Samantha Ryan

Books

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Smashwords book reviews by Samantha Ryan

  • Crucible of Dust (The Clockwork Ascendancy - A Steampunk Saga) on June 08, 2012

    The Main character is a younger/middle-aged gentleman (I believe) named Hammond Flynn who was once in a group called the “Order of the Penitent Blade”, a group in my mind was much like the knights of the Middle Ages duty bound to uphold the notion of Good, Purity, Strength, and Wellness for all. When a horrible event leaves him feeling defeated and suffering guilt and shame, he is left alone as his home town and his comrades are killed by a nefarious power. Without giving away the whole plot, the story “Crucible of Dust” follows Flynn as he attempts to face his past, and the horrifying and unexpected consequences he faces. Part fantasy, part steampunk, part action, and all literary, this book has it all. It is short, but oh so sweet. I highly recommend this book if you want something great to read that isn’t much of a time commitment, but has all the payoffs as a full-length novel.
  • A Song Apart on June 12, 2012

    Right away I was sucked into this book by the interesting opening, clear narrative, and great dialogue. Then it slowed down considerably for my as the author did a bunch of “telling” back story that in my mind would have been better shown in bits and pieces throughout the novel instead of info dumping right off the bat. But then it picked up again and was very good! I felt like I was a part of the story (instead of outside looking in – I hate that!) and the pace was nice and quick. I finished this book in the course of an evening and was happy with the ending. It was a satisfying and sweet conclusion that was natural and not forced. This novel will definitely appeal to music fans and teens, but I also think it has qualities that an older audience can appreciate – there are many layers, each with its own lessons to be learned. I’d be interested in reading more form this author in the future and recommend this novel to others.
  • When Earthlings Weep on June 23, 2012

    Wow, this book was really amazing. SO much was always happening, at times I almost felt like I was reading five novels at once! When Earthlings Weep is a science-fiction book written in the 3rd person present which was a new experience for me. It was fast paced with shorter chapters, and an engaging plot that had some pretty crazy twists. And many different characters to keep things interesting. Once I got used to the style of writing, I have to say that I liked the story very much and would love to read more from this author!
  • Margaret of the North on Aug. 27, 2012

    I had a hard time getting in to this book at first, mostly because I had no idea what the other book/story (North and South) was about. I’d never even heard of it, but I do like historical romance so I thought I’d give it a shot. I do feel like the author brought me up to speed on the events that occurred prior to the opening of her novel “Margaret of the North”, but for me, I kept feeling like there was something I wasn’t quite getting. So I don’t know if this is my own fault for having not been familiar enough with the prequel, but I’m not sure this is so great as a standalone, at least in my opinion. But I can say that it did seem like a really good book and the writing was excellent! I just felt a little lost and think I would have appreciated it more with the knowledge of the backstory.
  • Return of the Crown on Jan. 17, 2013

    Ok, I admit I’m not a huge fan of “fantasy”. I like my novels as realistic as possible, and I’m not particularly a fan of “teen” heroes/heroines. So why did I read this book? Well, I wanted to get out of my comfort zone for a bit and try to expand my horizons. The synopsis seemed straightforward enough, and I could tell by the sample pages that the author actually knew how to write. So I gave it a shot. Imagine my surprise when I started reading only intending to read a few chapters and before I knew it I’d crossed the 60% mark! I just didn’t want to stop, it was that good! I found myself wholly immersed in the world Ms. Burns created and was rooting for young Ravyn and crew. And I hated Zelera SO MUCH! You know that’s the sign of a good writer when you want to scream at and hit one of the characters! Haha. Needless to say I really enjoyed this novel (much to my surprise) and want to thank Millie Burns for making my foray into the world of fantasy such a magical and memorable one. I’ll be back :-).
  • Corkscrew Ridge on Feb. 22, 2013

