is the ultimate lover, but she is possessive and feels betrayed. She acts as any woman scorned would act, with only one thought in mind. Incredibly entertaining, and posing truck-fulls of questions, this is not a book you can read in one go.

It starts slowly and for a while I wondered when it would get to the action. But action is not the point of this book. Regardless, I still think the pace could be improved, with an editor’s involvement. The main character, Julian, struggles with a conflict he is not likely to ever resolve, and whilst I could sympathize with his plight, I could not get close enough to him. I wanted to, it’s just that something kept me away.

For a long time, I was in two minds about this novel. It’s different, and original, despite dealing with popular concepts, and I have enjoyed reading it. But I wanted more. The explosive finale brought it up to four stars, and made me intrigued about the author. I’d certainly recommend it and would look for other works from the same author.

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2013 in Book Reviews

 

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