Friday, 11 December 2015

Book review: Savagery and Saviors by Ken Hollern

Savagery and Saviors

It's been a while since I've read a book I could get lost in, and Savagery and Saviors did it for me. It completely sucked me in, and nearly made me late to work more than once. This story really hit home for me, especially in light of everything that's going on in the world. It reminded me of the genocide in Rwanda. It reminded me of the human trafficking that happens in our own backyard. Hollern didn't romanticize a single thing. It was dirty, inhumane, disgusting...and real.

Cole was a great main character, with relateable ethical decisions, and his pain and guilt over the loss of his wife. Rochelle grew on me. I wasn't sure about her at first, and I liked her more before she met Cole (she felt a bit stronger without him) but she more than redeemed herself in the end when she...well, I don't want to spoil things. Let's just say she handles the situation.

I think I would have liked a bit more details in regards to the children, feel a bit more of their hopelessness and raw emotions. But at the same time, we got that from Cole. It still would've been nice to have it all rounded out.

What really touched me was Abou's part in the story. It just shows how we are all connected, even if it's in some small way. One encounter. That's all it takes to change a life. Hollern showed that beautifully. He described the life of the Fur tribe in Darfur well enough that I thought I was there with Abou. I felt his pain, his vengeance, and eventually the desperation to bring his people to safety. It was a great climax to the story.

This is one of the few books I've read recently that has no loose ends, and I'm utterly content with how everything happened. If you're a fan of thrillers, action novels, and political/social justice themed books, Savagery and Saviors is the first book you need to pick up.


Buy it on Amazon

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Book review: Mark of Shamash by SSpjut

Mark of Shamash (Book One Keys of Destiny)

I was really looking forward to reading this novel, and it's been nearly a year since I agreed to read it. I have a degree in Near Eastern Archaeology, so this was completely up my alley. That being said, I was heartbroken when I couldn't bring myself to finish Mark of Shamash.

Honestly, I can't quite call it a novel. It's more of a manuscript in the sense of a lack of editing. And I mean nearly a complete lack of it. The plot itself is very slow, but nothing quite wrong with it really. Aside from the lack of editing, the writing isn't terrible and I'm sure once it's cleaned it up would be pretty decent and would appeal to many readers.

From what I understood, the story was meant to be written in the form of a Mesopotamian myth or at least styled in that way, but carried none of the patterns or themes found in myth stories. And the research done seemed half-hearted in general. To be fair, a lay person likely wouldn't be able to tell the difference, but I could. I had absolutely no sense that it was set in the Early Bronze Age, especially when a few characters spoke with a Cockney accent. In Mesopotamia.

If I were to receive an edited version of this, I would definitely give it another go as I am interested to see how it plays out since this is supposed to be the story of Abraham's ancestor. But as it stands, I need to be fair to myself and to the other authors who requested a review and give them the time they deserve. I gave as much as I could to this novel, and I only got halfway through.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Book review: A Symphony of Blood by Matthew Swiontek

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I am a vampire story fan. I mean real vampires. Not the sparkly angsty kind. I'm talking about the thriller, Ann Rice, Bram Stoker style vampires. "A Symphony of Blood" delivers just that kind of vampire. And you can't have a good vampire story without a legendary vampire hunter, which is seen in the character of Gerhold. Similar to Van Helsing, Gerhold is an older gentleman who has a reputation as a hunter of the paranormal and supernatural. Well-rounded, he doesn't stick to simply hunting vampires, although that's a big part of it. His reputation becomes known to a powerful vampire, who then lures Gerhold to his castle for an ultimate test of wit and brawn.

Reading this novella was almost like reading Dracula. It was extremely similar, actually, which was honestly nice. The tone and style is very much like the great novel, and no one can (or should) ever take that as anything less than a compliment. For those who want a quick read, and a classic vampire style story, this is it. It is not for the faint of heart. This is a good old fashioned vampire story that brings you back to a time of purely classic writing. Kudos to Swiontek for a wonderful read, and giving me hope that authors today still understand what it takes to write like the greats.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Author and Character Interview: Robert Eggleton, and Lacy Dawn from 'Rarity from the Hollow'

This was supposed to be posted last month, but other things unfortunately got in the way of me formatting and getting it live. But I'm very excited to be able to share this very interesting interview I had with Robert Eggleton, author of Rarity from the Hollow: A Lacy Dawn Adventure.


Rarity from the Hollow

N: Thank you for taking the time to talk! Let's start with something easy, and something I'm sure you've answered before. Tell us a little bit about yourself.


R: I was born in an impoverished West Virginia family in 1951. My father suffered from PTSD and had night terrors and rages. Due to his World War II related disabilities, he couldn't hold down a job. As the oldest child, I felt a duty to protect and support my family. A lot of my writing draws on this early experience.

The next school year after my father died in a house fire, I won the 8th grade short story contest: God Sent, the story of a semi truck driver so consumed with theological debate the he caused a terrible accident. Looking back, I'm sure that my father's death influenced this story. My father, when intoxicated, would quote Bible verses.


After winning the writing contest, I began to dream of becoming a rich and famous author. However, as it often does, life got in the way. I never finished any more stories. Except for a couple of poems that were published in college, my writing and my dream were on hold. Instead, after I earned a Master's in Social Work degree in 1977, I wrote children's social service models, grants, research, statistical reports or child abuse and delinquency -- the stuff that aspiring fiction writers produce when true love is denied.

N: So what was it that finally got you to write this novel?

