BOOK REVIEWS

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Soare S. ★★★★

Posted 06/19/20

 

Caught within Time by Jason Moser is a great book. I like how Jason portrayed the whole book-like a painting, every color was blended perfectly. Though, it was short but it was action-packed. The good part was that it didn't left me hanging. It was a good read.

Kaye G. ★★★★★

Posted 6/22/20

Holy hellion! Jason doesn't miss a beat delivering this skillfully composed bombshell laying out one killer storyline and gripping plot, welding this gem together sleek, shiny and tight. Anarchy, escapades and havoc run amuck, kicking this bad boy into a raging tempest, blasting it into a tailspin with a life-altering finale. Carrying the load and dispensing limits, imparting this action packed, hard hitting, pulse racing, heart pounding, adrenaline pumping, page flipping, block buster, blasting this baby to life beautifully. Vexing mishaps and unsettling circumstances, swirl with the intimidating trials and challenging tribulations, racing alongside the thrilling twists and wicked turns, putting our characters through their paces, testing them in ways they could have never imagined. Coiled, knotted and tightly woven, displaying the explosive ups and agonizing downs, grounding in it's simplicity and awe inspiring in it's depth. The dynamics and countenance in layer upon layer that you peel back with each page your drawn into this web so deep until everything else ceases to exist. The realism and authenticity of the characters as their on point personalities blend and connect along with the graphically detailed scenes, paint an epic backdrop that makes the storyline pop. Fantastic job Jason, thanks for sharing this bad boy with us.

I am voluntarily posting an honest review after reading an Advance Reader Copy of this story.

Emily S. ★★★★

6/24/20

 

This story is an engaging tale of a group of close friends and cousins that go exploring an old abandoned house in their neighborhood. They are lured there by a dark entity and held in space outside of their normal reality. The challenges the children face will keep you on edge and reluctant to put the book down. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to lose themselves in a great tale.

KAYE. ★★★★★

6/29/20

 

Mischief afoot! Emily unleashes one thrilling rollercoaster delivering this action packed, nerve racking, nail-biting, hard hitting bombshell, riding through full throttle with a vengeance, kicking the gates of hell wide open, blasting this baby to life spectacularly. Shenanigans, escapades and mayhem call the shots, rousting the drama, intrigue, turmoil, danger, mounting suspense and intense situations along with a boatload of sinister deeds, you have one mind-blowing experience. Bracing the burdens and towing the line, delivering this pulse racing, heart pounding, adrenaline pumping, page flipping dynamo, wrapping this baby up sleek, shiny and tight. Bumbling through the intimidating trials and challenging tribulations, alongside the dangerous twists and wicked turns, drawing our characters closer than they could have ever envisioned. Crushing the boundaries and pushing the limits, displaying the strong suits and short straws, slamming this baby into overdrive, launching it into a frenzy with astonishing impacts, drawing our characters closer than they could have ever anticipated. The characters are realistic, intriguing and authentic with depth and qualities that add just enough flaws for diversity, transforming into amazing personalities. The scenes are so vividly detailed and descriptive it gives the illusion you were right there in the middle of ground zero with them. Fantastic job Emily, thanks for sharing this bad boy with us.

I am voluntarily posting an honest review after reading an Advance Reader Copy of this story.

JACK K. ★★★★★

Posted 6/29/20

 

This story is a horror story. Although I normally do not read horror tales, I got sucked into this one because of the creative premise. Overall, I enjoyed it quite a bit. It was a good and enthralling read with a number of creative aspects (and a nice twist at the end).

Disclaimer: I received a free digital ARC for this novel. However, both the decision to post a review and the contents of the review are voluntary and my own alone.

The top three things I liked.

The story captures attention immediately. After all, it is pretty hard to put down a story that begins “I was fifteen when I found my mother’s body washed up on the beach.” The author certainly got my attention with THAT! The author continued to keep my attention throughout the tale, with deft descriptions that built tension in a well-architected way.

It is a complete story! Electronic publishing has created a plethora of stories that are “book 1” of something (i.e. beginnings without endings). However, the ending is often the most challenging part of writing. It is getting rare to see a complete story with a compelling introduction, a solid body, and a nicely resolved conclusion. This one had all those elements, and they were executed well. The conclusion also has a twist that (quite frankly) I didn’t see coming (and I won’t give away here).

The premise was original: Now, as a caveat, I usually read science fiction, not horror – so it is possible that this premise is more common than I think. However, I found the premise very original and clever. It had the nice feature of linking the horrifying elements with a ubiquitous presence, which was very imaginative. I suspect the goal of a horror writer is to keep the reader spooked by something commonplace for a couple of days as the result of the story (i.e. the shower scene in Psycho). This author succeeded admirably in that (again, I’m trying to avoid spoilers on this one).

For some other comments.

The story was written in 1st person, which can sometime backfire. However, it worked very well with this particular premise. It allowed for a level of innocence in the descriptions which helped build the dramatic tension. It also personalized the various experience in a way that would have been much more difficult with different writing style.

In addition to the clever premise, there were some unusually clever scenes. The one with the whale struck me in particular. It would not have been obvious to me as to how to feature a whale in a horror story – but (amazingly) it worked! (I will leave it to your imagination as to how the author did this …)

Gchat M. ★★★★★

Posted 7/5/20

 

When she sings up to be the ship's librarian, little does Lucy know that she will have to play amateur detective as well. As the cruise ship rolls along on it's voyage, the list of accidents and suspects goes on increasing. Will Lucy be able to solve the mystery before they reach their destination.

A not-so-serious who-done-it read.

TAMARA D. ★★★★★

Posted 7/15/20

 

Its not often that I need to utilize the dictionary when I read a book like this, yet this author had me reaching for it numerous times. Thank you for that!

Emma and Toby confused me for quite some time in the beginning of the book. Its great that the author keeps you on your toes as you work your way into the story.

