What’s Coming in May

 

 

What can you expect to see in May?

Well, here are the reviews scheduled for the month….

evanescent
Evanescent by Gabriella Lepore*

the last priestess
The Last Priestess by Elizabeth Baxter*

the never king
The Never King by George Tyson*

warm bodies
Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion **

stitches
Stitches by Courtney Pierce **

doublesight
Doublesight by Terry Persun*

of gaea
Of Gaea by Victoria Escobar**

manataka
Manataka by Ella Phoenix*

betrayal-of-thieves.mobi
Betrayal of Thieves by C Greenwood*

* Review at the request of the author
** Goodreads win

Review for Iron Bloom by Billy Wong

iron bloom

My Rating: 4/5

Author:  Billy Wong
Title: Iron bloom

Genre:  Fantasy

Background: “The tale of an epic warrior torn between the power of the sword and her longing for a peaceful life.
A young woman with a kind heart and extraordinary constitution, Rose becomes a warrior to better the world. Despite the wealth and fame she wins as one of the greatest champions of her time, the bloody reality of her new life is nothing like her ideal dream. She yearns for a chance to escape the violence.
She finds that chance in Ethan, the leader of an altruistic pacifist group. But when a barbarian horde invades their kingdom, Rose knows that she can make a difference by taking up her sword again. Will her need to protect her homeland cost her the man she loves?
A full length novel intended for both adults and older teens. First in the Iron Flower series”

Opinions:

Iron Bloom is a fantasy novel with lots of fighting and adventure.  It is a novel of a strong female warrior and her struggles with her innate abilities to fight. This book leaves off for a sequel to follow.

Characters:
The book is written in third person narrative following Rose (a fifteen/sixteen year old) off in search of adventure. She is “freakishly” tall and strong, and for some reason can survive fatal wounds (as the reader discovers in the opening scene.) She feels obliged to help those who are in trouble – by fighting, which is her strongest ability. However, the killing and violence takes a toll on her and she tries to stop all together when she meets Ethan. Ethan is a pacifist who is opposed to all violence. However, will he change his mind after meeting Rose?

Plot:
The plot is fast-paced with a lot of action and fighting scenes. For those who are not particularly interested in the bloody parts of battle, they might want to skip over this novel. However, I have read gorier novels and the fight scenes did not bother me. The story follows Rose as she tries to find her place in the world. The ending was slightly abrupt (which will lead to the next book of the series)… *NEXT TWO SENTENCES IS A SPOILER ALERT* I think it should have ended when Rose went off as a bodyguard with the young merchant, not at the party.  Also, I think there should have been a little more built up to the love affair between Rose and Ethan. *END OF SPOILER*

The Bottom Line:
Overall, I enjoyed the book and read it within a few days. The plot moved swiftly and there was lots of action to read about. I really like strong female roles and Rose was one of them. She wasn’t unnaturally strong (except for the unexplained fact of how she could survive some of the things she did), but showed her weaknesses through her guilt of killing other fighters – even if it was for a good cause. I’m not sure if a fifteen/sixteen year old would be as mature as her; but there are exceptions and she’s not average.

If you like fantasy adventure with a strong female lead, you might enjoy this book.

 

Review for Saving Fate by Billy Wong

saving fate.

My Rating: 4/5

Author:  Billy Wong
Title: Saving Fate

Genre:  Fantasy

Background: “The heroic fantasy saga of a boy searching for his mom.
The adopted son of an earl, Mark fears he will never live up to his father’s expectations. But when he learns his mother is a famous warrior who once saved their country from barbarian invasion, he sets out to meet her and become more than the underachiever he no longer wants to be.
Joined by wild and brazen warrior princess Ann, Mark travels through barbarian lands and cursed wastes while ever hounded by the minions of an evil duke who plans to kidnap him to control his father. Will timid Mark find the strength to survive endless mercenaries, demonic shrubs, an awkward romance with the more experienced Ann, and the duke’s conniving son who just happens to be named Marcus?”

Opinions:

Saving Fate is a fantasy adventure novel with lots of action and a few surprises. There should be at least another book to pick up where this one left off. If you are looking for a DID (damsel in distress) novel, this is not the book for you. It is more like “dude” in distress instead.

