Saturday, October 19, 2013

Aeviternus Adventures by Teresa L. Perin

Jillian has just finished her first year of college and figures she'll have a nice quiet summer back home on the family's goat farm.  Those plans are forgotten, however, when she ad her cat and goat are transported to the kingdom of Aeviternus, in an alternate world.  She wants desperately to find a way back home and sets off in search of the one magician skilled enough to return her to her own world.  She discovers the primal elements in this realm and encounters many different creatures along the way.  She is befriended by twin clerics, but when she ends up in the hands of a sexual sadist and learns about the dark side of this land, it looks like she may be doomed.  Her cleric friends rush to rescue her with the aide of two magicians.  Will Jillian be able to get home?  Will she find love in this brutal world?  Or will she fall victim to evil?  (taken from the back of the book)

WARNING:  Not for children!  Explicit sex scenes!  Don't get me wrong, they're some of the best I've ever read.  They're so good that I actually read them.  Point is, there's no way I'd let my child read this until over the age of 18!  You can do what you want, just letting you know up front.

Having gotten that out of the way, I have to admit that I'm really impressed.  This book is like a huge ball  of Alice in Wonderland, Wizard of Oz, Lord of the Rings and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.  It definitely has it's own element of wonder and fantasy, but fans of these other movies/books will find themselves absolutely captivated by Perin's world.  It's a fast-paced adventure that keeps you constantly flipping pages to see what happens next.  Characters are well-formed and most cause you to have an emotional reaction toward them. 

There was one point in the book, however, where I felt disjointed.  I don't want to give it away and have to put up a spoiler alert, but it felt like there were two books in one here.  There was a definite stopping point to one story and a definite starting point of another.  Don't get me wrong, it's the same characters and story, it just really felt like it needed a little more cohesive action to pull it all together. The saving grace in this instance is that I know this is only book one in the series, so I'm sure there's good reason for this.  I'm also sure it won't happen again in subsequent books.

So, here's my biggest disappointment.  The sex scenes.  They're amazing well written and I enjoyed them, as stated above.  Although I see the reason they're in the story, it definitely made this book more of a niche market than it needed to be.  They aren't tossed in there simply for the fact of having them.  They're an integral part of the story.  However, I can think of one person I know besides myself who would really enjoy this.  Were it rewritten without these scenes so that younger persons could read it, I can think of hundreds. 

If you're an adult that loves fantasy, this is definitely up your alley.  I can't wait to see what happens next.  I've fallen in love with the characters and the world.  This is a series for my keeper shelf.

Rereading my review, it comes across as if I have nothing good to say about this book.  The fact is, other than the two items I've mentioned, I would easily rate this 5 stars. 

Stains on the Gavel by Charles W Massie

This book is a sequel to Pinned, which I haven't read.  In the first book, Mark meets Roxie online and they fall in love.  He moves to Kentucky to be with her.  This book picks up about six weeks later.  He's decided things aren't working and is going to move back to New York, but Roxie doesn't take it well.  Mark is trapped in a whirlwind nightmare between lies, drugs and a corrupt legal system that seems out to get him personally.

I've been reviewing a long time, but I can't even tell you what I liked about this book.  The characters were interesting but I couldn't identify with any of them.  The storyline was actually pretty simple.  Mark is wrongfully accused and trying to get an appeal.  Sounds basic enough.  I wouldn't say any of the things I normally base a book review on are outstanding.  Nevertheless, I couldn't put it down. I was an addict until the final dregs. I simply could not stop reading.  Several times during my reading I wondered about this.  Just what was it about this book that compelled me to keep reading?  Why couldn't I walk away?  Honestly, I just don't know.  It's been 24 hours and I still can't figure it out.  I only know that I couldn't get enough and I would absolutely love to review Pinned.  Well done, Charles!  You've written a book that's so good, that I don't even know what was so good about it!

You know, it's kind of like drinking a Monster or Red Bull.  It doesn't taste good.  You don't notice the effects immediately.  After a little while though, you start to have this feeling of being awake and alive, and you want more.  You crave more.  That's it.  I'm not sure why, but Massie's writing is like Red Bull.

