Saturday, October 31, 2015

Andee The Aquanaut: Guardian of the Great Seas

Guardian of  the Great Seas, book one of  the Andee the Aquanaut Trilogy was given to me in e format by the author, Simon James House, for review.

Although at 60 years old I am not the target audience for this series, I did enjoy the book and I think in a few years my grandchildren may well enjoy it too. It is certainly interesting to see where children's fiction has gone since I was that age. Subject matter is much more "mature", authors now respect that children do not need to be fed watered down stories. At least this seems to be the approach of author Simon James House.

Guardian of the Great Seas deals with some fairly intense themes while maintaining a verbal level appropriate to the younger reader. There are of course, messages woven into the story but not in a heavy-handed way. It is, for the most part, upbeat and positive. It is a fun story that young readers can enjoy and fantasize about, being a part of.

I am not sure exactly at what age the author is aiming this book, with its length (160 pages), and some more mature themes, I would advise adult readers to consider the maturity level and attention span of the children with whom they wish to share this book. I don't mean to suggest that Guardian of the Great Seas is in any way a harmful book for children to read, but I am a former counselor, so my mind just naturally looks at things from that point of view.

Guardian of the Great Seas is a fun book that children will enjoy, and we all want children to foster the love of reading that so many of us possess. Enjoy!


The Watchers

I won a copy of The Watchers by Ashley Jensen, in a Goodreads Giveaway. Score!

I am continuously amazed at the level of talent the authors I find through Goodreads and Indie View demonstrate. The quality of the books I have read from indie authors is just incredible. How the big publishing houses ignore all this talent is beyond me. Ashley Jensen is one of those authors to whom I refer.

The Watchers is a very entertaining work. I believe it is the first in The Dead Sea Trilogy. The author has her work cut out for herself to equal or top this story. The main character, Aella, is an impressive heroine, though not necessarily in the classic tradition. Think Sheena meets Temperence Brennan, great fighting skills, brilliant mind, not so much on the people skills. A truly "flawed" leading lady, who many would label as a "bad guy", but is the only one who can solve the problem at hand. A great conflict.

There are great action sequences, Bible references, mythological parallels and cultural stereotypes. No sex, but you'll have to read the book to find out why. The way The Watchers developed, I expect there will more of Aella's backstory shared in following installments. I look forward to this as she is quite the interesting character.

Ashley Jensen does a great job of blending characters who inhabit a spiritual realm with people in the mundane world. It is at times hilarious, witnessing the "culture-clash". There is a lot going on in this first book to hold a readers interest. It took me less than 24 hours to finish.

If you are in the mood for a different kind of action/adventure story. One with a female heroine. The Watchers by Ashley Jensen should fill the bill admirably. Enjoy!


Friday, October 30, 2015

Montmartre Stairs: A Paris Love Story

Montmartre Stairs: A Paris Love Story, by Douglas Warren, came to me in the usual way, in exchange for an honest review.

This was a very different read for me as I don't usually review straight romance stories. But I'll admit, I really enjoyed this book. It took me a while to get past the feeling that something paranormal was about to happen. It is a straight forward whirlwind romance, the problems the lovers face are those of the real world only. Montmartre Stairs turned out to be a pleasant change from the darker book that I usually read.

Author Douglas Warren has not changed me into a big fan of the romance genre, but, he has shown me that an enjoyable story can be presented that is just a nice happy story. Of course there is some conflict and uncertainty to be overcome. There are good guys and bad guys, as well as personal agendas to deal with. Perhaps even more important than the main love story for me was the personal evolution of the main male character.

Though I can in no way claim any expertise when it comes to the romance genre, I can certainly claim Montmartre Stairs: A Paris Love Story is a very good book. I enjoyed it and believe true fans of the genre will as well. Enjoy!


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Prince of Conjurers

Usual Disclaimer: Free book yada, yada, yada.

Prince of Conjurers by Laurie L. Bolanos has to be listed among the best books I have read since I started reviewing. This book is just plain incredible.

