Accepting NO review requests

As of 28 February 2016, due to decline in my health and chronic illness

Saturday, June 30, 2012

TYGER, TYGER (GOBLIN WARS BOOK ONE) by Kersten Hamilton_Review

Tyger Tyger (Goblin Wars, #1)Tyger Tyger by Kersten Hamilton

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

another multiple-star well beyond 5 novel!

This is a really fun YA which readily and easily suspends disbelief and at the same time deals with issues of interest to adult readers: mythology, exceptional children, blending families, foster care system, and appreciating, acknowledging, and valuing one’s ethnic heritage. Suspension of disbelief comes so easily in this story that it is almost magical-and really, the reader will feel that magic exists and has been performed here. Author KerstenHamilton skillfully welds the two worlds, of mundane reality (urban Chicago) and Mag Mell, one of the original lands of the Fir Bolg, a land in which the Sidhe roam free, from which they venture forth into consensus reality to wreak havoc.

I truly loved this first entry into the story of Teagan and her exceptional younger brother, Aiden; Finn her cousin, who believes himself to be THE Finn Mac Cumhaill of Eire legend; Teagan’s delightful parents, Aileen who is Irish and John Paul who is Welsh; Abby-Teagan’s Mob-related best friend forever; and many, many more. I’m eager to read the next book in the series, and I must add, I hope the series extends to 10 or 12 books!

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Friday, June 29, 2012

BELIEVE (NEW ENGLAND IMMORTALS #1) by E. Leighanne Grimm-Weever_Review

Believe (New England Immortals #1)Believe by E. Leighanne Grimm-Weever

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“Believe” is the first in a series, and a multi-layered novel, indicative of the author’s rich and vivid imagination. Vampires, Vampire Hunters, Royalty, varied Shapeshifters, Indigenous Americans, American pre-colonial history, Western European settlement in America, romance, jealousy, envy, Supernatural powers, and much, much more-it’s a massive undertaking but author E. Leighanne Grimm-Weever seems to manage to keep it all straight. I found the book quite enjoyable in terms of content (though there were a couple of instances when I thought characters changed too suddenly to be realistic) and I admire the author’s forethought in putting together such a collection of different types of folklore, mythology, superstition, history, and Supernatural elements of many types. My only objection is that the book would benefit from a good proofreading, and that I found the grammatical errors and typos distracting. However, I am glad that “Believe” is the first of a series (“New England Immortals”) and I look forward to the sequel.

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Thursday, June 28, 2012

PANDORA'S KEY by Nancy Richardson Fischer

Reviewed via Goodreads Group Shut Up & Read R2R program.

Pandora's Key (The Key Trilogy, #1)Pandora's Key by Nancy Richardson Fischer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I quite enjoyed this lovely new approach to one of the most important legends in Classical Greek mythology. Highly suspenseful, adventurous, and roller-coaster paced, “Pandora’s Key” kept me turning the pages and reading it in one sitting due to the likable characters, intricately convoluted plotting, and author Nancy Richardson Fischer’s smooth and talented writing style. I’m eagerly anticipating the next book in the series, so I can find out where the protagonist goes from here. However, “Pandora’s Key” functions well as a stand-alone novel, ending in not so much a cliffhanger as a promise for further stories for eager readers (such as myself  ).

Evangeline is the sole daughter of a single mother, Olivia, who was herself a sole child, orphaned at seventeen by the sudden grisly death of her mother. She has a lifelong best friend, Melia, who still finds time for her despite Melia’s current love interest, Tristin, a new student in Portland; and another good friend, Raphe, for whom E continues to wish there could be something in addition to friendship.

E (as her friends call her) and her mother Olivia both have nightmares (and in her mother’s case, bizarre hallucinations) over a period of weeks leading up to Evangeline’s birthday. On her sixteenth birthday, E receives from her mother the onyx key which Olivia herself had always worn as a pendant, and almost immediately Evangeline’s world turns topsy-turvy and inside out in a reversal of everything she ever thought she knew as fact-both for her personally, and for the world at large.

I highly recommend “Pandora’s Key,” which has appeal to readers of many different sub-genres.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

THE DEMON'S LIBRARIAN by Lilith Saintcrow

The Demon's LibrarianThe Demon's Librarian by Lilith Saintcrow

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A well-constructed accomplishment of world-building with a good balance of sorcery and sensuality, suspense and romance, well-thought out characterization, “The Demon’s Librarian” is a good introduction to the worlds of Lilith Saintcrow. Francesca “Chess” Barnes is not one’s ordinary Head Librarian-living in Jericho City, a “free city” in terms of sorcerous input, Chess discovers a well-concealed archive of sorcery books missing for decades and thought lost. So being an independent and studious reader, Chess studies the books, develops her innate talent, forges a sword-and hunts demons.

“The Demon’s Librarian” is not just a fun urban fantasy, though-the author has a nicely tuned sense of humour and knows just when to wield it. Although too graphic for YA audiences, older readers will enjoy the rapid paced thrills, the suspense and adventure. Personally, I’m moving on to more of Ms. Saintcrow’s novels.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Much thanks to Author Shawn Keenan
Errant Author
for including me in the Liebster Blog Awards.
As quickly as I can fulfill the requirements, I will post here and "send it on."

