Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Jonel's review of Thunder and Roses by Mary Jo Putney

Reviewed by -- Jonel        

Book Review of -- Thunder and Roses, Fallen Angels #1 by Mary Jo Putney        

My overall star rating --- 4  
      
About the book:
A Welsh Methodist minister's daughter changes her life when she appeals for help to Nicholas Davies, a half-Gypsy earl...

They called him the Demon Earl. They said he could do anything. Son of a rogue and a Gypsy, Nicholas Davies was a notorious rake until a shattering betrayal left him alone and embittered in the Welsh countryside.

Desperation drives quiet schoolteacher Clare Morgan to ask the Demon Earl to help save her village. Unwilling to involve himself in the problems of others, Nicholas sets an impossible price on his aid—only if Clare agrees to live with him for three months, letting the world think the worst, will he intervene.

Furiously Clare accepts his outrageous challenge, and the two are swept into an intoxicating Regency world of danger and desire. As allies, Clare and Nicholas fight to save her community. As adversaries, they explore the hazardous terrain of power and sensuality. And as lovers, they surrender to a passion that threatens the very foundations of their lives.

Book creation ratings:
Overall total -- 26 out of a possible 30
-- Story & characters -- 8
-- Cover & title -- 9
-- Editing & formatting -- 9
* based on a 1-10 scale with:  1-4, poor; 5-7, good; 8-10, very good.*

The review --
Character development in this novel is phenomenal. Readers get to know all major characters in this novel in an intimate manner. The main couple in this novel is a comically fantastic pair. I loved the pairing of her beliefs with his outgoing nature, and the ultimate conclusion. Based on Putney's development of these two, I could easily identify with and feel for both of them. I felt a real connection with these two. Although Putney follows all of the major points for a historical romance (and is accurate in her descriptions of the time), she tells a wildly unique story that is all her own. The storyline kept me captivated and on my toes throughout. Being the first novel in Putney’s Fallen Angel’s series, one must expect a great deal of world building.  Putney does so, with eloquent narrative and unforgettable descriptions.  At the same time, she works this into the development of the harrowing plot of this heartfelt novel. Having 'read' the audio version of this novel, I spent over 15 hrs with the narrator and loved him.  He brings this novel to life in a big way. Each character has their own voice and personality.                

Reader Recommendations
Genre -- historical romance        
Age recommendations -- 18        
Sex content rating -- This novel definitely has it's hot moments, and a couple that sizzle.        
Violence rating -- mild        

Links for the book:

Buy it on Amazon

Author's Amazon page

Author's facebook page


Author's website

Monday, September 28, 2015

Rich's review of The End Time by Neil Ostroff

Reviewed by -- Rich M.
        
Book Review of -- The End Time by Neil Ostroff
        
My overall star rating --- 3.5 
    

About the book:
Bob Bradly knows his girlfriend is going to die in four days. The End Time Procedure has shown it. Devastated, he acts out violently to try and change fate and forge them a new life. Traveling a treacherous road paved with escalating dangers, Bob is blindsided by a shocking revelation. The unthinkable pushes him beyond his limits dividing his loyalties between saving Jane and saving the world until an absolutely stunning turn of events changes everything. 

Book creation ratings:
Overall total -- 24 out of a possible 30
-- Story & characters -- 7
-- Cover & title -- 8
-- Editing & formatting -- 9
* based on a 1-10 scale with:  1-4, poor; 5-7, good; 8-10, very good.*

The review --
This story has a lot of interesting concepts and a good use of what is normally a very overused theme: Dystopia. In fact, you aren't quite sure that it is really a true dystopian setting until well into the first quarter of the book, though once, a reader gets an inkling once the main character goes over the history of the food processing machine. The translator for plants was a nice touch.

The characterization was relatively good for most of the book, but everything went a bit awry near the climax, at least for me, and for reasons I'm not going to spoil here. Main character Bob Bradly was a little one-dimensional as heroes go, and seemed to me to be far too much the coincidental ombudsman for this particular society. I do have to say that I think my favorite character in the book, by far, was Jasper the Fern.

