February 24, 2017

Embellished by Karen Glista

Embellished is Book 1 of the Chronicles of Orian written by Karen Glista.

In the midst of a terrible hurricane in Galveston, Texas, Travis and his critically ill sister Bekka, together with three others are magically transported to the beautiful but dangerous world of Orian, while playing an online game. Orian is inhabited by various races aside from humans. There are the Stouts, the Vaetters, the Kytes, the Eutracians and the ferocious and beastly creatures called the Vadarcs.

As soon as Travis realizes what happened, his first thought is to find a way back where they come from and leave the dangerous world they find themselves in. However, Bekka does not feel the same way, because she arrives in Orian in the best of health and with no sign of the dreadful disease that already claimed her mother’s life.

Will they find a way back to Galveston before they all fall prey to any of the dangers lurking in every corner of Orian?

Aside from the obviously great premise, this book has an amazing plot with unpredictable twists and surprising turns of events told in easy-to-read style. The descriptions of the setting are vividly detailed and so do the various scenes from fighting scenes to love scenes. The ending is a combination of resolved conflict and introduction of a new adventure for Book 2.

However, I can only name a few of the characters who are particularly likable, Randar and Ana, probably Travis but his role is smaller than I expected. Moreover, though the characters are mostly teenagers and the introductory subject is online gaming, the scenes of gore and violence as well as the detailed love scenes may be suitable for more matured readers.

Congratulations to Karen Glista (@ElizabethGlist1) on such an enjoyable book! For more books by the author, visit Karen Glista Books

February 19, 2017

The Dark Companions by M.A. Kassel

The Dark Companions is a dark fantasy thriller written by M.A. Kassel.

Every child in Ursyca is partnered with a monster, a dark companion, at birth. On the child’s 16th birthday, a showdown takes place between him and his dark companion. While the monster feeds on his fears and nightmares as it grows, the child prepares for the fateful day. It is either he wins and takes control of the monster or he is eaten alive.

Sid is a young ore digger who wants to be a powerful Subduer. He feeds his beast with his pain and misery hoping to subdue and control it and save his sister Eyleen from being eaten by her monster. On the day of his showdown, however, something goes terribly wrong and Sid has to leave his village to look for help. Meanwhile, the obsessed and bloodthirsty Count Kalderan is intent to find every Subduer in the land to increase his power.

This is an action-packed and adventure-filled dark fantasy novel that will keep you reading. Written in easy to read style, various scenes are carefully and vividly depicted. Chasing, fighting and battle scenes are presented in details and the different types of monsters are described complete with various abilities.

In addition to the great plot is a set of well-developed characters, some exceptionally admirable and endearing while others are totally disgusting and loathsome. Though I particularly like Zee for her adventuresome spirit, I like Sid the most. I admire his determination and strength of character. Moreover, the story is made up of seemingly unending trials and unexpected turn of events faced with the most unlikely allies.

However, I found the description of Eyleen more fitting for a little girl instead of a teenager. Moreover, there are several noticeable errors which include misspelled and missing words. Finally, there are some obscene languages as well as violent and gory details which may not be suitable for young readers.

Though I prefer a different ending, I still enjoyed reading the entire book.  This is a great story of 'camaraderie, compassion and sense of sacrifice' and I recommend it to all fans of dark fantasy.

Congratulations to M.A. Kassel on such an amazing book!

February 12, 2017

The Whiteland King by Adrian G. Hilder

The battle for Valendo against Pragius and his undead army continues in The General’s Legacy, Part 2: The Whiteland King (The General of Valendo Book 2), written by Adrian G. Hilder.

Leaving his two mages to help defend Dendra Castle, the Archmage of Valendo takes his daughter Petra on a mission to Nearhon. With only thirty four men including the Silver Warrior , the Archmage and his daughter, and other members of the original Valendo unit, the young general, Prince Corylus, the grandson and protégé of the legendary general of Valendo, rode to Nearhon to face King Klonag, the Whiteland King. Unbeknownst to Prince Cory, his beloved Julia is King Klonag's visitor in Bytper Castle.

