This member has not published any books.
Smashwords book reviews by Kathryn Merkel
- Alone (Vampires and the Life of Erin Rose - 1)
on Oct. 13, 2011
One of the things I liked most about this book, was that by writing Erin Rose as a character with no memory of her life before she woke in that apartment, Steve Perlow was able to bring a strange new world to life by letting the reader discover it right along with her. Unlike some books, where it seems like the writer wastes a lot of time explaining the backstory, in Alone (Vampires and the Life of Erin Rose) the character needs to learn everything right along with the reader, so it's got a very natural feel.
Although some may think that Erin was too stupid for words, to walk into some of the situations she did, I'm not sure I would have done much differently, if like her, I did not have the memory of all my life experiences to guide me.
In Erin's world, not only are vampires real, but they are divided into 2 camps & are at war. The real blood drinkers, Sanguans, vs. the synthetic blood drinkers, Spectavi. The government has sided with the Spectavi & passed laws to try to protect the human population from the Sanguans. As Erin struggles to discover her past, she encounters members of both groups & has to learn for herself who to trust.
Alone is rich with possibilities & I for one am eager to see where Steve takes us in his next novel.
- Haunted on Bourbon Street (Jade Calhoun Series: Book 1)
on Oct. 13, 2011
Haunted on Bourbon Street is a supernatural romance, not hard core erotica, so if you are looking for lots of meaningless sex, you won't find it here.
Instead, Deanna Chase has skillfully woven a tale that hits all the right notes & features a well rounded cast of characters.
Being rejected hurts & it's perfectly natural to subsribe to the adage, "Once Bitten, Twice Shy", so when Jade starts dreaming about her new landlord, Kane, she isn't ready to jump in the sack with him, no matter how hot the dreams are. Not to mention that he's probably a player, after all he does own a strip club.
Since her best friend, Kat, is now dating the jerk who hurt her, she's also not ready to become bosom buddies with her boss at the coffee shop, Pyper, who also happens to be a business partner of her sexy new landlord & dances part time in the strip club.
As if she didn't have enough upheaval in her life, on her first night in her new apartment, a ghost shows up in the bathroom & freaks her out. Now there are ghost hunters roaming around the building taking readings, her ex has caused a scene in the strip club & the lady who owns the herbal shop down the street keeps asking her to join her for lunch. Could things get any weirder?
I truely enjoyed this book & am anxiously awaiting the next story in the series.
- Future Destinies
on Oct. 17, 2011
Future Destines is a very interesting collection of ten short stories, bound loosely by the sci-fi genre, yet each unique. The world in each story is well crafted, but a few of the stories read a bit like a science or engineering text book, getting way too bogged down in explaining the technology. Others, however, really shine. My favorite of the set was “Phane”. To me, this one story, alone, is worth reading the other nine.
on Oct. 21, 2011
Titania Strauss’s mother took her on a quick trip to England, in the middle of relocating from Eastern Washington State to Pennsylvania, & Tainie hasn’t been the same since. Exposed to an alien biometal during a ceremony to stop the Cataclysm, she has become something more than human & has no idea until one day while wishing she looked more normal, her face briefly changes shape. Now she is being hunted for her special abilities by a group of covert agents who think she knows where the Gossamer Crown is. Can an unattractive teenage girl, with few friends & the ability to be anyone at all stop the crown from falling into the wrong hands & get her life back?
Anyone is a fantastic read & I’m anxiously waiting to see where Melissa Conway takes us in the next chapter of the Gossamer Sphere.
- The Gossamer Sphere, Book One: The Gossamer Crown
on Oct. 21, 2011
Ever since a scientific research vessel, drilled into an ancient impact crater under the North Sea, the earth has been rocked by unexplained earthquakes & electromagnetic pulses. When a mysterious woman approaches 3 teenagers & tells them that she needs their help to save the world, they think she's crazy. But Kevin sees her change from an old woman to a beautiful young woman & back again, Lizbeth sees her change from a black woman, to a white woman & finally into a white jaguar, while for Zach the snack shop cashier girl that he's never seen before looks exactly like the drawing he has been working on of the main character for a friend's book. That's when things get really weird & they begin to believe that they can save the world, but only if they can locate an ancient crown that turns people into shapeshifters, that is if it doesn't kill them.
The Gossamer Sphere is a rollercoaster ride of sci-fi, fantasy & world apocalypse that you won't want to get off of. So climb on & hold tight for the ride of your life.
