Book Review: What Kills Me by Wynne Channing

You might notice some special graphics in this review.  All previous reviews will eventually be edited to include them.  They were designed especially for the new blog.  Although I won’t be directing traffic there for another day or two, you can check out the new design HERE.


What Kills Me by Wynne Channing

Genre: YA Paranormal Romance

Publisher: Self-published

What Kills Me is available as an ebook from Amazon or Barnes & Noble.  More reviews available on Goodreads.  

The fight for survival begins.

An ancient prophecy warns of a girl destined to cause the extinction of the vampire race.

So when 17-year-old Axelia falls into a sacred well filled with blood and emerges a vampire, the immortal empire believes she is this legendary destroyer. Hunted by soldiers and mercenaries, Axelia and her reluctant ally, the vampire bladesmith Lucas, must battle to survive.

How will she convince the empire that she is just an innocent teenager-turned bloodsucker and not a creature of destruction? And if she cannot, can a vampire who is afraid of bugs summon the courage to fight a nation of immortals?


Overview:  I think that I would of liked this book better if I hadn’t read so many in the genre.  I never got the feeling that this story and the characters were special.  The danger felt contrived and the characters safe in a formulated story.  I can understand why people love this book, but I don’t think it was unique enough for my liking.  It did have some humorous scenes and one-liners that were nothing short of awesome.  The excerpt is one of my favorites.

Characters:  Lucas felt short for me.  He was too rough and bitter in the beginning and his transformation by the end was too abrupt to be believable.  I liked Axelia for the majority of the story, although her part in the very beginning was nothing short of stupidity.  There’s no way that a “good” girl would decide to meet a stranger in the dark, after curfew, when everyone warns her not to…just not believable either.  Besides that, I did like her.  She acted like a dumb blonde sometimes, but the way Lucas played off of that trait was so darn funny that I liked it.

Plot:  Girl meets boy.  Girl dies and becomes vampire.  Girl has lots of people that want to kill her because she’s the chosen one.  If this was the first vampire novel I have ever read, I would have loved the plot.  I LOVE reading vampire books (and have read way too many) and so I the plot in this book kept reminding me of what I’ve read in other books.  It wasn’t predictable, however, and I wasn’t quite sure how Axelia and Lucas would escape the people wanting to kill them until it happened.

Ending:  The VERY end felt cheesy to me.  It wasn’t what I expected, but really disappointed me.

(I received a copy of this novel from the author (LibraryThing) in exchange for an honest review.)

This is a great novel for those who haven’t read many paranormal or vampire novels.

“What about guns with silver bullets?  Would that slow them down?”

“Silver bullets?  We’re not werewolves.”

“Werewolves are real too?”

He glaced at me and then did a double take, seeing my bewildered face.

“Yes,” he said, watching my eyes widen. “They hang out with Santa and the Easter Bunny.”

I remained frozen for a moment and then pushed his arm.

“Hey, I’m driving,” he said.  He turned away from me to check the left lane over his shoulder but not before I caught a subtle smile on his face.  It was gone so quickly tha I wasn’t sure if I had seen it at all.

A few minutes passed.  “So, they’re not real, right?”

(Picture and Information borrowed from Goodreads.)

Wynne Channing is an award-winning national newspaper reporter and young adult novelist.
She started writing horror/fantasy tales as a girl. She still has the first novel that she wrote when she was 10. It’s (unintentionally) hilarious.

Wynne loves telling stories and as a journalist, she has interviewed everyone from Daniel Radcliffe and Hugh Jackman to the president of the Maldives and Duchess Sarah Ferguson. The closest she has come to interviewing a vampire is sitting down with True Blood‘s Alexander Skarsgard (he didn’t bite).

She briefly considered calling her debut novel “Well” so then everyone would say: “Well written by Wynne Channing.”

Website | Twitter | Facebook |

Advertisements

Book Review: Hearts of Darkness by Kira Brady

Hearts of Darkness (Deadglass #1) by Kira Brady

Publisher: Zebra

Genre:  Paranormal Romance

You can purchase Hearts of Darkness on ebook or paperback from Amazon or Barnes & Noble.  More reviews available on Goodreads.  You can read my review of the prequel Hearts of Fire.

Review:

Overview:  After reading the prequel novella (and loving it), I was so excited and impatient to read this book that I requested a copy from the author.  But it was clear very early on in Hearts of Darkness that this was a completely different story than the first.  This book is set in present time, while the prequel had a western feel.  The world building feels very extensive, but it took me quite a few chapters to be convinced that present day Seattle is over-run by mystical shapeshifters and beings…but the rest of the world is unaware of this.  I think my main gripe with the novel is that I didn’t like the POV characters.  Since the next book is written from a different POV, I might still read it.

Characters:  I would’ve liked this story much more had the main characters not been Kayla and Hart.  I liked Corbette, Grace, Lydia, and especially Norgard and I wish one of them told the story.  It could have been a five-star book.  First off the chemistry between the characters is so awkward.  I never felt like they truly cared for one another.  Hart didn’t love her – her lusted her.  He spent much of his time thinking about how to screw her over and the rest of the time thinking about screwing her.  He kept talking about the beast inside him wanting to bend her over and stick it in.  After pages and pages of this, I was like: “Just do it already!”  By the time the sex scene happened, I was so fed up with Hart and Kayla that I skipped it.  And, he growled a lot…a whole lot.  Oh, and Kayla felt like the dumbest human alive.  She walked into trap after trap and was so incredibly naive.  She had absolutely no backbone and was all about preaching forgiveness and not taking things personally.  I don’t understand how Hart could do that “thing” to her and she shrugs it off!

