Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Strangers Outside by Vanessa Morgan

Article first published as The Strangers Outside by Vanessa Morgan on Blogcritics.

On a beautiful, idyllic day by the Belgian seaside, Jennifer and Louise enjoy their unfettered time together. It is a wonderful weekend, and they are staying at the remote cabin where they used to stay with their parents for years. Wrapping up their conversation prior to making their way to the cabin for the evening, Louise ponders where they will be and what they will be doing a year from now.

Jennifer, never very sure of herself, feels as though she would like to have a new boyfriend, although she does not see that happening. She is awkward around people and Louise is always the one helping her through life.

As they head to the cabin, one of several in the group, Louise reflects on their good luck on getting such a great deal on the place due to the season. Other then the caretakers they have the place to themselves. They will have some girl time. Playing the tune that they both love on Jennifer’s phone as they exit the car they are silly and dancing their way to the cabin. Suddenly Louise stops, the hair rising on her neck. Slowly she looks around and sees two men standing on the grounds just looking at them. She can not see them clearly but it really creeps her out. Jennifer wonders if they could be burglars, but neither of them is comfortable as they hurry to the cabin and lock themselves in.

This is only the beginning, a night of unimaginable terror. Do they have the will to survive? Only the morning will know the answer.

This is a very intriguing yet creepy story. In “The Strangers Outside”, Vanessa Morgan has truly brought to life an evening of terror. She has taken the nightmare out of the closet and moved it front and center in such a way that it can not be ignored. As I read the story I was not really sure what my feeling was, maybe that crawly feeling you get when you know something is changing, or seeing a movie you may have watched, that seemed to come right out of a corner of your mind. As I read further it took me back to some of the first scary stories I heard or even saw on TV.

As I thought about the story and how it came together, it reminded me of many of the short Hitchcock movies of that earlier era.

This is a short story, but packed with a large amount of punch. Truly a book that sends a chill up your back. If you enjoy spooky and creepy things you will enjoy this story. And better yet, it is currently being made into a movie.

This would be a great book for reading around the fire with your friends. What could be better for the month of Halloween then to find a great new spooky tale to share.
Rating 4/5
This book was received free from the author. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Ghost Huntress 4: The Counseling by Marley Gibson

Ghost Huntress 4: The Counseling by Marley Gibson is a fun book full of supernatural challenges and a bit of danger. Kendall Moorehead is on her way to an enlightened youth retreat in Oakbriar California to help hone her abilities. She can see and hear ghosts and has just recently learned that she is adopted. She is struggling with these abilities because her spirit guide has just passed into the light. To make that even a tougher problem, she has also just found out the Emily, her spirit guide, was also her birth Mother. She is hoping that if she can hone her abilities she may be able to find her real father as well as her grandparents. Her best friend and fellow ghost huntress, Celia Nichols is headed off to Chicago at the same time with her dad, and has agreed to dig information up about what they have found out so far on Kendall’s real family. In the meantime the institute she will be attending in California is being run by Oliver Bates, a paranormal investigator that has his own television show and also helps the police solve cases. Kendall hopes that he will be able to help her.

When she reaches California and is headed to find her ride she trips over a guitar case, and has the occasion to meet a very rude young man. When she spots her ride she is happy to realize that she will be leaving him behind and not have to deal with his smart mouth or rudeness any further. At the Briar Rose where the camp is being held she begins her day, first meeting the owners, and then meeting the unlikely group of kids that are attending. She is rooming with Jess, a petite girl about her age that loves to surf. All in all there are six girls and six boys and each of them have come into some paranormal abilities that have put them into bad situations with their families and friends. Many of them are currently prescribed medications by the psychiatrists that they have been to, when their parents could not understand what was going on. For them this camp is necessary because they are here unable to really get their life together without being able to control their abilities.

As dinner is finished and they are all getting to know each other, the owner of the home, Chris mentions that she will need to change the music. Kendall lets her know that she will do it and as she enters the main room she trips over …… a guitar case? How pleasant, it looks like Mr. Personality is also a member of the group.

Each of the students has a story and Patrick is no different. He too hears and sees ghosts like she does, and he only recently came into his powers through a near death experience. He almost drowned while diving with his father, and now has an overwhelming fear of water. His abilities are so intense he wears gloves on his hands and keeps his eyes covered most of the time. As they work together with their leader Oliver Bates and his helpers, they get to know each of the others and their abilities as well as their fears. When Kendall finally sees Patrick for the first time without his sunglasses she realizes that not only is he someone that has been in her dreams, but that they have a strong connection.

