Tuesday, May 8, 2018

The Memory Tree (Carson Chronicles, #2)

The Memory Tree (Carson Chronicles, #2)

Author John A Heldt provided me with an e-copy of The Memory Tree, the second book in the Carson Chronicles.

I have had the pleasure of reading all of Mr. Heldt's books to this point. I have given five stars to each book so far on the sites that require them. That is 70 stars (I wonder where he keeps them all). The Memory Tree continues his run of fantastic books. I have been witness to his growth as an author, he continues to raise the bar for himself with each new book. Always an excellent writer/story teller, it has been fun to see his work evolve.

The Memory Tree continues the story of the Carson children playing time-traveler tag with their parents. This book, as is the first in the series, has a more adult feel to it. Some sexuality (not at all graphic, although in one case, almost. There, my spoiler), some  violence, mildly graphic. Mostly though it is a good family oriented time traveling adventure. The story-line(s) cover multiple countries as the family spreads out in their attempt to finally reunite with their parents.

We have historic events weaved throughout some you will know (you may have heard of WWI), some a little less well known, at least they were to me. We also have romance, loss, heartbreak balanced with humor, adventure, terror and uplifting humanity.

Our author does not shy away from the stereotypical difficulties presented in most time travel stories, he in fact embraces them and weaves them into at times, heartbreaking moments or heart warming ones. This story so complex it keeps the reader hooked. I don't know if it is purposeful or not, but Mr. Heldt uses a short chapter format, usually 4 or 5 pages at most. What this does is allow the many story-lines to flow without the reader losing track of where the story is going. It also keeps, me at least, reading further into the night than I should. It's just too easy to tell myself, "One more chapter" until five or six later when I say "One more", you get the idea.

Author Heldt (remember, John A. Heldt, leave out the A and you'll get the wrong author) has developed a family of characters that the reader comes to really care about. I unashamedly will admit to becoming teary eyed several times, he makes their situations so moving.

I could go on and on about the virtues of The Memory Tree by John A. Heldt, but suffice to say, this is an awesome book and I highly recommend you check it out. Enjoy!


Mike

Friday, May 4, 2018

Crooked E: A Short Story

Crooked E: A Short Story

Rebecca McNutt sent me an e-copy of Crooked E: A Short Story just because I requested it.

Crooked E is a retelling of the neighborhood haunted house story. The house with the spooky history that people use to scare each other. Ms. McNutt does a good job of telling the story. While it has been told in many incarnations, Crooked E does manage to be original in its own way. 

The author does a good job of creating the proper atmospheric dread. She created the perfect protagonist to relate the story. We want to shout "get away from them" as we can tell something bad is coming.

The ending was no surprise, but that is what I liked. It is what I wanted to read. Sometimes the "ending with a twist" just feels abusive when it doesn't fit the narrative.

A good quick spooky read, kind of like the ghost stories we like to share around a campfire. Enjoy!

Mike


Surfing with Snakes and Dragons: and Other Tales of Suburbia

Surfing with Snakes  Dragons

Author Roger J. Couture sent me a print copy of Surfing with Snakes & Dragons: and Other Tales of Suburbia for review.

For me this was not an easy read. The verbiage of Mr. Couture is complex and beautifully descriptive, but does not lend itself to quick reading. I don't say this as criticism but sharing how the book affected me.

There are eight stories on varied topics delving deeply into the existential conflicts the characters were dealing with. We see characters at all substrata of society dealing with similar problems. Social or financial status does not protect from such dilemmas.

Along the way we get a bit of a primer on such topics as surfing (Surprised?), street life, marriage, race car driving and relationships; both casual and committed.

We see there are people living "low" status lives in strictly honorable ways. We see the struggles of drug use and the paranoia that can come with it. We see the adrenaline junkies who will never "grow up". People who live life on the edge. People who live lives of quiet desperation.

Surfing with Snakes & Dragons explores all these themes and more. There are moments of levity, romance, tenderness and love sprinkled throughout. A balance of life in general.

