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Thursday, 26 June 2014

Never Give Up on Love by Quensetta Williams

Title: Never Give Up on Love
Author: Quensetta Williams
Read Type: ARC
Stars: StarStarStar

You can purchase a copy of this book from Amazon UK and Amazon US
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The setting for the story "You Never Give Up One Love" begins in the posh condo apartment of grand theater actress and star, Grace Madison, the international darling of the stage. With the winning smile and sparkling eyes that can win over practically any man, why is she so deparately lonely?


Take a trip with Grace around the world as she looks for love, and battles with her own insecurities. She wonders if she will ever reclaim the relationaship she lost with the love of her life, Alexander Stanton, her rival in business as well as the only man she considers her equal but that also captures her heart.


From the exclusive after parties with the show business set in Manhattan, to the intimate moonlit gondola ride in Venice, Italy, this story draws you into the lives of the wealthy and famous, but also shows that even they have their setbacks and heartbreaks. 








Strong language: None
Drugs: None
Violence: None
Sexual content: None

I received a free copy of this book in return for an unbiased review


This was a short love story, a woman looking back on the past, the one that got away, as it were. Much of it was written through memory, short snippets, with chapters that took just a couple of minutes to read. In places it felt as if these were in depth plans for a novel, rather than a story in themselves, the scenes were flat in places and didn't connect with the reader.

I feel the disconnect was largely to do with wekened writing by the use of extra words. For example phrases such as "practically collapsed" and "barely stand" were used while her heart was actively being broken. As we are looking into the woman's memories of a man she loved I felt she should have dropped the adverbs even if she did keep her feet.

However, despite this I enjoyed the story. It was clean, it covered a time span difficult for shorter pieces and put you into the mind of a woman struggling to be who society wanted her to be, a role I think most women, as well as men, can relate to at one point or another. It had a slight fairytale quality to the writing, and made you want to root for the point of view.

I felt the ending, while sweet, was a bit rushed and left me wanting more. I'd have liked to have seen this fleshed out into at least a novella. If the story at this length was enough make connections with the character I feel if it was allowed to expand those memories into actual flashbacks it would be great.

I enjoyed this, but due to the issues I have to give it 3 stars.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

PROMO: Satan Came To Eden


PROMO

I have been offered this gem of a book, I think it is criminal that these are allowed to slide into the dust of history, and am so glad somebody has come forward to bring them back to us.

My schedule means I will not be able to review it for a couple of months, most likely, but I felt it deserved some promotion now.

Give it some love and tell me what you think. I present Satan Came To Eden 

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After a wait of almost 80 years, this bizarre, completely true and utterly irresistible story of German colonists who fled to the uninhabited island of Floreana in the Galapagos in 1929 is once again available to readers around the world. Idealistic and intelligent, with no idea of what hardships they were about to face, this young couple sought  to forsake the political chaos and social complexities of life in post-World War I Berlin and to blend their lives into the harmony of the natural world.

Little did they know.

This is a story so rich in plot and character that no carefully scripted TV reality show could even come close to matching it. Can you imagine a couple leaving their respective spouses but trying to match them up prior to departure? How about taking the precaution of having all your teeth pulled out before you head off to the wilderness? And what were they thinking, to travel 7,000 miles to a lava deposit in the middle of the ocean without a rifle, proper tools or anesthetics? Or waking up one morning to the appearance of a pistol-wielding Austrian "Baroness" at the garden gate, announcing her plans to build a luxury hotel near your primitive homestead? Yes, this really happened.

Dore Strauch's memoir is not only fascinating, curious and eventful--it is also chilling. Little by little, the reader comes to witness the undoing of the couple's dream, as demons within and without torment them in their Eden.  Part adventure story, part travelogue, part psychological thriller, this cautionary tale about the perils of seeking paradise on earth is endlessly engrossing. One critic said: "It reads like a collaboration between Charles Darwin and Stephen King."
 

While various commentaries about why this handful of colonists chose to go to murderous war with each other have appeared in articles, blogs and even a recent film, the actual book existed only as a rare and expensive ($395 and up) hardcover, published in 1936 and never thereafter. Passing it from friend to friend, or tediously photocopying a precious original, was the only way to engage Strauch's original memoir, and to experience in sometimes uncomfortable intimacy both the light and dark sides of this unusual woman's soul.

That is, until now!

Satan Came To Eden is now available from Amazon.com as both a handsome paperback or a Kindle edition, with many rarely seen photographs from the Smithsonian Archives and a provocative new preface by the editor.


