Friday, December 31, 2010

Fraterfamilias by Judith Doloughan and Paula R. Stiles

Article first published as Book Review:Fraterfamilias by Judith Doloughan and Paula R. Stiles on Blogcritics.

Dr. Alan Kedward was in disbelief as he and the world learned about the shooting of his only family member, shot by police as he was intercepted in JFK in New York, for multiple vicious murders in Paris. Paul Michel Farrell got off the plane and then waited for the police. Interpol was on its way, and yet as an officer began talking to Paul, he admitted to the killing, got up and walked towards the police while reaching in the back of his coat. Believing he was reaching for a gun, he was shot to death.

Alan headed directly to the airport, he needed to be there when Paul woke up, it was his only thought. As he reached the terminal, he passed an ambulance leaving. Knowing Paul was headed to the hospital, Alan stopped to complete a small errand. He is interrogated, but since he was not at the airport until after the murder, he was allowed to leave.

Dr. Kedward then called his assistant and asked her to meet him at the hospital with her van. He needed her help rescuing his “cousin” from the hospital; he believed that he would be the only one that could save him. As Bobby shows up, they find Paul, dead in a room in the hospital awaiting transport to the morgue. He assures her that Paul has a rare condition called catalepsy, a conditions somewhat like hibernation where the body shuts down with too much stress, and tries to convince her that Paul is not dead. Bobby does not believe but does not argue. They move the body to an old beat up hotel, out of the main stream, and it is here that Bobby leaves them.

All is not as it seems, as Alan begins to circle the room in salt to help keep the ghosts out. He sees them everywhere, and wants to make sure Paul has some time on his own to heal. Alan finds himself very short of breath, which has been a normal condition for some time now; his asthma has continued to get worse. His age is beginning to catch up with him, but he is not ready to give up. It is here that he uses every bit of his knowledge to bring Paul back, once again to this world.

As the police and Interpol compare notes and try to track down a missing body and solve the mystery of the Paris murders, the information begins to twist in strange and unbelievable ways. Paul appears to be someone who had disappeared many years ago, an artist of great renown, but that would be impossible. When he disappeared, he was at the same age that Paul was now. And not only that, but Dr. Alan Kedward bares a remarkable resemblance to the brother of that renowned artist. However, that would also make his age wrong. It will take all the resources of Inspector Thierry Ballard of Interpol, his assistant Jonah Parker, an avid fan of the missing painter, and an NYPD Homicide detective Charlie Rains.

Will they find the answers? Is Paul Farrell really the multiple murderer, of the group in Paris, or did he take the fall for Dr Kedward? Is it possible that Paul Farrell is alive regardless of the information to the contrary?

Judith Doloughan and Paula R. Stiles have written in intense and very interesting book dealing with several individuals born of a lineage that live an extremely long life, and have other interesting capabilities as well. While the style of writing was a bit difficult to get used to, the story is amazing. The narrative is as written as though the characters are writing comments to each other, and was a bit distracting, but the story made up for it.

In Fraterfamilias, Doloughan and Stiles have put together a wonderful group of characters. They are interesting and exciting, and yet each of them is flawed in ways that make them so human. Each character is well developed and was easy to picture as the story evolves. The book was fast paced with a unique story line, written with a plausibility that helped make is seem real.

Charlie Rains is at the end of his rope dumped by his wife, into some deep problems and yet is able to transform himself, while Inspector Ballard just wants answers. If he can tie Dr. Kedward into the picture that he will be happy, to him Paul just seems to be a very good man, and he cannot understand the killing and the way it happened. He is also very open to the odd things that he finds and keeps searching for even more information.

Jonah Parker is in over his head, and when he learns things about himself that he did not know, he does not know where to turn for advice or answers. He must make some decisions on his own, and yet he has mixed feelings. Not all is what it seems, and he is just beginning to understand what this means.

I would recommend this book for anyone interested in a story of fantasy, an unbelievable way of life and just some interesting and thought provoking questions. I enjoyed the fast pace, and think that this would be wonderful for a book club. There would be a great deal to discuss and analyze.

Rating 4/5

This book was recieved free from the publisher. All opinions are my own based off me reading and understanding of the material.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Tyger Tyger by Kersten Hamilton

Article first published as Book Review:Tyger Tyger by Kersten Hamilton on Blogcritics.

Teagan Wylltson is a typical young teenager. She has her best friend Abby Gagliano, and she loves working in the clinic with the animals.The training with the chimps requires sign language, and Teagan is very good at it. After her usual Thursday at the clinic, she heads home, with no clue of what is in store for her or her family. She is met by her best friend Abby Gagliano, Abby considers herself psychic and has had a dream where Teagan is being hunted by goblins. They have been best friends forever, but Teagan finds the whole story silly and makes sure Abby knows it. Abby is well aware that Teagan’s mom is an illustrator and writer of children’s books featuring the very same goblins. The illustrations are so well done it feels as though the goblins are alive, so Abby’s dreams are no surprise.

At home, there is company, Ms, Skinner is from social services and is here about Teagan’s cousin Finn Mac Cumhaill, he needs a place to stay, and the Wylltson’s appear to be the only ones available.

Teagan’s younger brother Aiden is special, he does not speak and he has an amazing way with direction. He is afraid of many thing but Elvis impersonators are the worst. As her parents go to pick up Finn, Teagan settles in to play with Aiden.

When they return with Finn, she finds there is something dark about him, the way he looks deep at everything, identifying all the ways in and out, he seems dangerous. But there is more, much more, Aiden likes to him, and welcomes him to the fold. Aiden is not good with others but Finn is the exception. She too finds an instant attraction. So she is cautious, but at the same time excited that he is here. He is also different, more edgy, seeing things that no one else seems to see.

When this difference starts affecting Teagan, first with her job and then with the things she herself begins to see, she is afraid. Finn makes a decision to leave the family before the danger finds them, but it is too late.

First Teagan’s mother dies mysteriously, and then her father disappears, and it is up to Aiden, Teagan and Finn to find the answers. First, they must find Mamieo, and she will help them find their way. But will they be able to get to her before it is too late?

Teagan is a funny and likeable character, she has great interplay with her friend Abby, and she is a typical teenage girl. She is actually a bit more mature then some, with her job at the clinic and her closeness and care of her younger brother. The main problem is that she has begun to see things that others cannot, and she has found herself in a position that a young girl should not have to be in. It is up to her to save her family.

Aiden is a special child. He has some great depths, and yet he has some strange fears. He is smart but is not very socially developed. Nevertheless, he has a love for his family, and his innate directional ability is a wonder.

Finn is a handsome young man, too long on his own. He has been hunted and has learned the streets in the hard way. His presence has put the Wylltson family in danger although he is the only one that can help them.

Tyger Tyger is a fast paced and interesting book. It is hilarious in many of the interactions, and yet has a sad and haunting quality as well. The characters are very well written, and easy to identify with. Ms. Hamilton has done a wonderfull job of building a world within a world that only a very rare few can see, the imagination and storytelling is both bold and exciting.

I would recommend this book for the older YA. It is fun and yet it is also very dark, and may be too much for the young teen or pre teen reader. I believe that it is also a great book for anyone who loves a good story filled with fantastical creatures. You cannot get any better than this.