This is a fast-paced and action-filled fantasy book with a touch of humor and romance. It combines the wisdom and experience of the old and the tenacity and strength of the young as Prince Cory fights side by side with his grandfather’s old warriors and friends.

The writing is quite engaging with realistic descriptions of the beautiful, snow-covered Whiteland and amusing dialogues particularly between the veteran warriors. The story has a subtle touch of mystery as the author successfully hides a cunning spy in the midst of the assemblage.

In addition to a set of memorable characters, the plot is neatly tied up after a climactic and intense battle. It is followed by a satisfying ending but one that leaves the readers excited in anticipation for the next book in the series.

I just noticed, however, that Petra’s role was very minimal compared to her character description and backstories. I was expecting to see more from her than was actually in the book. Still, I enjoyed this book a lot and I recommend it to fans of fantasy novels. However, though I believe that this book can be read as a standalone, I strongly suggest to read book 1 first to fully enjoy book 2. 

Congratulations to Adrian G. Hilder (@AdrianGHilder) on an amazing second book in a series. You may click HERE for more of the author’s books.

February 10, 2017

Come on Home, Children by Victoria Randall

Come on home, Children is Book 2 of the Children in Hiding Series written by Victoria Randall.

The year is 2042. Under No Unwanted Children Act, anybody who wants to have an offspring is required to acquire a reproductive permit also called a baby license. Otherwise, the pregnancy is illegal and punishable by law.  

Is has been four years since Willa escaped from Renton Children’s Center. She lives with Adele, an older woman who took her when she was pregnant with her daughter Katy. Katy is now a smart nearly four-year old girl and Willa dreams of finding a stable job and a better home for them.

Willa’s hopes and dreams are shattered when she comes home to find Adele’s house locked, with Adele in jail and Katy under the custody of the Bureau of Population Management. She is willing to give everything she has and do everything she can to get Katy back. Being a non-person entity herself, Willa is powerless alone. But with loyal friends and a powerful ally rallying behind her, Willa dares to step up and reinvent herself to rescue the most important person in her life.

Unlike the first book in the series, Get on Board,Little Children, this has a slower pacing and is less suspenseful though just as intense and exciting. Moreover, the plot is a little more extreme while the romance part gives the book an entirely different appeal to readers, especially to those who enjoy a bit of heart-tickling scenes.

The characterization is great with the main protagonist, Willa, portrayed as a tough and strong woman and a patient and loving mother while her daughter Katy is a very smart and a very brave girl. The minor characters, which are given short but enough descriptions for backstories, each plays an important role. Casually worded throughout the entire story, the book is easy to read and understand.  

Needless to say, I enjoyed this book as much as I enjoyed the first one. Congratulations to Victoria Randall (@Entlover27) on another great book! For updates on this series, click HERE.

February 6, 2017

Strangers in Another Country by Lawrence G. Taylor

Strangers in Another Country is a set of four tales, two short stories and two novellas, written by Lawrence G. Taylor featuring Guyanese men in their quest for ‘a better life’ in England and Sweden.

The first story, A Day in The Life of Mr. Charlie Cheddar is about a lonely, bitter and unsociable low ranking clerk in one of North London Post Offices who came from a tiny Caribbean country seven years ago. After several years of depriving himself of the company of others, Mr. Cheddar agrees to be introduced to Helen by his newly acquired friend, Julian.

The second story, Betty and the Black Puppy, is about Betty Macintosh from Scotland who lives together with David Jones from British Guiana. Without consulting David first, Betty brings home a lost puppy. As soon as she gets home, Betty feels apprehensive about David’s reaction regarding her ‘good deed.’ Little does she know that that seemingly petty gesture will shed some light in their romantic relationship.

