I would give this book 10 Shiny Gold Stars if I could.
I picked up this book because I had read an interview with Andre’ Jute at Cookie’s Book Club and he sounded fascinating. Although, this is not the genre of book that I normally read, the Iditarod sounded interesting.
The research and facts in this book are outstanding. You can tell the author took great pride in getting all of his facts right. The history and side stories about some of the Iditarod heroes are fascinating.
I never realized reading a book could be so emotionally exhausting, this story will never let you go! The elements that the participants endure, the foreshadowing of things to come literally scared me to death.
The relationship that grows as we learn about the two main human characters is realistic, fascinating and encompassing and a far cry from what this book is really about.
This book is truly worth more than 5 stars. This is an adventure of a lifetime that I will highly recommend no matter what genre you read, you will not be disappointed. The editing and formatting are pristine.
BRAVO, Andre’! You would be welcome at my dinner table anytime. You will have to excuse me now; I need to go read something light and fluffy. :)
Seized (The Pipe Woman Chronicles) by Lynne Cantwell
Native American and old world mythos intertwine in a captivating story surrounding the winter of solstice 2012. Naomi has a pretty sweet life as a skilled mediator at a large legal firm in Colorado and she has just become engaged. When events from her past come to light, her whole world is turned upside down. It will never be the same again.
I have a soft spot for Native American stories, I am not sure why, as far as I know I have no Native American blood. I also enjoy stories about old world gods and myths. This story combines the two in a unique way. This contemporary fantasy is told through Naomi’s eyes. She is an intelligent, well-balanced character that you can’t help but like. The story is well thought out, draws you in quickly and has a steady building plot that adds some interesting twists.
Each character in the story is well developed and plays an important part in the development of the plot. I loved the way this story challenges all belief systems, this author has taken this on in a grand scale. The dialogue is realistic, entertaining, and humorous at times. I found it very easy to suspend my disbelief and become immersed in the story. I am excited to see where she takes us as this story continues to build in its ever-widening scope. Well done, Ms. Cantwell, well done. I think I have found a new favorite fantasy author.
This book contains adult language and situations that may be offensive to some, but I don’t feel they were added for shock value. I found no significant errors or issues.
**Originally written for "Books and Pals" book blog. May have received a free review copy. ** February 8, 2013
Brimstone by Leonard Little
“A short story that pits a lone gunfighter against the ghosts of the men he's killed. Will Garth McCants give the Devil his due or will Chance deal him a new hand. Find out in Brimstone--a dusty southwestern town that teeters on the edge this world and the next.”
This is an imaginative short story that I would love to see expanded, it is very short. The plot was clever and well thought out. I felt like I was on the dusty trail with Garth as he ponders the strange challenge he received by telegram as he travels to the town of Brimstone. If it hadn’t been addressed to Shorty McCants he might have let it go.
This little story put me in mind of a Twilight Zone episode; it is easy to see it play out in your mind with the author’s descriptive prose. I would recommend this to readers who like ghost stories, westerns and soul redemption tales. Mr. Little is definitely a gifted wordsmith and I look forward to more of his stories. I think he will be an Indie author to watch. I found no significant editing issues.
**Originally written for "Books and Pals" book blog. May have received a free review copy. ** April 15, 2013
Rating: **** Four stars
Christmas Time is the youngest daughter of Father Time and Mother Nature. Christy loved the forest and all living things. Mary Time loved things that sparkled like diamonds and stars. The sibling rivalry takes a bit of a wicked turn when Mary wants Nicholas for herself since she saw him first. When Nicholas asks Christy for her hand in marriage and gives her a diamond ring Mary flips out. She tricks Christy into changing into her tree form knowing full well she will remain a tree forever. When Nicholas rejects Mary’s affections, Mary is so distraught she climbs Christy’s branches and turns herself into a star at the top of the tree because she does truly love her sister. Father Time is helpless, he can’t change his daughters back into their human forms. He gives Nicholas his magic staff and sends him off on a quest to find Mother Nature, in hopes that she might be able to help.
Nicholas used steadfast determination to find Mother Nature facing impossible odds while crossing frozen tundra. With the help of Father Time’s magical staff and Mother Nature’s magic in all things nature has to offer, they formulate a plan to save Mary and Christy. Nicholas is now on a quest around the globe to find and gather magic wherever he can to weave that magic into Christy’s evergreen branches in hope that he can save his true love and her sister.
This was a unique Christmas story that does indeed put “a new twist on the old story of Santa Claus and the Spirit of Christmas.” I think it was rather ingenious how Mr. Little spun this story using traditional Christmas icons and ideology into his own myth.
Format/Typo Issues: I noticed no significant issues.
**Originally written for "Books and Pals" book blog. May have received a free review copy.** December 22, 2014
The Box is an emotional tale of love, hope, truth, and tradition surrounding a small family who is in desperate need of a miracle. Several days after Christmas has passed Tiffani’s mother is still in the hospital needing an experimental surgery, which could hopefully save her life. The presents lie forgotten under the tree while Amos, Tiffani’s grandfather, and Tiffani stand vigil at her mother’s bedside. Faced with impossible odds, Amos tries to lift his granddaughter’s spirits by opening presents under the tree after an especially hard day. When the present Tiffani chose to open was the puzzle box that had been passed down through the family. Amos takes the opportunity to tell her the story of the special box’s origin as she reads the letters secreted away inside.
The Box is a short story that is sure to tug on your heartstrings as Tiffani seeks to solve the clues to discover the secret hidden inside this special box. This heartwarming story could be read any time of the year.
Format/Typo Issues: No significant issues.