Character:
The book is written in third person narrative mainly following Mark. His mother Brianna is followed at the beginning while Mark was an infant. Brianna is a very strong person (mentally and physically – though she might not admit that.) She has a mother instinct and a driving force that pushes her to do incredible things. The story, however, involves around Mark, her son who she had to give up, and his quest to find Brianna. Mark is not your typical hero. He is not strong and bold. (He even ran from his first real fight.) He does learn a lesson in friendship and courage. As the book progresses so does his strength and gumption. The women in this novel are warrior-like—they stand and fight. I’m all for strong women roles in books and was glad to see it here. At different points in the book, I would have liked to see Mark be a little more…well, bold.

Plot:
The plot is fast-paced with much action and fighting scenes. From Brianna’s battles to Mark’s, the story takes the reader on an adventure that doesn’t stop. The ending does not cover up every loose end in the books itself. The reader will have some more questions about certain characters and exact happenings. The book does contain violence (bloodshed and whatnot.) It’s not descriptively gory, but just a heads up for anyone who doesn’t like that kind of thing.

The Bottom Line:
Overall, I enjoyed the book. It kept my interest to the very end, and I was able to read it within two days. One of the things that I did not like about the book was the regard to sex. (There was no sex described in the book, but it is mentioned.) It was a little too flamboyant for my taste. However, this did not deter me from reading the book in those few sparse scenes.

If you like fantasy adventure stories with strong female roles, then you might like this book.

 

Free Book Offer – Limited Time Only

Steve Cypert (the author of Scapemaker) has asked me to spread the word about receiving a copy of his book for free. If you are interested in receiving an e-copy of this book (available in PDF, Mobi, Epub, html, RTF, LRF, PDB, and plain text formats), please leave a comment below with an email address that I can send you the code to. [I will not use the email address in any way except to send you the code.]

What’s the catch?
None really. The author does ask that you write a review (positive or negative) for the book, but it is not required. Review can be posted on Amazon, Smashwords, Goodreads, your blog, etc. You will need to have a Smashwords account to “purchase” the book. The code that I will send you will be make the book free. You must remember to enter the coupon code before purchasing the book. I will not be held responsible if you buy the book before you enter the coupon code.

PLEASE NOTE: The coupon code will only be good until the end of May. So, if you want the book, please leave a comment by May 22, 2013. This will give me and you enough time to download the ebook.

See below for more info on the book, and check back later for a review of my own!

scapemaker

Published: Nov. 21, 2012
Words: 122,610 (approximate)
Language: English
ISBN: 9781301174843

[paperback version is 466 pages, not sure about the e-version]

Smashwords’ description:

“Matthew is the son of Mr. Nicholas Namely, a local high school teacher. But unbeknownst to Matthew, his father is a dreamscaper whose classroom is connected to the dream-world. From his classroom, his students enter the halls of Scapemaker, a dream-world high school for young dreamscapers.

Following a couple of heartfelt tragic events, Matthew is compelled to investigate the unbelievable mysteries surrounding those events and is propelled into a whole new world. Matthew and his mother, Mae, are soon coerced into moving across the country for his father’s strange medical needs. While attending his new school, Matthew comes to know the secrets that Daedree, an annoying girl from his former high school, has locked away. Matthew also meets Amber, a beautiful enigmatic girl who leads him to Mr. Xoner’s classroom. While there, he learns the art of dreamscaping (which has been in the Namely bloodline for thousands of years).

Matthew will come to know of Nox Celare, otherwise known as The Sandman, who is after a special element called Magineum. Neck deep in skinwalkers, sandsleepers, zombies, soul feeders, ghosts, dream-world criminals known as “night terrors” and more, Matthew learns he is in over his head. Matthew must not only solve the mysteries surrounding those tragic events, but he will also have to protect the Magineum with his life and find a way to be with the one girl of his dreams. Filled with secrecy, mystery and a forbidden tangle of young love, this new life will lead Matthew to unbelievable characters with the most extraordinary abilities he could never have imagined.

Scapemaker will keep you grounded in the real world while at the same time make the fantastical world around it that much more possible and enduring. This tale of young adult paranormal fantasy will keep you guessing and wanting more.”

