Monday, November 25, 2013

Erin the Fire Goddess: Jo's Story (#3.5) by Lavinia Urban

I love this author. I don't care that she writes books geared for a teen and young adult audience. I know with her name on the cover I'm in for a great read, characters I love to both love and hate, and the unexpected. This book takes us through Jo's childhood and her years of working with Dr. Hammersmith where we finally learn why she's really working for the doctor.

The story opens with Jo telling about growing up in the fairy community hidden in the forest outside Galladale. With her mother dead at her birth and a father blaming her for her mother's death, Jo was living with relatives at an early age. Having seen the good her uncle has done in his job for others, Jo decides she wants to follow in his footsteps and become a lawyer. Fate has other ideas for the immediate future.

Jo goes to work for Dr. Hammersmith, one of her father's more important clients. On one of her days off from working with Dr. Hammersmith, her former teacher tells her there are things she wants to be told of if Jo should learn anything about them. Once the characters from previous books reach their teen years, Urban takes us quickly through crucial events in the first three books from Jo's point of view. We learn what happened to Jessica after Erin's final test of her powers.

Were you paying attention in the first three books? Urban gave clues to some of the characters being more than you thought at first look. Some of those clues culminate in revelations in this book. Jo's history is revealed and we learn Erin is very important, but why? This is definitely not a stand-alone book. You won't get the full impact of this story without first reading the other three. Believe me, you WANT to read all of them. I know book four is coming out next year; is it next year yet?

I was gifted a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

You can pick up your copy at Amazon.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Three Days of Rain by Christine Hughes

This isn't your ordinary love story. And because I don't do spoilers, I have to be careful what I say to not give anything away. This book is both hard to read and compelling at the same time. (How the heck did she manage that one?) The story starts with the kind of guy many women won't admit to dreaming of. You know, the stranger who pulls over to change the flat tire just because he's a nice guy? Yeah, that one.

Jake met Lily doing exactly that. Flat tire by the side of the road and no cell phone signal. So he turned around, headed back to her, changed her tire and went on his way. What he didn't know was that Lily was going to bring a change to his life the whole town had been waiting two years to see happen. (Don't you just love small towns?) He has a lot of pain and anger to let go of that he's been holding on to for two years. It seems he isn't the only one, but until Jake can let go, no one else can put their pain in the past either.

By the time I finished the last page, I was reeling. This was an amazing story in that it doesn't follow the path of a book typical for its genre. The book is so well written that it uncharacteristically for me, pulled me in. Not only was I up too late reading it last night, but I opted to finish the book before moving on to what I was supposed to be doing at work. The characters are believable and easy to engage with (or hate, as the case may be). I just don't get hung up in love stories. Something about this one wouldn't let me go.

What do you want from a book in this genre? Love, pain, complications and a nice resolution? Try adding hate, guilt, death, drug abuse, and alcohol. This story has it all, including the small town where everyone not only knows everyone, but everything about everyone. I was gifted this book in exchange for an honest review. (The cover art is being redesigned and is unavailable at this time.)

So... honestly? She can't get the next one out soon enough to suit me. I have certain titles on my Nook that I just don't archive after reading. When I got to the last page, I knew this would be one of them. As a romance story, the nice guy needs to be popped upside the head. But I have to stop so I don't spill it all. If you enjoy the genre (and she may have convinced me to try others in this vein) you will absolutely love this book. Get it, read it, tell your romance story friends about it. I never thought I'd be giving five stars for a romance book, but this one is not your typical love story. Hughes has earned every one of them.

This book is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Crimson Shadow: Sins of the Father by Nathan Squiers

In this second visit into the worldscape of Crimson Shadow," Xander and Marcos, his friend and mentor are the sole remnants of the once proud Odin clan. Together they attempt to continue the work Xander's father started while taking out rogue supernaturals for the council. With his training finally complete, it's now Xander's job to hunt down rogues as Marcus gets the assignments. With a lot of pent up rage over the hand life has dealt the year-old vampire, he's more than happy to vent on the rogues of the Mythos world too stupid to stay under the human radar.

