Tuesday 26 August 2014

The Anti-Matter Chronicles 02 - Sky Elf by P.G. Thomas

Title:Tranquil Fury
Author: P.G. Thomas
Series: The Anti-Matter Chronicles 02
Read Type: Indie Published
Stars: StarStarStarStar

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

In Book one, Tranquil Fury, Lauren reluctantly accepted the role of Earth Daughter, and led the remaining elf and dwarf characters, as well as her friends, south in search of Mother’s children.

If they did not leave, the increasing presence of the black-clad army would trap them in the Ironhouse Mine, and all would be lost. Their only guidance prophecies
from the now absent Earth Mother, but none wished to talk of the words she spoke. With the help of her brother Logan and the strange creature IT, they threaded their way through the enemy controlled lands, and black-clad forces, which were larger than they anticipated. As they attempted to use stealth to find passage to the free lands (if there were any left), their worst nightmare was realized. Is it too late to save the world?

Book Blurb

Now Lauren, her elf Earth Guard, the dwarven Ironhouse Brothers, and Ryan, who mysteriously appeared when the threats had disappeared, are stranded in the enemy occupied territory. And the hunt is on for Zack, John, Eric the Champion of Tranquil Fury, Mirtza, and her brother Logan. And should they find them in time, the black-clad army presence is increasing, and the whereabouts of Mother’s children that fled the plague hoax, is still a mystery.


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

You can read my review of the first book of The Anti-Matter Chronicles, Tranquil fury.
I was gifted a copy of this book by the author in return for an unbiased review.

This novel continues precisely where Tranquil Fury left off, jumping straight into the action, and getting to grips with the cliff hanger the previous book was left on. I feel because of this, and the pace of much of the book it is important the reader has read the previous instalment already.

I felt overall this book was much smoother and flowed better, mixing scenes of action with explanations, as opposed to the longer explanation we saw in some places in book 1. I was instantly engrossed and it held my attention well, particularly through the first half. A rescue, increased danger as they were forced to stay put, followed by a long arduous trek, risking their necks several times a day.

Eventually a village slash fort was found where they holed up to recover and regroup. They had found what they were looking for, a chance at salvation with people, but were these the people they sought? I felt at some points during this the book stalled or got off track, going into technical descriptions, politics and minutiae. Nevertheless there was more than enough to keep my attention turning the pages.

I felt the characters were stronger than the last book, they grew and drew me in, learning about themselves as some developed powers and others had to overcome their prejudices and become stronger people for the group as a whole to survive. As in the last novel the elves, dwarves and humans each have their own way of talking, I found it easier to keep up with this time, but in a few situations, particularly high action scenes I got elves and dwarves mixed up for a little while.

The 411

Overall I found this a fast paced and entertaining adventure novel with a good mix of themes. It had some minor issues with confusion but these were always cleared up before I felt the desire to put the book down. I feel this has a great setup for the final novel, Blood Bond, and look forward to reading it.

Series rating: 3.5
Sky Elf rating: 4

Friday 22 August 2014

Evil Eight: Eight Tales of Horror by Chris Dougherty

Title: Evil Eight: Eight Tales of Horror
Author: Chris Dougherty
Read Type: Indie Author
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
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Christine Daugherty's newest collection of short stories will have you up late into the night and then chase you down in the nightmares which are sure to follow. Zombies, Vampires, Ghosts and Human monsters alike crowd the pages of Evil Eight. Contains the best selling short story 'Stephen King'!

SECURE, Safe behind the wall.
SOUL MATES, Til death do us part. Or not.
STEPHEN KING, You don't mess with the King.
JUNKER, A father's love goes too far.
HIT, Based on actual events.
THE MUST HAVE, Christmas is gonna be a bitch.
KIDS TODAY, George Hart really likes kids.
ONE NIGHT ONLY IN THE HAUNTED WOODS, Halloween never felt so bad.

Strong language: Yes
Drugs: No
Violence: Yes
Sexual content: Vague mentions

I collected a copy of this anthology of short stories in a free promotion day on Amazon UK. It has lived on my Kindle for a few months, something to pop open when I don't have the location I'm at in my current novel, but as these are towards the longer end of the short story category they have not been read regularly, despite overall enjoyment of the selection.

The stories in the collection have varied in quality, I think some relied on you having knowledge of certain places or experiences to really get on board in time to get the most out of them, but others were real gems. To review just a couple:

Secure: 3.5
A good start to the collection, at first seeming normal for an upper class family, giving the reader a chance to see the author in a situation without horror and danger to deal with.

