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

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

AFTERLIFE (The Undermountain Saga #2) by Eric Edstrom_Review

Afterlife (The Undermountain Saga, #2)Afterlife by Eric Edstrom

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This highly-awaited sequel to “Undermountain” is every iota as impressive as its predecessor in “The Undermountain Saga.” Non-stop adventure races at the pace of a monorail train, while empathetic characters (Breyony, Danny, Em, Shiv, and Wa, as well as the character everybody would like to leave behind-Bronson) keep readers entranced. In “Undermountain,” we readers were “abducted” underground, far beneath Earth’s surface, to confront both myths and legends, and science fiction turned fact. The ending was not an unnecessary cliffhanger, but did leave readers hoping for a sequel so we could find out more about the characters who had so endeared themselves to us. Here is that sequel, interweaving more science fiction come to life with incredible ancient history, making us devour the story at the speed of light. Author Eric Edstrom never drops a thread, keeping readers riveted and always hungry to turn the next page. Even the “villains” are presented three-dimensionally and are readily comprehended-whether we approve of their behavior and intent or not.
I don’t think I can recommend either “Afterlife” or “Undermountain” highly enough. Although the two are seamless parts of an entirety, it is not necessary to read “Undermountain” first (but then why would you miss it?) I did reread “Undermountain” in preparation for reviewing “Afterlife,” but the latter stands alone, unlike in some series, where too much backstory is left out. “Afterlife” can be read and enjoyed by itself; but do yourself a favour and get both. They’re keepers.




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WHAT NEW ZOMBIE CRAZE?_GUEST POST by JOSHUA COOK

What New Zombie Craze?
It seems like forever now that we have been hearing about this new zombie craze. It seems every other day some dude is biting off another guy’s face or a zombie is on TV trying to sell you something. Why zombies and why now?

Zombies are not some new creation that just hit it big. The zombie culture has been around for a very long time, lurking in the shadows. As with any pop culture phenomenon, zombies’ popularity has been cyclical. All cultures have some form of zombie story or mythology deeply engrained in their culture. Pop culture really caught on to these stories in the 1930’s with the release of voodoo zombie movies. These differ greatly from the Hollywood zombies that would come thirty years later.

Slowly the popularity of these films waned, and a visionary came along in 1968 to film a whole new breed of monster. George A. Romero filmed and released Night of the Living Dead in 1968 on a tight budget; little did he know the impact this film would have on the pop culture landscape forever. After its release, NOTLD went on to earn millions and bring this army of man-eating corpses to the forefront of pop culture again.

Romero went on to film a string of zombie movies, and continues to be the father of the modern zombie; but another thirty years pass and pop culture’s blood lust is just too great to contain. The long running video game franchise Resident Evil made its debut in 1996, and featured nightmarish monsters of all sorts – including our classic zombies. The popularity of the Resident Evil franchise spawned a movie franchise that is still going strong.

This popularity spawned a rebirth in zombies over the next few years and the release of 28 Days Later and Zack Snyder’s reimagining of George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead ushered in a whole new era of zombies. Instead of the slow shamblers of Romero’s older films, zombies became speedy threats around every corner.

This latest round of zombie popularity seems to have some staying power, but like every other time, we will slink back into our dark corners and await the next unsuspecting generation to come along for us to feed on.

***
AiZ: Alice in Zombieland (Complete Saga) is now available in the Amazon Kindle Store, on Smashwords for all formats, and through many online retailers. Pre-orders are open the signed limited edition paperback, as well as the regular paperback editions, at ZombieACRES.com. Also available through Amazon is the anthology 100 Horrors, which features an exclusive Zombie A.C.R.E.S. story, along with 99 other tales of terror. 100 Horrors is available in Kindle and paperback formats.

Joshua Cook is a writer for hire living in the Seattle area. You can find him on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. To find out more about Zombie A.C.R.E.S., visit them on Facebook, Twitter, and in the ACRES merch shop.

Monday, July 30, 2012

GHOSTLY ENCOUNTER by Suzannah Daniels_Review

Ghostly Encounter (Ghostly Series, Book One)Ghostly Encounter by Suzannah Daniels

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Smooth and well-written, “Ghostly Encounter” presents an intriguing premise: Can a living individual be soul mates with the ghostly spirit of a person long-dead? If so, can the two ever “unite”? While the reader is pondering these matters, author Suzannah Daniels puts another unexpected spin on the question, with terrifying gatekeeper apparitions and time travel! And then she weaves present into past, doubly, with the addition of our protagonist Mia’s seemingly uninterested former boyfriend, Matt.

Mia Randall has never known her father, who died during her infancy, but she has always been very close and interdependent with her mother, who struggles to provide as a waitress. Mia just wants to keep good grades, do University, then find a well-paying career to help support her mother, in return for all her mother has done. Right at the end of the school term, on-again off-again boyfriend Matt dropped Mia, and immediately another good-looking boy, Josh, steps in to take his place, but Mia knows Josh can only be a friend and no more. At Chickamauga National Battlefield she meets a man who makes her heart flutter, believing him to be a Reenactor participating in the Battlefield Reenactment. But Benjamin is far more than someone playing at history-Benjamin lived-and died-during the Civil War, and now he has found the woman he considers his soul mate, the one who might allow him to somehow change his past-and his future.

I can highly recommend this book for high school age YA readers and older. The author’s approach to history is very educational, and readers will definitely warm up quickly to the characters.




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2012 New Release Giveaway!

http://www.neverendingstoriesbookblog.com/2012/07/just-becuase-giveaway-2012-new-release.html

Sunday, July 29, 2012

THE YARD by Alex Grecian_Review

The YardThe Yard by Alex Grecian

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


A very engrossing novel of Victorian Scotland Yard in the wake of the failure to locate Jack the Ripper after his Whitechapel atrocities of 1888, or even to find clues to his identity, “The Yard” unwraps the tensions and characters of the “New Yard,” after Inspector March has retired. Detectives who are accustomed to working alone and at their own pace; one of the Murder Squad detectives who has simply given up and moved to the Midlands to be a shopkeeper; a new Commissioner; and suddenly, a brutal and untimely murder of one of the members of Scotland Yard’s Murder Squad, seemingly killed for no reason-populate this amazing story.

Well-researched and well-written, this is a compelling novel and this reviewer can’t help but hope for a sequel. My favourite historical era comes alive in “The Yard,” and brings to light the social and economic issues of the time, as well as the cultural. I felt like I know historical London better than I ever had before reading this novel.




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THE ASYLUM INTERVIEWS: BRONX by Jocelynn Drake_Review

The Asylum Interviews: Bronx (The Asylum Tales, #0.5)The Asylum Interviews: Bronx by Jocelynn Drake

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I wasn’t quite sure what to expect in this story, but what I found was paranormal elements galore and a smoothly written tale that combines unexpected action with good character delineation (and it can’t be easy to draw characters such as elves, Fae, Minotaurs, Trolls and other “unusual” species). I found the story enticing, and I’m eager to read more in the “Asylum” Universe.

Gage owns a tattoo parlor, “Asylum,” in Low Town, where magical beings are prevalent and accepted. In his “world,” tattoo artists not only draw ink, but formulate potions according to the customers’ needs and desires, thus augmenting the inking with a little magic. Gage’s friend Parker, an incubus, is in ill health from the constraints of a monogamous relationship, so Gage’s new buddy, the troll Bronx (such an adorable guy!) suggests tattooing Parker so he can get his necessary energetic boosts from kisses and touches, not just from the whole shebang.

