Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Dark Interlude by Pamela Kelt

This book is far and away my favorite that I have read by this author so far. The story is set in Scotland at the end of World War I. Soldiers are coming home, some to no jobs while others return to their former employment, displacing the women that held those jobs during the war. Alexandra Milton has three months left on her contract as deputy librarian at St. Peter's University when the senior archivist returns from war to resume his position. Newly redundant, Alex is sent to inventory, catalog and pack a 17th century bequest left to the university.

Almost as soon as she arrives Alex is beset with problems. Someone breaks into the library before she barely makes any progress, an attempt at arson and a stunning find. Along the way, she is rebuffed and all but ignored by James Buchanan whose law partner is handling the bequest, attacked by unknown persons and finds herself developing an interest in David Sinclair, the solicitor handling the bequest.

Murder, unscrupulous dealings, revolutionaries, battle weary soldiers and romance combine to make a compelling story. The attention to detail makes it obvious the level of research the author undertook prior to writing. I enjoyed learning about the use of interludes, what they are and how they could enhance a play or be used to make social, political or religious comments. This was the most fascinating part for me. I enjoyed the interplay between the characters as they got to know each other and seeing Alex become a part of the community while working to archive the books and documents.

As a whole, a wonderful story that anyone who enjoys this genre should pick up. The author calls this an historical romance, but I would add mystery or suspense to that as well. I would be more than happy to read more books like this by Kelt. 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, April 21, 2014

The Cloud Pearl (Book One: Legends of Liria) by Pamela Kelt

Svila and Petra are the only two who manage to escape when Kurova Grax captures their troop of players. Clutching the papers their manager, Zoran shoved at them just before their escape, the girls need all their wits and talents to survive. Holding tight to Zoran's last words to stay safe and save Liria, Petra and Svila puzzle out the clues in his notes. To save their country from Grax and her Buran army, they need to find all the pieces of the royal crown and put it back together.

I enjoyed the premise of this story. A country overrun by a greedy neighbor, a magical royal crown disassembled into its component pieces and hidden, two girls on their own against incredible odds with occasional help from hidden members of Zoran's army. The clues are all there, they just have to figure them out. My favorite part was when the girls were caught hanging in mid-air by Skaliari and all the birds he'd tormented came back to attack him. Yeah, justice on the wing. Loved it.

The book didn't grab me right away. I started it a few times and went on to something else. Once I did get into the story, I was there for the duration. Overall, this is a well written story. A few errors were missed in editing and created hiccups in reading for me, a word missing from a sentence here and there that had me backing up to reread that part. In spite of this, I'd like to read the next book in the series. I'd like to see what other challenges and friends the author brings to Petra and Svila. I was gifted a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 3 stars

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

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Just Evil, Evil Secrets Trilogy: Book 1 by Vickie McKeehan

Just Evil is a contemporary story of hate, love, jealousy, murder, revenge, abuse, secrets, greed and corruption. A generous mix of elements the author blends quite well to make a great story. Kit Griffin is a young woman who, along with her two best friends, believes she has put an horrifically abusive childhood behind her. While her friends suspect much of what took place, no one knew the complete truth of her childhood. A truth which will cement her place at the top of the list of suspects.

Kit now owns her own business, selling books, coffee and homemade treats. As a teenager, she was head over heels for Jake Boston. Then one day, he just disappeared. Now Jake's back, just before someone starts killing people. The first victim is Kit's mother. When it appears that Kit is Alana's sole beneficiary, she finds herself the only "person of interest" in the murder. As more people start turning up dead, it becomes apparent, at least to Kit and her friends, that someone is working from a list. Just who is on this list and why is the puzzle the needs to be solved.

Powerful people have dangerous secrets to hide and someone is taking great pains to make the police think Kit is the killer. We are given glimpses of the killer as he stalks his victims and plans each death. He has a serious grudge against each person on his list.  We watch as he plans to make each person pay the ultimate price for the secrets they hold. I find it particularly interesting that the killer makes sure each person knows why they are about to be killed.