 

Sunday, 15 June 2014

The Anti-Matter Chronicles 01 - Tranquil Fury by P.G. Thomas

Title:Tranquil Fury
Author: P.G. Thomas
Series: The Anti-Matter Chronicles 01
Read Type: ARC read
Stars: StarStarStar

You can purchase a copy of this book from Amazon UK and Amazon US

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Tranquil Fury is the story of six high school students who witness a strange accident which transports them to a unique world that they soon find is filled with dwarves, elves, and magic. Unlike most epic novels, where one character has a foreboding sense of the underlying currents, in the Anti-Matter Chronicles, the unknown has already embraced the resident characters as they wait to welcome the six new cast members. And it is with their insight, that the truth is realized, and the real threats discovered.


I received a free copy of this book from the author in return for an unbiased review


Strong language: None
Drugs: None
Violence: Some, non-graphic
Sexual content: None



This novel starts slow, for the first chapter I wasn't engaged. A school bus, presumably travelling a country route, describing each of the kids as they are picked up. This left me  with an information overload, I was unable to remember all but the most obvious things about characters, ie
Big kid = athlete
Kid in wheelchair = disabled

The kids soon find themselves on what is clearly another world, just the six of them without the driver. Despite that they organise themselves very fast, accept they are on another world and put past grudges behind them. I liked that they didn't take the each man for himself, despite some having bad injuries, but I felt they were far too polite in a stressful situation. Every request was accompanied with a please, even time sensitive ones, like a medical kit to stem bleeding, the backboard to get one of their classmates free of the bus etc. I get that this is aimed at the YA category, but I would have liked to see more them frustrated at each other, the more able, or socially isolated, ones grumbling that they could be heading off to find civilisation by that point. That's how my secondary school would have worked anyway.

Soon came along a man from the world they were in, Mirtza. I instantly took to him, his unusual style of magic, his knack of taking things seriously, but most of all the way the POV, or point of view, was written. Generally speaking it was written from one of the kids' eyes, seeing him and his wagon as salvation, and the only man who knew what was going on, but then it would switch to his internal monologue, going into how he was just as confused as they were and didn’t know what to do next. "Three years ago, I was a simple farmer's son, growing roots, feeding pigs, and chasing girls. […] So now, I am heading towards an unfamiliar area, to meet strangers, elves of all things." It is refreshing to see the leader, or rescuer of the party be as clueless as the rest of them, as opposed to the Gandalf model.

Soon Elves and Dwarves are brought into the picture, along with some of the kids starting to get unusual powers. The Elves and Dwarves speak strangely, although in English, it is kind of like picking up an Olde Worlde book with lots of statements such as thou hath, or words in a different order to standard modern English. While this is understandable, and even enjoyable as to how it established culture and history in the world. However, when long speeches are given in it, particularly ones you need to understand to understand the story I did get frustrated. It was like being back in English class studying Shakespeare for the first time, trying to make sense of the words so I'd understand the story. Eventually you do get used to it, but, to paraphrase one character, you feel like you need to sit in front of a mirror and talk normally for half an hour to get your brain back in twenty-first century language. How the author managed to switch between the two so seamlessly I don't know!

The first two thirds of this book largely take place in the dwarves stronghold, yet despite that it never felt stagnant. There was always a mystery, tantrum or story to be told to keep your attention. What initially looked to be a fairly empty place with only a few dwarves named turned out to have great depths. I'd have been content to learn more, especially about the other dwarf clans, I hope that crops up in the future books.

Later on when a big group set out on a mission I felt it was a bit repetitive.
Travel for a while
Hit dangerous situation
Guards plan to put lives on line to keep kids safe
Kids defeat danger behind guards back with powers they have been developing

I felt the novel ended very suddenly, on a big cliff hanger, but it could have used a couple more paragraphs to help me assess what the situation was for each of the characters in the group. I felt out on a limb, even after re-reading the last page.

I felt this entire novel in retrospect was largely just to get the main characters into their final position. They could almost have just been teleported into it as the first chapter. Nevertheless I found learning the history and getting to see clues of how they change interesting. I feel the next novel in the series is the real meat though.

