Monday, February 28, 2011

Teaser Tuesday!

 This is a weekly meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

Here are the rules-- Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Here's my teaser: 

“How do you think Marcus would
feel,” she said, “if he saw what you are doing? If he knew you
planned to bed the man who murdered him?"

page 166, "Vestal Virgins" by Suzanne Tyrpak

(Review coming soon!)

Sunday, February 27, 2011

GIVEAWAY! Win a FREE copy of "Alison Wonderland" by Helen Smith

My name's Alison Temple and I used to have this line when people asked me if I'm married. I'd say, 'I'm waiting for Mr Wonderland and when I find him I'll get married. Until then I'm staying single.' The kind of people who need to know whether or not you're married don't see the humor in a joke like that.

I was married once, for a while. I thought my husband was cheating on me. Sometimes he was late home and I'd stand at the bedroom window and watch the street. I'd lean against the window frame and press my forehead against the window in despair and I'd wonder, who do you love more than me? In darkness, in silence, I'd wait until I saw him turn the corner on his way home. Then I'd go and lie in bed - waxwork, expressionless features; heavy, bloodless limbs. It was like one of those hospital nightmares where you have enough anaesthetic to stop you moving or screaming, but not enough to stop you feeling pain. I would just lie there, closing my eyes to stop the giddy feeling that I supposed was anger but was really relief that he was home at all. I was never sure which of us I hated more. Nothing tied me to him - not money, children, or even much of a shared history. Just a sunny day and a white dress. I stayed because I didn't want to leave, but I hated him for not loving me more than anyone else. I stood at the window and I wondered, who do you love more than me? I never asked the question out loud. 

Helen Smith has a unique and clever writing style that makes her characters jump from the pages right into your mind. I'm thrilled to be able to offer one lucky winner a digital copy of "Alison Wonderland." I recently reviewed this book, and it comes recommended by me- what more could you ask? (Read my review here.) 

As always, no need to send money or homemade chocolate chip cookies (my favorite) or twitter about this (although I'd love it if you did!); I just don't have the patience to do the little +1 thing and double check that everyone's done as promised. Just leave a comment on this post with your email address and format preference (available as: kindle gift, epub, prc or lrf), and cross your fingers and toes that you are the lucky winner! 

Good luck! 


REVIEW: "The Talisman of Elam" by Jim Mastro

Jason Hunter’s got your typical problems. His parents relocated him to a new city, where he promptly made bad by coming to the aid of a geeky boy and getting himself on the jock “hit list.” Speaking of his parents, they’ve been acting a little, well, distant lately, and then there’s the question of the crazy new neighbors who seem to be spying on him. When he chooses to follow them one night, he makes a discovery that forevers changes what he thinks of himself, his friends, and his family. 
A middle grade novel by Jim Mastro, this book has action and adventure that holds particular appeal for its intended age group. Jason is a believable 12-year-old boy who finds strengths he never knew he had as he pulls together with his friends to find his parents and, basically, save Earth. The adventure takes us into space to visit other planets with advanced civilizations, and introduces us to a federation we never knew existed. The three children in this book, Jason, Kevin and Amelia, are engaging and nicely developed. Each has a distinct personality, and each is valuable to the storyline in his or her own way. Jason may be the star of the story, but his two friends are equally important to the outcome. Shalan, one of the aliens who has a particular interest in protecting Jason, fades a little into the background, which may be fitting for a book geared towards pre-adolescents. The kids are really the stars, and the adults have their place, but are truly secondary. 