I rate this 18+ for language and sensuality, and I highly recommend it.




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INTERVIEW WITH JOSHUA COOK_AUTHOR OF ALICE IN ZOMBIELAND_THE COMPLETE SAGA

Interview with Joshua Cook

“Alice in Zombieland,” despite the title, is not a reprise of the classic story (such as Seth Grahame-Smith did with “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” and Quirk Classics’ “Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters”). Yours is a very contemporary, even near-futuristic setting.

1. So, Josh-WHY Zombies? Why is this a specific interest for you?

I have always loved zombies. When I was younger and first saw George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, it scared the crap out of me. From that moment on, I have been a zombie fanatic. So when I began to write short stories, zombies just seemed like a perfect fit.

2. What’s your take on the current enthusiasm with Zombies in pop culture? We’ve had vampires (the dark kind), sparkly vampires, werewolves, to a lesser extent ghosts (the various film versions of “The Woman in Black” for example). Now everybody wants to read-write-view Zombies? To what causes do you attribute that-is it just the newest in the paranormal fad continuum-or something deeper?
I think it was inevitable that zombies would infest mainstream pop culture. Zombies fans epitomize the word fanatics. If anyone doubts this all they have to do is check out the horde of thousands that show up at many zombie events, like Red, White and Dead in Seattle. There have always been throngs of us fanatics out there in society; we just tend to like the cold, dark places many people can’t (or won’t) reach. Like any good infection, we just kept spreading our love for the undead. Once pop culture embraced us with things like Resident Evil games, Dawn of the Dead remake, and Shaun of the Dead, there was no stopping the inevitable. All crazy crap going on around the world right now is just feeding into the craze. Eventually mainstream will forget about us and we will slink back to our dark places until the time to feed on the masses comes again. More of this to come on July 31st. See ya there.


3. Without (I hope) giving anything away, much of the crux of the novel is leveled on the pharmaceutical industry hex (to paraphrase Steve Miller Band). You don’t use the lately popular spin of Zombiefication being caused by viruses. I think your cause is much more original; and I’d like to know, do you think that sometime in the future, such a situation as you portray could be possible-a megacorporation attempting to manipulate the powers of life and death? Is that just a minor step beyond genetic engineering?
I definitely think it will be a drug company that causes the zombie apocalypse; or at least someone working for them. There is big money in pharmaceuticals, which is no secret. What would be better than selling life itself? How much would the rich and powerful pay to be kept alive indefinitely? As with any science, it will take many experiments to get there, and by definition, there will be mistakes with these experiments. I think this is very far off in the future, but an inevitable end.

4. Currently, do you have any plans for continuing with the AiZ milieu?
Oh yeah! AiZ is just part of a very large Zombie A.C.R.E.S. story. The first story in AiZ: Alice in Zombieland, The Interview, lays out a little back story and some insight into what will be coming in the future. As far as the AiZ storyline, there is much more in the works. There will be a comic sequel coming soon. Right now I am aiming for the end of the year. It will pick up months after the end of AiZ. To bridge the gap between the end of the book and the start of the comics, I will be starting up the free stories on ZombieACRES.com again. These stories will show where the lives of Gee, Sam, Alice and Roslun went just after the events on Blake Island. While the Seattle outbreak is cleaned (and covered) up, our heroes lives will never be the same. The stories will be able to stand on their own as a season, but still keep fans hanging on the edge of their seat until the comic series begins.

5. How would you encourage non-Zombieists, or even non-Horror readers, to dip into AiZ and take a chance?
Just read the reviews. In the Amazon Kindle Store, one reviewer of AiZ: Alice in Zombieland wrote, ‘I've never been a fan of the supernatural or of Zombie stories… I wasn't sure how I'd feel about AiZ, but once I started reading, I was hooked.’ I released a free sampler a little while back called The Boy Who Cried Zombie. An Amazon reviewer wrote, ‘Cook writes well and all the characters come through strong. It's not all about the drooling, face-munching zombies.’
These reviews really make me happy because I poured so much of my emotion into AiZ: Alice in Zombieland. I was in a very dark place, even for us zombie fanatics, in my personal life and was having some dark thoughts. Instead of doing anything stupid, I turned to writing and my love for the undead. Those early stories have been polished up a lot in the past year, but the emotion has only gotten stronger. Now that my life is not as dark, I have to dip myself back down to that dark place, and it is a draining process. In the end, though, it is all worth it when I hear from fans on non-fans of zombie fiction.
6. Any advice or comments for aspiring novelists trying to break into the field as an Indie author?
Never give up. Many authors will say ‘Read a Lot’ or ‘Write a Lot’. Both very good advice, and without them no author will ever progress as a writer; but writing is such an open medium that everyone has an opinion. I am still trying to acquire the thick skin needed to be a writer myself; and truthfully, I am not sure if I ever will. It is always hard hearing a bad review or comment about your writing, but in the beginning it can literally be a career killer.
I say ignore them. Ignore them all, good or bad. In the beginning, I received a lot of great responses on my Zombie A.C.R.E.S. stories. So much so that I jumped the gun and released some poorly edited work at first. Once I received the slap in the face a writer with big head needs, I saw how far I really had to go. This was a very hard slap in the face, and I actually vowed to quit writing fiction altogether. Now I look back and so how far I have come in the past year and a half. Never believe the hype and forget the naysayers. Just keep writing and improving your craft. You’ll be glad you did.

Thank you for taking the time to be with us today; we’re anticipating your guest post on the 31st.:)

***
AiZ: Alice in Zombieland (Complete Saga) is now available in the Amazon Kindle Store, on Smashwords for all formats, and through many online retailers. Pre-orders are open the signed limited edition paperback, as well as the regular paperback editions, at ZombieACRES.com. Also available through Amazon is the anthology 100 Horrors, which features an exclusive Zombie A.C.R.E.S. story, along with 99 other tales of terror. 100 Horrors is available in Kindle and paperback formats.
Joshua Cook is a writer for hire living in the Seattle area. You can find him on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. To find out more about Zombie A.C.R.E.S., visit them on Facebook, Twitter, and in the ACRES merch shop.

ALICE IN ZOMBIELAND_THE COMPLETE SAGA by Joshua Cook_Review

AiZ: Alice in Zombieland (Complete Saga)AiZ: Alice in Zombieland by Joshua Cook

My rating: 5 of 5 stars




http://archiestandwoodsreviewsandwrit...


First of all, make no mistake: this is not one of the reprises of classic literature with the interweaving of the zombie culture. Alice is not a late Victorian tiny damsel who stumbles into a rabbit hole and meets zombies. This Alice is a very alert and self-aware young lady of sixteen living in the Seattle area. Following an unexpected and horrifying family crisis, Alice reunites with her stepsister Georgia (“Gee”) to escape their area, to fight off the zombie approach, and to solve the situation if they possibly can. As so often happens, bad leads to worse, and Alice herself is attacked-and more.

The fulcrum of this novel’s plot is hubris: the arrogance of a mega-global-corporation, but specifically the arrogance of one man who wants to play God and has no moral compunction whatsoever. All is greed-human life is valueless, except as it provides fodder for experimentation. Dr. Josef Mengele of the Nazi concentration camps would find this character a likely kindred spirit.

I don’t wish to give away the plot of “Alice in Zombieland,” but I’ll be happy to give away my high recommendation. If you love Zombies, read “AiZ.” If you think you don’t, please read it anyway. Not your ordinary “Zombie” novel, “Alice in Zombieland” and author Joshua Cook has a lot to say here about contemporary society, character, and hubris (and the Industrial complex hex). Read it and reap!