When she is approached by the ghost of a young girl asking for her help, she finds that this same spirit has also talked to Patrick. She is lost and hoping they can help find her. When they realize that she may have been murdered they get the help of the rest of their camp as well as Oliver and his police connections to find her and to give her parents closure.

Marley Gibson’s characters are fun and full of zest. They are exuberant and very in the now. They are techno geeks, up on current trends and just like many of the kids we see all the time. Of course they all have paranormal abilities, which they are each struggling to understand. Kendall is a very smart young lady and has been hurt by both the most recent knowledge of finding her birth mother only to lose her and she is single since her boyfriend had moved to Alaska. She is out of sorts but still snappy and brave. She is very attracted to Patrick from the first, even though she really did not like his attitude.

Patrick is just picking up his life after a near death experience. He is unsure of himself and it appears to make him standoffish. He no longer feels secure in the world and is dealing with having abilities that make him even feel more out of his element. He is very attracted to Kendall and is able to communicate with her telepathically.

This is a very fun and vibrant read, where a group of kids get the opportunity of a lifetime. They learn some life lessons as well as how to take control of their abilities and form some lasting friendships. This is a wonderful YA book. I would recommend it to anyone looking for that fun and something different read for a free evening or weekend
Rating 3/5

Ghost Huntress 4: The Counceling
This book was recieved as a free read from Netgalley. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Saturday, September 25, 2010

A Circle of Souls by Preetham Grandhi

Article first published as Book Review: A Circle of Souls by Preetham Grandhi on Blogcritics.

When a little girl is found brutally murdered, the local detective is in over his head. Leia Bines from the FBI is called in to help find the murderer. At the same time, seven year old Naya Hastings is having horrifying nightmares, which in turn set off a series of alarming events in Newbury Connecticut. These events bring together a group of individuals with little in in common short of finding a murderer, and preserving the innocence of the children of Newbury.

Little does Dr. Peter Gram realize the turn his life and beliefs will take, as he becomes involved with little seven year old Naya. His only goal is to find a solution to her somnambulism, which almost leads to her climbing over a second story railing during one of her episodes. What he finds is strange and almost impossible to believe. Naya appears to be communicating with the murdered little girl, during her sleeping episodes. The perceptiveness of the hand drawn pictures she draws from her dreams, as well as their accuracy, put Peter and Naya in the sites of a cold blooded killer.

Will the cumulative information and the strange yet terrifying drawings by a child, lead Leila and Peter to the killer before he can kill again?

Preetham Grandhi has written a horrifying yet hope filled book, and filled it with a cast of well written, real and extremely likable characters.

Dr Peter Gram is a child Psychiatrist that is assigned to Naya when she is brought into the hospital. He is kind and extremely attuned to children. He talks to them on a level they respond to and gains their trust. He is a workaholic and follows up on the background of Naya on his time off, and while in the beginning he does not believe what Naya is telling him, he is able to listen to her and keep the communication channel open by just paying attention. As pieces start coming together and he gets pulled more into the story, he moves from a person of trust to a sort of hero.

Leia Bines is with the FBI, and has worked with the CIC, the FBI’s crimes against children unit. She has gone through some tough times and while very good at what she does, she is open and caring. She has concerns that she will not be able to find the killer. When she finally takes Dr. Peter Gram off her suspect list, she is open and willing to look at other alternatives, rather then leaving the crime unsolved. She is fearless and sometimes jumps before looking at all the possibilities, which makes her very human.

Naya is a wonderful little girl; she is adopted but has only ever known her adoptive parents. She is very well loved and is often sad and lonely in the hospital where she is being evaluated. She is open and trusting, and very bewildered by the behavior she encounters during her stay at the facilities. She is funny and caring and everything a little girl should be.

This story is a look at the dark side of humanity, and how both nurture and nature often both have a hand in the making of monsters. It also gives a glimpse into a world of hopes and dreams, of innocence and childhood. This is a great story and well written. It is somewhat graphic and may not be suitable for some readers. If you like a story with a different twist this will be right up your alley.
Rating 4/5

This book was received as a free book through Goodreads.  The opinion expressed is my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Harvest Moon by Mercedes Lackey, Michelle Sagara and Cameron Haley.

Article first published as Book Review: Harvest Moon by Mercedes Lackey, Michelle Sagara, and Cameron Haley on Blogcritics.