Nicely paced, the storyline flows fluidly through several settings and builds up to its finale, which is really just the beginning of the planned trilogy. Although it's just the first installment, the book provides closure, while still setting the stage for the next adventure. One theme in this book relates to the power of children, and this theme is something I always enjoyed when I was in this age group. The idea that an unpopular pre-teen actually has the power to change the world, to do amazing things, and to be so important is an idea that empowers and excites those in this age group. It's the classic story of the underdog making good, in ways that may surprise any who didn't believe in him. This is the first novel for the author, who has been writing predominantly non-fiction for decades. It's a great first jump into a trilogy that is sure to find fans in all age groups. The writing is appropriate for the age level, overall. There were a few instances where the dialogue was a little awkward or unbelievable, but it seemed to ring true for the most part. Some of the adults are more two-dimensional and less believable, but that only puts the spotlight even more on the kids. The ending seemed slightly rushed and perhaps a tad confusing after all the build-up in the story, but it didn't detract from the overall experience.

Very kid-friendly, this book is sure to appeal- especially to those interested in science fiction and space travel.
4 /5 stars

Saturday, February 26, 2011

REVIEW: "Isn't It Necromantic?" by C. I. Bond

Cassie's a little different than your average chick. She's got all your typical problems (no boyfriend, no family, no real motivation in life), but she's got another problem that isn't the norm: Cassie has no soul. She does, however, have an additional skill that most people don't have, which makes her very valuable to those conspiring to create (or thwart) evil. Since Cassie's not even sure what she really is and who she'd fit in with, she tries to stay low and avoid detection. Unfortunately, that's hard to do- she seems to attract the very creatures she's trying to avoid. As she deals with various "others," ranging from witches and werewolves to vampires and demons (and even several in the "twice damned" category), her special skill becomes known and Cassie finds herself quite popular indeed. Not such a great thing, in this case. With a future that's shaky and a knack for finding trouble, will Cassie come out of this intact?

Written by C. I. Bond, this book reminded me of a Sookie Stackhouse book, but with a slightly darker edge (perhaps more like the TV series adaptation, True Blood). It was a quick and fun read, with plenty of adventure and humor, and introduction to several interesting characters. Cassie's character is zany and hapless in much the same way as Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum. Cassie goes from one crazy situation straight to the heart of another, often with amusing results. She's likable and is developed enough that you get a good feel for her quirks.

Although fairly engaging, the story itself doesn't have a lot of depth to it. The transitions from scene to scene are sometimes awkward, and most of the characters are only as developed as is necessary. The writing style is sometimes clumsy, but it is definitely in line with the quirky nature of the book. I know the author has been actively searching out typos and the like, as she wants to be sure she has an error-free book. I very strongly support that effort; all books should be well-edited, in my opinion, regardless of the type of publishing. That being said, there are still just over a handful of errors in the pages. Not enough to totally detract, but noticeable nonetheless.

Overall, this book achieves its aim; it's a fun, sometimes wacky, ride into a fascinating and crazy world.

3 /5 stars

Available at Amazon

Sunday, February 20, 2011

REVIEW: "The Hawk and His Boy" by C. H. Bunn

Hidden away in a tower, there is a wooden box, engraved with an ugly carving of a hawk. Sealed shut by magical forces, its owner has no idea what's inside, but is determined to open it. Equally determined to get his hands on this box, a mysterious stranger hires a group of thieves to steal the box. Jute is the right boy for the job, bypassing magical wards and making his way through the house to retrieve the box. But things don't go quite as planned when he unexpectedly opens the lid and touches the object inside. Now he's on the run and has to decide who he can trust...can he trust the voice he now hears in his head, or is that another trick?

The first book in the "Tormay Trilogy" by Christopher Bunn, this intriguing story is full of magical spells, wizards, and evil darkness. With a fluid, engaging writing style that matches the genre of book nicely, this story takes us on an adventure through this magical kingdom. The ending nicely sets up the second book in the trilogy, tying up only the most general of threads so we are compelled to look to the next book to find out more.

With a bevy of unique and interesting characters, you really become interested in the backstories of each character. You get the feeling they are all connected in some way, but very few of those connections are made clear in this installment. I would have liked a little more closure and a little more direction as to the connections between all these characters. At times, it seemed there were too many to keep up with, and without those connections it's sometimes hard to keep track of them. You just get into one character's story when you are introduced to another, and another, and another. Jute seems to be the main character, but I wanted more information on his connection to the hawk. I also wanted more backstory on Levoreth; much is hinted, and it's enough to make you really wonder who she is, exactly, and what she can do. Although I think the set up for the second book is good, I just wanted more satisfaction in this first book with regards to the information gained. It's definitely piqued my interest!