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Saturday, July 28, 2012

THE ZOMBIE SHOW by Gerald Dean Rice_Review

The Zombie ShowThe Zombie Show by Gerald Dean Rice




Very graphic, very gory, very violent-not for the faint of heart, the weak of stomach, or the easily imaginative. Mexican drug cartels, desert dives, strange men with no past, and zombies-and always, always, the market to feed the strange one’s planned performances, of zombies and live folks. A man who somehow eludes not just capture but identification, who somehow in the heat of the Mexican desert either produces or stockpiles the zombie virus, who infects the innocent so as to create zombies-such a man needs to be removed, and one young undercover agent is about to do so-if possible. But not just Mr. Undercover have plans-so do the strange cartel enforcer himself, and so does his “head zombie” have plans-of a sort.

I found getting to the meat of the characters and plot (definitely no pun intended) difficult because I was constantly dismayed and distraught at the settings and explicit violence among the humans (it’s expected among zombies).

This edition also contains material from “Fleshbags” and “The Dead Child.”




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BETWEEN by Mary Ting_Review

Between (Crossroads Saga, #2)Between by Mary Ting

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Reviewed for Books4Tomorrow Event

“Between” is a highly intriguing and complex novel, the sequel to “Crossroads.” Unfortunately I had not yet read “Crossroads,” but fortunately “Between” gives sufficient backstory and descriptive setting that I was able to immediately become involved in its story line. I really appreciated the imaginative metaphysics of author Mary Ting, who definitely put a new and exciting spin on the narrative of the Nephilim from Genesis, and on our view of Angels, Nephilim, and Fallen Ones.

Claudia Emerson’s life has turned surreal since the discovery that her father is Angelic. Loss of her beloved grandmother, and the discovery that other girls with her exact name whose boyfriends share the first name of her former boyfriend are targeted and disappearing nearly overbalances the peace she feels in Michael’s love, and the wonderment of living in a world populated by Angels, Nephilim, and other angelic and demonic beings.

Author Mary Ting keeps the suspense on the front burners, and the heat turned wide open, yet the juxtaposition of romance, familial love, and good friendship keeps the story from tilting too far in the fearful direction. Claudia is a good protagonist, with an intelligent head on her shoulders, dedication, and devotion. She is not a person easily fooled nor swayed toward evil.

The violence is graphic, so I would recommend this novel for 18+ YA and older. I would recommend reading “Crossroads” first, then “Between,” and then anticipating the third in this series.




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Friday, July 27, 2012

SHIVER by Linda Wilkinson-Wing_Review

ShiverShiver by Linda Wilkinson-Wing





“Shiver” is a heartwarming trinity of delectable ghost stories, gentle, subtle, yet poignant. Very well-written indeed, these stories will linger in the heart and mind.

“Miss Lizzy” will touch even the most jaded, cynical hearts, those who can’t believe in happy endings.

“Winged Savior” flips one of society’s cherished monster myths on its head and teaches that sometimes, there really is a happier reality.

“Nightmare at the Eastwood” is nostalgic, yet tension-filled (and terrorizing), putting the impetus of hero on an ordinary divorced wage-earner.

I truly enjoyed all three stories. The first two deal with abusive situations, and present a premise that love and compassion can overcome. The really scary one is the third, but gives us a strong, morally upright, determined protagonist, who just might win out after all.




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A STRANGE FIRE by L. H. Cosway_Review

A Strange Fire (Florence Vaine, #1)A Strange Fire by L.H. Cosway

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



VERY intriguing premise! I’ve really enjoyed this book-multi-faceted and multi-layered, it isn’t the common “girl with an unusual talent plus boy with an odd talent or odd problem.” Seems like almost everybody in this story has something going on, out of the ordinary (way out) and not only is there Supernatural, there’s also romance, subtle sensuality, and DANGER. In fact, it’s some of those who have the psychic talents who are most endangered, and possibly least able to protect themselves, only to know with fatalism of their impending doom.

Not just Supernatural thrills and terror limn this book, but also deep and perceptive psychological insight, especially into the lasting nature of childhood abuse and the grooves it carves into one’s soul, and bullying (whether in a school situation or elsewhere). The “villains” are truly evil and terrifying, like Juggernauts in the French Revolution, rolling toward their assigned conclusion, yet masked as perfectly normal individuals-except to those like our protagonist Flo, who can see through the illusion. I’d give “A Strange Fire” about 18 stars.




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Thursday, July 26, 2012

BEAUTIFUL DISASTER by Jamie McGuire_Review

Beautiful DisasterBeautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I predict a bestseller-and long lines of customers to buy this book. It’s not even my usual type of subgenre, yet I am engrossed. I snarled every time real life tried to interrupt me! All I can say is “Wow!” over and over. The characters, the careful and clear delineation of the layers of emotions, the plot lines, the red herring love interests, the psychological and familial backdrops-just amazing. This is my first book by author Jamie McGuire, but I am definitely a fan now.

Best friends Abby and America are new freshmen at Eastern University, and America’s boyfriend is Shepley, who rooms in an apartment with his cousin Travis “Mad Dog.” Travis has two notable elements to his reputation: he is a fighter-illegally-for money; and he is also known as “One Night Stand,” never with a girlfriend, always with females clinging and wanting attention. The term “commitment-phobic” wouldn’t even scratch the surface of Travis’ attitudes. Abby won’t have any of it, but begins to hang around because America and Shep are so tight. Next thing she knows, Travis’ acting out with other girls becomes even more atrocious, and her interest in a little male attention from a frat brother sets a wedge into her friendship with Travis. When she accompanies Travis to a fight and bets him that the other guy will get in a punch, the bet becomes: Travis’ abstinence for a month, vs. Abby’s staying in the apartment with Travis, Shep, and America for a month. Either way, that’s a recipe for disaster, or a volcanic emotional explosion. Readers will hang on every sentence watching the consequences speedily unfold.




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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

BLOOD WARRIOR by H. D. Gordon (ALEXA MONTGOMERY #1)_Review

Blood Warrior (The Alexa Montgomery Saga, #1)Blood Warrior by H.D. Gordon




Author H. D. Gordon has a remarkable ability to couch the odd, the unusual, and the potentially unreal in a perception that allows the reader to take them for granted. Such was the case in “Joe,” a truly wonderful novel, and such is the case in “Blood Warriors,” the first of the Alexa Montgomery series. At first we think that Alexa’s household is just an “ordinary” dysfunctional family unit: a physically abusive paranoid schizophrenic in the parental role, and a younger sibling who at all costs must be protected, and to both mother and sister is the “fair-haired child” of the family, she who can do no wrong. But there are layers and layers deeper than that; and we quickly learn that the abusive physical training given nearly daily by Alexa’s mother has been for Alexa’s protection, and her sister Nelly’s; for Alexa is a Warrior, in fact the last of that particular combination of races.

Gripping and stunning, “Blood Warrior” will enchant, rivet and engross the reader with its paranormal elements, locales, settings, and characters. Especially compelling is the character of Alexa, the protagonist, with her constantly burning internal anger, her abilities, and her deep and abiding compassion for younger ones and those who are outcasts from society for whatever reason.