Plot:  The plot felt predictable about half the time and the other half I was confused as to why the characters did the things they did.  So I guess it wasn’t nearly as predictable as I originally thought.  By the end of the book, I stopped trying to guess what would happen and just enjoyed the story.  The world building was well done and the mythology was teasingly revealed throughout the story.  Even by the end, I understood much of the world, but I wanted to know so much more.

Ending:  There were some really cheesy moments in the end.  The kind of stuff you’d expect in a movie with more special effects than acting skills.  These things were not realistic and obviously only there for dramatic flair.  I wish things would have ended differently with Corbette…his ending was bittersweet.

Book Description:

Nurse Kayla Friday has dedicated her life to science and reason. But for her, Seattle is a place of eerie loss and fragmented, frightening memories. And now the only clue to her sister’s murder reveals a secret battle between two ancient mythologies…and puts Kayla in the sights of lethally sexy werewolf mercenary Hart. He’ll do whatever it takes to obtain the key to the Gate of the Land of the Dead and free what’s left of his soul. But seducing the determined Kayla is putting them at the mercy of powerful desires neither can control. And as the clock ticks down to hellish catastrophe, the untested bond between Kayla and Hart may lead to the ultimate sacrifice.

This is a great story for those who love paranormal romances and don’t mind a bit of cheese.

Grade:  C

I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author:

(Picture and information borrowed from Goodreads.)

Author of the Deadglass Trilogy (Kensington Zebra). Hearts of Darkness was selected by Publishers Weekly as one of the Best Books of Summer 2012!

A native Seattleitte, Kira spent her childhood hiking the rainy forests of the Pacific Northwest and drying out by the fire with a good book and a mug of something hot. She graduated with honors from the University of Pennsylvania, where she met her real life Prince Charming and promptly dragged him back to sunless Seattle. She fell in love with historic, haunted cities in graduate school. Now she writes about the twisted cities of her imagination, where wraiths and shape-shifters stalk the night and love redeems even the darkest heart. When not writing, she can be found drinking inordinately large mugs of Assam tea, knitting wool socks, and raising a wee heroine-in-training.

Website  |  Twitter  | Facebook

Book Review: Fire Baptized by Kenya Wright

I originally agreed to review this book back in August and expected to get to it on my TBR list last month.  Had I known how much I would of liked it, I would have read it the instant the author sent it to me.  I suppose that one good thing about waiting is that the sequel The Burning Bush released September 28th, so I don’t have to wait long before finding out what happens next with Lenore.  You can check out more information on Burning Bush (Habitat #2) on Goodreads.  I haven’t had much luck with Urban Fantasy books, but Fire Baptized changed my mind about removing that genre from the list of books I review.  Check out my review below and then make sure you pick up your own copy.

And dare I say this….I’ve had amazing luck with books this week.  I think I’ve loved every single one of them!


Fire Baptized (Habitat #1) by Kenya Wright

Publisher:  Dragonfairy Publishing

Genre: Urban Fantasy

You can buy it on ebook or paperback Amazon or Barnes & Noble.  More reviews available on Goodreads.

Review:

Overview:  I was seriously done with urban fantasy and paranormal romance.  I’ve began to feel like it’s the same old characters with the same old problems and they all end the same.  Urban fantasy in particular has disappointed me lately and I admit that it took me much longer than it should have to finally read this book.  After reading the first chapter of Fire Baptized, I KNEW that this was special and different.  First off, this main character is not a detective or in law enforcement.  Secondly, Lenore is not your average female.  Thirdly, this book is much darker and more disturbing than most urban fantasies.  This book never scared me but there were several disturbing and gory scenes that gave it a horror feel at times.  Fourthly (is that a word?), Lenore is part of the underclass and the segregation and class differences/lack of rights is really compelling.

Characters:  There is a love triangle, but this is no love triangle you’ve ever read before.  Lanore has two male companions who both want to be with her.  She refuses to be exclusive and instead chapter by chapter she alternates between the two men becoming more and more involved with each one.  This drives MeShack and Zulu crazy with jealousy, but they only pursue her further.  In other words, Lanore is a playa.  This role, usually reserved for males, makes for a very entertaining read.  I couldn’t guess which one she wanted and I’m guessing that she would have been happy with both – had the guys agreed.  There are some awesome lines in this book:

“I don’t need your protection.”  I extended my hand to the side, pushed a large fireball out of my palm, and said, “Wow, look at that.  Isn’t that amazing? I did it all by myself. I can dress myself and wipe my own ass, too.”  – Lenore to Zulu.

Plot:  The book begins with Lanore witnessing a murder and the murderer knows.  Lanore notifies the police but she’s unsatisfied with being idle and searching for the identity of the murderer on her own.  Be careful which characters you get attached to in Fire Baptized, but the murderer is not satisfied with killing only one person.I appreciated the details the author made to make this fantasy world seem authentic.  There were several references to historical events that she put an urban fantasy spin.  Like, the black panthers were actually black panther shapeshifters.

Ending:  The mystery of who the killer is (and who Lenore will be with) is solved, but Lenore (and the reader) gets a glimpse of something at the end, which will change everything she thought she knew.  It’s a decent end to this part of her life, but I’m so thrilled that the next book is already released so that I don’t have to wait too long before finding out what happens in her life next.

Book Description:

Since the 1970s humans have forced supernaturals to live in caged cities. Silver brands embedded in their foreheads identify them by species: a full moon for Vampires, a crescent moon for Shifters, a pair of wings for Fairies, and the list goes on, for each supernatural species has been tagged and categorized by humans.