Review for Dark Whispers by Krista D Ball

Dark Whispers

My Rating: 3.5/5

Author:  Krista D Ball
Title: Dark Whispers (Spirit Caller Series)

Genre:  Paranormal/Novella

Background: “A rash of teen suicides shakes the remote Newfoundland village that Rachel Mills calls home. As Rachel helps the school investigate, painful memories from her past – events she’s worked very hard to forget – resurface and won’t go back into the grave where they belong.
As if she didn’t have enough problems with her personal life!
Her beloved 93-year-old neighbor falls ill. The man Rachel’s in love with moves into her house-along with his girlfriend, the most perfect woman in creation. And a strung-out wreck of a woman claiming to be Rachel’s biological mother shows up on her doorstep.
But it isn’t until a local boy with a talent for spell work is attacked by a mysterious stranger that Rachel asks the question she’s avoided her whole life: how powerful can a Spirit Caller like herself become?”

Opinions:

This is the second novella to the Spirit Caller Series. I did not read the first book, but received this copy to be reviewed by the author. For the 117 page story, the reader follows Rachel through her trials as a spirit caller and attacks not only on her but other characters of the story.

Characters:
This novella is written in first person—through Rachel. She has the ability to talk to spirits but this ability does not function as it once did. Rachel is a complex character with a hard past. Many of these sufferings resurface.

Plot:
Although a short read, the plot centers around Rachel dealing with her past, trying to cope with her biological mother showing up out of nowhere, teenage suicides, and unrequited love. The story—although part of an ongoing series—wraps up nicely but obviously not everything is fully solved. I consider it like watching a TV series and this novella could be one episode.

The Bottom Line:
The way the story was written reminded me of a transition from young adult to adult books. The contexts have young adult themes (such as paranormal)/length and some more adult themes (the grittier side – such as the suicides and violence.) The “voice” of the story sounded geared towards young adults in its manner (sometime sarcastic and a voice that “spoke” rather than “described.”) Overall, the book kept my interest and was read within one day. If you like paranormal and a fast read you might enjoy this book.

 

Review for Magic of Thieves by C Greenwood

magic of thieves

My Rating: 4/5

Author:  C Greenwood
Title: Magic of Thieves: Legends of Dimminwood, Book 1

Genre:  Fantasy/Young Adult

Background: “In a province where magic is forbidden and its possessors are murdered by the cruel Praetor, young Ilan, born with the powerful gift of her ancestors, has only one hope for survival. Concealment. In the shadow of Dimmingwood, she finds temporary protection with a band of forest brigands led by the infamous outlaw Rideon the Red Hand.

But as Ilan matures, learns the skills of survival, and struggles to master the inherent magic of her dying race, danger is always close behind. When old enemies reappear and new friendships lead to betrayal, will her discovery of an enchanted bow prove to be Ilan’s final salvation or her ultimate downfall?

* * * * *
When I was small, my mother taught me about the magickless–evil men who hunted our kind to destroy us. They came from across the water to steal the lands of our ancestors. Pretending to want peace, they enslaved us and sought to extinguish what they couldn’t possess, the one thing their harsh laws could never control. Our ancient powers. One day, my mother warned me, violence would shatter the safety of our home, and when that day came, we must fight. And we must win.”
* * * * *

Opinions:

Magic of Thieves is a young adult fantasy novel that mirrors a medieval period. This is the first book in the series and introduces the reader to Ilan’s world.

Characters:
This book is written in first person, through Ilan. The reader sees her grow from a child to young teenager with the hardships of losing her home and parents. Ilan is not your usual heroine. She can be a little selfish and speaks her mind without thinking about how it hurts the other person. This of course might be because she is a young teenage girl—who has magical abilities that must be hidden. The characters have complexities to them. They are not all good or bad. As for the villain(s) of the story, we do not see much of them, but hear about them. I have a feeling the next book might change this.

Plot:
The plot begins when Ilan is a little girl and how she became involved with the brigand led by Red Hand. Ilan grows to try to find acceptance in her world. She lost her parents young. She has magic that must be hidden even from her comrades in the brigand. Magic is hunted because of a plague and only a small number of people have this gift. She has a few friends in the brigand, but no one very close. To me, the plot seems like it is setting up for the second book of the series, much like a prequel. It gives the reader the background knowledge as to why Ilan makes the decisions she does at the end. Although the ending leads the reader to continue to the next book, it does not stop abruptly.

