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- Crimson in the Very Wrong Fairy Tale
on Aug. 17, 2012
Rating: 4 stars
An e-copy of this book was provided for purpose of honest review by the author. I was not compensated for this review, and conclusions are honestly given and entirely my responsibility. Review for Lovers of Paranormal, a Goodreads Group.
“It's the choices you make that determine who you are."
Nature versus nurture, a debate for the ages. I applaud the author for taking on the debate in a direct attack, even if many of the references are peppered with Disney-esque characters. The promise that this book held was the real draw for me. I adore fairy tales, the moral tone, the direct repercussions, the integration of fantastical characters and scenarios. While the original tales are far darker and used mainly to teach or warn off children from dangerous acts, much of the “Disney Sanitation” and rewrites for sensibilities of today have removed that edge. Crimson in the Very Wrong Fairy Tale tries to restore some of that edge for the modern day, and is moderately successful in the attempt.
We meet Crimson Day, a soon to be 16 year old girl, who has spent the majority of her life trying to be “invisible”: no small feat for a girl who is tall, lean, ivory skinned and black haired. Afraid of standing out, not wanting to be bullied or noticed, she is a character that rails against her self-chosen ‘unpopularity’ while demeaning and degrading those she admires: even if she can’t bring herself to admit admiration. Her mother, Miranda, is very “new age hippy dippy”, a yoga instructor with an always joyful demeanor, as different in appearance and attitude from Crimson as possible, being tiny and blonde. Of course, there must be a twist: Crimson doesn’t remember her father. In fact, she has been told by her mother that her father died in a fire when she was just one year old.
As in all fairy tales, the main character is clueless with no idea that the day of reckoning is coming. And come it does: just shortly before the start of her sweet sixteen party, we meet Crimson’s father, Dirk Death, King of the Northern Deaths, 21st in line for the throne as the king of hell. Crimson Day is actually Crimson Death VI, Princess of Darkness, daughter of a demon.
And there the story begins to take shape – will Crimson go along to get along with this new dark side, or will the years of her mother’s calmness, niceness and parenting , as well as her own history of being a “good girl”, override the encouragement of her father’s family: to be bad? And here is where I stop in describing the story to avoid spoilers.
This story has some great potential – sadly just enough things were unsatisfactory to stop it short of achieving it fully.
Characters: the characters are fairly well defined, at least the main characters. Crimson is an overly whinging teen girl, prone to long periods of self-pity and overly critical impressions of others. Miranda is always lightness and sunshine - and while we are never told just ‘what’ she is, I suspect fairy – and think even fairies have ‘blue’ moments. We are introduced to two of Crimson’s friends: Todd and Hayley. Only Todd is flushed out as a character to any satisfying degree, Hayley is rather ‘hanging on’ in the plot – much like she is in life.
The other students are rather typically stereotypical, the jocks and cheerleaders are self-absorbed, self-important and selectively cruel. The “nerds” are often defined as needing a shower, or droning on and on. It is near the end of the book when Crimson sees that the “facades” are often just that – facades, yet the attitude in her interior dialogue barely registers that fact.
I don’t expect a 16 year old to have great powers of discernment, but after overhearing the displeasure of her discovery expressed by ALL of her newfound relations except her father, she is then apparently clueless as to their intentions: her uncle is “training” her to use her powers – and it is weeks before she realizes he may not be following his orders. She is traveling between the “human” and her father’s worlds, yet the transitions are relatively seamless between school life and her newfound powers. But, she is completely aware of the newfound interest in her stemming from the cheerleaders interest in her cousin and bodyguard/watcher.
Still – this was a fun read despite the issues. Written primarily for the YA market – I can see the emo rambles of Crimson being familiar and relatable to that market – and who hasn’t wanted to toss a fireball or two at someone particularly annoying? The story left enough holes open in the ending to open room for a sequel, Crimson has just started to integrate the two very conflicting approaches to life and problems, and hasn’t really mastered either approach. Will her mother’s continued recurrent voice continue to tell Crimson that she needs to listen to her heart and it is her choices that decide who she is, or will she allow the demonic side of her nature take control?
- The Beast Within
on Aug. 25, 2012
I received a pdf copy of this book from the author for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for the review, and all conclusions are my responsibility.