Overall, a really good first installment, one that prepares you for the second in the series from this talented author.

4 /5 stars

Available on Amazon

Thursday, February 17, 2011

GIVEAWAY! Enter to win your very own digital copy of "Whom God Would Destroy" by Commander Pants

                                     HE RUNS INTO A FEW KINKS HE DIDN'T FORESEE...

The Official Blurb:

It's 1987, and "God" has returned to Earth. Equipped with a new message and a bell that makes people happy, he opens up a new age store, ready to have a little fun. Luckily, things don't turn out quite like He'd planned.

Whom God Would Destroy is a thought provoking novel about God, insanity, Big Macs, space aliens and the search for the Ultimate Orgasm...But mostly it's about taking reality with a pillar of salt. 

You can get your very own digital copy of  Whom God Would Destroy by Commander Pants! It's FREE and easy-- no facebooking, twittering, dancing naked on a roof, or giving away your firstborn necessary*! Just leave a comment on this post with your email address and your preference of a Kindle version gifted or a PDF of your very own. 

One lucky winner will be randomly chosen after the contest closes on March 5th. Will you be the lucky one who gets to find out all the secrets about God, insanity Big Macs, space aliens and the like? Only one way to find out... enter now! 

*you're more than welcome to do any of those things, but please stay off my roof, and I already have a firstborn.

If you've just *got* to have this book TODAY and you can't wait to see if you've won, buy your very own copy at Amazon right now! If you're a little hesitant and you'd rather see what others have said about this book FIRST, read some reviews here! I'll be adding a review of my own as soon as I manage to carve the time to get through that wonderful list of books I have to read. But don't wait for me- get your own copy and write your own review!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

REVIEW: "Exchange" by Dale R. Cozort

Sharon Mack has volunteered to help with the latest "exchange" happening in her town of Rockport. She's heard stories of what this alternate dimension contains: deadly monkeys, huge bears, out-of-place kangaroos, and various other strange and deadly creatures. If she can survive the two weeks until this block of land is returned to its own dimension, then she'll be in good shape. Unfortunately, she hadn't counted on her violent exhusband kidnapping their special needs daughter, or her repeated encounters with the convicts who had managed to escape to this alternate world during an exchange two years ago. Add in the mysterious cult members and some marines, and Sharon has a lot more to contend with than she expected. What will happen when the dimensions exchange places again? In which dimension will Sharon stay?

Written by Dale R. Cozort, this novel contains a truly unique concept- that of periodic "exchanges" of land with an alternate dimension. With just a day or so of preparation time, these exchanges may be routine, but they are fraught with immense danger and interesting potential. I loved this concept! It's fascinating to think of the possibilities in alternate dimensions colliding on a periodic basis. The repercussions of huge tracts of land in different dimensions "exchanging" with one another are potentially devastating for both dimensions. This concept is truly the strongest point of this novel, and the underlying storyline does maintain interest level until the end. You won't know in which dimension Sharon remains until the last few pages, and you just may be surprised at what you find out.

Although I really enjoyed the overall idea behind the book, there were several things I didn't like about the story. The characters didn't feel well-rounded to me, and the dialogue didn't ring true. I felt that almost any piece of dialogue (with the exception of Bethany's short blurbs) could have be said by a number of other characters. I didn't get a good feel for characters by the things they said. So much of the novel consists of conversation back and forth, so it was difficult to immerse myself into this novel when the characters sounded so much like one another to me.  I didn't get a lot of emotional depth from the characters, and that left the characters feeling one-dimensional and unrealistic. Additionally, the matter-of-fact dialogue tended to mask some of the quick changes in scene with various characters entering and exiting, and I found myself rereading passages in several places to get a grip on what had just happened.

