Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Curiosity House: The Shrunken Head by Lauren Oliver and H.C. Chester

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'Curiosity House, The Shrunken Head,' A Young Adult Mystery by Lauren Oliver & H.C Chester.

Entertaining, intriguing, dangerous and full of action, Curiosity House: The Shrunken Head by Lauren Oliver & H.C. Chester takes you on a fun filled journey with a group of children who have grown up in Dumfrey’s  Dime Museum of Freaks Oddities and Wonders. Each with different abilities, orphans Philippa, Sam and Thomas call the museum home. When they are joined by a new member, Max everything suddenly changes.

When the Shrunken Head exhibit is unveiled, resulting in the death of one customer, suddenly the museum is drawing a different kind of crowd. Everyone wants to see the acts of the children but more importantly the curiosity known as the Shrunken Head. When it disappears, Dumfrey knows that his world has changed. With that loss he knows the children will be in trouble as well. They are not willing to let things change for good though. They have decided to investigate the disappearance on their own first, but as they begin their own interference, they find that as they move forward, each person in contact with the shrunken head seems to be dying.

When their very own Dumfrey becomes a suspect in murder, they scatter to find every clue. They know that their lives will change if they are broken up, and there are those who just do not understand their abilities. Their own safety and well-being lie in being a family, and Dumfrey is their most ardent supporter. Can they find the answers before he is taken away for good?

Oliver and Chester have given us a remarkable group of children and set them in a fun, exciting setting, the New York of the 30’s. While gifted with strange abilities they have come under protection of a man who is more then he seems. Unable to care for them in the normal way he makes them a part of his shows, but for him, they are his children. The love and respect that is engendered into the story create warmth of relationship, and the antics of the group keep you both interested and just a bit appalled.

This is a great work of humor, danger, interest and historical settings that catch your attention from the beginning.

If you enjoy adventure, oddities, family and mystery this will be a great copy of work for your library. Written with the young adult in mind, the antics create a great interest in reading, but make no mistake this is also a work of mystery and novelty that will keep the curious and young at heart entertained as well.

Rating 4/5

Friday, August 21, 2015

Contract: Snatch by Ty Hutchinson

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: Contract: Snatch' A Sei Assassin Thriller by Ty Hutchinson.

Ty Hutchinson brings us a bold new character in his recent release, Contract: Snatch, a Sei Assassin Thriller.  Sei had been part of an assassin organization sent on jobs to alleviate problems that could not be solved in other ways. Living as a recluse she keeps few friends and is always on point for she knows the life she had chosen and now put aside puts her in the cross hairs of others. After a birth gone wrong, Sei has hung up her tools and moved on, yet knows that none of her competition will believe her.

Having lost her daughter during childbirth she has moved on, yet always on the lookout for an assassins life is not their own. A phone call turns her life around in a complicated way. Requested for another assassin job she turns it down, but the caller knows about the secret of her lost child. However, this contact also has a story. Having been informed of her daughter’s death shortly after the birth, she is now hearing that the real occurrence was a kidnapping, and that she truly has a daughter being raised by others. The caller offers her information on the kidnapping but only in return for the job he is asking.

With an anger fueled by duplicity and rage, Sei becomes once again a main player in the high stakes game of assignation but at the same time conducts her own investigations. What she finds gives her hope, but also creates pain and hurt. Unaware of why all as occurred as it has, she realizes she is on her own. Who does she trust to help her move forward?

Now, even her closest friends become suspect and she must keep herself out of danger for living as an assassin is extremely dangerous and her own life is now someone’s contract.  Can she stay one step ahead and find the real answers to her past? Can she find her daughter before all trails disappear?

Hutchinson has given us an amazingly strong character in Sei, but the flaws within her character softens the edges of what could be chilling and remote. Her nurturing character is hidden deep within yet it comes to light in several areas keeping you a fan.

The others involved are an interesting array of dark and light, with just enough depth and at times friendships to keep you confused as to who the real bad guys are. Red herrings are littered throughout keeping you guessing as to the events.

IF you enjoy mystery, action and fiery contenders you will enjoy this work. Sword play, hand to hand combat and danger are just a few of the features. The characters stay with you as you continue to mull over the stories long after the reading is complete. Hutchinson brings us an exciting new character to watch for.

Rating 5/5

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Glass Gauntlet by Carter Roy

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: ' The Glass Gauntlet, The Blood Guard Book 2' by Carter Roy.

In The Glass Gauntlet by Carter Roy, we are introduced to Ronan Truelove. Life has not been easy for him; after all he has already nearly been killed. What makes it even worse is that it is his father and the Bend sinister that have targeted him. He has now decided to join the Blood Guard and learn the sword skills of this secret society and become the champion of those known as the pure souls. They must have protection for they are necessary for the survival of the world.