Lanore Vesta is marked with a silver X, the brand of Mixbreeds, second-class citizens shunned by society. She stays to herself, revealing her ability to create fire only during emergencies. All she wants to do is graduate college and stop having to steal to survive. But when she stumbles upon a murder in progress, she catches the attention of a supernatural killer. Now all she wants is to stop finding dead bodies in her apartment.

Enlisting help from her Were-cheetah ex-boyfriend MeShack and a new mysterious friend named Zulu, she is steered through the habitat’s raunchy nightlife. But their presence sometimes proves to be more burden than help, as they fight for her attention.

While the corpses pile up, and the scent of blood fills the air, Lanore is left wondering: will she find the psycho or die trying?

Rating:  A

An urban fantasy containing a love triangle with almost too much love.

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

Kenya Wright always knew she would be famous since the ripe old age of six when she sung the Michael Jackson thriller song in her bathroom mirror. She has tried her hand at many things from enlisting in the Navy for six years as a Persian-Farsi linguist to being a nude model at an art university.

However, writing has been the only constant love in her life.

So here we are Kenya is publishing her first book, Fire Baptized, the urban fantasy novel she always wanted to read. This novel is the first book in a series.

Will she succeed? Of course.

For she has been coined The Urban Fantasy Queen, the Super Iconic Writer of this Age, The Lyrical Genius of Our Generation. Granted, these are all terms coined by her, within the private walls of her bathroom as she still sings the Michael Jackson thriller song.

Kenya Wright currently resides in Miami with her three amazing, overactive children, a supportive, gorgeous husband, and three cool black cats that refuse to stop sleeping on Kenya’s head at night.


Book Review: Arcadian Genesis by Greig Beck

Arcadian Genesis by Greig Beck

Publisher:  Momentum Books

Genre: Science Fiction/Adventure

Arcadian Genesis released September 1st, 2012.  You can buy it on ebook Amazon, iTunes bookstore, Kobo, or Booki.sh.  More reviews available on Goodreads and more information available on the publisher’s website.

Review:

The first thing I noticed when reading Arcadian Genesis was how vivid and complete the world of Alex Hunter was.  It’s like the author slipped on his favorite pair of shoes when writing this book.  It’s so polished that you’d think Alex Hunter himself was writing the book.  Being written (mostly) from the POV of an emotionally detached guy, there is some trouble feeling for the other characters, which is a good thing considering how many deaths there are in this book.  And in some chapters, there is so much carnage and chaos that you’re not quite sure who is left alive until the next chapter begins.

I must say that the pacing is incredibly fast for the majority of the story, and you really have to pay close attention or you’ll lose track of what’s going on very quickly (and with a small child running around, I did have to reread some parts).  Every word counts in this story and by the end of the book, you’ll feel like you read a story twice as thick because of how much information, world-building, and action is crammed into Arcadian Genesis.

As far as technical care, Greig Beck’s writing feels a lot like Brad Thor, but Alex Hunter is way less of a ladies man than Harvath.  Alex is consumed by revenge for the deaths of his family and no detailed is spared in exactly how he transforms into a cold-blooded killer.  Lots of gore and death.  No character is safe.  For anyone that has read other books in this series, you know how it ends.  For anyone else, you will be surprised.

Book Description:

Alex Hunter – in the mission that turned him from a normal man into the weapon known as the Arcadian – and the elite team of soldiers known as the Hotzone All-Forces Warfare Commandos must enter a hostile country to rescue a defected Chechen researcher from the center of a country at war.

But the HAWCs are not the only ones looking for the rogue scientist and the mysterious package he carries with him. A brutal and relentless killer and his death squad are on the trail too – and they bring a savagery with them that Hunter and his team have never witnessed before in modern warfare.

In this stunning prequel to Beneath the Dark Ice, the HAWC team must race the clock to rescue the scientist, prevent the package from falling into the wrong hands … and save the world from a horror that should never have been woken.

Arcadian Genesis features a sample chapter from Greig Beck’s forthcoming novel Black Mountain.

This is the prequel to the Alex Hunter series.  Check out the covers to the other books in this series.

Rating:  A

This is a great book for those who want grit of an action novel in a vivid science fiction world.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

(Information borrowed from Goodreads.)

I’m an Australian author residing in Sydney with my wife, son and oversized black German Shepherd named Jess. My novels are now available in more than ten countries, and coming soon in full AUDIO format.

I grew up spending my days surfing at Bondi Beach before entering a career in Information technology which took me around the world. After completing an MBA, i was appointed both an Australasian director of a multinational software company, and tasked with setting up the USA arm of the organisation.

Today, I’m still involved in IT, but spend most of my time writing… with plenty left over for surfing.


Book Review: Swamp Monster Massacre by Hunter Shea

Swamp Monster Massacre by Hunter Shea

Publisher:  Samhain Publishing

Genre: Horror

You can buy it on ebook Amazon or from the publisher’s website.  More reviews available on Goodreads.

I’m not sure what I expected from this novella, but Swamp Monster Massacre was one hell of a fun book to read.  As typical of monster novels (and movies) there is a very large cast in the beginning of the book and a much smaller cast by the end.  There are some characters that didn’t have much opportunity to develop before they suffered a very painful and gory death, but the ones that survived until the end definitely had my vote.  I won’t spoil the ending, but I will say that I liked it.  And as much as I love horror novels, I typically hate how stories in this genre end.  Not so with this book.  It ended perfectly.  There was just enough closure to know that the worst could be over for the survivors.