As we get further into the book, Jake and his friends help Kit track down the reasons for which they suspect people are being killed. More details of what Kit endured come out until those closest and dearest to her know the entirety of the abuse she endured as a child. The killer isn't the only person who poses a threat to Kit.

Every element that could draw you into this story has been utilized. This doesn't leave the story feeling overworked though. The tension in this story revs up from the moment Jake steps into Kit's business and doesn't let down even at the end. In fact, the author used the tail end of this story to throw a curve ball that I couldn't have imagined on my best day. Wait... what... really? And then she teases with a peak into the next book.

Just Evil is very well written and multi-dimensional. The characters have a depth which brings a reality to them that made reading this book a pleasure. 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.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Suicide Song by W. Hartzenberg

I found this to be both ultimately the saddest story, and most touching tribute and memorial to a young man who briefly touched the authors life. The loss of a life, especially one taken by the person living that life affects everyone, regardless of how peripheral someone is to the person who has died. When that person leaves no note offering any insight for survivors to grasp onto, the tragedy is even greater.

We all work through this type of loss in our own individual ways. This story doubly impacted me as my son (eighteen at the time) was one of two people who found a another friend (also eighteen) after his own suicide a few short weeks after graduating from high school. I had no answers, nothing to offer my child except his mother's love to ease the horrific memory of finding his friend.

The author eloquently pieced together details of a young man's final reflections and moments. Her afterward offers a heartfelt tribute that comes through most clearly. I have no doubt of the author's caring heart and spirit as I read her words, words that struck deep inside my own heart to pain that I had buried. I am quite certain this was not an easy story to write, any more than I found it an easy one to read. It is however, very well written. A story of nine brief pages that anyone who has lost someone to suicide should read. Yes, it will probably hurt as it brings back those painful memories. But it also may offer a bit of healing as you take in her words to say good-byes you yourself may have been unable to give at the time of your loss.

I was gifted a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 5 stars This book is available from Amazon and Smashwords.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Crimson Shadow: Forbidden Dance by Nathan Squiers

Xander promised Estella everything would be okay. And depending on how you want to look at things, I suppose everything is. Unfortunately, that's not Estella's view on things. She's one very unhappy witch and not in a forgiving mood.

While Estella is struggling to learn how to live with her new reality, Xander has found a home of sorts living in the woods with a pack of therions. Now he finds himself searching for Estella every chance he gets, trying to assuage his guilt and writing letters to her. In addition to all this, he gets to explain Christmas to the pack leader. As if they needed another excuse to throw a party.

But we all know this wouldn't be a Squiers book if Xander didn't have new challenges to face, and he provides them in plenty. A ragged looking group of mythos finds their way to his "doorstep." Exhausted and terrified as they try to stay ahead of a pair of killers out to annihilate every member of their house. Life may not be looking up for Xander, but he's been handed a new purpose, and just maybe a new family. If they survive what's coming. The concept the Odin clan was founded on may rise again if Xander can get his act together.

This book has so much more packed into it than any that came before. We're given a look at Joseph Stryker's vision for the mythos community at large. Xander has lost everyone who mattered to him and must struggle to build a life from ashes. How he does that could only have come from the pen (or computer) of Nathan Squiers.

This is more than just a fantasy world of mythos and paranormal love gone awry. In this one book, we don't just find a way to escape our own reality and immerse ourselves in a world of another's creation. We are given subtle examples of how to go on when our own struggles become overwhelming, though I seriously doubt that was Squiers intent when he wrote this book. Am I reading something into it that isn't there? Possibly. (I blame my English lit instructor for that perception.)

Forbidden Dance is a beautifully crafted work of art. Squiers continually rounds out both new and old characters and gives them a depth that only the finest wordsmiths can achieve. He truly is a Bard in his chosen genre. Well written, perfectly edited. I was gifted a beta copy of this story in exchange for an honest review. 5 stars

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

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Crimson Shadow: The Dirty Dozen by Nathan Squiers

A collection of twelve  short stories set in the world of Xander Stryker, the Crimson Shadow (he really doesn't like that nickname). All of them are good, some I like more than others. My favorite (you knew I had one, right?) is the trilogy of shorts where Estella is kidnapped. Yeah, someone's going to be hurting. I also had a least favorite, but only because I found the events depicted to be extremely disturbing.