When he and a couple of friends are chosen for their first mission, they are sent to another weird school, one where they must take tests called the Glass Gauntlet. Initially boring, they find that is more than they thought it would be. The danger comes from the competition, for someone is out to kill him. Ronan must find who wants him dead and why. What he first thought was a simple competition and another bout of training has turned to more than just that.

The Glass Gauntlet puts him on another challenge, one where he must face his father.  Can he protect his friends and save himself once more? Is his father after the pure souls? Ronan cannot back away from this challenge for his is now a sworn protector. The survival of the world is at stake.

Carter has given us a group of kids that are fun and entertaining. They each have their doubts and insecurities, and they all want to learn to be more. Yet there is another group as well which contains the bullies, those magnified from our own youth. You are drawn to the actions and cheering the underdogs.

His world is complex and his villains are bold and dangerous. Carter takes us into the dealings of those who want to rule and care nothing about how it will affect others. He has given us a twist by making Ronan’s father the protagonist and he makes him more indecipherable then bad. There is always that question. Is he really trying with all his heart to kill his son?

If you have a young adult that loves fantasy and fiction fill with action and danger this would be a great find. While set for the young adult, the story is also a wonderful find for the adult that is young at heart. Carter takes us into a world of turmoil, where the victors are still unsure of themselves and the adventures are exciting but dangerous. The second in the series you will want to go back and find The Blood Guard Book 1 to learn more about how it all began.

Rating 3/5

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Fraternity of the Soul Eater by Scott A. Lerner

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'The Fraternity of the Soul Eater', A Samuel Roberts Thriller by Scott A Lerner.

In The Fraternity of the Soul Eater, Scott A. Lerner takes us on a journey into the darkness that dwells in the mind of those most enchanted with darkness. Samuel Roberts an attorney by day has found himself in situations that cannot be explained. He feels as though there is danger that others do not believe, nor have they ever seen. His law duties seem quite tame by contrast and he finds himself wishing for more. His girlfriend thinks he is a junkie for danger and he is not sure he doesn’t agree.

He knows that something is stirring in the darkness through for he is having dreams he cannot decipher. Egypt often is the base of his worries, so when finds himself in an Egyptian museum he is both worried and excited.

The sudden danger though is quick and unexpected. He needs the help of his friend Bob, for things have begun to creep even him out. Even with warnings from his girlfriend to desist his quest he is unable to let go. Yet when she disappears he finds himself in deeper than expected. Suddenly his own life is on the line, and he is captured for an extremely unlikely DNA experiment.

Can Sam save both his girlfriend and himself from a crazy mad man who believes he can brings back the old Gods of Egypt through experimentation? Will this danger finally be the end of his relationship? With Bob as his only hope he escapes though brutality, something he has always avoided in the past. Will this be the final means that will allow darkness to enter his own soul?

Lerner gives us characters that are full of fun, bluster and charm, yet have that energy that you feel is trustworthy. His dynamics between his characters and protagonists are both strange and unlikely, but at the same time intriguing and interesting. You find yourself immersed in a story that takes you to the edge of darkness, twisting and realigning your own take on life.

The edge of darkness seems real and at any time you could find yourself immersed through the work of those who believe, for they are quite fanatical.

If you enjoy mystery, danger and the macabre, riddled with humor and friendship you will find this a must have for your library. You can read it time and again and still find passages you may have missed which make this a fun and unique find.

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Scott A. Lerner's Bio:
Author and attorney Scott A. Lerner resides in Champaign, Illinois. He obtained his undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Wisconsin in Madison and went on to obtain his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Illinois in Urbana Champaign. He is currently a sole practitioner in Champaign, Illinois. The majority of his law practice focuses on the fields of criminal law and family law. Lerner’s first novel and the first Samuel Roberts Thriller, Cocaine Zombies, won a bronze medal in the mystery/cozy/noir category of the 2013 Independent Publisher (IPPY) Awards. The second book in the series is Ruler of Demons. The Fraternity of the Soul Eater is book 3. Book 4, The Wiccan Witch of the Midwest, will be released on Halloween, 2015.

The Fraternity of the Soul Eater Book Summary:
It’s been a while since Samuel Roberts was called upon to save mankind, and he’s getting restless. His girlfriend Susan thinks he’s a danger junkie, and he’s worried he has a hero complex. He’s back to his usual small-town lawyerly duties in Champaign-Urbana, handling divorces and helping people beat DUI raps. But then a young fraternity pledge calls. During an initiation ceremony he witnessed the live sacrifice of a young woman, but he had so much alcohol in his system that no one believes him. Except Sam. Lately Egyptian lore has been creeping into his life, his dreams, and his movie preferences, and he’s pretty sure he knows why. Evil is knocking on his door again.

