Sunday, August 30, 2015

A Circle Around Forever

I received an e-version of A Circle Around Forever in exchange for an honest review.

This is an awesome book! It's kind of hard to describe without giving away spoilers (which you know I hate).

Author Robert K. Swisher Jr. has told an epic tale of life, love, and deep emotion in a generation spanning story that will at times break your heart, fill you with rage, lift you to heights of joy, lower you depths of despair. What more could you ask from a book?

The characters are so compelling you can't help but experience many mixed emotions about each of them. It is at times a very painful book to read, and I feared I would not be able to finish it because of the emotions it stirred in me. I think this speaks to the skill of the story teller, to wring such powerful feelings out of a reader is a true gift. Obviously (and happily), I did finish the book. And, I am so glad I did!

The joy and subtle humor of the ending is too delicious to miss. I can't express adequately how emotionally satisfying A Circle Around Forever is.

Readers of my reviews will undoubtedly see that I generally give positive reviews of the books I read (why shouldn't I? I only read books that interest me), but A Circle Around Forever went well beyond mere enjoyment of a book. It truly touched me emotionally. There is really nothing I can add to this review that would be of value.

I strongly encourage you to read A Circle Around Forever, but be prepared, it may well be to you what it was to me, more than just a really good book. Enjoy!


Bone Box

Author Jay Amberg offered me an eversion of his book Bone Box in exchange for an honest review, so here goes!

The story is set in a Turkish archaeological dig. Most of the main characters are well developed and complex. I was pleasantly surprised when I realized what the relationship between the main male and female characters would be (ha-ha, no spoiler).

The overall mood of the book was maintained throughout, even as characters relocated and interacted with new characters.

I can see how fundamental religious readers could find things they disagree with or may even be offended by. My response to them would be: It's fiction!

The premise; a long buried archaeological find which could set the world on its ear, is not necessarily new. But Bone Box is a refreshing story that I found to be unpredictable and entertaining. There is plenty of action, adventure, murder and mayhem for the most jaded action reader. 

The locale, while obvious in the context of the story, was interesting to me. I've not read many books set in the desert climes of this book. Amberg did well to convey the feeling of day to day life in the area. Not so much the social aspects, although they are there, but how uncomfortable the climate would be for non-locals.

The action and intrigue of Bone Box held my interest until the very end.

I think this will be an enjoyable read for any action/adventure reader. Definitely worth the read. Enjoy!


Warrior Lore

Warrior Lore was provided to me by author Ian Cumpstey in exchange for an honest review. Lucky for him, it's the only kind I write!

Warrior Lore is a collection of English translations of Scandinavian/Norse Mythology and epic poetry. Being of German descent, I was immediately interested in reading this work.

The collection obviously represents a tremendous amount of work. Translating with an eye to maintaining the integrity of the original seems to me to be a true labor of love.

Author Cumpstey is not the "creator" of the tales told here, so I can't speak strictly to his writing as such. But, I can express my respect and admiration for his academic effort. The humor, heroics, pathos and grandeur of these stories speak for themselves.

I greatly enjoyed Warrior Lore, and recommend it to anyone with an interest in mythology and stories of epic and heroic deeds. Enjoy!


The Curse of the Neverland

I won The Curse of the Neverland in a First Reads giveaway.

I think this book is intended more for females than males, but I still enjoyed it.

The story is a continuation of sorts of Peter Pan. The heroine is Peter Pan's granddaughter. A great premise for the story. Author Lindy MacLaine does a good job of connecting the new story to the classic.

A lot of message here, especially for girls. The author has even included discussion questions at the end of the book. The story concluded: The end of book one. So I expect there will be more to come.

Young girls will probably love this, and forthcoming books, immensely. Woven into the lessons of teamwork, self confidence, and friendship are; action, humor, and anger.

Although, as an older male, I am clearly not a part of the target audience for The Curse of the Neverland, this was still an enjoyable read.