Rated 5/5
Tyger Tyger

This book was received as a free e-book from Net Galley. The opinion is my own based off my independent reading and understanding of the material.
Cover courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt publishing company.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Jihad-Britain by Jack Everett and David Coles

Article first published as Book Review: Jihad-Britain by Jack Everett and David Coles on Blogcritics.

In a number of incidents sure to shock the world, a group known as the Black Knights, who have declared Jihad, attack Britain in a well-planned and set up maneuver. On a chill morning just before noon, at landmarks throughout the area, a series of bombings break the silence of January 1, 2012. These include a newly commissioned Cruise ship, Majesty, carrying 5000 passengers and being observed by a large crowd at Mayflower Park; Ibrox Stadium; an underground station, carrying 80000, for singing and fireworks; St Paul’s Cathedral, holding Thanksgiving services; a similar event in Trafalgar Square; and Millennium stadium for the Welsh National Choir slated for 74,000 attendees. These atrocities result in 15,000 deaths and 20,000 more injuries.

The Prime Minister calls a meeting of the COBRA committee, to assess the situation and to set a plan to find those who were guilty of such heinous acts. He also chooses to set a General Election against the advice of his party. The P.M. wants action and needs the backing of the public.

Another group of members have broken away from the old parties and decided to form a new different party. It is felt that this would be what it would take to protect British citizens from further attack and to find those who had accomplished these horrible deeds. Francis Raike, considered to be one of the brightest sparks in government, is elected to be the head of the party by the other constituents.

They call themselves the Independents and have a radical platform, ready for change for Britain, and their place in the world. Some of those ideas consist of the repeal of the Human Rights Act, secession from the EU, continued UN membership, immigration policies and conscription to name a few. Many of these are very controversial — and yet because the public is looking for safety, the Independents win the election by a landslide. The new government is then assigned the brightest stars in each field and made ready to find those responsible.

As every lead is followed and the culprits found and arrested, two remain invisible. They are the most ruthless of killers with plans that make even the madness of 2012 look like child’s play. In addition, as the new Prime Minister, Francis Raike digs deeper into the quagmire, he puts himself and those he holds dearest in danger from this group killing in the name of Allah. Will he succeed in his plan or will he lose all he holds dear?
Jack Everett and David Coles have put together a story of nightmarish proportions. In a post 9/11 world where terror once again raises its head, they have written a story of Jihad, a war against the British by those most extreme. In Jihad-Britain, they have taken the extremism to an ultimate place. However, they have also found a hero, or a group of heroes, willing to challenge the status quo, willing to make changes unpopular with many to rebuild a stronger county.

They have shown a bleak and challenging situation and founded a group of characters, capable of bringing it home. Each of the different characters, including the Prime Minister, Francis Raike, have a boldness and strength needed in this time, and yet they have their human side, which shows up, often in awkward times and places. They are human and very likable, but also give you a solid comfort that they are there on the scene.
At the same time, they have a formidable foe, two men with their own twisted beliefs, but with the charisma to build an army of thugs, those who enjoyed murder for the act itself as well as those fanatics just following their belief.

I had difficulty at the beginning of the book. It started slow, but within the first few chapters, an understanding of the story emerged, building a pace that was then both quick and interesting. I would recommend this book for those interested in this genre, and while it is a novel of war, it is also a novel of people. I found it quite fascinating. This would be a very interesting book for a reading group or book club.

Rating 4\5

This book was received as a free e-copy from the authors. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the information.
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Friday, December 24, 2010

Cornerstone Deep by Charlen A. Wilson

Posted first at The Romance Reviews

Charlene A. Wilson has written a fabulous fantasy, filled with imagination and beauty. From the beginning you are hooked, the male characters are interesting, charismatic and yet flawed, making them very likable. The prose is quick and the fantasy fun. The story is well developed, with an ending that is sure to surprise.

Cole Shilo and his brothers, James and Vince, have been on this world for thousands of years. They came from another dimension when their parents first settled here, hoping to help settle the new inhabitants of this place. They remember their home world with fondness and love, and above all else, they are each seeking their soul-mates here in this dimension.

Four hundred years prior, Cole had found such a love, and in their home world, souls returned time after time. Looking for his one true love Mianna, but for centuries, he has been doomed to disappointment time after time. It is all he has ever wanted and he yearns to find her soul reborn here in this dimension. His brothers think that he is unrealistic. After all, their father too had searched for years to find the soul of their mother, and they did not believe that the regeneration of souls worked in this time and place. Cole though is a romantic and knows that she is out there, waiting for him to find her, and he has never stopped looking in all the years since her death.

Their job on this world was to continue to help settle the land, and as such, they used their magic to take away unhappy memories of those in pain or with nothing in their life. They also did jobs for Kyle Dressen, current Grand Marshall of the courts. Some of those jobs included finding these unhappy souls and helping to bend their wills, then delivering them to the Marshall, with him as their master.

Anna Sinclair, a designer of glass, is one of the young women noticed by Kyle, and he must have her. She is a beautiful young woman, in the prime of her life, and unbeknown to Cole and his brothers, the Marshall has set her up to miss curfew, so that she would be delivered to him and put into his power.

As Cole and his brothers round her up, Cole loses control and binds her soul to the Grand Marshall. As he looks deeply into her eyes, he recognizes that soul, the very one he has been searching for. Too late, he realizes he has just bound the very love of his life to another man. Will he be able to break the binding or has he doomed himself to a life without true love?

The fantasy is marvelous and well written. The brothers are like siblings the world over, they argue, they fight and they disagree. But when one is threatened, they come together and stand for each other. The dialogue with each other is at times heartwarming, and sometimes just interesting. The anger is bold and described in such terms that you can feel the tension. Cole is such a romantic, you want to forgive him almost anything and yet you are also horrified by his actions, and hope and pray that his brothers can help him come up with a solution.

Anna is lost in a world not of her choosing. Her free will is gone as well as much of the memories that have made her who she is. She is almost like a puppet, and the situation has a very creepy feel. She is there, in a place that while comfortable, is also unknown. She is complacent and not at all the same girl she has always been, and it is imperative that Cole find a way to release her.

The love that Cole and his brothers look for is tender and beautiful, and when he finds his mate again, but then binds her to another, he is lost. The scenes play out over and over, can he save Anna?

This is a well-written world, with a cast of characters that bring it to life. Cole is the bad boy, the one that tugs at your heart, but makes so many mistakes. His brothers are a great foil to his personality, both well written as well with stories of their own. Anna is a fun and feisty young woman, also looking for love, but with her will taken from her, making her an entirely different character. Cornerstone Deep is fast-paced and hard to put down. I look for Ms. Wilson to follow this up with stories on each of the brothers. I would enjoy reading more about this fascinating family.
Rating 4/5
Cornerstone Deep

This Book was received from the publisher through The Romance Reviews. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

I Hate Chicago by Nick Vandermolen

I usually do not read non-fiction books, although I have read a few recently. I Hate Chicago is about the life and times of the Author, Nick Vandermolen, once he graduated from College and moved away from home, Small Town USA.

The book is somewhat fragmented and threw me off a bit, and I would have to admit that it took me much longer to read for this reason then is my want. The beginning for me was a bit slow, I had difficulty understanding where the author was going. It really threw me initially when the book went from how and why he ended up in Chicago without a job, to the evils of coffee.

