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Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Goblin Moon: Mask and Dagger I by Teresa Edgerton

Title: Goblin Moon
Author: Teresa Edgerton
Series: Mask and Dagger I
Read Type: eARC from Tickety Boo Press
Stars: StarStarStarStarImage from the Silk icon theme by Mark James *'''Source:''' http://www.famfamfam.com/lab/icons/silk/ photo HalfStar_zps439ec261.png

You can purchase a copy of this book from Amazon UK and Amazon US
You can find out more about the author on her Blog, Facebook and sub-forum on sffchronicles.com

Book Blurb

When the Goblin Moon rises:

Coffins float down the river, alchemists seek to turn mandrakes into men, the gentlemen scoundrels known as the Knights of Mezztopholeez practice bloody rituals as vicious as they are depraved, and one man fights a secret battle against villainy and dark sorcery, with wit, ingenuity, and a lethal lack of compunction.


Author Bio

Teresa has been telling stories since she first learned to talk. More than sixty years later, she is still inventing them.

The author of eleven novels, written under her own name and her pseudonym, Madeline Howard, as well as short fiction, reviews, interviews, and articles on writing, she currently lives with her husband, two adult children, a son-in-law, two grandsons, assorted pets, and more books than you might think would fit in the remaining space.



Review

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

I was given a copy of this novel by Tickety Boo Press in return for an unbiased review.

Imagine a smattering of Charles Dickens's lyrical phrasing, such as from The Cricket on the Hearth, with a pinch of Terry Pratchett's character design set into a world both of the high society of Downton Abby, with frocks and suits at every occasion, and the grizzled backstreets of Jim Butcher's Dresden Files where you can feel the breath of an unknown monster breathing on your neck as its claws just miss—or was that merely a leaf blowing by in the wind?—then you have a taste of the world inside the pages of Goblin Moon.

The novel starts following an elderly man and his grandnephew (Caleb and Jedidiah) salvaging scrap on a river to try to make a living. They pull in a coffin, believed to hold a dressed dummy from one of the higher classes' bizarre pastimes, and take it to Jenk, a man who may have some interest in the items inside. He takes it, but he knows far more than his casual fa├žade is letting on.

The novel then splits off into several sections in very different ways of life, each connected by one character knowing one from another scene. For example, Sera, a seemingly lovely orphan of age has been sent by her uncle, Jenk, to live with her rich cousins in hope of giving her a better life. Jenk has hired Caleb on as staff for his bookstore, leaving Jedidiah out in the cold. But Jedidiah knows Sera from when they were little children. Some other characters get scenes, but this is scarce, especially in the first half of the book. Overall it leads to a feeling of family, getting a chance to know each set of characters well, though never quite being sure which are the main ones.

The story had a nice flow to it, taking time to discover the city and the world round the characters without dawdling or getting overly flowery. It is a very fine line to balance on, but I think Ms. Edgerton has accomplished it. In between these scenes, we'd get scenes of a darker or more action packed nature to keep all happy.

In particular, I found the double life and charismatic influence of Lord Skelbrooke interesting. Watching him go from gentle wooer of Sera to mysterious man of the night had my attention. Because of his seemingly dubious activities, my opinion of him teetered between good and evil for long while. Then I decided I might want to shove a ring on his finger and take him from his romantic interest!

At first you could be forgiven for believing this to be a historical novel, with the dress, the split between the classes, and the unusual pastimes, but as I read on little nooks and crannies revealed the fantasy world hidden beneath, waiting for its chance to burst onto the screen: myths that may not be so fictitious; different races, living so well integrated at times, it’s hard to notice them; dangers lurking on the street corners; and dark magics being practiced. These slowly built up under the more obvious plot until working for a dwarf seemed entirely normal! It wasn't until the end was drawing near that all of these elements popped out of the woodwork and took centre stage, yet still leaving room for the human element and emotions.

I loved the language used by the characters particularly the men when considering a woman as partner, it felt traditionally Victorian upper class done so it still felt relevant. I think you'd find few modern women who wouldn't like to be wooed like Francis woos Sera.