I’ll start by saying this is a short, novella-sized story, only 55 pages, yet there is much packed into those pages. Karina is a psych nurse, rather shy and retiring, who recently ended a relationship with Ian, and is trying to find her new normal. Enter Xavier, a handsome and charming man who sets her life on tilt, encouraging her to question her heritage when he explains her middle name, Tuatha, to her. Cue the overt paranormal flavor of the story, and let the battle for Karina’s heart and life begin.
I enjoyed this story, although the length did not allow for great development of any of the characters. It really feels like a good introduction to Karina, a prequel to her story and discovery of her relevance in the paranormal world as a Tuatha de Danann. That isn’t meant to discount this story, for it does stand alone as a complete work; there is a clear beginning, middle and end.
The writing flowed and was well paced, while there were a few minor spelling/word choice errors that I found, they did not distract overtly from the pacing or the reading. The plot twisted and moved quickly enough to throw up a few surprises, with a particularly satisfying ending. I do want to see more of Karina and her discoveries of her new talents, and hope the author is working to that end.
- Savor, Warm Delicacy Series, Book 1
on Sep. 03, 2012
Within a week of turning 18, Claire Miller has realized she has “perfect blood” was claimed by and turned into a vampire by the ruling family, found a new family, a new best friend, a pair of mortal enemies and a crush. A pretty exciting week in the life of anyone, let alone a girl who thinks of herself as nothing special, and feels both forgotten and misunderstood by her mother.
I had purchased this book a few months back, and it has been updated by the people at Amazon once, with a note that significant editorial issues were present. I was asked for an honest review, and have not been compensated for the review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Let’s start with the good parts. First: the cover art is amazing and beautiful. It reaches out to say “get me”. And if you are a book junkie like me – covers are the first “I want” tingle. This book has a very interesting premise: the world has been structured to provide a registry of sorts. You reach your 18th birthday, and you are blood typed and identified – and then donate twice a month. You are providing the ruling family with the blood they need to survive, and you are obeying the law. But, this also means that feeding on humans and ‘turning’ humans is frowned upon.
Claire is a fairly ordinary, self-absorbed teen. Full of dreams for the future: university, become “important” and to raise her children next door to her best friend. All of this changes the day after she turns 18 when it is revealed that the vampire rulers wish her to become their heir and princess.
In less than 72 hours, Claire is introduced to her “new” family, made a vampire and has her coronation ball where she is presented to the dignitaries and families in the region.
This is where things get sticky. The story moves fast – which is great, if life were to move that fast. But you can’t help but be left with the feeling that Claire is reacting with a childish carelessness to consequence, without actually seeming to consider just what the changes could mean. While this is titled a ‘romance’ it is more a puppy love first crush sort of reaction, and perfectly appropriate and tame for a YA level novel. I’d like to see Claire display more of the strength everyone keeps telling her she has. There were far too many “eager to please” moments from her, which are far from creating the impression of a character that will be able to manage the trials to come.
Yes, the author did a really good job of moving the story forward, and left enough questions unanswered to alternately annoy and create interest in the next book in the series. However, I do hope that more care will be paid to word choice when editing, especially taking care to NOT rely on spellcheck suggestions for words. There were enough errors in this version to cause some break in the flow. At times, the conversation seemed stilted and unrealistic, with word choices not appropriate to the age or position of the person speaking.
I can unreservedly give this book a solid 3 stars in its current version. There are some rough patches to work out, but as a starter for a series it’s not a waste of time to read for a YA /Paranormal book – and I would be interested in seeing book 2 and how the story progresses.
- Binding Arbitration
on Sep. 10, 2012
I received a copy of this book from the author for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review, and all conclusions are my own responsibility.
This is the second book in a series about Elizabeth (Libby) Tucker and Banford Aiden Palowski: their brief relationship in college, her removal of Aiden from her life when she decided to keep their child, and the ultimate challenges they faced in rediscovering each other again after their son is diagnosed with leukemia.
I didn’t realize there was a prequel/short to this book before I read this one. The prequel is titled “Cutters vs. Jocks” – and I have read it. I’m glad that I didn’t read the stories in order, however, because the predisposition to want to slap both characters into adulthood and reasonable behaviour would have overridden my ability to give this book a fair shake.
What has been created by the author is a treatise on selfishness: while both parties wholeheartedly believe they have valid reasons for their behaviour, neither is wholly innocent in the result. Libby was pregnant after one night with Aiden. She allows her own self-doubt and fear to deny the night, and the possibility that Aiden finds her worthy. Aiden is a big man on campus, with a list of conquests, and a promising baseball career. He finds Libby fascinating and attractive – but is unable or unwilling to pursue her in a way she finds believable and solid.