Unlike a lot of indie sci-fi novels, The End Time offered a world for the story to play out within that seemed to have some thought put into it. It was very easy to see the domed city-pod in your head, as sort of a decrepit version of the world of Logan's Run or the world of Roadside Picnic. The plants, being an aggressive and intelligent species, was in no way derivative of John Wyndham for once, which was a very nice surprise. I will have to say that I thought the climax of the story was very rushed and much too pat; everything came together far too easily and far too quickly, given the buildup.  I realize this is the first book in a proposed series, but I think it could've been considerably longer - there aren't any length considerations for an e-book, after all.

A few more story elements might've made that climax much more logical and/or drawn-out. The way it is, it's sort've like the movie Krull to me - every situation that requires a specific solution finds it right away. Naturally, The End Times is nowhere near Krull-level in that instance, but I hope you get my meaning.

Very well-written, formatted, and edited. My only complaint on that level was the constant use of the abbreviation "govt." for "government". You're never sure if that's said as "gov't" or the full word.

One other thing: The cover. I like the looks of it, but I can't decide if it's shows too much or not...        

Reader Recommendations
Genre -- Science fiction/dystopian        
Age recommendations -- 12+        
Sex content rating -- None                
Violence rating -- Mild violence from ray gun disintegrations and killing people over the telephone.

Links for the book:

Buy it on Amazon

Author's Amazon page

Author's facebook page

Author's website

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Jacqueline's review of The Kadenburg Shifters series by by T.E. Ridener

Reviewed by -- Jacqueline Driggers

Book Review of -- The Kadenburg Shifters series by by T.E. Ridener, books 1-3

Overall star rating --- 2.5


About the book:
From Book 1: 
26 year old Presley Goult's life is anything but ordinary. Her mother abandoned her as a toddler after her father’s death, leaving Presley to be raised by the only family she has left-her uncle Arnold. After years of being away she returns heartbroken and devastated knowing this is the last place she wants to be. Unbeknownst to her, Kadenburg is not your ordinary town. There are secrets that have been kept from Presley for her own good. Will she find out the truth of who she is and the part she will play in the war that is about to erupt before it is too late to save everyone that she loves? 

28 year old Lorcan Bamey was Presley's best friend growing up. He has always been there for her when she needed a friend and someone to lean on. Although he has always wanted more from Presley, rules are rules and he was forbidden to express his interest in having a relationship with her. You see, his upbringing was very different from most of the boys in town; the female must make the choice. It is part of Urseth’s law; laws that Presley will soon discover when her uncle finally decides to be honest about their ancestry. 

Will Presley accept the truth about Kadenburg, and herself, in time to save her people? 

Book creation ratings:
Overall total -- 16 out of a possible 30
-- Story & characters -- 4
-- Cover & title -- 5
-- Editing & formatting -- 7
* based on a 1-10 scale with:  1-4, poor; 5-7, good; 8-10, very good.*

The review --
When I started on this series, I was expecting a nice, juicy paranormal romance series, which I like a lot. But, that was not what I got. This is more like a paranormal soap opera in book form. I did not like it and was glad when I finished it. Everything is a cliffhanger; even the chapters in book 3 are each cliffhangers. Nothing much gets resolved all through the 3 books, and from what I read of the reviews on book 4, it too leaves things unresolved. If you like happily ever after endings, or endings at all, this is not the series for you. The author seems incapable of winding anything up. There is much more violence than there is sex, and there's not a lot of sex in the book; but there is a great deal of intense violence. Not an author or a series I care to read any more of. The editing and formatting was good, but I just didn't get into either the characters or the story.

Reader Recommendations
Genre -- paranormal soap opera
Age recommendations -- 18 plus
Sex content rating -- mild to moderate
Violence rating -- intense and gruesome

Links for the book:

Buy it on Amazon


Author's Amazon page

Author's facebook page

Author's website

Friday, September 18, 2015

Jacqueline's review of Three Against the Stars by Joe Bondonna

Reviewed by -- Jacqueline Driggers

Book Review of -- Three Against the Stars by Joe Bondonna

Overall star rating --- 3.5

About the book:
On the distant alien planet of Rhajnara a conspiracy created by the facist Khandra Regime is set into motion to overthrow the rightful Rhajni Republic and instigate a policy of ethnic-cleansing. The conspirators are cunning and it seems nothing in the universe can derail their mad apocalyptic scheme.