    4.5 stars... A sweet, heart-warming drama about the power of moving on and learning who you are deep down once all the comforts of our normal world disintegrate away. In “Corkscrew Ridge”, Paul Kostner decides to take on a run-down farm and with the help of new friends along the way, turns it and his life around. To me the best part was how easy to read and how authentic the book felt. I could tell the author really knew his stuff, and it showed. The characters were good, although I felt a few more could have been more fully fleshed out. I do think this author has a lot of potential and I’d definitely be interested in checking out more of his work in the future. There were a few editing glitches—nothing that lessened my enjoyment any, but they were there. Recommend for fans of women’s fiction and dramas.
  • The Hunt for Elsewhere on April 17, 2013

    Great book! Kept me turning the pages wondering what would happen next, and I read the whole thing in two nights. When I first started reading it, I thought it was going to be a bit like Finding Nemo, when Saxton the fox is separated from his family when hunters attack their home. And while I love Nemo, I was pleasantly surprised with the complexity and intelligent path this novel took. It’s certainly not some silly book about animals and what we imagine they are thinking or doing (for our amusement). They are wise, flawed, scared, courageous, loving, vicious…everything people are and then some. There are a lot of characters in this book and there are many POV shifts. Some may find it distracting, but I didn’t really mind. Recommend for Middle-Graders on up, although it is a bit on the longish side. I’m in my 40’s and really liked it.
  • The Daughter of the Sea and the Sky on July 06, 2014

    Another terrific read from David Litwack. This is an amazing book and I think that Kailani is one of the best characters I’ve come across in a while, and you can tell the author has a special bond with her and knows her well. I liked how she talked and was so wise beyond her years. She has special “gifts” even though she is just a ‘normal’ young girl. I like how the story reminded me almost like a Native American or even a Hawaiian folktale with the elements of mysticism and magical realism. I cannot recommend this book highly enough and think almost anyone will enjoy it. It’s appropriate for teens and up, and even if some of the deeper messages are lost on the younger crowd they will surely benefit from its overall message.
  • Intelligent Design:Revelations on Feb. 06, 2015

    this is now the fourth book I’ve read from J.M. Erickson, and at the risk of sounding patronizing I think his writing just continues to get better and better. Perhaps it was due to the shorter length of his particular work (it’s a novella, as opposed to a full length novel) that everything just felt tighter and more focused… to an extent. I admit there were a few places that caused me some minor confusions (like when there are 2 Perez characters each being referred to as “Perez”) and the time jumps I sometimes lost track if I’d set it down for a bit. I was confused that the description read that it was 6 million years ago, but then in the book is says 63 million… anyways, small details. But overall I really liked the premise and the characters, human and non. I’d like to see this expanded into a more fleshed out series if that’s the direction the author decides to take.
  • The Dark Rider on March 10, 2015

    this was a great change of pace for me, as I normally gravitate towards more realistic-style fiction, but this was one epic tale that I couldn’t put down! I did have to have some patience in the beginning until I felt that I was more caught up in the thrust of the story, but the author does a great job of explaining all the backstory and sub plots. I don’t rehash plotlines (That is what the book description is for), but I enjoyed the easy flow and inventive ideas and plot of “The Dark Rider”, and really liked the characters! Happy that they were not cliché, cardboard cutouts of typical fantasy lore, but relatable and real (even for not being!) By the end I’d fallen in love with this book and although it doesn’t exactly end on a cliffhanger per say, it stops in the middle of more action to come so I’m curious to see where the next one leads. An enjoyable read that I would recommend to fans of fantasy and adventure without hesitation.
  • Connecting the Dots: Man, God, Angels, and Demons on Aug. 27, 2015

    I have to say this…. After reading this book cover-to-cover, regardless of what your religious beliefs or background is, you have to admit that this is one amazing book with some of the best “plotlines” in history. There’s a reason that the Bible is referred to as “The Greatest Story Ever Told” because it encompasses just everything…. It is so relatable on every level if you look hard enough, and many things, like the existence of Satan in God’s plans, can cause conflict and chaos….leading many to wonder, why??? I like how Dave Shaw tackles so many questions that many people have, and addresses them in an easy to understand manner, and backs up his observations with Scripture and real life. To me this is key in seeing where and how we all fit in, even at different stages in our lives. Recommend for almost all ages (some material might be a little dense for younger readers and may need adult supervision)
  • Flight of the Black Swan on Oct. 26, 2015