Harvest Moon is an anthology of stories, each with a very strong female lead, and all are in fantasy based worlds. Each of the stories' heroines has to overcome an obstacle to grow into her potential. In most cases those obstacles, if not handled correctly, could end in their death. They are three different and unique worlds, and what bind them together are the unique challenges they overcome. Each are set to occur under the phase of the moon called the Harvest Moon.

Persephone, our heroine in "A Tangled Web," is a young woman, daughter of Demeter, a Goddess of Olympus — and she is in love. The problem is that her mother is the Goddess of Nature who refuses to believe she has grown up. When Persephone falls in love, she is ready for the next step, but she knows her mother will not approve her choice. Not only that, she will make it downright impossible for them to be together. She and her true love, Hades, have come up with a foolproof plan that will force Demeter into accepting their marriage. What they forget to take into account is the tradition, the power that shapes everything in the Five Hundred Kingdoms.

In an unexpected twist, Brunnhilde and her husband Leopold, visitors to Olympus, become a part of the plan. Brunnhilde is mistaken for Persephone and kidnapped by the God of death. Leopold must convince the Gods of Olympus to help him save her.

I love the setting of Olympus and that the Gods and Goddesses are also affected by the tradition. It adds a satisfying twist to the myths we grew up with. Mercedes Lackey's characters are well thought out, and both Persephone and Brunnhilde are set as the heroines. I am not sure that Persephone is developed as strongly as most of her leads, she does seem a bit weak. She is pushed around by her mother, and she seems to lack the sharpness that is usually instilled in her other female characters. On the other hand, Persephone's mother is exactly what I would expect. She is spoiled and reckless, and in her anger and grief she forgets all that is important. Leopold is a brave and noble Prince and adds a warmth to the story. He is a human in a land of immortals.

In "Cast in Moonlight" by Michelle Sagara, we meet an amazing thirteen year old girl, Kaylin Naya. She is captured trying to kill Lord Grammayre, the commander of the Hawks, one of three groups in the city of Elantra that enforce the Emperors law. The Hawk lord, as he is known, sees something in this girl that is worth saving. She is small for her age, dirty, bruised and covered with some type of runes or marks, covering her body. She is in rags and looks like she has not had a meal in some time. He makes a decision that will change the way investigations are done in the city.

Kaylin's first day sets the course of her life with this group of enforcers, that will forever set her apart. She is present during an autopsy where three children her age have been killed. Prior to the actual autopsy, a mage is often called in to make sure magic has not been used. Ceridath Morlanne is that mage, and as he casts his spells to search for magic, Kaylin's runes start burning. She is able to see the magic sigil of the mage whose magic is used. The problem begins when Ceridath claims no magic was used. During the resulting investigation, we find that Ceridath's granddaughter has been kidnapped and he is blackmailed into giving false information. Kaylin is convinced that she must help save Ceridath's grandaughter but little realizes that her abilities put her at risk, as she herself is persued by a murderer.

Michelle Sagara has put together a new and unique world in Elantra. She describes the city and the dangers with great verve, and it is easy to picture the view.

Her characters are strong and each is well developed with distinct personalities. Kaylin is brave and strong, a child in a world she does not understand. She does not read and does not understand the different languages. She is bewildered by much of what she encounters, but because of her background she does not back down. She fights her fear and faces it down. She is also just learning that she has magic and is not yet sure what to do with it.

Teela, the Barrani, is initially irritated that she has to “baby sit” Kaylin, but as she sees and learns more, she begins to have a respect for Kaylin's innate knowledge, as well as her developing abilities. Each of the supporting characters are unique and blend into a story that drags you along. It is a glimpse into a dark and unusual place where the innocent are often targeted.

It is a wonderful, but dark story and I was sorry to see it end. I look forward to seeing more of her work in Cast in Shadow and Cast in Ruins.

In Cameron Haley’s work, "Retribution", we meet a cynical and jaded Dominica Riley, known as Domino. She killed her first man at twelve years of age; it had became rather obvious that a young sorceress is not the best choice of a victim for a child predator. While killing him was easy, getting rid of his ghost was not. That was one of the first things she learned when she joined the gangsters and later became the lieutenant for Shanar Rashan.

Her meeting with Benny BenReaven, an Israeli gangster was going as she expected, well, except the part where he tried to use a gun to kill her. She is too good of sorceress to let that go. She uses her magic to kill Benny but not before he unleashes a Curse on her. And apparently this was not just any curse; he was able to use the power of his death to give it extra force.

She finds that Samuel, the angel of death, will be responsible to fulfill the curse. He made a visitation in the desert and assured her that she would have just three days before he carried out the curse, and that those three days would be her most miserable. As bodies begin to pile up and the gangsters begin to fight amongst themselves, she looks for a way to stop the curse. Will she find a way to stop the curse or will she perish?