His best friend and confidant is happy to have him back in her life. As the young witch still looks out for her friend, their relationship changes and grows, giving Xander hope that his feelings for Estella may be returned. His nightly visits with her are where he finds a few treasured moments of peace. Even those  visits aren't completely at ease. He fears his willpower is weakening each time she offers to let him feed from her, that she will see the monster he believes himself to be and fear him.

Someone has it out for Xander, leaving bodies around the city with his name on every corpse. The culprit has a very personal vendetta against the Stryker family. Unfortunately for Xander, he's the only member of the family left. The trick is to learn who before everyone he knows is killed, including Estella, the best friend he secretly loves. Help comes from an unlikely, though very determined source. Will it be enough?

Once again Squiers has set a fast pace and kept it going throughout the entire story. I enjoyed this story immensely and am very much looking forward to the third book. The characters are well developed and continue to grow. I would really like to see this series continue on for a while. If you enjoyed the first book, you will definitely enjoy this one. I was gifted a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This book is available from Amazon.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Immoral: Tales of a Vampire Hunter, One by Zander Vyne

Vampires and vampire hunters have an uneasy truce while they attempt to correct an experiment they now feel was a mistake. Oliver Ripley comes from a long line of vampire hunters, but something about him is different. So different in fact that he hasn't felt as though he were a true member of his family. What is so different about him? Why does his mother keep telling his brother to make allowances for those differences? He has all the charismatic attraction the rest of his family has to ensure his first hunt is successful.

With her ability as a mind reader, Miranda Vladula was the only witness to the death of her sister. Made a vampire by her mother at the age of twenty, Miranda is sure if she kills Oliver, her family will finally embrace her as one of them. She just has to figure out how to do the job without succumbing to his hunter's charisma.

When Oliver and Miranda meet, the attraction is as instant as it is combustible. Now that they have met, both of their lives are in danger, so Miranda takes him the only place she believes to be safe. Paris, to her father, where explanations await that will shake everything he thought he knew about himself, his parents and the world he lives in.

I truly enjoyed this story. I always enjoy coming across a book where the author has provided a twist on an old favorite. Zander Vyne has done just that. She has taken the old pairing of vampires and and those who hunt them and put her own unique twist on everything. There's something so desirable about the vampire hunter that vampires can't resist. At least there is if the hunter keeps their mind shielded so vampires don't know that hot date isn't about to be their last one.

Got a stake? Prop open a window with it. Vyne's vampires are taken down with a kiss and sex. In this first book of a new series, it's as fast paced and full of action as you could want. Someone played with nature and didn't like the results. And now that the end results have come together, everyone has them in their sights. Even better is the peek into book  two at the end of this one. Well written, great characters, I'm looking forward to the next book coming out. If you like vampire stories with a twist, you'll definitely enjoy this book.

I was gifted a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This book is available on Amazon.This is a worldwide link that will automatically redirect you to your local Amazon.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sanctuary by Pauline Creeden

Alien ships have been hovering above the Earth and something is finally happening. Rumblings are heard and strange animal-like creatures are seen attacking people. Those who are bitten by the Shisa are infected with an unknown agent that causes them to become violent, seeking only to bite as many others as possible before dying.

Nineteen year old Jennie, her five year old brother, and their father are trying to get back home. Having safely made the trip back home from the hospital, they discover someone has broken in and taken all their food. Their father sets out alone to find more. Unfortunately, he is bitten before he can make it back home.In an effort to protect his children, he boards up every window before the infection takes hold and makes him a danger to Jennie and Mickey. The kids are on their own. Their father's last instructions were to get to the church as soon as Jennie was sure he was gone.

When Jennie and Mickey finally reach the church, they find a few other people have already taken refuge there. The plan now is to give everyone a chance to recover from fleeing the Shisa, then try to make it to sanctuary at the military base on the nearby island. The island doesn't stay the safe haven everyone thought it would be. The Shisa have attacked and the race is on to find the answers to their problems.