The 411

Overall, I felt the novel was original in its style and mix of faux history and fantasy, making for a lovely in-depth get away from the real world. The characters from various classes kept the world live while magic and fantasy elements built underneath, peering out from behind the stage curtain until the big reveal.

I give this novel well deserved 4.5 which I'm adjusting to 5 for reviewing sites.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

The Golden Key Chronicles: Candra's Freedom by AJ Nuest

Title: Candra's Freedom
Author: AJ Nuest
Series: The Golden Key Chronicles 02
Read Type: ARC for HarperImpulse
Stars: StarStarStarStar

You can purchase a copy of this instalment of the series from Amazon UK and Amazon US
Alternatively you can purchase the entire Golden Key Chronicles on Amazon UK and Amazon US
You can find out more about the author on her Website, Blog, Facebook, Author Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest


Series Synopsis

The key would unlock his future and the safety of his kingdom, but he never imagined the sorceress would unlock his heart…

Antiques restorer, Rowena Lindstrom, finds herself the owner of an ancestral armoire containing a hidden key and a magic mirror leading to another realm!

But the handsome warrior prince waiting on the other side is truly the final straw. This must be an elaborate joke, right? As she struggles to discover the truth, Rowena learns Prince Caedmon Austiere needs the key to save his kingdom. In the end, she cannot deny him anything. Including her heart.


Book Blurb

The key would unlock his future and the safety of his kingdom, but he never imagined the sorceress would unlock his heart…

Lost in a world she doesn't recognize, Rowena struggles to find her place.

Yet her abilities with a blade and the loyalty of a fierce falcon don't discourage the heated advances of the handsome Prince Caedmon, and the connection between them seems much deeper than her troubled heart can recall.

Author Bio

I am a multi-published, award-winning author who lives in the middle of a cornfield in NW Indiana. My loving husband, two beautiful children and a bevy of spoiled pets have agreed to stay and, in exchange for three rations per day and laundry service, tolerate my lunacy.

While I spend most days happily ensconced in crafting romance across a multitude of genres, an underground coup has been percolating. The dogs just informed me the cat is secretly vying for dictatorship. 



Review

My previous reviews for this series can be seen below:
Rowena's Key



I received a copy of The Golden Key Chronicles from the author in return for an unbiased review. At the author's request I will read and review each novella separately, followed by an overview.


Strong language: Yes
Drugs: No
Violence: Yes
Sexual content: Negligible

Candra's Freedom starts two years from where we left Rowena's key, with Rowena having just landed in this new world, and being separated from her Prince Caedmon. While we don't know what has happened in between it's clear that Rowena is a very different woman to the one we saw before. She still has her stubborn edge, but now she is very tough and clearly has had a hard time.

Soon a boat is arriving, returning Caedmon from his time away. Knowing the situation even less than us, he scares her with his reactions and determinations to pick up where he left off. We see a lot of the circumstances through his eyes as he has to figure the past, and learn some hard truths. This showed a very different, side to him, emotions heightened until they made a wall of steel as he had to be restrained to stop him committing murder, as well as castle life, to what had been alluded to in Rowena's Key. Backstabbing and political wordplay take precedence at every turn. He can't rescue the heart of his girl without committing treason.

On Rowena's part she has become very physical, a trait that fits her bringing some of the modern day sexual equality with her to the past. She's inventive and the fights are written believably. I did feel they were lacking somewhat in emotion, however I think this is partly in design as Rowena has had to suffer to survive. When she is alone with her hawk I think is the only time we truly see her let down her guard and see what is really going on inside. This is subtle but clean, a good piece of writing.

I would have liked more interaction between Caedmon and Rowena as this is the main draw to get somebody to pick up the second novella, but what was there was tense, tight and filled with emotion from both sides, even if they weren't on the same page. I particularly liked the reversal of language in their main discussion, with Rowena having picked up the nobility's way of speech, but imploring Caedmon to "speak plainly" as he adopted speech nearer to what we'd use in every day. He was fluent and heartfelt, it made me really root for them.

Looking at the overall plot of this novella I am surprised it ended how it did and hope this was setup for a future book in the series or it will feel like we're back to square one again.

The 411

A very different tone to the previous novella, I liked the action packed side being broken by matters of the heart. The writing was clean and precise, but spent a bit long on some aspects.