**Originally written for "Books and Pals" book blog. May have received a free review copy.** December 25, 2014
Gordon A. Long has done an excellent job building an Old World type setting for this story. Aleria is a smart, self-assured, high-strung, spunky teenager from an upper class family who is able the see the hypocrisy going on around her. She has a reputation for pulling harmless pranks or stunts to call these out. She also has a talent for sizing up people’s characters rather quickly. After completing the class Quest, an individual rite-of-passage, Aleria comes to the conclusion that it was more or less a farce, which doesn’t prove her mettle. So she initiates her own Quest to prove to herself she is capable of taking care of herself.
Now the real adventure begins. She is smart enough that she shares her destination with her best friend Mito, who has promised not to tell unless Aleria doesn’t return in a proper amount of time. After being on the road a few days she meets a fellow traveler who has traversed this road many times before. She asks to join him on a short cut across a mountain trail. When a rebellion breaks out in the direction Mito knew Aleria was headed she alerts her parents and a search for Aleria begins.
Aleria learning about the rebellion makes smart decisions and tries to alert the authorities. Thinking she is now safe she inadvertently gets captured by Raif, one of the rebel rousers. These men are a loathsome group of disparate men. It is all Aleria can do to try to stay alive and sane while suffering abuse and the threat of rape. However, Raif is not who he seems and Aleria must decide whether to trust him or not. The pace of the story turns fast and furious at this point and became hard to put down. There are a fair number of twists because these men are not very well organized.
The story starts out slow as we are introduced to Aleria, her parents, and a few of her classmates. I found the cast of characters who played important roles were well developed. The dialogue seemed realistic with a good amount of humor. I really enjoyed Aleria and Mito’s friendship. Mito is from the poorer side of town but has managed to enroll in the girls Academy. Mito is a smart, levelheaded girl who tries to keep Aleria balanced, their heart-to-heart talks were engaging and intelligent. I am hoping for some romance to develop in book two, there are a couple of possibilities.
FYI: The author uses Canadian spellings.
Out of Mischief is Book 1 in the World of Change series.
Format/Typo Issues: I found a small number of proofing errors throughout the text.
**Originally written for "Books and Pals" book blog. May have received a free review copy.** June 18, 2015
Into Trouble by Gordon A. Long
As Aleria immerses herself into advanced battle arts lessons with Master Ogima as a way to deal with her nightmares stemming from the rebellion in Out of Mischief, another situation arises. Bandits are stealing merchandise, which is traveling by cart, in Lord Fauvé’s land around Taine. Aleria seems to think she can handle going undercover for a fact finding mission by going to visit Shen Waring and his family near Taine with the hope of getting invited to stay at Lord Fauve’s castle, with her being a Lady and all. The ploy works and Aleria insinuates herself by helping Lord Fauve’ planning parties and making rounds with the Lord to visit his holdings and meet the farmers.
It’s all very interesting seeing how Lord Fauvé runs his domain and meeting the farmers who work the land. When the bandits strike again Aleria watches Fauvé closely, but things go as she imagines it should. She finds no connection between Fauvé’s behavior and the bandits. She also has been keeping Lord Raif Canah updated through coded love letters which are delivered to Mito and then she delivers them to Raif. I found the story had an even pace until a tragic turn of events, which happens at the end of chapter eighteen, spins everything upside down. At that point, two-thirds into the story, I couldn’t put the book down until the last page. It is engaging, terrifying, suspenseful, and surprising. I think the political intrigue was expertly handled and executed as was the dialogue. At this point towards the end the castle staff has a larger presence which I enjoyed immensely.
I was a little disappointed that the romance I thought would develop in this book didn’t, however I am still pleased with how things worked out. Aleria is continuing to grow and I hope she finds her place in the world. Mr. Long seems to have her figured out, she is a wonderful character.
FYI: This story contains rape, it is not depicted as graphic, but it tis here nonetheless.
The author uses Canadian spellings.
Into Trouble is book 2 of the World of Change series. Book 1, Out of Mischief, should be read first to properly enjoy the subtleties between Aleria, her parents, Mito, and Lord Raif Canah.
Format/Typo Issues: A small number of proofing errors.
**Originally written for "Books and Pals" book blog. May have received a free review copy.** July 5, 2015
This is an engrossing story that includes war, espionage, politics, spirituality, and a bit of romance to boot. There are several characters in this book that are listed at the beginning. I found this list intimidating but plowed ahead hoping I could keep up with all of them. The story centers on Gaelen, second son of the King of Bargia, who is thrust into power after the death of the king and his oldest son during a battle at the beginning of the story, and his advisors. As the characters were brought into play, I had no problem keeping up with them and the roles they played. The main characters are all well developed and easily believable. The matters of state which Gaelen had to deal with were tedious to me but essential to the story over all.
There are no fantasy creatures in this story; the only magical element was perhaps the spiritual belief that we ourselves affect our environment and the world as a whole. Oh, well, there was a prophetess, a true seer who Gaelen called upon occasionally. If you enjoy the political workings of a society, spy games, mercenaries, and mistresses I believe you will enjoy this story as well. The plot moves along at a nice pace encompassing all matters of this demesne (the term for the land under control of a lord) and those surrounding it.
What captivated me was the relationship between Klast, the king’s assassin, and Brensa, a lady in waiting. Both are badly broken souls that need healing and whose futures seem to hold dominion over the prosperity of the kingdom as a whole. I found it fascinating and their journey became very important to me. I do tend to get involved in the emotional aspects of the characters I read; this is where I think any story’s strength lie. Ms. Hertzberger was able to capture and express the emotions of all her characters, be it love or treachery, throughout the entire novel. This books storyline is complete; there were no cliff-hangers to draw you into the next book, although I am very interested to see what happens next. This is a great story on all levels.
FYI: British spelling and some ‘Old World’ word usage. **Originally written for "BigAl’s Books and Pals" book blog. May have received a free review copy.** September 1, 2013