I knew within the first few pages that I was going to love this book. The story is so compelling, spanning generations, cultures and continents. Set mainly in New Orleans, Prince of Conjurers tells a story of love, hate, good, evil, actions and their consequences. It is supremely complex without being confusing. Characters you know from other stories are woven into this riveting story. The Phantom of the Opera and Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau are main characters. Having never read Phantom of the Opera, I can't comment on how closely tied Prince of Conjurers is to that classic story.

At times I thought "I know where this is going", and sometimes I was right. But I quickly realized that this is where author Laurie L. Bolanos wants me to go. Then she would pull the rug out from under me as if to say "Gotcha". Predictable yet unpredictable at the same time. I thought I had the ending all figured out and in her way Bolanos blew me away with a twist I had no clue was coming.

Prince of Conjurers is a story of ultimate love and sacrifice, jealousy, revenge, privilege, desire and destiny. I just can't say enough about how enjoyable and entertaining this book is. As usual I have not looked at other reviews for Prince of Conjurers, but I expect they are similarly complimentary.

I read Ms. Bolanos' bio on Goodreads and Prince of Conjurers is the only book listed. If this is indeed her first or only book, what a debut! I hope this is not the only story she has to tell us.

If you like historical fiction and romance with fantasy, magic and cosmic undertones, you are going to love Prince of Conjurers by Laurie L. Bolanos. Enjoy!


Saturday, October 24, 2015

November Keys

Authors Brian and Michael Turner gave me an e-version of November Keys in exchange for a review (honest of course).

I liked this book, it didn't blow me away, but it was a pretty good read over all. First of all, and most important, the story was good, most characters were well developed, and interesting. There were fantasy beings that I had never heard of, always a good thing, and some very sneaky bad guys. Many of the characters were quirky and quite funny.

The story is set in England. Surprise for me as Keys immediately makes me think of Florida. Some of the colloquialisms were not familiar to my American ear. Not a bad thing by any means, just different.

My biggest problem with November Keys was a lack of balance. This is a story with a strong fantasy/mythological aspect still set in the "real" world. While the mythology was hinted at early in the story, it was so downplayed as to almost pass unnoticed. They didn't really appear in force until halfway through the book, then they were center stage. It just read a little abrupt for me. This may in fact have been the authors plan, but for me it was too much of a turn all at once.

The other thing that bothered me is a convention used by many authors, so I chalk it up to personal choice. When events in a story are leading to an important even climactic moment, many authors will then skip past the moment and reveal it in the past tense. Not my favorite story telling device: Here comes a big event and oops, it's over. Again, personal preference.

This is the debut offering from this father and son team. I think they show potential. November Keys is a good book, if a little clunky at times. I did enjoy it and I think other fantasy readers will as well. So, enjoy!


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Iron Rage

No Disclaimer! I actually bought this book!

I admit it, I really like the Deathlands series, and Iron Rage is no exception. I own, and have read, between 90 and 100 of the books. I'm always on the lookout for the ones I am missing.

Iron Rage fulfills all the requirements for a Deathlands junkie. Action, action,and more, action. Graphic violence of the kind that, I think, discourages people from relying on vilence to solve their problems. The companions, as usual, try to avoid conflict, but surprise, they aren't allowed to. So in true Deathlands fashion they kick ass and don't bother with names.

Speaking of names, Iron Rage contains one of the great character names ever: Ermintrude Strank. Awesome name. Iron Rage takes place mainly aboard various ships. I tend to prefer when the companions are set in predark cities. But not every book can do this I guess.

Although I don't believe the Deathlands books are meant to be social commentary, they do promote the virtues of loyalty, friendship and integrity.

So, no these books are not great literature, but they are a lot of fun to read. If you are an action fan you will like Iron Rage. If you haven't read a Deathlands book yet, be prepared to be hooked. Of course you have 120+ books to catch up on. Be of good cheer however, because most of the books are stand alone stories so you can read them as you find them. Enjoy!