Creeden has written a plausible story of an alien invasion while focusing on the experiences of just a few main characters, Jennie and her five year old brother, Pastor Billy and his wife, and brothers Hugh and Brad who are complete opposites of each other. Sanctuary is a well written story of mankind's struggle to survive an alien invader with no apparent weaknesses to exploit. On the one hand, I was disappointed that the ending was left open, and the story was unresolved. On the other hand, I am hopeful that this means a sequel may be coming to take us further. We still don't know the reason for the attack.

While not a story I would normally pick up and read, Sanctuary was interesting. If you enjoy end-of-the world books with a touch of faith, this is definitely right up your alley. The writing was strong and the editing was excellent.I was gifted a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This book is sold at Amazon.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Life Over Love by Cheryl Seagraves

This story is both one of tragedy and one of hope. It opens with Brianna checking herself in a mirror, cataloging the various bruises, hating herself and her life. It quickly becomes apparent she is in an abusive marriage and feels hopeless. Brianna has one daughter and another child on the way. She no longer recognizes the man she is married to as the boy she fell in love with when she was a girl of fifteen.

Plans are made so that with help from her mother, she escapes with her children to a shelter where she can feel safe as she tries to build a new life for the three of them. Brianna goes through a lot to build a new life for her children in a home where she feels safe. A new man comes into her life, but the emotional scars left behind won't let her open herself to him until it's almost too late.

The author has clearly captured and portrayed a woman who knows the next beating could be the one that kills her and is ready to escape. A lot is left unsaid in this book, but I don't think graphic depictions of the beatings and her battered body are necessary. The author gives enough detail that anyone with an imagination can easily fill in the blanks. 

Because of the numerous grammatical and punctuation errors, I am reluctant to give this book three stars. However, the story itself was very well written, which does go some way toward compensating for the lack of proofreading. Although leaning toward a two-star rating because of the missed errors, I am giving this book three stars because of the quality of the writing.

I was gifted a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This book is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Master Wizard (Apprentice to Master) Book 4 by James Eggebeen

I enjoy a good fantasy and this book is certainly that. Master Wizard is the fourth book in a series which the author assured me would work as well as a stand alone story. He was right. The story starts out with a young boy, a teen really, being rescued from a Priest who is all set to steal the boy's magic. Kedrik had been sold to the Temple by his father for a gold piece shortly after his magic came to life.

Safely whisked away to Amedon by Lorit and Chihon, Kedrik is healed of his injuries inflicted by the priest as he was tortured. Kedrick has a lot to learn about his burgeoning powers, not the least of which are the ethics of using your power to force someone else to do what you want. Across the border in Veldwaite, the queen rushes to locate an item of power before the Priests have the chance to find and use it to take over the kingdom. What ensues is a game of cat and mouse as the item is located, rushed off to Amedon for safety, then stolen from its messenger. Now the race is on to rescue the item before it's too late.

Eggebeen has woven some of my favorite elements of fantasy into this story. Wizards, sorceress', dragons, curses and spells all combine create an engaging story. I thoroughly enjoyed this story from start to finish. While the author was quite correct in stating this book would work well as a stand-alone story, I very much want to read the first three books in this series.

Master Wizard is well written with characters that I could easily engage with as well as respond to their various situations. Near perfect editing leaves me struggling to give this book a fair rating. For me, errors would normally result in a reduced star rating. However, due to the fact that there was only one that created a "hiccup" in my reading, I feel comfortable giving this book four stars.

I was gifted a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This book ise available on Amazon. This is a world wide link that will automatically redirect you to your local Amazon.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Black Eagle Inn (The Three Nations Trilogy) Book 3 by Christoph Fischer

In this last book of the trilogy, we are given a micro view of what it means to live in a nation decimated by a war waged and lost against the rest of the world. The Hinterberger's are a proud family living in Heimkirchen, Germany, farming land that has been in the family for a while and running the local inn, The Black Eagle. All the problems that can beset a country in turmoil are seen in this family.

Desperate to own the family properties, Anna drives her brother off. When her father dies, Anna inherits everything and becomes the family matriarch. With her husband off at war, Anna runs everything to suit herself. Unable to have children of her own, she takes in young family members and raises them. She has taken in the propaganda and is a strict xenophobic. She refuses to hire anyone not from her own part of Germany. Religious differences cause strife within the extended family. Relative is pitted against relative in the belief that one or the other will inherit this or that portion of the Hinterberger properties.