As I said before, it is targeted at a younger female audience. I do think it will be a welcome and valuable addition to that genre. I recommend it for that audience. Enjoy!



My copy of Infernous by Zachary R. Zinn is the result of a First Reads giveaway.

Infernous is a very interesting work. It's the story of  demonic possession from the point of view of the possessed rather than just a witnessing of affected parties. This was new for me. Books I've read from this genre don't usually focus on the victim's understanding of their experience.

I enjoyed Infernous. At 83 pages it was a very fast read (it only took me an hour). It was fast-paced and action packed. There was no part of the story that lagged for me. It's not a story that will probably stay with me for a long time, but it was a good quick read.

Infernous is a dark story. It's not a feel good story. Everyone does not live happily ever after.(hope that is not too much of a spoiler)

My only criticism is that it may be too short. I didn't really get to know/connect with characters.

If you enjoy dark scary stories, Infernous works on those levels, and I think it would be worth your time to read. Enjoy!



I received a copy of Wysteria by Howard D. Beebe as a First Reads giveaway.

I don't really have the words to say how much I loved this book! Wysteria explores the world of lucid dreaming. I know very little about this topic, but I know this is a good book.

It is one of the most positive and uplifting stories I have read in a while. The author weaves a tale of fantasy, romance, action and adventure. Many questions about the nature of dreaming, and the dream world, are explored.

There are good guys, bad guys, and in between guys. Goddesses, nymphs, immortals and everyday people. The story is so well told that my disbelief was immediately suspended and I was completely engrossed in the story. It moves along at a good pace. Even at 350 pages I read it in a matter of a few days. Wysteria is one of those books that you will be sorry has ended.

The book is written in such a way that a sequel is possible, but personally I don't think I would want one. The story is complete as is. Anything more would seem to me to be just more words. Of course I could be wrong, I'm not a writer, and Mr. Beebe has proven to me he is a word-master.

Wysteria is a story you will feel good after reading. I highly recommend it. Enjoy!



Friday, August 21, 2015

The Protocols of Uma

The Protocols of Uma was provided to me as an ebook in exchange for an honest review. So, here we go.

I did enjoy this book. It read like it was doing a lot of set up for things to come. The story was interesting enough to hold my interest and whet my appetite for more. There are a lot of unresolved questions, and since it is the start of a series, has a to-be-continued kind of ending.

There are multiple story lines to follow, several different characters. None of which are there merely there to take up space. Each has their own story, their own motivation, and their own integral part of the story. Not a lot of action as yet, but again I felt this book was laying the groundwork for the next book(s) in the series.

I have connected to several characters and eagerly await the opportunity to see what comes next. I found Protocols..., to be more cerebral. I caught myself asking questions, such as; why did they do that? How did they expect to maintain this? I usually accept a story as it is presented, so this reaction was different for me. Not better or worse, just different.

All this to say, Protocols of Uma is a good book, the time to read it. But, be prepared to get caught up in a series that will keep you wanting more, and having to wait for the next installment. (I'm not the most patient person in the world but, what ya gonna do?))



Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Ardalia:Turquoise Water

Turquoise Water is the second book in the series about Ardalia, introduced in The Breath of Aoles.

As a sequel, Turquoise Water is absolutely great! The characters continue to grow and evolve with the story. This doesn't always happen. Often, sequels merely place the same characters in a different setting. Not here.

Turquoise Water not only continues the story began in Breath of Aoles, but elevates it. All the characters are expanded, developed more fully, and held true to their nature. The story builds in action, anticipation, and complexity. New characters are introduced as the story builds.

You know by now I try not to do spoilers, nut the fate of their world is in jeopardy.

I gave Breath of Aoles 4 out of 5 stars only because the ending was fust too abrupt for me. Not so this time. I gladly give Turquoise Water a full 5 stars. I still have that general disappointment at having to wait for the finale, but it was much smoother this time. If you can say that for a continuing story.