Cameron Haley has made Domino a tough and smart mouthed character.She tries to find the humor in every situation. She also has a bit of a foul mouth so be aware that there will be some cursing. She is a self made sorceress with a little training, but just enough to make her dangerous. She has worked her way up to second in command of the gangsters and that has put her at risk in the splintering of the crew.

Her nemesis, Samuel is manifested as a tall good looking guy and while his entire part in this story is to kill Domino, he is alternately funny and coy. He is also terrifying and can manifest himself in other forms and her three days are fraught with more danger and death as he continues to keep her miserable till her time is due.

I would recommend this book as a fun read after a hard day at work or even possibly curling up in front of a nice fire. Be aware that the second and third stories are a bit graphic, and that the third one also has a small amount of foul language. Thay are great stories and a satisfying read.

Harvest Moon
Rating 4/5

I received this book as a free copy from NetGalley. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.                       

Enhanced by Zemanta

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Immortal by Lauren Burd

Article first published as Book Review: Immortal by Lauren Burd on Blogcritics.

Alina's day is just getting worse. First there is getting home from her dad’s place in California. Flying is unnatural and Alina is absolutely terrified when in the air, so to keep herself distracted she tries reading but can not keep her mind on the book. As she hears a commotion at the front of the plane she spots one of the most entrancing guys she has ever seen. His eyes are a deep ocean blue and he is well built. He ends up sitting just opposite of her on the plane. She finds herself constantly looking at him, as if!. If that was not bad enough, when her mom picks her up at the airport and takes her home, she finds everything that belongs to her packed up in boxes and ready to be gone. Knowing she would be moving out for college was one thing; the coldness of the actual event is another.

On her first day of class, the guy from the plane sits next to her. He attracts attention like a flame attracts a moth. She studiously looks away but sees all the other girls watching. There is something about him... something different. It is during class introductions that she learns his name is Samuel. Just being next to him in class keeps her heart racing, making it impossible to concentrate on the assignments.

In her second class as she is waiting for the professor to show, she hears a wonderful, deep purring voice, asking if the seat next to her is free. She finds herself sinking into a pair of incredible green eyes, belonging to an exceptionally attractive guy. He too seems to have that certain charisma, which has every eye turning his way. But he appears to have eyes just for her. He introduces himself as Duncan as he takes the seat next to her. She can feel him staring at her through out the class and she is not sure how to handle the attention.

Each day is a new struggle for her, as Duncan is steady in his pursuit, while she can tell that Samuel likes her as well, he is more standoffish. For some reason she is more drawn to Samuel, although both of them are extremely handsome and charismatic. Duncan chooses to get close to her through her best friend Tabby, but in Alina’s world that makes Duncan off limits.

As Duncan sees her interest shift directly to Samuel he takes a risk and reveals his true nature to her. He then gives her the background on both himself and Samuel, thereby also revealing Samuel's secret. His goal is to direct her feeling back to him by revealing Samuel's dark past. Little do they know that this knowledge has put her in imminent danger.

As I began reading Lauren Burd’s Immortal, I was initially disappointed that it seemed to be following in the path of the Twilight series. We have these handsome guys, they have that certain something, a charisma that attracts, and Alina, our young heroine is a pale, brooding girl who somehow seems to be extremely attractive to them, more so then any other.

What sent me in a different direction, was that Alina actually has some very close female friends that will do anything for her. In return she is also very protective of them. As the narrative continues, Alina finds out that the guys are both vampires, and that they have a story from their pasts that puts them at odds with each other.

Lauren Burd has developed a group of very likeable characters. Alina really cares about her friends and puts their feelings ahead of her own. While she moves too quickly into decisions, this also makes her very much like most girls her age. She is brave and a bit foolhardy. Tabby, her best friend, makes herself available for Alina at every juncture. We should all have a friend like her. Samuel, while very aloof is also quite tender and fierce, while Duncan reminds me of the many jocks I knew growing up, he thinks he is wonderful and that everyone should fall at his feet, but at the same time he seems to really care about Alina, so it is hard not to like him.

Immortal was enjoyable for a light read with some fun and danger thrown in. The characters were good but seemed to grow as the book took a turn and developed a unique storyline of its own. Anyone who loved the Twilight saga is sure to enjoy this book.

