Karen Matthews

Books

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Smashwords book reviews by Karen Matthews

  • Rematch on April 27, 2012

    More like 4.5 stars... This book starts off with an action packed scene that reaches in and grabs you by the throat. I settled in for the ride and found that the exciting start gave way to a less-action packed middle. It wasn’t bad, just focused more on the “getting to know you” of the MC’s relationship, which was fine, and very nicely drawn out. I just found it to be a bit light on the sci/fi for a good chunk of the story (for my tastes), and more focused on the romance. But it was extremely well-written and the story flowed nicely, taking me right along with it. I found the narrative and the dialogue to be exceptionally believable and rang as authentic. The book is witty, funny, sometimes sarcastic, and I found myself smiling several times throughout as my fingers rapidly turned the pages as I just had to know what happened next. In my opinion Ms. Caldwell crafted a fine novel suitable for teens and anyone who enjoys an excellent tale of romance and twists of fate, and I’ll definitely be looking for the next in the series.
  • Crucible of Dust (The Clockwork Ascendancy - A Steampunk Saga) on May 25, 2012

    I really enjoyed this story, as it had so many interesting characters and events in such a short time frame. I liked the character of the priest, and thought what happened to him was crazy! I did like Flynn and felt that the author had the “reluctant hero” role down pat. A few things I didn’t really like were that there were a few times that names or places were mentioned but I had no idea what it was or why was important. I do feel like I eventually caught up and it was made clearer, but sometimes I had to go back and re-read a few sections to see if I had missed something. Also, I thought that while the descriptions of the people were really good, sometimes it was just too much, like every person who entered the story had to be described head to toe and it slowed down the story. But other than those minor things I really liked it and appreciated the way the genres of fantasy, steampunk, and literary blended together to create such a mesmerizing tale of strength and redemption and the fight of good and evil.
  • A Luminous Future on June 01, 2012

    It will be hard for me to condense into a paragraph all the ways I think this book is phenomenal… It really is something you have to experience for yourself! But I am still shaking my head at the fact that not only is English not Mr. Flonta’s first language, nor his second, but his third. (This was mentioned at the acknowledgements at the end). Consider my mind blown! This was one of the best written novels I’ve come across of late, with absolutely flawless grammar and beautiful sentences bordering on poetic. Mr. Flonta made potentially slow scenes come alive with an expressive, yet subtle manner of writing that made me feel like I was listening to stories from a good friend…stories that took me away to another time and place. Definitely recommend anyone who enjoys a moving story, and even better ones that are based on truth!
  • The Crow God's Girl on Aug. 03, 2012

    "The Crow God’s Girl” by Patrice Sarath is a Young-Adult fantasy novel about a girl (Kate) who has gone through a portal from modern day New York to the medieval world of Aeritan. She believes that she will be forever trapped there, and has started to try to make a new life for herself as a daughter in the House of Terrick. However, as she tries to (clumsily) adjust to her new world, her life is turned upside down and she must start over and with new challenges. I’ll say I loved this book and read it in one night! It starts right off with the action and totally hooked me. I liked that the author told us only what we need to know instead of dumping huge amounts of backstory that slows down the pacing. I appreciated the fact that the chapters were relatively short, and we could see everything from the different characters’ point of views. Some people may not like this technique, but in my opinion it really worked in this book. This is definitely heavy on the fantasy side, so fans of the genre shouldn’t miss it!
  • Margaret of the North on Aug. 15, 2012

    E. Journey wastes no time in setting the stage for her part 2 of “North and South” after John and Margaret realize they are in love and the rest of their life awaits them. This was a wonderful, well-written novel that truly captured my imagination and had me eagerly turning the pages. However, I thought that there were times where the narrative from the individual characters went on unnecessarily long, and was being “told” to me instead of having me experience their emotions first hand (telling v. showing). Because of this I felt a certain lack of intimacy with the characters that I would’ve much like to have. But I was still fascinated by the story and thought it to be well thought out and extremely polished. E. Journey is a talented writer and I would definitely be interested in reading more from this author in the future.
  • Angels Gate on Sep. 08, 2012

    I read this book in 2 nights…it was that good! Totally captivating and kept me turning the pages to see what would happen next, and if August and crew would be successful in their endeavors. It was kinda funny to be rooting for the “bad guys” but I totally was, as the characters were so relatable and likeable! The fact that this is based on a true story is even more awesome. I’d never heard of this before, and am glad I read about it now. What an adventure!!
  • Quest for a Dream on Sep. 17, 2012

    "Paint, Present, and Future” by Cindy A. Carl is by far one of the most imaginative and beautiful books I have ever had the pleasure of reading. To be perfectly honest I was a bit confused by the description and wasn’t really sure what to expect. Well, by the end of the first few pages I was so hooked on the Ms. Carl’s engaging prose, I almost didn’t care WHAT it was going to be about. However what followed truly took me by surprise as the lines of reality and fantasy become blurred as Dani proceeds on a mysterious journey with the Shadow Man. This book captivated me until the very end, and I especially liked the “author’s note” after the story was over. I’d love to read anything that Ms. Carl writes in the future and highly recommend this for fiction lovers.
  • Sugar and Spice: A Karma Café Novella on Jan. 31, 2013