Nothing that is but three rambunctious Space Marines from the Third Regiment Company E of the United States Space Marines assigned to Rhajnara with the Terran Expeditionary Force. Sergeants Fernado Cortez, Seamus O'Hara and Claudia Akira are the most unlikely trio ever to don jarhead camouflage and become military heroes. To their superiors they are wild, reckless and incessant troublemakers always in the thick of things. Yet their courage, loyalty and devotion to duty prove them to be the toughest Devil Dogs in the Corp.

Now, with the aid of a Medical Corpsman named Makki Doon, a young Felisian native proto-feline humanoid, these three futuristic musketeers are about to become the one factor capable of exposing the traitorous Khandra coup. But to do so they will have to put their lives on the line one more time and risk all to save the day facing off against incredible odds. To save an empire they will truly become...THREE AGAINST THE STARS. 

Book creation ratings:
Overall total -- 23 out of a possible 30
-- Story & characters -- 7
-- Cover & title -- 8
-- Editing & formatting -- 8
* based on a 1-10 scale with:  1-4, poor; 5-7, good; 8-10, very good.*

The review --
This was a very well written book, and it even has some illustrations too. But, it is a bit too violent in places, for my tastes; and this is definitely an 18 plus book. The 4 main characters of makki, akira, o'hara, and cortez are very engaging and likeable; but this book does not have a happily ever after ending. In fact, it has a sad, rather bittersweet ending. If I say more, then I will give the ending away. But overall, this is a good, solid science fiction book.

Reader Recommendations
Genre -- science fiction
Age recommendations -- 18 plus
Sex content rating -- mild
Violence rating -- intense

Links for the book:

Buy it on Amazon

Author's Amazon page

Author's facebook page

Author's website

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Mo's review of Wolf Moon by C.D. Gorri

Reviewed by -- Mo        

Book Review of -- Wolf Moon: A Grazi Kelly Novel By C.D. Gorri        

My overall star rating --- 3 1/2        


About the book:
Hi. My name is Grazi Kelly. There are things I know are true and things that I never would have guessed. First, demons and witches exist and they are evil. Second, the world is up for grabs and the witches are getting their minions ready. Third, I’m a werewolf and it’s my job to stop them. 

High school sophomore Grazi Kelly leads an ordinary life in the suburbs of New Jersey helping her grandmother with chores and attending Catholic school. Things are pretty good except for her bullying cousin and the rest of the obnoxious cheer team. Then things take a frightening turn when the night of the full moon arrives and the bodies start piling up. Grazi learns that she is different in ways she never expected. She finds herself torn between Sebastian, the school soccer star and Ronan, a foreign exchange student who shares her secret. She must uncover the identity behind the mysterious attacker, but is she ready for the entire truth? 

Book creation ratings:
Overall total -- 21 out of a possible 30
-- Story & characters -- 6
-- Cover & title -- 7
-- Editing & formatting -- 8
* based on a 1-10 scale with:  1-4, poor; 5-7, good; 8-10, very good.*

The review --
This book has a mix of a Cinderella story, add werewolves, and an evil aunt. Young Grazi lives with her relatives after her parents died when she was 3; luckily she has her grandmother who loves her. However after Grazi learns she's a werewolf and has to lead her pack into war, things get a bit out of hand.

Now the plot was good, unlike the typical werewolf's being evil, they were protecting the church, which I found interesting. It added uniqueness to the whole story. While it had a good plot, I found it in a way, boring. I didn’t get sucked into the story and I couldn't really connect to any of the characters. In some parts I could guess what happens next and I was right. I like being surprised or proven wrong when it comes to books. This had a different storyline for the character, but with the ending, I guessed. The book didn't get exciting enough for me to want to keep reading. Maybe for other people it will, but I didn't find it so good that I got lost in it. The characters developed well and the romance added to the story, but is in a love triangle. Onto my next point,   I think her reaction to being told she was a werewolf could have been a little bit more surprised than she was. It would have been news I would have taken with a little bit of a panic at least. Other than that, I liked the book.