UNDER WITCH MOON by Maria E. Schneider_Review

Under Witch Moon (Moon Shadows #1)Under Witch Moon by Maria E. Schneider

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A totally captivating, non-stop adventure into a new perspective on contemporary society, in which witches, vampires, and shifters live right along with “normals,” even though in many cases normals choose to figuratively close their minds and remain in denial, “Under Witch’s Moon” had me speedily turning pages and not realizing the passage of time. A lovely escalating buildup of tension keeps the reader on the edge, constantly hovering between “Oh no!” and “All right!” as our heroine battles evil (yes, literally) while simultaneously striving to maintain balance in her own chosen life, as a scientifically-based witch who avoids black magic at all costs.

Not all witches are that morally upright, though, and Adriel finds herself drawn into a web cast by one who scares even vampires. Budding romance, magical surprises everywhere she turns, friendships, sibling rivalry, and much much more make this intriguing tale of a Santa Fe not so far removed from our consensus reality endearing and a re-read.

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Monday, June 25, 2012

THE RITUAL by Adam Nevill_Review

The RitualThe Ritual by Adam Nevill

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

36 stars!!!

I was totally engrossed in this book from the first sentences. A graphic, gory, terribly suspenseful, tense, horrifying, mystery-adventure-horror-untangling of emotional revelations, this novel riveted me completely. I so wanted to stay up all night to finish it! The compulsion to know “who’s next” and “what’s going on,” “why oh why is this happening,” and “is there inexplicably a human cause-or is this truly all Supernatural?” kept me turning pages nearly at the speed of light.

Mr. Nevill is a fine writer-I enjoyed his “Apartment 16,” but “The Ritual” in my opinion surpasses it, both for superbness of writing, for characterisations, and for sheer unmitigated terror. (Make no mistake, “Apartment 16” is very scary!) In “The Ritual,” the lives of four former collegiate friends, now in their mid-thirties, are peeled down quite literally to matters of survival-who will, who won’t, will any, survive? “The Ritual” is an actual “page-turner,” and refuses to be set aside. Even if one puts the book down, the story line will linger in the mind, demanding one’s attention.

I cannot rave highly enough about this novel! So I am off to read the author’s “Banquet of the Damned,” and count the days till the 2013 publication of his newest novel, “Last Days.”

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Saturday, June 23, 2012

THE THIRTEEN by Susie Moloney_Review

The Thirteen: A NovelThe Thirteen: A Novel by Susie Moloney

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well, wow-this book was everything I had expected, from the blurbs, and more-much more. I’m so glad I read it that I am reading all of Ms. Moloney’s earlier books (this is the most recently published). “The Thirteen” is so multi-layered that it would take me enough pages for a novel to pick all the layers apart, so I won’t. I can’t even label it as one sub-genre or another. Urban fantasy, horror, Supernatural, paranormal, literary, mother-child entanglements, some romance, wealth vs. poverty, suburb life vis a vis city, sacrifice, evil vs. good, otherworldliness-there’s nothing not to love here and readers will surely be as entranced as I was.

Haven Woods is, on the surface, ostensibly just another pleasant suburb-quiet, not too busy, early to sleep and early to rise-a wonderful, comfortable place both for parents to raise their children to adulthood, and for seniors to enjoy relaxing retirement. But Haven Woods, of course, is not your ordinary suburb. Under the sway of a coven of witches, who are themselves tightly bound to a creature of Evil, who is itself only a minion (albeit a powerful one), Haven Woods is only safe and secure for some, the chosen few. Even the chosen must sacrifice also.

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

BULLETPROOF by Jeff LaFearny_Review

BulletproofBulletproof by Jeff LaFerney

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Bulletproof” is another exciting adventure by author Jeff LaFerney, focusing on the father-son due of Clay and Tanner Thomas, men whose cranial capacity affects their lives (and the lives of others) in totally unexpected ways. Each has a second opening in the medulla oblongata of the brain, and has developed what would otherwise be considered “psychic” abilities, such as thought projection, mind control, and telekinesis.

If you liked the previous Thomas & Thomas novel, “Skeleton Key,” you are surely going to rave over “Bulletproof.” If you haven’t read “Skeleton Key,” well, what are you waiting for? Get them both, and you will quickly see why I am such a fan of this series, which gently and subtly blends paranormal with science, emotion with skepticism, adventure and thrills with mystery and suspense. There’s always a good guy, but they’re never perfect; and some of the secondary characters demonstrate serious failings, in a very human way. In any event, you’ll find yourself racing through enjoying these exciting novels.

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THE WARRIOR'S WAY by Zoe Saadia_Review

The Warrior's Way (Pre-Aztec series, #4)The Warrior's Way by Zoe Saadia

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve really enjoyed reading Author Zoe Saadia’s “Pre-Aztec Series.” I’ve long had an interest in the historical eras of the Aztec and the Inca, and Ms. Saadia brings so vividly to life the characters, the settings, and the events. Perhaps it is being older now that inspires me to awareness of the sociological underpinnings of these novels, and to draw parallels to other historical societies (such as the European Middle Ages, and the at-that-time-still in the future Spanish Conquest), and to contemporary society with all its foibles.
Ms. Saadia makes history readable, enjoyable, and readily accessible. No longer can the subject be considered dry or untimely. I recommend this quartet of novels, and hope to read more from this accomplished author in future.