R: I've worked in the field of children's advocacy for over forty years. In 2012, I started a job as a psychotherapist at our local mental health center -- an intensive day program for kids with serious mental health issues, most of whom had been traumatized, some sexually abused.

N: And your job inspired the creation of Lacy?

R: In 2006, my life changed. A skinny little girl with stingy brown hair was admitted to the program. During group therapy sessions, rather than talking about her traumas, she spoke of her hopes and dreams for the future -- finding a permanent family that would love and protect her physically and emotionally. The Lacy Dawn Adventures project was conceived that session: an empowered female protagonist who took on the evils within the universe.



Not only did I get the chance to speak with Robert, but I got to speak with the main character herself, Lacy!



L: My name is Lacy Dawn. I'm eleven and I live down the hollow. All my family live in West Virginia, but my mom and dad have been out of state. My dad went to Iraq -- that's where he got so messed up. After he came back, I still remember the day, they moved to Cleveland. That's where I was born, but I don't remember nothing 'cause I was just a baby.

I'd never been anyplace except the hollow until I met this guy. Now, don't get all worried, 'cause it's not like that and I'm only eleven -- not old enough for a boyfriend. He's got a weird name, but I call him Buddy after my cousin who lives on the hard road.


Buddy lets me get on his computers and I've been tons of places that way. It's almost like going there in person cause he has a bunch of TVs on his walls and I can see all the angles. I've been way back in time and seen stars, met people that don't even look like people, but Buddy said they are just like me.


Buddy said that I'm not really eleven. He said that I'm really, really old. But, you look at me. Do I look old? Heck no. I'm just a kid, a regular kid like everybody else in school. Buddy lives in a spaceship and he's going to take us all out of state. He said that it's part of my training for a real important job that I don't understand yet, something about saving the universe. It's supposed to be a long way from the hollow.


N: Wow! That sounds pretty cool to have gone back in time. What was your favourite time to visit?


L: Every time and place that I've been outside of the hollow feels weird to me. Maybe it's 'cause I'm not used to it -- all those buildings, and strange plants and the people -- gosh, you can't imagine how many bodies that a person can be inside.

Anyway, I'll tell you about one place that I went on Buddy's computers. It was a really, really strange trip 'cause he told me that I was in that movie, I didn't believe him at the time, and got mad. Now that I've grown up a little bit, I know that it's true. I can't explain how, but I just know it.


It was like a huge jungle with these giant plants everyplace. We weren't walking, kind of zooming in. Then, I heard stuff, not like talking, but it was people noises -- grunts kind of. When we got closer, there was a bunch of people and they were naked! I'd never seen naked people before, except Buddy and he ain't got no private parts, so I got scared. My mom raised me up right. Know what I mean?


There was a humongous green bean that had grown into a tent type thing where those people lived. I saw some of them hunting like my daddy -- I helped him once and drained it and cut it up. It was gross! There's still some in the freezer. Are you hungry? My mom will make you something. There some apple pie left over from grandma's birthday. No? Okay.
Anyway, I went inside the green been casserole, it was alive, yes a live plant that these people lived inside with great big beans. It was filled with people and stank bad. Right in the middle of the floor, there was a cook stove. I told Buddy that it was impossible 'cause there wasn't any electric back then. My mom wants an electric stove.

This stove didn't have no fire, or smoke, or nothing, but meat and green beans sure were sizzling on top. I got in line for some food. When it was my turn, instead of filling up my leaf with grub, this really tall guy conked me on the head!

He did it again a couple of times, but after I kept getting up and holding my leaf to him, I finally got some food. I gave it to some skinny, hairy women and kids. I wasn't really hungry anyway.


That's one really weird place I went. I was glad to come home. Buddy said that it was hundreds of thousand of years ago and that was when I was born. Weird, huh?


N: That is weird! That sure is a long time ago to be born. You really don't look that old!


L: The kids at school say that I'm slow growing up. Some of the girls are starting to grow boobies. You know. I'm glad that I'm not. I've seen what it's like to be an adult, and I know about stuff, adult stuff that's gross -- I learned it from the computers. I'm in no hurry to grow up.

My dad got hooked on beer -- he's grown up. My mom's teeth are rotting out -- she's grown up. Tom, our neighbor is just plain weird, something about Bipolar Disorder but I bet that he was okay as a kid. I don't really trust any grown ups except for mom. You seem okay. Are you cool?

I'm in no hurry to grow up. That's for sure.


N: Well, I think I'm cool. But that's my opinion. I think everyone has a little something different about them. I'm glad you're not in a hurry to grow up. But you sure have seen a lot for someone your age! Do you have a favourite memory of you and your friend Buddy?


L: Except for mom, Buddy is the only person who has never been mean to me. I love my best friend. Her name is Faith, but she is a sour puss sometimes. I think its because her family is so messed up. Her daddy does stuff to her that I can't tell you about and it makes her mad at the world. She takes it out on me sometimes, but doesn't really mean it. I understand.


Daddy switches me and mom. You know what that means. Look, see that scar. He was drunk then and apologized for it when he sobered up. I love him but he says spare the rod and spoil the child so much that I'd rather be rotten. So would mom. She gets it worse than me sometimes. So did grandma, both sides. Daddy says that it's in the Bible, but I've read that book four times and I've never even seen the word "switch" in it.

I love Buddy. He's going to be my boyfriend for when I get old enough to have one. He's a doctor, sort of. He has a beautiful living room in his spaceship. It's not that I only care about money, but it does help if a man has a little. When I'm really, really old, like twenty or after I graduate from college, I don't know when, but Buddy and I are going to get married. I ain't going to let him touch be in a bad way before then, 'cause I know better. He don't mind at all. He ain't no pervert, and that's another good thing.