I really enjoy the history that is peppered throughout this book. Bringing the past into the present in so many ways is a great way to keep it interesting.

I enjoyed this book and would like to follow these characters through the next phase of their lives.

This book was kindly provided to me by the author for me to give an honest, unbiased review, which I was very happy to do. This book will not disappoint. Enjoy :)

TRAVIS P. ★★★★★

kaye. ★★★★★

Posted 7/23/20

Excellent! Kat hit the ground running with this incredible treat, winding through broken paths and weaving secrets best forgotten, raising the stakes and keeping it real, holding you riveted on a razors edge and frozen to your seat, wrapping this baby up sleek shiny and tight. Building walls and expanding boundaries, laying out one action packed, hard hitting, pulse racing, heart pounding, adrenaline pumping, page flipping, block buster, blasting this jewel to life brilliantly. Toss in drama, intrigue, turmoil, danger, spiraling suspense and perplexing situations along with a boatload of torment, you have one jaw dropping adventure. Traversing the intimidating trials and challenging tribulations, noting the deadly twists and shocking turns, testing our characters in ways they would have never anticipated. Shenanigans, escapades and havoc run amuck, blowing this baby into the eye of the storm, kicking it into a frenzy with a life-changing culmination. The characters are complex and genuine with traits and qualities that add depth and diversity, transforming into charismatic personalities. The scenes are strikingly sharp with abundant details and descriptions that feel as though you were transported to ground zero with them. Fantastic job Kat, thanks for sharing this fabulous gem with us.

I am voluntarily posting an honest review after reading an Advance Reader Copy of this story.

Abigail. ★★★★★

Posted 7/23/20

It's the first time reading a book from Kat Caulberg but from page 1 I have been absolutely hooked. I love supernatural love stories with adventure and drama and Kat definitely delivers on all of the above. The love story between Toby and Emma is also beautifully told and this is a must read for anyone.

EMILY S. ★★★★★

Posted 7/27/20

 

This book was awesome. I love the intricately woven details and descriptions that the author used to create this beautiful story. It really piqued my interest with the folklore and the tension between the characters is almost tangible. I would highly recommend this book. I will be reading more from this author. I was given an advanced copy of the book with no expectations of reviews.

JACK K. ★★★★

Posted 7/27/20

 

Covenant of Blood begins with the quote “This one is for the boys. It’s a little for the girls too, a little bit, but mostly it’s for the boys”. That’s an excellent overall summary of the book. It is an epic adventure of battles and politics, heavily weighted toward the battles. Note, however, boys means adolescent boys, not children. I would not suggest this for an 8-year who is enchanted by King Arthur stories. Saying this another way, if this was a movie, it would have an R-rating.

Disclaimer: I received a free digital ARC for this novel. However, both the decision to post a review and the contents of the review are voluntary and my own alone.

The book cycles between the viewpoints of four major characters. Goraric, Lord Riva, Bene, and Rosairus. Goraric is a Sarisinian soldier (but with Ahren ancestry) who can see the power of the witches. The story opens as he meets (and is ensorcelled by) the witch Malyred. On the way home from this encounter, he meets a group of soldiers who have burned his home, killed his clan and taken several young girls for light entertainment” – before they are killed of course. This will set the course of his actions for the remainder of the book. Lord Riva is Sarasinian and the second-in-command to Virgilio, the “Old Lion”, and his job is to expand the northern frontier using the best armies in the world. For a change of pace, Bene is an academic on field study in eastern Renderos, seeking witches and their powerful artifacts. Finally, Rosarius is a cadet (or something like a cadet anyway) at the elite military school, the Bastion, in Sarasinia. Overall, the story revolves around the relationship between these individuals and the powerful witch Malyred.

For things I liked?

The author is unusually adept at writing battle scenes. They just come alive, with a vividness and authenticity that is unusual for fantasy. While I had actually never thought about this until I read this book, most fantasy stories are quite sterile about their descriptions of battles. Yes, heads are chopped off, and the like – but there is a certain remoteness. Not this one. You can smell the excrement, taste the blood, and hear the screams of the dying. Think of the movie “Blackhawk Down” (or perhaps the first two minutes of “Saving Private Ryan”) but with unusually good descriptions of taste and smell, and you’re getting the idea. It is uncommon for a book to come across more vividly than a movie for battle scenes, but this one succeeds.

The author manages to sneak in some parody here and there. Probably the best example is chapter 15, with the parody of a management training class. The author has set up a scene where two disreputable sycophants (Dannis and Tavaris) have acquired the job of teaching a management training class at the military school “The Bastion”. While the idea of parodying a management class by placing it in the context of a class given to barbarian soldiers is not something that would have occurred to me, it turns out to be hysterically funny. The author gets some good jabs at various “management training school” concepts, ranging from “mission statements” to “safe spaces”. While the author didn’t go so far as to have the military cadets build chains out of paper (or similar team-building exercises common to management training classes) there was enough fabulous parody to keep any survivor of a management training class chuckling.

The plot has a unique “undead” component. Quite frankly, for the last few years, there have been a surfeit of books about the undead (vampires and so on). However (avoiding spoilers on this!) this book takes a unique and interesting approach to this generally well-traveled road, and readers are likely to appreciate a new perspective on this old topic.

For things that I felt were less successful

The plot is slow-moving and difficult to follow. Now some of this is excusable, as the author’s vivid writing style is distracting, and it is easy to lose the plot amidst all the details of the battle scenes. However, this is one of those books that, when you reach the end, it is challenging to summarize the high-level plot in a few sentences.

The language is coarse. Quite a bit of this coarseness is valid and in context, as the author is describing barbarian soldiers in a harsh and unforgiving world, who would appropriately use coarse language. That being said, my sense was that the coarse language was over-emphasized. In particular, the sections with Bene were not noticeably more refined than the sections with the soldiers, and that seemed out-of-context with academic “research project” nature of that part of the story.