Underhanded dealings provide luxury items for the restaurant at a time when they could not otherwise be afforded, and the family prospers. Much like the country at large, the various members of the family are doing what they must to survive and ensure they receive what they believe they are due for their efforts. Underhanded dealings, trickery, poison, creating false documents are all part and parcel of trying to rebuild and survive in the aftermath of a war that leaves many Germans ashamed.

The struggles of trying to survive in a country attempting to rebuild itself and regain respectability as the horrors of its leaders is made public is both heartrending and poignant. Families are torn apart and brought back together. Once again, Fischer has brought to life a world that most of us today weren't alive to witness, and done so eloquently. His characters come to life in a way that draws you into the story. You have to feel for them; he leaves you no choice. Whether those feelings are sadness, disgust, compassion, you must feel.

From a quiet farm to a family and country rising from the ashes back into respectability, Fischer handles everything with a deftness I've come to expect from his writing. Having read all of the books in the Three Nations Trilogy, it is obvious Fischer is passionate and extremely knowledgeable about the subjects of which he writes. His characters are well developed as they are in the other books.

Although the narrative moves slow and is detailed, I believe this is necessary for the reader to fully understand what the family, and in a broader view, Germany itself, is going through. Luck of the Weissensteiners, Sebastian, and The Black Eagle Inn show us a better view of Germany during this time period than any history book I ever read in school. No history can be complete that ignores the citizens of the country being studied. Fischer has done an excellent job filling in important blanks in my own education, for which I give him thanks. This book, and in fact the entire trilogy are thought-provoking, requiring you to question what you thought you knew and understood. You have to feel something. Can any book be ignored that does that?

I was gifted a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This book is available from Amazon.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Love, Carry My Bags by C.R. Everett

This was a difficult book for me to get hooked into, largely because I'm more of a fantasy reader than of books set in present day dealing with every day issues. The author takes us on a trip through the lifetime of the main female character, Camryn, beginning with high school. Her parents are divorced and she lives with her father and stepmother. Throughout the last couple of years of high school, she is fortunate to have a wonderful relationship with the boy of her dreams that somehow survives the strain of a year away as a foreign exchange student. Things slowly fade away as college and then life itself gets in the way.

Eventually, Camryn falls into a relationship with Glenn. In spite of her misgivings, Camryn very much wants to be married and have children, so she accepts his proposal. His insecurity and need to control everything in his life frequently leave them angry and frustrated frustrated with each other. Camryn eventually comes to realize she is being manipulated and unhappy in her marriage. She has to weigh the pros and cons of divorce and the ramifications it would have not only for her, but their two daughters as well.

Parts of this story hit too close to home, making this book an uncomfortable read for me. On the surface, we see a girl moving through life struggling with a marriage she's not happy in, a lost love she never truly got over, and a man quick to anger. Everett has built a believable story, one that is acted out in many homes and families. For those who enjoy stories that parallel life, I highly recommend this book. If your interests are more to find a brief escape in worlds that can't possibly exist outside books, this is not for you.

Until I read the author's note at the end of the book, I was not aware one of the characters was struggling with undiagnosed ADHD (attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder). This book was well written and well edited. However, the main theme throughout the story, a couple struggling with marriage, feelings of resentment and everything else that can destabilize a marriage, made this book a struggle for me to get through. I was gifted a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This book is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords. The Amazon link will automatically redirect you to the Amazon site for your location.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Sebastian (The Three Nations Trilogy) by Christoph Fischer

Sebastian is more than a story of a teenage boy who loses most of a leg because of an untreated infection. In this story we are given a look into life as it was in Vienna, Austria just before and during World War I. The Schreiber's are a non-practicing Jewish family that includes Sebastian's parents Franz and Vera, and his grandparents Oscar and Rebecca. The family lives upstairs from the store they own and operate. Franz has run the store ever since his father had to quit working due to health problems. The business is successful due to two main factors, the family are not openly Jewish and the store is located outside the of Jewish neighborhood. Their location allows the family to serve a broader customer base than would otherwise be possible in a time when prejudice against the Jewish population is beginning to stir.