True Crime people out there will love this story.  True Crime isn't my thing, but I was reminded of the movie Double Jeopardy with Ashley Judd while reading at times.  You know, someone is wrongfully accused and has to live in prison while trying to figure out how to fix things.  The big difference here is that 'the system' is definitely working against Mark.  Not only that, Mark isn't some young thug.  He's in his 60's, a veteran, and has severe health issues.  Makes things a big more intriguing. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Six Months or LESS by Latifa Hazim-Rogers

Page Langford is fifty years old, a wife and a mother-and now that she's dead, she finds herself in the unenviable position of existing as one of the living dead.  She is forced to watch as her friends and family's lives unravel.  There are secrets long since buried, lies too deep and gruesome to believe.  But they're all true, all of them, and Page is glad to be dead.  Glad to feel no pain.  If she were still alive, the pain of the betrayal and the lies would be too much for her to bear.  (taken from the back of the book)

I have to admit, I'm a little disappointed.  I was really expecting the book to be from Page's perspective, but it isn't.  After her death, it's from the perspective of everyone else with a random thought from Page sprinkled in.  We don't get to see anything from her perspective after her death.  We simply know that the people she left behind hear warnings from her in their head when they're about to do something idiotic. 

This isn't to say that I didn't enjoy the book.  Though it isn't what I expected, it's still a good read, especially from a first time author.  The characters are interesting and the story line  Basically, for me, it read like a really bad soap opera.  There's passion and murder and intrigue and all sorts of wonderful gruesomeness.  Which reminds me, THIS IS NOT FOR CHILDREN!  Some of the love scenes are definitely adult and incredibly descriptive.  I wish the same passion had gone into the writing of the violent scenes. 

Behind it all, there's a good story with morality.  It really is an interesting read, even though it's over the top throughout most of it.  This is a great book to sit down with and feed your inner demon for lust and power and greed and the darker side of life.  If you don't take it too seriously, you can really enjoy it.  Just don't expect the book to be all about what Page is going through once she becomes a 'ghost'.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Dave Test by Frederick W. Schmidt

When life is at its tattered edges and you are faced with seemingly impossible decisions, the Dave Test is a set of searingly honest questions you ask to become the best, most honest self for you, your friends, and your family.  Instead of resorting to stained-glass language or offering false hope, do yourself a favor and pick up this book.  Take the Dave Test.  (Taken from the back of the book)

I love the fact that I prejudge books.  Sometimes I'm right on target and at others I'm pleasantly surprised.  The fact that this book is written by an Episcopalian priest led me to believe that it would be a religious-based book.  It is.  It also led me to believe that it would be preachy, which it's not.  Even if you aren't a Christian of any sort, there's some really valuable information in here.  If you are a Christian, it'll put some new insight into your already-instilled beliefs.

Coping with our own mortality is something that each of us faces.  Not only that, we have to cope with the mortality of those around us.  I don't just mean 'the big ending.'  Throughout our lives we're faced with lots of different types of deaths and expirations.  You could be facing a recent job loss, medical issues, any sort of trauma, divorce or relationship issues.  All of these things and more lead to the death of the world as we know it and we have to deal with it and move on.  The world that we all live in is constantly surrounding us with these types of death.  We have loved ones we have to care for too.  But how do we do that?  How do we lend our support in the most helpful manner?

Honestly, when I picked this book up I was hoping to find some insight into dealing with my own traumas.  I was hoping to learn how to better help the people surrounding me with their own traumas.  I wanted to learn how to heal.  I did pick up some interesting tidbits about those things but the lesson I really learned was about living in the moment.  I've heard it my entire life.  Yesterday is the past, tomorrow is the future, what you have is the here and now, the present.  No matter how many times we hear it though, it doesn't mean that it really hits home and finds a place in our souls.  One little sentence in this book really drove that concept home for me. 