Overall it kept my attention and made me want to read on to find out how this can be resolved.

I give this novella a 4

Saturday, 20 September 2014

My Prison Journal: Volume 1 by John Smith

Title: My Prison Journal: Volume 1
Author: John Smith
Series: My Prison Journal
Read Type: Amazon Freebie
Stars: StarStarStarStar

You can purchase a copy of this book from Amazon UK and Amazon US
The publisher communicates through an intermediary, so getting a message to Smith is difficult at best. Should you have a comment for Smith contact GGA Publishing on garrymgraves@gmail.com

Book Blurb

This is a true story. John Smith (an alias) robbed a bank and was sent to prison for 10 years. This journal represents his prison experiences along with his innermost, personal thoughts. Reading books is Smiths’ only escape from reality. He claims to have read 185 books since his imprisonment in mid 2009. The publisher left the journals narrative without paragraphs, in hope of representing the hand-written notebook paper his manuscript composed. Smith says writing paper is valuable in prison and he must use all space available.

Smiths’ journal entries are sad, compelling, and introspective, providing the reader insightful, perhaps teachable moments of human behavior in an adverse environment.



Review

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

This short book is a collection of real life journals from a man in an American prison, starting a long sentence. The layout is unusual in that each entry is made up of one large paragraph as this is how it was written when sent to the publisher due to lack of paper to write on. I think this aspect, while strange to read at first helps you to immerse yourself in what life in like inside.

"John Smith", an alias to protect his loved ones, is clearly an educated man who ran his own business. When things went sour he asked a friend for help. This volume doesn't go into detail as to what happened, but he has ended up with an estimated twelve years incarcerated.

At first I had little compassion for the man, it's easy to look down on somebody when you're not in their situation, but much of his writing was based around missing his wife and kids, parents and friends. As you read of him anxiously awaiting a letter, or a couple of dollars to buy extras to make life easier you soon realise he is a family man who likely just ended up out of his depth. At times I felt sorry for him and angry at relatives for being so cold, while I knew nothing of their side.

The 411

This is a short but compelling read. What spelling mistakes he'd made were left in to keep these journals purely him. At times it got repetitive as in every entry he waited for the same things, but I think this just epitomises the repetition of prison life in hindsight.

I give this 4 stars for immersion into his world

Friday, 19 September 2014

CODE NAME NANETTE is free for 2 days

The 19th and 20 of September will have this intriguing book of spies, romance, World War Two, adventure and much more for free.

Grab a bargain, read my review to see what you don't want to miss


 photo codenamenanettecover_zps855b6fe5.jpg

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

The Golden Key Chronicles: Rowena's Key by AJ Nuest


Title: Rowena's Key
Author: AJ Nuest
Series: The Golden Key Chronicles 01
Read Type: ARC for HarperImpulse
Stars: StarStarStarStar

You can purchase a copy of this instalment of the series from Amazon UK and Amazon US
Alternatively you can purchase the entire Golden Key Chronicles on Amazon UK and Amazon US
You can find out more about the author on her Website, Blog, Facebook, Author Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest
 photo RowenasKey-AJNuest_zps3810203c.jpg

Book Blurb

The key would unlock his future and the safety of his kingdom, but he never imagined the sorceress would unlock his heart…

Antiques restorer, Rowena Lindstrom, finds herself the owner of an ancestral armoire containing a hidden key and a magic mirror leading to another realm!

But the handsome warrior prince waiting on the other side is truly the final straw. This must be an elaborate joke, right? As she struggles to discover the truth, Rowena learns Prince Caedmon Austiere needs the key to save his kingdom. In the end, she cannot deny him anything. Including her heart.


Author Bio

I am a multi-published, award-winning author who lives in the middle of a cornfield in NW Indiana. My loving husband, two beautiful children and a bevy of spoiled pets have agreed to stay and, in exchange for three rations per day and laundry service, tolerate my lunacy.

While I spend most days happily ensconced in crafting romance across a multitude of genres, an underground coup has been percolating. The dogs just informed me the cat is secretly vying for dictatorship.



Review


I received a copy of The Golden Key Chronicles from the author in return for an unbiased review. At the author's request I will read and review each novella separately, followed by an overview.



