Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Deed Box by Pamela Kelt

This is a fun little story. Two sisters don't like their father's mother, at all. Unfortunately for them, their grandmother moves in after their parents die in a car accident. The good side of this is that at 15 and 16 years old, they won't have to live under her thumb for much longer. Shelby, the younger sister, found her escape in marriage. Helen went to college and got her degree. Since her sister never came around, Helen is surprised when Shelby and her husband show up for a visit earlier than expected. What takes place from here is for you to read.

As an introduction to an author, this book is great. Kelt has a lively wit and sense of humor (as well as justice) that shine in the few pages of this story. She has encapsulated everything you need to know about the characters in a way that lets you know who they are without the need of more pages. You know right quick who you like and who you don't. When I reached the end of the story, I was telling (no names to avoid the spoiler) someone, "Yeah, serves you right!" and grinning. I think you'll enjoy this one too.

I was gifted a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review. 5 stars

This book is available free from Smashwords.

Vampires Among Us by Alice Brown

The story begins right off with the main female character, Erica, trying to get home from shopping before her husband gets home. By the end of the first page, Shawn Harper is giving his wife a brutal beating. What makes the abuse even worse is his strength is magnified by also being a vampire. His abuse doesn't stop there as Erica is his source of blood. Her arms are badly scarred from his years of forcing her to provide for him.

Erica is a typical abused woman who has reached the point where she knows she needs to get out before her husband kills her. She wants to leave, yet doesn't because for a couple of good reasons. Who would believe she's married to a vampire? Not knowing there are good vampires out there, She fears for the safety of everyone involved in her escape once Shawn learns she has left. Erica believes that Shawn was drawn to her because he knew she grew up in the state's foster care system. She had no family. Therefore, there was no one to care what happened to her.

Kevin is a classmate who has become a good friend, offers to help her if and when she decides she's ready to leave her husband. Unknown to her, is that he's also a vampire. From here the story is fairly predictable, the differences between this and similar stories are in the details. This is the first time I've read one in the abused wife genre where the husband is a vampire.

I wasn't riveted to this story. I can't say I read it through unable to set the book down and do something else. The conversations are somewhat stilted in a mix of formal and informal dialog. There is a lack of consistency in the use of contractions when characters are speaking. This makes for a somewhat less than easy read. My mind kept wanting to correct this problem which interfered with having a chance to enjoy the story. There are some issues with grammar, mainly in the tense of the words used. While there are no egregious errors, I do feel this book would benefit from additional beta reading and/or editing. I was gifted a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review. 3 stars

This book is available on Amazon.

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Long Journey to Sincerity: The Story of Elana Mayne by Jason Ellis

When I began this book, I was immediately reminded of George Orwell's book, 1984. While there are some initial similarities, I'm happy to say this book its own path fairly quickly. The story is set in an undefined time in the future after a virus has run rampant through the world. Now people live in fenced in communities, their lives restricted by the government in control of their piece of the world. Everything they do is regulated by the government - where they go to school, what they study, what they can wear, what job they hold, where they can travel.

Someone has orchestrated an accident on a train platform where Elana ends up with a broken arm. Afterwards, Elana finds a note in her pocket predicting certain events will happen that Elana finds every disturbing. After one such event, she goes to visit her friend, Blake. His father is in the hospital, injured in a mine explosion. During her visit, the community guard show up and Blake hides her under the living room floor. To her horror, Elana witnesses Blake's murder by none other than the man in charge of the zone in which she and her family live, Mayor Hartner.

Waiting until she believes it's safe to come out of hiding, Elana heads home. Unfortunately, she's unaware she was caught on hidden camera coming out from her hiding place. Elana is taken captive by the community guards where she comes face to face with the mayor. All she knows now is that she is considered a risk to the public and her parents have been relocated at their request.

This is a story both about absolute power corrupting absolutely, and the determination of a few to set things right for everyone. 1984 was a world where everyone was programmed or conditioned to behave in a particular way. Independent thought was not allowed. These two books have that much in common with each other. In 1984, two people fall in love, are found out and torn apart by the people in power. Ellis' book is not about a love found and destroyed by a government. Here we have an underground group determined to bring the truth to light and change things.

Truths and secrets are revealed in the course of this book. I kept hoping to see a love develop between Elana and her rescuer. The author is wiser than I; there was no romance. There is however, a surprise that I could not have imagined at the end, one that leaves the story open for a second book if the author chooses. Although I'm of a mixed mind on that.

Read the book. Then sit back and think about the ending. Perhaps, just perhaps, this is where the story should end, without a sequel. We are left in a place in our own minds to write where we want the story to go. After all, can an author really ask for anything more than their work stay with us? That their words make us think or imagine... what if?

This book really wasn't my 'cup of tea' if you will. It didn't captivate me and hold me from start to finish. However, it did make me think. My thoughts circled around from this story to events taking place around the world. The story is very well written. There is a depth to the characters that shows the author's attention to detail. For these reasons, I'm giving this book 4 stars. I was gifted a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

This book is available from Amazon.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Raven by Kimberly Brockman

Rayne Holloway just can't seem to get a break. This girl has been through far too much, even before the story begins. Her father dies, her sister is murdered in a fire right in front of her and for a while, she was the main suspect. She also hasn't heard from her best friend since he moved out of the country.