Turquoise Water, is not a stand alone book by any means. You need to read Breath of Aoles, to completely understand and enjoy Turquoise Water. But hey, I said the first book was great so go for it!


Friday, August 14, 2015

Braile House

Disclaimer: I won Braile House in a first reads giveaway.

Braile House is a seriously good horror story. Author James Wayne King (interesting last name for a horror writer) created a wonderfully scary story. He intertwined several characters story lines into one epic tale of supernatural terror. Of course the story is far from a one-dimensional horror story. King weaves in just the right amount of humor, action, adventure, romance, and yes, sex, to keep the reader engaged and not just stuck in the overall darkness of the story.

Covering a span of some 20 years, Braile House shows evils intrusion into the lives of several otherwise disconnected people. The dark mood is carried and intensified throughout. Even in the "lighter" parts of the story, the reader knows the evil is not far away.

The only down side for me is that, at times, the story is a little disjointed. Perhaps it is just me, but occasionally I had difficulty knowing which character was talking. I sometimes had to read several sentences to know whose story line I was in. This is a minor criticism as it didn't happen that often, but for me it did happen. This is the only reason I did not give the fifth star.

I recommend Braile House to any lover of a good scary story. It held my interest and I'm guessing it will hold yours.


Sunday, August 9, 2015


I just finished reading Godforsaken by Suren Hakobyan. I received an e version of this book in exchange for a honest review, so here it is.

I really enjoyed this book. At first I wasn't sure about this book. I often fear that books focused on angels, demons or other paranormal type themes are designed to proselytize a particular religious viewpoint. I didn't get that feeling from Godforsaken, If that is author Hakobyan's intention here, it got by me.

What this book does have is a compelling story. Action, intrigue, sibling rivalry, family politics, romance, a little sex, are all woven into a story where the reader (at least me) doesn't know for sure who the good guys or bad guys truly are. The only character I could root for completely was the heroine Lily. Everyone else was a mixture of conflicting motivations and virtues/vices.

All of this makes Godforsaken a roller coaster of a read, twists and turns, ups and downs, but always building in anticipation.

Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your viewpoint, Godforsaken is part of a series. Unfortunately, the story is not resolved in this book. Fortunately, there is more to read in the next book. I look forward to it.

Godforsaken is a story well worth reading if you enjoy the themes I've already listed.

I recommend Godforsaken. Enjoy!


Monday, August 3, 2015

The Voyage (The Osteria Chronicles #2)

First things first. I received an eformat copy of The Voyage through firstreads.

Now, to the important part. This book is awesome! The story kept my attention throughout. I studied mythology in college a hundred years ago so I had some understanding of the characters prior to this reading.

The interactions of the gods and mortals was inspired. Seeing the gods behaving badly was a treat. This is not a kids version of Greek Mythology. Pretty racy at times but not too graphic. A good adult read. Not just for the sex, but for the intricate interweaving of story lines and character development.

As for the next installment in this series, two things:
One, we're going to need more rating stars, and
Two, Is it ready yet?!

I can't wait to read the conclusion to this trilogy 

Ardalia: The Breath of Aoles (Ardalia #1)

I really loved this book!

I received a pdf version of this book from the author. That is why it took me so long to read, I had to read on my computer.

The story is great. Lots of adventure, action, some romance. The main character's coming of age is great to follow. He is overcoming the arrogance of youth, and realizing other cultures often have much to offer. I don't usually go out of my way to read "message" books. This didn't have the feel of a message story. The lessons are well integrated into the story.

The author has great descriptive skill. There are subplots, twists and intricacies enough to satisfy the most jaded of readers. I thoroughly enjoyed this read.

The only reason I did not award the fifth star in this review may seem petty or unimportant to some. I didn't give it solely because of the ending. I understand this book is part of a series, I get it. But, the ending is just too abrupt for me. The action of the moment was resolved, so it is not a classic cliff-hanger as such.