Regardless of what you're dealing with in life, this book is a helpful tool.  You'll learn how to love, how to respond to others, and how to redefine your thoughts.  Most importantly, you'll learn how to grief and continue to live. 

True Hollywood Noir : Filmland Mysteries and Murders by Dina Di Mambro

Filmland has captivated millions for years.  For most of us, it's the same thing as a little girl having princess dreams.  We see glamour and beauty and a wish for our lives to be so bold.  Logically, we all know it has a seedy side, but we choose to see the wonder and magic.  It gives us power to get through our own lives.

In this book, Di Mambro explores the darker side of Filmland.  We see beloved characters and get a glimpse into their lives and backgrounds as well as their final downfall.  Most of these are unsolved, but each story is presented in such a way that we find a masterful whodunit.  We, as readers, get to figure out what we actually think happened in each case.

For me, the fun part of this book was reading about my own personal beloved actors.  I'll admit it, Chris Walken was my favorite 'character' in the book.  He isn't even really a part of any of the mystery, but I sure love reading about him. 

Don't read this just for a treasure hunt to find your own favorites though.  Even people I'd never heard of had fascinating mystery stories attached to them.  Sometimes murder, or attempted murder, but there are some great scandals going on as well.  Everything Di Mambro has posted in this book is backed up and not mere theory. 

For me, personally, I was disappointed that Micky Cohen took up a quarter of the book.  I really felt like he could have been condensed a tiny bit more and someone else added in.  Another option would have been to do a separate book on him.  I felt like Di Mambro was much more interested in his story than the others and the others were added as filler so that it was large enough to publish as a full book.  Don't get me wrong, the other stories are well-developed and entertaining, but I felt like all of her passion was poured into Cohen.

This is a must have for every film buff and true crime reader out there.  Even if you're neither of those things, you're sure to find something in this book that appeals to you, whether it be mobsters or romance.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Hope Flies on Broken Wings by L.F. Falconer

It's the last summer of Collie's innocence.  She's at the stage where she must choose her future.  Will it be the handsome and safe Arrick whom her parents adore?  It would be the proper thing to do.  Or will it be the dirty Ganty boy, Dugan, who makes her heart race with forbidden desires?

This book was a rare treat for me.  Having already fallen in love with the sequel, Hope Rises From the Ashes, it was a unique opportunity for me to go back and get the beginning of the story.  Having spent an entire book with Collie and Dugan already, I loved being able to see how their story began. 

This is a difficult review to write, however.  I don't feel like I can do the book justice by reviewing it alone.  It stands just fine by itself, but knowing what's coming in the next book gives the story more depth. 

Hope Flies lets us meet Collie and Dugan and all those surrounding them.  We get to see what sort of people they are, their hopes and dreams and desires.  We're right there with them as they fall in love and try to figure out if it's worth it, considering all the obstacles.  This first book, as a standalone, is a great love story.  There's some grit and violence, but just enough to keep you randomly teetering on the edge of your seat.  It's definitely worth reading on it's own, but see what happens when we read the second book after.

The second book starts up where the first left off, well, shortly after.  We get to find out the continuing saga of Dugan.  We learn where he is and fight along with him to regain his memory and come to terms with the past.  Collie...Wow...Collie as a character is a pretty intense study.  She goes from this little girl who knows she's supposed to do what's right and proper to becoming an abused 'kept' woman.  Their love story continues in the second book, but with a lot more grit and violence.

As a whole, I'm in love with this series.  I look at the first book as the scene setting for the second book.  It has a great story on it's own, but it adds so much texture and 'Ooooh!  Now I get it!' factor to the second that I can't really separate them. 

I strongly suggest this book for all you fantasy and fiction lovers out there.  Don't read it alone, though.  Get them both!  I'm thankful I've got this set for my keeper shelf and can't wait to share it. 