The plot is full of twists and turns- so many that you just sort of give up on doing any guessing, and just read the words on the page. There is a twist at the end that is very unexpected and really thought-provoking, but I felt the details behind this twist were explained too many times by too many people. I think tightening up the conversations between characters, some of the twists, and making the ending more succinct would have made this book more powerful. Overall, I love the concept behind this story, and that made it worth the read to me.

3 /5 stars

Available at Amazon and Stairway Press

Check out the author's blog:

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

REVIEW: "The Black God's War" by Moses Siregar III

A day of wondrous glory, a day of devastating despair. A long-awaited, holy child is born and minutes later his mother dies. Lucia, his 10-year-old sister, is the only one who can see Lord Danato, the god who takes their mother's life. Nothing in Lucia's own life will never be the same again. Haunted by regular visitations from Lord Danato, and living in the shadow of her holy brother, Lucia must find her place in the world. 19 years later, Lucia's father, King Vieri is leading the Rezzia people in war against the Pawelon people. Caio and Lucia have very important roles to play in the future of the Rezzia people, and they wonder if the cause is worth the death toll that will certainly follow. 

A novella by Moses Siregar III, the story opens with a scene that pulls you in at once. I was immediately sympathetic to Lucia and very curious about Lord Danato. We are given just enough context to pique our interest and help us understand the people of this time, but we are still left wanting more. This novella consists of 15 of the early chapters of a planned 85 chapter novel (to be released in May 2011), and it's an intriguing taste of what is to come. The characterization in this story is fitting to the length, but I was curious to know more about the main characters. Some characters we get to know a bit better while we are only given a taste of others. The full book promises a more in-depth exploration of some of the characters, particularly the Pawelon people (to whom we are only given a brief introduction). Gaining more perspective on where the Pawelons stand will really help to round out the story and draw us further in.

Well-paced and fluid, the writing style is engaging and descriptive. I really got a feel for the time period and the surroundings. There is more to the story than it seems; I noted religious undertones that brought to mind stories of a biblical nature. I hope the actual novel capitalizes on this as one of its themes without being preachy or blatant. I'm excited to know more about the journey of the Pawelons, as well as hopefully get more backstory on Lucia and what it was like for her and Caio to grow up a part of this legend. 

I felt the ending wasn't really satisfying by itself; it left me feeling let down. As a stand-alone novel, I wanted more. As a "teaser" to a full-length novel, it works to prepare you for the rest of the story. Knowing that there will be a book that will take this same story and push it further, while giving me more backstory on the Pawelon people, I'm excited to read more! 

 4 /5 stars

FREE at Smashwords    Also available at Amazon

update: I chose to put this review up at Cym Lowell's "Book Review Party!" Check it out :)

Monday, February 14, 2011

REVIEW: "I Hate Chicago" by Nick Vandermolen

Nick moves from small-town Michigan to Chicago to be with friends and figure out the next step of his life. When he gets there, he realizes he's been disillusioned all along, and the "metropolis" is not all that it pretends to be. In a journey of self-reflection, Nick tries to come to terms with his choices and his fears.

Part memoir, part rant on the evils of metropolis, and part research trove of pop psychology, "I Hate Chicago" reads like a self-help therapy session for author Nick Vandermolen. With short blurbs chronicling his experiences in Chicago intermixed with more extensive sections detailing the fallacies of city life (backed by actual research), it's difficult to pigeonhole this book into a category. The writing is, at times, rambling straight from the brain (replete with run-on sentences and confusing trains of thought), and at other times, consists of more structured lists delineating and debunking the myths of city life.

Starting off very slow and somewhat directionless, the actual content of the story starts to make a little more sense about 1/3 the way through. Underneath it all, it's a journey of awakening and growth, but it's sometimes difficult to see through all the maundering to the meat beneath. Add to that the serious need for another editing pass (apostrophes where they don't belong and missing in many places they do belong, lots of homophone errors- it's/its, their/there, whose/who's, etc., comma neglect and other proofreading errors), and the ride is a sometimes convoluted path to the finale.

