Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Protected by the Falcon: The Ancestor's Secrets Book 1 by Erika Szabo

This book was interesting on several levels. I enjoyed the look into another culture, though how much of what was portrayed was real, and how much was a product of the author's imagination, I can't say. That seamless blending is the mark of a good writer. As I have no interest in researching Hungarian culture and beliefs, I will simply say that the touching of their birthmarks (pure Hun marks?) and morning prayers were given simply and eloquently.

Because of her heritage, only Ilona's (deceased) mother could have explained everything she was going through on and after her twenty-ninth birthday. Anyone else attempting to explain something she didn't know was stricken with debilitating pain until they quite trying. This was an unexpected treat. The secrecy about Ilona's gifts, purpose and calling added a delightful twist to what could have otherwise been an average story.

The language of flowers is brought into the story at the beginning of each chapter, although I'm still a bit confused as to how that figures into everything. The story itself is told from each characters point of view as entries into their daily journals. I've not seen this particular treatment of multiple POV's before. I enjoy seeing something new offered in my books. Of course, that everyone was keeping a journal played large in the overall book since this was how the villain kept track of what everyone was doing, feeling, and thinking. Another brilliant move on Szabo's part. The circumstances of the villain(s) are another curveball of Szabo's that I enjoyed.

Initially, I struggled to get into the story. I picked it up and started reading several times, only to set it down again. However, by page twenty, I was hooked and everything started falling into place and making sense. I found the story to be very well written, and flowed quite well. Unfortunately, the editing was not as thorough as it could have been. There are places where a word is missing from a sentence or the word choice could have been better. While these problems did create minor hiccups in my reading, they were not severe enough, nor numerous enough to reduce the rating.

I was gifted this book in exchange for an honest review. 3 stars

This book is available at: Amazon (US, UK, CA, AU), Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords

Monday, March 9, 2015

Guess who stopped by today?

You may or may not know, but Lavinia Urban is directly responsible for this blog. If it wasn't for her introducing me to K.S. Haigwood, the previous author in the spotlight, I would never have gotten into writing book reviews. Cause and effect being what it is, writing reviews led to wanting a blog. See, it's all her fault. 

I met Lavinia through the first book in her Erin the Fire Goddess series. I'm sure we all know language is a fluid thing. It grows and changes much the same way people and nations do. Since we live on opposite sides of the pond (i.e. the Atlantic Ocean) there are some words we define differently. Being the curious sort that I am, I sent her an email asking her to clear up the confusion on a few words. Thus began our Facebook friendship. 

A bit about Lavinia -

           Lavinia grew up in a small town in Cheshire, England, before moving to Scotland in 2000.
She now lives just outside Edinburgh with her husband Ian and their two daughters Erin and 

Lavinia has been writing since an early age, something that both her children have inherited. She started with writing poetry, one of which was turned into lyrics for a song. By the age of 14, Lavinia had written seven books in an unpublished series.

After moving to Scotland she stopped writing for a while. It was only after writing a short story for her eldest daughter's school about anti-bullying and how you should stay in school and learn, that Lavinia felt the yearning to write again; this was also helped by her eldest daughter's thirst for literature when she asked her mother to write her another story. This was how her series, Erin the
Fire Goddess, came about. 

Occasionally, Lavinia has been known to give author talks. If you're interested in attending her next one, you will find her on March 30th this year at WHEC (Wester Hailes Education Centre) in Edinburgh. Let me know if you make it there.

She is currently working on book one of her next series. As her PA, you know I've had a peek. But don't ask, 'cause I'm not telling anything other than it's good. You'll know when it's ready to come out as I plan to shout it from here.

J: Can you tell us what you are working on now?

L: For right now, I am taking a short break from writing the next book in the Erin the Fire Goddess series – which will be epic when done and could be the final book in that series. Currently, I am working on a few new stories but mainly focusing on a new series called ‘Frozen in Time.’ The first title of this will be called Alimanti. Below is a sneak peek:  

Time waits for no man. It has its own schedule and doesn't give you extra seconds or minutes. It doesn't wait for you to say the things you want or do the things you need to. It doesn't wait around for you to say goodbye, to tell someone how much you love them. Before you know it, it is too late and you don't get a second chance for a do over. I know this all too well because last year my mum lost her battle to cancer. She was my rock. She was the most beautiful and loving mother who I loved, and still love unconditionally. But now I'm left with a gaping hole in my chest.

J: Just enough to tease. When can we look for Alimanti?

L: I am hoping that this book will be ready by the end of April (fingers and toes crossed). I have several projects on the go, but after the first book in the Frozen in Time series has been released, I will be going back to work on Erin the Fire Goddess.

Next year (2016), I will be doing my first book signing in Leeds, UK. I've given many book talks to hundreds of people, but I've never been to a signing.

Where to find Lavinia online:

Facebook author page
Erin the Fire Goddess Facebook page




On her website




Amazon (UK, US)

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Built for Hanging On by Steve Vernon

This is a short story set in a post-apocalyptic world that focuses entirely on an older couple who are seeking safety (?), refuge (?) from the dangerous world that is now their reality. I felt as though I was given a look into a few hours in this couple's life.

I think the author's choice to keep this short was a good one, at least for me. Had the story been any longer I would have become bored with it. There were some problems with the editing that should have been caught before publishing, but otherwise, this was an okay story.

Following the story that titles the book are several more of varying length, but mostly only a page or two each. I'm not really sure what their purpose is for being included in this book unless it's to expose the reader to other work by this author.

The final inclusion in this book is a preview look at another story by Vernon, this one for a full-length novel. As I already have the full-length novel that is previewed in this book, I chose not to read that one. 3 stars

This book is available from Amazon (US, UK, AU, CA)

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Half Life by Pamela Kelt

The story opens before the start of World War II as a group of nuclear scientists are brought together in Norway by the Nazis. Science, politics, and romance combine to create an interesting mystery. An explosion rips through the lab before getting even a quarter of the way into the book.

I struggled to stay interested in this book, which really surprised me. I've read three others by this author and enjoyed them all. I am reluctant to abide by my own star rating in the case of this book. The text was flawlessly edited, the characters well developed and the story line showed the level of  research the author pursued. A lot of research went into this story to create such a level of historic accuracy for the reader. In my opinion, that is a sign of both a conscientious  writer and a devoted scholar. That is who I want writing the book if I'm reading a fact-based work of fiction.

Based entirely on the strength of the writing, the development of the book, and quality of the editing, I feel I have to give Half Life 4-stars. I believe there is an audience out there for this book and I sincerely hope they find there way to reading it.

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

This book is available at: Amazon (CA, US, UK, AU), Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.