The two are brought together 7 years later when their son, Cass, is diagnosed with leukemia, and Libby feels it necessary to contact Aiden to see if he will be tested as a marrow donor. What follows is the slow but steady realization by both parties that they were wrong, and selfish in their choices. While Aiden is thrust into the role of repentance for all mistakes, without seeing much of the same for Libby – we are treated to the development of the characters, their understanding of their own bad behaviours, and their acceptance of their love for each other: even as it begins with a sense of wonder and love for their son, Cass.
The story is told, quite deftly, in two voices: Libby’s is often angry and hurt, with an underlying self-doubt not erased from her accomplishments in the here and now. Aiden’s voice is also riddled with self-doubt and punishment, while attempting to ‘prove’ himself to Libby and working within her often unreasonable expectations. After penning the initial thoughts of this review – I read other impressions on the story. While many people hated Aiden, and found him not receiving enough punishment for abandoning Libby and Cass, they seem to not account for his losses or pain. What I think was more important in it all is that love, combined with a real and honest assessment of where wrongs were committed, can overcome the hurt and doubt.
This story is thrust into the genres of Chick Lit and Romance, but it is far more than those narrowed confines. As I said, it is a catalog of where things go wrong, and the stupid decisions we make when hurt and afraid; and just what consequences those decisions can have far into the future. It alternates with wonder at the proclamations that Cass makes, to anger with his parents for their behavior, to tears and tension.
This is not a book to be taken as a “light read” because no matter where you stand in liking or disliking the characters, you will be thrust into a story crafted to make you feel. While there was some ‘outside’ action that seemed rather gratuitous and unnecessary to the plot, the minor characters and their needs were also integrated into the story in a way that highlighted the many good qualities and character traits of both Libby and Aiden. This story was a daunting task, and the author created a novel that was both memorable and touching. I would suggest that you read this book first, and then see what sort of people both Libby and Aiden were in their college years: by then reading the prequel.
- My Familiar Stranger (Knights of Black Swan, Book 1)
on Oct. 23, 2012
Take one parallel universe jump, an elite paramilitary company of knights who are tasked with eradicating vampires, a vampire with a ‘life wish’ and then blend in a liberal sprinkling of characters drawn from old European religious idolatry, superior advanced medical technology and a touch of humor and you start to define the basics in this book.
Created with a deft hand, each character is so well developed and defined that their voices are unique and specific, although their development is gradual, as befitting of plot and action. The rest of the story is just as well-crafted, almost to the point that you aren’t 100% certain that the world described is not just outside your door. The author has done a stellar job in creating the world, those who live within it, and a story-line that both compels you to read as you rush through to see just what happens next, and who gets the girl.
- Descent of Blood, The Red Veil Series, The Prequel
on March 08, 2013
So, I will admit that I was hooked on this author after reading one of her more ‘reality based’ stories, Binding Arbitration, so this was a no-brainer when the opportunity to review arrived.
Dive into a world in the past, detailed with care and precision that extends to the rhythm and flow of the language, not just the occasional inclusion of “Milord”. When we start, the story is wrapped about the War of the Roses, and King Henry VI, the softest and least prepared for real rule on the throne is at the forefront of the action, where mortals battle and vampire exist in the shadows, all meticulously detailed by Philabe, former priest now historian for the vampires.
Philabe is cleverly crafted, providing small asides as to his own thoughts throughout his narration of the story. Not shrinking from, nor disguising the more sinister and cruel edge that Marx has returned to the vampires, his narration is complex, with small asides that leave his descriptions pointedly enigmatic. The romantic dance between Meridian and Severian, for it reads much like a fencing match, has moments of amazingly steamy interludes, even as Meridian is torn between becoming a mate or following her original plans to join the church.
This was an amazing read and a great start to a series that returns the ‘edge’ to vampires, and the addition of the narration through Philabe is genius. Even the secondary characters are treated with a level of care that makes every action make sense and feel as if it fits with what you know at that point in the story. A great starter to the series, it redefines the term ‘prequel’ as it is a wonderful work that perfectly sets up the series.
I received an eBook copy from the author for purpose of honest review for Full Moon Bites tours. I was not compensated for this review, all conclusions are my own responsibility.