In spite of the shortcomings, there was still some grain that kept me reading to the end. Maybe it was the vulnerability of the main character or the hope that he would find his way through this evil metropolis, or maybe it was an interest in the facts that supported the assertions of a messed-up society... whatever it was, it kept me reading all 84 pages.

2 /5 stars

Available at Nanbunan Publishing and Amazon

Sunday, February 13, 2011

REVIEW: "A New Birth of Freedom: The Visitor" by Robert G. Pielke

Edwin Blair, a professor of history who specializes in the figures and events of the 1800s, has been taxed with journeying back in time from 2203 to 1863 to stop alien invaders (known as "Pests") from taking over the world. In order to do this, he has to carefully concoct a plan that is believable, alters history as little as possible, and still succeeds in stopping the monstrous, locus-like insects from decimating the world. To add to this difficulty, the country is in the middle of a civil war, and he needs the efforts of both factions to be successful. Armed only with his extensive knowledge of this era, a computer, and an alien device that can do more than he even suspects, Blair is on a journey of a lifetime. If he is unsuccessful, it may be his last journey, and he may never even exist to take it.

A clever mix of genres, this book by Robert G. Pielke combines historical fact with speculative fiction to create an alternate history. In the 2200s, an alien species has invaded the Earth and left nothing but destruction in its path. Even the advanced technology of the future is not enough to successfully battle these creatures. With some ingenuity and a touch of luck, the humans of the era have managed to send the aliens' ships back in time to the battle of Gettysburg, where it is hoped sheer manpower and less advanced technological weapons will be able to do what the future armies cannot- destroy these invaders. The characters in the story are nicely written. Pielke has taken many key historical figures and given them life so we can imagine them off the page. We are privy to many of Blair's private thoughts about his task and what he knows of these historical figures, which adds a nice touch in rounding out the characterization. Even the aliens gain some humanism along the way.

Rich with historical facts, including some little-known gems, this books offers an education along with real entertainment. I thought the intermixing of the two was masterful in concept, but occasionally tedious in practice. Because of the sheer amount of history included in the story, the story dragged at times. I found the storyline quite riveting and I was anxious to discover what would happen, but there seemed to be a little too much talking back and forth, with the same questions being asked time and again of Blair. At one point, I thought the entire story would perhaps take place inside one room, with the characters merely discussing back and forth, but was relieved when we had a scene change. The ending sets the perfect stage for the second installment in the series, and my interest in most certainly piqued.

4 /5 stars

Available at Amazon and Altered Dimensions Press

Saturday, February 12, 2011

REVIEW: "The Only Thing I See" by Jessica Barksdale Inclan

Annabelle is a wedding photographer. She has a talent for capturing other people's happiness, but has trouble recognizing her own. When she herself becomes engaged, she starts "seeing" the future happiness (or unhappiness) of the lovestruck couples she photographs. The only problem is, she can't seem to see the truth in the relationship right in front of her. With the unintentional nudges of her best friend and her quirky mom, Annabelle finds herself taking a philosophical journey she just wasn't quite ready to take. She can't see herself through her camera lens, but perhaps she can see finally herself through the reflection of the two people who mean the most to her.

 I really had fun with this tale by Jessica Barksdale Inclan, devouring it in short order. The characters of Annabelle, her best friend (Khalie), and her mother (Ramona) are all well-developed and quite engaging. Easy to read and utterly charming, it's effortless to become absorbed in this tale of emotional growth overlaid in romantic tones. Although the ending is predictable, it's still satisfying as you wait for Annabelle to finally realize what you've known the whole time. It's a feel-good tale that will leave you with a happy sigh, content that things are right with the world.

There were a few more than a handful of typos in the story- not super distracting, but still noticeable. The storyline flows along fairly smoothly; there are a few bumps for Annabelle along the way, but not really that "gasp" moment present in some books of this genre. I may have preferred a bit more conflict along the way to make that neatly tied-up ending even sweeter. I sometimes prefer a bit of ambiguity in an ending, even for a storyline meant to leave you feeling happy and satisfied. Overall, a great read, one that fans of this genre will devour.