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THE JAGUAR WARRIOR by Zoe Saadia_Review

The Jaguar Warrior (Pre-Aztec Series, #3) The Jaguar Warrior (Pre-Aztec Series, #3) by Zoe Saadia

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Pre-Aztec Series #3

At the time of the setting of this book, some centuries ago, the island locale of Tenochtitlan was an Aztec city. By rights, it should have been a thriving metropolis: good population, warriors to protect it, market, crops, ongoing construction, temple. But Tenochtitlan instead failed to thrive because it was held in stasis by a sort of feudal society, under the Tepanec overlords of Azcatpotzlco, who kept the Aztecs in grinding poverty, and summoned Aztec warriors to raids from which the spoils flowed straight to the Tepanec, and never to the Aztecs. Comparably this occurred later in a sense, with the Spanish invaders; and certainly Feudal Europe of the Middle Ages experienced similar rule and society. I draw parallels to contemporary society as well, in the rule of an oligarchy which grinds the masses underfoot, to live in abject poverty while working themselves near to death to support the overlords. This is the third novel in author Zoe Saadia’s “Pre-Aztec Series,” and in each, as much as I have enjoyed the finely delineated historical detail and backdrop, I have is the third novel in author Zoe Saadia’s “Pre-Aztec Series,” and in each, as much as I have enjoyed the finely delineated historical detail and backdrop, I have been kept very much aware of the sociological and cultural implications-truly, humanity has not evolved much in some respects.

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THE INTERN'S TALE by Shawn Keenan_Review

The Intern's TaleThe Intern's Tale by Shawn Keenan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A futuristic Chaucerian urban fantasy tale, “The Intern’s Tale” is not anything I could have thought to expect, but nevertheless is a very logical outgrowth of what we do know of contemporary society-in other words, yes, Virginia-this really could happen! Two of the best aspects of this novel are the humour-something I’ve not encountered often in any form of fantasy, with the possible exception of Mercedes Lackey; and the dual protagonists, Kip and Abbey, who are both adorable, determined, independent, just a little cynical (who wouldn’t be, living in those circumstances) yet hopeful-agreeable, and clever (again-cleverness is needed going up against creatures such as Cian Kingsley, and indeed the entire horrible Megacorporate setup). I was glad to find that some of the secondary characters, who could have easily become caricatures, were instead fleshed out and made real folks.

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SOMETHING TO LIVE FOR by Natalie Owens_Review

Take two disparate individuals, living on the same island, who have never met and have no reason to think they might meet, both with painful anniversaries-on the same date of the year. Mix these two into the cauldron of a special matchmaking concern, and arrange for them to “meet” for one evening and night. Sounds simple, but the recipe creates a complex and winning story line, not to be missed.

A quite delightful, sensual, heart-touching short story, “Something to Live For” is very well-written, and strums the reader’s heartstrings and senses. Delicately cast into a frame with frissons of the Supernatural, this short story will have appeal to many types of readers, as it did to me. Ms. Owens has an intriguing touch with the aspects of characterization, plotting, and setting imagery; I’m quite eager to read more from her.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD by Kendare Blake_Review

Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna, #1)Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Anna Dressed in Blood #1)

This novel surpasses even my ability to rave. I want to rate it at 36 stars-but would that even be enough? If I didn’t know better, I would swear that author Kendare Blake designed this series with me in mind, because it fits my tastes, interests, and beliefs so perfectly. Let me use that word again-“perfect”-that’s “Anna Dressed in Blood.” I’ve read many novels I wish to reread at some point-and then there’s the novels I must reread: “Anna Dressed in Blood,” Shawn Keenan’s “The Buried Covenant,” Veronica Roth’s “Divergent,” Walter M. Miller’s “A Canticle for Leibowitz,” Ray Bradbury’s “The Illustrated Man.”

This series is classified as YA, but if you don’t generally turn to that shelf-DO now! No one should miss out on “Anna Dressed in Blood.” I’m ecstatic to discover that there will be a sequel-although how I can wait two months I don’t know-maybe rereading “Anna” over and over again.

If you like Supernatural-buy this book. If you like wonderful, empathetic characters, strong protagonists who have their heads on straight (mostly), unbelievably riveting situations, a plot line that never releases its grasp on your throat, ghosts, horrors, hauntings, magic (white, black; voodoo and beyond), absolutely make every effort to get to this book immediately!

Like Shawn Keenan’s “The Buried Covenant,” “Anna Dressed in Blood” has an incredibly strong, independent-minded, ON-PURPOSE male protagonist, something I found surprising in these years of Ya female heroines. But Cas (like Jayke of “The Buried Covenant”) is a young man (adolescent age) who is head and shoulders beyond most fictional characters, and beyond most “real-life” individuals. These are young men to whom we can and must look up, admire, and emulate.

And that said, my final word is: And just wait till you “meet” Anna!!!

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Saturday, June 16, 2012

FINAL CROSSING by Carter Wilson_ Review

Repeating this review, as the book is NOW available on AMAZON:

Final Crossing: A Novel of SuspenseFinal Crossing: A Novel of Suspense by Carter Wilson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book! “Final Crossing” has everything a reader of thrillers could ask: a skewed, psychologically bizarre serial killer who sees clues that no one else ever could; violent death; mysteries unbound; the horrors of war, still present even though far in the past; a Capitol Hill Chief of Staff who still has the skills of his special forces training; and the perverted childhood tortures that combined to make that serial killer the juggernaut he is today. A fascinating mystery/thriller/psychological study, “Final Crossing” is a compelling novel not to be missed except by the very faintest of hearts.