While it begins much like that series I think you will find as you read further it changes gear and goes in a whole different direction

Rating 3/5

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.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Hidden will of the Dragon by Charlie Courtland

Article first published as Book Review: Hidden Will of the Dragon by Charlie Courtland on Blogcritics.

As Lady Amara's illness continues to worsen, the shortness of time drives her to finish the ledger she has promised Count Drugeth. He has only recently sought her out in in effort to know more about his family and the history that plagues them. Only now as she looks back, writing and reflecting on her life as the ladies maid and confident of Countess Bathory, does the time seem right to set to paper the truth of what really occurred, both the joys and the horror. History would remember Countess Bathory as the Blood Countess and one of the first women serial killers in written history, Amara would remember her as a friend.

In Hidden will of the Dragon, Charlie Courtland takes you back to the late 15th and early 16th century where women were unable to inherit and were traded in marriage in order to improve the coffers or standing of her family. Marriages were set up as business propositions and women had no choice in the matter. The same is true for Elizabeth Bathory, and because her husband is a soldier she is sent into isolation in the Hungarian countryside to reside in Cathcice.

The descriptions of the day as well as the characters pull you in and you feel the hopelessness and despair, almost as though you were there in that time and place.

Lady Amara, her friend and companion is with her through everything, a constant in her life that is so rare. I was initially fooled by Amara, thinking her to be that friend and confidant that would be the strength to deal with Elizabeth’s demons. I was disappointed to find that Amara not only had her own demons but that she was pulled into some of Elizabeth’s madness as well.

Charlie Courtland has taken a time and event in history and put a story to it that would rival the actual events. She takes the reported facts as well as many of the rumors of the day and spins them into a story so believable that it could be the true events as they transpired.

This story is not for the weak of heart as there is much madness and despair. Be prepared to be sucked into the story and become a part of it. You will see the blood spatters and will feel the actual weight of the horror as it unfolds.

I would recommend this book with the understanding that it is not lighthearted reading. I believe it would be great for a book club or a reading group. There is a great deal of information that would be interesting to discuss.

Rating 5/5

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.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Borealis A Space Anthology (Book I) by P.I. Barrington, J. Morgan, and Gail R. Delaney

Article first published as Book Review: Borealis: A Space Anthology (Book I) by P.I. Barrington, J. Morgan & Gail R. Delaney on Blogcritics.

These stories are all based in a futuristic time where war is everywhere, with a rebellion fighting for its rights against a bullying regime called the Trans Planetary Protectorate. They are all set on an aging space station in the Sestus-3 system. The station has become a hive of debauchery where anything goes. Anything can be bought or sold, not limited to, but including drugs, sex and death. All monies from the station are being funneled away by the Trans Planetary Protectorate to help fund the effort to quell the rebellion.

Khai Zafara, the heroine in PI Barrington’s Inamorata Crossing, has every right to hate the rebellion. She was just a small child when they murdered her father. What Khai does not realize is that the Trans Planetary Protectorate may not be everything that she is led to believe. It will take the capture and transfer of Teyrnan Sajan, a leader of the rebellion, to make her search her memories of the past and to unlock the mysteries of the murder of her father.

Khai is a strong female and her strength is crafted from a hate that is based off a scattering of incomplete memories. Once she finds the truth she developes a vulnerability that takes away nothing of her strength but ads another layer to her character. Teyrnan is kind and patient, understanding her anger and leading her, though well thought questions, to find the answers that she does not realize are missing. The solitude and quiet of the spaceship has drawn them together. Where there is heat there is a strong possibility of romance. Leave it to PI Barrington to build a romantic thriller in space. This is an exciting read that keeps you off balance and wondering where the next revelation with happen.

In Kiss Me Kate by J Morgan, we meet Riannan Burton, abandoned as a child and brought up through the system. She owns a tavern on Borealis and works as a bounty hunter for the mysterious Professor. Because of her training with the professor, she is now one of the best Bounty Hunters available. No one has seen the professor for years and all information now goes through Riannan. She is extremely sarcastic and known for her sense of humor, often biting and caustic, but also her ability to make jokes in inappropriate situations.

She meets her match in K’tlyn Byllvian a Prince Regent of Pyernian. He is very large and extremely good looking but absolutely untrained in any form of fighting. K’tlyn knows that he needs to train with Riannan to become the man he expects to be. At every opportunity, Riannan fights her attraction to him with her sarcasm and her humor. She calls him Kate in an attempt to keep the distance between them. The problem is that K’tlyn just does not get it.

This is a fun and engaging story and has the tone of a fairy story of old. It is as exciting as you would expect from a science fiction set in space, and the romance warms the heart. J Morgan has created a fun and eventful story with characters that have sparkling personalities. They are so real it is like losing a friend when the story ends.