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CLOCKWORK ANGEL (INFERNAL DEVICES #1) by Cassandra Clare_Review

Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices, #1)Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This is only my second Cassandra Clare novel (the first was “City of Bones,” #1 of her “Mortal Instruments” series) and I am a lifelong fan already! “City of Bones” is great; “Clockwork Angel” is stunning! Victorian, historical, geographical, Steampunk, Supernatural/paranormal, clockwork, automatons, demons, Fae, Vampires, Shifters, Demon Hunters-everything a reader of Paranormal could want (me, anyway) is contained here, and I cannot wait to continue the series! Ms. Clare’s books are definitely to buy and to read and reread.

“Clockwork Angel” is the first in the Infernal Devices series, in a way a prequel to the contemporary situations and locales of the Mortal Instruments series. Set in London in 1878 (a full decade before Jack the Ripper’s ravages in Whitechapel), “Clockwork Angel” revolves around Tessa (Theresa) Gray, whose Aunt Harriet has recently passed. When Tessa receives a letter and steamship ticket from her brother Nathaniel who had emigrated to London some time ago, she leaps at the opportunity, now that she has no further family in New York City, and heads immediately to London-where she is abducted at the wharf and kept imprisoned by Mrs. Black and Mrs. Dark, the evil “Dark Sisters.”

I won’t reveal any more of the plot; I’ll only say that “Clockwork Angel” is a stunner. Truly, I could read it over and over and over again.




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INSURGENT (DIVERGENT #2) by Veronica Roth_Review

Insurgent (Divergent, #2)Insurgent by Veronica Roth

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Divergent #2
In some series, one or more novels can function as a stand-alone. Sometimes that’s because enough backstory is added, sometimes it’s due to that particular series entry taking a different turn (focusing on different characters, settings, or plot threads). In this case, that’s not so: “Insurgent” leaps in immediately where “Divergent” stopped-and I recommend, if you haven’t read the excellent “Divergent” first, do so before reading “Insurgent.” It’s only been four months since I read and loved “Divergent,” but I’m finding myself at a loss as I try to reactivate memories, identify characters (some of whom change names), remember familial and non-familial relationships, the meaning of the factions, and the stunning ending of “Divergent.”

But before I had read even 10% of the book, that ceased to matter; and I found myself racing through the pages at near the speed of light, so engrossed in the plotting and characters that I couldn’t stop myself. Nor could I stop without finishing! It’s overdone to say “I read with heart in mouth,” but yet I did exactly that.

My conclusion, then, is that “Insurgent” is every bit as great a book as “Divergent,” and both novels deserve a wide, expanded readership. Word of mouth rules: pass it on.




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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

FAE NOT by Leah Spiegel_Review

Fae NotFae Not by Leah Spiegel

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This is an intriguing novel, but I must add that right away the elitist Fae infuriated me. Like vampires in so many paranormal novels, the Fae here perceive humans as fodder--energy supplements the Fae want and need. At Rykers Farm the “counselors” ostensibly interact with troubled teens, bringing therapeutic insight through manual farm labour. Yeah, right: the adolescents are sent to the Farm because they’ve failed to produce sufficient energy reserves for their local fae. In Claire’s case, she is a human, adopted early by Fae parents, and as soon as her energy input ceases, it’s off to the farm, to be “treated” by Ashton. Claire’s problem seems to be deeper than that, though: she is pathologically shy and reserved; yet when confronted with Nature, her energy is over the top.
I’m afraid that the further I read into this novel, the angrier I became with the Fae attitude. Humans, even though some are sub-human, are not animals-and I resented the belief that “animals” means valueless except for whatever use they might be to the Fae (resenting this on behalf of both human energy-givers and animals, I am).
On the good side, there’s a lot of intrigue, romance, tension, conflict, interspecies relations (Fae and human), and all sorts of elements that readers of paranormal look for in stories of Fae. Readers who enjoy paranormal romance and urban fantasy will delight in "Fae Not."




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Monday, July 23, 2012

AMERICAN GIRL by Tony Talbot

American GirlAmerican Girl by Tony Talbot

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


“American Girl” is a riveting and engrossing YA novel (quite enjoyable for adult readers too) told from the point of view of a Nisei girl turning sixteen on Dec. 7, 1941-the day of the fatal bombing at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Mary Tanaka, her older brother Ichiro (stationed at Pearl Harbor), and her younger brother Kenichi, are Nisei: American-born, while their parents are Issei, of Japanese birth and not allowed to become American citizens. But Mary, Kenichi’s, and Ichiro’s American citizenship by birth does not protect them from a civilian populace infuriated by the Pearl Harbor attack and fearful of a Japanese uprising on the American continent, and a potential Japanese invasion of the U.S. West Coast. Mary, Ken, and their parents are swept into the madness of interment, where citizenship, political affiliation, and innocence of wrongdoing make no difference to mob hysteria and condemnation.

Author Tony Talbot wraps enticing, empathetic characters in a true-to-life historical plot line, comparable to the type of situations Anne Frank’s family encountered while in hiding: the terror, the inability to grasp why they were in danger, and the eventual outcome of capture. Readers will be heart-in-mouth throughout this story, wanting to pull the characters away from what seems inevitable. Additionally, this novel is a riveting way of presenting an ugly chapter in America’s past.




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Sunday, July 22, 2012

THE HUNCHBACK ASSIGNMENTS (THE HUNCHBACK ASSIGNMENTS #1) by Arthur Slade_Review

The Hunchback Assignments (The Hunchback Assignments, #1)The Hunchback Assignments by Arthur Slade

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


An enticing and exciting YA novel of Steampunk in Victorian England, “The Hunchback Assignments” merges factual history with the alternate universe of steam, clockwork mechanisms, mad scientists, and global conspiracy. On one hand is an upscale, rather elitist organization calling itself the “Permanent Association,” determined not only to preserve Great Britain from anarchists, but intent as well on keeping Britannia the ruler of a great and far-flung empire of Manifest Destiny. Opposed to this is a global collection known as “The Clockword Guild,” whose members are completely without heart or compassion, who think nothing of enslaving orphans, street children, and even members of royalty, to their ends. The plot is fast-paced, and in the characters of poor hunchbacked Modo-until the age of 1 a “freak” in a tiny travelling gypsy carvan; Octavia Milkweed, former orphan turned pickpocket; and “Mr. Socrates,” as well as the trinity of evil (Fuhr; Hakkandottir; and Dr. Hyde) we encounter individuals as fully fleshed out and real as Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Watson, and their nemesis Professor Moriarty. I recommend this delightful novel, and its series.



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ANGEL EVOLUTION by David Estes_Review

Angel Evolution (The Evolution Trilogy, #1)Angel Evolution by David Estes

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Read this for The David Estes Fan Group-finished July 16. I realize this is a vastly popular book, but for myself I preferred Author Estes’ “The Moon Dwellers.” I think the difficulty for me with “Angel Evolution” was the characters of the angels, specifically Gabriel, Dionysus (who should be a Greek deity, not an angel ) and the Council of Archangels. From their very first introduction, I preferred the demons. I also disliked the protagonist’s Taylor’s intermittently forgetting to follow her intuition and instead take things at surface value, thereby falling for lies over and over again. However, I am looking forward to reading the next entry in this trilogy, “Demon Evolution,” as hopefully that will cover more of the characters I prefer, the demons, who seem to me to be the actual good guys, not the angels.