    4.5 stars An enjoyable, quick read that continues in the stellar writing style of the Birds of Flight Series. This is definitely meant to be read in order (it is not a standalone), and preferably when the previous novel is relatively fresh in your head, as the story picks up from there. But this whole series is just so phenomenal and keeps getting better, it is definitely time well spent. I am never disappointed when reading a J.M. Erickson book, and even though this one is on the shorter side, it still delivers the same high quality, high octane, high stakes action and drama that makes me enjoy all his books.
  • Falcon: Birds of Flight on Oct. 26, 2015

    4.5 stars - J.M. Erickson is a prolific author of the “Birds of Flight” series, and another book I really enjoyed, “Intelligent Design: Revelations”. Since the beginning, Mr. Erickson has shown himself to be an author of great talent for weaving complex plots brought passionately to life by the strong characters. I admit that I am grateful for the handy character bio section that Mr. Erickson provides as this is a series that has spanned 4 books now (soon to be 5) and I’ve read over several months, it is nice to have a frame of reference to keep them all straight, as these novels are just as much character-driven as they are plot-driven. It’s funny because I rarely read much mystery/thriller/suspense/espionage books before, but Mr. Erickson has me hooked on this series and I’m so happy I gave it a chance! Great female characters that are out of the norm, and I like that he spares us the cliché stereotyping. Highly recommended read for all.
  • The Prince: Lucifer's Origins on Oct. 26, 2015

    Having thoroughly enjoyed reading several other books from JM Erickson (his “Birds of Flight” series is amazing!) I Eagerly jumped on the chance to read this one. I admit the title had me a bit curious… was this a religious book? Or more sci/fi/thriller/action/drama like his others? Well, yes. In a way it’s all of it… Complex, riveting, and touches on the deepest corners of the human condition, but is also quite profound at times, but not confusing. I always enjoy the characters in Mr. Erickson’s books, and see what sorts of conflicts they must overcome. I also enjoyed the literary infusion throughout, and now I want to re-read Machiavelli! Thank you, Mr. Erickson, for writing another intelligent and highly entertaining novel, and I very much look forward to your next release.
  • Intelligent Design II: Apocalypse on Oct. 27, 2015

    like I’ve said in other reviews about other books I’ve read by J.M. Erickson (and there have been several!) is even if I’m not 100% sold on the plot, or some characters don’t totally do it for me, the way he writes is just so darn fluid and authentic… this delicate balance between beautiful literary prose and hardcore sci-fi techie narrative. It’s almost mesmerizing, and pulls us along like we are there inside the story as it all unfolds (or collapses, as it may be). Each chapter end makes you want to keep reading, and I have to commend Mr. Erickson on the way he writes such kick-butt female leads. Nice to see characters like Perez and Christine, and are some of the most dynamic, believable characters I’ve encountered. Plot wise, this is not a book to be rushed through… in fact, I feel there is much to think about, and deeper messages about humanity, how we treat out planet, where we come from and why we are here… is this all part of Intelligent Design? Highly recommend for fans of intelligent science fiction/adventure with a literary/philosophical twist.
  • The Urban Boys: Discovery of the Five Senses on Dec. 29, 2015

    4.5 stars For me, author voice is almost everything, and it will make or break a novel and my enjoyment of it. I need to hear originality and know that the author is not trying to sound or write like someone else, but is telling her story in a whole new way, whatever that story may be. I feel like I can smell a fake a mile away, and believe me I’ve read my fair share of books from authors who are ‘trying’ to emulate better, more accomplished authors. What impressed me the most here was that I thought that K.N. Smith’s writing style has the confidence and delightful quirkiness of a much more seasoned pro… was a bit surprised to see this is her first novel. The characters had that elusive ‘flavor’ that only comes when they are fully realized and fleshed out, something that is not easily done, especially in a novel of this depth and complexity, and the prose was lyrical and lush… almost poetic. Beautifully mesmerizing and wonderfully addicting!
  • Friend & Foe - Book 2 on April 14, 2016