One of the best times with Buddy was when he helped save me and my mom from getting switched worse when Daddy was really drunk. My other best friends, the trees in our Woods, helped too. I can talk to them and they tell me what to do sometimes, but they are not smart like Buddy.

Buddy makes me do too much homework. I mostly study when I visit him. But, everytime that I go there, it's fun, so all my memories are good. I'd invite you except he don't want other people to know where he lives.


N: That's a very good thing. I'm sorry Faith isn't always nice to you, and about your daddy. I'm glad you have a friend like Buddy. And I like that you said you might graduate college. If you could be anything when you grow up, what would you be?


L: I've got a dog. His name is Brownie cause that's what he stole off the table, instead of a weiner, when we went to the family reunion last year. I've had other pets before and I'll tell you this -- don't ever have a pet that could end up on your plate for dinner. I've been there and done that - two duck, a chicken, a turtle... I don't want to think about it.

Anyway, ever since I was a little girl, a long time ago, I've wanted to be a Veterinarian. I know better now, but I think that it started when I wanted to fix one of my dead pets, bring him back to life. That's silly, huh? I would still love to be a Vet and there are a bunch more animals in this universe than I ever realized. I've been plugged in and learned the name of thousands.


Oh, I forgot to tell you. Buddy put this port in my neck, see under my hair. I don't have to study like regular. He just plugs me in and there it goes, inside. That's how I learned about all those animals, and a bunch of other stuff on other planets. Some of them are soooooooo cute? Like an Olein. It looks like a fuzzy ball until the eyes peep out from under its hair. I'd love to have one, but I've have to explain where I got it and that would be hard.

Anyway, I'd still love to be a Vet, but Buddy said that I have a really important job to do first -- to save the universe. I don't understand what he means yet, but I'm learning fast. 

Sometimes I wonder if my brain might just explode if it gets so full. Buddy says no way and I trust him. Maybe after I save the universe I can be a Vet. I love animals.


N: Maybe you will! If you think about it, saving the universe would be taking care of all the animals in it and making sure they're safe. When Buddy tells you that you have to save the universe, do you believe him?


L: I sort of believe Buddy about saving the universe, but I don't see how. I know that he would never lie to me, not on purpose. I'm just eleven. I can't even save myself. How can I save the universe? He seems so sure that I'm the one, something about monitoring my evolution and that now I'm ready. I'm not going to argue with him about it, but I have doubts. Maybe he got me mixed up with someone else. I don't want to tell him that or he might leave and go looking for a better savior of the universe. I'm sure there are lots of people who would do it better than me. Please don't tell him, okay?


N: I won't tell him. Promise. But I think he's shown you how you can, by showing you all those cool things, and taking you places. Everyone has doubts, but all you need to do is believe in yourself. Buddy believes in you, and I think everyone else does, too.


L: Thanks. I've always made straight A's in school. It's important for Mommy to have something to brag about because she ain't got much else. She brags about me all the time. I've never even missed a day of school since I started. When the roads are slick, I have to catch the school bus at the top of the hill and that's a long walk. If I can do that good in school, maybe I can save the universe. It couldn't be THAT much harder.


N: I think you're right. How much harder could it be? Lacy Dawn, I'm so glad you were able to talk to me today. I just have one last question for you, if that's okay. It seems like you've been through a lot, with your daddy coming back from the war and being mean. What would you like to say to other girls who might not have a friend like Buddy?


L: There are many fake boys in this world and on every other planet. I've learned all about it. Fakes don't really love you, maybe they don't love anybody but themselves. My advice to girls is to be careful. I just got lucky, or maybe it was destiny like Buddy said. I met someone who was true. Just because a guy is cute, doesn't mean he has a good heart. Buddy is cute but that's not the main thing.

I'm not just talking to girls. Everybody, love should not be painful, self- deprecating, told you that I know big words, not that I like to use them. Love is built on mutual respect. Cute has nothing to do with it no matter what gender. Buddy ain't really got a gender except the one he decides to use, including no gender if that's what helps get the job done. I'm lucky that he's starting to love me. Give me a little time and I'll have him wrapped around my little finger, but I'll never take advantage of his love for me in a bad way. I learned how to do that from my mommy, not from computers.


If someone cares about your best interests, that's love. It's stronger than just caring about what you want to do because sometimes you may want to do something that's harmful to yourself or others. If that person loves you, he will not tell you what to do with your life, but will help you rethink things on your own. I hope everybody makes a good friend like Buddy. You can't have him. Sorry, he's taken. He's mine!






To read more about Lacy Dawn, you can buy the book here, and author proceeds are donated to a child abuse prevention program.

Monday, 9 November 2015

Spotlight Tour: Lex Talionis by Aaron Meizius

Lex Talionis

Isaac and Michael went to law school together, where they both met Alyssa, Isaac’s ideal girl – but she was already dating Michael, who treats her poorly and with indifference. When Alyssa disappears, Isaac accuses Michael of having something to do with it and their friendship comes to an end.
14 years later, Isaac and Michael cross paths again – this time on opposite sides of a gruesome murder trial. When Michael reopens an old wound, Isaac decides to revive the investigation into Alyssa's disappearance and see that Michael gets what's coming to him…To prove his involvement in a crime nobody seems to care about…And to see that the punishment fits the crime.