A serial killer with one purpose-molded by a perversion of religion tortured into him at the hands of an earlier madman, a creature he encountered only by accident one fated afternoon; a former Army Ranger who now lives for the political machinations of America’s capital; a psychic criminologist on contract to the Federal Bureau of Investigation: a fated trio, each with one foot in a world other than our own consensus reality.

Readers will literally find themselves perched on the edges of their chairs, astonished, driven, heart-wrenched, and horrified, turning the pages so fast they might almost ignite. The term “thriller” might have been conceived to describe “Final Crossing.” Please don’t miss out.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

DARK GENESIS by A. D. Koboah_Review

Reviewed for Great Minds Think Aloud

Dark Genesis (The Darkling Trilogy, Book 1).Dark Genesis (The Darkling Trilogy, Book 1). by A.D. Koboah

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Dark Genesis” is Book 1 in The Darkling Trilogy, by A. D. Koboah, a lovely and enticing interweaving of contemporary paranormal with historical slave society and suffering. It proves to be far more than what I had expected from the blurb, and so much the better for it.

Our narrator is an heiress in a family worth millions, the more surprisingly because the family is African-American, descendants of ancestors who suffered through slavery. She is psychic: she frequently experiences intimations of danger, and occasionally psychometry (impressions picked up through touch of an object). But this is nothing compared to the discoveries revealed by a journal, kept in slave days in Mississippi, locked away in her late grandmother’s trunk, kept at her aunt’s home in Atlanta. One point of interest is that in the entire lead-in to the journal of the young slave girl, Luna, which begins in 1807 in Mississippi, our contemporary narrator is kept nameless.

In its own quiet way, “Dark Genesis” really brings home vividly and concretely the depradations of American slavery. Everyone suffered, and no one won, not even the white wives and children. One of the important themes the author examines is “dehumanization,” and it is brought to life with incredible impact. This is not a novel that can easily be forgotten.

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Magic UniversityMagic University by Chantal Boudreau

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fantasy is not my forte, in general. This is not to state that I run from fantasy, but rather that given my druthers, I’ll reach for horror, Supernatural, or mystery every time. There are, however, certain authors of fantasy whom I am compelled to read. Among these are C. J. Cherryh, Mercedes Lackey, Terry Goodkind, Tad Williams-and recently, Ms. Chantal Boudreau, to whom I have been happily introduced via the venue of May-December Publications. Ms. Boudreau does not limit herself to fantasy-she offers horror, mystery, and other genres as well; but here in her “Masters and Renegades” Series, of which “Magic University” is Book One, she proffers not only fantasy, but mystery, thrills, deep characterisations, suspense, chills, romantic interests, authority figures, secrets and revelations-and makes the reader absolutely adore it!

Starting from the premise of a group of individuals aspiring to train at the elitist Magic University, undergoing first a public explication of their secrets (via the Magic Mirror), and subsequently numerous divergent trials, Ms. Boudreau weaves a story line that will keep readers edging from their seats, heart in mouth, waiting for the next event, the next denouement, the next cliffhanger. Luckily Book Two is just about to appear, so readers need not wait much longer to continue this exciting story.

Just remember; you don’t have to be a fantasy fan to find this book appealing-and more than appealing, captivating.

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Say Goodnight to the Bad GuySay Goodnight to the Bad Guy by Aaron Garrison

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Editor T.W. Brown labels this a “Hard R” anthology; this is indeed not a collection for the weak of stomach nor the faint of heart or mind. These Bad Guys are down and dirty, cunning and omnivorous (they’re equal opportunity Bad Guys) and readers will more than likely come away with a strange dream set the night after reading them. If you’re like me, a particular few of the stories will replay in your mind, over and over, long after the anthology’s final page is finished and the book is closed and set aside. But you’re not going to know which particular stories overwhelm your senses, warp your mind, and plant their roots in your subconscious-until you read them all. So go do it.

For me, the stories that grew roots were the eternal melancholia of Chantal Boudreau’s “Silence in the Court,” the “I-just-didn’t-see-this-coming” startlement provided by Harley Pitts’ “Abraham of Harlon,” (unforgettable), and the superb, no-way-I-could-have-guessed incredible “The Caged Doll” by Adam Millard, a taut, compact, gory, violent, delectable winner. Now every story is worth the reading, don’t get me wrong; but as readers, we are all individuals, with divergent tastes. I’m just telling you what I liked best. Now go read this Anthology and find your own personal “bests.”

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

THE BURIED COVENANT by Shawn Keenan_Review

The Buried CovenantThe Buried Covenant by Shawn Keenan

25 Stars!

How I loved this novel! I was enraptured with the lyricism from the first page, then captivated by the characterizations. The author has a special perspective, a divergent point of view, such that we see deeper into his characters than is often the case-this type of deeper characterization is found only in the best YA books-and I just kept wishing the story could go on and on and on, neverending!

Jayke Wolff, the protagonist, hero, and narrator, is the kind of individual we all ought to befriend, or better yet, to be. I am reminded of the protagonists of two of Michael Marshall Smith’s novels (“Bad Things” and “The Intruders”). It’s unfortunately too seldom that readers encounter characters with this much depth, this much integrity, this much “righteousness.” I am just amazed at Jayke-and I reveled in this novel.

If you haven’t read it, DO NOT WAIT!

