Book Review – Hollow Eyes

Hollow Eyes – A Great Chapter in the Salt Lake After Dark Series

Rating: 4 of 5
Author: J.K. Walker
Format: Kindle, Paperback

After learning of her “heritage” and the existence of other were-people similar to herself, Jasmine Bedeau frequently finds herself in the position of the local supernatural council’s all around troubleshooter.   Not a position she cherishes, but what choice does a snow were-leopard have?  And just when Jasmine thinks she has seen it all, the bodies start to pile up, half-eaten dead bodies.  Unlike zombies who like the nice living bodies to eat, dead bodies are apparently a delicacy of ghouls.  So Jasmine investigates the ghoul community and goes on the hunt to find those responsible.  Unfortunately the truth behind these gruesome murders is much more frightening and powerful than anyone, even those in the council could ever imagine.  Can the evil responsible even be stopped?

J.K. Walker’s – Hollow Eyes – is another installment in the Salt Lake After Dark Series.  What makes this series so fun to read is the continued emersion into to the shadow world of the supernatural that the reader experiences while riding along inside Jasmine’s head.  She is a great character, struggling with what she is and the “instincts” that drive her actions just beneath her conscious mind, yet she has all the same dreams and desires of a “normal” person her age.  The addition of new “were-creatures” and other supernatural beings all existing in everyday Salt Lake society is wonderfully executed once again.

Walker has set up a great series and characters providing fertile ground for future additions to this rich world.  For me, these books are really great guilty pleasure reads and once you start reading them be ready to settle in because you won’t want to put them down until the last page!

Note: A complimentary copy of this work was provided in return for a review.

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Book Review – The Hunted

The Hunted (Fracture, The Secret Enemy Saga):  Fantasy and Witchcraft combine in New Orleans

Rating: 4 of 5
Author: Virginia McKevitt
Format: Kindle, Paperback

Her people exiled by the Patwain king, High Priestess Alexasia of the Couton race escapes with her council of sisters across the Fracture to Earth.  Having enchanted the once high council to the king with her seductive prowess, Alexasia takes over Sauldron’s plans and his riches once both he and his brother Boulfor have been “managed” out of the picture.  Upon discovering that Earth holds a great deal of untapped magic, specifically that found in the voodoo that permeates New Orleans, Alexasia combines with this dark force making her virtually unstoppable.  But there are those who stand against her.  The question is whether they will they be powerful enough to stop the evil that grows in strength each day within their adversary.

In book 2 of The Secret Enemy Saga,  Virginia McKevitt, takes the story into its next chapter.  The plot is interesting, but similar to the first book, what I enjoyed most was the depth of characterization and backstories of the protagonists as well as their developing relationship.  While the first book focused on Kristina and Tegrin, book 2 explores Sissy and Jimmy.  Both have violent pasts that they have kept from one another and both want desperately to move on from these darker days.   Unfortunately, instead of moving on from them, they have to embrace their past using their skills and relationships from these days to battle the Couton.  Without tapping into these, they will not survive, but in surviving will they sacrifice their future?

I do wish that the next book will further develop Kristina’s gifts – there is more there to be offered I am sure of it.  Perhaps a third chapter will have her back in Patwain where her full potential may be realized.

For those who enjoyed book 1, pick up a copy of this second offering.

Note: A complimentary copy of this work was provided in return for a review.

Book Review – The Miracle Inspector

The Miracle Inspector – A Sobering tale of Dystopian London

Rating: 4 of 5
Author: Helen Smith
Format: Kindle, Paperback

On his way to the office, Lucas reflects on the silliness of some of positions employed by the ministry – The Inspector of Cats and The Inspector of Hedgerows and Grass Verges for example, and other such nonsense.  Clearly there were those who wrote the constitution who had a vested interest in these areas.  Of course with the restriction on women being able to travel outside of the home, there had to be some oversight hence the Office of Women’s Travel.  Lucas himself, The Inspector of Miracles, had quite a busy schedule compared to most what with all the attention seekers claiming to have a bona fide miracle.  Still, his life was unsettled even unfulfilled and his wife was clearly unhappy.  There were rumors – rumors about places beyond London and certainly England where there was hope and opportunity for a better future and society.  But thoughts like these were dangerous; those who had them would suddenly disappear or worse.