4 /5 stars

Available at Smashwords, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble

(If you enjoyed this book, be sure to check out another of this author's books, "Becca's Best." You can read the excerpt I posted this past December. You can also get to know the author a bit better in this  YouTube video.)

SIDENOTE: I rarely (if ever) comment on cover art. Honestly, I rarely notice it at all for digital books. Unlike paper books, where cover (and spine) art is what initially draws me to an unknown book, I just don't pay much attention to a digital book's cover image. However, in this case, something about this cover just seems wrong to me. It's not a bad cover, I just feel it's a mismatch for the content of the book. I feel like this cover, coupled with the official blurb, gives the impression of something a little paranormal and slightly "dark" or mysterious, but the actual book is much more a chick lit-type romance, without the excessive silliness or "bubble gum" feeling some of those books have. To be clear, the cover art doesn't weigh in on my book review or rating in any fashion, but I felt compelled to comment on it, just the same. 

Friday, February 11, 2011

REVIEW: "Leviathan" by Zachary Harper

Hero lives a blessed life. He is married to the woman of his dreams, his strength is legendary, and he is revered the world round. When Death comes to kill his love, Beauty, and change his perfect world into one of pain and loss, Hero is set on vengeance. With some prompting from the Snake, Hero sets out to exact his revenge on God Himself.

An epic poem by Zachary Harper, in the style of "Beowulf," "Leviathan" is a "parable of modern man's response to the guilt and pain of death." During Hero's journey to avenge his loss, he affects change in a number of ways. His mind focused on his mission, he doesn't even notice whose lives are altered by his actions. When Hero eventually finds his way to Leviathan, the meeting doesn't go quite as planned, leaving the reader to think about what it all was for. It also offers the opportunity to think of how Hero's journey relates to your own life, as I found myself reflecting on my own journey.

Although I studied "Beowulf" back in high school, this is admittedly not my typical genre choice for reading material. That being said, it was a refreshing experience to engage in this poetic tale. I particularly liked the last chapter and thought it fitting closure to the adventure. For fans of this genre, or if you're ready to try out a new type of adventure, this is a good bet.

4 /5 stars

Available on Smashwords

Thursday, February 10, 2011

REVIEW: "The Discovery of Socket Greeny" by Tony Bertauski

Socket Greeny is just your typical teen. Sure, he's got his problems- his dad died years ago and his mom is largely absent from his life, flitting in and out as her work permits- but he has a few close friends that keep him going. He attends school, hangs out, and plugs in to the virtual world whenever possible. In short, just an average guy. Or so he thought. During one particularly exciting virtual adventure, something happens that changes Socket's life forever. Now he's forced to confront the fact that he's not your typical teen at all, and the key to saving the world from virtual evil may actually lie within Socket himself.

Written by Tony Bertauski for a young adult readership, "The Discovery of Socket Greeny" is an engaging foray into a world of technology and possibilities. There are quite a few fascinating concepts thrown into this story, with intriguing results. The setting is a world not unlike our current world, but with a higher level of technology, particularly in the area of virtual reality. What if people could duplicate themselves in the virtual world, and somehow then leave that world and take up residence amongst humans? What if the line between the virtual world and the real world wasn't as solid as we thought? What if there came a time when people couldn't even tell if you were virtual or real? What if you weren't even sure yourself?

Socket is your typical teenager in terms of behavior and motivations. He just wants to hang out with his girlfriend and his best friend, and he's full of the normal teenage attitude you'd expect from a sixteen-year-old. You get a good feel for the main characters in the story, and it's easy to imagine them. Some of the secondary characters are not quite as well developed, and the more mechanical characters can be a bit confusing. There are a lot of characters to follow in this story, and most are important to the storyline. It also takes a bit to get a good grip on the types of things possible in this world and the vocabulary that goes along with it.

