Wednesday, July 30, 2014

With this Curse by Amanda DeWees

DeWees has taken me back to the very first romance I ever read. They were dark, mysterious, set in Victorian England and perfect for a young girl's dreams. With this Curse had me hooked at the first page. A young girl and her mother in dire straights are hired by the lord of Gravesend Hall. Dismissed at seventeen for falling in love with Richard Blackwood, Clara Crofton must make her way alone in the world. She lays the blame for her trouble and Richard's death on the curse that was laid on the Blackwood family more than a century ago.

Returning to Gravesend more than eighteen years later as the bride of Atticus Blackwood should have been her day of triumph. As the least favored son, taking a bride should have made his father's last days happier. Clara is reminded again of the curse as whispers in the night, shadowed figures disappearing around corners and accidents that seem to have no rhyme or reason begin to plague her.

DeWees has proven herself every bit as talented at weaving a tale of love and suspense as those grande dames she enjoyed so much herself. Beautifully written, her characters took on a life of their own keeping me turning page after page. A romance I can heartily recommend for any age, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.

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

This book is available from:
                                    Amazon US
                                    Amazon Canada
                                    Amazon UK
                                    Barnes & Noble

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Scarlet Rising: A Scarlet Night Novella by Nathan Squiers

I'm an author stalker. There. I've said it. I can't help myself. If someone is going to be so crazy as to put out a good book, I mean a really good book, I absolutely have to know when the next one is coming. Getting the next book from Nathan Squiers is better than being first in line for a Black Friday Sale.

The Literary Dark Emperor, the Bard of Mythos tales has done it again. Squiers has covered all the bases. Looking for a good laugh? He packs so many one-liners into this that I struggled not to laugh while I was waiting on customers. You want attitude? Gregori and Mia both have it in spades. What am I saying, everyone has attitude. There's so much more... vampires, therions, crime lords, soul-baring and yes, he even gave us a bit of love for the romantics among his readers.

This book has everything we've come to expect from Squiers. With each book, he sets the bar higher for his chosen genre. Although this is a short story, it's packed full of, well, everything. If you see "Nathan Squiers" on the cover, just buy it. That's all the guarantee you need that what's between the covered will keep you riveted, in stitches, ready to go into overdrive right along with the characters or even clenching your jaws when he throws a curve ball at you.

I received this book (on it's release day no less) in exchange for an honest review. 5 stars

This book is available from:
                                    Amazon US
                                    Amazon Canada
                                    Amazon UK

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Beyond Dusk: Anne (House of Crimson and Clover) by Sarah M. Cradit

This is a very short story with a lot happening in very few pages. Anne Fontaine is looking for her sister, Adrienne, and finds Nicolas Deschanel instead. Nicolas is tired of people coming out of the woodwork attempting to lay claim to his family's money and decides to play a ruthlessly humiliating game on her. Neither knows who the other truly is and both are in for a big surprise.

Cradit has reinforced the decision I made last year to be open to short stories. I wanted more at the end of the book and had no more from her to read. Her characters were eminently believable, with pasts that show what they are made of and from where they draw their strength. 

There is really very little I can say without spoiling the story for someone else. So I will settle for this, after reading this book, I promptly purchased and downloaded every title related to this series that my favorite bookseller offered. Needless to say, I've found another author I need to make room for on my shelves (once I build new shelves that is). 

If you enjoy a good paranormal story that is well written, well edited with believable characters, then you need to pick up this book. You may just end up getting the rest of them like I did. I was gifted a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 5 stars

This book is available from:
                                    Amazon US
                                    Amazon Canada
                                    Amazon UK
                                    Barnes & Noble
                                    Smashwords

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Time to Let Go by Christoph Fischer

At first, I was hesitant to read this book. I wasn't sure I wanted to watch someone deteriorate as Alzheimer's claims progressively more of their independence, self-awareness, and memories. But I shouldn't have worried. True to form, Fischer handled the subject with his characteristic deftness, sensitivity, and balance. Telling this story was indeed a balancing act.

The story revolves around the Korhonen family. Biddy is the matriarch in the middle stages of Alzheimer's. Walter is the long-suffering husband determined to care for his wife at home and not miss any of the remaining periods where the wife he knew briefly re-emerges from her illness. Hanna, their daughter is seeking refuge in her parents home from a work incident that left her shaken. We also see brothers Henrik, the highly successful son who never quite measures up and is always in an unspoken competition with Patrick, for whom everything comes easily. Patrick, highly successful in every endeavor, lives cut off from his family, harboring a secret that will only hurt his father.

It became apparent early into the story that Fischer had meticulously researched his subject. While Alzheimer's was the central issue of the book, the title said as much, if not more about the rest of the characters. Each of the Korhonen's must face up to, and accept that there are things holding them back in life. Peripheral characters play primary roles in both Watler's and Hanna's ultimate decisions about their lives and what they need to do. A family that is already partially fractured becomes more so as they each have their own ideas about how to handle Biddy's illness. Their ideas frequently clash with what Walter's wants for his wife. We see Walter's internal conflict over how much of his wife's tasks he has had to take over as her illness progresses. We are also witness to his frustration as it boils over when he occasionally runs out of patience.

The story took me back to a time when one of my sister's in-laws were dealing with a form of dementia (I forget what specifically). I remember hearing the pain in her voice as she told me what they were going through. There was nothing I could do but express my love for her and offer my shoulder and ear when ever she needed. Time to Let Go resonated with me for that reason.