I did enjoy the fact that the characters had a different flavor than what I’m used to.  The star of the show was the original bad guy.  The rest of the cast is different and enough is said about them to know that they’re typical people who got on the wrong boat.  I’m pretty sure that none of them will ever decide to tour the Florida Everglades again.  I did have a hell of a fun time reading it, but I wasn’t scared.  This is more focused on the gore and if you like brains and dismembered limbs, than this is a perfect book for you.

Book Description:

Deep in the overgrown swamps of Florida, where humans rarely dare to enter, lives a race of creatures long thought to be only the stuff of legend. They walk upright but are stronger, taller and more brutal than any man. And when a small boat of tourists, held captive by a fleeing criminal, accidentally kills one of the swamp dwellers’ young, the creatures are filled with a terrifyingly human emotion—a merciless lust for vengeance that will paint the trees red with blood.

Rating:  B

This book guarantees hours of entertainment for monster lovers.

I received a copy of this book as part of the RABT tour in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

Hunter Shea is the author of the novels Forest of Shadows and Evil Eternal, as well as the upcoming Swamp Monster Massacre and Sinister Entity. His stories have appeared in numerous magazines, including Dark Moon Digest, Morpheus Tales and the upcoming anthology, Shocklines : Fresh Voices in Terror. His obsession with all things horrific has led him to real life exploration of the paranormal, interviews with exorcists and other things that would keep most people awake with the lights on. He is also half of the Monster Men video podcast, a fun look at the world of horror. You can read about his latest travails and communicate with him at www.huntershea.com, on Twitter @HunterShea1, Facebook fan page at Hunter Shea or the Monster Men 13 channel on YouTube.

Website  |  Twitter  |  Facebook  |  Goodreads

Book Review: More by T.M. Franklin

More by T. M. Franklin

Publisher:  TWCS Publishing House

Genre: YA Paranormal

You can buy it on ebook  or paperback on Amazon and on paperback only for Barnes & Noble.  More reviews available on Goodreads.

Overall:  The best thing about this book was that it used split perspectives effectively.  It was amazing how different Caleb and Ava viewed the world and how each one was essential to the story.  Caleb’s POV described the magical world and his role as protector.  Ava’s POV described the normal world and how Caleb’s attitude and protector status was downright creepy stalker at times (but at least he acknowledged that his actions did imitate that of a stalker, which added to the realism).  It’s true that there’s always three sides to a story, and the reader’s job is to connect the two versions and fill in the blanks.  I really think that this book was THE best dual POV book I’ve read all year.

Characters:  There is no instant love between Ava and Caleb and the back and forth between the two is quite entertaining.  I really liked Caleb’s attitude and the fact that he was willing to lie to Ava straight to her face repeatedly.  Ava kept asking Caleb if there was something strange about him.  Caleb’s answer?  “Nope…”  *touches Ava’s forehead and delete Ava’s memory of the conversation…again.*  He totally reminded me of MIB.  Lucy was a fun character too and I really enjoyed how she tried to push Ava and Caleb together when the couple kept resisting a romance.  Ava, herself, took a very realistic approach to the whole magic thing.  She didn’t outright deny that it existed (like most heroines) and sought instead to find evidence that things weren’t as they seemed.

Plot:  Ava always wanted to be a special girl.  She thought she did magic this one time.  But, she never expected how special she really was or how much her life would flip upside down when Caleb started tutoring her for college physics.  This was a fun, quick read for me.  The action/drama takes precedence over the romance, which is a good thing.  The only predictable part of the book was the romance.  The plot was definitely not predictable.  Ava kept doing the craziest things, which made me love her more and more.  There was a steady flow of twists to keep the reader busy if the chemistry between Ava and Caleb wasn’t enough.

Ending:  It took me the entire book to realise how the cover ties into the story.  Nice touch.  So, all I can say is “sequel, please?”.

Book Description:

Ava Michaels used to think she was special.

As a child, she fantasized about having magical powers . . . making things happen. But Ava grew up and eventually accepted the fact that her childish dreams were just that, and maybe a normal life wasn’t so bad after all.

Now a young college student, Ava meets Caleb Foster, a brilliant and mysterious man who’s supposed to help her pass Physics, but in reality has another mission in mind. What he shows Ava challenges her view of the world, shaking it to its very core.

Because Caleb isn’t quite what he seems. In fact, he’s not entirely human, and he’s not the only one.

Together, the duo faces a threat from an ancient race bound to protect humans, but only after protecting their own secrets—secrets they fear Ava may expose. Fighting to survive, Ava soon learns she’s not actually normal . . . she’s not even just special.

She’s a little bit more.

Rating:  A

This is how you use dual POV.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher (Netgalley) in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

(Picture and information borrowed from Author’s Website.)

T.M. Franklin started out her career writing non-fiction in a television newsroom. Graduating with a B.A. in Communications specializing in broadcast journalism and production, she worked for nine years as a major market television news producer, and garnered two regional Emmy Awards, before she resigned to be a full-time mom and part-time freelance writer. After writing and unsuccessfully querying a novel that she now admits, “is not that great,” she decided to follow the advice of one of the agents who turned her down—write some more and get better at it. Her first published novel, MORE, was born during National Novel Writing month, a challenge to write a novel in thirty days.

She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, Mike, is mom to two boys, Justin and Ryan, and has an enormous black dog named Rocky who’s always lying nearby while she’s writing. Whether he’s soothed by the clicking of the computer keys or just waiting for someone to rub his belly is up for debate.


Book Review: The Last Grimm: Red’s Hood by H.L. Wampler

The Last Grimm:  Red’s Hood by H.L. Wampler

Publisher:  Self-published

Genre: Fantasy

You can buy it on ebook  or paperback on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  More reviews available on Goodreads.