SOARE S. ★★★

Posted 7/27/20

 

Black Dog Rising is a nice story set in England. It was intriguing but after reading it I found out that I'm not a big fan of ghosts. Still, it was really good.

CARLYNNE T. ★★★★

Posted 7/27/20  

I absolutely loved this story. It is very well written and keeps you engaged throughout. The characters are well developed, complex and interesting. The world building and the scenery are very descriptive and you can picture yourself there. This is a slow burn fantasy/fae romance with darker aspects to it that take it out of the realm of general romance. If you like fae or fantasy romance, you'll love this book!

GCHAT M. ★★★★★

Posted 7/27/20

 

A government contractor and a mythology expert must team up, when a nightmare from the past threatens world peace.

A thrilling action - adventure with sudden twists and turns.

MOSETTA P. ★★★

Posted 7/30/20

Although I don't usually like romances, Black Dog Rising offers a nice paranormal story.

 

With a bit of a slow start (I read the first chapter twice for clarity), Black Dog Rising overcame my disdain, and produced a very good unearthly story.

Emma Aubrey almost stumbled into the arms of Toby Deering.  He saved her from a mugging when she took refuge in the doorway of his Inn.   Set in England in a place called Ninestone Downs, Black Dog Rising made me want to continue reading.  I must admit I skipped all the mushy parts and focused on the spooky aspects.  I did enjoy the "history."   I lived in England for a time.  I knew what a Black Shuck was.  I love hearing tales about the English Fae and such.  At times the writing style threw me out of the story, but it was easy to return.  The ending had a great twist that I did not expect, and I was truly surprised.  All and all a good read. 

 

Leilani A. ★★★★

Posted 8/5/20

 

This was a good book. Different from another I’ve read by the same author. The ending seemed a bit forced, kind of feeling like it was left hanging, perhaps? Although as I think about it, it makes more sense since this is book 1 of a series. Anyway, give it a try. I’m looking forward to reading more of the series.

I received this book in a free promotion.

Emily S. ★★★★

Posted 2/3/20

I took a chance on this book after reading the description. I usually lean towards historical romance but I am glad I decided to dive in. It vividly describes a coastal Delaware town where Clair and her five-year-old son live. She is a recent graduate in wildlife biology and begins to look for work while teaching her young son ways to conserve the ecosystem. She meets a new professor and the attraction while mutual was met with reluctance and distrust. The professor, Brian, was also a wildlife conversationalist and widower. They end up working together to help the local endangered bird population and horseshoe crabs while skirting their attraction. Clair ends up having to learn to trust Brian in a scary and tragic time when her son becomes very ill. I liked that the book had real-life issues, like single parenting, domestic violence, death and having to overcome trauma. It was a good read and I would recommend it. I was given a free copy of the book to read with no expectation of a review.

Aizlynne. ★★★★★

Posted 2/3/20

Well thought out world, though could use a little more explanation of some things (i.e. what the different classification of supernaturals mean) This is an urban fantasy set in our world where supernatural beings are still in hiding. It is also a second chance, slow burn romance. The romance is very sweet. Elijah is very much a paladin type in that he believes in law enforcement whole heartedly and can't imagine a situation where they won't be able to save the day. Freya knows that there are elements of society that the supernatural enforcement will not be able to take down because she grew up under the care of a criminal organization. I really wanted to slap Elijah at times because of his naivete. He is a bounty hunter that is surprisingly clueless about the workings of the black market. I would have thought he'd have more dealings there. Overall, a great first book in a series. Can't wait to see where the story goes next.

Viet t. ★★★★

Posted 2/6/20

 

Well written and kept me reading. Unusual take and it came off well. Well worth reading.

Jack k. ★★★★★

Posted 2/17/20

 

This is a solid, fast-paced, high-fantasy story with a bit of a "Dungeons and Dragons" feel to it. Readers who like fantasy stories with strong female protagonists and a lot of detailed action will enjoy this work. As one specific example, if you liked “The Deed of Paksenarrion” by Elizabeth Moon (in fact, if you liked anything by Elizabeth Moon) you’ve got a good chance of liking this. I rated this as 4.5/5 (solid read, a few rough edges).

Disclaimer before I go on: I received a free digital ARC for this novel. However, both the decision to post a review and the contents of the review are voluntary and my choice alone.

Short summary: The young heroine Kaia is the first-born of an Odriel Dragon Heir, and (as such) has the magical power of making fire. This power is to be used to kill zombies (called the Lost in the story). This power is pivotal in this alternate-world history because the demon necromancer Nifras is evoking the Lost to bring evil to the land. Through a series of adventures (some grim, some less so), including storming a castle, watching her father being killed, being kidnapped by a necromancer, meeting dragons (good ones and bad ones), spelunking through a cave, working with (two) magicians, searching for an enchanted sword, AND playing a major role in two battles; Kaia develops emotional fortitude, resolves a jealousy issue with her twin brother, and develops a lasting friendship/romance with another Odriel Heir.

What I liked the most? The battle scenes and the training scenarios are detailed and well-developed. There is a very strong sense of realism to both. Not only are detailed actions (kicks, lunges, etc.) described; but Kaia gets tired, she drips sweat, and she loses strength to the point she can’t make fire. This is VERY refreshing in comparison to many novels in this genre, which often seem to have the hero/heroine swinging a sword effortlessly for scene after scene! In the same vein, descriptions of training sequences are FAR more detailed and realistic than is typical for the genre. (In a generally serious adventure story, there is even a brief interlude of some amusing fight scenes in Chapter 5, where Kaia barrels her way through a set of inept guards.)

This story is really fast-paced: This story is a complex trilogy packaged in a single volume. The pace is fast, the style is swift, and the story just gallops right along. As a positive feature, the reader is unlikely to get bored! As a negative feature, it is unusually easy to fall behind or get lost. This book falls into the category of a book that is read once to figure out what is going on, and then flipped over and read a second time to immediately thereafter to understand the details.