The third tale is a novella. Binky’s Reverie is about a young Guyanese man, who, in hopes of having a relationship with the smart and beautiful young woman from Sweden whom he met in London, makes the trip from England. Filled with romantic notion, Binky alights from the train hopeful and excited.

The final tale, another novella, Strangers in Another Country, features Moby, a Guyanese working as a hospital porter in Stockholm who meets an Afro-American from Brooklyn. They spend several hours talking over cups of coffee and then go out to meet other ‘brothers’ in a former jazz club.

This is a well-written, very entertaining and highly amusing book about expatriates living in a country culturally different from their own, their ways of life, their hopes, their dreams, their pains and disappointments. The best part of the book is the characterization. All the characters are well-developed and given ample back stories making them very relatable with their flaws and weaknesses. I find the stories humorous and very realistic. Each plot, though seemingly ordinary, is quite engaging in that it can happen to anyone we personally know.

Congratulations to Lawrence G. Taylor (@lgt41) on such a great book. For other books by the author, visit LGT41 Blog

January 26, 2017

Get on Board Little Children by Victoria Randall

Get on Board Little Children is the first book of the Children in Hiding Series written by Victoria Randall.

Sophie has always loved kids. As a kindergarten teacher, she is constantly surrounded by children and would love to have one of her own, though not in the very near future. It’s not because she and her husband Josh are not yet ready, but because they are still saving some money to apply for a ‘reproductive permit’ or what Sophie calls a ‘baby license’ without which getting pregnant is considered unlawful pregnancy or class C felony under the ‘No Unwanted Children Act’ and is punishable by law.

So, when Sophie finds out that she is expecting, she and her husband Josh must find a way to acquire the permit as soon as possible. However, they are not ready for what she learns next. Suddenly, Sophie and Josh are on the run. With the help of the revived Underground Railway, they have to get to the Tijuana border as soon as they can.

This is an exciting, suspenseful and fast-paced dystopian thriller that will keep the readers on the edge of their seats. With an unpredictable plot written in casual and easy-to-read style, the book is simply a page turner. The book has two well-developed protagonists and a variation of minor characters, all of them very interesting. Each introduction of a new character is clouded by doubt and apprehension from not knowing whom to trust. The author is able to maintain the suspense until nearly the end and rewards the readers with a satisfying ending but at the same time leaves the readers anticipating for the next book.

Congratulations to Victoria Randal (@Entlover27) on such an amazing book! For updates on this book series, click HERE.

January 21, 2017

Sapphire Ice by Hallee Bridgeman

Sapphire Ice is Book 1 of the Jewel Series written by Hallee Bridgeman. It is an inspirational romance featuring Robin Bartlett.

Robin and her two sisters, Maxine and Sarah, have a rough childhood. At 15 years of age, Robin learned to take care of herself and vowed never to depend on any man. Holding two jobs, Robin works her way through life and sends her sisters to college asking help from no one.

When successful businessman, Antonio Viscolli, catches Robin in a situation which might compromise one of her precious jobs, Robin becomes defensive and misconstrues Antonio’s gesture of kindness as insult.

Aside from genuine amusement and natural curiosity, Antonio feels something more for Robin. He believes God has led him to her and he prays for God’s guidance on how to win Robin over to God.

This is a beautiful story of love and faith. Robin’s love for her sisters fuels the fire that sustains her to carry on an exhausting life of selflessness and sacrifice. Tony’s unwavering faith in God brings him to Robin and eventually brings Robin back to God.

The entire book is casually worded and though there are parts that sound preachy, they are, apparently, not meant to antagonize non-Christian readers. Some scenes are emotionally moving that some readers may find themselves shedding tears and examining their faith.

I think the romance part of the book is where the readers can relate the most as it is exactly what every girl and woman dreams of, that is, meeting a God-fearing man who treats a girl with utmost respect and will go out of the way to make her feel special and put her second to God.

The characters are well developed with sufficient backstories. The simple but unexpected twist near the end gives the book a suspenseful and very satisfying ending.