As I continued to read, I had to admire the jargon used and how he set up the very evilness of the drink, how it lulls us into thinking that we are enjoying it, when in all reality, there is much more happening then we are aware of. I found myself smiling at the antics.

This time when the writing went back to the author and his second 30 days in Chicago, I was more prepared. I began to enjoy the way he poked fun at himself, and began to realize what he was missing from the small town and how he was now realizing that his father was a hero. I enjoyed reading his take on some of the absurdities of life and how he seemed to be able to make his way with his humor intact.
I enjoyed hearing about his friends and their antics.

As the book moved from Nick and his problems again and into the reality of the metropolis, I was intrigued by his thoughts and perception of what it is all about. I enjoyed the part on the metropolis being more fast paced when in fact as Nick states in his comments, it is the people who are faster, it actually takes more time to move a shorter amount of distance in a metropolis than it takes to move three times that much in a small town. It was a very insightful bit, and quite illuminating.

As the story wrapped up with the next thirty days of living in Chicago, I was sorry to see it come to a close. What I admired is how he faced his fears as a child and found that it is not so easy as you become an adult, the same things do not work that may have worked as a child.

I found the book to be fun and yet just a bit difficult. It was definitely thought provoking and I felt myself smiling at the antics of Vandermolen and his friends several times. If you enjoy non fiction and are interested in the process of growth and learning as well as the absurdity involved, you will enjoy this work. It is distributed by Nan Bu Nan Publishing. If you are interested stop by his site and check it out. A very interesting man indeed. (Blog)

Rating 3/5

This book was received as a free e-book from the Author. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the information.

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Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Girl Who Ran with Horses by David Michael

Article first published as Book Review:The Girl Who Ran With Horses by David Michael on Blogcritics.

Stevie Buckbee dreams about horses. She is just thirteen and has been living with her Aunt and Uncle in the city, going to school. She is ready to go home and spend time on the ranch with her beloved horses. Things have changed so much in her young life. Her brother Edwin was killed the prior year. Just thinking about it brings on tears. Then her mom left, leaving her and her brother Blake with their father on the Horse Ranch. These are really the situations that have brought her to this place and she is ready to be home, on the ranch and with what is left of her family and horses.

As she finally reaches the area of ranches near her own home, she feels an odd feeling, as though she is being watched. Looking out the window, she notices that the horses are all looking at her. At first that seems silly, but as she continues passing the pastures and farms, the horses are all looking her direction, their heads turning as the car passes by, keeping their eyes on her until she can no longer see them.

When they finally reach McAlester, she forgets about it as she sees her brother Blake waiting for her. They have always been close and she runs to hug him. Her warm hug is returned but she is bothered to find that he has brought his girlfriend Shannon. She is not ready to share her family yet, but what she finds when she reaches the Ranch disturbs her even further.

Her father is not as she remembers. He drinks more and sleeps more, he does not get up as much and the Ranch has gone down hill. There is only a semblance of what used to be, there are even less horses then there were when she was home before. The Ranch is a mess, and Blake assures her that they will be cleaning it up before she is able to do any racing. Even with that, Stevie is happy to be around her beloved horses. What she is not ready for is to find that they can communicate with her. And stranger yet, she can communicate back.

David Michael has taken a time in a young girls life, already rife with change internally. He has added external changes of such disruption and turmoil, that it almost makes the family come apart. With first the loss of her brother in death and then her mother leaving, she is sent off to live with relatives away from the comfort of her family and her beloved horses. Her life is turned upside down.

In The Girl Who Ran With Horses, he has given Stevie something new to believe in. A new kind of belonging, one where she is never left out. She gains control in a way that she does not have in her actual life, a life that is changing, becoming both more and less then it was before. He has built his characters from real life, with both the hurts and frustrations that are often in our every day dealings. Stevie is a fun and loving child out of place, and feeling it, acting out in her own abilities. Both her father and her brother, deal with the life and heartaches in their own way. And yet it takes a very traumatic circumstance to help them draw together and become a family again.

It is a heartwarming book, with just a bit of the paranormal thrown in. The communication she has with the horses is fun and frivolous, and at times painful.
This would be a fun and unique story for the young adult reader. It deals with real issues and problems that face many families, and the pace is steady, easy to follow. A great book for old and young alike.

Rating 4/5
The Girl Who Ran With Horses

This book was received as a free copy from the author. All opinions are my own, based off my reading and understanding of the material.

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Red in the Flower Bed By Andrea Nepa

Red in the Flower Bed is a insightful and whimsical children’s book creating a fun read with the singsong type of rhyme that makes for an engaging reading process. Andrea Nepa has risen to the challenge of making the confusing and unsettling process of adoption into a story of search and discovery. In a more difficult setting where the adoption is interracial, she has found just the perfect way to help an child feel comfortable in a new place surrounded with differences. This would be insightful with any adoption and not limited to interracial, I believe there is always a bit of that feeling, of not belonging, and this book, takes that difference and shows how all parts make a whole. The story, beginning with the seed being directed and finding just the best and most special place to grow, shows a love and a welcoming that is difficult to miss. The beauty of the new color coming up in a bed full of other colors all different and unique blending into a rainbow shows how each entity is of itself  unique and yet a part of the whole, creating a family. I felt the book had a light and genuine touch, making a difficult theme beautiful. You will be charmed by the prose, and the beauty of the concept is well illustrated with beautiful colors and themes, sure to capture the imagination.

Andrea Nepa is the mother of an adopted Vietnamese daughter named Leah. In 2001, Adoptions from the Heart assisted with the international adoption. Andrea dedicated her book to her daughter: "For my dear Leah, whose journey in her young life has already taken her to far away and unexpected places." In 2006, Leah was diagnosed with cancer. She is currently in remission. Andrea lives with Leah and her husband, David, in Haddonfield, New Jersey. The author is a registered dietitian for the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

 Buying Links
 Tribute Books Online Bookstore
 Red in the Flower Bed Website

 Andrea Nepa FaceBook
 Tribute Books
 Tribute Books Face Book

Watch youtube trailer here


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Ameriqaeda by Markus Kane

Article first published as Book Review: Ameriqaeda by Markus Kane on Blogcritics.

In a post 9/11 world, when anger and excuses seem to have waned, a new type of terrorist organization has begun to seep into the very consciousness of the United States. Years in the making, working on and manipulating those most in need, an organization yet unnamed, makes its entrance into the landscape. The entire fabric and planning is both masterminded and directed by one man, Dr. Oberon Crevan. He has both the means and opportunity to create an apocalyptic scenario. His intelligence is off the charts and he is well respected in his field. And yet there is something off, something about him that makes him think in a different realm, he feels as if he is more than human, more then his fellow man. And as such he has the right to decide both life and death of a global scale.

Special Agent Ian Gray has been in the FBI for some time. Undercover assignments were his strong point and he had just completed his most recent. As he is debriefed and ready to get his next assignment, he finds that his Section Chief, Donald Crowhurst has concerns with his mental fitness. He is ordered to stand down for some rest. Taking the time to make his own decisions, he unwinds with his son. This time is precious, his son born with downs syndrome, is a joy and helps to center him. With his wife’s death, this is his one anchor, that which keeps him working,helping keep the world safe.