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Soul Stone

Usual disclaimer: Given the e-book of The Soul Stone from author Jamie Marchant in exchange for review.

The Soul Stone is the second book in The Kronicles of Korthlandia series. I have not read the first book. Not a problem if you haven't either. Marchant does an excellent job of catching up the reader without rewriting the first book, which would bog down the story.

The Soul Stone is an awesome book for the epic fantasy reader. For me it has all the elements of an epic quest-type story. I wouldn't necessarily categorize it as a true quest, but it does involve one. As in any good fantasy, Author Marchant has incorporated, action, horror, sword & sorcery, myth, humor, love, compassion and selflessness. No wonder the book is 400 pages!

I new within the first few pages that I was going to love this book, it hooked me that quickly. The final chapters of the story, the true quest, were riveting. It was getting late, but I had to finish, there was just no way to put the book down!

There are many compelling characters so well developed that the reader will feel the emotions being expressed. Some are evil, some heartrendingly selfless, and others that will have you rooting for their cause. It speaks to the talent of an author to deftly weave the stories of so many characters and keep the book interesting, and the reader involved

I thoroughly enjoyed The Soul Stone by Jamie Marchant and highly recommend it. Enjoy!


Monday, October 12, 2015

Where Death is a Hunter

Disclaimer, disclaimer, disclaimer, I was given a copy of Where Death is a Hunter by Christopher Stookey in exchange for my honest review.

Where Death is a Hunter is a medical mystery/ thriller. I'll admit, not the usual genre I read, but I liked this book very much.

The book tells the story of an anesthesiologist accused of negligence resulting in the death of a surgery patient. Told from the POV of the accused, it is a taut well crafted story. I was surprised how quickly I finished the book. It held me from cover to cover, and I finished it in a day. Length is not criteria for me when choosing a book, as I have mostly unlimited time to devote to reading. But for some, reading time is more limited. Where Death is a Hunter will not devour large blocks of elusive reading time.

I did not realize that author Stookey is in fact a doctor until about half way through the book. Though full of medical jargon, Where Death is a Hunter is not so technical that it is hard to understand. Definitely not written just for medical types, easy to read with out feeling "dumbed down" or condescending.

I heartily recommend Mr. Stookey's book Where Death is a Hunter to fans of thrillers in general and medical mysteries in particular. Enjoy!


How to Stop Wildfire

Author Sarah Sunday sent me an e-version of How to Stop Wildfire for review.

This book was a fun read. The file I received was, I hope, not the version that was put into print form. Quite a bit of proofreading was needed. A common problem nowadays, words were not misspelled, but incorrectly used, left out, etc. It seems too much reliance on spell check and auto correct may be the culprit. I try to separate editing issues from story, but sometimes the errors are so prevalent they take away from the enjoyment of the story. This version was right on the edge. Word to the wise;use a proofreader other than the author (fresh eyes). 'Nuff said.

These issues aside, How to Stop Wildfire is a lot of fun. It is a wild mix of sci-fi space fantasy, Greek Mythology, Egyptian Mythology, revenge, conquest, megalomania, technology and politics. That probably doesn't cover it, but it gives an idea of what's in store for you in this book. There is tragedy and triumph, humor and drama, sadness and euphoria enough to satisfy any reader. Sarah Sunday's universe is populated by the most interestingly diverse group of characters I have spent time with in quite a while. Hades ( yeah, that Hades) and Cyclone are absolutely hilarious. I dare you to not at least snicker when you encounter them. At times I thought to myself, "This Universe still exists by sheer luck alone!"

How to Stop Wildfire is the first of a series. It looks like it will be a great series to follow. These characters are just plain fun.

I think How to Stop Wildfire will be enjoyed by anyone who likes sci-fi, humor, and sometimes downright absurdity(in a good way). This is one of those books where the reader wants to ask; How did you ever come up with this story? It demonstrates a wildly creative mind! Anyway, Enjoy!