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THE MOON DWELLERS by David Estes_Review

The Moon Dwellers (The Dwellers, #1)The Moon Dwellers by David Estes

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I read this in conjunction with a Chapter-a-Day read at Never Too Old for YA Books Goodreads Group, while I was also reading Mr. Estes’ “Angel Evolution” for The David Estes Fan Group Goodreads Group. “Angel Evolution” was his first book, and “Moon Dwellers” his fourth. It is engrossing-I could not set it aside. Set underground, centuries after toxicity ruined the Earth’s surface, there are three realms: Sun Dweller, Moon Dweller, Star Dweller. The Star realm is the worst, the deepest underground, the poorest, the most downtrodden, barely even considered third class citizens. The Moon realm, in the middle, is poor and growing worse economically. The Sun realm reminds me of contemporary society’s 1%: wealthy, disregarding of human life other than their own; rather like Marie Antoinette in attitude. As long as the Moon and Star realms provide the needs and luxuries of the Sun realm by mining and manufacturing, the Sun dwellers are happy, shallow, and blindered. Led by a despot, President Nailin, life rolls smoothly on, unaware of the star dwellers’ imminent rebellion.

All of the characters are well drawn, and unlike those in “Angel Evolution,” I found it easy to empathise with all of the “good guys.” The suspense is top-notch and the plotting is taut.




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CITY OF BONES (MORTAL INSTRUMENTS #1) by Cassandra Clare_Review

City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments, #1)City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Well! The first time I settled to read this book, I managed 85 pages; the second time, I read the remaining 400 pages in one sitting-what does that tell you? I loved this book, its intensity, its complexity, its complications, its numerous threads and sub—threads, emotional confrontations, startling revelations-and I’m in for the series (and the Infernal Devices series as well!)

Many novels and series include the Paranormal; many can make the reader suspend disbelief. “City of Bones” is one of the absolute best. When Clary Fray’s mother unexpectedly disappears, which she discovers while returning home to a trashed apartment, attacked by a type of impossible beast, an entirely new perspective opens to Clary. What she discovers from then on is that nothing and no one is ever as it seems: friends are enemies, enemies are friends, and sometimes monsters are friends, sometimes enemies. There are more things in heaven and earth and beyond than one could possibly imagine-unless one is author Cassandra Clare. Do not miss this special novel, and do not stop at just one taste-read the series!




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Saturday, July 21, 2012

THE KRONOS INTERFERENCE by J. B. Manas, Edward Miller_Review

The Kronos InterferenceThe Kronos Interference by Edward Miller

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


An utterly delightful and super-stunning thriller, this novel had me page-racing with its excitement and intrigue. Science fiction, futuristic, historical, time-travel, extraterrestrial-this book has everything! I literally could not pause in the reading until I was finished, and I read with eyes wide and heart in throat. There are no dropped plot threads in this book; everything is seamless and well-accounted for, yet the authors have done so in a way that leaves a sequel possible (and as well as they write, very much desired). I highly recommend this to readers of thrillers, mysteries, metaphysics, history (especially World War II and pre-WWII Germany), and to all those who enjoy Dan Brown’s novels-just try this and you will be startled, amazed, and intrigued. If I could I would grant “The Kronos Interference” about 27 stars! Rest assured, this is a keeper and a rereader.



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Friday, July 20, 2012

BONDS OF FENRIS by S. J. Bell_Review

Bonds of FenrisBonds of Fenris by S.J. Bell

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


An intricately detailed character study of six individuals who happen to share one constant trait: each is a werewolf, and not by choice, but by accident, or fated design. Talia, Leroy, Marlene, Pierce, and Bo constitute a pack. Corwin is a “pack” of his own-until Talia, in shifted form, encounters him one night during a full moon following a prey hunt-and discovers Corwin can shift back and forth, wolf to human to wolf and back again-right underneath the full moon!

It’s not just Corwin’s startling ability that makes “Bonds of Fenris” a very different type of werewolf story: it’s the author’s capacity to interweave Greek myth, classical Greek philosophy, and questioning and teaching that would make Socrates and Plato proud. Corwin is talented, yes, but he didn’t come by this ability either naturally or effortlessly, and when Talia insists on learning, he applies the Socratic method and puts her through some incredible testing. By the end of the lessons, either Talia-and the others who try-will understand who and what they really are-or they won’t survive.




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Thursday, July 19, 2012

THE EDINBURGH DEAD by Brian Ruckley_Review

The Edinburgh DeadThe Edinburgh Dead by Brian Ruckley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Urban fantasy meets historical accuracy in this engaging and riveting novel of early 19th century Edinburgh, Scotland-a city priding itself as a bastion of Reason and Enlightenment, a city ruled by anatomists and medical school professors; a city where resurrectionists were a class by themselves, supplying cadavers to meet the Universities’ demands for anatomy lesson examples. Remember Burke & Hare, that famous body-snatching pair? Well, not only they, but many others, ruled the “underworld” of Edinburgh, and oftentimes the Police Bureau looked away. Not so Sergeant Adam Quire, a man in whom violence became ingrained during the lengthy Napoleonic Wars, an upright man who wishes to police morally, but whose downfall stems from violence, alcohol, and a magnetic streetwalker named Catherine Heron. Black magic also abounds in this intricate novel, and amazing Supernatural yet scientific events occur, entrapping Quire as he strives to bring down the wealthy kingpin of Edinburgh’s Dark Arts.




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WEB OF LIES (ELEMENTAL ASSASSIN #2) by Jennifer Estep

Web of Lies (Elemental Assassin, #2)Web of Lies by Jennifer Estep

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


The initial novel in this series was purely urban fantasy. “Web of Lies” takes a side-step and delivers both “urban” fantasy, and “rural” fantasy. Headquartered in Ashland, Tennessee, a relatively small city encroaching on three states (Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia), former assassin (aka “The Spider”) Gin Blanco spends the early months of her “retirement” operating her beloved late mentor’s business, The Pork Pit; grieving; and pondering the extensive file he bequeathed her, containing information on the deaths of her mother and sister, and startling new data on her younger sister. An attempted armed robbery of the Pork Pit by a Fire Elemental (who just happens to be the not-so-intelligent offspring of a canny, devious attorney who runs underground “queen” Mab Monroe’s legal endeavours) starts the novel with a bang-up event. Now Gin is in deep trouble with the robber’s attorney father, and by extension, with Mab Monroe, a vicious, torturing, immensely powerful, Fire Elemental who may have been the murderer of Gin’s family and her torturer at age thirteen. Quickly another family becomes involved, and Gin goes face to face, Stone magic against Stone magic, with a megalomaniacal dwarf active in mountaintop removal-an issue Gin can’t fix but must still mourn. Detective Donovan Caine, the only upright individual on Ashland’s corrupt police force, and Gin’s one-time-only lover-a man almost too moral for his own safety-again involves himself in Gin’s life, and the fireworks explode.
A great read for those who have read the first in the series (Spider’s Bite) but an equally great read as a stand-alone, “Web of Lies” is not to miss.




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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING ERNEST by Tim Black_Review

The Importance of Being ErnestThe Importance of Being Ernest by Tim Black

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


An utterly delightful, surprising, synchronous, 1920-ish, satricial, beauty of a novella, “The Importance of Being Ernest” by Tim Black hinges on the missing valise of Ernest Hemingway manuscripts, lost on a train trip his first wife Hadley took, early in the 20th century. Not just Hadley’s valise is at stake (wouldn’t most in the literary world and academia move heaven and earth to find ANY unpublished Hemingway manuscripts?) but so does the academic tenure fate of one Professor James Joyce Jones-the man who identified Nick Adams’ mole. Desperate to find an as yet unknown manuscript-needed both to achieve tenure and to continue his foundation grant-Jones must follow the trail of a Sydney Greenstreet-style fellow, from Key West to Paris, from Harry’s New York Bar, to Montmarte, and beyond-to a very clever ending indeed.