Overall:   I think that this book needs more polishing.  There were a few minor things that drove me crazy, such as Abigail saying that ten minutes had passed in the narrative but she didn’t know what time it was.  How exactly would she know how much time had passed if she knew what time she arrived but not the current time?

Characters:  I think the characters were the weakest part of the book.  Most of the characters were one-dimensional and predictable.  Abigail, our heroine, didn’t seem to act her age.  In some scenes she felt 15 and others she felt 18 or 20.  I didn’t feel like this was an adult novel.  Even the sex scene felt like an awkward teenage experience.  I think that the novel would have been stronger if Abigail was younger.  With her as an adult, the scary scenes felt cheesy and the romance felt juvenile.  Abigail was a very unlikable girl.  She was quick to throw a fit and threw tantrums in nearly every chapter.  She was mean to her co-workers and friends, but always thought SHE was the victim.  Connor was rather pathetic.  He followed Abigail like a lap dog, bowing down to her every whim.

Plot:  Although the transition between scenes felt clumsy at times, I really enjoyed the plot.  I liked the action, the deaths, and the back story.  If the characters were more developed then I think that this would’ve been an awesome story.  I think that Abigail tried to visit too many places in the novel and so there was less of a visual connection made to each scene.

Ending:  It was quite cheesy and rushed at times, but I couldn’t help but smile while reading.  Overall, I’d recommend passing on this book, however I do believe that the author has a knack for storytelling and future books are worth a second glance.

Book Description:

Abigail Grimm stopped believing in fairy tales years ago. She is a college freshman who just landed the internship of the year. Things were going great; she even met a devastatingly good-looking man, Connor, who could not seem to get enough of her.

Then she witnesses the receptionist mauled to death by a giant wolf in the middle of downtown. The skeletons in her family’s closet come falling out as Abigail discovers she is actually the last in a long line of fairy tale guardians. And Connor, well he is not quite what he seems and has a few skeletons of his own.

Abigail must abandon everything she thought was real for make-believe and fantasy. With Connor by her side and a forbidden love budding, she must track down the wolf and save humanity before it’s too late.

Rating:  D

This book is an interesting retelling of Little Red Riding Hood.

I purchased a copy of this book from Amazon.

About the Author

(Picture and information borrowed from Goodreads.)

H. L. Wampler lives in the great city of Pittsburgh with her husband, twin sons, bad dog, and one fat cat.

Along with writing novels, H. L. also blogs, tweets, Facebooks and works part-time as a HUC at Presby.

She is a woman of many talents.

She published her first novel, The Last Grimm: Reds Hood, on 8/1/2012. While getting rave reviews with friends and family, she strives to get it out to the strangers of the world.

Website  |  Twitter  |  Facebook  |

Book Review: The Serpent’s Ring by H.B. Bolton

The Serpent’s Ring (Relics of Mysticus #1) by H.B. Bolton

Publisher:  Self-published

Genre: MG Fantasy

You can buy it on ebook  or paperback on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  More reviews available on Goodreads.

Overall:  I know that it might seem cruel to rate this mediocre when I liked the story so much.  The Serpent’s Ring hit a few pet peeves and if you aren’t bothered by these things, then this could be a 5 star book for you.  I let my 9 year old *nephew* read the first few chapters and he adored the characters and the action.  Now that I’m done reading, he can’t wait to finish.

Firstly, the beginning is slow and it feels like every other fantasy novel.  There’s a couple of kids who get an epic quest, some magical powers, and have to finish it before the world ends.  Another things is that there isn’t much “he said, she said” in this book.  There are quite a few “exclaimed, grunted, yelled, shouted, declared” and so forth.  Besides that, the book is very well written.

Characters:  What I really appreciated about this book was the fact that Evan and Claire had personality and attitude.  A lot of main characters in this age group are timid and follow adults without question, but not these two.  Evan is sarcastic and definitely thinks that he knows what is best for himself – just like a fourteen year old teenager does.  He does hold his tongue on a few occasions in this book, but only when an outburst might be lethal.  He’s blunt but not stupid.  It’s hard to say which sibling acts more mature.  Claire is better at keeping a calm head in stressful situations but she can be such a GIRL! at times.  I like how the two didn’t always get along, yet they knew the other sibling would always be there when needed.

Plot:  Though horribly predictable at first, I liked the twist and pacing after Evan enters the underwater world.  The first few chapters are bogged down with explanations about this magical world and Dr. Irving’s disappearance and connection to the serpent’s ring.  Once the world was established, then this book shined.  I just wish that the beginning was less dialogue and introduction.  The later chapters managed to create a believable and visual world underwater effortlessly.

Ending:  I kind of expected The Serpent’s Ring to end on a cliffhanger and it didn’t.  The plot was wrapped up nicely and there’s little teasers for what to expect in book two.  I was kind of surprised how long the children remained in the world after the plot wrapped up.  Typically in this genre, the honeymoon is over quickly and the kids are shipped back home in the next paragraph.  Not here.  Definitely a different sort of ending then I’m used to and I liked that.

Book Description:

Evan and Claire Jones are typical teenagers, forced to go with their parents to yet another boring museum … that is, until something extraordinary happens to make their day a little more than interesting. After following a strange little creature into a closed exhibit, Evan and his older sister, Claire, discover the Serpent’s Ring, one of the magical relics formed from the shattered Mysticus Orb. Purely by accident, they have awakened its powers and opened a portal to Sagaas, land of ancient gods.

