Kathryn Merkel


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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.
  • Anyone 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.
  • Scriber 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.
  • Thereafter 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.
  • Diary of the Displaced - Book 1 - The Journal of James Halldon on Dec. 06, 2011

    James Halldon, formerly of London, awakens to find himself in a strange, dark world, with no idea how he got there. He is battered, bruised & surrounded by junk of unknown origins. After his eyes adjust to the extremely low light level, James realizes that he is Robinson Crusoe, shipwrecked in a foreign land & must find the means to keep himself alive. When foraging among the piles of refuse, James discovers a journal & begins to keep a diary of his experiences. It is through those journal entries that the reader travels along with James as he explores his new environment & seeks a way to get back home to London. Diary of the Displaced is written in first person narrative & Glynn James mastery of this POV had me hooked from the very first page. I could easily see this title being a success as an audio book.
  • Chasing Spirits - The Memoirs of Reginald Weldon on Dec. 06, 2011

    Chasing Spirits is the second book in a series by Glynn James, the first is Diary of the Displaced. This book takes us through the life of a man, Reginald (Reg) Weldon, who after living just over 100 years, dictates his memories while lying in a hospital bed. During his long life, Reg experiences many highs & lows, as well as numerous supernatural encounters. The most devastating of his loses is the disappearance of his wife, from which he never really recovers. Through Reg’s narrative, we learn a bit more about the world James navigated in book one, although many old questions are left unanswered & more new questions arise. This book is less a continuation of the first book, but more a rest stop between Diary & book three, The Last To Fall. Chasing Spirits could easily be read alone, but does give another viewpoint of events in both the other books, which enhances the experience of reading the set.
  • The Last to Fall on Dec. 06, 2011

    Book 3 in the Diary of the Displaced series, The Last To Fall, tells the story of Joseph Dean & his unusual assignment to find out what happened on another world to the last of the humans there. Discovered on the verge of ending his life in the London Café, from book 2, Joe is given a unique opportunity to join the Resistance, who are fighting an otherworldly creature of pure evil. Granted immortality by his recruiter, Joshua, Joe trains rigorously to fulfill his new purpose in life, even though he has no clear idea what that purpose is or how long it will take. Joe, who is now known as Xeno, is telling his son who he is & how he came to this world, so that his son can help him complete his mission. I’m anxiously awaiting the next installment in this series.