All around a great read. I recommend this book.


Ascension Denied

First, the disclaimer. I won this book in a first reads giveaway.

Now about he book. WOW! What a ride. This story has it all; comedy, drama, suspense, intrigue, action, you name it. Political corruption in purgatory...awesome!

I loved this story. The characters were very well developed. The story was intricate and interesting. Fallible angels, flawed administrators, and quirky denizens made this a highly entertaining read.

I hope the E.A,A, Wilson has more stories planned for these characters. I look forward to them.

This is most definitely a book worth reading. I expect to hear much more from this author.




Yeah it was a freebie through first reads.

Trespassers has it all; humor, drama, suspense, action. A well written, tight story with strong character development. Each character has their strengths and weaknesses, making them more believable and sympathetic.

The story grabbed me on the first page and held me throughout. It is one of those books that keeps you reading until the end with anticipation. The story builds to a more than satisfying conclusion with a few twists thrown in for good measure. For me, one of those books you are a little sorry to see end.

Trespassers would make a great movie.

I hope to read more from these authors, they know their stuff! Thanks guys for a great read.

Mike Siedschlag

Exodus (Shadow of the Mountain #1)

Disclaimer, disclaimer, disclaimer. I won this book in a firstreads giveaway.

Wow, the Exodus as experienced by an Egyptian. What a great premise. I don't know if any other author has done this. This was a first for me.

One might think that this would make the story less than complimentary to Judaism. Quite the contrary, it reinforces the Judeo-Christian belief. I was so impressed by the passion, compassion and sympathy with which the story was told. To experience the story as Egyptian commoners endured the Ten Plagues without really knowing why was very powerful. The people were paying for their Pharaoh's arrogance.

Obviously this is a work of fiction. Caleb, the main character is a Biblical figure but not in the detail presented here. Cliff Graham has crafted a plausible backstory rich in detail. A true story of redemption.

I will be watching for more books in this series. This book is incredible!


Revealing Hannah: The Myth of Cassandra

This book is fantastic!

Oh yeah, I received Revealing Hannah as a firstreads giveaway.

There are a few typo's in this book, but I don't know if this is the finished product or not. It looks like the proofreader got so engrossed in the story they forgot to watch for mistakes. It happens.

I like it for so many reasons. There is depth to the characters, they surprise me at times. They evolve and grow as the story progresses.

The concept od gods behaving badly is one i've read before, but i've not read a story where (spoiler alert) gods from two different cultures mix it up.

Anyone who has read my reviews knows I don't get all that excited by the "message" of the books I read. I know they all have them, but I prefer they not beat me over the head with preaching their message. Revealing Hannah works well for me in that respect. I'll let you read the book and find the message for yourself.

There is intrigue, both political and psychological, unrequited love (lust), sexual tension, humor (lots of humor) and the lampooning of social convention. This book contains all of these elements, and more, without locking into any one of them as the main vehicle for telling the story.

For me, at times the book is laugh out loud funny. At other times it is heartbreaking. It is great sci-fi fantasy. A true heroine-against-her-will fights gods, demons, social convention, boys, parents and herself to save the world. What more could you want?

I almost forgot. What I like most about this book is... THE ENDING! So many books, especially serials tend to resolve the crisis and end the book. If your lucky you get a one or two paragraph epilogue. Not with Revealing Hannah, the author does a great job of getting the characters home and back into their real lives. As a reader, I feel this is truly finishing the story. Thank you Laura Fedolfi for giving me a satisfying conclusion.

Intelligent, witty and fun. Read this book, you won't be sorry.


Fall of a Demigod

I received this book in the mail yesterday. I won it in a firstreads giveaway.

This book is really really good! The back of the book says that this is Mr. Martinez' first romance. Great job! You should write more of these.

I intended to give the book a quick look to get the idea of what to expect. I wound up reading the book cover to cover (it's short-about 86 pages or so). It grabbed me right away and held me til the end.There was action a plenty, but it is ultimately a love story.