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Monday, June 11, 2012

SKELETON KEY by Jeff LaFerney_Review

Skeleton KeySkeleton Key by Jeff LaFerney

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An engaging and delectable mystery with more layers than most natural onions, “Skeleton Key” keeps the reader riveted right through to the end. I know it did me-I could not put it aside. Each time I thought the final revelation had been announced, something else happened, yet another layer came to light, and the intrepid investigators-both law enforcement and private, concerned individuals, were racing off to peel away at the next clue to become apparent. “Skeleton Key” has a foundation of faith-subtle but apparent-and a delightful Supernatural approach. The villains are indeed villainous, yet are treated as humans who may indeed have reasons for their actions. The “heroes” are upright, but of course not perfect. All are, however, endearing.

The most important thing I can say of this book is: “Get it. Read it. Read the previous novel in the series and the subsequent novel. Then read them all again.”

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The Girl in the Steel Corset (Steampunk Chronicles, #1)The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a series I plan to read through to the end, and I definitely hope there will be more after Book Two (“The Girl in the Clockwork Collar,” which I read recently for review). This is a very special series, and Ms. Cross is a very special writer. Even for those who don’t yet like or haven’t been introduced to Steampunk, this book (and the next) are well worth the reading. Ms. Cross introduces and delineates her characters in such a way that we know them immediately as our own. The historical backgrounds are accurately designed-with, of course, the twist that is the nature of Steampunk: mechanization, new technology, and the reliance on mechanization that ought to have logically been a product of the 19th century’s Industrial Revolution).

This volume is set in 1897 Britain, with the Steampunk spin. Here the cohesive group of friends and geniuses led by Griffin King, Duke of Greythorne, are hunting a villain who terms himself “The Machinist,” and uses mechanized automatons to rob and kill. Into this literally comes running sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne, a perfectly ordinary girl in service-who happens to possess a distinctive “dark side.”

“The Girl with the Steel Corset” is a must-read, not-to-be-missed.

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Sunday, June 10, 2012

CAPTAIN NEMO by Kevin J. Anderson_Review

Reviewed for Hearts on Fire Reviews

Captain NemoCaptain Nemo by Kevin J. Anderson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A delightfully engrossing novel by an extremely talented author, Kevin J. Anderson, “Captain Nemo” can be classified in several categories; fantasy, historical fantasy, science fiction, science fantasy, adventure, thriller, coming-of-age, friendship memoir, and much more. It’s simply a breathtaking fictional view of the writings of Jules Verne, as if Verne were the amanuensis who recorded the true-life adventures of his best friend, rather than only a writer of science fiction. For readers who have long loved the stories of Jules Verne, “Captain Nemo” will be quite like returning home, from a new viewpoint. For those who haven’t yet discovered Verne, they will be exposed to Verne’s mysteries and glories, and no doubt inspired to read him in the original books.

Very simply, author Anderson posits Andre Nemo-Captain Nemo as readers have known him for over a century-as an actual historic individual, the best friend (and sometimes rival) of the more reticent and fearful Jules Verne. Andre Nemo becomes a great adventurer, travelling the globe (and beyond), a man’s man whose incredible experiences are recorded by his stay-at-home friend Verne. Verne becomes a popular and bestselling author because of it; yet he still yearns deep within to have experienced these adventures himself, decrying his own ingrained armchair adventurer attitude.

“Captain Nemo: The Fantastic Adventures of a Dark Genius” is a captivating novel on many levels, sure to please uncountable readers (and inspire them to read or to re-read the original works of Monsieur Jules Verne.

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A KIND OF JUDGMENT by Natalie Owens_Review

A Kind of JudgmentA Kind of Judgment by Natalie G. Owens

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Although this book was presented to me as horror, I classify it as Fantasy-Faustian fantasy. The narrator, product of a very difficult but all too common life, has spent her all-too-short adulthood on the streets to earn money for her controller. Most of the story is presented via her monologue delivered to her four companions (who will turn out to be not at all what the reader expects). The ending is perturbing, but somehow logical-and thought-provoking. I read it several days ago, and still cannot forget it.

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AMONG OTHERS by Jo Walton_Review

Among OthersAmong Others by Jo Walton

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a magical (in multiple senses), captivating, engrossing, lyrical, poetic, superbly-written delight! 25 stars for this gem! I have not been so thrilled with a story since I read “I Capture the Castle.” I am now a total convert to the writings of Jo Walton, and plan to catch up on all I have unfortunately missed.

In a contemporary society where magic exists, fairies are real, magic is a useful (or sometimes not) tool-some folks know it and use it; some know but avoid it; and most folks just don’t know and can’t see and wouldn’t believe. Twins Morwenna and Morgana Phelps are the gifted daughters of a witch who is insane as well as magically powerful. She wants to be “the dark queen,” ruling the world, and the fairies of South Wales have enlisted the twins to halt her progress-with dire results.

Simultaneously fantasy, coming of age memoir (for it is written in the form of diary entries, in a very special fashion which makes it all mesh together winningly), process-of-maturation tale, witchcraft, magic, fairy, ghosts, the dead, English boarding school, Welsh culture, train journey, new romance-and tons and tons of wonderful explication of science fiction, because our heroine loves her books above all.

I don’t remember ever reading a book in which the author so well “wrote out my life.” I am reminded of those lines from the song “Killing Me Softly”: “I felt he had found my letters and read them all out loud.” What an absolutely incredible book is “Among Others.”