Before the siblings can comprehend what has happened, the Serpent’s Ring is wrenched from Evan’s hand by an enormous bird and flown back to Aegir, the Norse god of the sea. Evan and Claire, accompanied by a band of unlikely heroes, must retrieve the Serpent’s Ring before Aegir uses its immense powers to flood all the lands on Earth.

Rating:  C

Kids and teenagers will love this MG fantasy.

I received a copy of this book from CBB Book Promotions as part of a tour in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

(Picture and information borrowed from Goodreads.)

Currently, Barbara Brooke resides in sunny Florida with her supportive husband, two adorable children, gorgeous greyhounds, and scruffy mutt. She is actively creating new worlds and interesting characters for the next book in one of her series. Shhhh, can you keep a secret? Not only does she write spellbinding, heart-pounding women’s fiction, she also writes books for the young-at-heart, adventurous sort who yearn to dive into a good young adult fantasy story. These particular books are written under the name H.B. Bolton, but that is another story altogether.

Website  |  Twitter  |  Facebook  |

Book Review: Wilde’s Army by Krystal Wade

Wilde’s Army (Darkness Falls #2) by Krystal Wade

Publisher:  Curiousity Quills Press

Genre: YA Fantasy

You can buy it on ebook  or paperback on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  More reviews available on Goodreads.

(This review contains major spoilers for both books.  Read my review of Book #1 Wilde’s Fire)

Overall:  It’s kind of hard to suck the danger factor out of a book where there are evil people in every scene, but the author does it brilliantly.  Apparently, Kate has a reset button on her life because she dies not once but twice in this novel…only to be saved by her magic powers that she can access with the help of her sister – but, of course, she doesn’t give her sister any credit.  The dialogues from Wilde’s Army would fit better on Dora the Explorer.  The characters over explain the situation and the feelings.  Here’s an example of how ridiculous the dialogue.  This is from Arland’s father immediately after Kate and Arland bind and they have trapped the Head Leader with their magic:

“What is the meaning of all this?  Why is the Leader of Encardia encased in magic, and why are you an my son glowing with a Binding Spell?”

Well, sir.  I don’t think it is because they ate radioactive food.  I really hate that I’m giving so many spoilers for this book, but it is definitely not worth reading.  Everything I said I liked in the first book is missing here.  I won’t be reading the third installment of this series.

Characters:  I honestly felt like I was eavesdropping on the Mean Girls while reading this book.  Although Kate might think she is self-righteous and helping out her friends, she is nothing short of selfish, dumb, and whiny in this book.  It’s outrageous how she continuously calls her mother out for belittling her sister and then does the same exact thing to Perth, sometimes in the same scene.  I felt so bad for Brit and Perth, since they were truly outcasts in this book.  Kate got upset at her sister for having a crush on Brad – no, not upset.  Kate didn’t know how to TRUST and FORGIVE her sister for having a secret crush on Brad.  If you’re not familiar with Brad’s backstory from the first book, he’s the guy who was madly in love with Kate and then ended up possessed by a demon god.

Kate’s mother was nothing short of a bad mother.  I was seriously hoping that she’s end up being a traitor because she treats everyone like crap throughout the novel.  The worse is how she treats her own daughter, Brit.  Kate’s mother is constantly saying how Brit is the un-special daughter, the one who isn’t useful, the one we can spare, the one that isn’t worth crap.  Kate knows her mother is wrong by saying these things but NOT ONCE does she ever speak up in her sister’s defense.

My favorite character of the first novel is barely even mentioned in this one.  Flanna mopes the entire novel about her beloved that died.  Gone is the nosy, chipper gal that I adored.  Instead, Brit takes over as Kate’s best friend and she’s not nearly as interesting.  In fact, poor Brit seems to have been ignored in every department.  She has almost zero personality and doesn’t even registers how badly the people around her treat her.

Plot:  Kate much gather an army by pretending to be in love with Perth instead of Arland.  That’s the entire plot.  You want to know how the author managed to stretch that to 348 pages?  By over-explaining “feelings” and what happened in the first book.  About 50% into the first novel, Kate finally realises that Brad LOVED her and everyone knew it but her.  Okay.  I could tell by chapter 1 of book 1 and it took Kate one and a half books to figure it out?  Geez.  Worse, Arland is the one to have to explain this to her.  He has to break it down like she’s some mentally challenged – and still she’s too focused on herself to grasp the whole situation.

There is a love triangle in this book like the first, but it’s ridiculous.  Perth likes Kate, while Kate verbally says how much he disgusts her.  And he’s actually a nice guy!  She’s the one who is a super b—!

Ending:  Kate uses superhuman powers to kick everyone’s butt.  No, I’m serious.  That’s actually what happens.

Book Description:

Hello, Katriona.”

Those two words spark fear in Katriona Wilde and give way to an unlikely partnership with Perth, the man she’s been traded to marry for a favor. Saving her true love and protector Arland, her family, and their soldiers keeps her motivated, but the at-odds duo soon realizes trust is something that comes and goes with each breath of Encardia’s rotting, stagnant air. The moment when concern for her missing sister spirals out of control, all thoughts of trust are pushed aside and she finds herself trapped by the daemon tricks Perth warned her of.

However, rescuing those she loves is only half the problem.

Kate still must get to Willow Falls, unite her clashing people, and form an army prepared to fight in order to defeat Darkness. When so many she’s grown fond of die along the journey, her ability to play by the gods’ rules is tested.

How will she make allies when the world appears stacked against her? And will she still be Katriona Wilde, the girl with fire?

Rating:  F

A big letdown in a YA fantasy series I kind of liked.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher (Netgalley) in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

(Picture and information borrowed from Goodreads.)