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KRANSEN HOUSE by Sara Brooke_Review

Kransen HouseKransen House by Sara Brooke

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


“Kransen House” is the sequel to “Still Lake,” yet functions perfectly as a stand-alone, delightfully entrancing novel. Classic Gothic in theme and structure, this story will have you turning pages as quickly as possible just to discover what’s next. A good immediate reader’s hook sets up the imminent subtle tension between young wife Ana, her child, and her poor but devoted parents on one side, and on the other, Ana’s new husband and his wealthy and very odd family.

Not heavy-handed on the buildup of suspense nor on the atmosphere, the novel delivers. I’m really intrigued by the story. Like Ana, I too wanted to keep opening doors and turning over furniture and pulling on bookshelves looking for hidden rooms, secrets and revelations. This is really a wild story and I’ve quite enjoyed it, although at times I wanted to shake Ana and tell her not to be so clueless! But that of course is part of the storyline, and not meant to be a detraction. As an entirety, I really enjoyed it and can highly recommend it.




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SEVENTH STAR PRESS OPEN HOUSE JULY 18-19

Eight titles by six authors are up for free on Amazon Kindle, spanning urban fantasy, YA Fantasy, epic fantasy, sword and sorcery, horror, and more.

We have created a convenient link page that has direct links to all 8 offered free ebook titles:

http://www.seventhstarpress.com/

The titles featured are:

The Brotherhood of Dwarves by D.A. Adams
Angelkiller by H. David Blalock
Redheart by Jackie Gamber
Overkill by Steven Shrewsbury
Cinema of Shadows by Michael West
Poseidon's Children by Michael West
The Exodus Gate by Stephen Zimmer
Crown of Vengeance by Stephen Zimmer

Free today at Amazon and Amazon UK!



Dear Reader,

Tony Sullivan’s book, “Two Women Two Wars” will be available to download on Amazon for free today – Wednesday July 18th.

Two Women Two Wars - During World War One, Eliot Palgrave meets delightful Daisy Dolman after his fellow officer, Guy, jilts her. He marries Daisy and hopes to write a great novel about the war. A compelling story of tangled relationships with surprising twists and turns.



Direct Amazon Links:
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007DBIKT2 (US)
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B007DBIKT2 (UK)

Please tell your friends, including those on Facebook and Goodreads that Two Women Two Wars is free today and they are welcome to sign-up for further free book notifications by following this link:

http://www.theelectronicbookcompany.net/p/free.html

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

DEMON'S NIGHT by Guido Henkel_Review

Reviewed this book for FreeKindleDude.com


Demon's Night (Jason Dark #1)Demon's Night by Guido Henkel

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


A delightfully adventurous peek into Supernatural Victorian London, with fine period detail, “Demon Night” is an intriguing and inspiring introduction to the “Jason Dark” series by author Guido Henkel. Mr. Dark, a wealthy upper-class inventor and explorer of the Supernatural, would be right at home in the Steampunk sub-genre, and it would fit itself around him like a tailored glove.
Speaking of tailoring, Jason Dark’s character is tailormade to bring readers who love historical fiction, Victoriana, or classical supernatural chills flocking to their nearest bookselling outlet to download the entire series. “Demon’s Night” is totally enjoyable, with adventures, frights, friendships, accurate period details, and of course, that overtone we can’t live without, the Supernatural. As Jason and his newly-met friend Siu Lin battle the intensifying manifestation of a lesser demon, they quickly discover that they’re only putting out a small fire, compared to the bonfire of the greater demon about to enter this world. Not only Jason’s and Siu Lin’s lives are threatened, but those of the entire global population.




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Monday, July 16, 2012

STONE COLD by Karina Kantas_Review

Stone ColdStone Cold by Karina Kantas

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


An intriguing YA thriller, “Stone Cold” presents the truly ugly side of bullying, whether it is as simple as older children demanding a younger child’s lunch money, or more complex such as backbiting and hurtful gossip, or even more maximal, such as crimes against persons and against property—all in the name of “looking out for number one,” and let the rest of the world-all the victims and potential victims-suffer. In this story, the tables are turned, and for once a lifelong victim of bullying finds she-or someone like her-has the upper hand and the power to influence change.

“Stone Cold” is also a story of moral values, and of justice vs. retribution, mercy vs. vengeance, and friendship vs. the need to be part of a clique. I think it will find a wide audience, because there are very few who haven’t been the victim of at least some form of bullying, gossip, betrayal, at some point in our lives. Yet not many of us would go to the extent Billy does to solve her problems, and to prove herself superior to her detractors.




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IN THE WOODS by Tana French_Review

In The Woods (Dublin Murder Squad, #1)In The Woods by Tana French

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



I sorely wanted this book to have closure, especially since the Prologue entrapped me, and the case covered there runs like a second head or a Siamese twin throughout the book. It is difficult to say much in my review, because whether I am praising the character studies, or complaining about the closure, I must be careful not to give away too much to readers who wish to read “In the Woods” but haven’t yet.

I very much applaud two character studies of a certain type of character which are immensely effective written-so much so that I still have lingering chills remembering. The plotting is intricate; Ms. French strews what seems to be a huge amount of red herrings, but on reflection, I will say that the plot is taut.

This novel is in the category of what I call “Literary Horror,” but that would not cover the entirety. Primarily a novel of psychological suspense, with an intricate plot and riveting characters, “In the Woods” is worth the read. It is precisely those elements which to me indicate the potential for Horror at which I feel the story came in incomplete.




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Saturday, July 14, 2012

FLOATING STAIRCASE by Ronald Malfi_Review

Floating StaircaseFloating Staircase by Ronald Malfi

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


A tremendously involving and multi-layered novel of horror, suspense, haunting, character, emotion, sibling rivalry, marriage and family, and so much more, “Floating Staircase” proves that Literary Horror works-and finely tunes this sub-genre into a champion fright.

“Floating Staircase” is thematic as well, and operates on many layers of theme (perhaps I should write instead, “on many stairs of theme”). Travis Glasgow is a haunted novelist: haunted within, by the tragic demise of his younger brother at age ten, when Travis was thirteen; haunted without, in the “new” older home which his older brother Adam arranged for Travis and his wife to purchase in a tiny town in rural Maryland, Westlake, so that Travis and Jodie might return from life in North London. Travis is haunted by memories of his late younger brother, Kyle; by the childhood fear never ended of Kyle’s return from the river; by his incomplete relationship with older brother Adam. For Travis Glasgow, authorship is catharsis, and each of his four novels have had themes of drowning or of drowned apparitions, and each has a water signification in its title.

But moving to a new home (On “Waterview Court”) presents Travis and Jodie with all new challenges: the house is almost hidden in the pines, and looks out upon a self-enclosed lake, in which stands what appears to be a floating staircase, very attractive in the summers to neighborhood daredevils. The house, formerly owned by a long-lived man named Bernard Dentman, is also, quite literally, haunted-very much so; and Travis has just the type of personality to both attract hauntings, and to be aware of such.




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Friday, July 13, 2012

INTERSTELLAR PIG by William Sleator_Review

Interstellar PigInterstellar Pig by William Sleator

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


1984 publication

A delightful YA book which I read on first publication, this novel’s protagonist is a rather shy and diffident sixteen-year-old avid science fiction reader. Barney discovers himself in the midst of science fiction come true, while on a two-week isolated beach vacation with his folks. Barney, unlike his upright father and social-climbing mother, may suffer from a retiring disposition and find his greatest joy in reading, but be assured this boy is no reclusive fool. First (and only) to recognize the new neighbors moving into the beach cottage next to the large Victorian house his family has rented are at best odd, at worst, quite possibly dangerous, he sets out to befriend them and to learn their secrets-and so he does!