About the author
Aaron Meizius was born and raised in Gainesville, Florida. At the early age of 12, Aaron wrote his first short story. He continued to write regularly – both poetry and prose – until joining the Army shortly after his 19th birthday. While serving on active duty in the military, he founded a small book publishing company, Meizius Publishing, with the dream of eventually rejuvenating his lost love of writing and publishing his own work. The company has since grown to include works by more than a dozen authors and artists, including Grey Matter: A Science Fiction & Fantasy Digest, which Aaron began putting together in February 2015.
Aaron lives in Virginia with his wife and two children.


Buy the book here

Visit the author's Amazon page, Facebook, and follow him on Twitter

Click here to see the tour's main post, and here to read reviews for the novel

Click here to read an interview with the author

Monday, 26 October 2015

Book review: The Yesterday Tree by Kenneth Joel Teicher

The Yesterday Tree

The Yesterday Tree is a unique story about a group of humans 500 years in the future who are sent back to our time in order to find a cure for a genetic disease threatening to decimate their population.

It really is a unique concept, and I love the fact that it deals with creating family trees. I'm a huge genealogy nut, so this really spoke to me. Unfortunately, there's so much unused potential with this novel.

The biggest issue I had with the book was that it read very much like an unedited draft. I don't comment on something like this unless it takes away from my reading experience and, unfortunately, it did.

Not only were there numerous mistakes, the characters were, on the whole, unbelievable and inconsistent. Most kept flipping back and forth, being paranoid one minute and totally accepting the next. Even Warren was terrible. I don't think I've ever met a military man like him before.

Going back to the unused potential, Joan and Mike were characters who didn't really seem to be needed. If they had been taken out, the book wouldn't have changed at all for me. Joan was only used within the last 20 or so pages. It makes sense to have a linguist on the team, but they could have used her far before then.

Overall, the book is unique enough that I can say I've never read something like it. Not really. I've read about time travelling but to incorporate it with genetic history was interesting. With another very thorough edit I think this book would be very close to amazing.

Friday, 23 October 2015

Author Interview - Andrew Joyce

Author’s Name: Andrew Joyce

Bio: Andrew Joyce left high school at seventeen to hitchhike throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico. He wouldn’t return from his journey until decades later when he decided to become a writer. Joyce has written four books, and a collection of one hundred and forty short stories that is comprised of his hitching adventures, written as veiled non-fiction called BEDTIME STORIES FOR GROWN-UPS. His novel, REDEMPTION: The Further Adventures of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer, has hit #1 on Amazon in two categories twice in the last year. He has just published his latest novel, MOLLY LEE. He now lives on a boat in Fort Lauderdale, Florida with his dog, Danny.

Genre: Historical Fiction/Action

Links:
Barnes and Noble ...http://geni.us/P2X  
Smashwords ...http://geni.us/1ZNZ 
Andrew's Web Site ...http://andrewjoyce76.com

Interview:

1) What inspired you to start writing?
One morning I went crazy. I got out of bed, went downstairs, and threw my TV out the window. Then I sat down at the computer and wrote my first short story. It was soon published in a print magazine (remember them?). I’ve been writing ever since.

2) What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?
Read . . . read, and then read some more. Read everything you can get your hands on!

3) Who is your favorite author and why?
John Steinbeck and this is why:
"The afternoon came down as imperceptibly as age comes to a happy man. A little gold entered into the sunlight. The bay became bluer and dimpled with shore-wind ripples. Those lonely fishermen who believe that the fish bite at high tide left their rocks and their places were taken by others, who were convinced that the fish bite at low tide."— John Steinbeck, Tortilla Flat
Have ever read anything as beautiful? Well, I have and it was all stuff Steinbeck had written.

4) What comes first, the plot or characters?
When I start a book I have only the first sentence and the last paragraph in my head. Then all I have to do is come up with 100,000 words to fill in the blank space between.

5) Tell us something about your newest release.
Molly Lee is about to set off on the adventure of a lifetime . . . of two lifetimes.
It’s 1861 and the Civil War has just started. Molly is an eighteen-year-old girl living on her family’s farm in Virginia when two deserters from the Southern Cause enter her life. One of them—a twenty-four-year-old Huck Finn—ends up saving her virtue, if not her life.
Molly is so enamored with Huck, she wants to run away with him. But Huck has other plans and is gone the next morning before she awakens. Thus starts a sequence of events that leads Molly into adventure after adventure; most of them not so nice.
We follow the travails of Molly Lee, starting when she is eighteen and ending when she is fifty-six. Even then Life has one more surprise in store for her.

6) What is the hardest part about writing for you?
Marketing! The prevailing wisdom is that you have to be on Twitter, on Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Instagram to name just a few.
If I’m posting on all those sites, then I’m not writing. How many times can I tweet that I’m a genius and that you should buy my books? And what else is there to tweet? Who cares what I had for breakfast. And I really don’t care what is “trending” and couldn’t care less about commenting on it. The same goes for the rest of those social media sites.
I’ve given up on trying to sell books on social media. Instead, what I do is beg book bloggers for reviews. And believe me, it ain’t easy. For my last book, REDEMPTION: The Further Adventures of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer, I had to go through a list of 3,500 bloggers. After visiting each blog individually (3,500!!!) to read their review policies, I found 300 that would maybe give me a review. Thirty responded. It only took two months of eight to ten-hour days, but it worked! Sales were good because of the exposure I received from those initial reviews, and the book—two years later—is averaging 4.5 stars from 300 reviews (132 on Amazon).
I can’t wait to stop marketing Molly and sit down at the computer and bang out my next book. I already have half of it written in my head.

7) What is your work schedule like when you are writing?
I like to write in the early morning hours when things are quiet. I usually get up around 2:00 a.m. and go to work. The commute is not long . . . only a few steps to my computer.