Congratulations to Hallee Bridgeman (@halleeb) on such a beautiful and inspiring book. For more books by the author, click HERE

January 13, 2017

Enchant by Demelza Carlton

Enchant: Beauty and The Beast Retold by Demelza Carlton is Book 1 of Romance a Medieval Fairytale Series.

Zuleika is a young but powerful enchantress. After she is forced by wicked King Thorn to cast a terrible curse, Zuleika flees and travels the world. When her father’s ship is lost at sea, Zuleika comes looking for it and ends up in an enchanted island ruled by Prince Vardan, a kind and honorable man afflicted by a terrible curse unknown even to Zuleika.

Though the similarities between this book and the classic fairytale Beauty and The Beast are quite apparent, Enchant is a wonderful book with a charm of its own. By making ‘Belle’ a powerful enchantress, the author gives the readers a stronger female protagonist that women of today can relate to. Prince Vardan’s chivalry tickles the heart of female readers making him quite easy to love despite his beastly appearance.

The book is not simply romantic, it is moving, engaging and memorable. I love everything about the book and I couldn’t stop once I started reading. I couldn’t wait to get to the part when they admit to being in love with each other, but the author has a way of saving the best parts until the last so I had to be as patient as I could. The ending, however, feels kind of incomplete for me.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed this book and I recommend it to fans of fairytales, fantasy and romance novels.

Congratulations to Demelza Carlton (@DemelzaCarlton) on such a wonderful book. For more books by the author, visit Demelza Carlton’s Place. 

January 4, 2017

Now I Know It's Not My Fault by Laurie B. Levine

Now I Know It’s Not My Fault is a poignant, eye-opening novel written by Laurie B. Levine.

Alex Geller is a bright teenager who has a habit of cracking up ‘wise ass’ comments. With the sudden death of her mother when she was nine years old, Alex, together with her two brothers, is left with her emotionally unavailable, perfectionist and fault-finding father.

When Paula Hanover, her beautiful and ‘very cool’ Science teacher, starts paying attention to her, Alex begins to feel special and loved. Finally, she knows what it feels like to have a mother. However, Paula is not as kind or as sweet as Alex thinks she is.    
This is a touching and memorable book about physical, emotional and psychological abuse suffered by a girl under the hands of a selfish and expert manipulator. More than that, the book displays the needs of a teenager to belong, to be understood and to be encouraged.

Moreover, the book depicts the effects of callous and unmindful criticisms to a teenager especially by a father who is supposed to be supportive and accepting. It portrays how emotionally damaging an expression of disappointment can be to a child who is trying to find her place in the world.  

The book is written in conversational tone and easy to read. The dialogues are very realistic especially between teenagers like Alex and Amber, Alex and Adam and Alex and Sandra.

However, I noticed several errors (typos, missing words) within the book. Though they did not deter me from fully enjoying the story, they were an unwelcome distraction.

Congratulations to Laurie B. Levine (@laurieblevine) on such a great book! 

January 1, 2017

My 2017 Booklist

This is a very short list. Needless to say, it’s not complete yet and as a book reviewer and book blogger, I add a title on the list as I go along. However, there are books that I plan to read this year. These are on my list last year but, apparently, I haven’t gotten around to reading them. Some are mainstream while others are indie.

Most of the books I read come from Online Book Club, my employer, where I do official reviews. Others are free e-books, from Amazon, which I find interesting. Most of them I feature on my blog. A few come from Booksgosocial where I write Amazon reviews in exchange for free books. Most of these I also post on my blog. Fewer still are books from indie authors who trusted me enough to give me Advanced Review Copies in exchange for honest reviews. Late this year, I discovered Instafreebee where I get free e-books, some of them I featured on my blog.  

This year, I only have a few on the list, mainstream and indie.