- Ascent of Blood, The Red Veil Series, Book I
on March 08, 2013
So, after completely loving the first book in this series, I was more than a bit curious to see where Elizabeth Marx would take the series, and I was not disappointed. Fast forward 600 or so years and we are in a more modern Wales of 1990. Severin’s son Sebastian is the focus of this story, also narrated with the care and quiet precision of Philabe.
Sebastian is far less empathetic a character in this story, although we are working with the darker style of vampire, his arrogance was often off-putting but provided a great source of humor in highlighting the differences between he and Everleigh. Since Sebastian is rather older and European, his style clashes with the brasher and more modern American Everleigh, resulting in clever insets of humor into the story. While the two are destined to butt heads (sometimes near literally) the need to protect and avenge add several twists to the plot that kept the action flowing forward. With clever insets that provide background, and several recurring characters, some answers are provided while more questions are asked. Most importantly – when is book three in this series due for release?
Another winner from the mind of Elizabeth Marx, this story combines some sexy scenes with characters that despite their appearance as being unlovable become people you care about and need to know what will happen to them next. A perfect addition to the Red Veil series, it is certainly a series to watch for the upcoming installments.
I received an eBook copy from the author for purpose of honest review for a blog tour with Full Moon Bites. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
- Mending the Line
on April 15, 2013
This sweetly conceived romance, with characters that are easy to relate to and appreciate, the author has managed to create a believable romance that is solidly grounded in emotions and situations that every reader can relate to.
Told from the point of view of the characters, this inclusion of their inner dialogue helps to define their personalities and provide a sense of people as well as the growth of their relationship. Dimension in the story is also increased with the inclusion of family members and their interactions and viewpoints: we are all aware that no relationship exists in a bubble of just two people and this is a welcome inclusion to both deepen and enhance the story.
This is a romance, and there is a personal choice for an author: making the romance completely sweet, or enhancing and utilizing the more erotic elements of a relationship to further detail the story. Here Christy Hayes manages to add tastefully written and wholly time-appropriate sex scenes that do manage to enhance the feeling of commitment between the characters without overriding the tale of two souls coming together to make a happily ever after.
I received an eBook copy from the author for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
- Paper Airplane: Unique Tales From A Mile High
on April 22, 2013
I’m a flyer who jealously guards my down-time when flying: I don’t necessarily want to interact with the people around me, preferring to delve into a book, prep for a meeting, or work on an itinerary for down time in the city I land in. Interaction is, however, sometimes inevitable: finding those gems in that interaction is what makes this book unique.
Taking moments to relay the stories and tales from her seat-mates on her flights, Kelly manages to deftly present the story and weave in several facts and statistics that provide a look at the flight stories we all have and give them a twist. A careful arrangement and detailed scene setting to place the story into a context, and provides an opportunity to further the depths of meaning within each tale.
My personal preference would have given more emotional context to the stories, but the author’s ability to present them clearly and distinctly provided space for my own emotional interpretations, while providing some background factual information that I never would have sought out, nor known without her additions.
If you are a traveller who likes to share with your fellow frequent flyers, this is a book that would work a treat for opening conversational gambits with your seatmates.
I received an eBook from the author for purpose of honest review for the Indies Rock promotion at I am, Indeed. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
- Light & Dark: The Awakening of the Mageknight
on May 21, 2013
So often, I will see reviews that will mention another title, intimating that this is the “same”, and diminishing the book being reviewed by insinuating it is an imitation. While there are obvious correlations to the set-up for the Harry Potter series here, the similarity ends quickly.
This is a uniquely styled blend of fantasy and reality, with characters who are very current and solidly developed, who just happen to be a part of a training programme that involves magic and spells.
Daniel Fife has managed to create a book that even reluctant readers can enjoy: there is enough of the fantastical to break up the mundanity of every eighth grade life, and the ultimate quest of good versus evil, as you are just learning what powers and skills you have makes for a gripping tale. Yes there are friends, and the friendships are tested, and the importance of trust and being there all create small lessons on the way. But mostly: this is a highly enjoyable read that holds your interest from page to page as you learn and discover this new world with Danny.
As the start of a new series – this one shows great promise: the pacing and world-building were well done and maintained after some early repetitive moments. I was fortunate to have received the newly-edited version: and what I had was a very clean, well-written story that managed to keep interest and flow after a bit of a slow start early on. As a debut novel, in a high-fantasy style written to appeal to (but never pander to) younger readers, it was an impressive work. And I am looking forward to book 2 in the Light & Dark Series.