An exciting novel for YA and middle-graders as well as for adults, “Interstellar Pig” (more recently republished as “Parasite Pig”) will keep intrigued readers glued to the page and eager to follow Barney’s incredible, out-of-this-world (literally) adventures.

This novel was a re-read, and I can honestly verify that I enjoyed just as much on second reading as on initial perusal.

This novel also has a sequel, "Parasite Pig."




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Thursday, July 12, 2012

EMBRACE (GRYPHON #2) by Stacey Rourke_Review

EmbraceEmbrace by Stacey Rourke

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Gryphon Series #2
When I first read “Conduit” a few short months ago, I thought this series couldn’t get any better. Well, I thought inaccurately-“Conduit” reached a peak, and “Embrace” put me over the top. This is a must-read-in-one-setting novel cause you won’t be able to sleep till you finish; the characters, the plotting, the auhor’s manipulation of the Supernatural and paranormal, the deliciously immediate suspension of disbelief-and oh! That cliffhanger ending! I wanted to jump up and shout, “No! Don’t end it here!! Give me more!!” I swear I tried to turn the page at the end of the ebook, just to find out what’s next!

Celeste, her sister Kendall, and brother Gabriel moved to a small town near Nashville to live with their Grams while their mother, Julia, sells their Michigan home. Losing their Dad two years earlier and very unexpectedly have carved deep grief lines in all their hearts. Newly discovering that Celeste is the “chosen one,” the Conduit of the Supernatural entity the Gryphon, upended all of their lives once again. Kendall is the healer and shield, Gabe is the protector (and a lion shapeshifter now).

As the Conduit, Celeste must defeat minions of the Underground’s Dark Army of demons; but this is a neverending battle. The flames really intensify in this entry, adding the question of Alec, a young journalist with whom Celeste became enamoured during “Conduit,” who has undergone some soul-stultifying transformations; the hot Irishman Caleb; and the perhaps equally hot (and inspirationally gifted) pirate Rowan. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any more dangerous, and author Stacey Rourke couldn’t dig any deeper to yank your heartstrings and yank you to edge of your seat in throat-gripping suspense: the danger magnifies a thousandfold and Ms. Rourke delivers even more strongly! Do not miss this special book, or this series. And Ms. Rourke, please, please bring us the third in the series very quickly!




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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

UNDER WITCH AURA by Maria E. Schneider_Review

Under Witch Aura (Moon Shadows #2)Under Witch Aura by Maria E. Schneider

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


“Under Witch Aura” is a tremendously exciting story, the sequel to “Under Witch Moon.” Even deeper in characterization and intensity of plotting (if that could be possible), “Under Witch Aura,” like its predecessor, kept me riveted. Author Maria E. Schneider packs a lifetime of worthwhile reading into each of these novels, which are definitely multiple rereaders.

Santa Fe area Hispanic witch Adriel is at an apparent standstill in her blooming relationship with White Feather; an inexplicable frost has, not withered the bloom, but put it on standstill. She discovers her own troubles only commencing when a nocturnal visit to her home of the ghost of a reclusive hermit witch sets terrifying events in motion. Meanwhile, warlock White Feather is sticking to home because something magically ugly has attached itself to him, and he is trying to track it while simultaneiously keeping it apart from his young sister and from Adriel.

You don’t have to love magic to love this series; but if you love magic, these are don’t miss novels. Romance, unfolding characterization, continuing characters who actually mature and evolve (or devolve, in the cases of the villains), plotting that will make your hair curl, and much much more make these books winners for sure.




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Sunday, July 8, 2012

ZED by Stephen Herfst_Review

Zed (Zed Trilogy)Zed by Stephen Herfst

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I wholeheartedly enjoyed “Zed,” a hilarious spin on the zombie trend that simultaneously ensures a deeper look and concentration of thought on some serious issues-such as consciousness and compassion, survival and surrender, humanity and inhumanity, do-goodism vs. government and military, and more. I literally chuckled or even laughed aloud on almost every page, but as I was laughing, I was also learning and pondering.

While I was laughing and learning, I was also racing through the pages, because the action and adventure and thrills provided by Zed and his oddball (but likable) new human sidekick Chase are addictive and enjoyable. I was so glad when, on reaching the end, I learned that Zed will indeed return for an encoure, because he is truly too precious to drop off the scene after only one gig. Here’s to Zombies with Brains, Consciousness, and a delightful Heart.




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Thursday, July 5, 2012

JOE by H. D. Gordon_Review

Reviewed for Shut Up & Read Goodreads Group R2R


JoeJoe by H.D. Gordon

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


A 12-star read!!


An amazing and multi-layered novel, “Joe” was a story I did not want to put aside till I finished it. Sleep was immaterial. Joe and other characters are multi-dimensional, and rendered in unbelievable depth. Even though the story is a thriller/mystery, the reader is kept on the edge of her seat not only because of the high tension level, but also because of the treatment of these characters. The impending event, with its potential for high fatality, is tuned to an almost painful level of tension-nearly fatalistic, yet the reader continues to root for Joe to solve a nearly unsolvable event. Joe’s recurrent guilt over a foreseen event she could scarcely have prevented at age five; her mother’s contempt, even hatred; and the implacability of the event she now foresees blackening the University, make for exciting, yet terrifying storytelling.

I can scarcely recommend “Joe” highly enough. This has been one of the happy occasions when I wished to read a book based on its description, and found it not just enjoyable, but truly a worthwhile and fulfilling read.




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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

GUEST POST by AUTHOR MATT FREMD

Matt's new novel LIFE AFTER DEATH will be published on July 4, 2012, by Great Minds Think Aloud Publishing. Matt generously contributed the following Guest Post:


Why write?
Why not play music, make a film or be a game developer. The key for me is imagination. Although music, film and gaming have their own magic, giving people the recipes to make their own imaginary banquets is something special again.
In a sense, characters belong to the reader as well as the writer, much like having acquaintances whose actions of course we have little control over. I like to think I write with respect for the reader in mind. I don’t feel this is in conflict with an artistic commitment to be free of popular or commercial influences; it’s more of a guideline to assist with staying within the bounds of reason or good taste. I sometimes have to rein the fast gallop back to a working trot, listening instead to the reader looking over my shoulder.
When I start reading a novel I feel there’s a bond of trust I’m entering into – an expectation that I’ll be going on a journey with the writer at the helm. So now in return I aspire to meet that expectation when I write.
As a side note to this, Life Before Death had its own motivation for being written. It was more out of loyalty than fulfilling any personal dream. It is a heavily fictionalized memoir, the purpose of which is to deliver the primary message contained in the book.
I make no excuses for the controversial nature of its content. It’s life as it happened. Much like that saying, life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.
One benefit writing a novel has given me is a goal to keep on writing after finding I enjoy it so much. Unlocking the imagination and finding an outlet for it has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my altogether too short life. The bouncy puppy of inspiration must be played with or it will burst.
I highly recommend writing in all its forms to anyone – keeping a diary; jotting down a simple rhyme - even scribbling away with your personal history as I have done. Apart from being a lot of fun it can have a therapeutic effect.
I am very thankful for it.