Due to the complexity of understanding characters I give this 3.5, but for the sake of reviewing sites I have to drop it to a 3

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

The Raven in Winter by Jonathon Brigden

Title: The Raven in Winter
Author: Jonathon Brigden
Read Type: Indie Published
Stars: StarStarStar

You can purchase a copy of this book from Amazon UK and Amazon US
You can find out more about the author on Goodreads and Facebook


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The Raven in Winter is a short story that tells the tale of love, betrayal, and trust between two very unlikely characters. The story centers around a young warrior, Garrett, whom has the ability to connect with animals. When he is sent on his first mission from his guild, he meets many friends that will help him discover himself. Some friendships will prove to be so strong, that even during the most brutal times, they will be truly tested.

Will Garrett succeed on his mission or will he learn something of greater importance along the way?




I found a copy of this story on a free promotion on Amazon




This short story was written in a third person present tense (at times it slipped back into past tense, but not to an unacceptable extent), giving it a different feel to many stories on the market. Covering a large part of the life of a man called Garrett, and the animals he meets, this story jumped around a lot, with many short scenes.

There was little conversation in this story, but there didn't need to be. The lovely descriptions, and, more importantly, the interactions with animals, particularly the lynx he meets, are far more touching than a conversation.

This story appeared to be historical in its basis, I would guess somewhere between 1500 and 1800 if it was set in England, but there were also small strains of fantasy threaded throughout. Many of these were not explained. I felt this was a short story written more as a test for a novel or a series, it did not feel complete, and while I enjoyed it I was not satisfied with the number of unanswered questions.

I would give this 3.5 stars, but have to reduce it to 3 due to reviewing site restrictions.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Shift Happens by J C McKenzie

Title: Shift Happens
Author: J C McKenzie
Series: Carus: book 1
Read Type: Wild Rose Press
Stars: StarStarStarStarStar

You can purchase a copy of this book from Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.com.au
Available in print and all other electronic formats on July 16th, 2014. I will post an update reminder then.


You can find out more about the author on J.C. McKenzie’sWebsite | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | The Wild Rose Press | Amazon
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WHEN AN ASSIGNMENT GOES WRONG, ANDY MUST FIND OUT WHY OR FACE ETERNAL ENSLAVEMENT


Andrea McNeilly's job as a government agent is not asking questions, but then a routine assignment turns into a botched assassination of a Master Vampire's human servant. Answers become a priority. Her search to discover the truth is riddled with obstacles, the largest being an oversized Werewolf who resembles a Norse god. Andy can't afford the distraction he offers, because if she fails, she faces eternal enslavement.

Wick's job is to monitor Andy, but he prefers more intimate activities, none of them G-Rated. His choices, however, are often not his own. His ability to help Andy is limited by his bond to the Master Vampire.

Facing many trials and challenges along her path to redemption, Andy learns the value of her freedom might be set too high.

 

Strong language: Some
Drugs: None
Violence: Yes, semi-graphic
Sexual content: Yes, frequent

I received a free copy of this in return for an unbiased review

Shift happens is set in an urban environment after all supernatural creatures have been outed, and the majority killed. Things appear to have since calmed down with them able to live their own lives, even having a government department called Supernatural Regulatory Division to supposedly keep things even – even is that means using supes as assassins and not trusting them.

The supernatural base is thick with creatures and hierarchies, giving the novel a good depth, and room to grow into what I hope will be a long series.

Andy, a female supe, is the first person point of view for this novel. I liked her mix of humour and sarcasm even in the most stressful situations. Statements like "Damsels in distress never had inconvenient bodily functions, such as a full bladder, in any of the novels I read" broke the stress for a second, making it even worse when her worst nightmare's nightmare appears! It is well written, in places relying a bit too much on descriptions to give an air of passing time, but nothing that broke the bank.

In between the missions, and getting in trouble through general confusion and two faced help, were some very hot men to spend my time with… err I mean for Andy to get to know. She finds herself as a "guest under guard at all times" in a house of werewolves with the Alpha interested in her as a mate. This leads to a great deal of frustration and emotional turmoil on Andy's part, along with several will-she, won't-she as he libido doesn't pay much attention to her!

I felt the pack were a bit stereotypical, the bitchy one and her mate, the hot overprotective Alpha, the guy who liked Andy and often put her in corners, plus some surprises taken from the tropes book. I didn't take to most of these, but I feel given more time, and less of a prisoner quality of life, that may change in future books.

There were several groups who could be considered the villains of the novel, some of whom I took to far less than others, but I have a feeling these will be back again. Nevertheless it was always more about the mission than the current git-of-the-chapter when they were encountered so it did not throw me out of the book.