Vera is lovable in her innocent ignorance as she deals with first one doctor and then another. However, she finds strength in her anger when a new friend gives her a way to get rid of the young housekeeper leading Franz astray. Rebecca is eminently believable as the cranky old woman, bed-bound with pain and unable to contribute to the support of the family in any way. Oscar is a dear. Throughout Sebastian's convalescence, he tutor's his grandson to help him keep up with his studies. Franz is the over-worked husband trying to support a family of mostly invalids. Vera helps in the store as her health allows.

The supporting cast of characters that surround the various family members speak to a time when communities banded together to help each other. Nurse Liesl, who gave so much love and support to a frightened young man, and later his mother when the doctor wouldn't commit to anything after the second surgery. Philip Federer, the classmate that brought classwork home so Sebastian could keep up with his assignments. The teacher that helped insure Sebastian had no trouble at school.

Sebastian's lack of self-confidence is a constant theme throughout the story. He must begin to face that demon when his father is drafted to serve in the army. Feeling his handicap will mean he never finds love, he nevertheless does. This is a beautiful story that was a pleasure to read. The very human foibles the characters have, their fears and how they overcome the trials they face makes this book unforgettable.

I have already read one book by this author. This book is definably Fischer with his attention to detail, his depth of character development and way of writing. Lacking the tension of Luck of the Weissensteiners, most likely due to being set thirty years prior to that book, Sebastian is a comfortable read. This book sings to me of a love of history, the time period and the characters.

I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This book is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble. The Amazon link will redirect you to the Amazon site that serves your country of residence.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Broken Prince; The Broken Ones - Book 2 by Jen Wylie

Wow, where to start? The friends are on the road trying to get Prince back home to Rivenward before it's too late and he dies. The amulet he wore that sustained his magic was stolen by the slavers when he was taken. When Damon ripped the glamor rune exposing Prince as a Fairy, the rest of the friends could see he was suffering from that loss. The only way to save him is to help him get home. That's not as easy as it sounds.

Kei is learning to control his fury on his own, fearful of what may happen to Aro if she continues to take it into herself to calm him down. Aro has been going through some changes of her own. She's sixteen now and maturing. The guys in the group may be her "boys," but she's begun looking at Prince as more than a brother. This story is as much about Aro's stuggles to grow up and lead  her "boy" as it is about helping Prince get home.

Their journey is fraught danger, including one enemy they had no knowledge of. Damon is his usual annoying, cryptic and arrogant self. Along the way to, the friends seek shelter from a major storm in a cave bringing them to the attention of one of the local Were packs. For once, Damon does some good, sending the strange Weres on their way. Along the way, they make new friends and confront more facets of the prophesy.

Prince's situation becomes more dire. Magic is the only way to save him and there is none to be had. Aro takes a desperate chance in creating pack of their own, hoping against hope that it will bring enough magic to save Prince. Love for him drives her to desperate measures more than once, sometimes to his anger. Battles with expected and unexpected foes tests the friends as nothing else can. Sometimes, the only thing those we call family can do to help us is take us home.

This book is fast paced and doesn't let up. I was literally writing the review for Broken Aro while trying to read this book, that's how much I enjoy this series. I started and finished this book in one day, to the exclusion of anything that needed doing. Well written, near perfect editing (I only found one missed error), this book is engrossing. My only problem is having to wait until next year sometime for the next book. Sigh.

I was gifted a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This book is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. The Amazon link will redirect you to the Amazon website that serves your country of residence.

Created; Talented Saga - Book 4 by Sophie Davis

I've enjoyed this series from the first book and have found subsequent novels are each better than the previous. Talia has made a deal with Ian Crane for the help she needs to rescue Erik. Once he's back in friendly hands and conscious, he tells Ian everything that was done while he was held captive. Ian calls in the UNITED council to present to them the evidence they need proving Mac needs to be stopped.