As he unwinds, he receives a call from Dr. Amanda Fuller, a prior colleague of his wife. He agrees to meet her not even beginning to understand the sequence of events that will be set in place by this visit. She is reaching out because she has a story, no one believes her and he is her last hope. Gray thanks her for thinking of him and gives her some suggestions of people to talk to and forgets her almost as soon as he leaves the meeting.

When Dr. Fuller is found murdered within hours of talking to him, Ian is contacted by another faction of the government, by another man he once worked with, Harold MacMillan, DDI of the CIA. Known as Mac, his group has been following the information as well as the deaths reported by Dr. Fuller and have grave concerns. In order for the information that she reported to have been covered up, by both CDC as well as government agencies, there is high expectation of a mole. Knowing and prior working experience with Gray makes him a person of interest to help investigate further. Being on leave from the FBI gives him some time, but it also creates some conflicts.

As Gray investigates for Mac, he is drawn into the very depth of the organization of Dr. Crevan, named by the CIA as Ameriqaeda. He is teamed up with another operative, Special Agent Lynd. As information begins to flow, the FBI and Gray’s Boss Crowhurst a pulled in, in an effort to put an end to this organization.

As they are drawn deeper into a world of technology, complete with nano particles and diseases, they must find a way to follow the trail of an intelligent madman, one who has developed a secret and deadly following, charismatic in the way that may fanatics are. Will they find the answer to the final plan, and if they do will they be able to pull the plug? Death and secrets follow them at every turn, and Gray finds that their nemesis is ahead of them in every respect. Can they get the drop they need, and will Dr. Crevan make a mistake, one that will give them the opportunity to shut down his plan and save the world?

Markus Kane has written a novel full of possibilities and realities. By using the anger and angst created by the terrorism of the current factions, and turning that about and against them in such a way as to create credible circumstances, he has created a fast paced and intelligent read. He has written his characters and given them dimension, finding both their strengths as well as their character flaws. Ian Gray is an excellent hero for the time, and Dr. Crevan makes a very credible protagonist. I found the technology and information systems informational as well as interesting. This area in many books seems slow and bogs you down and yet while I did not understand everything it was just a part of the backdrop, necessary to the story but not so overblown as to trip it up.
Ameriqaeda is written with an eye to reality, creating a haunting look at possibilities of the ever increasing terrorist actions perpetrated in our world today. It has characteristics of the day and yet is also creates a hero in the way of The Last Boy Scout, that one guy that will stand between terror and safety, someone to count on in time of need. I really enjoyed the story and yet it also disturbed me on many levels.

I would recommend this book as a great read. It will be appreciated by those that really love a good spy story, and while there is a realism that sets your teeth on edge, there is a also a little family and romance that lightens it up, making it more then just another spy story

Rating 4/5

This book was received as a free e-book from the author. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the information.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

Article first published as Book Review: Unearthly by Cynthia Hand on Blogcritics.

Clara Gardner is just sixteen when she begins having visions. She was expecting it every since her mother explained her background to her when she was fourteen. That was when she first learned about angel-bloods. Her Mother explained that all angel-bloods have a purpose in life and they are all different. How they receive them however, is the same, they always come in the form of visions. The angel blood makes them heal faster, they are better at dance, and most sports,and they pick up languages quickly. They also have wings, invisible for the most part unless called forth. Clara’s mother is only half angel or Dimidius, and her father is human, so that makes both Clara and Jeffery quarter bloods or Quartarius.

As Clara’s visions increase, they put her somewhere in a wooded area,where all around there is fire, and in the midst of the clearing is a boy about her age. She only sees him from the back, but she is sure it is no one she knows. As she shares this with her mother, she describes the smell of smoke, the overwhelming feeling of sadness and that somehow she knows that she has to save him. Because it is her first vision, it is only a taste of her purpose which will get stronger as the time for her to act gets closer.

They both realize that what she has seen in her vision means they will have to leave California. The clarity of her vision gives them the information that they need, this vision, this purpose, is the reason that she was born.

They will have to relocate, using the information gleaned from the vision to put them in the right place. She is not ready for that, and yet she knows there is no choice. Her family will be uprooted because of her vision, it will affect them all. Her younger brother Jeffrey, also angel-blood, has no say, they go where the purpose is.

Jackson Hole, Wyoming is where her vision leads. They find a comfortable home and a great new school. As her power gets stronger, her hair begins to glow whenever she feels intense emotions. Because of the effect that has on most normal human beings, her mother has helped her to die it red to dampen the glow. The red however mixes with the gold of her hair and becomes an orange color. Nothing they do will change the color so that is how she must present herself to her new school. Her brother fits in instantly and makes friends quickly. She however struggles, having to overcome the orange hair, but finally makes friends with two different girls in her various classes. Through it all her purpose becomes the focus, building and expanding, putting her at odds with both her new friends and her family.

Cynthia Hand puts together a wonderful insightful story, full of fun and danger. Her characters leap right off the page, with humor and human feelings. In Unearthly, she has put together a cast of characters, born with angel-blood, on earth for a purpose. She weaves together a story full of feelings and emotions. She has incorporated a unique form of lineage, mixed it with teenage angst and fears, coming up with a story sure to pull at your emotions.

She sprinkles in edgy characters, keeping the suspense strong, only hinting at their purpose and capabilities. As Clara tries to fulfill her purpose she is pulled, first by love and later by the visions, putting her at odds with her heritage. And through it all the danger pushes itself through, keeping the pace of the story moving quickly.

Will Clara make the right decisions, based off her visions and her purpose, and will she overcome the danger that is threaded through it all?

This is a charming story, written with the young adult in mind. It deals with friendships, and ideals, as well as making choices. The action is both suspenseful and fast paced keeping you reading till the very end. This is a great book for that young reader, but if you get it for that reason, take a chance and read it for yourself as well. It is fun and interesting, with just enough inherent danger to keep it interesting.

Rating 4/5

This book was received as a free ARC download from Net Galley. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the story.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Venom of Vipers by K.C.May

Article first published as Book Review: The Venom of Vipers by K.C. May on Blogcritics.

In the year of 2023 humanity has come to a cross roads. With the human race slowly being eradicated by a disease known as molio, scientists are racing against time to control and destroy the disease and save the human race. Part of their progress has been the engineering of a new race, close to human in nature known as saphers, Dr. Katie Marsh is the daughter of the Nobel Prize winning Dr. Marsh, the scientist responsible for this remarkable engineering feat. After the death of her mother from molio, Katie has grown up at the institution, playing and making friends among the sapher. Her best friend from childhood is a sapher named Ryder Stone.

The sapher were man’s answer to the extinction of the human race, a engineering miracle immune to the molio virus. While they were somewhat human in nature and carried many of the human characteristics, there was still just enough that was alien about them that created controversy. There was a marked difference in their appearance, the claws on both fingers and toes instead of nails, the slitted eyes and the spinney ridge that ran down their back, made them stand out. They were still prisoner, albeit well taken care of ones in the scientific community.

Dr. Katie Marsh came back after graduate school to work with her father and try and find answers to the problems inherent to the sapher race. They were engineered to help save the human race, and yet there were problems inherent in their own genes. The young woman could not seem to carry a pregnancy past the seventh month and it was Katie’s job to find the problem.