Thursday, October 8, 2015

Einstein's Beach House

Author Jacob M. Appel gave me a copy of Einstein's Beach House for review.

This book was better than most I receive with regards to editing, very few, if any, typos, misused words, etc.

But I have to say, Einstein's Beach House, was just not for me. I don't consider myself a dummy, but I guess I am not cerebral enough to understand this book. To me, the stories built the reader up in anticipation of the climax, then just kind of fizzled. Not bad, don't get me wrong, just kind of "ok the story is over, next!"

Appel does paint good word pictures. Detail and character building are spot on. I just found myself saying, "I just don't get it". There were humorous, sad, heartbreaking, and compelling portions of the story. For me, it was just those pesky endings.

The best comparison I can come up with by way of example is; remember the Twilight Zone, the viewer was taken for a ride that, at the end, had a twist you didn't see coming. The stories in this book were similar, with out the twist at the end.

Einstein's Beach House is a well constructed and presented book. I'm sure there is an audience for this book who will appreciate and enjoy the stories. They will understand the message. I do wish Mr. Appel good luck with this book and recommend it to readers who enjoy more cerebral works.


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Reveal for Spark by Holly Schindler

I am helping with the reveal of Holly Schindler's Spark 
I was unable to post the artwork she sent me, sorry.
Below is info on the book

Holly Schindler’s Spark:
When the right hearts come to the Avery Theater—at the right time—the magic will return. The Avery will come back from the dead.
Or so Quin’s great-grandmother predicted many years ago on Verona, Missouri’s most tragic night, when Nick and Emma, two star-crossed teenage lovers, died on the stage. It was the night that the Avery’s marquee lights went out forever.
It sounds like urban legend, but one that high school senior Quin is now starting to believe, especially when her best friend, Cass, and their classmate Dylan step onto the stage and sparks fly. It seems that magic can still unfold at the old Avery Theater and a happier ending can still be had—one that will align the stars and revive not only the decrepit theater, but also the decaying town. However, it hinges on one thing—that Quin gets the story right this time around.
Holly Schindler brings the magic of the theater to life in this tale of family ties, fate, love, and one girl’s quest to rewrite history.
“In my hometown, the restoration of a former movie theater on the town square provided the genesis for my new YA novel, SPARK. Who among us hasn’t dreamed of seeing their name in blazing neon across a gigantic marquee? Let me invite you to dim the lights and draw back the velvet curtains—let your imagination run wild as you enter my fictional Avery Theater, where literally anything goes…”
—Holly Schindler
Holly Schindler is the author of three previous YA novels: PLAYING HURT as well as the critically acclaimed FERAL (starred PW review) and A BLUE SO DARK (starred Booklist review, ForeWord Book of the Year silver medal, IPPY gold medal). A writer of books for all ages, Schindler’s MG, THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY, has made the master list for children’s book awards in Illinois, South Carolina, and Alabama. She is also a hybrid author, having independently released comedic women’s fiction (FIFTH AVENUE FIDOS) and the forthcoming PLAY IT AGAIN, her adult follow-up to her YA PLAYING HURT. She can be reached through her author site:, and hosts special sneak peeks and giveaways for subscribers of her newsletter:
Spark “Premieres” May 17, 2016, but you can buy your “tickets” now. Links to pre-order -
Add to your TBR list -

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Gods of Blood and Bone

Gods of Blood and Bone by Azalea Ellis was given me in e-format in exchange for a review.

I knew within the first few pages that I was going to love this book. I was immediately caught up in the story. Basically, people are abducted and implanted with devices that put them into a "game" where they are forced to participate in vicious activities, if they are not successful they die, in the game and real life.

The author, Azalea Ellis, does a fantastic job of keeping the reader involved with little to no information about who the bad guys actually are. There were twists and turns I did not see coming.The characters were believable and sympathetic. I found myself emotionally attached to some of the characters, and was in turns angry, fearful, heartbroken, and happy with them.

The main characters are young adults. Sometimes that is not all that appealing to me because in other stories I've read adults are portrayed as lacking the ability and intelligence to effectively deal with the situation at hand.