    "Friend and Foe Book 2” is the second novel I’ve read by Nik Olsen, and like his first one (F&F Book 1) I thought it to be very good—excellent writing and a compelling, unpredictable plot set against an intriguing background. I like the fact that it is a fully-realized political thriller, action adventure without all the bloat that can sometimes weigh down a complex book like this one. Olsen fills you in as we go without getting bogged down in describing every last thing, but still maintains great character and plot integrity. The story moves forward and you can't help but get sucked into Olsen’s strong narrative. And I haven't even begun to talk about the characters, which were authentic and move the story forward nicely. Ben and Joe are the type of leads we like to root for, and I enjoyed watching their relationship continue to develop over the course of the action. Some similar themes and motifs found in political thriller/suspense lore, but once again Nik Olsen does a fantastic job of putting his own unique spin on them. The ending is one that will make you want to read the next one as soon as possible! Recommend for mature fans of literary drama/thrillers with a multicultural angle.
  • Friend & Foe on April 14, 2016

    I really enjoyed this book. I thought it was excellently written (a few minor editing things but nothing too major) and kept my attention from the interesting opening to the satisfying ending. It is not a quick read … nor should it be. There are too many important themes here to gloss over (war, soldiers, politics, religion, capitalism, family relationships….) so the author takes his time in carefully developing the various storylines so that we the readers are thoroughly invested the whole way through. I liked Mr. Olsen’s writing style very much, and found myself completely lost in this world he created night after night. Was almost disappointed when I was done, but the ending gave the emotional satisfaction I look for in a great book and leaves the door open for more in the future. Well done.
  • Not Black and White: From The Very Windy City to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue on May 26, 2016

    4.5 stars I’m not one for rehashing the plot (that is what the description is for) so I’ll just say that even though this isn’t my normal type of book (but I do follow politics as much as the next person) I loved the plot line, and thought it felt as real as it could be…I did get a bit lost on some of the characters, and thought that at times there were parts that when something really crazy happened, it just sort of got glossed over (don’t want to reveal more for spoilers…) But I was really invested in how it would all turn out, and was shocked (horrified, sad) more than once. Sad to think that this is what really goes on ‘behind the scenes’ and even when it is revealed to public, so much gets forgiven, forgotten, or just covered up to promote agendas. I thought the ending was perfect, and overall it was a genuinely good book. Recommend.
  • Portia's Revelation on July 15, 2016

    loved this book!!!! Okay, I don’t even know where to begin because so much happens and I don’t want to give anything away… “Portia’s Revelation” by author Rich Tenaglia is one of the most original and just flat out interesting fiction novels I’ve ever read. I liked it for so many different reasons— first the writing was stellar. Like, almost perfect. The strong word choice and fluid prose makes it a very easy book to sink into. There are enough descriptions where you can picture everything perfectly, but not so much that it bogs down the pacing. The specific attention to detailing, like what they were wearing or what they were doing really helped cement the scene in my mind and remind us that were in a different era. And Portia was so interesting! I liked that there were things I haven’t seen in other books like this before, and it just felt more “intelligent” than others I’ve read, I think because of the interweaving plotlines of past and present and the overall themes that are just as applicable today as they were 2000 years ago. It almost seems like it could be a movie of the week. A fun, slightly surreal and unorthodox rollercoaster read that I’d recommend to anyone who wants to try something new. You won’t be disappointed.
  • The GreenSeed Conspiracy on Aug. 16, 2016

    I thought “The GreenSeed Conspiracy” by Philip Benz to be very good—excellent writing and a compelling, realistic, frightening plot set against a familiar background. I like the fact that it is a fully-realized political thriller, action adventure without all the bloat that can sometimes weigh down a complex book like this one. Benz fills you in as we go without getting bogged down in describing every last thing, but still maintains great character and plot integrity. The story moves forward and you can't help but get sucked into Benz’s strong narrative, and liked the way the dialogue sounded authentic and natural. And I haven't even begun to talk about the characters, which were fully fleshed out and move the story forward nicely. Some similar themes and motifs found in political thriller/suspense lore, but Benz does a fantastic job of putting his own unique spin on them. Recommend for mature fans of action/thrillers with a realistic angle.
  • Albatross: Birds of Flight—Book One on March 14, 2017