I've come to realize Fischer doesn't tackle easy subjects, yet what he chooses to write about is always worth reading. Writing from the family level of dynamics takes his books to a personal level that requires the reader to embrace the story and empathize with his characters. It's easy to understand Walter's reasons for wanting to keep his wife home for as long as possible. I can't imagine what it must be like to see the person you've shared your life with slowly and irretrievably lose pieces of themselves.

As with his Black Eagle Trilogy, this was not an easy nor comfortable read. I do feel this is a book that should be widely read. As society becomes ever more entrenched in technology, we lose those interactions that preserve our very humanity. We need books such as this in order to retain and remain aware there are those who need the strength that comes from personal connections, because someday, we may be that person and have no one to whom we can turn.

This book was very well researched, well written, with characters that not only well developed, but dynamic in their growth. I was gifted a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 5 stars

Additionally, I would like to credit Daz Smith who designed the cover art. Beautiful and quietly elegant, the lone swan on the cover evokes the loss of a life partner while reaching for what remains.

This book is available from:
                                    Amazon US
                                    Amazon Canada
                                    Amazon UK
                                    Barnes & Noble

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Home for Love by Aneesa Price

A sweet story of a woman returning to her hometown to set things right. Six years ago, Bree left with a broken heart and pregnant. Now she's back. It's time to let Todd know he has a daughter and give them a chance to build a relationship. Of course, it's not as easy as that. There are hard feelings to work past, as well as everyone's ego, wants and desires.

Price makes good use of her knowledge of the human psyche in her character development. Her depiction of life in Alaska felt very well researched. I found this to be a fairly simple, straight-forward story without much of the drama that can overwork and over complicate many romance books. That's not to say that drama in romance is tiresome because there are times I want that.

I found this book just a bit too predictable and not as captivating as her Coffin Girls series. There were several errors (punctuation, spelling, incorrect word usage and awkward phrasing in places) missed in editing that detracted from the reading experience, though not enough to reduce the star rating. The errors are not quite so numerous as to warrant pulling the book off the shelves. This is a nice story that would definitely benefit from additional proofreading/editing. If what you're looking for is a gentle, easy moving romance, then this is the book for you. I was gifted a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 3 stars

This book is available from:
                                    Amazon US
                                    Amazon Canada
                                    Amazon UK
                                    Barnes & Noble

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Medicine Man 1: The Chief of All Time by S.R. Howen

Shannon Running Deer left the reservation after the death of his parents, turned his back on his heritage and embraced everything about the white man's ways. Fortunately (or not), his heritage hasn't turned its back on him. He's begun having visions again and not by choice.

As a trauma surgeon, his life is very much grounded in the here and now. But his "here and now" has started to include hearing drums beating in the hospital when no one else does. A ceremonial mark from years past has changed from unsightly scar tissue to an elegant elk. A ghostly wolf shows itself to him in the hospital. A chant that changes from one for healing to another sung at the Women's Dance. Thus begins his journey of rediscovering not just his heritage, but of himself.

A trauma patient helps him to reconnect with his grandfather's teachings when he sees no alternative but to perform a Medicine Sing for her. Later, she is the catalyst to his going back into the past to a time that pre-dates white settlers coming to America. There he finds other such time travelers from more than one Nation, each bearing witness to what will come as it happened in their own past. They each want to find a way to give their people a chance for a better future than the one the history books tell of.

This story tells of his struggles to accept his heritage again, to believe in the things his grandfather taught, and put the welfare of a people ahead of the welfare of one person. Whether or not he succeeds is the rest of the story.

Howen weaves a tale of what if... What if a person (or more than one person) could travel back and forth in time and find a way to give the native peoples of America a fighting chance? What if there were a way to save lives that would have otherwise been decimated through trickery and underhanded dealings.

History is written by the victor and the victor is seldom kind to the loser. The Law of Eminent Domain ruled the West when our country was young and in its formative years. The power of might and strength of numbers bought us the land we live in at a price that (in my opinion) should not have been paid.

Through Running Deer's visions, Howen gives us a look at the other half of the story. Yet she does so with integrity. There is no "pity us" in her tale. There is strength and pride. Howen weaves an eloquent tale of possibilities. Her storytelling is smooth and captivating. Her characters are very believable because they aren't perfect. Shannon Running Deer struggles with his beliefs and whether or not to believe what is happening to him is real. Morning Dove struggles to find the one she is meant to be with, and Kills Many has all the faults of an arrogant man who can't admit he might be wrong.

At the beginning of the book, Howen states in her author's note that "Resemblances to places, traditions and practices  by any of the American Indian tribes mentioned in the book is intentional, and purposely fictionalized and mixed together, to protect the sanctity of those spiritual ceremonies."

This statement on the part of the author spoke more to me of her integrity and moral compass as an author than any statements I've read by any other author. As a non-Native American, I couldn't tell where she made these adjustments in her story. While many religions have an "open door" policy to the entirety of their practices, not all of them do. To give that level of respect to a culture's religious beliefs is an author I want on my shelves (or Nook). The tale was seamless and evocative of a people given foreknowledge of their future if they can't find a way to change it. Nothing felt like it had been clipped, removed, changed or otherwise altered. Well written, well edited, great character development. A joy to read. I was gifted a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 5 stars

This book is available from:
                                    Amazon US
                                    Amazon Canada
                                    Amazon UK
                                    Barnes & Noble