Many characters and late introduction of some key characters: There are a lot of characters in this story, and they come at the reader fast. (The first two chapters introduce 18 significant characters, for example.) Additionally, some of these characters have several names/titles (for example, Kaia’s father, Tam, is the Guardian Dashul). Furthermore, there is significant late introduction of key “good guy” characters (for example, the Maldibor in Chapter 7, and the magnus Dorinar in Chapter 18). If the reader isn’t extremely attentive, it is possible to “lose sight of the ball” and be attributing actions and thoughts to the wrong character.

What I struggled with the most in the storyline: Kaia is bullied in one way or another throughout a good fraction of the book. Some of this was justifiable (being bullied as child for being younger, being exiled by her village for burning a child as a child, etc.). Some of this was (unfortunately) consistent with real life (being treated negatively by "villagers" after saving their "village" is a painful real-world experience experienced by many military and police). HOWEVER, after some point, it seemed too much. Bullies go after the weak. Keep in mind that this young women was trained as a fighter and can shoot fireballs from her finger-tips. Bullying her would seem akin to bullying a velociraptor!

What I also struggled with (yes, this is somewhat the reverse of the above point, but bear with me): There are a set of scenes around the kidnapping of Kaia from Summerbanks (which are an attempt by Lord Conrad and Valente to suborn Kaia through seduction). At this point in the story, Kaia is portrayed as having a significant self-esteem issue. If we take as given that Kaia does have a self-esteem problem (justified or not, see the previous point about bullying a velociraptor) it would seem that Valente would have been MUCH more successful in his machinations to suborn Kaia by pushing on her self-esteem issues. She breaks free really fast (WAY too fast in my mind). It would have been much more realistic for Kaia to get far more deeply mired in this manipulation before breaking free.

Other smaller things that I struggled with: Everybody’s going to pile on me for this, but I didn’t like Gus (the dog). First, his presence reminded me too much of “Disney Princess” stories that always include an animal companion (Kaia is many things, but a "Disney Princess" is probably not one of them). Second, I found his “puppyish” nature to be dissonant (either this is a military working dog, thus shouldn’t act like a puppy; or this is a pet, thus shouldn’t be a core part of a storyline with this much action). Last, but certainly not least, Gus was portrayed in the beginning of the book as an essential companion for a Dragon Heir (to break them out of the rage of fire). HOWEVER, in the last and most significant battle, Kaia must leave Gus behind, so he wouldn’t get hurt.

Tamara d. ★★★

Posted 2/17/20

 

James Bond was never a genre that captured my attention. This was a decent enough book, I simply didn't get into it like I do other books, so it took me a long time to read.

If you like spy books, please take this as my thumbs up, if you don't, well... the choice is yours.

The main character is well developed, and the supporting character has good charisma.

Thank you goes out to the author, I have read this book and agreed to write a review for her through an online site.

Gchat M. ★★★★

Posted 2/17/20

 

Glimpses into life in Alaska. The story about the bear and the seal hunting are interesting. The reader is allowed to enjoy the narrative, without much comment or judgment by the author.

ANIE c. ★★★

Posted 2/18/20

 

The idea is good, but I’m not sold on the execution. I was left with a lot of questions, and don’t feel satisfied with the ending. It feels a bit like the author took an idea from one book, a character from that movie, and kinda tried to smoosh them together to get the idea across. The history of the world isn’t really explored, and while I can understand what they were going for, I don’t feel involved in it. It was rough to get into the book, to be completely honest. Now, I’m not saying it’s a completely terrible book. It just needs a bit more oomph. One thing that never quite clicked to me how the system came to be after the collapse. I never quite grasped the hierarchy that came out of the system. They were trying to make non-personal families, and then I just lose the story line in random details that don’t seem to add to the story. I love the idea, dear author, but I think it should be rehashed a few times to flesh out the story a bit more. It seems a bit flat. I absolutely believe this has the potential to be great, and get across anything you are trying to say. I just don’t think it is quite there.

Shweta B. ★★★★★

Posted 3/14/20

 

Though this is the only book I have read in the series, I was amazed by the vivid imagery created by the author. The deserts, the cave, the fae realm and more.
Apart from the plot I simply loved the way the author could make me feel, see and taste the environment around me.
Another thing that sets this book apart is the ease with which Zahara accepts her role as the savior of her family and moves ahead to fulfill her purpose without knowing what will come her way.
All in all I'd say a wonderful read and I'm quite sad that I did not get to read the first five books in this series.

This review has been written by my personal choice.

Jack K. ★★★★★

Posted 3/14/20

This is a fast-paced crime thriller. At a high level, Will Spaulding and Rudy Chelmin investigate the death of Kendra Farrell, a female data-processing expert whose dead body was found in a boxcar. The plot has an unusual number of twists, dead-ends, and red-herrings; but concludes very effectively by wrapping up all the myriad plot threads in a nice package. A solid and engaging read, much along the lines of authors such as Dick Couch and Tom Clancy.

Disclaimer before I go on: I received a free digital ARC for this novel. However, both the decision to post a review and the contents of the review are voluntary and my choice alone.

To begin with, this story was VERY engaging; first, because the story line was unpredictable, and second, because there was a very high level of action. Additionally, the story was complex, with various plots, sub-plots, investigational dead ends, and the like. This is NOT one of those stories that the reader has it “all figured out” by Chapter 4! Or by Chapter 44, actually. Last, but not certainly not least, the story didn’t leave the reader hanging waiting for the next book, but had a satisfying end that pulled together all the various elements into a coherent conclusion.