Strong language: Yes
Drugs: No
Violence: Yes, Graphic
Sexual content: Yes, Graphic

Rowena, a wealthy antiques dealer, buys an ancestor's armoire, and soon finds an ancient key with her initials on hidden within. But that's not all she find by far, for soon she has a magic mirror with a dashing prince on her hands!

I loved the characters portrayed in this novella. Rowena was feisty and held her own, unwilling to fall for the fantasy of a magic mirror into a different time. This gave her prince, Caedmon, on the other side quite something to wrap his head around, as he fell boundlessly in love with her, yet could not trust, or fully understand her. The other men we met via the mirror, often only briefly, beefed up that world and showed what depths awaited, with different characters, and archaic speech, they showed the kind of world Caedmon inhabited. But, of course, back on our side I cant leave out Ollie, the quirky best friend we all wish we had. He overflowed with colour and wit, making me laugh. He also had a much deeper side, acting like a big brother to Rowena, caring for her and ready to protect her should anyone try to harm her.

Rowena learns from Caedmon of a prophesy talking of a sorceress with a golden key that can save his kingdom – the key she possesses. She refuses to believe him, to allow herself to be fooled, thinking it a high tech trick, yet she is still drawn back to that mirror the next night, anxious to see what will happen. I felt I would have liked more information on the prophesy earlier, but the mystery, along with the hot guy, draw Rowena back and test her resolve. I had no problem being drawn back with her!

During the day, in between the initial meetings with Caedmon and his men, Rowena spends time at her antiques shop, trying to bring some rationality back into her life. Getting they key tested and generally burying herself in her work. This was the one part of the story I didn't engage with however. While elsewhere the writing often glistened and flowed across the page, here it felt dull and flat, much like Rowena's emotions while she was away from the mirror. I feel this part was necessary as a way to ground her, and bring Ollie into the story, but I would have liked the writing to stay more consistent.

She could never stray from the mirror for long however, no matter how many times she told herself it was a practical joke. This is where the fantasy and romance really combined to produce something special, and where I think all readers will want to be. As Rowena quizzes Prince Caedmon, both of their lives are brought into better light, their histories shared with each other. Caedmon had an adorable and sexy way to talk, with some catchphrases that had me cracking up. His awful attempts at wooing Rowena with the arts has much the same results. It is steamy and sexy, with a sweet, loving underside.

The ending completely took me by surprise, I was shocked at what happened. Looking forward to reading the next instalment.



The 411


 photo GoldenKeyChroniclesThe-AJNuest_zps9b5a6990.jpgOverall this was a fun, sexy read, with plenty of fantasy, magic and mystery into the bargain. The characters were fun and well written. In most places the writing was alive.

I would have liked more explanation earlier in the story, and a little adverb cutting in a couple of scenes, but this was a fun escape from the world for a while.

I give this novella 4 stars and look forward to continuing The Golden Key Chronicles

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Code Name Nanette (The Amazon Queen (Book 1)) by M.E. Dawson

Title: Code Name Nanette
Author: M.E. Dawson
Series: The Amazon Queen (Book 1)
Read Type: eARC from AQ Press
Stars: StarStarStarStar

You can purchase a copy of this book from Amazon UK and Amazon US
You can find out more about the author on Goodreads
 photo codenamenanettecover_zps855b6fe5.jpg

Book Blurb

"I AM NANETTE. I BREAK ALL THE RULES. Fifty years ago, during the war, I was a spy for the British government and helped save the world. Maybe nobody today remembers that I even existed, but I'm still here. Deal with it."

SEXY, SASSY, AND THOUGHT-PROVOKING. Inspired by real women who helped save the world, "Code Name Nanette" is a quirky, erotic, character-driven homage to the British and American female resistance fighters in France during World War II, who loved and fought behind enemy lines as intensely as their male counterparts, but whose names and achievements remain largely unheralded to this day. It opens a window into the hearts and minds of women who take on new roles and risk everything for love, freedom, or just plain adventure. The result is more than a history lesson. It's a revealing and touching triumph of courage, love, and hope against all odds.