    Loved the intense, gritty, detailed nature of this novel. Didn't as much love some of the dialogue, but in the end still a great book and I want to read more of the series to see what happens. The ending seemed pretty open and so be prepared to have the next book handy. Glad they are all published already. Nothing I hate more than waiting for a book to be released. Definitely some twists I didn't see coming... some I did. There is some time jumping and the story frequently shifts from one character's POV to another's. Sometimes these transitions weren't as clear as they could be, and a few times I found myself glancing back a few pages to refresh. But for the most part was pretty easy to follow and I liked the storyline. Could see this being a movie. Fans of military thrillers will enjoy it. Is worth a read.
  • Raven: Birds of Flight—Book Two on April 10, 2017

    great second book. Had many of the same elements of the first that I liked, and not as many of the things I didn’t. I like reading stories where operatives take on corrupt government and go rogue to take their revenge, matching wits and battling foes stronger and smarter, yet saving the day. It’s a great formula and when done well makes for great reading. The author does well of showing the events of the book (as opposed to telling) and we feel like we are in the thick of the action throughout. There were some minor proofing mistakes, but it didn’t lessen my enjoyment any. Great tension, conflict, and nonstop action, shocking and sad twists. Reels you in at the beginning and holds you by the throat and doesn’t let go until the end… and even then it’s so open ended, you need to start the next book right away, which I did!
  • Eagle: Birds of Flight - Book Three on April 23, 2017

    Another excellent read. “Birds of Flight: Eagle” is the third in a series, and just as captivating as the first two. I do notice how these books have a “I’ll just read a little bit more” quality to them, where I reach the end of the chapter and want to keep going. There is an interesting combination of events that are coming together to form sort of a ‘perfect storm’ (including things from earlier in the series… read the first two book s first) and has created an explosive atmosphere of peril and (almost) non-stop action. At times the pacing might be a bit uneven. And there were a few minor editing things like before, but this is still a very good read, as are the other books in this series. They are easy to get into and keep your interest as the story just builds and builds layer upon layer. I do give the author credit for actually making a story that is intelligent and makes you think, and has a psychological cat and mouse edge to it. I read from his bio he has a background in this field and it shows. Now we just need the next one so we can see how this all ends up
  • The Redemption of Charlie McCoy on Aug. 10, 2017

    3.5 stars I found myself wavering while reading “The Redemption of Charlie McCoy” by Christopher Wilsher. At first, I was immediately interested in the story, and became immersed in the interesting world building and complex plot development and the characters, especially Charlie. I liked the style of narration, even though third-person present tense isn’t normally my favorite it does work well here. Adds a certain urgency that works for the tone of the book. But there were times I felt the story wasn’t as focused as I’d like, erratic and inconsistent, with some conversations and scenes maybe weren’t necessary and perhaps could have been eliminated to tighten the overall tension some. But at the same time, the pacing was fast, and there was pretty much nonstop action and some crazy developments toward the end that had me totally hooked. It felt fresh and unpredictable, always a nice experience--especially in the thriller/crime genre where so much feels derivative and predictable--, and it had a certain intelligence and emotional depth that you don’t normally see with many of these types of books, was interesting to see it come together. I enjoyed the author’s voice, and was satisfied with the ending…. Seems like maybe there might be more? But some really awesome characters (esp. Charlie) and very polished in terms of formatting and editing. I would happily read more from Wilsher in the future.
  • Getting Gay on Nov. 13, 2017

    "GETTING GAY” had such great FLOW from beginning to end. Never a dull moment, and every scene smoothly transitioned to the next, even when moving through different time periods or Noah’s experiences with different people, making it really hard to ever put down, as I was always totally engrossed in this story. And wow, what a well-written and nicely executed plot! Every time I think I can tell what’s going to happen, I was thrown for a loop. Even though we know some characters (no spoilers) are no good I was still surprised by the level of depravity and some of the horrible acts that are revealed as the story unfolds. I’m so impressed with this author Bryce Hunter, and how he brings so many important elements together in an awesome mesh of complex emotional drama, important issues, authentic settings and characters, and with a great cohesive storyline tying it all together which is no easy feat, especially with a novel that touches on some pretty heavy things. If you are looking for something that will take you away to another time and place and make you FEEL something… love, anger, horror, satisfaction, hope.... this one will not disappoint. This is the first novel I’ve read from Bryce Hunter and I hope to read more from him soon.
  • FLATLINE on Feb. 14, 2018