The Bottom Line:
I was able to read this book within a day. It was a nice quick read. I won the second book and will continue to see how the story progresses. If you like young adult fantasies with magic, you might like this book.

 

Review for Lightning by Dean Koontz

lightning

My Rating: 3.5/5

Author:  Dean Koontz
Title: Lightning

Genre:  Science Fiction/Time travel

Background: “In the midst of a raging blizzard, lightning struck on the night Laura Shane was born. And a mysterious blond-haired stranger showed up just in time to save her from dying.
Years later, in the wake of another storm, Laura will be saved again. For someone is watching over her. But just as lightning illuminates, darkness always follows close behind.”

Opinions:

Lightning is a suspense/thriller with a few surprises in it. The story centers on Laura (from childhood through adulthood) who is repeatedly saved by a stranger, who is referred to as her “guardian.” However, he’s not an angel (as the reader might first suspect) and the story leads to an even more complex plot.

Characters:
This book is written in third-person, mostly around Laura. Because of her many horrific events in her life, Laura grows up to be a strong person who is not afraid to fight—especially if it deals with those she loves. Stefan (the Guardian) is another character that the reader follows (more so in the later parts of the book). His love for Laura makes him change everything he can to give her a better life, but he can’t protect her from everything. And, he is also risking his life to do. All characters in the book are complex and well written. Thelma is also a character that I enjoyed.

Plot:
I admit that the first half of the book (although swiftly moving) was slightly bitter to read. It is obviously needed for the plot and gives more depth to Laura. It is almost depressing that all these terrible things could happen to one person, especially someone so young. The second half of the book really picks up in action and continued to the end. Yes, this is a time travel book, but not as you originally might think. The author really worked out the mechanism within time travel theories and executions. It may be slightly confusing at first, but just go with it.

The Bottom Line:
Overall, I enjoyed the book. It’s not within my usual reading lists (even though I do like time travel and suspense/thriller novels), but I’m glad I read it. If you like a good thriller with a slight science fiction twist, you might enjoy this story.

 

Review for Caller of Light by T J Shaw

caller of light

My Rating: 4/5

Author:  T J Shaw
Title: Caller of Light

Genre:  Fantasy Romance

Background: “Carina McKay is an outsider. With one parent of royal blood, she’s not nobility, yet not a servant either. The only comfort in her mundane existence is her love of Critons, the large fire-breathing creatures that protect the border of her homeland. But her destiny changes forever the day she catches the eye of King Marek Duncan.
Marek’s heart is closed to love. After an arranged marriage withers to a bitter end, he dedicates his energy to protecting his kingdom. Yet he’s searching for something more–the Caller of Light, the one who summons Critons.
Carina’s beauty and willfulness intrigue Marek, and he’s determined to have her. When his enemies try to come between them, he discovers just how much he will endure to protect her. Together, they can unlock a love that binds their souls, but only if they find the strength to follow their hearts.”

Opinions:

This is a sweet romantic fantasy novel with a splash of adventure. This book leaves open for a sequel but has an ending (no dramatic cliffhanger.)

Characters:
The book is written in third person following both Carina and Marek. Carina is an emotionally abused girl by her father and sister, but that doesn’t stop her from finding herself. Although she can be submissive to them, she has strength and courage in her personality. Her one respite is to care for the critons (fantasy creature). King Marek becomes smitten with her and the story takes off from there. By taking Carina and Marek’s point of views, the reader is able to understand the motives for both parties and their decisions better. As with most romance novels, misunderstanding fuels the beginning of their fragile relationship. The “bad” characters are mostly one-dimensional but they have some complexities to them. The reader doesn’t get too much background on them to understand their motives, but they work in the story.

Plot:
The plot, at least romantically, is about average in that many books carry the same idea within their own story – misunderstandings, finding out true love, etc. The adventure side of the plot was well written and I finished reading the book in 2 days. It kept my interest and kept the characters moving forward.

The Bottom Line:
Overall, I liked this book. It had a likeable heroine and hero within a fantasy world. If you like fantasy romances with a splash of adventure, you would like this book.