JOE PARKER WILL NEVER LOOK AT WOMEN, YOUNG OR OLD, THE SAME WAY AGAIN. Six months earlier, he would have laughed at the suggestion he'd find himself drinking Canadian whisky in Montreal at one o'clock on a Saturday afternoon, much less doing it with a little old woman who used to be a spy and loved telling erotic stories. But letters Joe discovered in his grandmother's basement have set him on a quest to uncover his grandfather's identity. When they lead him to Nanette, a retired British agent who served with his grandmother in France during World War II, his life will change forever.

WAR ALWAYS GETS PERSONAL. Wars are not epic adventures involving the monumental achievements of larger-than-life heroes. They are bloody, devastating confrontations fought by discrete individuals who are swept up in the tides of history and forced to make personal life-and-death decisions on a daily basis. Each has a story. Most of them never get told. This is Nanette's.

CONTENT ALERT: EROTIC, R-RATED MATERIAL. Telling this story honestly required the inclusion of scenes involving sex, violence, and harsh language.



Author Bio

Like Nanette says, “It’s complicated.”

M.E. Dawson’s life has been a series of right angle turns, each leading to new adventures and distant horizons never before contemplated. They’ve taken M.E. across America from job to vocation and from hearth to home, imparting lessons at every turn, most notably the lessons Nanette teaches Joe:

Ultimately, it’s how and who you love that counts and, as Nanette says, when it comes to that, “Your heart and your body don’t play by anyone’s rules. They love who they love and want who they want, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

Nanette is M.E.’s thank-you gift to fate for the education. Enjoy!



Review 

I received a copy of this novel from AQ Press in return for an unbiased review

Strong language: Some
Drugs: None
Violence: War, some graphic
Sexual content: Several scenes


I originally reviewed a copy of this novel in June, a large part of it, much of which I had issues with has since been rewritten, for what I think I a greatly improved book. Any confusion in this review is due to having edited it to cover the changes better.

A young man, Joseph, is looking for the name of his grandfather from an elderly spy who worked with his grandmother during the years when his mother would have been born. This led to him hearing a deep and evocative tale that leave the reader reeling from emotions.

We got into the meat of the story straight away, via several chapter long flash backs in person, whether it was the story of Nanette or Regina, aka the Queen, Joseph's Grandmother.  These were written very well and were immersive to the point that I forgot to take notes in some cases for the duration of several chapters! These scenes felt very real and believable, the research was in depth. You could feel the author's enthusiasm for this plotline.

The characters were much the same. They popped off the page, like they were in front of you at times. I felt great care and attention had gone into these, especially mixing the fact that they were French, but making it easily understandable for an English speaking audience. I always felt I had enough pre-knowledge of what the situation was like in that area, what protocols were etc without ever having an info dump shoved in my face.

I did feel a couple of the bad guys, going under whatever name they were using for that division could have used a bit more attention. They felt a bit careless in the writing, almost as if the author knew she would kill of leave them behind a couple of pages later so didn't want to spend the time making an emotional connection.

There were multiple sex scenes, most of which drew the plot along, but a few I felt were not used to their full potential to develop the plot. Originally I felt some to be gratuitous, but I think this has been reduced a bit, leaving just enough to affect Joseph as Joseph he listened (and more often than not squirming in his seat for one reason or another)!

The timeline jumped back and forth every few chapters, giving us a view of Joseph as he tried to reconcile the Grandmother he knew with the spy he was learning he knew so little about. I thought the relationship he developed with Nanette was very sweet, almost like a second chance at getting to know his Grandma.


The 411

I thought this was a lovely book, although it was about the was a D Day, it also covered life, love and loss. I was sad to end it, despite the touching and fitting way it was done.

I give this book 4 stars

Friday, 12 September 2014

Full Moon Rising (Trilogy of the Wolf 01) by J.A.J. Hutchisson and J.L. Hutchisson

Title: Full Moon Rising
Author: J.A.J. Hutchisson and J.L. Hutchisson
Series: Trilogy of the Wolf 01
Read Type: Indie Author
Stars: StarStarStarStarStar With more if I could!