Things soon ramped up, on a small scale at first, taking their time to alert the main characters to the problems. Creepy, in a more abstract and off-camera kind of way.

Stephen King: 2.5
The title gives away rather a lot about the subject matter, but makes a comparison, if only subconsciously, to the famous author of other horror books. Like most horror readers I am a King fan, although mainly of the short stories, I am not yet well versed in his novels.

The comparison had two effects, firstly, I considered how he as a writer would have written the story, where the mean of it happen in instant messages. With no disrespect to the author of this compilation, I think he would have handled the reveals better. Secondly, to get the full impact I feel you needed to have read several of his works to get the references.

A well read fan of Kings would probably disagree with me, but for me it wasn't  engaging.

Junker: 4.5
This story I felt was the cream of the crop. It covered the life at a junkyard, especially the suffering of the owner after his troubled son disappeared. I thought this was very well written, and as well as the creepy and hair raising, it also had its moments that touched my heart.

One Night only in the Haunted woods: 3
This was a fairly straight forward story of a group of kids going to a haunted house exhibit in the woods. At first they are bored with second rate exhibits, until it becomes all too real. Some of the characters shows good emotions, but this was intermittent with whining. The story rides on its bloody scenes.

Not the strongest way to end the anthology, but a reasonable story nonetheless.

Overall this collection was a mix of the good, the bad and the mediocre. However, I think there is something here for all sub groups of horror fans, whether you are interested in psychological horror, blood and guts or something in between.

I give this anthology 3 stars

Monday 18 August 2014

Heroes of the Horde Book 1: Unleashed by Jennifer Hartz

Title: Heroes of the Horde Book 1: Unleashed
Author: Jennifer Hartz
Series: Heroes of the Horde
Read Type: Desert Breeze Publishing
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 her Website
 photo UnleashedCoverArt_zps610ce5ab.jpg Six mismatched students at Deacon Proprietary are about to discover the demonic legend of their school's origin is actually true. Not only have they obtained amazing powers, but they've also unleashed the demonic Horde. Now it's up to these six high school freshmen to stop the Horde before its evil spreads throughout the school and beyond. 

Strong language: Mild
Drugs: None
Violence: Some, semi-comic
Sexual content: None

I received a copy of Heroes of the Horde: Unleashed, in return for an unbiased review.

This novel covers a group of six High School kids, a mix of misfits and popular ones, who accidentally invoke the school's myth of how it got its name and each end up with powers far beyond the norm. these vary from fire to mental powers and even the ability to use scripture to protect themselves from the demons they find in the world around them.

This was a fun, light read, with the characters not taking themselves or what they could do too seriously. At first I was confused however as it was written in first person but seemed to jump between the members of the group. A note to readers out there: unlike me actually READ the text above the story as it says the name of the character. I did find the switching between the six characters a bit disturbing to making a connection emotionally, however they were very much in tune with each other which helped.

As for the characters themselves I could write tomes on them. Each one had a different outlook and past that I think defined what powers they got. You had:
Shelly, your average girly girl with a side of read your mind
Mike, Shelley's twin who's naturally bouncier than his basketball and seems to get the power of flubber!
Cooper, the kind, relatable strongman
Jimmy, comes across as too cool for school, but a potential leader
Maggie, the Christian who serves up flambé demon with what she's learned in bible studies
And Caitlyn, the new girl trying to change her image to not be the school punch bag she's been in her past

I felt the text could have done with a final edit as some things read a bit flat and cardboard, particularly conversations amongst the group. Emotion was also an issue at times, particularly during life or death battles. But it was a light hearted novel, designed more for the beach than University study, so I'll give it more of a pass on that than I would in a LotR rewrite.

Overall this was a light break from some of the books I've read of late and I was always eager to get back to it. I would recommend it to youths and people looking for a different sort of superhero novel, as well as people that just want to kick back and relax.

Due to a group of minor issues I give it a 3.5 but will upgrade that to a 4 for the sake or reviewing sites

Friday 15 August 2014

The Reaping Room (Botanicaust 03) by Tam Linsey

Title: The Reaping Room
Author: Tam Linsey
Series: Botanicaust book 03
Read Type: eARC
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 follow Tam Linsey on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and her website
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Humanity is more than DNA 
A mentally challenged man discovers the dark secret that keeps his Fosselite father immortal, and must decide what being a "good boy" really means. 