Along with just the every day issues, there were also control groups outside the laboratory, one side feeling that the saphers should be free as all men were, and the other side which felt they were an abomination.

When it is discovered that there are factions within the facility that are willing to risk anything to bring it down, it is up to Katie and her lifelong friend Ryder to find the answers before it is to late. Who can the turn to for help when it appears that even the good guys have a hidden agenda. When Katie finds that Ryder knows the answer that holds the secret to life for both groups will she be able to use the information in such a way to not create and cause the deaths of those close to her? Who will be able to aid her?

In The Venom of Vipers, by KC May, May has developed a world of the future, easy to foresee and disturbing in nature. This world is so much the same as that we live in and yet moved forward to a future in which mankind sets the stage for their own distinction. The characters are well written and the new race of the sapher are unique and believable. As in our time, different factions fight over what is right or wrong and neither is willing to give ground. Science is all that is left to help save the race, and May as developed a interesting twist on the possibilities of genetic research and the possible outcome.

The sapher are an interesting race and in many cases more humane then the actual human race themselves. May has developed characters with depth and emotion, with abilities both unknown and unexplainable. While engineered to withstand and be immune to the molio that kills humans, there are secrets that even the most savvy scientist does not know. In a time and place in the future, smoke and mirrors are still the spotlight, as you are drawn down a dizzying spiral where all is not as it seems. Or is it?

This is a fast paced read with an interesting kick, the characters are exciting and the story unique. I really enjoyed the pace and the believability of a future time and place in our possible history. This is a great read, keeping you turning the pages, and following the characters. It is a interesting and bizarre twist in a futuristic thriller.

Rated 5/5

The Venom of Vipers
This book was received as a free e-book from the author. All oppinions are my own based off my own reading and understanding of the material.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Spy's Demise by Jim Wygant

Article first published as Book Review: The Spy's Demise by Jim Wygant on Blogcritics.

Throughout the “80’s” during the cold war, both Super Powers had agents, as well as counter agents, feeding information both real and fabricated. Valery Sevastoposky came to Washington D. C. to work in the Soviet Embassy as a case officer. His job was to hang around hoping to encounter someone with value as an asset to the KGB. It became a game getting bits and pieces of information, sometimes through greed, other times given due to a certain ideology. Most of what was learned had little of significant value in comparison to the amount of time entailed in the retrieval. There was one exception to this, a mole in the CIA known only as Badger. Valery was his handler though his years in Washington, but when he was sent back to Russia that duty fell on others of the KGB.

In the “90’s” everything in the Soviet Union began to fall apart. Beginning with Gorbachev, and moving on to Yeltsin, things began changing quickly. For months Valery could see that things were not going well for the KGB, and he prepared himself. Making his escape just before the coup of both the military and the KGB, setting up a broken trail so as not to be followed, he made his way back to the Washington D.C. area to start a new life. His journey leads him to Little Odessa, and he begins working with the Russian Mafia. It is here that he meets the man known only as Fungo on the streets, who becomes his best friend and confident. Beginning his new life calls for a new name, and he has prepared himself well, he is now known as George Seevast.

Little Odessa has quite a reputation and during his tenure working in the area, George has been approached first by a police officer, looking to get information on Little Odessa gang network, fighting amongst themselves leaves some heinous crimes on both sides and the police are anxious to solve the murders. He is also approached by the FBI who has tagged him as a former Soviet spy which he denies, leaving him in the sights of both organizations.

Living under the radar he has had no concerns with the previous entity known as the Badger, but now that he has had contact with two different agencies it creates concerns for George. The Badger is high up in government; George knew that rather then risk exposure, Badger would kill him. It all comes down to a phone call, one directly to him from Badger. Has George escaped his country only to be hunted down and terminated here on American soil? Will he be able to use his new contacts to help him dig up Badgers identity before it is too late?

Jim Wygant takes us back to a time when worry and fear were the daily meal of the day. The two largest superpowers fought for supremacy trying at all costs to outdo the other. He has introduced a plot, one that could have very well played out in this time in history. Valery, now known as George, has worked and believed in the KGB his entire career. In The Spy’s Demise, you follow the trail of an Ex-KGB spy and learn about him, not as a product of the Soviet Union but as a man. He is initially almost invisible, not much of a personality, but as the story unfolds his personality changes and grows stronger. As he begins to use his background to unlock the secrets of the Badger, he again takes on the role of a spy. His entire goal now is to flush out this mole to save his own life, and to close a channel that is long past due. He uses his new resources in the FBI and the Police more as a sounding board, having difficulty getting anyone to believe him.

The plots and plans he puts together are cagey and imaginative, but he is in a new country on his own, going up against a top government official. His life is in danger at every turn. You have to admire his tenacity, and hope that he makes it though.

I enjoyed the book, though it started out slow for me. The beginning was filled with a great deal of detail, but as soon as George left Russia, I began to get interested in what he was doing and where he was going. As he grew and gained more character the book just took off, keeping the pace tight and fast.

This would be a great book for a Book club riddled with information about a time in history that most Americans are very familiar with.

Rating 4/5
The Spy's Demise

This book was received as a free copy from the Author. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the information.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Spiral X by J.J. Westendarp

Article first published as Book Review: Sprial X by J.J. Westendarp on Blogcritics.

Contest, for a free e-copy of this book. Please leave a comment below. I will draw 5 lucky winners on December 15th for a free download of this book from the Author, available from Smashwords. The down load is available until December 31st but can be extended if necessary. Good luck. Please also leave email addy so you can be notified.

Cheryl Erickson is a Hunter. In the shadowy underworld of Dallas, Texas, a world unbeknown to most humans Cheryl hunts and dispatches both Demons and Vampires. She has gained a reputation and has many friends in the business, and her territorial clear rate is one of the highest. Unlike many of the Hunters she does not have a day job, having inherited a very lucrative business when her Father died. It is run by others and leaves her the time necessary for her task. She shares her home with Virgil her best friend, an amazing geek with technical savvy that helps her to stay out of harms way.

While she deals strictly with Demons and Vampires she has found that there is a new drug, Plast that is making its way on the scene. This is something she would normally leave for the DEA, but it has fallen into her territory and seems to be handled and distributed by Vampires or their feeders.

As she sleeps off her recent nights work, she receives a call from her mentor known only as Cho, one of the best trainers in the business. He needs to speak to her and is on his way over. As she answers the door the lifeless husk of Cho, is thrown aside and a Demon attacks her, nearly getting the job done.

As Cheryl tries to find the clues to the death of Cho, and the reason for the attack, she finds that a contract has been put on her head. She is directed to find the one man that can help her known only as the Reverend, as she continues to race against time in a deadly game of cat and mouse. She finds that she has help in places that she could not imagine, and at the same time she is being betrayed by a friend. Will she find the Reverend and the answers before it is too late? There is a new and dangerous kind of vampire in her territory, will she be able to find them and stop the distribution of Plast before the Hunters lose their edge?

Buffy, Vampire Slayer move over, there is a new girl in town.