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Saturday, June 9, 2012

FERVOR by Chantal Boudreau_Review

FervorFervor by Chantal Boudreau

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An exciting and enticing novel on a literally magical enclave (in which magic is used in place of say, electricity, and fuel power) beginning on an ordinary morning which is suddenly, exactly the opposite of ordinary. All the adults (the Minders) are gone-who knows where? There are older children-adolescents-and younger children. Now the olders (Biggers) are sort of mentors to the younger, doling out a tiny bit of knowledge here, another tad bit there. In some ways, the Biggers treat the Littles more like a drill sergeant might: the Littles are the ones with “talent” (which varies-some for example are “Finders” of people and objects; others are “Fixers” –Healers; others have other talents entirely). The Biggers dole out only enough information-and behave in such a way-as to force the younger children to awaken to their talents, which takes place in the new situation of having lost a physical sense (such as vision or hearing) and finding the replacement to be pure mental telepathy. In a sense, like “Lord of the Flies” on a larger scale-because of course both Biggers and Littles still deal with human emotions, greed, cupidity, and all the other feelings-and anyone of them can virtually “tune in” to anyone else. In the meantime, the whole remaining group must figure out how to govern themselves, how to subsist, and how to survive-not to mention, what happened? Where did the Minders go? Why have they not been trained to operate the hover cars, or utilize magic fvr lighting, opening house doors, and so forth?
This fantasy/science fantasy will keep readers riveted to the page, eager to see what happened as well as what will happen to the characters.

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THE WAKE OF THE DRAGON by Jaq D. Hawkins_Review

The Wake of the Dragon: A Steampunk AdventureThe Wake of the Dragon: A Steampunk Adventure by Jaq D. Hawkins

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

13 stars:)

An exciting, adventurous, engrossing adventure, a Steampunk thriller, delightful in every aspect, “Wake of the Dragon” is a superbly-written story that will surely appeal to readers of all stripes of genre interest. Yes, it is Steampunk, but it is rich in historical background; the thrill-a-minute pace will appeal to readers of adventurous thrillers; and the sheer excitement of the airships, the piracy, the many chases, mobs, and the upending of normal consensus reality to paint a reality so similar, yet so different-everything in this book is fantastic.

Take a pinch of legal opium trade as administered by Britain’s East India Company; add airships, clockwork mechanoids; Dickensian business practices; rural communities and farms straight out of the Victorian era; pirates, cars, and the usual human emotions-toss in a hint of spy novel; and the result is a riveting page-turner that is not to be missed. Do pick this one up-you will likely find yourself reading it in one sitting as I did, then immediately wanting to turn back to the first page and read through again.

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Friday, June 8, 2012

THE CONDUIT by Stacey Rourke_Review

The ConduitThe Conduit by Stacey Rourke

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What an utterly delightful, fascinating, fast-paced, engrossing YA fantasy. It captured me from the first page-and I am not in general a devotee of fantasy-but this book is so well and smoothly written, so full of immediate suspension of disbelief, engaging characters, vivid settings-and some really villainous villains-that I could not help but delight in the story and race through it faster than I could have expected.

Although the protagonists are fifteen, eighteen, and twenty, and the book is no doubt targeted at a YA audience, if you’re an older reader, don’t let that stop you. This story is worth reading, because of the quality of the writing, the sympathetic characterizations, the plot line, and as I said above-the suspension of disbelief is immediate. Action-filled, romantic, emotional, dramatic-all one could ask for! Get this one now!

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Thursday, June 7, 2012

SHIFTERS by Halli Lilburn_Review

ShiftersShifters by Halli Lilburn

I found this YA novel engrossing and immensely invigorating. There’s no wasted wordage, no dropped plot threads, just moment-to-moment excitement and adventure, with the romance, friendship, character integrity, and villainous “overlords” woven in intricately. Just as importantly, the story line is so very plausible: almost any contemporary society today is aware of how close it could come to a fascist “Big Brother” type society, without even realizing until too late.

The characters in this book are at first selectively chosen students of a new University, selected presumably for their higher capabilities. Yet they don’t understand, amid all the rigid rules and strictures, that their value is in their DNA. It is not until one of her former neighbourhood playmates, a boy she has known for years, disappears from the University that Halina realizes something terrible is afoot, and she, Yussef, and Jan begin to explore what it is-and discover the concept of “Shifters”-those who can pass among alternate dimensions.

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Vampires Aren’t PrettyVampires Aren’t Pretty by T.W. Brown

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This anthology I rated at 4 Stars in general, but there are several stories included which definitely rate 5 stars, in my opinion; and the entire anthology is worth a read.

Best are: “Don’t Feed the –“ by Chantal Boudreau (really special), Jeremiah Coe’s tongue-in-cheek “Death’s Eager Bride,” R. B. Clague’s “Critique” (which should be read weekly by certain novelists LOL), John Lemut’s hilarious “The Suckiest Bunch of Sucks”; the excellent and well-characterised “The Shifter,” from the smooth Mark Jones.

The apparent theme of this anthology is found in the title: vampires aren’t pretty-they’re gross, gory, ugly, hateful, and determined. To vamps, humans are not quality of life: they’re cattle-livestock-food. Does a human look at a field of corn or a cattle ranch and say, “save it”? (well, yes, in some cases). Vampires NEVER see a human and remark, “Oh, let’s save that one-quality of life-moral integrity-contribution to the future.” No way! That’s the aim of this anthology-on the surface-but as one reads through the various stories, an astute reader will discover another expanded theme, perhaps more subterranean than obvious:

The contemporary trend toward viewing vampires as friendly, shining, beings who are simply “hemo-challenged”, a different but still valued species-actually brainwashes humans into not fearing vampires, thereby making the situation of humans far more dangerous than ever! Listen, humans, and learn: Multicultural diversity is a fine thing-but don’t extend it to include vampires!!

