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Book Review – Belmundus

Belmundus: A Complex and Compelling Tale

Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Author: Edward C. Patterson
Format: Kindle, Paperback

Admired and captivating, young actor of stage and screen Harris Cartwright found the world his oyster.  Able to have anything or anyone – man or woman for that matter – Harris lived the dream of many until the day he saw her.  Something about her was different and he had to have her – Charminus Montjoy – she had him under his spell.  And after pursuing and finding her at Mortis House outside of New York, Harris experienced what was the most satisfying but bizarre encounter of his entire life.  He soon learned what he already believed to be true – Charminus was no ordinary girl and when he awoke not in New York but in an entirely different land, an entirely different world, Harris’ life changed forever.  Now in the land of Farn and one of the consorts of Septa Charminus, one of three sisters, Harris is determined to find a way home and become something more than just a consort.  He would become Lord Belmundus and his power and impact in this world would go beyond anything anyone would have fathomed.

Having read a number of Patterson’s books, what amazes me is both how prolific he is and how comfortably he writes in any genre.  I suppose I would put Belmundus in a fantasy, adventure, sci/fi mash-up genre.  This is quite the epic and the world building is substantial with its characters, politics, geography, animals, language, and so on.  In fact there are so many new words introduced that I occasionally had to double back to confirm my understanding.

What is consistent in any Patterson book or genre, is the exceptional character development throughout – never does one find a cardboard cutout in a Patterson novel.  I think my favorite characters are what I will affectionately refer to as the side-kick.  In Belmundus, this is embodied in Yustichisqua, Harris’ “Trone” or servant but oh so much more.  From a race made to be subservient, the Cetrones, Yustichisqua is offered to Harris who quickly raises Yustichisqua’s station from servant to something much more important to the dismay of many.

Belmundus is a complex epic and will be enjoyed by those who relish exploring new worlds and  races, and plots infused with political intrigue and rich deep characterization.  This is quite the tome, so block some major time to ensure your full emersion into all Patterson has to offer.

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

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Book Review – In My Time of Dying

In My Time of Dying – A Haunting Love Story

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

In a moment, their lives and future changed forever.  David and Angel were settling in for what had become a favorite pastime of bad movie night when it all went wrong.  The gunshot sent David into action but it was too late, the pizza-man costumed assassin had already put one slug into Angel.  By the time their friend Jazz had arrived to help, the assassin had disappeared and David was moments from death.  His need to protect Angel followed him into the afterlife and now a ghost, David struggles to understand his new reality, how to protect his love from suffering his own fate as the assassin remains at large, but also how to let go before it is too late and his obsession destroys everyone.

“In My Time of Dying” is a thoughtful and heartwrenching addition to J.K. Walker’s Salt Lake After Dark series.  This installment continues on with the supernatural were-people we’ve come to know, and the humor and characterizations that make these stories so engaging remain; the added dimension here (no pun intended) is the intense love story and what one would do to protect those they love and knowing ultimately what is best for them may not be congruent with one’s own beliefs.

Told primarily from David’s perspective, I especially enjoyed his learning of what “rules” govern his new reality as he is mentored by one who came before him, but also the subtle downward trajectory David takes as he struggles to face the reality of what he can and can’t do and what love really is.

Those who have already enjoyed this series will appreciate this chapter and all it offers as the world Walker has created becomes richer with each telling.

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

Book Review: Destiny of the Sands

Destiny of the Sands: Book Two of the Series

Rating: 4 of 5
Author: Rai Aren, Tavius E
Format: Kindle, Paperback

10,000 BC: before the time of the ancient Egyptians – King Traeus leads his people, the Kierani, after the devastating destruction brought on by the betrayal of Lord Draxen and the detonation of a power Traeus wished he had never created.  The loss of the King’s wife and daughter haunt him and while rebuilding of the palace and city continue.  But all that changes the day he learns his daughter is still alive, though someone else thought long dead still remains to undo the King’s plans…
Present day: Having survived the harrowing experience of unlocking the secrets and the destruction long held dormant under the Sphinx – Alex, Mitch, Bob and Alex are once more called to action to save their colleagues as well as the world from the plans of a modern day Nazi bent on harnessing the power of the ancient Kierani.