Krystal Wade can be found in the sluglines outside Washington D.C. every morning, Monday through Friday. With coffee in hand, iPod plugged in, and strangers–who sometimes snore, smell, or have incredibly bad gas–sitting next to her, she zones out and thinks of fantastical worlds for you and me to read. How else can she cope with a fifty mile commute?

Good thing she has her husband and three kids to go home to. They keep her sane.

Website  |  Twitter

Tour Review/Giveaway: The Antithesis by Terra Whiteman


Welcome to the final stop of the Antithesis Tour.  You can check out the full list of tour stops HERE.  On this tour stop I have my review of this awesome book, an excerpt, and a giveaway.  I’m so happy that every book I’ve reviewed this week has exceeded my expectations.  This one is no exception to that.  I was blown away by how intricate the world was in the first book.  Just like with Harry Potter, Star Wars, or Lord of the Rings, the Antithesis isn’t a story…it’s a universe.  You experience the story instead of reading it.  This is a novel worthy of fan-fiction.  And it broke my heart not to give it 5 stars, but read my review to find out why.

The Series’ Covers


The Antithesis (Book #1) by Terra Whiteman

Publisher: 1889 Labs

Genre: Angel/Demon – Science Fiction

Publisher: 1889 Labs

You can purchase it on ebook from Amazon and Smashwords or on paperback from AmazonBarnes and NobleIndigoPowells, and Whsmith.

Giveaway:

  • 1 winner will get paperback copies of all 5 books in the Antithesis series by Terra Whiteman.
  • 3 winners will get ebook copies of all 5 books in the Antithesis series by Terra Whiteman.
  • 5 winners will get any ebook of their choice published by 1889 Labs.

Click HERE to enter the giveaway.

Review:

Overall:  It’s funny that I don’t consider this an angel/demon novel when 90% of the characters are either one or the other.  To me, it felt like a science fiction novel, only the setting was with Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory.  There is no religious bashing, outright preaching, or moral values hidden beneath the ink waiting to subconsciously sink their teeth into your brain and suck out your vices (or was there? *cue Twilight Zone music*).   Atheists and Christians alike can enjoy this novel from Terra Whiteman.  Also like a science fiction novel, there is great emphasis on making the different places and characters feel as comfortable to your mind as your own hometown.  I can picture each scene as easily in this novel as I could if it was a movie.  It doesn’t have the shock value that I like in many of my favorite novels – but I still enjoyed nearly every moment reading this book.

Characters:  It’s clear from the first meeting between Leid and Alezair that these two have met previously, but since Alezair has no memory of his former life, he doesn’t know what kind of relationship he used to have with her.  Throughout the novel, his instincts drive him to both lust and hate her.  Leid rejects him over and over again and yet you can’t help but think each time that maybe this time Alezair might have a chance with this deadly woman.  Leid surprised me in her unique response to each situation.  I adore her more than any heroine as of late.  She’s like a tiger – beautiful, exotic, but dangerous for your health in close quarters.  I have 10 or 15 different texts highlighted in my Kindle of the awesome verbal exchanges between these two characters.  The author doesn’t give into the chemistry sizzling – no, every time they meet is like a hit and you can help but turn page after page looking for that next high.

Plot:  The book begins with Alezair on just another mission from the Nexus to kill people, which he is very good at doing, and with no recollection of who he used to be.  On this mission he meets Leid and he is struck by how familiar she is to him.  After following Leid, she decides to make him into a being like her – and Alezair becomes a nearly invincible enforcer between Heaven and Hell.  Not all is what it seems, as the beings of Heaven and Hell seem to recognize him, but no one will say how.  Alezair’s body draws him instinctively to Leid and he has no idea why.  Although the mystery of who Alezair really is unravels at a snail’s pace, there is plenty of action and a very intricate world to keep you entertained as the mystery unfolds.

Ending:  I don’t get the last 10% of the novel.  I could accept the novel as over (with a sequel expected) when Alezair stops narrating.  I didn’t find out everything I wanted to know, but I was okay with drawing my own conclusions for now.  But, the last 10% is written in various points of view that flash back to earlier scenes in the novel, only from a different perspective.  I didn’t connect with these people.  I didn’t learn anything new about Alezair – only that people were damn scared of him, which I could guess from his point of view.  Without the last 10%, I would have given this novel 5 stars.  With it, I had to knock off a star for killing the mystery and allure of some of my favorite minor characters from the novel.  Regardless, I still am planning on reading the rest of this series.

Grade:  B

This is a great book for those who like books about Angels and Demons without the influence of the author’s religious beliefs.

*I received a copy of this book from a FMB tours in exchange for my honest review.

Book Description:

Justice Alezair Czynri is the newest recruit of the Jury, a group of powerful beings who reside in Purgatory and enforce the Code between Heaven and Hell. However, Justice Czynri could not have come at a worse time. A storm lays just over the horizon…

One that brings with it a war.

This is a story about God and the Devil, but not how you were taught to believe.

This is also a story about love and hate, and the suffering both can bring.

This is about rights and wrongs, and all of the spaces in between.

This is about revenge, courage, death, passion; with no villains, no heroes… only those left scorned.

This is a story about Heaven, Hell, and the Jury that holds them together.

This is The Antithesis.

Excerpt:

The Terabicz Ruins was a collection of towers composed of black rock and sharp peaks, complete with floating circular platforms hovering in the sky like halos. Vines could be seen wedged between surface fractures, though I didn’t understand how any vegetation could survive in this perpetual darkness.

A winding staircase led to the first platform a thousand feet up. As we approached the base, Leid tripped over her own feet, landing on her knees.
I moved forward, but she shot out a hand to stop me. I froze.