LIFE BEFORE DEATH by Matt Fremd_Review

LIFE BEFORE DEATH will be published by Great Minds Think Aloud Publishing on July 4, 2012.


Life Before DeathLife Before Death by Matt Frend

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This new book proved to be amazingly more than I expected. Its theme is decision points-how the choices we make determine our future and affect our purpose in life, and on this planet. By the end I was reminded of the metaphysical facets of the Astrological sign Scorpio: that one has the choice to continue to be a scorpion, living on the surface, or to become an eagle and soar. In “Life Before Death” a coterie of “friends” (one might almost call them acquaintances at first, because their coming together seems so “accidental” or perhaps synchronous). Living together in a near-rural rental house, Mandy, Robyn, and Jane and Allen (who are life partners) travel, literally and figuratively, along with other travellers they meet in the process, through a wide and extensive variety of alternative lifestyles, basically exploring Australian counterculture as each searches for a meaning for her or his own life.



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The Migraine Research Foundation Benefit

Funding Research for Migraine Cures through Laughter!

Charity Drive for the Migraine Research Foundation.

On the last week of Migraine Awareness Month, I am running a fundraising event for the Migraine Research Foundation.
Dates of the event: Wednesday, June 27th to Sunday, July 1st, 2012.

The Migraine Research Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to funding migraine research in the United States. To quote Stephen Semlitz, co-founder and Chairman of the Board - "The Migraine Research Foundation hopes that everyone who suffers from migraine will eventually have an effective treatment that they can count on to allow them to live a healthy, happy and productive life." In other words - a Very Worthy Cause.

During the days of a Charity Drive, I will donate ALL the royalties from the sales of my books from "Take a Break & Have a Laugh" series of books to MRF. Once again - when you buy any "Take a Break & Have a Laugh" book between June 27th and July 1st of 2012 inclusively, all the profit I get from Amazon as a writer goes to Migraine Research Foundation.

"Take a Break & Have a Laugh" are collections of short humorous stories written by yours truly. And when I say short - I mean bite-sized. For example - you can read one story in the volume while waiting in line in a store or while having a cup of coffee. BTW, please go easy on coffee if you have migraines, OK? :)

Why funny stories and why do I write them? That's easy - because I have migraines and the rest of the baggage that comes with it. If you are a migraineur, you know what I am talking about. Written as a "Laughter Therapy", these volumes contain stories that are designed to make the reader feel better, more positive and energetic. Laughter is not exactly a cure but it sure makes life easier, especially for people like us.

Just to make sure MRF receives a donation no matter how MUCH of a great success this Charity Drive will be, I am starting the ball rolling by pledging to Migraine Research Foundation $50 upfront.

What can YOU do to help this Charity Drive?
1. Click here to see "Take a Break & Have a Laugh" books on Amazon. All the loyalties from each sale will go directly to Migraine Research Foundation.
2. If you prefer, you can donate to Migraine Research Foundation separately on their website: migraineresearchfoundation.org
3. Please help to spread the word - Tweets, Facebook Shares and Blog Posts will be greatly appreciated. MFR - @MigraineRF and facebook.com/migraineresearch, Oleg Medvedkov - @olegmedvedkov and facebook.com/OlegMedvedkov
If you are on Facebook, please join us at the FB event:
https://www.facebook.com/events/326937120721357/

Through the duration of the event, the updates and Q&A will be posted on olegmedvedkov.wordpress.com
Any thoughts, comments or opinions - please let us know.
We are combining Laughter therapy with research for migraine cures, people! Let's make this Charity Drive a success!

Monday, July 2, 2012

CLAIRE: THE LOST FAE by Aithne Jarretta_Review

Claire: the Lost FaeClaire: the Lost Fae by Aithne Jarretta

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Very steeped in magic and romance, “Claire: The Lost Fae” begins a series. Claire is living homeless, using only enough magic to get by, but her usage is still sufficient to be tracked by jowly, hound-like Grismere (who in fact is a hound of Hades). Claire had been raised in a convent and then in a succession of abusive temporary foster homes, her only friends Sister Teresa and a stray mutt Claire found and protected.

Suddenly and unexpectedly, Claire finds she is not alone; she has a protector, and one well-versed and skilled in magic at that, Leeson. At first she thrusts him away but neither he nor she can deny their complementary magic, and as danger blooms, so does romance blossom too.




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THE LOST SECRET OF FAIRIES (THE CRYSTAL KEEPER CHRONICLES #1) by Tiffany Turner_Review

The Lost Secret of Fairies (The Crystal Keeper Chronicles, #1)The Lost Secret of Fairies by Tiffany Turner

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


An engaging book for middle graders, “The Lost Secrets of the Fairies” is the first entry in the Crystal Keepers series by Tiffany Turner. Young Wanda, just commencing the long stretch of summer between 5th and 6th grade, is celebrating her chosen status of loner and reader. A dedicated fantasy aficionado, Wanda is startled, but not really amazed nor distraught, when her life takes a sharp turn into fantasy, and she realizes that animals do communicate, and Faery is real.

Wanda is a very likable and realistically drawn character. No “Goody two-shoes,” she is somewhat of an outcast, ignored or mocked by the popular clique, but she realizes her strengths and tries to circumvent or work around her weaknesses. During the course of the novel she is confronted with, not only the destruction of rampant pollution which is damaging the Faery world, but with good perverted to evil and must make some stringent decisions for herself. The novel encouraged me to continue with the series, even though I’m quite a way past middle-grade level.




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An engaging book for middle graders, “The Lost Secrets of the Fairies” is the first entry in the Crystal Keepers series by Tiffany Turner. Young Wanda, just commencing the long stretch of summer between 5th and 6th grade, is celebrating her chosen status of loner and reader. A dedicated fantasy aficionado, Wanda is startled, but not really amazed nor distraught, when her life takes a sharp turn into fantasy, and she realizes that animals do communicate, and Faery is real.

Wanda is a very likable and realistically drawn character. No “Goody two-shoes,” she is somewhat of an outcast, ignored or mocked by the popular clique, but she realizes her strengths and tries to circumvent or work around her weaknesses. During the course of the novel she is confronted with, not only the destruction of rampant pollution which is damaging the Faery world, but with good perverted to evil and must make some stringent decisions for herself. The novel encouraged me to continue with the series, even though I’m quite a way past middle-grade level.




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Sunday, July 1, 2012

A NIGHT IN THE LONESOME OCTOBER by Roger Zelazny_Review

A Night in the Lonesome OctoberA Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I first selected this novel because it was highly recommended by Mike Davis of Lovecraft Ezine (http://lovecraftzine.com/?s=Zelazny). Since I had for decades been aware of Mr. Zelazny, but had never read any of his writings, I decided this allegedly Lovecraftian novel would be a superb introduction. So I stumbled onto this novel synchronistically, unsuspecting what a total delight it would be. Set in a very magical version of late 19th century Victorian England-balancing Jack the Ripper with Sherlock Holmes and his faithful Dr. Watson; Count Dracula; Rasputin; an evil vicar; a witch, an ancient druid-and the familiars of each, “A Night in the Lonesome October” is purely a lyrical delight. Told day by day through the monologue of watchdog Snuff, and his discussions with the other animal companions (and nightly discussions with his master Jack), the story of the Great Game unfolds-a battle between “openers” and “closers” to open the way-or to slam it closed-for the Lovecraftian Elder Gods to enter Earth once again. I am so enthused with this novel which I read in one brief setting that I’ve become a fan of the late Roger Zelazny and determined to read all his books. Better late than never, as they say.



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