I received an eBook copy from the author for purpose of honest review and inclusion in Children Read week. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility
- Paradise Squandered
on June 11, 2013
Engrossing and engaging, told in first person, this coming of age story brings a sense of the known and unknown to the reader as it progresses. Andrew is not particularly lovable from this perspective, nor sympathetic, in fact I was almost hoping for something to shake him; for a snap judgment to be wrong, for some grey to invade his very black and white world.
Adding to the difficulty is the often lamented immaturity that is in juxtaposition from his sarcastic and often spot on depictions of people and events that surround him. While coming of age stories are usually angst filled and stereotypical: Stefansson’s skill with the written word provides a sense of a real teenager as they navigate the world between childhood and adulthood. I won’t make comparisons to other writers, as many have: for I think that this author managed to set his own path, with a book that is eminently readable and worth every second.
What you won’t get is a happy ending with roses and bunnies: but you will see his growth and be left with a story that gives you some insight, and plenty of food for thought.
I received an eBook from the author for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
- Journey to Disappeared: Discovery
on Sep. 02, 2013
Set in the not too distant future, mankind has abused the resources of the earth, and the privileged few live within enclaves that allow for the continued wasteful ways. The power, political and literal, is held by corporations tied to their bottom lines of profit first, and they are unwilling to allow renewable resources to gain a foothold. Not at all unlike the battle between the green energy factions and the big oil and coal battles currently in play, although those in favor of the renewable resources and a more even playing field are often ‘disappeared’ or banished to survive outside the enclaves.
Alma and Uly are two children, whose parents were disappeared even though their actions were working for one of the corporations studying the human genome. Alma is protective of her brother, and they have managed to survive fairly well in a mountain retreat. When that safety and isolation is shattered, they start on the journey to meet with others who may be able to find their parents, and reunite the family.
Alma is clever and quick witted with a great sense of responsibility that is far more than she should have to bear. Uly is dependent yet a hopeful light in the story, their interactions and emotional connection is both powerful and well defined and described. Their tender care for the dog, and the lighter moments provided by the dog’s antics were a welcome respite from the tension in this story, with things moving at a fast pace and managing to keep the reader engaged.
Map Whitman has created an engaging and wholly intriguing story that has several correlations to recent conversations and discussions today. With some cleverly placed politicians that are reminiscent of those I would best forget ever knowing, the story will spark chuckles from adults, even as it is written with a YA and teen audience in mind.
I received an eBook copy from the author for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
- The Handfasting
on Feb. 02, 2016
Youngest daughter of Rivenloch, Ysenda has always been suborned by her beautiful and very spoilt sister, Cathalin: caretaker of her imperfectly perfect elder brother Caimbeul, and the sense of reason who sees her father, the Laird Gillie, as a hard, unforgiving and detestable being. The Yule celebrations are afoot, and celebrations have brought the clan together. Suddenly, strangers appear, and Ysenda is bound and determined to discover just who they are.
Sir Noёl de Ware is an honorable man, and after months of being fobbed off after a treaty arrangement between Fance and Scotland’s Kings, mandating he marry the “most beautiful lass’ in Scotland, heir to her family’s estate and clan, he’s come to claim his bride. Ysenda is the one who caught his eye: beautiful, intriguing and unafraid to confront him, he’s smitten.
With Ysenda’s father clearly willing to risk the King’s wrath and war by claiming that Ysenda, not the beauteous Cathalin, is the bride he seeks. Threatening Caimbeul’s life with his dagger, Ysenda takes the safe option: agreeing if Noёl will postpone the consummation for a day. She feels certain she can talk sense into her father, and Cathalin will be a more than acceptable substitute.
Things never quite go according to plan, and Ysenda finds herself guilt ridden and more than a bit in love with Noёl: he’s honorable, kind, appreciates her wit and seems to find her attractive. I loved their conversations and Noёl’s honest and open attempts to get to know her. He truly did epitomize a “knight” in all things he acted with honor, wracked with guilt when he felt her sadness, determined to aid Caimbeul and boost his confidence even risking Ysenda’s wrath and displeasure as she had coddled and protected Caimbeul since her mother’s death. Laird Gillie behaves as expected throughout, and with a huge secret that dwarfs even the fact that Ysenda is not, in fact, his intended bride, the story takes a leap into happy ever after. I’m now finding that I want to know more of these two, see the growth of Caimbeul that will highlight his strengths and will to overcome his disabilities, and most importantly, return to this world that Campbell has so beautifully described.
I received an eBook copy of the title from the author for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.