In Destiny of the Sands, book two in the Secret of the Sands Series, Rai Aren and Tavius E once more take readers through a journey of two timelines – present day and ancient Egypt.  Whereas in the first book the voice in these two periods is very distinct and occasionally uneven, this book is much more polished with both story lines equally compelling.  The Kierani, their background and their legacy, is further explored and woven in the tapestry of an engaging tale.  I found the pace and action sustained throughout and the book moves along rapidly.  There are a couple of twists and turns at the end and while main story arc is resolved, there is just enough left open to provide the foundation for what is likely the final offering in the next book of the series.

For those who enjoyed Secret of the Sands, you won’t be disappointed in book two.

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

Book Review – A Prairie Homicidal Companion

A Prairie Homicidal Companion – The Best Landon To Date!

Rating: 5 of 5
Author: Brian Landon
Format: Kindle, Paperback

After the on-stage murder of aptly named “Unlucky Larry” at the Fitzgerald Theater, detective Doyle Malloy is on the case.  What he finds is much more complex and personal than he would have ever imagined. Threads to his investigation point to a potential serial killer!  But a killer that had been put away and died years ago by Malloy’s own father.  So who could be perpetrating these new crimes?  Or was the wrong person convicted years ago.  Doyle must know.  Unfortunately, the danger is much greater than any of his previous investigations and when his Malloy’s girlfriend is kidnapped and his friend grievously injured, Doyle wonders if he is in over his head.

Brian Landon’s private investigator “Doyle Malloy” is a wonderfully rich character and previous installments in the series feature his unique foibles and humorous way of solving murders almost by accident.  As such, the mysteries themselves were the background vehicle to showcase Malloy’s unique Midwestern Pink Panther-esque style.  But in “A Prairie Homicidal Companion” not only does Landon stay true to Malloy and the quirky humor he is known for, but the serial killer and solving the mystery is in itself a very compelling story.  With this work, Landon has really stepped up his game and taken the Malloy mysteries to an entirely new level.  If you have read previous works by Landon, you are sure to be pleased with this latest volume.

“A Prairie Homicidal Companion” is the best in the series, in this reader’s opinion.  I can’t wait for the next one!

Book Review – A Dubious Plan

A Dubious Plan – Supernatural Nazi Hunting Mystery!

Rating: 4 of 5
Author: Gerald Kubicki
Format: Kindle, Paperback

Off for a weekend of fun, four friends find something they never expected during an intimate tryst in Death Valley National Park – the tail of old World War II plane buried under years of blowing sand.  Hoping to claim a reward, the friends soon find themselves in mortal danger as this is no ordinary plane.  Rather, it is the pivotal piece of one man’s dream to bring the Nazi movement to America and while he may be long gone, his followers aren’t.  This plane and the technology it could lead to could mean a change in world power, and Colton Banyon along with his partner Loni and their colleagues must find this power long before modern day Nazi’s do.

A Dubious Plan, by Gerald Kubicki, is the fifth in a series of books featuring Colton Banyon.  I have not read the previous installments and while there are references made to previous characters and events, readers won’t miss a beat if this is their first Colton mystery.  The plot clearly drives the story – a Nazi escapes with secret “wonder” technology at the end of the war to secretly setup up a new “beach head” in America but then both he and the plane are lost for years – I was immediately engaged.  The novel has the feel of a popcorn movie as the characterization is secondary and most of the women are, for me, a little too flighty but the action keeps things moving.

Overall, a fun beach or vacation read and if you like it, there are plenty more in the series.

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

Book Review – Getting a Flat Belly Sucks

Getting a Flat Belly Sucks – Quick Tips and Reminders for those Battling the Bulge

Rating: 4 of 5
Author: Maurice D Chuka
Format: Kindle

At the beginning of each new year, more gym memberships and exercise equipment are sold than at any other time.  Why? Well, clearly most of us would like to be in better shape.  But a few months into the year (sometimes weeks!) the motivation is gone – the treadmills become clothing holders and gym memberships go unused.

In “Getting a Flat Belly Sucks”, Maurice Chuka shares with readers those all too familiar excuses that will guarantee failure in the battle to loose weight and various tips to stay motivated.  This is a brief book which serves best as a quick set of reminders of those keys to success many of us already know but need to be prodded to follow.

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

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.

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.