1. Don Quixote by Cervantes

2. Inkdeath by Cornelia Funke
3. The Key by Marianne Curley
4. Winter by Marissa Meyer
5. The Necromancer by Michael Scott
6. The Time Paradox by Eoin Colfer
7. Hollow City by Ransom Riggs
8. Nightmares : The Sleepwalker Tonic by Jason Segel
9. Fantastic Beats and Where to Find Them by JK Rowling
10. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
11. The Iron King by Julie Kagawa
12. The Path of Decisions by Mike Shelton
13. Bear Prince by Emma Alisyn/Danae Ashe
14. The Golden Maple Tree by Marc Remus
15. Faerie Prince by Rachel Morgan
16. Linear Shift by Paul Kohler
17. Annie’s Second Chance by Willee Amsden
18. Nightlord Sunset by Garon Whited
19. Hatching the Phoenix Egg by Joel Horn
20. Lost Time by DL Orton

As I already said, it’s a very short list. IF YOU’RE AN AUTHOR, you may want to have your book on that list in exchange for an honest review. If you’re a reader like myself, you may want to check out my ‘2016 Book List’ to get an idea on what books to put on your own reading list. I recommend that you read the reviews first.

2016 Book List

1. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

2. First Phone Call from Heaven by Mitch Albom
3. Paper Towns by John Green
4. Fling by Lily IonaMackenzie
5. Out of Time by Sarah Mackie
6. Kennedy’s Revenge by StephenL. Rodenbeck
7. Eating Bull by Carrie Rubin
8. Echo From Mount Royal byDave Riese
9. Ruby’s Choice by D. F. Jones
10. Wedding Haters by Melissa Baldwin
11. Silent Messages by John Albion
12. The Blogger by James Raven
13. Holding Fire
14. Blinders by Michael Amon
15. Blood Thief by James Holmes
16. Reflection of Innocence byJohn Tolliver
17. Eight Days by Scott Thompson
18. The Knights of Neverthelessby R.A. McClure
19. The Inlooker by Terry Tumbler
20. Junior Inquisitor byLincoln S. Farish
21. Time Stands Still by Stacy Froumis
22. Wilkes: The Awakening byJ.A. Harris
23. Don’t Be Yourself: Be ABetter Person by David Ross
24. The Last Ever After by Soman Chainani
25. What The Hand by Todd Stockwell
26.  Shot Down by Steve Snyder
27. Magora: Gallery  of Wonders by Marc Remus
28. Rune Gate by Mark Cooper
29. Prevarication: DeceitfullyYours by Monica L. Smith
30. Running to Stand Still by JTheron
31. The Day of the Tiger by William Paskett
32. The Shadows Behind HerSmile by Karen Millie-James
33. The Nuremberg Puzzle by Laurence O’Bryan
34. Hyde’s Corner by J BBergstad
35. Path of Destiny by Mike Shelton
36. Town Secrets by Scott Gelowitz
37. Necessary Evils by BillCarson
38. Provoked to Anger by CherayGardison
39. Save the Last Bullet for God by JT Alblood
40. The Spirit Guide by Elizabeth Davies
41. Being Medusa and Other Things That Suckby A. Lynn Powers
42. Land of Two Seas by ChandanSen Gupta
43. Shadow Cell by Joseph D’Antoni
44. Saved by Angels by Bruce Van Natta
45. Dead-End Sex by Arnold Holtzman
46. Smiling Exercises and Other Stories byDan Malakin
47. Peter’s Sisters by LM Foster
48. Of My Own Hand’s Weaving by Mary Boscoletta
49. The Faerie Guardian byRachel Morgan
50. Cyber Storm by Matthew Mather
51. Truth Unveiled by KimCleary
52. Aisuru by Anma Natsu
53. Witch of the Cards by Caherine Stine
54. Creole Moon, The Betrayal by ST Holmes
55. The Princess Companion by MelanieCellier
56. Dawn’s Eerie Light by Roy Ziegler