There were a number of other things to like about the story. To begin with, there was some subtle dry humor threaded throughout the tale. I chuckled when I first learned the hero’s name was Willson Voit Spaulding (and smirked again every time Spaulding’s name appeared thereafter). There was some military humor as well, with subtle jokes here and there directed at various branches of the armed services. There was also some subtle situational humor, of which one example was the pursuit of a white pick-up truck, only to lead to a whole collection of white pick-up trucks at a construction site.

There were also some very solid action scenes. One of the things the author did very well was setting the action scenes within a context that was at least plausible. As perhaps the most dramatic example of this, were the two scenes with RPGs – the first being the destruction of the gas station (and Will’s car) and the second being the destruction of the Judge’s chambers during a plea bargain negotiation (just missing killing Will as well). The presence of the RPGs was explained by the theft of Chinese RPGs from the military museum. (While one can debate why these were not disarmed if they were in a military museum, mistakes CAN be made, and it was a plot tactic that put several RPGs in play in a not-unrealistic way.) Along similar lines was setting the fictional gang M-9 as the originator of much of the violence. M-9 seems to have been modeled on the real-world M-13, with some changes made appropriate to the storyline. Again, this kept the action grounded in real-world crime, thus giving the story a solid sense of realism.

Now, I had some quibbles here and there.

I was not comfortable with the level of nepotism. Chief Arthur Spaulding (Will’s uncle and adoptive? father) is a key figure in the story. At various points, Chief Spaulding arranges special things for Will Spaulding. At some point this started to bother me. At a high level, it seemed inconsistent with Will’s character (and it also somewhat weakened the moral fiber of the “good guys”). While I liked the “father-son” chat in C-7/C-8, the frequent inclusion of Chief Spaulding helping Will in one way or another (with some of these assists being borderline legal) started to get disturbing.

There were a couple of places where I think reality was pushed too hard to make the storyline work. More specifically, after the bank robbery in C-24, the criminals manage to escape, even in the presence of four officers/agents. Hard to believe that they’d be so incompetent! Another issue was around Will unlocking and searching Alter’s apartment without a warrant. While his position on the case would most likely allow him to enter Kendra’s apartment or cross crime tape (as he did several times) entering the apartment of a boyfriend (whether a suspect or not) would seem to be illegal without a warrant. There was also the bit about puncturing a Camaro gas tank with a knife, which I’m skeptical about (drill yes, knife? At that angle?). Last, but not least, Cheryl seems more like a 1950s idealized female than a real person (in my opinion she sticks out quite a bit in contrast to the other more realistic female characters in the story).

Finally, there is one thread that I can’t decide if it is unrealistic or a subtle shooter’s joke, but I’m inclined to the latter. More specifically, in C-44, Chelmin shows pictures of four dead individuals (all killed with a perfect head shot) to elicit information from one of the criminals that wasn’t shot. Two of these individuals were killed with perfect head shots by Chelmin with an unmodified .357 pistol at ~200 yards during a moving action (C-33). Hmmph! (The other two were shot under better conditions and somewhat sneaked under my reality-wire). I went back and forth on this, but I’m inclined to believe this whole “head shot” thing is a subtle shooters joke (as supported by various semi-humorous comments throughout the book about these two kills).
 

Nina S. ★★★★

Posted 3/14/20

 

I admit that it was the cover that attracted me to this book and a part of me did expect a totally different story. The blurb also did not give me much to go on. Not that I’m complaining. I do like surprises. But not every reader can be that adventurous. I am not always that adventurous myself.

So as fascinating as the cover may be, I can’t help thinking how ill-suited it is to the story contained within this book, and that it’s making the book miss out on its intended audience. And that’s just sad, because Special was such a pleasant surprise for me.

Hope Goodman lives in a world where normal means having superhuman abilities: the kind that typical superheroes have. And what makes her special in this kind of society is that she’s nothing special at all. Despite coming from an impressive lineage, Hope ends up getting the short end of the stick. She’s born with a rare type of genetic condition—so rare that it was named after the paediatrician who diagnosed her—that keeps her from manifesting any superhuman ability. Nope, not even a teeny-tiny spark of it.

Her mom, however, refuses to give up and is pretty adamant about getting her all possible types of treatment out there. Elle Goodman has her reasons for doing this, and that scene where she finally put into words her deep-seated guilt, is just one of a handful of really touching family interactions in this book that gripped at my heart, poked at my soul, and brought genuine tears to my eyes.

Add to this the kind of treatment Hope gets from school, where she has been dubbed as “Hopeless,” lumped in with the “maladroit” losers, loses her best friend to the reigning clique, and unintentionally inspires a villain’s rebellious ideals. Yaiks! That’s a lot to deal with for a girl of fifteen. And where this book really shines is in how it allowed the old Hope to break apart so that a new and stronger version can emerge. I liked that it didn’t dwell too long on the drama, but instead managed to really dig deep with a few well chosen words.

And although all the sciencey stuffs just made my head spin in an axis not its own, I do admire the diligence that was used in putting them all together in a way that made it all believable to a layman like me.

One thing that didn’t really sit well with me, though, is the in-story book called, “The Hunter’s Curse.” Although it did eventually play a role in the story, I was hoping for a more concrete representation of it. Something that’s not just implied in the characters’ opinions of the book and its movie adaptation (which really felt like wasted wordcount to me), but is instead shown in some way – perhaps a scene, a passage from “The Hunter’s Curse” itself, etc. Just something to make it really exist in the story instead of merely serving as a point of comparison.

So, does Hope eventually get her own superpower? Then again, will it even really matter in the end?

Because beyond the superhero stuffs, Special is really about finding one’s truth, voice and courage in a world that tries to stifle uniqueness with blind conformity. And more than the superpowers, the value of being true to herself is the most important thing that Hope needs to learn.

Elle Goodman herself says it best: “Normal is boring. You are special.”

I received a digital copy of this book to review from the author via Vibe Reviews.