You can see my reviews of the previous novels, Botanicaust and Doomseeds here

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

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

This is the third story in the Botanicaust series (a short story, Taking the Knife" is also available, placed between the two existing novels), a novella that takes a much deeper look at a scene from the first book, Botanicaust. This "retake" as it were is skilfully done, so despite already knowing how it would turn out, for at least some characters, there is constant emotional engagement.

Written through the eyes of Michael, the son of the leader of the Fosselites, and a man who has learning disabilities, it is hard not to empathise. All Michael ever wants is to be a "good boy" and make his father happy, which in their world means he does whatever his father tells him without question. As he starts to question what is really happening around him and why he must keep their work secret he begins to battle with his conscience and what he should really do.

When I read this as a scene in Botanicaust I was drawn to Michael, but here, having a lot more time to really get to know him and the other "adult children" as they are know, the emotional aspect really blew the roof. I thought this was also a great novel to show learning disabilities is a different light, one where people can have morals, think for themselves and ultimately overcome a lifetime of conditioning to understand what is truly right.

As Michael is largely mute, but seems to think clearly, it is difficult to judge the dialogue handled by him. He is given lots of instructions, often by people who treat him and the others as drones, in uncaring tones, but until Tula comes along you see very little in the way of actual conversation. Tula is the light in their dark world, a sub-species of human who usually works with people who do not speak her language, she is not phased by Michael's inability to say words to her, and quickly used her environment and drawing tools to get answers of him. It was a poignant reminder that we shouldn't judge by what we see on the outside.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story, just like the rest of the series. I would have liked a few more pages at the end to cover what happened to Michael, but I think even if they had been there I'd be pushing the author for "just a few more pages" forever!. I feel you need to have read at least Botanicaust to understand this, but it can be read before Doomseeds.

For the all round handling of difficult situations I give this a 4.5, reduced to a 4 for reviewing sites

Thursday 14 August 2014

Interview: Jax Daniels, author of the Winki Witherspoon series

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I recently had the opportunity to interview author Jax Daniels, who also participates in the same writers group as me. Her novel, The Dead Man's Deal is due for immediate release

About Jax

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Bug me: http://bugsmind.blogspot.com

Jax Daniels was born in Chicago, raised in Denver, educated in Berkeley (go Bears!), and employed as a software engineer in the Bay Area and Seattle. Needless to say, she’s seen a good deal of the continental US, so when it came time for her and her husband to settle down, they picked New Orleans. They live in a townhouse they call “The Tower” in Uptown with their two dogs, Savannah and Bert. She spends her time writing, walking, yoga-ing, and making stained glass creations.

Hi Jax! Thank you for giving the time for an interview. Would you like to start with a bit of background on who you are and what got you into writing?

Funny thing, writing was NEVER on the my bucket list.  I avoided all things literature and English (that's what we call the reading/writing classes in the states) all through high school and college.  In fact, in order to graduate from UC Berkeley, undergrads needed one year of English, and I put that off until my senior year!  I loved mathematics, which I majored in, and immediately got work at Apple Computer after graduating in 1988.  Yes.  I'm old.

But I had an active imagination.  And for some reason decided I needed to put these stories onto paper to get them out of my head (okay, I've never once written ON paper; I've always used computers).  That was back in 1990.  I've been writing my fantasies ever since.

One of these days I'll dust off those stories and rewrite them.  That should seriously torture my writer's group.... muwahaha!

Wow that was quite a change of direction! I assume you carried on working your day job, but did you find that working in words instead of numbers came easily? Or was it a slow slog at first to get words on the page?
The words came out easily since the images in my head were like watching a movie, so easy to describe.  But they didn't come out well.  It took many hours of writing and comments from readers (like writer's group) to get the words useful, colorful, and entertaining to others besides me (I'm always entertained by my work!).

Your perseverance has certainly paid off as your first novel is about to come out. Did you have any inkling this one was it? And for bonus points, can you estimate how many did come before it?
My husband is my best critic, having read a TON of books.  When he told me this one was good I knew I was onto something.  The poor guy suffered through roughly a dozen prior works, none of which were well written.
I also owe my friend Jennifer for this book.  She edited another of my books with a male hero, but she suggested I try a female one.

Now I pass the page over to you for a minute, tell us a bit about your book, what makes it different from all the other novels out there, and why we should pick it up.
The Dead Man's Deal has a number of things that set it apart from other urban fantasies.  It was inspired by my hometown of New Orleans, which is where the story is set, a city known for vampires (thanks to Anne Rice) and voo doo.  The grand mansions and manors in Uptown and Garden District definitely inspired Witherspoon Manor, the home of the heroine, Winki Witherspoon.  Among the wacky staff that she inherits, all with magical "talents" of their own, she discovers her "mentors" aren't limited to people—she has to deal with a cockroach with attitude and a spider as a personal trainer.
In short the book is a fun read.  I hope to make you laugh, cry, root for the heros, engage in the mystery, and solve the "whodunit."