There's a reason the use of the creation drug was banned, but that doesn't bother Mac. He has a vision for the Talented and he's willing to do anything to see it come to fruition. A line is drawn in the sand and Talia is on the other side. Any questions remaining from the first three books are answered. When Talia loses someone close to her, the full scope of Mac's ambition is revealed. She also has to face betrayal from an unexpected direction.

Davis has pulled out all the stops in Created. She hits the ground running from the first page and doesn't slow down until the end. To make it even better ( if that were possible) Davis left one thread hanging at the end leaving me hopeful for a fifth book. She kept me up way too late reading and it was the first thing I grabbed the next day. This is definitely a 5-star book. This is not a stand-alone book. To fully appreciate this story, you really do want to read the others first.

I was gifted an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This book is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords. The Amazon link will redirect you to the Amazon site that serves your country of residence.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Broken Aro; The Broken Ones - Book 1 by Jen Wylie

Separated from her brothers while attempting to escape when slavers attack their town, Aro wakes to find herself in chains in the hold of a slave ship surrounded by men. Her brothers' plan to disguise her as a young man seems to have succeeded. One of the prisoners, a young man named Kei, offers a bond of friendship and protection, Fey magic that will tie them together forever.

Befriended by six of the men in the hold with her, they struggle to survive when the ship founders and sinks in a storm. One man dies before making it to shore. The remaining survivors gather head out to put as much distance from the sea as possible. The slavers that didn't perish aren't giving up and pursue the group. The friends find a place in town to stay, not having any plans past winter. Avery and Aro both come down with the sickness that has hit so many others.

A book that begins with a dragon thousands of years old soaring in the sky can't possibly go wrong. When that dragon can take human form things just get better. Wylie has all my favorite elements in her story: Fey, Elves, Were, and a prophecy to figure out. I found this to be an easy and captivating book to read. Her characters are fun and easy to connect with. I enjoyed my visit to the worldscape she created so much that I keep sneaking in a few lines of the sequel when I should simply finish this review. Well written, well edited. A 5-star introduction to this world. I was gifted a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This book is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble. The Amazon link will automatically redirect you to your local Amazon website. At the time this review was posted, Barnes & Noble was only offering print versions of this book.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Winter's Heart by Michael Kanuckel

Winter's Heart is set in a post-apocalyptic distant future. Great cities no longer loom on the horizon. Machinery that a technologically reliant society lie, for the most part, quietly rusting away. Humans now lived within smaller walled communities patrolled by guards. More importantly, humankind has learned they share the world with other races. Struggling to support his wife and children, Steven Boughmount and childhood friend Glen Tillson are Hunters, members of a Guild that patrols the land outside the walls of town. Their job is to protect the town from races whose goal is to destroy the humans.

A particularly difficult fight leaves them with a bounty larger than either could have imagined, and spells the beginning of their troubles with the guildmaster. Glen's suggestion to withhold the truth of the value of the bounty is met with resistance from Steven. No one has successfully managed to do so, and those caught cheating the guild are severely punished. Glen eventually convinces his friend to go along with his plan with the expected results.

Guildmaster Ashley confronts Steven with assurances that he knows Steven was only going along with Glen. Veiled threats of harm to his family accompany an offer of forgiveness if Steven and his friend will go into Hekton, a dangerous area from which no known Hunter has gone into and returned. Their only choices are to go or stay. Staying means to be kicked out of the guild, and at best, run out of town, at worst, killed. Not much is known about Hekton except its fabled riches and being over run with the trolls that are reputed to live in the abandoned tree top city.

The author has an easy way with prose that makes this story a comfortable read. Kanuckel's character development is superb with a depth seldom seen in a first novel. He makes it very easy to understand what motivates his characters; you can almost predict how they will react to a given situation. This one is a family man; that is the most important thing to him. The other one is a charmer, a player. That one is a bully, angry, greedy, power-hungry. At its heart, this is a story of one man and his family as they struggle to survive and offer their children a better future than they had growing up.

While the errors were few, that there were some missed in editing is why I can only give this book three stars. I was gifted a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This book is available from Amazon.