Personal Note:  Thanks, L.F. for sending this to me!  I wasn't really expecting it, but I love that you did :)  I actually read the second book again because so much changed with the reading of the first :)  I'll treasure them :)

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Dating Dance by Grace

A divorced mother of two grown up children, Grace decided she was ready to re-enter the dating scene-a daunting and intimidating prospect.  After reading several magazines and books on dating in the 21st century, Grace decided against taking the advice that the media pushes on baby-boomer-aged women and instead decided to take dance lessons to get her out of the house and meeting new people.  Little did she know that learning new dance steps would help her navigate her new life in a world of singles just like her.  (taken from the back of the book)

Sometimes I forget that people aren't like me and every now and again I need a good reminder.  This book definitely provided it. 

The story was billed to me in a manner that led me to believe it was a helpful book about coping with the dating life of a 50-something woman.  I intended to find an interesting story and hopefully some insight and maybe a little good advice along the way.  I had hoped to learn something.  What I learned is that I'm nothing like the people in this book.

The author tells the story with a great sense of humor.  If you can look at the entire story in a satirical light, you may actually enjoy it.  The target audience of this book is incredibly small, however.  This book is intended for air-headed, selfish, shallow people and those with little integrity.

If you're looking for a helpful book, this is not what you want.  If you're looking for a funny read where you can sit back and make fun of people, you could have a blast with this.

Singlehood by Wilson Awasu

Basically this book acts as a how-to for being single, feeling fulfilled while being single, and loving leaving singlehood. 

Normally, I only read nonfiction if it has a specific purpose in my life.  I was anxious to read this one for several reasons.  I'm single and feel perfectly fulfilled in this label.  My problem is the idea of leaving singlehood.  The thought of a relationship is terrifying to me. 

This book reads like a seminar.  Each chapter has a specific purpose along with questions and answers.  This is a faith-based seminar, so it may not be suitable for some people.  It's not just about being single, it's about being a Christian single.

From a personal perspective, I learned why I enjoy being single and what I can do about past traumas.  I also learned how to look for a life-mate and what exactly a life-mate is.  Before my first marriage, we attended pre-marital counseling sessions.  Most of the information we received there was faulty and I'm not surprised our marriage failed.

Here's the fascinating part.  This book isn't just for the single.  It explores marriage and what makes a successful or failed marriage.  There are tips to improved any relationship.  Also, there are suggestions for helping those who are single and struggling.

Attrition by SG Night

It is the 107th year of the Fourth Age.  Our conquerors, the Demonic Dominion, have solidified their rule over our homeland.  The Humans are in shackles.  The Eves are in exile.  And we, Io's proud Majiski pattle-mages, are standing at extinction's edge.  The mighty Grey Wall has sealed us all inside the Demons' cruelty...and after a hundred long years, the world beyond is all but forgotten.

The Genshwin are all that remain of the Majiski: just a few hundred survivors sequestered in an underground fortress-masters of shadow and steel.  In secret, they work against the Dominion.  But how much can three hundred Majiski really expect to accomplish?  Especially when their Patriarch is keeping more secrets than the Demons themselves.

Racath Thanjel is the best the Genshwin have to offer.  He's young, fast, strong, and brilliant...and constantly at odds with his Patriarch's rules of discretion.

But something's changed.  Soon, Racath finds himself swept up into a spider web of conspiracies, lost knowledge, and the prophetic pages of ancient scripture.  And now, all his hopes depend upon a girl with golden hair, an aging Majiski warrior, and a sword wrought by God himself... (taken from the back of the book)

I have to admit, I was a little intimidated beginning this book.  It's written by an 18-year-old, which makes you wonder about how well it will be written.  It's a thick book with small type.  No one is reading this in one sitting, unless you don't sleep.  Whenever you pick up a new author, there's always the chance that it'll be terrible and you'll have to force yourself through to the end.  In this case, 582 pages.  To recap, I was nervous.  This book is large and written by a 'kid'.

I'm an idiot!

From the first page I was covered in goose bumps.  This so-called 'kid' isn't merely a writer, he's a wordsmith.  I don't say this often, but Night was born to write.  It's that simple.  This book was pure perfection.