Enter the good looking mystery guy. Chase Turner is tall, dark, hot and on a motorcycle. She's not sure she can trust him, but can't deny how he makes her feel. Her knight in not-so-shining armor heals her leg of a compound fracture and tries to convince Rayne it wasn't as bad an injury as she thought. Chase is keeping a major secret from her that could prove fatal.

Things amp up as Rayne starts seeing people in her mirror that aren't there when she turns around. Horrifying nightmares leave her exhausted and feeling unsure of herself and insecure. Her best friend, Alex, comes back into her life promising to never leave her again. But something is different about him and she can't figure out what.

There are great twists in the story that keep you turning page after page. A young adult paranormal romance that offers all the confusion and angst of high school, I really enjoyed this book. There were a few errors that created hiccups in reading, but not enough to put the book down. I mean, really. I had to know what Rayne was going to do. She's drawn to both Alex and Chase. In spite of the errors, I'm giving 4 stars. I was gifted this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

This book is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Helpless (Blue Fire Saga #3) by Scott Prussing

Leesa is practicing her magic under the tutelage of Dominic's watchful eye. Destiratu continues to strengthen and new enemies are introduced to keep the story interesting. Cali is still the only one of Leesa's friends who has been let in on Rave's secret. Leesa learns a valuable lesson, that even the smallest of magics used wisely, can topple an enemy.

I enjoyed this story, and in fact bought the remaining books in the series. However, there are significant problems that need to be addressed to improve the readers' enjoyment.

The formatting problems present in book 2 have carried over into this book. What began as a minor font size issue at the end of each chapter grew worse the further I got into the book. This font size changes as much as two points up or down. As much as I enjoyed the book, I resented the need to adjust the on-screen font size on my Nook to continue reading this story. This need detracted greatly from the reading experience and prevented me from fully immersing myself in the story. The font style used for the chapter titles is inconsistent throughout the book. Having been formally trained in graphic design, I find this inconsistency to also be distracting.

Had there been no formatting issues with this book, I would have been quite happy to give it three stars. I enjoyed the story, but had no problem setting the book aside to take care of other things. The fact that the formatting problems increased the further I read lessened my enjoyment. It is with regret that I am unable to do so. 2 stars

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Toryn by Kimberly Brockman

This book is so well written that it wasn't until I reached the last page did I realize I was reading the second of a series. Refusing to kill or surrender the girl he loves, Chase surrendered himself to give Rayne a chance to escape. Now Chase is being held and tortured, a captive of his father.

When Rayne convinces her best friend, Alex, to help her find Chase, he reluctantly agrees. She knows Alex is keeping something from her, but can't understand why. The search for Chase reveals some surprising truths. One in particular she's not willing to face are her true feelings for Alex. What Rayne doesn't realize is there's more at stake than who ultimately wins her heart. The war of good against evil is coming home to roost and Rayne's allegiance is the prize.

The search takes some surprising turns and the ending is nothing short of genius. Never could I have predicted how this part of the story would be resolved. And oh my, did Brockman leave me wanting the next one in this series. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I was gifted a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 4 stars

This book is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Vullens' Curse by Natasha House

Wow. There is so much packed into not a lot of pages. The line drawings that accompany the story are a wonderful addition. The author had a visual of what her characters would look like and had the forethought to avoid confusing things with descriptive narrative. So much was portrayed by these simple line drawings that I was immediately able to see these characters in my own mind as I read. I've seen full-blown art in some books that, while beautiful work, actually got in the way of my enjoying the story. Inevitably, I would find myself trying to figure out where that image fit within the story.

The world created by the author is inhabited by several intelligent species, the Wolfinic, the Vullens, and humans feature predominately in the story. This first book does a great job of introducing each of these. As the title suggests, the Vullens are cursed. To go outside of their territory can have fatal consequences. Asha, a Vullen mother, doesn't want her newborn daughter to grow to love death the way most Vullens do. To protect her, Asha takes her daughter into the forest and hides Deilia in the nook of a tree.

The Vullens are gifted (or cursed) with a special magic. Through their songs, they can heal or kill. It is the death song which Asha wanted to keep her daughter from learning. The death song is taught from a young age and stirs a lust for death in the singer(s) as its victim dies. Young Deilia is found wandering in the forest a few years later, kidnapped and taken to King Lowen. Desperate to save his wife, the king buys the kidnapped Deilia. The question is, can she?

There is nothing slow or lackadaisical about this story.The story moves quickly. I was pulled in from the very first line. When I finished the book, I went to my bookseller for the second one. Unfortunately, it wasn't available for Nook yet. I found it to be well written and very enjoyable. I was gifted a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 4 stars

This book is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Scarlet Dawn by Megan J. Parker

I really enjoyed this latest addition to the Scarlet series. What started out feeling a bit like her take on Robin Hood quickly became something much more interesting. Axle is a young man with a mission. Yes, he steals, but not just from the rich. His choice of plunder are as varied as those who reaps the benefit of his ill-gotten bounty. Of course, his antics don't go unnoticed by the Council. Serena and her friend Zoey are two of the best at what they do. But since Axle isn't Robin Hood and Serena isn't the sheriff of Nottingham, all bets are off.