8) What did you want to be when you grew up?
I never wanted to grow up, and I believe I have succeeded.

9) How do you do research for your books?
This is my favorite question. I research my butt off. I write (for the most part) historical novels. I must know about the era; the nomenclature . . . everything. I’m presently researching women’s undergarments of the 1890s. If there is anything you need to know about pantalettes, just ask me. As to the how . . . I must admit that I’ve gotten lazy. I used to go to the library; now it’s all on line. Google Scholar rocks!

10 What group did you hang out with in high school?I had no friends in high school. Sill don’t . . . come to think of it.

11) What would we find under your bed?
The monster that lives there.

12) What is something that you absolutely can't live without?
Oxygen . . . vodka is a close second.

13) If you could spend a day with anyone from history, dead or alive, who would it be, and what would you do? What would you ask them?
I’d love to spend some time with Jesus. I’d take Him sailing (I live on a sailboat) and ask Him so many questions, He’d probably get out and walk home.
14) Do you write in multiple genres or just one?I have 142 short stories that cover everything from the detective genre to science fiction and everything in between.

15) Is there a writer you idolize? If so who?
John Steinbeck.

16) What are your favorite TV shows?
I do not own a TV.

17)
Do you have any other books on the horizon?
Yes I do, but right now my attention is riveted on a big, tall, frosty glass of vodka and cranberry juice (with extra lime). So I’ll have to go now. It’s been a pleasure. Thank you.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Spotlight Tour: Into the Sunlits by K. Caffee

Spotlight Tour

Into the Sunlits


Nameless has lost nearly everything when the Web Mother rewarded his work, and now must rebuild from the ashes of his victory. With only his trainer, he journeys to another realm in search for new potential Silks to honor the oaths he gave to Her.

Developing a stable of potential fighters around an unusual group of captives teaches Nameless some of who and what he is beyond his class rank of “Runner” and his identity of being his dark goddess’ living avatar. His single-minded, self-imposed quest leads him into trouble that pulls him away from his new captives, leaving their care in the unstable hands of his trainer. When the group is reunited, the resentment expressed by one of the new captives drives him to the edge of sanity. There he is tempered and forged into a new force. But is he a force of balance, or a force of chaos?

About the author

K. Caffee is a full time graduate student who has bowed to the pressures of her muse to get the stories she likes to tell out into the big world. She has always enjoyed entertaining others with her flights of fancy, and now invites you to come along for the ride. When she is not writing, or studying, she is a willing servant to her two cats who sometimes provide inspiration for her stranger characters.




Visit the author's Facebook, and Blog.

Click here to go to the book tour's home post


Monday, 19 October 2015

Review for "A Voice from New Creek Mill: The Methodists" by Tony A. Grayson


A Voice from New Creek Mill: The Methodists


A Voice from New Creek Mill: The Methodists is the first of a series from author Tony A. Grayson and is part historical and part fiction. It tells of the early days and spread of The Method; a form of Anglicanism first envisioned by John Wesley and George Whitefield and its initial spread from England to the young colony of Virginia. The reader gets to witness the journey of The Methods’ leaders, the political and social obstacles surrounding its growth and sees its manifestation on the ground in the form of its young supporters; Willis Wilkins and Sharon-Ann Haynes. The struggles of young love and duty to faith are brought into real focus in this story but are certainly not the only tales we hear about. Clashes with mysterious Aboriginals and political intrigue between pirate captains round out the first of four planned books in this series.

When reading the introduction to Graysons book, it seems as if he has done a wealth of research about the area and the people involved in Methodism however Grayson stresses that this book is still a work of fiction. Regardless of how you classify the book, it is an interesting read. The book starts with what we could classify as one of the “Main” characters but very quickly shifts to a history lesson on John Wesleys’ beginnings in dissention to some key Anglican ideas. The chapters loosely try to stick to a subject, like the story of Sharon-Ann following her family from England to Virginia to help establish The Method or the saga of Augustus Snuke navigating the pirate world of his cousins’ domain. Occasionally history lessons tended to spring up within these chapters, and often the transition was not a seamless one. The descriptions of the political and religious climate Methodism was born into was valuable to understand the story, but I found that it dramatically cut up the rest of the book and felt awkward.

Another slightly problematic issue that popped up was the character of Elise LaBash, a young woman vying for the attentions of a male suitor. Grayson created this character to be very real; A beautiful girl who struggles with what is expected of her and what she wants to do, however Grayson also seems to paint her and her mother as somewhat of a charicature, indicated that Elise’ beauty is a powerful tool to get what she wants out of men. While I can understand this troupe being used, in this case Grayson takes it further and alludes to Elise almost having supernatural sway over men, and I do not think it is too much to suggest Grayson considers beauty to be a super power. The feminist in me had some revulsion at this, not only that this implies a young man will lose control when confronted by a pretty girl but also that pretty girls are only concerned with using their beauty to get what they want. After finishing the book however I feel that this was not Grayson’s intent, but that he merely wanted to demonstrate the very real issues of youth.

The main characters all have their problems; they would not be interesting if they didn’t, but what I love is that Grayson has really bridged the gap between the modern world and the world of the 18th century. Even though 300 years separates us, the problems these characters faced as still ones we grapple with today. Questions of love versus lust, our true purpose and whether or not we are fulfilling it, the transition from child to adult are all things we still struggle with and it is very refreshing to see a novel set in a historical period remind us that these are human problems and they are not new to us.