There is justification for the youth of the main characters here that makes sense to the story line. There are adults actually included, and they have important, crucial parts to play.

There was a lot of action, sometimes graphic, woven together with humor, suspense, intrigue and intelligence. Although a strong action oriented story, it didn't rely on just battles with bad guys to keep the reader interested. There were times when thinking/ reasoning was how the characters resolved situations making a balanced and more believable story. The ending caught me by surprise, but made perfect sense. There is room for more in this story line, and I believe more is on the way. I hope so anyway.

From The author's Goodreads bio, it seems as Gods of Blood and Bone is her debut book. If this is not true, my bad. If it is a debut effort, it was a fantastic way to start, if not, it's still a fantastic book. I look forward to reading more from Azalea Ellis.

If you are a fan of action/ adventure/ fantasy, you will enjoy Gods of Blood and Bone. I urge you to check it out. Enjoy!


Saturday, October 3, 2015


I received a copy of Breakout by Kevin Scott Olson because I asked for one!

This book is great! I read it in one setting. Well, it's only 35 pages long, so...
But I am already hooked. I can't wait to read more of the exploits of Michael Quinn.

Basically it's military/espionage action story.

I really wish this book had been longer, I can't say how long I will be willing to follow a series 35 pages at a time. But, for now, I'm in! Great action, violent to be sure, but not so graphic as to spoil the story. The focus is on story, not gratuitous graphic violence, glib (read: stupid) witticisms, puns or other crutches often used in the genre.

My biggest complaint? The story's end. That was cold Mr. Olson. I don't do spoilers so you'll have to read the book to see what I mean.

If you like military-type action reads Breakout, is definitely meant for you. Enjoy!


Thursday, October 1, 2015

Woven Myths: A Slice of Quietude

Woven Myths: A Slice of Quietude by Sharon Cho was offered to me for review.

I was intrigued when offered this book because it featured female lead characters and was an action oriented story.

It was very refreshing to read a story with strong female characters that didn't reduce male characters to inconsequential idiots led around by their genitalia.

Yes, I get it, the main characters were building a same-sex relationship, and according to the authors acknowledgements, the book is an attempt to support same-sex relationships. Fine by me. I'm not gay, I don't really care if anyone else is. It's none of my business. I don't support the abuse of any group of people based on their beliefs, The most I have the right to say is I agree or disagree with their beliefs.

I know this is not the place for discussing my personal beliefs on any topic, but since the author offers the topic as an important aspect of her work, I couldn't ignore it and feel I had adequately reviewed her story.

A Slice of Quietude was for me, a great way to present such relationships in a nonthreatening and nonjudgmental way. The reader is not bludgeoned into accepting the characters relationships or even focus on them.

The story, at least as I experienced it, was more of a "buddy" action/ adventure. As in any action story, each character brought their own strengths and weaknesses to the group. There was humor, fear, danger, selflessness, camaraderie, and yes, romance.

A side comment: most action/ adventure/ quest type stories I have read almost always present an odd number of characters undertaking the quest. Usually five or seven. It has been so prevalent that I considered it a convention. So I was surprised by this book having four adventurers in the group. Nothing bad, just different.

If I haven't made it clear yet, I really enjoyed A Slice of Quietude. It was an exciting, packed story. The story line was complex enough to hold my interest and keep me involved until the end. Author Sharon Cho does not spare her characters because of their gender. They experience, and inflict, terrible violence. Cho gets down to business in painting a mental picture of the combat sequences. She paints wonderful pictures of the people and places her characters encounter, She supplies explanations of the mythic beliefs which guide the storiy.

So, If you want to read a story which supports same sex relationships A Slice of Quietude works.
If you want to read an action filled adventure, A Slice of Quietude works. If you want to read a good escapist fantasy novel without having to dwell on heavy social issues, A Slice of Quietude works.

Any way you slice it (get it?), A Slice of Quietude is a good time. Enjoy!