What is it that they say, if you can't beat them, join them? Axle has a good reason for what he's doing. So many things are divulged in this story that I really can't say too much without spoiling it for someone else. So I won't. What I will do is tell you I thoroughly enjoyed myself once again. We find out what happened to Zane and Raith. I'm still reeling from that one.

I have come to expect nothing less than excellent story telling from this author. She and her cohort, Nathan Squiers, have created a wonderful worldscape that I am always excited to revisit. I think they have more than a touch of bardic talent about them. This latest offering continues to seamlessly expand this world I've grown to love. I found things to laugh about, hold my breath over and even a "so that's what happened!" a time or two. They both have room reserved in my box of favorite authors if I ever move again.

Well written, well edited. 4 stars. I was gifted a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This book is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Adventures of an Air Force Wife by Becky Corwin-Adams

As an Air Force "brat," I never gave any thought to what my mother went through during the years my father was enlisted. This book gives an entirely new perspective to my experiences and what I remember. Later, when I (sort of) followed in my father's footsteps and enlisted (in the Army), I was single and had no children to consider.

This was an eye opening read for me. I'm not sure I'd have had the courage the author had at 18 to be on her own with a baby waiting for her husband to finish training. Then to be shipped to another part of the country so far away from everything and everyone she knew. This book reinforced what I've always known, that being in the military isn't an individual experience, or even a family experience. It's a community experience. Corwin-Adams drove that home so well. GI's look out not only for each other, but their families as well. It's an entire culture unto itself. The photos shared in this book are reminiscent of those I've seen in my father's albums.

I'm glad I had the opportunity to read this book. The life of a military wife/family isn't always an easy one. The pay is frequently insufficient and sometimes the unexpected happens and you're on your own again waiting for a loved one to come home. The author is eloquent in how simply she tells her story. Although several years have passed since then, not much has changed. Military families are still making sacrifices for what they believe in and trying to get by on not enough money. Thank you, Becky, for sharing your story with all of us. And thank you for your service, because a military spouse serves right along with their service member. A book everyone should read. I was gifted a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 5 stars

This book is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Search; The Descendant Vampire, Book 2 by Kelley Grealis

You know, it's absolutely fantastic when an author tops themselves in a sequel. This book picks up right where the first one left off and doesn't waste any time getting things moving. This is a hard book to say anything about because if I say too much, then I give away things from the first book. And of course, if you've followed me for any time at all, you know I don't do spoilers.

I was excited to dig into this book. So much so that I put off writing the review for the first book just so I could read this one. I'm glad I did, too. The title is so apt for this story. More than one search is happening. Secrets unfold as answers and curve balls abound. I was riveted from start to finish. While not exactly enemies, a short truce is called and Allison and her family gain much needed support from some temporary allies.

As much as I enjoyed the first book in this series, this second book has cemented Grealis as an author I plan to watch. Occasionally I mention that box I label "favorite authors" on those rare occasions when I move. She just ensured I have to start a second box. I was up until 3:00a.m. so I could finish this story. She's also ensured I don't start her books when I have to be in at 6a.m. the next day. Unlike book 1, The Search was perfectly edited. I found no errors in my reading. 5 stars.

This book is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.

The Descendant; The Descendant Vampire, Book 1 by Kelley Grealis

Allison knows something is wrong, but no matter how many doctors she sees or how many tests are done, none of them can find anything. She's not eating, not sleeping well, running ice cold or burning up, and having debilitating stomach pains. Doctors leave her thinking they believe she's crazy and she knows she isn't. Her husband, Matt, is sweet, understanding, and very supportive.

Then her world is turned upside down when Allison and Matt are in an accident on their way home from a party. Allison wakes up in the hospital and immediately begins asking about her husband. No one is answering her questions until her best friend, Jenna, arrives. Devastated to be told Matt has been dead for three years, Allison feels lost. She has no memory of the accident or her life of the past three years. Jenna takes her home from the hospital to a house she doesn't remember.

In addition to the den she's always wanted and a beautiful garden, the house has one more thing, photos of Allison with a man she can't remember. Vincent Drake shows up at her door expecting her to remember him. But he's more than just the man in her life. He's also a vampire with a very special talent. He can make you remember things that never happened. He wants Allison for his own. More than that, he wants her to choose to be converted. Allison is more special than she knows; she is a direct descendant of Cain. This also makes her a target for someone bent on revenge.

Grealis has created an amazing story. She's taken the biblical story of Cain and Abel, given it her own special twist, and hands us vampires. I've only read one other series that offers an explanation as to the origin of vampires and this wasn't it. I really enjoyed the storyline. Love, loss, vampires, revenge, and surprising ancestors all combine to make a uniquely original story. There were a few errors that got in the way of the story, but overall, a very good book. Even better is the fact that I already have the sequel. That makes me a very happy person. 3 stars

This book is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.