Throughout the book, there are starts and stops in terms of Socket's progression through the discovery of his powers and the use of those powers. Sometimes, particularly during the climax of the book, those starts and stops seemed too much. Every time I felt as if the action was over for a bit and we were in a lull, it wasn't- we were still in the thick of things. For me it had the effect of breaking up the action and making that climax much less powerful. Additionally, it made for some confusion in the plot events. It felt like things were repeating themselves, and I got a little lost in the action. 

Overall, this is sure to be an engaging tale for teenage readers, as well as science fiction/fantasy readers of all ages.

3.5 /5 stars

Available at Smashwords, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble

Monday, February 07, 2011

Teaser Tuesday!

 This is a weekly meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

Here are the rules-- Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Here's my teaser: 

"Duplicating is illegal, in any form or fashion, read our virtualmode code laws: Any attempt to duplicate your identity, whether for business, recreation or just plain whatever, is not allowed under any circumstances. Period, the end."

page 16, "The Discovery of Socket Greeny" by Tony Bertauski

(Review coming soon!)

Sunday, February 06, 2011

GIVEAWAY! Win a FREE Digital copy of "Dark Passages" by Sara Reinke!

I am thrilled to be giving away one free digital copy of "Dark Passages" by Sara Reinke. This is a paranormal romance. I have recently enjoyed reviewing  another of Sara Reinke's books, "Backwoods." (Read my review here!) I am looking forward to reviewing "Dark Passages," and you can get your very own copy! With a release date of February 14th, this is your chance to get the book hot off the digital presses! Easy to enter, details are at the end of this post!

(The following is from the author's promotional material)
Cover art, DARK PASSAGESIn Dark Passages, Tristan Morin is a vampire on a mission: to not fall in love with Karen Pierce. To do so would prove that humans and Brethren were meant to be physically and emotionally bound to each other -- something he, as a full-blooded Brethren, refuses to believe. It would be so much easier if Karen wasn't beautiful. And if there wasn't something about her that draws him like a moth to a flame, damn near impossible to resist.

Karen has always felt an inexplicable attraction to Tristan. More than just the fact he's strikingly handsome, it's as if being with him is something natural, comfortable and right. But soon a brash choice on his part leaves her heartbroken and confused, and a sadistic new enemy will put their tentative love -- and their lives -- to the ultimate test.
New York Times and USA Today best-selling author Sharon Sala calls Dark Passages: Tristan & Karen "an amazing read! With a hero like this one, the bite -- and what comes with it -- is worth the blood."
Sara Reinke's paranormal romances,  Dark Thirst and Dark Hunger (both published by Kensington/Zebra in 2007 and 2008, respectively), introduced readers to the dark world of the Brethren vampires. A third installment, Dark Passion, was released from Double Dragon Publishing in 2009.

To date, all three have sold nearly 40,000 copies combined and regularly attract new readers. Because of this steady reader interest, the author has decided to continue the series. 
Dark Passages: Tristan & Karen, a novella-length ebook installment, will relaunch The Brethren Series on February 14th, 2011 

In August, 2011,  the next installment, Dark Vengeance, will be released in ebook and trade paperback, reuniting readers with Brandon Noble and Angelina Jones, the protagonists from Dark Thirst. Both Dark Passages and Dark Vengeance will be published by Bloodhorse Press, LLC (, the new home for the Brethren Series.

Entering is easy!

Just leave a comment on this post with your email address.

The winner will be chosen by a random draw when the contest closes on February 21st, 12am Hawai'i time.

The winner will receive a Smashwords coupon and instructions on how to redeem it for a free digital copy that can be read on any ereading device (Sony, Kindle, Nook, Kobo, etc), or even right on your computer! 