Helen Smith’s – The Miracle Inspector – is a disturbing peak into a dystopian world where the underbelly of society are those who create poetry and art that lament the lost past while stirring the insatiable hunger for change.  Smith conveys in her characters a wonderful sense of realism in a world which from a distance might seem impossible, but as read feels all so believable.  There are a number of small story arcs that felt left open to me which at first left me frustrated, but upon reflection I think now they add to the overall feel the novel is meant to convey.  It is a world where many things are clear – the rules, the expectations, while at the same time it just does not make sense at a base almost unspoken level which drives the characters behavior.  In many ways, I felt the same as a reader where not all the loose ends were neatly tied up – they aren’t supposed to be – just like the characters, there is something more there you just don’t exactly know what it is at a conscious level.

As I closed the final pages, I had mixed emotions.  I wanted more and at the same time didn’t know what I expected if there was.  I was definitely left with an emotional reaction that went well beyond the moments after closing the book.  In this regard, I think the novel did exactly what it set out to do.

For fans of this genre, I suggest you pick up The Miracle Inspector.

Note: A complimentary copy of this work was provided in return for a review.

Book Review – Final Passage Book 3 in The Prisoner and the Sun Series

Final Passage – Book 3 in The Prisoner and the Sun Series; the Epic Series Conclusion!

Rating: 4.5 of 5
Author: Brad Magnarella
Format: Kindle, Paperback

Years after so many had sacrificed so much to unite the Fythe and Garrott, Iliff finds life with Skye and Troll’s son Tradd to be more than he would have imagined possible.  However as the years march forward, it becomes clear to Iliff that Skye is aging and soon she too will join the fallen who have gone before her and then is no way to stop it.  Or is there?  The Sun – his journey to the Sun, which has been distracted to so many times may be the answer.  Convinced this is the only chance to save Skye as well as her fallen people, together the search the lads to find the path.  But their travelings lead them unfulfilled.  Both their physical journeys and reaching out to places with their awareness provide no clue until an aged traitor returns with the answer.  But how can they journey to The Far Place where the fallen go, if they themselves have not fallen?

Brad Magnarella’s Final Passage is the Third and final book in the Prisoner and the Sun Trilogy.  From the first book’s opening pages I was immediately hooked into this unique fantasy world.  What was this journey to the Sun?  What did it mean?  Who was the old man Salvatore?  If the journey to the Sun was so impossible yet fulfilling, how and why had he ever come back to the prison?  And, for that matter, what was the prison?  So many questions.  Questions that drove my curiosity to continue reading and follow Illif’s quest.  I will admit I feared reading the final chapters.  Two concerns came to mind – the first was what if the author punted and I never got answers to these questions, the second was worse yet, what if the answers were there but were not worth the journey? Well, they answers are there and to me I was very satisfied when I finished the final pages.

The Prinsoner and the Sun is a unique series with wonderfully unique and complex characters.  This is one series, I wholeheartedly enjoyed.

Note: A complimentary copy of this work was provided in return for an honest review.

Book Review – Sensual Scenarios

Sensual Scenarios – Three “Quickies”

Rating: 3.5 of 5
Author: Cyn
Format: Kindle

In “Sensual Scenarios”, author Cyn, provides three quick erotic interludes.  For those interested in long cerebral seductions, this is not the place to find it.  Cyn jumps quickly into the action providing a heart pounding flood of description – this is especially true of the first short – “Hide and Seek”.

“Dirty Dancer”, the second short, is a bit more reserved a the start as “patron” and “dancer” communicate their intentions without words leading to a endeavor both aren’t soon to forget.

The last story, “Tight Squeeze” is more complex and developed than the others throwing its unsuspecting heroine into a situation that quickly gets beyond her control yet is something see can not resist!

If you like erotica heavy on physical descriptions and actions, these shorts by Cyn are worth taking a look at.

Note: A complimentary copy of this work was provided in return for a review.

Book Review – Bliss: A Marriage Proposal

Bliss: A Marriage Proposal – True Love Commits

Rating: 4 of 5
Author: Philip D. Luing
Format: Kindle

Luing’s collection of prose and poetry to his longtime partner Stephen is a gift to readers.  These intensely personal and emotional writings could have remained private, for only lovers to share, but as Luing mentions in his dedication our society continues to make the personal political.  My hope is that through sharing their experiences, society may better appreciate the personal and one day remove the political.