As I said Surfing with Snakes & Dragons... by Roger J. Couture is not a simple read, but it is a satisfying one. Enjoy!


Mike 



Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Gun Kiss

Gun Kiss

I received an ecopy of Gun Kiss from author Khaled Talib for review.

Wow! This is an action packed book. Semi-spy meets Hollywood mega-star (How is part of the plot).
Very high body count. Graphic violence perpetrated by a truly deranged bad guy. The action just never lets up, and this may be the knock against the book. Too much nonstop violent action can lead to a kind of fatigue in the reader (it did in me). 

The scope of the story covers the world and does tie the story together well. The various story lines are intertwined effectively. 

The romance in the story does not get the attention it deserves in my opinion. It becomes secondary to the violent action when it is more integral to the tale. This made the book a bit unbalanced.

I did over all enjoy Gun Kiss as shoot 'em up action and the negatives I share here were mostly easily overlooked. However there was one point I couldn't get past, and I break my own rule because this is a bit of a spoiler. Toward the end of the story our author attempts to introduce a story line of racism and social justice that just doesn't fit the story as constructed. It was off-putting for me. Not because of his message, but that it was such a jarring distraction to the story.

Gun Kiss by Khaled Talib is over the top action, and if that is your bag, you'll like this book. Enjoy!


Mike

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Winell Road

Winell Road by [Foster, Kate]

I won a print copy of Winell Road by Kate Foster in a Goodreads Giveaway.

Winell Road is a middle grade book about life on a truly weird street. 

Our young hero Jack lives on Winell Road, populated by more strange people than any road should. We see how his twelve year old mind processes this strangeness. 

There are lots of twists and turns. People go from being friends to suspects and back again at a dizzying pace.As in any good middle grade story, Winell Road operates with the premise that Jack is the only person who sees and can resolve what is going on in his neighborhood. The "secret" of Winell Road is amazing in scope, and a fun mystery to be solved.

Winell Road by Kate Foster is a fun middle grade story for all ages. Enjoy!

Mike

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

The Streets of Nottingham

The Streets of Nottingham

Author Auckly Simwinga provided an ecopy of The Streets of Nottingham for review.

The Streets of Nottingham reads like a retelling of a mythological story. But since I can't say which one, and no one has told me this is so, I accept it as completely invented by the author. And inventive it is. 

A true quest story (the best kind), our hero Adam is off to Nottingham to find a healer who knows he's coming but isn't waiting for him, in the city that doesn't exist. How's that for a quest?

He embarks on his quest with no more knowledge than that to go on. The obstacles he encounters are monumental at times. Obviously he perseveres (otherwise we wouldn't have a book). Being a fantasy reader, the story didn't necessarily surprise me, but I can't say it was predictable either. It was a fun ride.

The Streets of Nottingham is a action filled fantasy quest adventure, a heartwarming love story with mythic underpinnings. Enjoy!

Mike 

Ebba, the First Easter Hare (Spring)

Ebba, the first Easter Hare (SPRING) (FOUR SEASONS Book 2)

Ever have to try to explain to a child why the Easter Bunny brings eggs?

Ebba, the First Easter Hare by Leen Lefebre tells the story. It is a dark and foreboding world Ebba inhabits. As you would expect, she is a truly good hare (the story differentiates between hares and rabbits). Our heroine (hareoine?) is on a quest to find a place of light. 

Ebba, the First Easter Hare is not light fantasy in my mind. It is a bit more dark than I would have expected. But it is a great story non-the-less. To explain about the eggs would be a spoiler, so no. During her quest, Ebba learns about the larger world and meets other inhabitants all while trying to live her motto: Never show fear.

Looking up the author Leen Lefebre, I found she lives in Belgium. This may explain my one negative, the book is a bit choppy, like (surprise) it was translated from another language. Minor complaint, and readers will enjoy having an answer to "that question". A quick read that I got to enjoy right at Easter.  book

This book operates on several levels; a children's story, a morality play, a philosophical exploration or just a fun read about a hare. You can choose for yourself. A fun story. Enjoy!

Mike