I love your little cockroach, not a normal statement, but one I think most readers of the book will agree with. I just don't think they should turn up to fan events dressed as one! The book had a number of strong characters, but what was your favourite aspect? The characters, mystery, kick ass, or something else?
This is the first story where I'm quite please with the whole enchilada; interesting characters, engaging plot, strong woman hero.

Although I have to say, some of the characters were extremely difficult to write.  In fact, when I first came up with the idea of a cockroach familiar I rejected it immediately.  I mean, who'd want that?!  Not me!  But I did want something small, and let's face it, cats and dogs have been done to death.  And, we were in New Orleans, home of the cockroach.  Thus, Hercule was born!  

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Now Herule, your cockroach, is a kind of familiar, a friend and guide to supernatural beings. Many authors seem to have a familiar of their own to keep them company, or just nap on the warm computer. Do you have anyone in your life that fits this role?
I have no "familiar" as far as guides, but I do have two dogs that love to interrupt my writing sessions!  They seem certain that I'll get more inspiration if I just pet them for a while.

Well, all authors need someone to remind them to eat from time to time! Talking of eating, it played quite a part in socialising in your book. Your characters felt very filled out and not just from the food. Were these all your imagination, or did you use people you knew?
It's New Orleans! We love food! My characters definitely have some influences of people I've seen in movies and on TV—it's hard not to be influenced these days!  I don't watch tons of TV (and rarely movies) but enough to fill "way too much time."  And my tastes in entertainment vary drastically; I like silly shows like Psych to drama-type shows like Justified and Major Crimes, sci fi shows like Warehouse 13, Stargate SG1, fantasy shows like Once Upon A Time, and humorous stuff like Big Band Theory.  Even British stuff we get over here (Downton Abbey, Doctor Who, and Lewis).  I suspect that I'm not alone in that, watching a bunch of different genres, so I sprinkle little bits of pop culture into my writing to keep my readers on their toes.

What do you read and watch, both now and as a child? Do you think this has influenced your writing style or subject?
As a child I was greatly influence by the original Star Trek.  And Sesame Street :)  Yup, I think that is a really good insight into the mind of Winki!

Funny thing, until very recently I wasn't a big reader at all.  I hated books.  Holding them was a hassled (especially if they were big), toting them was a pain in the neck (literally!), and trying to read at night meant fiddling with book lights or bothering my husband with a desk light.  Very rarely would I bother, except for authors like Anne Rice, Agatha Christie, and fun mysteries like Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys.  Then came the data pad, and I started reading like wild.  I'm a big fan of The Dresden Files, The Iron Druid Series, and the Mary Russell series.  I gravitate to an engaging story that's fun to read—the “take it anywhere and enjoy the afternoon” type of books.

Given your eclectic tastes, who would you recommend this book to?
I recommend this book to someone looking for a bit of fun or escapism.  I see The Dead Man's Deal being enjoyed by number of readers;  YA, fantasy, foodies, gamers, and anyone who's interested in New Orleans. 

And lastly I'd like to pass you the floor. Do you have anything you'd like to say?
I'd like to acknowledge the people who helped shape this book, like the poor souls of my writer's group, Leasspell.  The Dead Man's Deal wouldn't exist without their honesty, wisdom, and guidance over the last 15 years (good gravy!).

Thank you for taking the time to meet with me.

Wednesday 13 August 2014

Winki Witherspoon: The Dead Man's Deal by Jax Daniels

Title: The Dead Man's Deal
Author: Jax Daniels
Series: Book 1: The Winki Witherspoon Mansion Adventures
Read Type: eARC
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:
Bug me: http://bugsmind.blogspot.com

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When Winki Witherspoon lost her husband she inherited his New Orleans mansion and his magical talent. Can she master it and discover his traitor before she too is destroyed?

Strong language: None
Drugs: None
Violence: Yes, mainly arena battles
Sexual content: None

I received a final copy of this novel for free in return for an unbiased review. As a disclaimer, I am also in the same writing group as the author and have watched the book progress, but I have not allowed that to cloud my judgement.