- Xenofreak Nation, Book One: XBestia
on Oct. 22, 2011
Imagine if tattoos & piercings were so ordinary that people who wanted extreme body modification started getting animal grafts. This is the world that Melissa Conway creates for her book Xenofreak Nation. Scientists in a quest for rejection free organs for transplant in people, have figured out how to bioengineer animals so their tissue is compatible with humans. Xenofreaks are what the non-modified people call those who have undergone Xeno surgery.
Brynn Vega is a good girl & since her dad is the leader of the Pure Human Society, which sounds like PETA on steroids, she has a very black & white view of the people who flaunt Xeno enhancements. However, when she is kidnapped by the underground Xeno gang, XBestia, her idea of right/wrong & black/white is turned on its head. As Brynn navigates a world suddenly sporting a confusing number of shades of grey, everything she has been taught to believe is in question. Will she figure out who she can trust before it’s too late?
Conway has crafted a fascinating tale that features a dizzying number of twists & turns, but she does it so skillfully you just can’t put it down. Join me in enthusiastically clamoring for the next chapter in this story.
on Nov. 01, 2011
Ben S Dobson enchanted me with his tale of misfits in Scriber. The lead character, Dennon Lark, is a discredited scholar who has limped off to lick his wounds in private after failing miserably to locate a fabled collection of ancient writings. When the small village where he chose to hide is overrun by the Burnt, he is dragged kicking & screaming back into his abandoned quest by a motley crew of female warriors led by Bryndine Errynson. Over the course of their journey, Dennon, Bryndine & her loyal band of followers face unbelievable odds as they struggle to save the people of their world from an otherworldly foe. Beset at every turn by the contempt of their countrymen for their efforts, it is only because of the strength of will shown by Bryndine that the group soldiers on & eventually completes their task. Scriber is the first of Mr. Dobson’s work that I have read & it will not be my last.
- Fantastic Realms
on Nov. 01, 2011
Fantastic Realms is a collection of 12 fantasy stories, which draw heavily from the legends of knights & wizards for many of the tales, yet each account is unique. The various worlds are skillfully & vividly crafted, but some of the characters are a little underdeveloped, even for a short story. My personal favorites are: Tournament at Bergum, Magical Entities Not For Sale & Ahrion’s Minions. All in all an entertaining group of adventures.
- B-Sides and Broken Hearts
on Nov. 08, 2011
If you ever spent every penny you earned babysitting or flipping burgers on vinyl records, concert tickets, band posters & rock tour t-shirts, you will identify with Lisa Simpson. Caryn Rose has skillfully woven a tale of love & heartache against the backdrop of the music scene of New York in the 80’s & Seattle in the 90’s.
At 37, reeling from the news that Joey Ramone has died, Lisa finds herself breaking up with her boyfriend of 5 yrs over his inability to sympathize with her devotion to the Ramones. Her best friend, Jake, who has hit the big time as lead singer of the Seattle born band, Blue Electric, offers to fly her to Los Angeles. Afraid she will change her mind before she can get booked on a flight, Lisa jumps in the car & leaves Seattle on an 1100+ mile odyssey in the middle of the night. Having packed mostly music CD’s & her rock wardrobe of jeans, t-shirts & high heels, Lisa drives through the dark listening to the music that has shaped her life while the ghosts of her past swirl through her mind. When she reaches LA, she finds parts of her relationship with the members of Blue Electric are exactly the same, while others have radically changed & her journey of self-discovery is not over.
The numerous references to both well known & obscure musicians, songs & concerts throughout the book add a level of depth to this story, that someone less familiar with the growth of rock music from the late 70’s through the 90’s might not appreciate. However, I was 36 in 2001, when Joey Ramone died & the soundtrack of Lisa’s life is largely the same as mine, so even though she immersed herself more in the rock-n-roll lifestyle than I ever did, her experiences still resonate with me. Thanks Caryn Rose for taking me along on her journey.
on Nov. 09, 2011
I have very mixed feelings about this book. Because I read it as an ebook, I did not have the cover or blurb to refer to when I started the book & I was a several chapters in before I figured out who was telling the story. Even then, I didn't really understand a lot of the nuisances of what I was reading, because the narrator was only an observer of the story being told, not one of the main characters & so there was little explanation of her viewpoint. It was only as I finished the first third of the book, that the identity of the narrator was fully realized & I found it a bit jarring to learn that she had died at 2 years of age. The living characters were all well written & their motivations clearly defined, but I just can't reconcile the observations of the narrator with those of a normal 2 year old child. Never before, have I read about a ghost of a child maturing, like Clarissa would have had to do, in order to become the voice used by Mr. Schmitz to tell his story. This aspect of the book left me unable to fully appreciate an otherwise well told tale.