J.J. Westendarp is a new author to keep an eye on. In Spiral X, he has put together a great story filled with an exciting cast of characters. While stories of Vampire Hunters are the norm of the day, Westendarp has taken the theme and twisted it to a whole different level. The twists and turns throughout the entire book keep you reading and engrossed, trying to second guess the story. Cheryl, the heroine of the story is a personable and charismatic person, believing in good, and yet having to step out of her bounds to find answers. She is alternately horrified and then angered the by death of her mentor, the one man who has made her the Hunter that she has become. That anger is what drives her, because with the death of an old family friend, she begins to lose hope, wondering if this is the right thing, second guessing her entire life.

When she meets the Reverend, her whole world takes on another twist, one that you just do not see coming. There is such simplicity to the story and yet, the interactions of all the characters create a complexity that keeps you reading long past lights out. I would also like to say that I believe that we could all do with a friend like Virgil, her best friend since Kindergarten. They have each others backs at all times, and their friendship creates an extra depth in the story, already rich with both suspense and surprises.

I really enjoyed this book and I hope that J.J Westendarp has plans to make it a series. I would like to see more of these characters, they are genuine and exciting. I started this book and could not put it down, the plot was great with twists and turns that kept you turning the pages. This is a great book for those that are interested in this particular genre but it is written in such a fashion that any one that just likes a good story would enjoy it. The author makes you believe in a world, deep in Vampire lore and those that hunt them.

This would be an interesting book for a book club, I would think the twists in the story would give everyone something to discuss, and the perspective of the writer is just a bit more unique, something that is always welcome.

Rating 5/5
Spiral X

This book was received as a free e-book from the Author. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tender Touch by Tanya Stowe

Posted first on The Romance Reviews

Tanya Stowe has written a wonderful historical fiction which ties in with both the gold rush days as well as the war on slavery. She has taken a time that touched the lives of so many, and made a story to touch the hearts as well. It takes a powerful writer to find something so beautiful in some of the harshest years in history. Once I started it, the story just jumped out at you and it was difficult to put down. Ms Stowe is a master storyteller.

Lacy Butler and her sister Mattie have been traveling with their gambling father since their mother died. When he happened to win a cabin in Harperville in a card game, he immediately moved his daughters in and then disappeared. Mattie had moved into town for a job and to help feed the minors while Lacy was just fine up on the mountain by herself. She is a natural healer and when she had not been able to heal her own mother, she withdrew from both God and man. She is stubborn and contrary, and has gained a reputation for being quite ornery. She wears men's clothes and had learned to take care of herself.

When she tries to sabotage the new water flume for the mine, she runs into more then she bargained for.

Royce Darnell is in charge and he is determined to not let the damage of their food stuffs scare them off from the job they are doing. As he begins to track the guilty party, he heads into the night determined to make them pay. He does not anticipate the weather and finds himself deep in trouble. He lost his way and frost bite begun to set in. He prays that he will be safe. As he loses control and slides down a slippery slope, he temporarily loses consciousness. Upon awakening, he finds himself being dragged to safety by a small man, muffled against the weather. Making it to the cabin in the woods and settled into the warmth of a bed, Royce only vaguely remembers his night. A tingling warmth, a flash of light and then a deep and resting slumber.

Awakening in the morning, he finds that not only is his rescuer a woman, but the very woman who sabotaged the camp. Before he can delve any further, a rescue team shows up, and he assures Lacy that he will not turn her in; she had after all saved his life. There is something about Lacy that intrigues him, and he knows that something happened during his night in her care. He has healed too rapidly and the frost bite should have left some ravages, but there is nothing. He is determined to find her secret and get to know her better. She is not what she seems and with all her bravado on the outside, there is more to her that she keeps hidden away.

As the war on slavery breaks out in the East, the factions for both sides are settled here in this small mining town. Anger, fueled by fear and alcohol, pit townsman against miner, and it will take Lacy and Royce working together to soothe the savage feelings and save their home. It will take all that Royce can do to get Lacy to let God take some of her burden and offer her the strength to heal those most in need. Will they be able to save this small mining town, or will the war on the East coast cause a rift that will tear the town apart?

Tanya Stowe had created a small historical town in the midst of the gold rush in California. She has peopled it with characters and personalities familiar to that time and place in history. The personalities of her cast of characters are alternately charming or just plain mean. Lacy and her sister have been adopted by a few of the elderly ladies of the town and have been well cared for. Lacy is a stubborn young woman and wants no part of what she considers her curse.

When she meets Royce and is forced to save him during a blizzard, sparks begin to fly between them. They are both stubborn, but deeply caring people. While they fight the attraction between them, it is a bright and glowing thing. Lacy had given up on God, and has found that people do not understand her healing power. In the past, some of those close to her turned away, considering her a freak. She is afraid, because if Royce ever sees this part of her, she knows that he too will look at her differently.

As they are thrown together more frequently, Royce realizes that this is the woman for him. As he begins to court her in earnest, he soon finds that she has a secret. Will he learn what that secret is, and will he be able to still see her as she really is. Will this be the deep and abiding love that they both dream of? As danger strikes and Lacy's very life is at stake, will love find its way, and will their faith see them through?

The love is a strong and steady heat, flaring up throughout their courtship; Lacy has finally realized what she may have been missing all these years as she hid herself away in the mountains. Royce is learning that appearances can be deceiving, and has learned he needs to look beneath the surface to find the heart and depth of love.

This is a marvelous and heartwarming story set in a time and place in history, with just enough background to make it fun. The beginning of war on slavery while being fought in the East has a long and dangerous effect on each and everyone set in this sleepy little town in California.

Rating 4/5

This book was recieved as a free e-book through the Romance Reviews. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the the material.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Pandora's Succession by Russell Brooks

Article first published as Book Review:Pandora's Succession by Russell Brooks on Blogcritics.

After the death of his fiancé, CIA operative, Ridley Fox makes a decision to hunt the killers. Blaming his own ineptness, knowing he should have understood that danger, he goes in deep to uncover their plot and gather his revenge at the same time. The Arms of Ares which he knows as a terrorist group as well as the murderer of his fiancé has set in motion a plot to gain control of the world. He has received information that they have come into possession of a biological weapon called Pandora. In receiving the intelligence necessary to track down one of the labs he is not only compromised but also captured by the killers. Rescued by the wife of one of the biologists involved in the experimentation and later killed, he finds that Ares has infiltrated many of the top organizations of the world, including British and Russian intelligence. Fox tries to secure more information and learn if there are more labs or facilities working on the project but she is killed before he gets the information.

As he communicates within his organization he is also introduced to a Dr. Marx, one of several other Biologists in the CDC with knowledge of the Pandora organism. What he learns causes him and his superiors alarm; this weapon can destroy the world as they know it. In the hands of the Arms of Ares, the entire world is in danger. Following the leads and tracking the sources Ridley Fox, known as a renegade in his organization, finds himself in a position to view the result of this weapon first hand when one of his only friends is killed in action, during a raid on one of the facilities. The organism feeds on DNA and so far they have not found a way to stop the process. They must find a way of destroying Pandora before it can be used to create worldwide devastation.