Bliss starts with the “meet cute” between Philip and Charles Stephen.  Returning from a dance concert, Philip stops in for a quick drink at a nearby bar where he unexpectedly meets a somber Charles Stephen; a close friends battle with liver cancer is the cause of Stephen’s mood.   But Philip is quickly drawn to Stephen and a relationship blossoms.  They move in together and as the seasons pass, their love grows. Philip’s gift is his writing and he conveys in wonderful verse their anniversaries, holidays, and everyday life.  The story of remaking their entire bedroom because of the purchase of one slightly too large chair was whimsical while the poem “Wrinkle Cream” beautifully describes how life inscribes itself on Stephen’s face as Philip ponders which lines if any are his.

As the title betrays, the story culminates in a beautiful marriage proposal from Philip.  Charles Stephen closes the book with his touching thoughts.

I cannot thank both of them enough for sharing their story with all of us.

Congratulations to you both.

Note: A complimentary copy of this work was provided in return for a review.

Book Review – Zero Point

Zero Point – Dr. No meets Indiana Jones

 

Rating: 4 of 5

Author: Tim Fairchild

Format: Kindle

 

Off the coast of New Guinea, Josh Turner and his archeology interns are celebrating the end of their three month excursion when what looks like a meteor lights a fire in the sky.  A subsequent explosion and shock wave cause a killer wave to rush up on their small vessel crushing it like a toy.  Only Josh and one intern survive what both believe at the time to be Mother Nature’s wrath.  Months later, in the Canary Islands, Josh, his father, and their team learn that the killer event was not an accident.  That a shadow organization has put in place a plan so evil and destructive that the world will never be the same.  Unfortunately, there is no time to get help as the next event is imminent.   Can Josh and his friends stop it in time?

 

Zero Point, by Tim Fairchild, starts with a heart pounding catastrophe which quickly draws the reader in.   Complete with James Bond-esque evil bad guys with their elaborate hideouts and plans for world domination and Indiana Jones type adventure, the story resembles a summer popcorn blockbuster.  However, I did wonder at times why the evil plans had to be so complex when the bad guys already had such resources and technology like Zero Point energy which would have allowed them to take over the world economy all on its own.  But again like a bond movie, one has to accept the premise and hang on for the ride.  To this end, Zero Point fits the bill well.

 

Overall, Fairchild’s Zero Point is a fast, fun read.

 

Note: A complimentary copy of this novel was provided in return for a review.

Book Review – False Impressions

False Impressions – Just When You Thought You Knew Who To Trust…

Rating: 4 of 5
Author: Sandra Nikolai
Format: Kindle, Paperback

Megan Scott and her husband Tom seem to have it all, their future bright.  Working as an editor at Bradford publishing, Megan excels working with different clients in various fields keeping her energized notwithstanding the office politics.  Her husband Tom’s work selling multimedia software lands him promotion after promotion increasing their income substantially. Unfortunately, his work takes him frequently away from home and the couple struggle to conceive their first child.  Enter Michael Elliot – a handsome true crime investigator and writer who years ago Megan had a crush on during their school days together; Bradford is publishing his latest book and Megan is assigned to work with him.  Immediately attracted to him, Megan struggles with her feelings wishing their time together to both continue and end.  But when Megan’s husband and best friend are found murdered in a lover’s affair, Megan’s world is shaken to its core and Megan learns her life and those around her are not as she once thought.  Trusting the wrong person could have disastrous consequences.

False Impressions, by Sandra Nikolai, is a well-crafted mystery.  Told from Megan’s first person narrative, one is quickly enveloped into her world while at the same time, due to Nikolai’s highly honed writing, the other characters are just as richly expressed.

Two key elements to me in any mystery novel are pace and misdirection.  The first is key in making a story and its characters full and believable.  In this regard, Nikolai is spot on – the pace, especially at the beginning is perfect – allowing Megan’s relationship with Michael to evolve while slowly amping up the action once the murders are discovered.  Misdirection is also handled well, especially in the novel’s middle section where Nikolai keeps all of the options open as to ‘who done’ it giving Megan that feeling of being lost, alone, and helpless an iconic staple of any good thriller. The end of this story loses this misdirection a little as the ‘obvious’ answer is set up as a little too obvious but readers will enjoy this none-the-less.