Considering this had more sexually related scenes in it than my average book I thoroughly enjoyed it and felt it is a great set up. I hope to get a chance to see the characters progress as the series continues.

I would give this a 4.5, despite my discrepancies with some sections of the book I will increase that to one of my rare 5 stars. Bring on the sequel!

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Snooze: A Story of Awakening by Sol Luckman

Title: Snooze: A Story of Awakening
Author: Sol Luckman
Read Type: Indie Author
Stars: StarStarStarStar

You can purchase a copy of this book from Amazon UK, Amazon US, B&N, Smashwords and Lulu
You can find out more about the author on his Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and his blog
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From acclaimed author Sol Luckman comes SNOOZE, the riveting, coming-of-age tale of one extraordinary boy’s awakening to the world-changing reality of his dreams. Join Max Diver, aka “Snooze,” on a mesmerizing quest to rescue his father, astronaut Thomas Diver, from a fate stranger than death in the exotic, perilous Otherworld of sleep. An insightful look at a plethora of paranormal subjects, from Bigfoot to levitation to telepathy and beyond, SNOOZE also shines as a work of literature featuring iconic characters, intense drama, breathless pacing, and a steady stream of offbeat humor that will stir you wide awake!

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Strong language: None
Drugs: None
Violence: Some, mild
Sexual content: None

I received a free copy of this book from the author in return for an unbiased review

Many of the reviews I have seen have treated this as a spiritual, or awakening guidebook. Personally, while I am interested in theories in what we call supernatural (for example I find it hard to believe that civilisation thousands of years ago who'd never met all developed myths of creatures such as vampires, as can be seen from their paintings),  have primarily treated this as a fiction novel with some thought provoking themes. As there were many changes in pace and theme, I will review it in the four parts the author divided it into.

Part 1: Dreams – 5 stars
The story started with a misfit of a boy, son of an astronaut, and military pilot. Max is twelve and has an unusual ability: he has real life dreams! This means that he has been able to not only control his dreams, but bring items back.

This part was a fun adventure, learning what Max could do, seeing him get into trouble as he tried to prove what he claimed was true, then finally making a friend who understood and guided him.

This section was written in simple language, suitable for somebody his age, but didn't talk down to the reader.


Part 2: Reality – 3 stars
At first this section threw me. There had been a large time jump to when Max was at university. Not only that, but he had changed beyond recognition in is personality and beliefs. This was understandable given an event in the story, but it disconnected me from the reading. With no adventures during dreams, or other breaks from his new attitude I was unsure where the story was going.

Finally, Max broke down and started to get on the road to his previous self. I felt this was the reconnection I needed. However, upon this rediscovery it stepped into territory of looking at both scientific and mythic theory as to why he could do what he could. I didn't mind short sections of this, but at times it felt like page after page of theoretical discussion.

How many times must one feel one has learned everything, Max wondered, only to find out later one has hardly learned anything?

I felt like this many times. Had the theory been broken up more I probably would have been able to take more in, but for me, with limited knowledge or history in such matters, a lot of it went over my head.


Part 3: Otherworld – 4 stars
I think this was my favourite section. Max travels into the alternate world to our where everything works differently (think taking a step forward means you go backward etc). In this section you really saw Max struggle and have to pull himself together to keep going in this world. There were mythical and historical creatures to deal with, patterns to learn and all round fun. Despite Max being the same age as the previous section he seemed to have been set free to be his younger self inside.

Once again here there were many theories covered and rehashed, but this time, split with adventure and danger, not to mention more straight forward examples a lot more of it sunk in. I felt the spiritual talk was written very well, I felt more at ease reading it.


Part 4: Reunions – 3.5 stars
This section was a switch up of genres yet again, to a certain extent. Max meets the mirror images of many people he knows in his world, this becomes an emotional journey for him, having to deal with seeing lost loved ones, while preparing for the main reason he came to this world.

Again, there was a lot of adventure, but I felt the story had hit its high in part 3 and left no room to go up. It largely streamed along on the one level when in adventure, and pulling at your guts when dealing with emotional issues. Eventually he managed to complete is mission and return home.


I would have liked to have seen an epilogue, or maybe a novella set several years in the future showing if what Max had learnt had been applied and set the wheels in motion for change.

I feel the primary audience for this book may have been people already looking at spirituality, lucid dreaming and many other pseudo science subjects, but overall as an adventure novel I enjoyed it.