Winki Witherspoon is a widow of six months who has given up on life. When we meet her she is a wreck, dispirited, disengaged, and withering away to nothing both physically and emotionally. She is contacted by her husband Will's lawyer, who insists as a part of Will's will, he has to take her somewhere. Soon she pulls up at the  dilapidated Gateway Manor with its kooky staff and a horde of secrets, starting with the double life her husband’s been leading in the hidden underworld of New Orleans. Her new life has been handed to her, whether she likes it or not.

The novel is written in first person through the eyes of Winki. She has a great voice, revealing the emotion, whether depression, shock, anger, or that flash of excitement, with ease. This has a fine mix of sarcasm and dry humour, such as "Oh yeah, just mocked by a roach." I felt in the early chapters she jumped between emotions too often, fleeing the house or diving into shouting matches as her self-preservation method. This smoothed out as the book got going though, remaining just enough for comic relief, but allowing the plot to progress.

The secondary characters, many of whom have nicknames such as Jeeves, Mrs. Black and Mrs. White are all well developed and get their moments in the spotlight. Having all known Will since he was a child, they all add emotional enrichment, plot twists and deepen the discovery of the hidden world under Winki's nose. My favourite character had to be Hercule, the talking cockroach that despite any reservations about the species had our entire writers group enamoured with him. He often acts as a buffer or defence for Winki when too much information or too many instructions are being thrown around, explaining things simply, even when she is less than happy to share the room with him!

The story is soon on a rollercoaster as Winki discovers her own "magical" talent, encounters some less than friendly locals, and prepares for a magical tournament held in another plane that she is told precious little about. All the while she is still coming to terms with the death of her husband and the secrets he kept from her for 25 years of marriage. He has left behind some hints to the life he never told her of.  More importantly he has left her a warning: in this new home, in this family where she has to place her life and all her trust if she wants to make it through the tournament, is a traitor. A traitor who may have seen to it that Will had the "accident" that killed him. This mystery is woven skilfully into the story, a real whodunit, with almost everyone, human or otherwise, having a plausible motive. It makes Winki's journey that much more of an uncertainty, not knowing who to believe.

But there is one person she trusts: her dead husband.  Will has left behind a series of clues and riddles for Winki on DVD. As Winki searches these clues out, we get a chance to see Will as an active character and get to know the man that made her who she is. I found these breaks in the training part of the story a great breather, often overflowing with emotion.

Once at the tournament, Winki has to prove that her house, the house that has consistently been shown to be the strongest of all the houses in previous years when Will championed Gateway Manor, is still strong enough to protect not just them but all of our world. With most of the contestants not being human, or even something we can relate to outside of horror or fantasy novels, she has her work cut out for her, as do her team who are trying to teach her what she needs to survive each round just before she enters the ring. A couple of times these explanations got either overly long, or complicated. I would have liked to have seen a bit more time taken explaining some aspects. The fights themselves, however, were engaging, and anyone who has every played a turn based game such a Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest will feel right at home.

I loved how the different species were portrayed, the fact that they were able to interact with each other, whether half sea creature, something undead, or a human. This was given good space in the novel, giving the reader a chance to build opinions on different species and come to care for several. This was one of my favourite parts of the novel, and I hope to see more of these creatures, both at tournaments and maybe in their homelands in future novels.

Onto the finale and the real climax back home, with several reveals for mysteries throughout the novel. I enjoyed these but felt they were a bit rushed and stacked back to back, not giving the reader or the characters a chance to accept one before the next came along. Emotionally it was engaging, and I enjoyed it. I just think the author should have trusted that the readers to want to revel in the answers to questions they have asked through most of the book and have added a few pages here or there to give a break and exploration time.

Overall I think this was a fun and clever book, with unusual characters, good mystery and plenty of action. Occasionally it got bogged down in the details, but the story quickly dug itself back out.

I give this novel four stars.

Friday 8 August 2014

Twisted Endings 3: Children of Blood by Timothy McLendon

Title: Twisted Endings 3: Children of Blood
Author: Timothy McLendon
Series: Twisted Endings
Read Type: eARC
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 Facebook
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TWISTED ENDINGS 3 is a collection of four mystery and suspense stories with unexpected endings. This collection picks up where TWISTED ENDINGS left off. A father fights to save his daughter. An aunt fights to save her niece. A crook fights to save a hostage family. And Jake returns to run the soap store, and fight for the lives of the innocent.

3X more action! The characters in these four short stories aren't prepared for what happens next. You won't be either! Just remember, children don't always behave. Strap yourself in for an adventure that never lets go!