Then she lurched, vomiting blood all over the first step.

I reeled back, eyes wide, fear rising in my throat. Leid only crouched on the steps, panting.

I shouted, the confusion and fear now propelling into anger. “Are you dying?!”

“No,” she responded coarsely.

Leid tried to get up, but collapsed. She attempted getting up a second time, made it one more step, but then collapsed again.

I frowned, kneeling in front of her with my back turned. “Get on.”

Reluctantly she crawled over me, wrapping her arms around my shoulders, legs hooking my elbows. She couldn’t protest this time; walking was out of the question.

I began up the stairs, Leid now on my back.

“Thank you,” I heard her murmur quietly.

“Sure thing. Just don’t puke on me.”

The climb was exhausting, seeming to never end. Leid wasn’t heavy in the least, and in fact Vel’Haru could probably lift three hundred times their own weight; but the last four days of almost nonexistent sleep and nonstop traveling had finally caught up with me. I was tired, and it was showing.

I took a breather on the first platform. The second, I’d decided to just keep going. By the apex, I was staggering.

The apex platform was shockingly covered in moss. An iron gate surrounded a stone temple with a courtyard covered in…statues.

“What is this place?” I whispered.

“Civen’s old temple. Since the Deadland’s decline, another has been built in Alatonia.”

I now understood why she’d placed the statue here. It would have blended in perfectly with the garden of others surrounding the temple. My eyes drifted over the platform, a frown pulling at my lips. Something didn’t feel right. It was so quiet, though that had been consistent throughout the entire area. I really couldn’t explain why I had this sense of impending doom.

Slowly, I carried Leid toward the gate.

My hand pushed against it; it opened with a creak.

I stepped inside, eyes surveying the courtyard.

It was isolated, save for the ever still and silent stone army surrounding us. I moved to the side of the wall, kneeling and letting Leid slide off. She collapsed against the ground, limply sitting up.

I had to admit I was a little pissed off for the fact that there weren’t any demons here. All of this for practically nothing? Though I supposed it would have been considerably bad otherwise since Leid could barely move and I currently wasn’t at my best.

“Hurry,” she pleaded.

I nodded, and she hadn’t needed to point out which statue was the target. Despite the clever hiding spot, it stuck out like a sore thumb.

Surrounded in marble soldiers and half-naked maidens, a woman knelt; arm outstretched, eyes wide and lips parted in the beginnings of a despairing cry. She seemed carved out of black glass, shimmering like an obsidian beacon within the otherwise white wash of the garden.

…Obsidian. This woman.

I momentarily forget about my sick noble, slowly moving toward it, seamlessly weaving through the other nondescript statues. My eyes were narrowed, head slightly tilted in curious awe.

I stopped in front of her, drifting over the details of her face; all the while my face had become a contortion of disarray. I spun, pointing at the statue.

“Why does this thing look exactly like you?”

Leid tried to respond but coughed instead. When she was finished, she tried again:

“Will you just kill it, please? We’ll talk about this later.”

“…How do I kill it?”

“With your fists, you genius. Smash it to bits.”

“Exactly how were you expecting to destroy this thing on your own, by the way?”

“Shut up and finish it!”

“Not until you take back what you said.”

Leid stared, falling silent. She knew what I meant.

I waited, silent as well.

Conceding, she looked away shamefully. “I was angry; I didn’t mean it.”

“What didn’t you mean?”

“I would never regret meeting you, Alezair. I’m sorry.”

Though I’d coerced her into saying this, I could tell she was being sincere. Her expression was somber, painfully so.

I grinned. “Thanks. One pile of black sand coming right up.”

I turned, just as a thwump broke through the air. I felt a pinch. My grin faded into a confused wince and I looked down at the source of the sharp pain.

…There was a dart sticking out of my chest.

I looked up at Leid, though my vision was already beginning to blur; the world around me swayed. She was screaming something, pointing behind me, but now everything was moving in slow motion and I was having trouble comprehending.

I was about to turn but was tackled; a group of hands held me down, shoving my face into the moss. I thrashed, snarling, still strong enough to fling some of my assailants off. But each time a pair of hands left, another instantly replaced them. I couldn’t see anything—just a cluster of feet as the crowd scurried around, trying to keep me down.

Another group of feet left the crowd and began for Leid, who at this moment was hopelessly trying to crawl away. As they got further from us I could see them clearly:

Demons. Tons of them; at least two dozen.

Instead of retreating for the gate, Leid deliriously went the wrong way. During the struggle I’d been shoved about twenty feet from the statue. She was crawling toward us.

The demons pursuing her eventually backed off, waiting at the first row of statues. When Leid passed the third row, a shadow slid out from one of them, advancing slowly in a steady, calculated gait.

I squinted, teeth clenched and still struggling, trying to see the demon clearly. And then I did.

It was Caym Stroth, Raith’s second general. Unusually dressed in a black suit, the Obsidian Court insignia on his right shoulder, he held a giant serrated axe, swinging it nonchalantly at his side. He whistled an unfamiliar tune as Leid scrambled toward the statue. It seemed she was too delirious to even see him.

I screamed, though it was pointless because she couldn’t hear me. “Leid, behind you!”

She was now within a foot of the statue. Gasping, she reached toward it with a trembling outstretched hand.

Caym stopped behind her, lifting the axe over his head, his lips curling into a malicious sneer.

About the Author:

Terra Whiteman is a scientist who writes whenever she’s not doing things that scientists do. She loves philosophy, chemistry, biology, classical literature, graphic novels, loud, obnoxious music, frog slippers and beer.

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | 1889 Labs