 

Review for The Amber Rooms by Ian Hocking

The Amber Rooms

My Rating: 4/5

Author:  Ian Hocking
Title: The Amber Rooms (The Saskia Brandt Series Book Three)

Genre:  Techno-thriller

Background: “It is the night of September 5th, 1907, and the Moscow train is approaching St Petersburg. Traveling first class appears to be a young Russian princess and her fiancé. They are impostors. In the luggage carriage are the spoils of the Yerevan Square Expropriation, the greatest bank heist in history. The money is intended for Finland, and the hands of a man known to the Tsarist authorities as The Mountain Eagle — Vladimir Ilyich Lenin.”

Opinions:

The Amber Rooms is the third book in the Saskia Brandt series. It continues with what happens to Saskia in Flashback (the second book). Although a person could get away with reading this book as a standalone, I would suggest reading the first and second book. It has references to both. [I have a review for each of these books – Deja Vu and Flashback.]

Characters:
The main character of this third person narrative is Saskia who adopts many names along the course of the book. She still is a strong likeable character as she was in the other books. This time her adventures take her to Russia – picture Bolsheviks, Lenin, etc. She is yet again involved with crimes and ninja-type maneuvers. The other characters, like the other books in the series, where complex and drawn out. (And yes, Ego does make a guest appearance in this book as well. I’ll let you read how.)

Plot:
In The Amber Rooms, Saskia is trying to gain access to the Amber Room at the Summer Palace where she believes at certain points of time she can go home to the future. However, this is not an easy task. She is running out of time and she is involved with some unsavory characters from a heist. The plot for me really took off just after the halfway point of the book. This is where things start coming together and the back story of what happened prior is explained. There are some surprises and the reader wonders how this might affect the future (that we know from the prior books.)

The Bottom Line:
Overall, it was a good read. I finished reading it in about two days. There is room for another book at the end after the reader is left wondering what will happen to Saskia.

 

Review for Tethered Twins by Mike Essex

tethered twins

My Rating: 4/5

Author:  Mikes Essex
Title: Tethered Twins

Genre:  Dystopia

Background: “A gripping dystopian adventure set in an alternate future where every baby is born with a twin, sharing a psychic link from birth. The only catch; if your twin dies you die too.
When Emmie Keyes lives through every agonising moment of her brother’s death she knows with certainty that her life is over. Despite the inevitability of imminent death she unexplainably cheats fate and survives.
Devastated by the loss of her brother and unsure why she was spared, Emmie sets out to discover the truth. She enlists the help of her best friend to help her track down the most powerful man in the world with one goal in mind; finding the truth.
In the first part of this destiny changing trilogy, Emmie finds herself questioning every loyalty she has ever known including the trust of her friends and those she loves. She challenges the very fundamentals of her broken society in her quest to find out why she survived.
In this action packed debut novel that is adrenaline soaked from the very first page you will uncover the truth behind the Tethers that bind Emmie’s world with shocking revelations and mind bending twists along the way.”

Opinions:

Tethered Twins was an action-packed, dystopian society book—first book of a trilogy. The beginning of the book started off intense with the murder of Emmie’s brother and continued to take twists and turns throughout the novel. The reader must try to figure out what exactly is going on and who are really the good guys that Emmie should trust. [I’ll try to keep this all spoiler-free]

Characters:
The book used first and third person. Emmie was the main character (written as first person) in the book. She lived a hard life especially after she survived when her brother died, denoting something special about her. Banding together with support of her childhood friends, Emmie went on an adventure to discover why her brother was killed and what made her so special that she didn’t die when he did. Secrets were afoot even with her best friend, Grace. Control and power were a focal point for a lot of the characters.

Plot:
This was a fast-paced novel taken place in the near future England. The world was completely changed after the 21 day siege, and this left implications for the characters in Tethered Twins. The plot provided an intriguing storyline that kept me interested throughout the book. I finished it with two days. The story will leave the reader wanting to know what will happen, especially with the twists at the end.

The Bottom Line:
Overall, I enjoyed this book and would like to read what happens in the upcoming trilogy. There were some questions left unanswered/new questions formed by the end of the book. If you like action dystopian books, you should like this one.