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

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

Twisted Endings 3 can be read as a stand alone, but many of the stories are linked to Twisted Endings 1 and one of them to Twisted Endings 2. I feel readers will get the most out of these if they read them in order.

Fresh Fragrances 3.5
This was a good opening to the collection, touching on both Twisted Endings 1 and 2, but still being able to be read as a stand alone. The tension of the opening was written tightly, and the mystery carrying on from it was good. I did feel the middle meandered a bit and lost its way, but the ending came back with a bang. This felt open ended as if it could be picked up again

The Amazing Mr Whiskers 4
This was a great story, starting with a woman reflecting on doing what she'd had to do to protect herself the night before, she's soon caring for her niece, when the method she'd used before backfired and arrived in her house. There was tension, tightly written paragraphs and emotions ramped up by a little girl in danger.

Shoot To Live 3
This story was fast paced with a good POV. I felt however it relied quite heavily in place on having read the prequel, Neighbourhood Watch in Twisted Endings 1. Like the prequel some of the tags were missing and I wasn't always sure who was who or where they were. I liked the left-field ending.
Would have made a better screenplay

Don't Let Her Die 4.5
This was a story with strong tension and heavy emotion running through it. It was well written, I really felt for both the man and his child, a very cute kid. The ending was strong, with a great twist.

As a solo anthology I thought this was very good. When read as a part of a series however, I thought it was great! Many of my favourite characters came back, either as a continuation of their story or as a cameo you had to look for.

Just when you thought the book was done a note hid in the back, so keep reading. I smell a sequel!

Overall another great effort with a variety of themes. I give this anthology a 4.

Thursday 7 August 2014

Escape From Harrizel (Arizel Wars 01) by C.G.Coppola

Title: Escape From Harrizel
Author: C.G.Coppola
Series: Arizel Wars 01
Read Type: Indie Author
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, Amazon US and Smashwords
You can find out more about the author on Pinterest, Twitter, her website and blog

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Fallon is just like every other Arrival brought to Harrizel—an alien planet restoring the human race after a fatal war left Earth in ruins. But once viewing the all-day work camps and the nightly, orgy-like atmosphere, Fallon suspects her hosts, the Dofinikes, might have a secret agenda of their own.

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

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

Escape from Harrizel is a novel about an alien race, the Dolfinkes, coming to Earth to rescue the last surviving humans from their self destruction through war and global warming, taking them to their own planet to live in a castle known as Harrizel. It is a haven where they can work together, day in, day out, to build a new life for themselves and repopulate. A second chance… or is it? (Anybody who needs a hint, take a look at the book title!)

There was a good mystery threaded through the story, constantly challenging you to work it out before the characters did, adventure and romance. The world building was very deep and vast, I was impressed with how it ws threaded through the story without being an info dump.

Escape From Harrizel starts with the point of view character, Fallon, waking up on the floor of an unfamiliar home with an older man present, getting the character to their feet and trying to make them remember what supposedly happened. This was where I did have a significant issue with the story what was deeply ingrained until the halfway point, but always present to some extent. It turns out Fallon is a woman, but this is not revealed until at least 10% into the story, and then only one brief mention, which I began to think was a typo. She acted very masculine, and more importantly her mind was masculine.

While feeling weak and vulnerable, the older man, Clarence, guides her into a living room and places her in a chair. He then take a chair – one that blocks all exits to the room for her without passing him. As she becomes increasingly suspicious of him – the name he calls her seems wrong, she has no memories of what he is saying is the past and he is getting very insistent and threatening – she thinks of escape, but never more feminine things, even briefly, such as rape.

This confusion of her sex left me with a different reaction to some of her actions such as running off. While all women are different I think even to have been told her sex earlier on would have been helpful. This didn't begin to resolve itself until she met a man in Harrizel.

This aside, the other characters were strong, and I particularly took to the dialogue, especially in scenes where a couple of the in the know people are talking over Fallon and she is having the worst time trying to understand what they are saying!

While many of the people on Harrizel subscribed to the lies being given to them and did everything the aliens asked, some, the people Fallon caught the eye of, weren't so naïve and learnt how to get around their sanctions and rules, if only by a hair's breadth. Just to escape the building seemingly made of marble and some kind of metal was a relief, passed onto the reader well. I looked forward to their meetings and escapes to see other more normal people, rather than the pod people they seemed to live amongst.

This novel was not without considerable issues, but I enjoyed it and long to know what happens next. I give it a 3.5 but for the sake of reviewing sites I must reduce this to a 3