In Forgive us our Debts by Gail R Delaney, Theron Kess is a mercenary who will do almost any job for the coin he can gain. When Theron asked to find the Princess being held captive by the TTP he quickly agrees. He owes a debt for his family, which this will repay. The problem is that by the time he is able to get the communication as to where Sarina Laroux is being held, three weeks have passed. And for Sarina those three weeks are a nighmare. She is drugged and tortured repeatedly, not because she has answers, because no questions are asked. This is happening because of who she is, and during the process she is also informed of her soon to be rescue at the hands of Theron, but also informed by her sadistic captor that while her parents paid Theron’s fees to find her, the captors also paid him to take his time, which appears to have happened.

By the time Theron finds her, she is addicted to Uudon and in a very weekend state. As he struggles though her rescue as well as her health, he finds himself extremely attracted to her. She obviously hates him although he is unaware of why. She finds that although she is aware of Theron’s treachery she is also very attracted to him. During the escape and while she heals, Sarina finds that there is a depth to Theron. This does not fit what she believes him to be. She learns to trust again and learn that others are not always honest. In addition, Theron learns that he needs to change who he is to win what he wants.

Theron is a good person and due to his job as a mercenary has been pulled into some bad situations that put him on the wrong side. He knows that to win Sarina he needs to make changes and for love, he is more then willing. Sarina and Theron are both very strong and likeable characters that make you want to cheer them on. Their feelings are deep and leave a lasting tug on your heart.

This is a wonderful book, full of charm and witty repose. The characters are very well written and likeable. Each story is unique to itself but all are set in the same time and place. They are charming stories of love and space, and as each story ends you feel as though you have lost a friend. This is a fast paced and exciting book full of danger and adventure and all brought together by love.

Rating 5/5

This Book was revieved as an ARC from the Authors. All opinions are my own based off my reading of the material.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Fairy Godmother by Mercedes Lackey

We have all heard the fairy tales where the Prince and Princess live happily ever after, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Princess and the Pea and Rapunzel. Then there are also the tales where children are stolen from their beds, with changelings left in their place, or the grandmother being eaten by the big bad wolf. What we do not hear about is the tradition. The tradition is the all-powerful force that makes things happen, time after time, keeping the fairy tales repeating themselves repeatedly. It is a force that pushes and prods and creates opportunities or challenges that make things happen in just that certain way.

This is the story of one young woman born into the Five Hundred Kingdoms. All her life she has been worked hard, treated poorly and neglected by her Stepmother. She had become a virtual slave to her and her two stepdaughters as well. Well anyone knowing how the tradition works could see that this should have a happy ending. But as the years went on and Elena passed her eighteenth birthday all hope was lost. As her stepmother and stepsisters moved on one step ahead of the creditors, Elena was left on her own with nothing to her name.

Luckily, she was close to her neighbor’s, two older women who seemed to have just a little magic. So as the creditors came to strip the house of everything that was not nailed down she sat down for one of her first good meal in a long time. The elderly women fawned and petted over her, which gave her the courage to do what she felt she had to do. She needed to sell herself as a house cleaner and move on before her Stepmother and Stepsisters came back again to continue to make her life miserable. Off she goes to the town square where the mop fair is going on and jobs are offered each week, with her back straight and her hopes up. However, with each passing hour she began to lose hope. Not one to give up she stayed right were she was till the very end of day, knowing that it would just take that one person that would need what she had to offer and give her a job. As the day faded, away Elena started to head back to her empty home, and just as she did, she heard the carriage.

The cart that came around the corner was just as odd as the driver was, but the elderly woman had such kind eyes and Elena really needed a job. When the elderly woman asked her if she was looking for work, Elena jumped at the chance without even remembering to ask what the job was. It was so wonderful to find someone with such kind eyes. The woman invited her aboard the carriage and off they went. As they rounded the corner and lurched over a bump the carriage bounced into the air, and did not come down. Elena was terrified.

This is the Story of how Elena became the Fairy Godmother’s apprentice and then went on to become the Fairy Godmother of the Five Hundred Kingdoms. Even the Fey and magical creatures accepted her. She becomes the adored of the Unicorns, and if she still sometimes dreamed of meeting her prince, well no one ever knew for the longest time. She became a source to be reckoned with and helped to set up the questing for the young men trying to win the fair maiden. This is also the story of how she changed the Tradition and used it to build a strong and peaceful kingdom where only good would prevail. In addition, as luck, or the tradition would have it, could there still be a happily ever after for Elena?