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

You can find out more about the authors on Facebook and their website. I am also excited to be doing and interview with them in the near future
 photo COVER_zps3c5dbada.jpg

Book Blurb

"Somewhere in this world, there is a man who can protect her. What I saw told me that he is the only one who can. I do not know what this man looks like, nor do I know his name. What I do know is that this man is a werewolf."

When Constin Sal Tamind, an Elder Priest in Heartfield, hears this prophesy about his daughter, Olesa, he does what he thinks is right and flees with her. With an approaching army blocking his route out of Heartfield, Constin goes to a friend of his that may know a way out of the city.

Constin, Olesa and a few close friends make it out of the city, but that is where the trouble begins. The group gets split when bandits attack their camp. Constin is then thrown into a desperate search to find and rescue Olesa. He only hopes he can find her before something terrible happens.



Review

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

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

As the novel opens, picturesque like an old movie, a priest is called to visit the resident seer. The shocking news he receives, that his daughter is in great danger and only a werewolf can protect her, sends him reeling. No way is he letting a vicious man-eater near his little girl, despite the seer's protests of the necessity, and differences in this wolf. Soon he is on the run, taking with him the woman he hired to care for Olesa when he could not, another priest, and a brothel owner and his son. They hire a woodsman to get them through the forest and hope to find shelter beyond.

Soon things go awry, the prophesy has started, leaving Olesa in danger and separated from the people she loves.

This story mixed strong characters and locations that jumped off the page to draw you in from page one. This left the start, particularly the tension of everything going on, a bit weak in places, but this soon kicked up into stints of action heroes and exploration. Amongst these we had a priest and a hardened man of the woods swapping roles in who was the better man, amazingly written grief that tugs at your heart and characters being pulled together without their knowing it. The emotions, I felt, were the real drivers of this story, and gave a good few kicks to the gut along the way.

I was particularly taken with the character of Draikin, a strange, silent man who unwillingly agrees to walk this mis-matched group of women, children, priests, and men of less savoury occupations, through a dangerous wood, trying to keep his distance. Soon however he finds himself risking everything repeatedly to keep them safe, and in return learns not everybody takes you at face value. Nevertheless, he still has the roughest ride of all of them in my opinion, but he was the shining star of the novel.

I felt the major fight scenes, in particular the first one with untrained vs. very trains opponents was a weak spot in the story. This for me was because while the authors had spent much time making sure every bow and parry of the POV character was shown, and often glimpses of thoughts on why, there was very little emotion. He could have been a brainwashed fighter, but I know this is a very hard aspect of writing to balance.

As the story drew on and groups joined and parted, whether because they were taken or chose to do something else, it was interesting to watch the group dynamics change as to who led and who slipped into the background.

Prisoners rarely escape their prisons, whether they are actual or imaginary. If they can find a larger purpose to live and use it as a driving force, a prisoner will get much farther.

As for the young girl, Olesa who this prophesy was based around I felt she was handled very well. There were times when she was kidnapped, times when she was presumably naked or in very bad condition. Many of the New York Times best seller's authors would have tried to make an outcry by using this as a suggestion of sexual attacks or looks. The authors of this story however, knew where that line was and elegantly kept away from it without leaving any suspicious fade to black scenes. I was very impressed.

Finally, we come to the werewolf of the story. I cannot say nearly as much as I would like about this creature without giving spoilers, but I felt it was a very deep character with a mission buried so deep it its soul it could not think, only react. I was elated to read the scenes when it triumphed, and crushed on the occasions when it seemed all was lost.

All I can say about the ending is it was a real shocker. I think I know where the story may head next, but left as it was, I was dumbstruck.

The 411

I'm in a good mood, this was a fantastic book, with the only issues I could find being related to subjects even the best struggle to achieve. I love the characters, the flow of the plot and the emotions relayed across the page.

Of course, seeing a bad priest get his comeuppance was a bonus. Hmm, a priest who isn't as holy as he seems, imagine that!

I would give more than 5 stars if I could!