Night has created an entire new world with new races of people.  He has taken old classic 'monsters' and given them new life.  What could have been a droning, dull, confusing tale is actually a masterpiece.  You find yourself immediately immersed in this world and it's surrounding peoples and it's painless!  You don't have to think and process, you just exist there.  Each character becomes a piece of you at the moment of introduction.  You become immediately invested in not only each one, but their plight as well. 

The action!  Adventure!  I could see it all so clearly in my head!  The funny thing is, this wasn't as simple as reading a story and getting involved.  At least, not for me.  This has become a memory.  I was there.  I remember the sights, the smells, the tones of voice for each moment.  Feelings and emotions still pulsate with each memory. 

Earlier, I stated that Night is a wordsmith, and I want it known that I'm not exaggerating.  "Small sparks and static flitting between his upraised fingers.  The arcs were white, pale and bright.  They crackled and snapped, twisted, writhed, like a cosmic song and dance."  A few short sentences paints such a vivid and bright picture in your head.  You can actually see it.  Not only that, it just sounds pretty.  It's poetry.

This book is intended for the young adult, but I can't imagine any adult not loving this.  If fantasy and sci-fi seem a little overdone to you, seriously, give Night a shot.  He's taken classics and reworked them into brilliance.  I'f you're an action junkie, this book will surely deliver.  The drama, the passion, the magic.  If you're entertainment budget only allows for one book this year, make it this one.  It's going on the top shelf of my Keeper Shelf along with my favorite classics. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Last Neanderthal Clan by Lisa Lareau and Charlie Boring

The earth is warming after a long ice age.  As the topography changes, humanoid clans can travel where they have never gone before.  The Cro-Magnon clans, called the northern clans, and the Neanderthal clans, called the southern clans, now have an unprecedented opportunity to meet in each other's territories.  Many of the Cro-Magnon clans are cannibalistic, and have developed clan traditions that encourage hunting and killing Neanderthals.  The most dominant Cro-Magnon clan is the Nord clan.  Its leader, Carni, fathered a son with a Neanderthal woman, and left the woman and child with her clan.  Now, he leads the Nord clan in a quest to take Neanderthal slaves.  But Carni doesn't anticipate that his son, Raka, will inherit his own leadership skills to become head of the Neanderthal clan.  Determined to survive, Raka takes the remnants of his clan into the mountains to evade his dangerous father, and to find safe ground for his people. (taken from the back of the book)

My first response, before even cracking the spine, was 'Oh!  A caveman book!  How fun!'  I wasn't wrong!  This was a captivating and enjoyable read.  It's so much more than a 'caveman' book, however. 

The time period is absolutely fascinating.  Anyone who knows me is aware of my fascination with cannibals.  That was a huge bonus for me.  It was amazing how these tribes survived.  All of them, not just the cannibals.  They had to set up these clans and superstitions and reason led them to make decisions that we wouldn't make with the knowledge we have today.  There is no sense of security.  There is no 'home'.  It's the open field and movable tents and scavenging in order to eat.  It's praying that deities will protect you and let you live another day.  It's having to be the most intelligent and strong.  There's a sense of constant peril that follows you throughout the book.  It keeps you on your toes because anything can happen.

As for the characters, I found myself completely immersed in each generation.  Though this is Raka's story, it starts long before him.  The people are alive and you feel a kinship with them.  All of their hopes and fears are laid bare for you, as the reader, to grab onto and make your own.

Normally, I'm a dialogue junkie, but you'll not find dialogue here.  People communicate with each other in a different way.  It was actually calming to read without hearing voices in my head.

My only complaint with this book is Charlie.  No, not the author Charlie, but the low life Charlie who in fiction is writing the story.  Every time we stepped out of the Neanderthal world and back into today's society to found out how Charlie was doing on his research, I felt like I was being ripped out of my skin.  It doesn't happen too often, but I found it annoying and unnecessary.

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All books (unless otherwise specified) belong to me already, have been borrowed, or are sent to me by the author, publisher or review company for review. I do not receive any monetary rewards for reviewing books. The opinions expressed in my reviews belong solely to me.