This book ends with some happy stories, some sad ones and more importantly with tantalizing hints at what is to come with the next book, and even better still for those of us with a curious nature Grayson has also added a bibliography at the end where those interested in the non-fiction part of his work can go to follow in his research.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Book review: Apology Accepted by Jayne Michaels

Apology Accepted

For nearly the first half of the novel, the only character I liked was Hannah. It wasn't until almost the end that I actually ended up liking the main character, Jamie. That's not to say the book or writing wasn't good. Not all main characters need to be likeable, but it's preferred especially when there's no other true main character.

The whole concept of the novel could have been better, but it wasn't bad. It was a nice easy read, and the parts that kept me up at night reading were the interactions between Jamie and Paul. It was really the only thing going for me. Although it was an easy read, there were times I found the writing awkward and clumsy, especially action scenes such as the accident near the end of the book. There was little tension, no heart racing. It was a bit too methodical and detailed for it to be intense. And it was the lack of details that made the kiss between characters flat. It was apparently amazing but I didn't see it, at all.

What I really liked about this novel was the theme of forgiveness, pain, and moving on. Jamie is so angry and hurt with her uncle that she wants nothing to do with him or his inheritance, and understandably so. But by going through with her own plan with the inheritance she finds it to be therapeutic and eventually finds the strength to forgive. I would have liked to have seen a bit more from Paul's perspective, about his process of forgiveness, but the end makes it pretty clear what his end result is.

Overall, while this review doesn't seem to be positive, Apology Accepted is an entertaining novel. I enjoyed reading about Jamie picking out a "gift" for her old neighbour, and her memories with the cats, and those little moments in which she seemed like a real person. People who want a quick read and enjoy a chick-lit will enjoy this novel.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Book review: My Brother's Crown by Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould

My Brother's Crown (Cousins of the Dove #1)

Split between 17th century France and modern day Virginia, My Brother's Crown tells the story of two women who must rely on faith to get them through. Catherine, a protestant in Catholic France, must find a way to trust her brother who only seems to have secrets. And Renée, a Virginian scientist who has recently become inspired by her ancestor Catherine, discovers her inner strength to face a dark and sinister past.

I'm usually quite particular about historical fiction, and rightly so. I want to know that the author(s) have done their work so that I don't have to question their writing. Everything written within this novel was beautiful, and compelling. But then it got to some French words and phrases, and for some reason I kept wondering if this was 17th century French. Being Canadian, I have an understanding of French, and I wasn't expecting to understand it, but I did. I know around this time is when modern French began to be developed, but it's still pretty close to Middle French so I just had to wonder. It was this wondering that sometimes pulled me out of the novel. This has nothing to do with the writing, but with me. I wish I had been able to trust the authors and their research with the language. I'm glad the language was included, as it helped to create the French setting in my mind. I just couldn't get out of my own head.

While the Persecution Pamphlet was fake, I absolutely loved the world in which it was created. Based on a true persecution of protestants, this novel shows just how dire times were. To be honest, it resonates with me even in today's world. Catherine's fear for her life, her brother's, trying to save her cousin yet refusing to convert was so moving and challenging. We all want to believe we have the faith to say no in the face of our enemy, but we won't know until that moment. I knew little of what was happening in France during this time period, so I'm grateful to have learned something.

Renée's portion of the novel was moving. While I felt the romance was rushed a bit, I loved her passion for her work and for her family's history. I'm a huge genealogy nut, tracing my own ancestor's back to the 16th century, and I connected to this part of her life. Feeling a connection with a long-gone ancestor is pretty touching. I'm looking forward to what I hope will be more novels to read more about Renée's mystery, but I'm glad at least the first portion was closed and dealt with.

I very highly recommend this novel to anyone with an interest in French history, their own faith, God's provision, and how the past is ultimately connected with our present and future. This is a novel to follow, and re-read.

I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Book review: MOMO by Kevin Kraft

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MOMO is a novel based on what is known as the Missouri Monster, which is similar to Big Foot. If either exist to even compare them. As it is advertised as a Christian novel, I wasn't sure how the idea of the monster would go with faith. I have to say the faith aspect didn't seem to be too important. It was more a book about people with faith, which is fine, but definitely changes the tone of the book and subsequently my review.

As a thriller, its length perhaps makes it more of a startling novel, rather than actually thrilling. I may be immune to certain things, but I didn't find this making my heart race as I read it. There are some books that, when I read it, I find to likely work better as a movie than a novel. This is one of those novels. Perhaps that's a good thing. With the author's background in screenplays, this only makes more sense.

I didn't find the characters realistic, unfortunately, especially in the way they spoke to each other. There was very little that made me think they were father and son. It was only perhaps the last few pages where I could see it. Another issue was the flipping back and forth between calling one of the main characters Mark, and then Dad, all in the same narrative. If it's from Evan's perspective, fine call him Dad. But make sure there's a distinct flip between perspectives. If it's omniscient (and there's nothing wrong with that) then he would be called Mark the entire time.

If I had to say anything about the faith aspect of the novel, I did enjoy what could be interpreted from it. Evan questions why God would make a monster like MOMO. I think that's a question many people ask, but worded slightly different: "Why are people bad? Why do bad things happen? Why does God make bad things?" I will say that the novel answers this well, but I can't say their faith in God is what got them through, nor did it have much to do with their relationship with each other. But I do like the implications in having faith in a God who would create this kind of monster.

If you're looking for a quick read, and are easily pulled into thrillers, MOMO fits the bill.