Reader Recommendations
Genre -- Romance-Supernatural. So anyone who enjoys the werewolf type story would probably enjoy the twist on werewolf legend that this book gives.        
Age recommendations -- 12 would be the youngest and teens 17 and under would be the target audience.        
Sex content rating -- None.        
Violence rating -- There are mentions of death and blood but little violence.        

Links for the book:

Buy it on Amazon
                                                                  
Author's Amazon page

Author's facebook page

Author's website
http://cdgorri.com/        

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Jacqueline's review of Saved by a Rake by Em Taylor

Reviewed by -- Jacqueline Driggers

Book Review of -- Saved by a Rake (Eversley Siblings Book 1) by Em Taylor

Overall star rating --- 5

About the book:
When Lady Rebecca Eversley is left ravished by the Earl of Newthorpe and facing ruination, she has the choice to point her pretty little nose in the air and face the gossips of the Ton or scurry off to the country to live out her life as an old maid. When she meets Lord Daniel Ramsey, a notorious rake, she decides on the former course of action.

Daniel has been given an ultimatum, marry before his father dies or lose the majority of his inheritance money. Rebecca seems the perfect candidate, especially once rumours about her start to circulate in the drawing rooms of Mayfair.

When Newthorpe is found dead on the morning of their wedding, the people they care about find themselves suspects in the case. Who murdered Newthorpe and can Rebecca ever get over what he did to her?

Book creation ratings:
Overall total -- 25 out of a possible 30
-- Story & characters -- 10
-- Cover & title -- 7
-- Editing & formatting -- 8
* based on a 1-10 scale with:  1-4, poor; 5-7, good; 8-10, very good.*

The review --
This is a very good novel, and I enjoyed it very much. It has interesting characters and a unique take on a historical romance novel, plus, the author throws in a bit of a mystery as well. The man with the more sterling character turns out to be a louse, and the man with the reputation turns out to be the true gentleman. All in all a very good book.

Reader Recommendations
Genre -- historical romance
Age recommendations -- 17 plus
Sex content rating -- moderate
Violence rating -- mild to moderate

Links for the book:

Buy it on Amazon

Author's Amazon page

Author's facebook page

Author's website

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Rich's review of The Blessed Man and the Witch by Kevin Dubrow

Reviewed by -- Rich M.
        
Book Review of -- The Blessed Man and the Witch by Kevin Dubrow
        
My overall star rating --- 2

About the book:
How can you possibly prepare for the end of the world? The end of everything? Armageddon is right around the corner, and there’s no guarantee that Heaven’s going to be the victor. Hell is real, it’s clawing at the edges of the Pit, and its demonically possessed servants are right now gathering powerful artifacts as weapons of war. The End Times are coming. Are you ready? 

Hector Shaw isn’t. A former soldier suffering from PTSD, he’s been recruited to work for a clandestine security company under strange circumstances. What do they really want him for? Siobhan Dempsey isn’t, either. She’s only just gotten her life together when she finds that she can do magick. Real magick. Why now, and why her?  

Book creation ratings:
Overall total -- 16 out of a possible 30
-- Story & characters -- 1
-- Cover & title -- 7
-- Editing & formatting -- 8
* based on a 1-10 scale with:  1-4, poor; 5-7, good; 8-10, very good.*

The review --
This story is far too overly detailed with brand names and pop culture references in the exposition, so much so that it becomes a distraction rather than informative. I can see doing it once or twice to set the mood and atmosphere of a scene, but it is constant here, to the point where I wonder if the author’s getting kickbacks from real and fictional companies for product placement. Unless that brand of whatever is essential to the story (and that’s the only brand of whatever that could possibly slay the dragon), don’t beat us over the head with the descriptions. The story is very disjointed. While the book is fairly well-written on a technical level, there’s not a lot of cohesiveness to the various vignettes. To me, it read like someone had pulled a Brion Gyson on a bunch of short stories, cutting them up and putting segments together randomly. The characters aren't very sympathetic, and very few even have minor traits that a reader would want to identify with (or at least there weren’t any I could identify with).