    to be honest, it took me some time to get into this book, and at first I wasn’t really sure where it was going…after the explosive and intriguing beginning it seemed to sink into a really slow period of dense telling narrative that really slowed the pacing for me and was a little confusing with the change of perspective for several characters. But then the more I read the more I got into it, and then by half way I was totally hooked. Mr. Barney did a great job at creating some really interesting characters, and also in keeping us on our toes… some craaaaazy events at the end, and I was so curious to see how it would all work out, but it did. I loved the ending, but it did feel a little anticlimactic…. Overall very well done and I’d recommend this without hesitation. Some language and violence, but nothing a mature teen on up can’t handle.
  • The Boring Days and Awesome Nights of Roy Winklesteen on April 09, 2018

    4.5 stars "The Boring Days and Awesome Nights of Roy Winklesteen” is one fun, riveting book that I enjoyed much more than I was expecting to! And even though I didn’t really know what the book was about when I started [[the description is intriguing, but vague, in my opinion]], as the story began to unfold and become clear where it was going, I was having a lot of fun. In a way it reminded me a bit of “Encyclopedia Brown” (one of my favorite series when I was younger)but it definitely has its own special angle, and action/sense of adventure. It was also very intelligently written and kept me engaged – never felt ‘dumbed down’ for a younger audience which I appreciate. The story flowed well, and the author writes very authentically for the age range and genre. Does a great job of making us feel like we are really a part of the story, and I liked how it all wrapped up. A nice message for all. This is a very clean book, no violence or anything which I appreciate. I’d definitely read more from this author in the future. Recommend for ages 10+
  • Mr. Merson Goes Home on June 14, 2018

    I definitely liked this book by John Keeler Mitchell. I’m not exactly sure how you would classify it (Science fiction? Drama? Romance? Comedy?), but it was very good. I won’t rehash the plot (that is what the book description is for), but in my opinion this is one of those books that really is so much more than what the blurb can convey. It was amusing and visionary and managed to keep me completely engaged through to the end – and I also maintained my ability to suspend disbelief, which is important. Frequently I’ll read a book like this and then quit half way through because the plotline becomes too unbelievable or artificially contrived, but not here. And I noticed that Mitchell avoided the common mistake of “telling” instead of “showing” which was a huge relief (especially when there is a lot of 3rd person narration). I felt like a part of the action the entire time, and Keith sounds and feels like friend we want to listen to and experience this craziness with. Who hasn’t wondered what it would be like to go back in time? If you can read it with an open mind and just enjoy the creative and delightful journey through ‘time’ it’s a great trip! Adult language.
  • New Wave on Sep. 21, 2018

    this book was great once I got into it-- lots of fun to read and very descriptive. Almost too descriptive at times as the cost of some pacing that lags in the beginning, but it does improve as it goes along. Interesting characters, and a solid mix of drama, adventure, romance, and intellect. I was a little surprised at the amount of heavy narrative, especially in the beginning, but also throughout the rest of the book, and thought we spent too much time in Mol’s head and needed more engagement and meaningful dialogue much sooner and more frequently. We spend much of the book getting more of a feel about this interesting new world and the characters and their backgrounds, and there are a lot of physical descriptions of characters – common in this genre, I know, but felt too emphasized here for some reason. Has the super “hot” guys and girls, and a lot of emphasis it seemed (to me) on good looks – which is a common thing in YA/NA I know, but I do prefer when its less of an issue. But once things got moving along, I definitely got hooked and appreciated a lot of other elements Shore brings into play. I liked that it is so detailed throughout we feel part of Mol’s experience, good and bad. Loved the chemistry with her and Sebastian and liked that she is strong and stands up for what’s right, even if it puts her in risk. I feel like I knew some characters better than others (some just felt like names), but I am definitely curious to see what is in store for them in the “refuge” and where it all goes next. I do love the cover and thought the editing was very polished.