    I don’t usually read short stories or novellas as I prefer to really lose myself in a story and its characters for a long spell. But I was surprised that even though “Sugar and Spice” by Tawny Weber was a quicker read than I normally prefer, I found myself fully immersed in the storyline and thought the setting and the characters were nicely defined. It is well written and there is great chemistry between the two main characters, Dedra Hansen and her sexy boss Paul Chastain. I liked the element of magic, even though I wish that would have played a more prominent role and been better explained. But overall I really liked this novella and see fans of romance most definitely devouring it!
  • Return of the Crown on Jan. 31, 2013

    My ultra-picky daughter read this book in two days, which is incredible! I can’t praise a book high enough that will make her read it cover to cover that fast. I knew that I enjoyed it, but to me the highest compliment is from my pre-teen who usually only likes Twilight (yeah, I know) Harry Potter and The Mortal Instruments. So Ms. Burns is in some fine company indeed! Excellent writing style and I must give a compliment on the stellar editing, as I don’t think I noticed any errors at all, which is very rare for an e-book
  • The Seekers' Garden on Feb. 05, 2013

    "Seekers’ Garden” opens with Marcia dealing with the death of her husband, William. But this story isn’t just about Marcia, and we are soon introduced to several other (seemingly) random characters, each who are facing a turning point in their lives. This isn’t an action novel, or even a heavy romance. But what this is is a deep look at life beneath the surface and what different people go through in different times in their lives, and how that affects each one of us. Although I found myself quite caught up in this story, I did feel like a few places went on too long with little that added to the story, and there were some editing issues – nothing that was a complete turnoff, but it was there. Overall I say I really liked this book and would recommend to others who enjoy introspective drama.
  • Corkscrew Ridge on Feb. 27, 2013

    This was a lovely story about starting over and learning to love again. It is more about relationships and internal struggles and personal journeys than it is about action and external conflicts. If there was something I wished there could have been more of would be that I didn’t get the full sense of struggle that I’d think someone like Paul would be experiencing on many levels. Things just sort of “happened” then worked themselves out. I’ll say that the writing was very good, however, and the descriptions made me feel like I was right in the story the whole time. Recommend for fans of literary fiction
  • The Hunt for Elsewhere on April 19, 2013

    Okay, I simply adored this book! I completely fell in love with Saxton and loved watching him go through all of his trials and adventures and watching him grow. The thing that most surprised me about this novel was not only how well-written it was, but it is truly one that will appeal to adults as well as younger readers. I do, however, question just how young would be appropriate, as there are some challenging scenes that may be harder on the younger crowd. But if they can handle it there are many wonderful lessons to be learned in this charming tale. And the great drawings were a wonderful bonus!
  • Many Many Many Gods of Hinduism on Nov. 17, 2013

    I loved that this book answered so many question I never even knew I had! And explained so many different facets in such an easy to understand and comprehensive way, I really feel like I got a lot out of it. It was very educational, but not in that dry, textbook sort of way that many religions nonfictions can be. And it didn’t come across as preachy at all! Just explaining things and connecting the dots to how the world is influenced by (and influences) Hinduism. I was shocked to learn it was the 3rd biggest religion only behind Christian and Muslim. Perhaps because I live in the south and there is little to no zero Hindu population here (yet they teach yoga at my local YMCA) ;) I personally think this would be a good book for students to read in college…or even high school as it educates in a very relatable way and isn’t boring!
  • Gladius and the Bartlett Trial on June 02, 2014

    What an absolutely delightful read! I admit I’m always a tad wary when reading books geared toward a younger audience as there are few that really crossover well for all ages to enjoy. But when it works, it works very well such as with Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Hunger Games, and even Dark Materials to an extent. Books about the transformations of youths done in a creative and inventive way that speaks to many truths of life that all ages can fully appreciate. I do stop shy of placing this novel “Gladius and the Bartlett Trial” among those ranks of those listed above…. But honestly, not by too much. The writing was tight and vivid, the plot focused and the pacing fantastic. I truly didn’t want to put it down and felt like I was really in Gladius’s shoes and experiencing the story as if I were a part of it instead of just merely watching as an observer. I’ll happily read more from this author in the future and recommend this to almost all ages (probably 10 and up). Happy to see this series will be continuing!
  • Defender of the Flame on June 08, 2014

    I always wonder what I’m getting into when reading a book from an author who is unknown to me. While I do enjoy discovering new talent, more often than not I feel somewhat disappointed or let down afterwards. I’ve been away from the science fiction genre for a while but decided to give this book a shot as the premise sounded interesting and there were some very positive reviews. I’m happy to report that I was not disappointed at all! In fact, it was the opposite! I was so pleased that this is one of those books that doesn’t just ‘tell a story’, but really makes you think…the author (and characters) ask a lot of questions and raises possibilities that expand your mind and broaden your way of thinking all while telling a great story that entertains for hours. Sylvia Engdahl skillfully creates a deep level of believability in an unbelievable world, and as someone who has read many less-than-stellar Sci-fi books in the past, I must say this is the mark of a skilled writer. I do hope the author continues on with this series and I will be reading the other two books in this series shortly.
  • Legio XVII: Roman Legion at War on June 08, 2014