Friday, 11 September 2015

Book review: Hopebreaker by Dean F. Wilson

Hopebreaker

This is the first steampunk novel I've read, and it was everything I thought it would be. There's this strange sense of an old Western, but with a little something extra. The descriptions truly pulled me into this strange world, but left enough to my imagination that I could focus on the story rather than minute details.

I was drawn into the book from the first paragraph...and then it faltered. It seemed every sentence had a clichéd metaphor, or two, and it began to grate on me. Thankfully, the world and the story-telling was enough for me to continue on.

I'll admit it was a bit of a struggle to get through the first half, and even by the end I still am not sure if the main character Jacob is likeable, but by the end I felt compelled to read the second book of the series. There's so much to know about the world Wilson has created. I'd like to know more back story, and how the world came to be the way it was depicted in the novel, but I'm glad I didn't get it all in one go. It gives me something to imagine, and wonder for the following books. Of course, at the same time I understand that what the reader isn't told doesn't need to be known yet. I get that. I use it in my own novel. The saving grace is that there is the promise of more information to come.

Lovers of steampunk and vague lines between good and evil will really enjoy this novel. I say vague only because something tells me that there's more to the demon situation than what Wilson has portrayed thus far.

Friday, 4 September 2015

Book Review: Slippers in the Oven by Roberta Aarons

Slippers in the Oven



I'm not quite sure how to describe this novel. The writing is fair, nothing wonderful. It's normal. Don't get me wrong, I'm not sure that's a bad thing. As I read it, it was as though I was overhearing someone's conversation. To that end, it felt real, unpretentious. I perhaps would have liked to have read something a bit more compelling or challenging, mentally and emotionally. But that was my flavour of the day. This book was a nice fluff read.

I ended up not quite caring about either sister. Sure, both were hurt by the other and their ex husband, but I didn't really feel for either. Perhaps it was because we weren't exposed to either sister's true feelings, pain, or intentions. With Emma stealing her sister's husband, all she can give as a reason was that she wanted what Ann had and that Henry was bored. If Emma had wanted a marriage and family, she could have tried finding someone else. And Henry being bored? Seriously, that's the first excuse men make. Ann was too much of a push-over to find appealing. Even with her bit of independence and strength at the end, it was a too little too late.

But for some reason, I don't dislike this novel. It made me want to see if they would just blow up at each other, get everything out in the open and then decide if they want to mend fences. I never truly saw that. And the end was quite disappointing. None of that stopped me from reading on, so something in there must have caught my attention.

Overall, this is a great fluff read. It will probably appeal to an older crowd, but still a nice and easy read.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Book Review: 'Til We Meet Again by Ray & Betty Whipps

Til We Meet Again: A Memoir of Love and War

War is something that few talk about, at least in terms of the intimate details. The family members I've had in wars never spoke about it other than little details here and there. Never enough to paint a picture of what it was like. That's why I'm so grateful for a book like 'Til We Meet Again' by the Whipps because it not only shows one soldier's time in the war (and a brief gaze into that of a nurse) but how God was with him the whole time. The novel is a wonderful love story, and while it's amazing that Ray and Betty fell in love and had their life together it was really their love of God that spoke through the pages. Their plans didn't turn out the way they has thought but both knew without a doubt that God had a better plan for them. It's a true testimony to God's presence and the power of a relationship with Him.

What truly spoke to me was Ray's comfort in the fact that even when he was physically alone, he knew he wasn't. God was with him the entire time. The comfort he felt from scripture was inspiring, and has made my relationship with God that much more precious. No, not everyone came back from the war. Plenty of Christians died, as well. That didn't mean that God wasn't with them. Ray talks about this, wondering about the Germans praying as well.

One day while I was waiting for a friend, I was sitting and reading this book. We had picked a central meeting place in downtown, and I looked up and realized I was sitting at the city's cenotaph. Everything hit me then, how God places people and situations into your life at an appointed time. It is clearly the case with Ray and Betty.

'Til We Meet Again is a moving story about God's presence, and His Will, and how far our faith can take us. I think even non-believers would appreciate this novel as a true account of the second world war. As the saying goes, there's no atheist in a foxhole.

Friday, 21 August 2015

Book Review: Two Sons by Stewart Owen



Two Sons is a compelling story about two families, and the titular two sons lost during the Great War. One English. One German.

After adjusting to the style of writing, I really rather enjoyed this book. It spoke to me on a deeply personal level. Growing up in a German family living in Canada made November 11th confusing, and this confusion and difficulty is seen within Two Sons. As John Williams, the father of the English son, said "they're the enemy." But then, so were the Allies to the Germans. In the end, we see the reconciliation between the two families as they understand that they are each two families, from two countries, two armies, and two sons. But one shared grief.

The lovely part of the book was knowing that it was based on the author's family. It made me even more invested in the story. At times I found it difficult to understand the dialect of the characters but I soon grew accustomed to it.

Overall I found this to be a wonderful story and I look forward to reading the sequel.

Friday, 14 August 2015

Book Review: The Forgotten Knight - A Chinese Warrior in King Arthur's Court by Christopher Vale

The Forgotten Knight: A Chinese Warrior in King Arthur's Court

There aren't many Arthurian stories out now, most coming from the 90s, yet Christopher Vale has created a fascinating tale in "The Forgotten Knight." Since studying Arthurian legends, I feel a have a bit of an advantage over the average reader with this novel. To call "The Forgotten Knight" a new legend would be unfair. In truth, it would be a modern re-telling if anything. It follows little of the traditional characteristics of the legends, but uses many of the characters from various legend sources.