As Fox is drawn deeper into the dregs of the terrorist organization dealing with and experimenting with Pandora he discovers that there are other groups also after the same organism, each with their own agenda and plans which in either case are not acceptable. He also finds that different factions of the government also have operatives in place working behind the scenes to help bring the danger of Pandora to a close. As he races against time to find the answers, more and more people are being killed. There is more at stake then anyone imagines, and the Arms of Ares as well a group of cultists, lead by the man known to Fox only as the October man, will do whatever it takes to be the one to control Pandora.

What Fox finds is that as each plan is breeched and every action compromised, there is a mole in his own organization as well as those in both the British and Russian intelligence. As bodies continue to drop he finds himself on his own, having to depend on a woman from his past who has no reason to help him. Through an unintentional missed meeting she was almost killed and blamed her current situation on him. But she too understands the importance of stopping Pandora before it can be used. Will they be able to find a way to protect the world from Pandora? Can they do what no one else can?

In Pandora’s Succession, Russell Brooks brought to life the very real worry of biological warfare and the possibility of what that would look like in our world. He has developed a group of terrorists, with no care of the human side of their business, but just who or what will bring the highest paycheck. He has then thrown in a group of zealots, a cult, interested in cleansing the world and setting themselves up as the new world order. He has taken different parts of our current history and used that madness to build a more cataclysmic horror, a picture that even the evil of those original perpetrators may not have dreamed of.

The story is fast paced and the characters very real and solid, capable of hurts and emotions, and as human as they could be. While Fox appears to get out of many situations that would seem to be impossible for a normal man, given the circumstances of each and with the thought behind each escape, Russell Brooks makes it seem both likely and possible for this to happen. There is a great deal of technical and biological information throughout the book guiding you though, giving you a great understanding of the science behind the story.

I really enjoyed this book, it was innovative and yet a bit reminiscent of the current events of the world now and in the past. It gives us both insight and motivation into how differences come into play within the different countries of the world. I found it both interesting and exciting, with just enough human emotion to keep it real.

Rating 4/5
Pandora's Succession

This book was received as a free e-book from the author. All opinions are my own based off my own reading and understanding of the information.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Book Blogger Hop
"Since Thanksgiving is coming up next week, let's use this week's Hop to share what we are most thankful for and what our holiday traditions are!"

Answer: I am most thankful for my family, I have the most wonderful children, and grandchildren, a husband that can't be beat and my extended family while not as close as I would like, we all love each other. I am also thank full to have gained a whold bunch of new friends through blogging, there is a reason for everthing.


Now for the Follow Fun!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Unwanted by Daniel L. Carter

Article first published as Book Review: The Unwanted by Daniel L. Carter on Blogcritics.

The Unwanted begins with a series of bombings, which include children in the death toll; the FBI is investigating them. At each scene, it is the deaths of the five children, always five, which weighs heavily on Nick Catlin’s conscious. He is the lead agent on the case and is disturbed to find children involved in any way. Why always five and why include children at all? Nick intends to find the underlying cause of these bombings, and even as he is talking to his partner, they have to respond to another scene. This is an extremely new bombing, and something has happened, while almost everything is the same as in the other scenes, there are two woman from the group that have disappeared, as well as the children, all five of them. As they arrive at the new scene, the site is not as organized; the job appears to be hurried and seems to lack the finesse of the other bombings. One of the bodies recovered is that of a police officer, bringing even more problems into play. How far does the information leak go, will they be able to control the information in order to catch a killer?

Nick and his team race against time hunting a cruel and sadistic killer, murdering both witnesses and children to hide his motives. Nick is in deep, it is imperative to find the answers to these killings and to stop the murder of the children. Their suspect is a geneticist, full of anger towards the U.S. He blames them for the death of his family, and while he remains hidden, his henchmen are out creating havoc and destruction. What is it about the children, that put them at risk and at odds with this killer?

The FBI are operating against a cold and calculating mind, with knowledge of their every move, able to cut them off at every opportunity. Nick finds himself drawn into the madness, struggling with his own demons, and as he begins to see improbable things, he worries that his very investigation is at risk. Is what he has seen an experiment or has Tibon Agha, their suspect, engineered a mutant army?

As he tracks down the missing children, he finds more then he has bargained for. The children have far exceeded the size and abilities of other children their age and there is something both unnerving and yet special about all of them. Each has developed different characteristics and abilities. They have been raised with God and have a heavy belief in prayer, and when they are finally found by Tibon and his crew, they must come together and rely on each other and their belief in God, to not just save themselves and their adopted families but the country itself. In addition, as Nick fights for his own life, he too must rely on the help of these children, for it will take skills and abilities, far above what he and his team are capable of to stop Tibon and his mutations.

In The Unwanted, Daniel L Carter has developed the very world of today, yet covered it with a sheen of other worldliness, seeming to set up a futuristic place rife with possibilities and powers. The characters are well developed each with characteristics that are unique and all with an old-fashioned sense of love and caring. Their mutations put them at risk and yet they have survived far longer then predicted. It is the current consensus that they have only lived to their current age due to their closeness and belief in both God and prayer. Religion is a part of this story, and woven throughout the entire frame of the story structure; the work would not survive without it. It is not pushy or an effort to foist religion, it is just an intricate part of the story giving it a unique edge. The children are charismatic and extremely different in their personalities, and each has a strength that makes them unique. The nurse Janet Renard, one of the two that escaped with them becomes their pseudo mother, with her family their extended family. This is a well-written story, staying true enough to science that it is somewhat plausible. Daniel's writing brings to mind the Maximum Ride series, by James Patterson. The characters come off the page and are just young enough to be lovable. They have problems and phobias as well as anger and other personality traits that make them much like you and me.

Daniel has created a wonderful story full of surprises and human emotions. The book is fast paced and interesting, often leaving you tense and uncertain, but always rooting for the children, hoping they can overcome the hardships they endure as their bodies begin to change. He takes a page out of science to create a fiction that one day may actually be one of our headlines, and while you feel uncomfortable at how the children came to be what they are, they did not choose to be this way, and you are with them, feeling their dreams and really liking their character and personalities. This story is unique and the characters solid making a strong foundation for a faith based science fiction. This is a truly remarkable story.

Rating 5/5
The Unwanted

This  was received as a free e-book from the Author. All opinions are my own based off my independent reading and understanding of the material.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Zan Gah and The Beautiful Country by Allan Richard Shickman

Article first published as Book Review:Zan-Gah and the Beautiful Country by Allan Richard Shickman on Blogcritics.
After rescuing his brother Dael, from the fierce Noi tribe that had captured and tortured him for two years, Zan Gah feels like he may finally be at peace with his life. He falls in love with the beautiful Lissa Na, a young Noi woman who helped in the rescue. But Dael is not the young carefree boy from their youth. He had changed, the torture had made him into a different man then he had been. There was anger and distrust, which haunted his very soul. Lissa Na continued to love him and was the only one that could soothe his soul. They married and when she died during childbirth, it brought out another side of Dael that was vindictive and spiteful. He hurt people and he hated his twin brother Zan Gah with a vengeance. He developed a group of followers who found his intensity and propensity interesting and exciting. He no long wanted to be a twin, so he shaved his head and tattooed his face to make himself different. His followers were right behind him, finding everything his did fascinating. This is a story of a damaged young man, his life and times, as well as his interactions with those who loved him.