This true adult fairytale with all the fun and enchantments that go with the tales we heard as a child. It is the story of believing in something with all your heart and finding that there really are happy endings. A fun read with likable characters. It may have been a little sugary but still had a very feel good ending.

Rating 4/5
This Book was received as a free book from Net galley. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material. 
Enhanced by Zemanta

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Earth is not Alone (The Emryss Chronicles) By John Knapp II

Article first published as Book Review: Earth Is Not Alone by John Knapp II on Blogcritics.

In a world damaged by progress, life continues in pockets and territories throughout the earth. Power is no longer available, having been destroyed by an electromagnetic pulse. In this new earth, time is now viewed as BEMP and AEMP. It is here, AEMP that the story begins, in the newly formed Susquehanna territory of Northeastern Pennsylvania.

Two students are accused by their Science teacher Marvin Cample of cheating. Both students, Michael Hammond and Triana Simms are not just honor students but also true believers of God and adopted by the local Pastor Dr. Jonas Harwell. Michael has been with Jonas for several years and Triana is a very recent adoptee. What makes the accusation unfair is that they are accused of cheating off the other, and neither has yet spent any time together. Trina is almost blind and wears the thickest set of glasses Michael has ever seen. The assignment they were writing was to be a story of folklore. As Mr. Cample begins to address the transgression, Jonas comes to the school to pick up Michael and Trina, here he too learns of this accusation. Jonas makes the suggestion of Mr. Cample coming to their home to discuss the situation further. It is here that the stories are read and compared to each other. Each story in and of itself is a marvelous tale of another world and their belief in their God and God son. The story written by Triana tells a tale of a world in change, and how one family, through faith, is saved when their Kingdom is destroyed. All but one of the members is killed on their journey to seek the Emperor, by the scourges that cover their world. Prince Fairold the younger son is the only survivor. Marvin Cample then has them read the tale by Michael. This is where Mr. Cample thinks he has found the seeds of deceit. The story written by Michael is about a family that has become the ruler of the city of Zareba. A Prince Fairold is holding the city for his friend the Emperor. His son Prince Gavin is learning the ropes of being a Royal, and there has been peace in the land for years. This city is known as the last resting place of the God Son and is therefore revered by the Emperor. This story is also the story of coming war and those who choose to not believe. It appears to be a continuation of the story from Triana.

What comes of this meeting is as amazing as each of the tales being told. How does one single God and God Son become available to the entire universe? Is there really life on the other planets and do they truly have the same belief system in the same God that we do? Is Triana, as is suspected by Mr. Cample and Michael, possibly from one of these other planets?

This is a wonderful story within a story. Each and of themselves the stories are unique and well written, tie them in with the overall possibilities and it all becomes an incredible experience of belief. I can’t wait to read the rest of the series. The possibilities are endless.
Rating 4/5

I received this copy of Earth is not Alone from the Cadence Group. All opinions are my own based of my reading and understanding of the material.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Raising Dragons (Dragons in our Midst I) by Bryan Davis

Article first published as Book Review: Raising Dragons by Bryan Davis on Blogcritics.

Fifteen hundred years ago during the time of King Arthur, Merlin made a pact with the dragons to save what was left of their race. Dragons were being methodically hunted and destroyed as evil and cruel creatures. In some cases that was exactly true, farm animals were being killed and eaten and dragons were rounding up every jewel they could find. On the other hand there were also the dragons of lore. They were pure of heart and true believers. The dragon hunters refused to see the difference and planned on eradicating the entire race. In order to facilitate Merlin's plan, the dragons would have to become human until the world was once again safe for their kind. The only real catch was that when they became human they could not produce offspring with each other, they could only create children with a full blooded human.

This is the story of Billy Bannister, half dragon with the ability to breathe fire, and Bonnie Silver, born with dragon wings. They are brought together by fate to become part of the prophesy to bring dragons back into the world. This challenge comes with its own set of dangers. The hunters, that swore to rid the earth of dragons, have been training their decendents for over a thousand years. They too are ready for the prophesy and have every intention of completing the tasks set forth by their forbearers. Only faith will determine the outcome and the final standing. Will Billy and Bonnie, along with their friends be able to save the last of the great dragons? Come along for the adventure.