This novel, however, does feature the medieval period the same way popular media portrays it: dirty, unhygienic, and bloody. This fits in with what I would consider modern legends as earlier legends tend to romanticize the period. And this cannot be called historically accurate in regards to medieval Britain (Arthurian characters aside) although it's clear Vale did research early medieval China in order to incorporate the title character. I would have liked to see more references to the culture, and the differences between the Chinese and British culture and how the characters deal with it.

While it may not have been intentional, I noticed similarities with the famous novel and later movie "The Princess Bride" mostly later in the book. The Queen uses Buttercup's line "you mock my pain" and later a character is tortured while insisting their inevitable escape similar ti Wesley. Most readers may not make the connections, unless they're fans of medieval stories.

One part of the novel which reminded me of the flow of earlier legends is when Lancelot, Galahad, and Sheng try to rescue the Queen. Their interaction with the Lady of the Lake is similar to how it would read in earlier manuscripts, particularly with the repetition.

The only part that made me uneasy was near the beginning, when Merlin and Sheng make their journey from China to Britain...in only several months' time. In truth it would take close to a year, as Merlin was not able to use his magic to get them back quicker. Otherwise, I rather enjoyed this book. Lovers of the medieval period and Arthurian legends will find this book fascinating, and modern. Sheng's character is wonderfully sympathetic, and the ending is appreciated to be the only one possible.


Buy the book on Amazon

Character Interview: John Charming from Fearless

When I was first approached to participate in the 'Fearless' blog tour, I wasn't too sure. I knew I wasn't able to get a review out in time (have you seen my review queue? Seriously.) but it still sounded interesting. I wanted to be involved. So I asked if one of the characters would be willing to have a chat with me.

Here's my interview with the main character, John Charming.



Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is John Charming, but that’s really not my fault. I’m a Leo. I like long walks on the beach, sunsets, hot fudge sundaes, and jazz. Well, okay, I don’t really like jazz. I do love big band music though. Oh, and I come from a long line of witch hunters, dragon slayers, and enchantment breakers, which is where my family name comes from. On the one hand, villagers were saying “These guys ward against evil” and on the other they were saying “Lock up your daughters, these wandering knights with short life expectancies and stories of far-off lands are coming through town.”

What is your relationship like with your parents?
Both of my parents died when I was an infant, so I honestly don’t know if my relationship with them is better or worse than average. My father was a monster hunter, and it came back and bit him on the ass. And the throat. And the shoulder. And the elbow. In any case, I grew up in an orphanage that was really a front for the secret order of knights that my father belonged to. I’m still connected to my parents in odd ways though. I have some werewolf tendencies because my mother was bitten by a werewolf when she was pregnant with me, and I inherited a geas - a kind of magical blood oath - from my father. It compels me to hunt down any monsters who are violating the Pax Arcana, a magical truce between man and monsterkind.

How would you describe the path your life is on right now?
Dangerous curves ahead. No, seriously, I’m in a relationship and it’s weird. The person I’m with is a Valkyrie. She speaks to the dead fairly regularly…well, irregularly, but she does it a lot. And she’s also a monster hunter, and caring about a lover who gets in danger a lot was supposed to be my mate’s job. Also, there’s a very real chance she can kick my ass. So I guess what I’m saying is, I’m having to explore personal growth in ways I never anticipated.

What is the most unique, or unexplainable, thing that has happened to you?
I travel a lot, and everywhere I go, someone has gotten there before me and put a Bible in an end table drawer. I can’t make up my mind whether this freaks me out or whether I find it comforting.

Without going into too much detail (we don’t want spoilers!) can you tell us a little bit about your thoughts on this Kevin guy?
Kevin is kind of what Harry Potter would be if Harry Potter was Asian American and psychic and never went to Hogwarts. Kevin has a supernatural and homicidal family history that he has spent most of his life completely unaware of.

Do you have any idiosyncrasies, or quirks?
I have a sarcasm problem.  I would love to go to an anonymous help group for it, but for some reason nobody wants to host one.  I can’t sing, but I do anyway, and when I start to forget lyrics I just keep going. So I’ll be hunting a monster and start singing that Sting song “I’ll Be Watching You” in the car.  “Every breath you take, every clam you bake, every milk you shake, every claw you rake, I’ll be watching you.  Every single day, and every shade you grey, every will you sway, every town you prey, I’ll be watching you…”

Last question: what is your favourite season?
I’d have to say winter. I actually kind of get that whole argument about how we would never truly appreciate good things without bad things, because one of my favorite things in the world is to get cold and then go inside and get warm. Just like with the good/bad thing though, you have to be very careful about the emphasis. I’m currently reading this book called “Into the Wild” about this kid who went off into the Alaskan wilderness and froze to death. And I really like the kid the author describes, which I didn’t expect, and I can’t help thinking how different the book would be if it was called “Into the Hot Bath.”





FEARLESS


When your last name is Charming, rescuing virgins comes with the territory -- even when the virgin in question is a nineteen-year-old college boy.
Someone, somewhere, has declared war on Kevin Kichida, and that someone has a long list of magical predators on their rolodex. The good news is that Kevin lives in a town where Ted Cahill is the new sheriff and old ally of John Charming.
The attacks on Kevin seem to be a pattern, and the more John and his new team follow that thread, the deeper they find themselves in a maze of supernatural threats, family secrets, and age-old betrayals. The more John learns, the more convinced he becomes that Kevin Kichida isn't just a victim, he's a sacrifice waiting to happen. And that thread John's following? It's really a fuse...
FEARLESS is the third novel in an urban fantasy series which gives a new twist to the Prince Charming tale. The first two novels are Charming & Daring.