In Zan Gah,and the beautiful country, Allan Richard Shickman has brought you a story of change and upheaval. What happens when an entire culture moves their clan and families? How do the changes manifest in the people of the time. For some the change is not so hard but for many the differences are brutal. He also takes you further into the lives of Zan Gah as well as his twin brother Dael.

Zan Gah had grown during his search for his brother. He was thrilled to have him back in his life, but it did not take him long to realize that Dael was not the brother he remembered. Zan Gah, is a cautious but enlightened man, he marries a young woman that many in his tribe would not consider. She is a hunter which is not acceptable in his clan and yet he admires her for her prowess. He continues to love his brother and try to help him to overcome his anger and rages, even though at times Dael is quite cruel. Zan never gives up on him, always remembering his brother when they were young; Dael was the funny one, the dreamer. He was well loved by all. Zan could not and would not give up on his ideal of who his brother was. When they find during a scouting, that the dreaded wasp hunters are gone, they group together to move their clan to the beautiful country. This is one of the few times that they will ever agree on anything.

Dael is a young man, embittered by the time and treatment that he received by the Noi tribe. They were cruel, subjecting him to all forms of punishment and torture, feeding him food not fit for animals. That he actually lived through this time for two years is a testament to his strength. His only relief during this time was when the young Lissa Na would stop by and speak with him. She found him fascinating, and grew to love him during this time. He relied on her soothing voice and her caring ways to help him make it though the worst of his torture. They were married once he was rescued and it appears that although he would occasionally have a flair up, life was good. When she died unexpectedly during child birth Dael became unhinged. He was everything and more of the very devil that the Noi had thought him when he was their slave.

This is a story of pain as well as hope. Understanding how Dael has come to be who he is does not make it any more palatable. He is an unpleasant young man and very easy to dislike. And yet there must be more to who he is as he has his own group of followers, willing to lay down their lives for him. He had a beautiful woman who loved him and left her own family for him. The story is intriguing but brutal. As it continues to develop you can only wonder and worry as war arises with the Noi. How will they cope and will things ever be as they were?
This is the second book in this series written with an eye to change. It must have been a brutal time and place and Allan Richard Shickman has spared no feeling with his descriptions of both the beauties and the atrocities. This book of the series is far more brutal and descriptive of the tribes and their clan wars. It brings to life the haunted realities of what captivity can create. I would recommend this book as it brings to a close ,the story of Zan Gah and his tribe. It is a wonderful thought provoking read and would make a good discussion for a reading group or book club.

Rating 4/5
Zan-Gah: And the Beautiful country

This book was received as a free copy from the publisher. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the information.

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Sunday, November 7, 2010

Kiss Me, Kill Me by Maggie Shayne

Reviewed first on The Romance Reviews

Sixteen years ago a child was born. Sixteen years ago a young woman who had just given birth to a baby was found murdered. The child was never found and the murder was still in the books. In Shadow Falls, sixteen-year-old children are disappearing, one by one. When the first one, Kyle, is found dead, Carrie Overton, the local doctor, begins to panic. She has a secret that she has been keeping for sixteen years. As she races against time to help the police find the kidnapper and murderer, she fears for her own son's safety.

Carrie Overton is a loving and well-liked doctor in the small town of Shadow Falls. She is also a mom and a wonderful parent to her son Sam. Carrie also acts as mother to Sam's girlfriend, Sadie. Sadie comes from a broken home and has had to care for her mother all her life. She is tough and resilient, a strong young woman to the core. But she has become a part of Carrie's extended family.

Carrie has a secret that has been with her for sixteen years. Sam is not her real child. She could not have children. She ran into Sam's real mother on the first night she came into Shadow Falls to begin her career as a doctor. The young woman's car was pulled over to the side of the road. When Carrie pulled over to offer assistance, she found the woman in labor, just ready to deliver. This would be Carrie's first delivery in her new job. Once the baby was born, a boy, she checked to make sure that the mother was alright, tucked her coat around mother and baby and went to the nearest home to contact an ambulance. When she found no one there, she returned to where she had left the young woman and her new baby in the car, only to find the car gone. As she got out, she saw her coat on the ground. Wrapped in her coat, with a note asking her to care for him was the baby, Sam.

Carrie made a decision at that time to keep Sam and to be the best mother ever. It was one of the most unethical things she had ever done, forging a birth certificate as well as claiming him as her own, but she never looked back, and he was her son in every other way possible.

Sam is smart and fun, he has put himself in harm's way in the past to help save someone he did not know, but was well rewarded. He is well-respected for a young sixteen year old and has many friends. He is sports-oriented, loves to camp, and absolutely loves his mom. The other person in his life is his girlfriend Sadie, a girl much like his mother, to be honest—tough, with a core of steel, but also wonderful and compassionate.

Gabriel (Gabe) Cain is a drifter, a musician, with the standard look. He has long hair but is quite handsome. He, like everyone else has just heard the news that a woman who was murdered sixteen years ago had been misidentified at the time. He has come to Shadow Falls with a secret of his own. He is free-spirited and a wonderful, kind man. He first meets Carrie at a sports event where she is watching her son play. One of her son's friends has an asthma attack and he volunteers his help.

The area is rife with tourists, and the police have their work cut out for them. Lining up volunteers for searching for the lost boy proves to be providential. Everyone, including many of the tourists turn out for the search. It is one of these tourists, Ambrose Arthur Peck, who finally finds the body of young Kyle. He is so traumatized by it that he is almost inconsolable. Being a tourist in Shadow Falls has just become a terrible disadvantage. Everyone is being looked at with suspicion, but no one more so than any stranger in town.

As the action heats up, Carrie and Gabe are drawn together. Neither of them are the other's type, and yet they begin the slow dance of attraction. Respect turns into a smoldering and cautious tension between them, but they are both holding a secret. Carrie wants to entrust her secret to Gabe, but she is afraid to entrust this secret to just anyone. When Sam's girlfriend Sadie disappears, Sam becomes inconsolable. Gabe steps in to help. His logic and free thinking style seems to be the only thing keeping Sam from the brink, who is petrified that Sadie will be found dead just like his friend Kyle. As the tension and longing continue to scorch the pages, the action and suspense continues. Who is taking the children? Not even Gabe is free from suspicion.

In Kiss Me, Kill Me, Maggie Shayne has delivered an extremely fast-paced, action-filled suspense, filled with romance and longing. The characters are so well developed you get a great visual as they come into their part of the play. The tension and longing between Carrie and Gabe is heartfelt and intense. As each new action plays into the story, they have to continue to rethink their values. Carrie is ready to offer it all to Gabe including her secret, but is afraid. There is more going on in the little town of Shadow Falls, and they have to strengthen their bond of trust because without that, they may miss the signs. And as everything she holds dear comes into danger, she must find the strength with Gabe at her side to protect what is theirs at all costs.

Maggie Shayne has created red herrings at every turn, sending the reader in different directions. Just when you think you know what is happening, another twist to the story turns your direction. But through it all you feel the strong, yet also fragile love, testing its wings, looking for that one sure word or action that will set it in stone. To the very end, there are surprises, a powerful love story and a marvellous mystery, set with an ending that will leave you fulfilled.

Rating 5/5

Kiss Me Kill Me
This book was received as a free e-book copy from Net Galley. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.

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