That seems to be a new theme with indie literature, at least with the preponderance of the stuff I’ve had the misfortune to read lately:
It is very hard, if not impossible, to care about the characters. I realize that people in real-life are rarely all nice-nice, but you have got to give us something, anything, in order for us to care that a character is growing. If a story is incredibly well-written or plotted, I can often forgive that fault, but you’ve got to have one hell of a good tale in order to make it work. Remember: You can have Hitler saving kittens from a house fire, but that’s certainly not going to make your readers root for Hitler. Likewise if you have a bunch of annoying, overbearing, silver-spoon-in-mouth players - it is going to take a lot of redemption to make any of them likeable. I didn’t see much of that here.        

The story did bring up some interesting contrasts, between the technology- and product-driven pop culture of today (and the near-future) and themes in Scripture and religion, but I think the way that the story was told, at least for me, diluted that dichotomy. This might as well have been Twilight or Hunger Games for all the emotion it brought forth in me on the eschatological level. And I'm a major fan of dystopic, end-of-the-world stories.

One item in the book's favor: A good cover. Simple yet gets in your face. Wish it was on a better story though...it always seems a waste  of a good cover to see it on a mediocre story.        

Reader Recommendations
Genre -- Paranormal? Science fiction? Who knows?        
Age recommendations -- 16+        
Sex content rating -- 16+                
Violence rating -- 16+                                                                                

Links for the book:

Buy it on Amazon

Author's Amazon page

Author's website

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Jonel's review of The Curse of the Ice Dragon by Tara West

Reviewed by -- Jonel

Book Review of -- The Curse of the Ice Dragon, Keepers of the Stones #1 by Tara West

Overall star rating --- 5

About the book:
Born with mark of the Mighty Hunter, Markus saves his village from the brink of starvation - for whenever he releases an arrow, his aim is true. But despite his skill and strength, Markus is unable to confront his tyrannical father. Shamed by his cowardice, he distracts himself by needlessly shooting the forest creatures.

When Markus takes no heed of the village prophet's warning that his actions will attract The Hunter's Curse - for every animal Markus kills, his loved ones will suffer the same fate - the Sky Goddess unleashes her ice dragon. Now, Markus must flee the dragon without killing it ... or his beloved brother will be the next to die.        
                                 
Book creation ratings:
Overall total -- 26 out of a possible 30
-- Story & characters -- 9
-- Cover & title -- 7
-- Editing & formatting -- 10
* based on a 1-10 scale with:  1-4, poor; 5-7, good; 8-10, very good.*

The review --
I thoroughly enjoyed the way that Markus, the main character, was developed. He was a multifaceted character without readers finding out everything about him.  At the same time, the way he carries himself, I forgot how young he was at times; while at the same time, West never makes him seem older than he is. The agelessness really allows everyone to connect with him. It was really neat to see this well-developed main character come into his own as an individual and discover his true self. It is a cautionary tale through and through, with a very fable-esque feel to it; which may turn some readers off, but I loved it. You can definitely see the battle between morality and the human condition. Yet at the same time, it is a captivating and adventurous fantasy for those of all ages. I actually felt a connection with more than one of the supporting characters. They were all such fantastic individuals, and developed as such, that you can’t help but enjoy them. My heart broke for more than one of these characters. I found this story easy to follow and this world to get lost in. This isn’t one of those stories where you can read a few chapters here and there. Once you pick it up, you won’t be able to put it down again. Will I be reading more from this series and from this new-to-me author?   You can bet on it.                
     
Reader Recommendations
Genre -- YA Fantasy
Age recommendations -- 13+ Fantasy lovers of all ages will enjoy this one.
Sex content rating -- none
Violence rating -- mild

Links for the book:

Buy it on Amazon

Smashwords -

Author's Amazon page

Author's facebook page

Author's website