Gchat m. ★★★★

Posted 4/3/20

 

The temple, under pastor John, continues to control everything in town. The monsters continue to terrorize the streets. The other leaders of the temple are trying to oust pastor John. The key to everything lies in a alien artifact. Will Michael be able to uncover the mystery of the artifact, while keeping his family safe.

What is new about this sequel, is more of the graphic action.

KAYE. ★★★★★

Posted 4/13/20

 

Reviewed in the United States on April 10, 2020

Holy hell! Christy blazes through on a flaming inferno, kicking ass and taking names, riding on the wings of vengeance and busting the gates of hell wide open, melding this bad boy together seamlessly. A tumultuous whirlwind full of unsettling mishaps and unpredictable circumstances, catapulting those churning emotions into play, hooking you from start to finish. One wild action packed, hard hitting, pulse racing, heart pounding, adrenaline pumping, nailbiting, block busting bombshell, propelling this glittering gem to life spectacularly. Maneuvering through intimidating trials and challenging tribulations, noting the shocking twists and wicked turns, testing our characters in ways they could have never envisioned. Sparks fly as drama, intrigue, tension, turmoil, danger, underlying currents, mounting suspense and nerve racking situations along with a boatload of danger while dodging evil intents, you have one mind-blowing masterpiece. Anarchy, escapades and havoc run amuck, booting this gem into a tempest, bursting it into a hissy with a life-altering culmination. The characters, banter, interactions, charged atmosphere along with relatable qualities and individual traits, blend and flow, transforming into genuinely approachable personalities. The scenes are written with such realism, impressive passion, imagination and unique insight, blasts this sparkling jewel wide open, making the storyline pop. Amazing job Christy, thanks for sharing this treasure with us.

I am voluntarily posting an honest review after reading an Advance Reader Copy of this story

WHALE MOON. ★★★★★

Posted 4/13/20

This may be the most creative book I’ve read in quite some time. It is well-written, features a host of unusual and non-stereotypical characters, possesses a clever and imaginative setting, and (very unusual for modern fiction) includes both original verse AND (as near as I can tell, at least) original illustrations.

Disclaimer before I go on: I received a free digital ARC for this novel. However, both the decision to post a review and the contents of the review are voluntary and my choice alone.

There were quite a number of things noteworthy about this book. To begin with, the characters are unusually fresh and imaginative. Consider as one example, the sharkling “Mako”. Mako is not merely a rewrite of Celtic Selkie tales, she is (indisputably) her own fresh and vivid personality. From her rows of sharp teeth, through her considering her egg-cases to be “promises”, to her vivid and unconventional conversational style – Mako is unique, original, and thoroughly unpredictable.

This same originality follows through to the other characters. While I will leave much of this for the reader to discover, I can’t resist mentioning my favorite character, the Hermit Djinn. This character is a delightful fusion of a hermit crab and a genie. He (she?) lives in a whalebone comb, and is exceptionally intelligent (particularly for a crustacean!). While I enjoyed the entire book a great deal, I particularly enjoyed the reading of the antics of the Hermit Djinn in rescuing Mako and Phehl from the Fartrader. The scene was creative and fantastical, but (somehow?) simultaneously managed to feel amazingly realistic.

The setting is also clever and creative. As the author mentions in his Afterword (Message in a Bottle) as well as in his Q&A section, the setting was inspired by the ecology of the Florida Keys. However, it is quite a bit more than a dressed-up version of a real ecology, as there are these elegant creative twists which enliven and richen the story. Two of many examples are the “trundle crabs” (which carry off Phehl’s whalebones) and the plankturtles (with shells so large the islanders use them as surfboards). Overall, the author manages to create the sense of a real and vibrant world (with a genuine and realistic ecology) while still maintaining the allure and magic of a fantasy novel.

My only criticism of the novel is that it ended! The reader gets all wrapped up in the intriguing setting, the imaginative characters, and the evolving sense of a grand quest about to begin – and the book stops! GAH! I can’t wait to see what happens next.

CYNTHIA G. ★★★★

Posted 4/13/20

 

Great book about a BIG mistake and how the Reaper tried to fix her mistake. Great story line and characters. Was hard to put down. Wonderful quick ready that are sure to enjoy - looking forward to next book

Cynthia G. ★★★★★

Posted 4/20/20

 

The Royal Occult is set in Victorian England. It is about Asia – a beautiful grey-eyed woman that works in a brothel & Mr. Blond (Evander) – a man that hires her for a week. It involves the paranormal, witches, and mystery. The twists and turns and the unknown are always around the corner.

I loved the way Asia described the other men from the brothel – needing Brandy to quicken their performance – LOL… and when she said that she might experience real pleasure with Mr. Blond – I could absolutely feel their attraction in the words written. They drew me into the story, I felt the pull in my heart too - throughout the entire book.

Asia’s love – although she never mentions the word – for Mr. Blond is so heartfelt at the end I wanted to cry.
I can hardly wait for the next book…

Emily S. ★★★★★

Posted 4/20/20

 

I love the Native American aspects of this thrilling adventure. Highly recommended

Emily S. ★★★★★

Posted 4/20/20

 

This sequel is a brilliant and exciting continuation in a series that never fails to deliver suspenseful storytelling. Highly recommended.

TAMARA D. ★★

Posted 4/20/20  

 

The author graciously gave me a copy of this book for me to review, which I do without bias or judgment.

The main characters of this book are well thought out and the story is not bad. For me, the language is a barrier, because its quite foreign to me. I read aloud with most of the things that I read, and I sound ridiculous to my own ears.

The author seems rather new to writing, as many of the sentences seem rather choppy and there are a bunch of small things that have been missed by the proof reader.

It took me a couple of tries to get past the first couple of chapters, but I got through it, and by the end I was a bit more at ease with the language barriers.

HEIDI M. ★★★★★

Posted 4/22/20

I was given the book Broomstick free with the intention that I would give an honest review

Candence and her best friend are away at college. They discover witches, ghosts and Evil.