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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

WAKE THE WITCH_Anthology-Review

Wake the WitchWake the Witch by T.W. Brown

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When I read an anthology or a short story collection this excellent, I am reminded of two things:
1. I really need to spend more time reading short fiction, instead of confining myself to novels.
I’m missing so much.
2. Horror is not the sole province of the novel-horror can be worked efficiently in a novella, a short story, or even flash (less than 100 words). The stories in “Wake the Witch” deserve reading, each and every one. Different authors, different themes and settings, but each one is a gem. An example is the excellent rendering of the 19th century classic “Young Goodman Brown” by Ken Goldman-“Mercy Hathaway is a Witch”; and then there’s TW Brown’s laugh-out-loud contemporary version of “Hansel and Gretel”-“Timmy and Ginny.” My personal favourites are the very special (read it and see) “Your Next Appointment,” and the way-scary poetic justice of “Vanity” (which made me a Chantal Boudreau convert!)

Every story is well worth reading and re-reading, of and for themselves. Not to mention that this anthology donates every cent quarterly to the Red Cross-no profits here, just charity. So go do something good-good for yourself, good for others who have suffered and will suffer in future from natural disasters and man-made horror (can we say Fujiyama, and Deep Horizons?) Get this book and settle in for an evening of enjoyment-and don’t look over your shoulder.

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Monday, June 4, 2012

THE YOUNG JAGUAR by Zoe Saadia_Review

The Young Jaguar (Pre-Aztec Series, #2)The Young Jaguar by Zoe Saadia

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“The Young Jaguar” is the second entry in author Zoe Saadia’s exciting Pre-Aztec Series. I totally enjoyed Book 1, “At Road’s End,” but possibly this novel may be even better. Any of Ms. Saadia’s books are an education in themselves: with smooth writing, fast pace, and enjoyable characters who quickly elicit the reader’s empathy, we learn about a period of time so long ago, and yet in many ways, so much like our own. Certainly the peoples of that time suffered and joyed, became impassioned or bored, frustrated or patient, just as do we. Ms. Saadia brings all this home vividly, and we feel as if we’re reading the story of our friends, family, and neighbors-only the setting, fashions, and some of the situations are different. Probably not too many of us (in Western culture) encounter temples on every corner, each dedicated to a different deity (or do we?) yet how is this so dissimilar? Certainly we can each relate to the ongoing plot lines and to the characters, and we learn much more about the settings and the era than if we were instead reading a dry-as-dust archaeological recounting. Ms. Saadia possesses an immense talent for bringing these long-gone eras to life, making them vivid, sensory, and clear to contemporary readers. What are you waiting for? Drop everything and go buy this series!

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A Circle of SoulsA Circle of Souls by Preetham Grandhi

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I classified this excellent novel as urban fantasy; Eastern metaphysics; paranormal; and of course classic murder mystery. It’s rare, though exciting, to discover a novel whose characters are delved into to the depths this story does. Author Preetham Grandhi has years of experience in child psychiatry, but he also knows his adult characters very well: Dr. Peter Gram, one of the protagonists; Dr. Everson Hunter; Everson’s girlfriend Evelyn; the Hastings; the Iyengars; FBI Special Agent Leia Bines, Detective Rodriquez, Lieutenant Andrews. Then there are the children: Janet, Naya (also an important protagonist), Sasha, and others.

The story hinges around three main protagonists: Naya, a young child; Dr. Peter; and the killer. But woven into and around these three are complex webs of secrets and revelations, religion and spirituality, psychosis and psychiatry, and plenty of heart-in-mouth suspense.

“A Circle of Souls” is a gripping and riveting page-turner. I recommend it.

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Saturday, June 2, 2012


Reviewed for Great Minds Think Aloud

The Spirit WellThe Spirit Well by Stephen R. Lawhead

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“The Spirit Well” is the third entry in the “Bright Empires” series, a set which travels in time from contemporary to Victorian to Renaissance to medieval to Stone Age and back, based on the concept of time travel (and multidimensional travel) via ley lines, those lines of power which circumnavigate and divide the planet. After a hefty and highly-detailed introduction, “The Spirit Well” gets off to a quicker start, with some introduction to characters and some surprising action. Almost before we realize it, we enter the realms of high fantasy, magic, metaphysics, and spirituality. Reading this novel is akin to taking trips through history, literature, metaphysics, and more-and what’s more, enjoying it immensely. There is no need to activate suspension of disbelief; it happens automatically, without time to ponder, “could such really occur?” Another delightful aspect of this book is that as the story shifts perspective from one character to another, from one dimension to another, from one era to another, it does so completely smoothly, because the reader is immediately so enraptured with the story lines.
Although I had not read the previous entries in the series, “The Skin Map” and “The Bone House,” reading “The Spirit Well” has definitely convinced me to do so.