    What an absolutely amazing novel! I admit that this isn’t necessarily my area of expertise but it clearly is the author’s, Thomas A Timmes’ area! From his impressive biography he obviously has the background suitable for writing about battles and strategies, and he backs up his story with actual events to, as he puts it, “blend authentic Roman history during the Second Punic War with a supportive fictionalized Legion into a historical novel that allows the reader to accompany a Legion at war from the planning phase to the actual battles.” And we do feel like we are right in the thick of things, on the battlefields and in the characters’ heads. And there are A LOT of them, but the perspectives of what’s going on is only shown from a handful. And there is a handy appendix at the end worth referencing. I think that anyone who likes military history or world history for that matter will greatly enjoy this book. It is quite long but very worth it.
  • The Sense of Touch on Sep. 02, 2014

    A perfect book to read for a day at the beach. I love short story collections because they allow us to experience several different unique circumstances and meet many new characters. I also like how I can get through a story quickly and without all the time commitment. So this was right up my alley. But I was really surprised just how good these stories were! From the first one with the sad, dark twist of Naseem, to the powerful emotional story of The Sense of Touch (my favorite) each of these individual stories paint a lyrical and lush portrait of lives that are in flux, at a critical turning point with fallout and consequences or tough choices. I really hope this author writes more in the future because he’s insanely talented.
  • Thadius on Sep. 28, 2014

    I think the most impressive thing about this novel was just the effortless way that Mr. BoarerPitchford writes historical fiction in an effortless, literary way. Everything from the dialogue to the narrative prose, to the phrases used, to the actions of the characters… it just all builds nicely to create a very vivid imagery in your mind of this ancient world these characters are living in, yet it is done in a completely relatable way. I’ve only read historical fiction that falls into either the romance or the war categories, so this was a refreshing change of pace. There is political intrigue and building tension along the way as Thadius and his partner Dominus follow the trail of a serial killer, with a result that is surprising at the end (at least for me). There is great character development, and even though the pacing is a bit uneven at times, I thought the concept and execution was worthy of a read and recommend.
  • Intelligent Design:Revelations on Feb. 05, 2015

    4.5 stars.. I’m wavering on this one, as the premise and execution are terrific, and I can’t remember reading a book that has this original take, especially in a genre where it seems like everything has been done to death. Overall the plot, the characters, the voice, and dialogues were done quite well. But it did take me some time to get really grounded in the story line, and at times it seemed almost too rushed, but then would focus on some events (or conversations) that didn’t seem as important. I think this book and the subject matter has such huge potential to take it really deep and expand even more… a science fiction book that combines elements of religion and spiritualty and technology would have endless possibilities in my mind. But I liked that many interesting questions/ideas were brought up and given an almost philosophical angle that caused us to think outside the box some. I would have liked to see more character development, personally, but that’s just me maybe – I like more “personality” to them, but in a way the characters aren’t really the focal point of this story. Would recommend for fans or literary sci/fi, action-adventure, metaphysical, etc… suitable for older teens and adults. And I would also recommend this author’s “Birds of Flight” series as well.
  • The Dark Rider on March 05, 2015

    The Dark Rider is the first book I’ve read by Andrew Critchell, but I assure you it will not be the last! From the descriptive opening pages, I was drawn into this exciting tale, and I admit I liked it more and more as the story unfolded and the plot began to reveal itself. I was thoroughly engaged from the opening pages and my interest never wavered until the closing lines. What I liked most about this book was that the story was constantly moving forward, never dwelling on something too long or rehashing backstory (a common mistake authors make, I have found). Instead we are swept up in this fantastical adventure and carried along for a magnificent ride. This is a very strong start for what promises to be a delightfully entertaining series!
  • Field of Vision on March 31, 2015

    Wow. "Field of Vision" is an excellent read that pulls you in and, like the island of Soufriere itself, is difficult to get away from. Jarvis writes in language that is powerful and evocative without sounding overdone or contrived. The story flows so well it sounds like it could have actually happened somewhere. I had some trouble with the way so many of the words were spelled phonetically to give the “accents” and “dialect” to the characters, as it really slowed down the reading speed for me and sometimes took a while to figure out what they were trying to say. I just wish there was less of it, because we still got the point, but felt overdone. But I liked all the rest. Loved the ending and is Definitely worth the read.
  • Prisoner Prodigal Pawn on April 02, 2015

    This book was terrific! Once I started reading I didn’t want to stop until I’d finished the whole thing. It pulls you in from the beginning, and I enjoyed the author’s “voice” and style of writing. The interweaving plotlines were well-crafted and not predictable, and the element of Indian politics was a new angle for me. The characters were all interesting and well-written, and although there were some grammatical and punctuation errors, it wasn’t anything that really bothered me. I’d love to read more from this author in the future!