Is the call welcome? Why can’t Sam be satisfied with his comfortable legal practice and gorgeous redheaded girlfriend? Maybe it’s because he knows that, as inadequate as he may feel to the task, he and his friend Bob may be humanity’s only hope against ancient supernatural forces combined with modern genetic engineering. Come hell or high water. Or in this case, the underworld or subterranean pyramids.

The Fraternity of the Soul Eater is the third book in the Samuel Roberts Thriller series, which began with Cocaine Zombies and continued with Ruler of Demons.

Price/Formats: $4.99 ebook, $13.95 paperback
Paranormal, Mystery, Thriller
Camel Press
June 1, 2015

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The Invasion of The Tearling by Erika Johansen

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'The Invasion of The Tearling', An Epic Novel by Erika Johansen.

The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen takes us into the war ravaged and torn world of the future.  Queen Kelsea must find a way to keep Mortmesne from invading her kingdom of Tearling. As she comes to terms with the possibility of failure, she takes a stance. Every move now must be to keep up the moral of her people and to find the strength to combat the evil queen of Mortmesne.  Her magic works strangely and she often finds herself disappearing into the past and the beginning of the Tearling. Finding escape from the past is more difficult each time as she continues her battle to save her people and put an end to the evil of her land forever.

That past is of a woman named Lily. Lily has no idea her life is being watched by a future queen. She only knows that things are changing and terrorism is escalating. She has recently come face to face with a group that she had no idea existed, and is intrigued by their ideology. They believe they can save the world from oppression. Queen Kelsea knows that if she can just understand Lily, and how the Tearling began she can use that information to save her future world. But her magic is mercurial, it does not always follow her command and she is unable to stay in the past without putting her life in danger.

In the future things are escalating and the Queen finds even more traitors to her crown hidden behind the guise of religion. Her own guard is one of the best. She trusts them with her life. Yet as danger comes near she must choose which can stay and which must go, for what she plans has need of only a few. Feelings run high, but she must make the right choices to save her kingdom.

Can she pick up the pieces of a world gone mad, or will she lose her own life and that of her kingdom to the ravages of the evil that has infiltrated every corner of the land?

In the Continuing saga of The Queen of the Tearling, Johansen keeps us captivated with her characters. The flaw and romance are just a few of the interests. Alternating her characters between future and past she takes us into another thought process.  Is life truly about bloodlines or is it just a possible migration of souls. You certainly begin to wonder as you embrace this group who seem to be on the brink of destruction.

If you enjoy mystery, romance, magic, and intrigue you will find yourself immersed in the story of the Tearling. There is fascination in the ability of looking at the past, and although there is no possibility of changing what had become, we find that the mistakes of the past could relate to the saving of the future.

This would be a fun read for a reading group. Be prepared though for once you become attached to the characters you will be ready to find the prior words leading up the The Invasion of the Tearling. 

Rating 4/5

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Girl in the Torch by Robert Sharenow

Posted firt to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'The Girl in the Torch,' A Young Adult Historical Fiction by Robert Sharenow.

In the early 20th century the dream of America was the draw for thousands of immigrants. The Girl in the Torch by Robert Sharenow, takes us into the lives of one of those who has made it to the shores of America after grievous personal loss, only to find that she is not welcome to stay. After losing her mother on the journey over,12 year old Sarah finds she is being sent back before she can even disembark into this wondrous new country.

Sarah knows her life back home will be unbearable so she makes a decision that could well end in her death. She is determined to follow her heart and jumps off the back of the boat she is loaded on to return her to her homeland.  Her efforts at swimming take her to the land of the Lady, the woman of the torch. She finds her new hiding palace is on the island of the Statue of Liberty itself.

Now she must find a way back to Manhattan while eluding the watchmen. As Sarah works on a plan she struggles to survive. The beauty of the Woman with the Torch keeps her mesmerized, helping her to keep hope alive. Stealing scraps of food where she can she knows that she must find her way, her mother would have wanted it. Just as all hope is lost, help comes from an unexpected source.

Is America truly the land of dreams, a place to find her way and live in freedom? Suddenly she may finally have the chance to find out, but she must stay clear of those who continue looking for her.

Sharenow has given us an example of history and has made it beautifully poignant. You will embrace Sarah for her bravery and her hope, rooting her on in her endeavors to make America her home against the odds.

This story is fun and exciting, giving you glimpses of the early Americas and helping take us to the time of great immigration through the eyes of a child.
If you enjoy history and adventure you will enjoy this Young Adult work. If you would like your children to experience history this is the perfect adventure. Told with passion and humor they will be transported back in time, and following the exploits of Sarah will make learning a joy.

This would be a great work or a book club or reading group. While written with the young in mind it will captivate all audiences.

Rating 5/5