I don't usually read "romance novels", don't get me wrong, I like romance as a part of a story. I just prefer it be a part of the larger story, not the main focus. In Fall of a Demigod there is no doubt the love story is the main focus. But the author wove the action in so skillfully that I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

I read and reviewed another of Mr. Martinez' books and was pretty harsh on the editing so I was a little nervous about how Fall of a Demigod would read. Well... there were a few problems here and there, but they did not interfere with the story at all. A smooth, fast-paced read.

Mr. Martinez has demonstrated what a great storyteller he is. I recommend this book to romance and/or action readers, you won't be disappointed.


The Ungifted Elf

Disclaimer: I won this book in a Firstreads giveaway.

I am reviewing this book/short story on two different levels.

First (and foremost), the story. Good story. It held my interest and engaged me, making me care about the characters and what happened to them. A good mix of action/adventure and introspective narrative. I think it is appropriate for middle aged readers. With only a couple of exceptions focused on sexuality that are not explained well enough for a young reader to understand. They weren't graphic but could lead to some confusion.

I think this story could be expanded into a full length novel and even be a platform to launch a series around these characters. I would be interested in following the adventures of Eckxio. Will he reconnect with Daneera? Will we learn more about Nana? There seems to me to be adequate fodder for future writing.

Second, The mechanics of the book. It's hard to identify what exactly is going on here. At times it reads as though it was not written originally in English. A kind of clunky translation. Or, perhaps, it was edited by spell check and auto correct. Many incorrect words (spelled correctly) such as "vanish" where "vanquish" was probably meant, "from where it came from", "retrieved" instead of "retreated".

These are mechanical problems which can be remedied with proper editing. I understand how difficult editing a book can be as I have helped in that process recently. These problems unfortunately detracted from my overall enjoyment of the story. It was impossible to maintain a comfortable flow of reading because I had to keep trying to figure out what the proper word should be.

Mechanical issues aside, I truly enjoyed the story and look forward to reading more of A.J. Martinez's work.

Shadow Out of the Sky

WOW! This has got to be one of the creepiest books I have ever read!

I got a pdf of the book when Brick Marlin (great name) offered me an e-version through firstreads. Unfortunately I don't have an e-reader so I had to read the pdf on my laptop.

This was probably good since I like to read in bed. I'd have never gotten to sleep! Or, would have had nightmares for sure.

Since this pdf was probably not the finished product, there were a few typos and such, but they did not detract from the overall effect. This is one seriously, grisly, horror filled story. A wide variety of characters to root for or against; some good, some, not so much. Intertwined through the terror was a thread of ultimate justice, but this did not read as the "message" of the book.

If you like your horror graphic, grisly and nonstop, This book is for you.

You've been warned!

Thanks Mr. Marlin, great book.

Mike Siedschlag

Blue Lights In A Jar

I didn't know what to expect when I started to read this book.

I received a pdf copy from the author through first reads. He included Blue Lights in a Jar along with the book that originally caught my attention, Bonus!

Blue Lights in a Jar is hard to categorize, it takes religious tenants and explores them in a slightly skewed way. Kind of like the old Twilight Zone. Concepts like Purgatory, Death and Heaven were central to a suspenseful story. The characters were engaging and sympathetic. Though not preachy it was somewhat of a morality tale. It is a well crafted story, action oriented with twists and turns I didn't see coming. Characters to root for, and against.

Unlike the other book I've read by this author, Blue Lights in a Jar was not gruesome. It was still unsettling and spooky in its way, but not terror filled. More of a thinkers spooky. It made me think about my life and what awaits me in the afterlife.

I thoroughly enjoyed Blue Lights in a Jar and recommend it to anyone who likes to think while they read. Not deep philosophical thoughts, but as the comedian used to say; "Things that make you go hmm".