When it comes to the world of the Crimson Shadow, my favorite stories are always going to be those centered around the doings of Xander Stryker and those closest to him. I'm happy to say, there are a few here (would you expect anything else?). Xander is not the sole focus of each story. Other mythos from this worldscape have their turn in the spotlight as well.

One of the things I especially liked was that each story has its own cover art. This created a very defined beginning and ending to each story, making it quite easy to mentally shift gears for the next one. I found this to be a quick but thoroughly enjoyable read. Anyone who's a fan of the world of Crimson Shadow will want to read this. Well written, perfectly edited. 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.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Fighter (Scarlet Night Prequel) by Nathan Squiers

Alcohol, grief and self pity can make for a lethal cocktail. And if it's not lethal, then it definitely is a recipe for disaster. The Fighter is all about just such a person. Beyond the death of his mentor, Zane has made enough of the wrong mistakes that his comeuppance was a whole lot more than getting his hands slapped. Zane doesn't want to accept that some of what's wrong is his own fault and is acting out. The problem with adults when they act out is someone else always gets hurt. Time for another wake-up call, and Zoey is just the person to give it to him.

This is a great, though short, introduction to Zane that gives us a bit of useful history about him. Answers some of the question of why Zane is the way he is. Although really not much more than a peak at Zane's past, I found The Fighter to be a nice addition to the Scarlet Night series by Megan Parker. If you like the series, then you really need to read this. I was gifted a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 5 stars

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

Monday, April 7, 2014

Nights Embrace - Others of Seattle; Book 1 by Brandy Rivers

I admit it. I have a major weakness for shape shifter stories. What can I say? It's my favorite branch of the paranormal books. Sometimes I indulge in a little daydreaming where I can shift my shape and run in a forest or fly. So when I downloaded my copy of this book, I couldn't resist taking a peak. That peak turned into serious reading. I fell asleep with the book in my lap with only thirty pages left. I went right back to the story first thing the next morning, bypassing everything I usually do in the morning.

Rivers has outdone herself again. Nights Embrace is a perfect stepping stone to enlarge the world she created with her Others of Edenton series. Roxana Nights is the lead singer of her band, Nights Embrace. Arriving late to warm up for their show, she catches the tail end of the previous band's final set. The lead singer's voice wraps her up in everything that pushes all the right buttons. That's okay, because she's caught his attention too. Too bad she's sworn off musicians.

Unfortunately, Roxy comes with baggage. Her ex is the drummer in her band and can't seem to understand it's over with them. She can't seem to help herself. Every time Jordan screws up, she's right there to help pick up the pieces. Mike, her guitar player is caught in the middle between his sister and his long time friend. Still trying to look out for his sister, he's unwilling to turn his back on Jordan.

Trevor Malone, lead signer of Lunar Storm knew he'd found his mate as soon as he saw Roxy. Now he needs to find her again and convince her of that. What follows is a fun tale of cat and mouse as Roxy fights her feelings for Trevor. Of course, there's more going on than even Roxy knows. Trevor suspects Roxy may have a bit of Other in her, but can't seem to figure it out. Something is going on with Jordan besides assorted addictions. If what Trevor suspects is true, he may know someone who can help.

Someone is out to get Roxy. She doesn't know who or why, but things escalate quickly. Trevor has waited just a little too long to share vitally important information and his secret is outed by an old foe. Challenges and surprises for Roxy she never could have imagined.

I absolutely loved this story. I was absorbed from the very first page. She has seamlessly expanded her Others series to a new city, yet has brought characters from Edenton into play. Her characters are so well written. I love that they aren't perfect. Jordan has addictions to deal with as well as a major reality check. Roxy has been hurt so much she doesn't think she'll ever trust again. And waiting in the wings (though not for very long) are people about to bring serious trouble and a world of hurt into Roxy's and Trevor's life.

I was gifted a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. As much as I want to give this book 5 stars, I am unable to due to a couple of missed errors. 4 stars

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