This book is an exciting and fast paced read. While it is considered a YA book, it is so well written and engaging I would recommend it to anyone who loves a good solid fantasy. But if you are looking for that book your young adult would love, look no further.
Rated 5/5
I received this book free from Netgalley. All opinions are my own based off my reading and undertanding of the material.
Raising Dragons (Dragons in Our Midst, Book 1)
Enhanced by Zemanta

Saturday, September 4, 2010


"Daddy, am I going to die." These are words that can either make a man or destroy him. Finding out that his daughter has Leukemia is one of the worst things that he can imagine a parent going through. As usual Drew draws on his humor to try and make light of a very terrible subject. Not knowing how to deal with this himself he tries to lighten it up for his young daughter Moxie. He never planned on being a dad but when one of the groupies that he hooked up with after his band played one evening called him to let him know she was pregnant and that the baby was his, there was no looking back for him. He was not even sure of his paternity but it made no difference. He was absolutely, irrevocably in love with his daughter. And while he did not care for her mother for various reasons, he spent every moment of his spare time with Moxie.
Drew himself grew up an orphan only leaving the orphanage when Mema, one of the teachers that volunteered, saw something in him. He loved her cooking classes and applied himself at every turn. One evening after one of her classes he stays to talk to her but sees several of the other kids hanging out, some self described toughs. Knowing he will not get a chance to speak to Mema but being uncomfortable with the uncharacteristic behaviour of the boys staying behind, Drew leaves but goes no further than just down the hall to the restroom. Shortly after, he sees Mema leave the school room heading for the ladies room. Sure enough the young toughs trail after and follow her into the ladies room. Mema is the first person that has really treated Drew well, and he is concerned for her. Knowing he would not have time to get help he looks around for something to protect them both with.The only thing handy is a fire extinguisher. As he enters the restroom, he sees Mema on the floor with blood on her face. He loses it and uses the extinguisher like a club, thereby saving Mema's life. After being saved by Drew, Mema knows that this is not the place for either of them. He is allowed to move on and live at Mema's.
 As Drew gets older he works at a restaurant and barely makes ends meet. His mode of transportation is a bicycle.  He does not know how he will be able to afford treatment for Moxie. Without this care she will die and that is not acceptable. Cleaning up and getting ready to leave for the evening that night he hears the bartender making a drug deal over the phone. It sounds like some money may exchange hands and Drew is getting desperate. He is pretty sure that if he disguises himself and takes them by surprise during their drop that he may very well end up with the money. It is worth a shot, this might be a way out of his dilemma, these are bad guys and he is more in need of the money and it is for a great cause. Donning some larger rubber boots to cover his work shoes, a old zippered hoodie, and a pair of Jackie O shades he feels like no one will be able to recognize him. As he moves in for the attack he finds he is correct in that there is not much fight. He takes down the bartender first, who falls on a broken bottle smashing up his face.  When Mouse the drug mule steps out of the car he goes after him.  Drew is not expecting much of a fight but does not realize that Mouse will have a gun and will have so much bravado.  Drew is forced to deal with him brutally, finally slamming the door on his legs crushing them. He quickly takes the money from him, and as he turns to leave he is met with the broken end of a beer bottle in his chest tearing him open. He again shoves Randy to the ground.  With both men out of contention Drew knows he needs to get help, he is bleeding profusely. Getting on his bike and peddling away is a difficult task and by the time Drew makes it to his friend  Tatoo Tom he is in a bad way. Drew shares his story with Tom whom he has known for a long time and who is also very familiar with Moxie's predicament. Once Drew is finished and stitched up by Tom ,who has had some experience,  he decides to go to his friends house as he has been receiving numerous calls from them. He met Jim and Phil after moving in with Mema and thought they were the coolest guys he ever met. It was not till later that he realized that they were nerds. They too are drawn into his story and when they find that his take is $7462 they are on board and signing him up to move on to even bigger and better things. With the right money they can make him unbeatable and almost a Superhero.
As the story continues to unfold Drew becomes known as the Freak, wanted by both law enforcement but even more so by the criminals. What he does not realize is that everything he holds dear can be gone in the blink of an eye. And as he tries to put together the funds for Moxie's treatment, she and Mema will become pawns in the game of war.  Will he be able to put to rights the terrible and horrific crimes that he has spawned in time to save his family? How will it all end?
This is a dark comedy and tragedy, alternating between humor and intrigue. If you love heroes from comic books and like dark comedy as well as a compelling read this is the book for you. How do you not love a guy who will do anything for his daughter. I have to admit that it intrigues me that the hero is Drew Blank and the Author is Drew Blank. One has to know there is a story there.

Rated 4\5

This book was received free from Library Thing Early Reviewers Group. This opinion is my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.