Enter now! :)  


REVIEW: "Velvet Ball and the Broken Fairy" by Patricia Puddle

Having recovered from a serious illness, Velvet now has alopecia, which means she has no hair on her body. New to her school, Velvet is the the butt of many jokes and a favorite target for the class bully. Running through Crabtree forest one day in an attempt to escape her tormentors, Velvet hears a voice in a tree. Looking up, she is surprised to see a small doll-like creature hanging upside down, stuck in a branch. After being promised a wish if she saves her, Velvet manages to free her from the tree. Velvet discovers the creature is Roseberry, the "fairy" of the forest. Rude and demanding, Roseberry isn't what Velvet imagines for a fairy, but they form an unconventional friendship that takes them incredible places. Along the way, both discover things about themselves that will forever change the way others view them, and even the way they view themselves.

Written for a young audience, Patricia Puddle's book tackles many issues with which younger readers may be familiar, most notably being different, being the target of teasing and bullying, and the strong desire to have a special secret. Velvet is a sweet character, and younger readers will delight in her personality. A loyal and trustworthy friend, she stands up to cruelty with honor. Roseberry is not your typical fairy, but her character changes and develops in a way that will engage readers. Youngsters will relate to the frustration both characters feel of not quite being "right" somehow, and they will be captivated by the changes the characters undergo. Although not deeply explored, the characters are pleasant and interesting.

I loved the overall storyline. The idea that even "fairies" may not have it perfect will resonate with readers. It is commendable how Velvet handles her adversaries and deals with her own differences. Clever storyline and interesting characters aside, I was a little torn with what to think of the actual writing style. The main character, Velvet, is nine years old, and the story struck me as being perfectly appropriate for the 8-12-year-old range (and older). However, even for that age level, I felt the overall writing style was a little awkward and the dialogue somewhat stiff. Although I loved the plot, I felt somehow disconnected from the overall story.

A good read for children of all ages!

3 /5 stars

Available at Smashwords, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble

Friday, February 04, 2011

REVIEW: "Fruitbasket From Hell" by Jason Krumbine

Alex Cheradon is a PI. He tries to stay off paranormal cases (vampires and the like), but they seem to find him anyway. His latest case offers him a new twist on Hell on Earth as he's hired to track down the whereabouts of Nevada Raines, daughter of the computer billionaire, Steven Raines. After a run-in with a bloodthirsty vampire, Alex is glad to have a case that put a million dollars immediately in his pocket and wasn't likely to involve the undead. Unfortunately, there's just the little matter of the Satanist cult, a vampire nest, and a little visitor named "Pookie" to contend with. If Alex can stay alive long enough, he just may save the world.

With a certain quirkiness reminiscent of Janet Evanovich's  "Stephanie Plum" series, Jason Krumbine has created a bizarre cast of characters: Alex, the Private Investigator who manages to stumble through cases by pure luck, Nicky, the metrosexual secretary who is more interested in clothing choices than cases, Christian, the not-quite-alive ex-partner who seems hell-bent on killing Alex (well, it's not Christian's idea, it's those pesky voices), Angie, the ex who gets hired to be Alex's bodyguard but just may want to kill him herself, and all the wacky clients who hire Alex under false pretenses. The plot is a frenzied and outlandish race as Alex tries to find Nevada in time to save the world from Pookie.

Written like a rambling from someone's brain (complete with frequent and extensive parenthetical comments), the writing style is quirky and somewhat fun at first, but begins to become somewhat grating towards the end. It's difficult to judge the writing style, as the run-on sentences, sentence fragments and oddly formatted sentence structures seem to be created by design, not accident. It's a quick, amusing read, but a bit like being in the brain of someone with an attention disorder. Slightly out of context, there are a few comments that come off as simply racist. I couldn't quite figure out if they were meant to be funny, but they just seemed out of place.

Just compelling enough to keep you reading, "Fruitbasket from Hell" a quick and goofy ride through someone's subconscious.

3 /5 stars

Available from Smashwords, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble

Thursday, February 03, 2011

PHOTOS: Water, Revisited

Currently moving house, and things are crazy and busy! I barely have time for anything this week. I'm almost done with my current read, so look for my next review soon! In the meantime, enjoy these!