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Demon Eyes (Witch Eyes, #2)Demon Eyes by Scott Tracey

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a stunning reader’s hook-and non-stop action-this story never takes a breather, and I’m thankful. Makes me wish I had read the first in the series-“Witch Eyes”-but no fear, I definitely intend to pick it up. Braden lives, as of recently, in the small town of Belle Dam, Washington, a community that seems to be noted for magical workings, secrecy, and deceit. Although he didn’t discover it until recently, he is the son of Jason Thorpe, one of the two warring witch families in Belle Dam. The story opens two weeks after Braden took down Lucien, a really ugly (behaviourally) demon-who just can’t lie down and accept death, but continues to appear regularly in Braden’s nightmares. Meanwhile, Father Jason is twisting Braden up in knots, sending him for physical therapy and mental counseling, neither of which he wants, nor does he enjoy living in Thorpe’s massive residence. There are good points about Belle Dam, but few and far between. The best one for the reader is that author Scott Tracy delivers a tautly plotted, enjoyably characterized, truly Supernatural paranormal mystery-thriller-YA-romance and more. Don’t miss it.

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THE DEVIL'S MADONNA by Sharon Potts_Review

The Devil's MadonnaThe Devil's Madonna by Sharon Potts

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A truly riveting and gripping novel, especially for those who remember the pre-World War II era and the War-or for those who have an interest in that era, but a great story for any reader who loves suspense (tons of it), thrills, convoluted plot lines, secrets, characters with something to hide, and threats to the characters.

Freelance children’s illustrator and artist Kali is pregnant with her first child. Married to Seth Miller, a man of Jewish extraction, and raised without religious beliefs herself, Kali converted to Judaism upon her marriage. Orphaned when her mother was killed in a car accident, Kali grew to adulthood in her secretive maternal grandmother’s home. About all she knows of her grandmother is that she was originally Austrian, and married an American. Kali’s late mother was also an artist, but had to hide her art from her own mother. Unbeknownst to Kali’s mother Dorothy during her life and to Kali, Lilian has much to hide, and her secrets begin in November 1938, less than a year before Germany invaded Poland and Britain declared war.

It’s common to speak of a page-a-minute thriller, but this novel truly is one. I couldn’t put it aside, and I know readers won’t either. Buy this one and settle in to read in peace-and be thankful for that peace.

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GODDESS INTERRUPTED by Aimee Carter_Review

Reviewed for Hearts on Fire Reviews

Goddess Interrupted (Goddess Test, #2)Goddess Interrupted by Aimee Carter

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My study of Grecian mythology occurred decades ago, so it took me a few pages to get up to scratch when I first started this novel. I kept flipping back and forth to the etymology chart at the end (identifying the former deities’ names according to their current, contemporary appellations); but really, the story went just fine without that, as the characters’ personalities, individual quirks, and talents, unfolded via the plot threads. I quite enjoyed this story, even though I had not previously read the first in the series, but now I intend to do so. Author Aimee Carter does a remarkable job of bringing the deities of classical mythology to vivid and vibrant life, treating them as real people, who of course just happen to possess both immortality and godly talents. I had no trouble whatsoever suspending disbelief and reading the story as a realistic “what-if” plot line.

For those who read “The Goddess Test,” you will remember that Kate (formerly mortal) passed the seven tests set by the gods to become the new Queen of the Underworld and marry Henry (formerly Hades). After her six months topside on Earth, Kate and James (formerly Hermes), her god traveling companion, return to the Underworld so that Kate’s coronation ceremony as Queen may take place, and she might begin her chosen task of helping judge the souls after death. Seemingly simple-but Calliope, who has always yearned for Henry, has developed an eternal grudge against Kate-and apparently not just Kate, but all of the existing gods. Now she has endeavoured to bring her father, Cronus, out of imprisonment, determined to destroy all the gods whom he had once created-and he will once again sadistically torture and destroy humanity, this time for all time to come-if the gods (and Kate) cannot halt his release and safely re-imprison him.

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Friday, June 1, 2012

THE LURKING MAN by Keith Rommel_Review

The Lurking Man (Thanatology Book 2)The Lurking Man by Keith Rommel

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I started this novel thinking it would be fantasy-since it deals with “Death” personified-and so it is, but it is also much more than that. “The Lurking Man” is the story of a woman who has allowed her childhood to shadow her entire life, who uses it as an excuse when she hurts others-including her own child, and her estranged husband; a woman whose victim mentality is so entrenched that she “is” that childhood-rather than an adult survivor who can seek options to overcome.

This is a very thought-provoking novel. The premise, that “Sariel” (Death) can choose one individual at will, and give her a choice, an opportunity to redress wrongs that she has committed and to “make it right” as she might have chosen to do in the first place, is captivating. The reader will find herself racing to discover what choices Cailean makes, what options she follows, and whether she can put right what has been put wrong. So I call this fantasy with suspense, plus excellent deeply-drawn characterization; a story well worth reading. This is the second novel in author Keith Rommel’s “Thanatology Series,” and I intend to read the first as well because I am a convert.

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Amber HouseAmber House by Kelly Moore

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Delightful and winning! Engrossing, riveting-the very definition of a page-turner! YA, yes, but suitable for older readers too. The authors do a marvelous job of introducing an autistic child character and making him a full-on protagonist. I want to give this book 16 stars, as I was so totally absorbed, and can’t put it out of my mind. Over the months, I’ve read a few YA books that had this strong an effect on me: “The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer,” “Divergent,” the “13 to Life” series, “The Girl in the Clockwork Collar;” and now “Amber House” takes its place in that exalted pantheon. I cannot recommend this book highly enough!

Gently budding romance; a dilemma between two possible romantic interests; Supernatural; time travel; precognition; the rock and the hard place of being a maturing adolescent vs. the issues of the parent; potential divorce; an autistic but very much beloved younger sibling; learning to trust vs. learning to discern-this wonderful, precious, story has it all-and I certainly hope for more novels in the future!

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