The book has a lot of potential and I think the book will do well with the YA readers and the Wicca readers. We have drama, suspense, romance and it wraps up without a cliffhanger.

Cynthia G. ★★★★

Posted 4/27/20

 

Cadence’s (“Katie”) love for her friend Madison (Maddie) and her extreme like of her Student Advisor Bryce (Tall, Dark, and Handsome as she call him) - as well as her own interest in magic and sorcery - draws her into the ‘Human Study Group’.

Kind of all over the place because Katie can’t decide if she believes in Witches and Warlocks or if the ‘cult’ is only a sex induced threat to the members.

Even being said – I finished this in one day – I couldn’t put it down wanting to know what was going to happen next. And even though I am a ‘seasoned reader’ I enjoyed this young adult college paranormal romance & absolutely LOVED Katie’s choice of music!

jack k. ★★★★★

Posted 4/27/20  

 

This is an interesting piece of historical fiction centered on the head-on collision of a passenger train and a coal freight train in Dotsero (Colorado) on January 15, 1909. The “wrapper” narrative is an era-appropriate description of a young woman (Hannah) marrying to get out of Iowa coal town poverty, traveling by train to her new life with her new husband (Ethan McShane) on a farm in Colorado, and being one of the passengers affected by the accident.

Disclaimer: I received a free digital ARC for this novel. However, both the decision to post a review and the contents of the review are voluntary and my own alone.

There were a number of things that I liked about this book.

To begin with, the book had a number of rich descriptions about the early 1900s and the lifestyle of that era. The author did a good job of portraying the cost of items, the mix between home-made and purchased items, the clothing styles, the level of manufacturing, and the like for the era. The author also did a good job of portraying the differences between various classes of society (i.e. Hannah as the daughter of a poor coal miner, versus Ethan McShane as the son of a well-off farmer).

The author also did a good job of dramatizing the wreck itself, both in the details of the actual wreck and its aftermath, and in the details of the various individuals involved. Her descriptions of the lives of the various key individuals (the conductor, the engineer, the nurses, and so on) provides a richer background for the story than just the bare outlines available from the newspapers of the era.

Amazingly, in spite of being a story about a horrific train wreck, the story has an overall optimistic feel.

The author also mentions a personal connection to the story in the afterwards.

However, there are some things for readers to be aware of.

The book has a slow build-up. The first half of the book is focused on character set-up (roughly chapters 1-6) and situation set-up (roughly chapters 8-12). The train wreck itself doesn’t occur until around chapter 13. This can leave readers doing a bit of “thumb-twiddling” around chapter 10 or so.

The book is primarily about the lifestyle of the era itself and the human relationships surrounding the train wreck. It is not about the engineering technology or management of the rail system of the early 1900s. As such, individuals interested in the engineering details (descriptions of the locomotive itself, engine design, track technology, etc.) should look elsewhere.

Scarolet e. ★★★★★

Posted 4/30/20

Screamcatcher: Dream Chasers by Christy J. Breedlove is a wonderful story written by a brand new author for me to read. I loved reading this story and can not wait to read more from this author. I highly recommend this story to all.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

Travis p. ★★★★★

Posted 4/30/20

 

This was an interesting read. I had read the first book but it had been a while and it took me a few pages to get into the story since I didn't immediately remember the characters. The story is easy to follow so even if you haven't read the first book you should be able to understand the story. A small town, Stone Hill, has been taken over by a cult. Monsters roam the streets at night and the cult has control over who enters or leaves the town. A few people are fighting to be free from the cult. This is the story of those people. The cult leader has supernatural powers and the group must fight him. There is no sex but there may be language. I would not recommend for children since there is a lot of violence. The book does not end on a cliffhanger but does seem to set up for a sequel. I hope there is a sequel because there are still a lot of questions about the origin of the monsters. There are some horror elements but this is more of a supernatural action story.

GCHAT M. ★★★★★

Posted 5/14/20

 

Sean is a model, suffering from cystic fibrosis. His life goes through ups and downs as he copes with his health, his family, his relatives and his ghosts.

A bitter - sweet read.

Kaye. ★★★★★

Posted 5/18/20 

 

ONE UNBELIEVABLE JOURNEY!!!
Superb! Mary brings all the feels, unleashing this beautifully composed piece of perfection, laying out one arresting storyline and gripping plot, pouring out the heart and soul with on point realism so rich and vivid, wrapping this little fella up seamlessly. Quirky mishaps and surprising circumstances, alongside the intimidating trials and challenging tribulations, noting the startling twists and sleek turns, jolting our characters off kilter, testing them in ways they could have never imagined. Satisfaction is an understatement, exposing such intensity and precision, riding those churning emotions and imparting one heart soaring wonder. Rolling with the drama, intrigue, turmoil, spiraling suspense and precarious situations, along with a boatload of determination, you have one life-changing culmination. Braided, bound and entangled, showcasing the explosive ups and agonizing downs, grounding in it's strength and awe inspiring in it's depth. You feel everything the characters feel, you become part of the experience instead of on the sideline. The characters, banter, dialogue, interactions and charged atmosphere along with relatable qualities and individual traits, blend and flow, transforming into genuine charismatic personalities. The scenes are so colorfully descriptive to give you a full understanding and realism that blend and flows smoothly. Fantastic job Mary, thanks for sharing this little guy with us.

Jack k. ★★★

Posted 5/28/20  

Frankly, I have significant mixed feelings about this book. On one hand, it has a clever premise and some well-executed scenes (particularly in the latter half of the book). On the other hand, the conclusion is disappointing and there are some editorial and structural issues with the writing.

Disclaimer: I received a free digital ARC for this novel. However, both the decision to post a review and the contents of the review are voluntary and my own alone.

The top three things I liked.

The starting concept: The “children” themselves are humans transformed to near immortality by the actions of the “blue orb”. This is an interesting starting concept as it allows for storytelling centered on the interaction of the “immortals” with regular humans. (After all, a lot of the excitement of the Greek myths is pretty much the same thing – immortals interacting with normal humans!)