57. Teepees and Trailer Parks by HopeCallaghan
58. A Deadly Secret
59. Loved, Desired, Touched by the Alpha Cowboyby DD Boone
60. The Lost Identity Casualties by KimEkemar
61. Sabbatical of the Mind by David L. Winters
62. Bag of Bones by Hope Callaghan
63. Spiritual Dog: ‘Bear’ by J. Wesley Porter
64. Paper in the Wind by Olivia MasonCharles
65. The Stalker by Hope Callaghan
66. Disclosing the Secret by Vincent Amato
67. Anna’s Way by DF Jones
68. Genna’s Fight by Sheldon P. Newton
69. The Dragon Ring by C. Craig Coleman
70. Ink by Zita Harrison
71. Summer Storm by Tori Del Rey
72. Blowing Smoke by George Hiegel
73. The Cloud Seeders by James Zerndt
74. Armageddon’s Arc by Victor Baptiste
75. Neworld Papers: The Warriors’ Tale by KBShaw
76. Linear Shift by Paul Kohler
77. Who Are The Joneses Anyway by Bob andSusan Karcher
78. The Drift by Chris Thrall
79. Why You Won’t Go To Hell byBen Andrews
80. Bear Princess by Emma Alisyn/Danae Ashe
81. Altering Events by DennisN. Del Prince
82. Never Never Part 1 by Colleen Hoover/Tarryn Fisher
83. The Marvels by Brian Selznick
84. Puzzle of Fate by A. RezaKamarei, PhD
85. Never Never Part 2 by Colleen Hoover/Tarryn Fisher
86. Never Never Part 3 by Colleen Hoover/Tarryn Fisher
87. Sandy’s Story by DF Jones
88. Living on Sugar Mountain by Ryan Stadler
89. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
90. Accidental Cinderella by Emily Evans
91. Re-Enactment Project by KO Johnson
92. Catcher in the Rye by J. Salinger
93. Talk to The Moon by Katlynn Brooke
94. Beautiful Lies by RM Lagman
95. The Dark by Marianne Curley
96. The Night Before Christmas by RoseCollins
97. Elementals by Michael Anstead
98. 9th Street Chronicles by WE Self
99. 1984 by George Orwell
100. The Reanimated Legends ofRock by Durell Mitchell
101. Annie’s 1st Break by WilleeAmsden
102. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by JK Rowling
103. Lost Coast Rocket by Joel Horn
104. Diana The Abduction byRiana Alammar
105. Cress by Marissa Meyer
106. Out of the Box Everlasting by JenniferTheriot
107. Gift of the Mancynn byDominic Hodgson
108. All’s Fair in Love and War by J Theron
109. The Royal Dragoneers by MRMatthias
110. Dream Oracle Series by Seraph
111. The Origin of F.O.R.C.E. by Sam Miller II
112. The Valley of Silence by Nora Roberts
113. Motivation 3 by Swift
114. Unspeakable Acts by Janet Leigh Green
115. Parable of the Tooth by KDLassiter
116. Crossing in Time by DL Orton
117. The Honey Bubble by GeorgePutnam
118. Running Home by Barbara Ellen Brink
119. Wonder by RJ Palacio
120. Police Under Fire by AubreyA. Barker
121. The Perseid Collapse by Steven Konkoly
122. Tabikat by Harriet Redfern
123. The Black Star by SD Smith
124. The Magic of Thieves by c. Greenwood
125. The Secrets in My Eyes byHarry James Hamilton
126. ROAN by ER Barr
127. Interesting Times by Matthew Storm
128. The Underbelly by EvelynCole
129. Gun by Lee Hayton
130. A Peripatetic Life by Raymond Walley
131. The General’s Legacy by Adrian G. Hilder
132. L.I.F.E. in the 23rd Century by Jason R. Richter
133. Nightmares by Jason Segel/Kristen Miller
134. Coal by Constance Burris
135. The Light by Judith T.Lambert
136. Achieve Your Dreams by Scott Hughes
137.  A Soul Divided by Daniel M. Quilter 
138. Altdorf by JK Swift