Mike Siedschalg

Number of the Beast: Paladin Cycle, Book One (Paladin Cycle #1)

I recently received this book in both audio and print formats as part of first reads.

I started with the audio format as that was the first one I was given. I was enjoying it but it was hard to find time to just sit and listen. When I received the print version I switched to that.

This book is everything promised; suspenseful, sexy, violent, graphic, twisted, mysterious, romantic and demonic, but mostly... entertaining! I really got into this story. There is so much in this book, Max Redford and Lita Stone have created not just a universe, but a "multiverse" bringing several planes of existence together to tell this story.

I don't like to write spoilers in my reviews, so suffice to say I loved the prologue by God, and the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. I wasn't able to predict too much of what was going to happen in the story. I have my ideas about some of the characters in the next installment of the story. But now I have to wait for the next book... oh well.

So, if you like your reading to be a maze of action, adventure, violence, sensuality, romance, politics and intrigue, this book is probably for you.

I recommend this book highly while echoing the authors warning: Mature content: adult language, graphic (sometimes twisted) sex, gore and violence (Quoted from the back cover). I'll admit, this warning almost scared me off. I'm really glad it didn't, although I would suggest you not play the audio version in front of your pastor, priest or rabbi.

So thank you Mr. Redford and Ms. Stone for this great book! I look forward to the rest of the story.

Mike Siedschlag

He Who Walks in Shadow (That Which Should Not Be #2)

Disclaimer, disclaimer, disclaimer... I received He Who Walks in Shadow as a first reads winner.

I really liked this book (hence 4 stars). It is action, adventure, horror, mystery, a little romance, and a few other adjectives that escape me at the moment.(creepy, eerie, historical, paranormal, demonic)

It was even educational; I learned what omphaloskepsis means. (If you already know my hat's off to you).

He Who Walks in Shadow hooked me from the get go. I often caught myself reading as fast as I could as though the story might move on with out me. I would have to tell myself to calm down, that the book wasn't going anywhere without me. It kept building in excitement and anticipation and did not fail in achieving a satisfying climax. While caught up in one of these manic reading episodes, I was reading before bed as I often do, I was so engrossed that I kept reading until I could literally not keep my eyes open. I had about 30 pages left and was so disappointed that I couldn't stay awake to finish!

This story, presented as the journals of several of the characters, blended very well. I have read other books where this style comes across choppy and somewhat difficult to follow. Not so here.

For me this book was a true page turner from the beginning. I don't often say this even for books i really like. I found myself looking forward to the time I could get back to the book.

High recommendations. If you like any of the genres this story crosses, He Who Walks in Shadow is worth the time you'll spend with it.

Mike Siedschlag

On the Path of the Immortals: Exo-Vaticana, Project L. U. C. I. F. E. R. , and the Strategic Locations Where Entities Await the Appointed Time

What an intense book! It is the third book in a series concerned with the Catholic Churches ties to occult practices, the identity of "ancient aliens", Egyptian spiritualisms' connection to Washington DC architecture and city planning, end times prophesy, and much more.

All of these topics are examined from a Christian perspective. While I may not agree with all the theories proposed, I have to say the authors back up their claims with more evidence than anyone else that comes to mind.
The book is not hyperbole, it is well researched, documented and presented.

One flaw (if I can call it that) is that the book is written as though the reader is well grounded in science, technology and theology. I consider myself a fairly well educated man, but portions of this book were so far beyond my ken as to be impossible for me to completely understand. I didn't have this problem with the first two books.

As a Christian, I found this book to be fascinating. Seeing the occult connections to so much of our everyday world can be intimidating and somewhat disconcerting. I found this information bolstered my faith rather than undermined it. (I peeked at the end of the Bible, God wins) 

I enjoyed this book and learned quite a bit about what is going on around me. Knowledge is power and I feel my faith more empowered than I have in some time.

I highly recommend this book to those who want to try and make sense of the craziness in society and government today. Even if you don't agree with the premise, their arguement with make you think.