The tension between the good guys and the bad guy. The “immortals” (perhaps inevitably) are split into “good guys/gals” (Zemty/Usaphis/Mehit etc.) and the bad guy (Ashkulid). The “bad guy” is really “bad”, having gotten into the habit of killing his own children in order to replace them (as they age and he doesn’t). However, unlike most cops and robbers stories, these particular immortals are extremely hard to kill (detached body parts will reassemble and the like) and thus the task of immortal “good guys” chasing and dealing with an immortal “bad guy” is imbued with some significant limitations on just how you get rid of the “bad guy” (no, you just can’t shoot him, stab him, drown him in the sea, or the like).

Historical asides: The origin of the “immortals” permits some interesting historical vignettes to add color to the story.

The top three things I found challenging (note there are significant spoilers in the following):

I found the conclusion disappointing. Of all the places I expected the book to go, having the immortals end up in “therapy” (sponsored by other immortals, no less) was unfulfilling. The key tension in the story is the conflict between Usaphis and Ashkulid (with a distinct focus on Ashkulid’s unethical killing his own children) and I expected something innovative in the conclusion that would pull together all the disparate threads of the story (like his kids figure it out, set a trap baited with Mehit, dismember him, and use his body parts for the foundation of a temple shaped like a pyramid, or something). But no. Therapy.

I found the number of characters excessive. There are 11 immortals in the Gold group, 5 immortals in the Silver group, 3 immortals in the Bronze group (that makes 19 immortals), the two primary characters (Kate and Harmon), a number of committee members who are “good guys” (Omar, Darkling, Randolph), other good guys (McFarland), committee members who are “bad guys” (Brownridge), several supervisors for Harmon, Harmon’s family, Kates family (which turns out to overlap other characters as Kate’s biological father is an immortal), a variety of secondary characters (sheriffs, marina operators, etc.) and many others that I forgot to make notes on. This problem is exaggerated by several of the key immortals having different names at different times in the story (the immortal Zemty is Briggs, Kate’s father, a WW II pilot, Reese (and/or Reece) - and I think had at least one more identity that I forgot to write down). While this genre DOES tend to have more characters than many other genres (witnesses, sheriffs and the like) this still seems excessive.

There are POV challenges: The author switches point of view (POV) frequently. Unfortunately, the author often signals a POV switch simply with the pronoun “he” (no proper name) followed by some action. While the author may be doing this as a mechanism to increase mystery with the immortals, I would debate the success of this strategy (note also chapters like C35 where this issue also appears with regards to non-immortal characters). Unfortunately, with about 30-something male characters in the story; the reader frequently has to stop, backtrack, and puzzle out where the POV went, before moving forward.

Mark m. ★★★★★

Posted 06/02/20

 

Having never read a Amish vampire novel before, I was impressed by it. With interesting characters and spectacular writing, this had me hooked from cover to cover. Will I read more from this author, yeah, probably.

Leilani A. ★★★★

Posted 6/7/20

 

This was a great read, as I already mentioned, it sucked me in from the beginning! Only one complaint, too much vulgar language, especially when and where it wasn't needed.

Alison. ★★★★

Posted 6/7/20

 

This will be the most unique book you will read this year. The story is built around the idea that there are children of Cain that are still after hundreds of generations cursed by the same curse that God put upon Cain, but those generations have separated themselves from the world not only to be as devout followers of the God in Heaven but also to separate themselves from the world to protect the world. As the story develops you see individuals struggle with beliefs that are the foundation of their lives, some accepting those beliefs unconditionally and others turning toward the world. In the end, the final message could be that we are all made in the image of God and however shattered that image has become, God still has the power to love, heal and forgive.


Who would ever have thought you could have found that in a vampire story?

Mark M. ★★★★★

Posted 6/13/20

 

This was a unique book overall. Interesting from beginning to end, it paves the way to read more from this writer.

Mark M. ★★★★★

Posted 6/13/20 

 

I enjoyed this. With unique characters and spectacular writing, this book had me hooked from beginning to end. For these reasons I’ll continue to read future books by this author.

KAYE. ★★★★

Posted 6/13/20  

 

Superb! Mary brings all the feels, unleashing this beautifully composed piece of perfection, laying out one arresting storyline and gripping plot, pouring out the heart and soul with on point realism so rich and vivid, wrapping this little fella up seamlessly. Quirky mishaps and surprising circumstances, alongside the intimidating trials and challenging tribulations, noting the startling twists and sleek turns, jolting our characters off kilter, testing them in ways they could have never imagined. Satisfaction is an understatement, exposing such intensity and precision, riding those churning emotions and imparting one heart soaring wonder. Rolling with the drama, intrigue, turmoil, spiraling suspense and precarious situations, along with a boatload of determination, you have one life-changing culmination. Braided, bound and entangled, showcasing the explosive ups and agonizing downs, grounding in it's strength and awe inspiring in it's depth. You feel everything the characters feel, you become part of the experience instead of on the sideline. The characters, banter, dialogue, interactions and charged atmosphere along with relatable qualities and individual traits, blend and flow, transforming into genuine charismatic personalities. The scenes are so colorfully descriptive to give you a full understanding and realism that blend and flows smoothly. Fantastic job Mary, thanks for sharing this little guy with us.

TRAVIS P. ★★★★★

Posted 6/14/20

 

This was an interesting story and I can honestly say I was not sure where the story was going. A drug addicted veterinarian makes a huge mistake and has to pay the price. The price in this instance is either years in prison or one day in rehab. Naturally rehab seems like the easier choice but rehab is not what you think. This version of rehab is virtual reality. Time is different in virtual reality and very realistic. I thought the story was well written and well researched. The story ends so there is no cliffhanger but there could easily be a series of rehab books.

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