False Impressions is one of Megan Scott/Michael Elliott mystery novels and I look to future offerings in the series.

Note: A complimentary copy of this novel was provided in return for a review.

Book Review – This Honest Man

This Honest Man – Blade Runner meets Lee Child’s Jack Reacher

Rating: 4 of 5
Author: Robert J. Sullivan
Format: Kindle, Paperback

Sam Dane looked across at his client and wondered if she truly knew what she was asking from him given what he thought the resulting investigation would uncover.  Isla Beauchesne was not an attractive woman, not necessarily unattractive but given her murdered husband was quite the looker, Sam figured the answer to who and why he was killed would not be one Isla would want to hear.  None-the-less, he took the case, and soon found a story more complex than he imagined.  Off-world megalomaniac drug cartel lords, playboy rich sons of greed, a beach party vacation town for the rich and famous, and political and alien race relations nightmares, are just some of the troubles Sam finds himself in the middle of.  Will he find the killer before everyone involved ends up dead, even Mrs. Beauchesne?

“This Honest Man”, is a unique fusion of science fiction and police procedural/detective genres.  If you are thinking Blade Runner, you’d be a little off – this is a detective story based in the future with future technologies, travel between, planets, some AI here and there, but even with the various alien races this is less about the science fiction and more about a murder investigation.  In fact, this type of story could very well take place in modern day, it just so happens it all takes place in the future.  One risk in this type of genre twist is that the sci/fi portions could distract but in fact they are woven well into the story and it is fairly easy to be drawn in to the everyday world in which Sam Dane operates.  Uncovering who the murderer was and why it happened is plotted and paced well and there are enough turns and action in the story to keep things moving.  Sullivan’s protagonist – Dane – is a flawed character and a bit of a loner, but he does know how to have a good time and take advantage of a situation and turn it to his favor which I find refreshing and ‘real’.

For those looking for hard core sci/fi, look elsewhere.  But if you enjoy a good detective story and want something a little different, give the Sam Dane series a try.  “This Honest Man”, is the second in the series.

Note: A complimentary copy of this novel was provided in return for a review.

Book Review – Amped

Amped – Another Thought Provoking Pure Fun Adrenaline Ride – I Love This Series!

Rating: 5 of 5 (RMBOA Recommended)
Author: Douglas E. Richards
Format: Kindle, Paperback

Determined to fight for a greater humanity but knowing the megalomanic side effects her IQ boosting technology can create, Kira Miller and her husband David Desh, along with their colleagues, set up a hidden organization to create their breakthroughs.  Aptly named Icarus, after the Greek god who flew too close to the sun due to his hubris, Kira is careful to the point of paranoia in allowing only those who meet the strictess criteria for selflessness to become a part of their plans.  So strict are her rules, that none of the original founding members including herself or David would even meet them.  And when their organization is suddenly found and they are hunted once more, the only explanation is someone with enhanced intelligence is behind the plot to destroy them.  But Kira knows that is impossible as she has accounted for every IQ pill there is, unless the one betraying them is from within, perhaps even an enhanced versions of one of themselves whose hapless everyday self is unaware they are the betrayer?

I have to admit, I loved “Wired” and after reading it wrote that I had no idea how one could write an effective sequel but Richards has gone way beyond what I could have imagined.  Amped picks up where Wired left off and this volume is jam packed full of twists and turns, action, betrayal and plenty of philosophical head scratchers that I found myself up late at night thinking through their implications.  It is these nuggets of intellectual insight that I love best about this book.  One of my favorite examples, and one that still haunts me, involves a man who dies, goes to the afterlife and can pursue his wildest dreams for all eternity – but eternity can be a long time and the end of this tale is chilling.  This anecdote is just one of many that are well woven and infused into Amped whose plot is rich but implications are far reaching.  Some reviewers note they figured out the end, and I admit I did as well, but it wasn’t until I was well into the book and at the end of the day, so what!  This was a great read and one I’ll be revisiting and talking about with friends and family for some time.

Great stuff.  Bring on this next one!