Monday, 1 September 2014

Red Desert - People of Mars by Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli

Title: Red Desert - People of Mars
Author: Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli
Series: Red Desert 02
Read Type: eARC read
Stars: StarStarStarImage from the Silk icon theme by Mark James *'''Source:''' http://www.famfamfam.com/lab/icons/silk/ photo HalfStar_zps439ec261.png

You can purchase a copy of this book from Amazon UK and Amazon US
You can find out more about the author on her blog, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, YouTube, Google+, Pinterest, Smashwords, and her website

 photo 02red-desert-people-of-marscover_zpsb293b426.jpg

 

About the author

Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli is an Italian independent author.

She lives in Cagliari (Sardinia, Italy), where she works as a writer, technical, scientific and literary translator, and web copywriter. She is also a biologist and worked as researcher, tutor, and professor’s assistant in the field of ecology at the Dipartimento di Biologia Animale ed Ecologia of the University of Cagliari until 2004, when she founded Anakina Web. As part of her firm remit, she manages her creative writing and translation activities as well as Web design and music management.

A cinema addict, she started by writing screenplays and fan fictions inspired by the movies. She is author of poems (in English) published in the United States in anthologies and audiobooks and has written some song lyrics.

Between 2012–2013, she wrote a 4-book science fiction series titled Deserto rosso, which is having success in Italy. Thanks to this series, Monticelli was selected in February 2014 as one of the best ten Italian self-published authors by the Italian version of Wired magazine and was invited to be a speaker at an event during the Salone Internazionale del Libro in Turin, the most prestigious Italian book fair.

Deserto rosso is now being published in English with the title Red Desert, which is the second book of the series. The first one is Red Desert—Point of No Return. As a science fiction and Star Wars fan, she is known in the Italian online community by her nickname, Anakina.




Series Overview

Thirty years after the Mars exploration mission, Hera, whose crew died under mysterious circumstances, NASA's race to conquer space has finally begun again. This time the five members of the new Isis mission are destined to become the first colonisers of the Red Planet.

One of them is a Swedish exobiologist, Anna Persson, taking on this adventure in the hope of starting a new life away from Earth.
But Mars will have an unbelievable discovery in store for her, the key to a mystery.

But where is Anna?
In Red Planet—Point of No Return. she showed something of her past as she started a journey in a pressurised rover, reaching Valles Marineris beyond the point where life support would allow her to return to her base.

Would you like to know why Anna secretly left Station Alpha? What has happened during over 1,000 sols (almost 2 Earth years) on the Red Planet?
And most of all, what is going to happen now?




Review

This novel switches between science, adventure, mystery, and paranoia…or is it just seeing the truth?

Red Desert—Point of No Return, showed us a lot of Anna’s past (our POV character) via flashbacks mingled in with present time as she drives her rover to a place for a reason we are not told. This novel is an interesting setup of past, present, and future of that novel, jumping around fairly randomly—and it works to well to my surprise. This novel, Red Desert—People of Mars, jumps in the same way but to a lesser extent.

Anna faces deceit, mystery, death, and uncertainty over who she can trust, including herself. She is a much more complex character than we saw in Red Desert—Point of No Return. She was a character  I could empathise with while wondering if she had taken too much radiation from the planet while living in their habitat. Her character and situations dug deep and felt filled out.

At some places in the timeline before the book Red Desert—Point of No Return happened, there were science scenes studying rock and ice that went over my head, particularly with the mentions of DNA and RNA in one scene. Nevertheless a character with less knowledge of the science would turn up or an argument over what they were looking at would ensue, making it easier for non-sciencey people like myself to understand.

The arguments and relationships between other members of the crew were occasionally confusing as it was not made clear who was supposed to be in  relationship with who. Overall however it almost gave the feel of a college dorm with to many people crammed into a small space all the time. A very realistic frustration had built among them.

I particularly enjoyed the interactions between Anna and the doctor Hassan; they were very varied in emotion leaving me uncertain as to who was the unbalanced of the pair. In places, the dialog, particularly between these two, felt a bit awkward, but I think this was because of the translating from Italian as opposed to the author’s writing skill.

The 411

I enjoyed this, particularly the payoff at the end. It had its issues and wasn’t perfect, but was a fantastic character study, and I expect people with  heavier science background would really get something more from it. I look forward to reading more from the author

I give the story a 3.5, increased to a 4 for the sake of reviewing sites
I give the translation a 3.5 because of the occasionally awkwardly worded phrases.