S. M. Boyce is a lifelong writer with a knack for finding adventure and magic.
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Illusion (Grimoire Saga #4)
The final chapter in the war for Ourea ends with blood.
Kara Magari is an icon. A hero. The people love her. The royalty tolerates her. She has everything—an army, allies, and a close circle of chosen family. They believe she will end the war, and they shouldn’t. She’s as scared as they are. She just can’t show it.
Grimoire Saga Complete Box Set (Books 1-4)
Experience the haunting world of Ourea from the beginning as Kara Magari uncovers a secret door in the middle of the forest—a portal that transports her to Ourea, the hidden world full of terrifying things. This epic series challenges traditional notions of good and evil, pits monsters against each other, unravels the secrets of magic, and showcases the power buried within us all.
Heritage (Grimoire Saga #3)
Kara Magari isn’t normal, even by Ourea’s standards—and in a world of shape-shifters and soul stealers, that’s saying something. To the royalty, she’s a loose cannon. To the masses, she’s a failure. But Kara’s arrival in Ourea started a war, and she’s going to end it.
Treason (Grimoire Saga #2)
To survive their war-torn world, both Kara Magari and Braeden Drakonin must become the evil each has grown to hate.
Lichgates (Grimoire Saga #1)
Kara Magari is about to discover a beautiful world full of terrifying things—Ourea. The final page will leave you breathless.
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Smashwords book reviews by S.M. Boyce
- Dark Mercy (Gothic Urban Fantasy: Preternaturals Shorts)
on April 19, 2012
THE SHORT VERSION:
Dark Mercy is a short work of paranormal vampire fiction that can easily be read in one sitting. It's sexy, dangerous, thrilling, and while the word "dark" is used a lot, it fits too. I really enjoyed reading this, but beware that it's rated R and is full of, well, sinful pleasantries. Dude, even I felt kind of like I needed a confession after reading the sex scene. The characters were flawed and realistic, the story magical and real, and the subtle (and not-so-subtle) themes had me thinking about the book long after I finished. This is on my favorites shelf and I'll be reading the rest in this series.
So Dark Mercy actually starts with what I thought was a bit of a spoiler. Winters has this disclaimer in her Acknowledgements:
[quote]Dark Mercy is the beginning of Hadrian and Angeline's story, not the end. Their HEA will happen later in their own full-length novel. This story is important both for the overall series and for this couple, but it's not their HEA. Just a mild disclaimer so no one goes in with false expectations of this story.[/quote]
Maybe I'm the odd one out, but I had to Google "HEA." For those who also don't know, it stands for "happily ever after." Huh, I thought. Spoiler much? We know from the get-go that there is no lovey-dovey resolution to the story. We're almost guaranteed a cliff hanger. This disappointed me at first, but now that I've read it, I have to say that it adds to the end. I want to see how any couple can survive this sort of, er, tension. It makes me even more curious to read on, knowing that this isn't the end of their story. So even though it was off-putting at first, the "spoiler" actually left me completely surprised at the end. It wasn't what I was expecting at all. I love that.
The narration switches between our two main characters: Hadrian and Angeline. We see sex, vulgar language, sin, demons...it's all there, so be prepared. Still, it's great to hear their contrasting voices and to see the way they effect each other. Through them, we see life, death, lust, and the hope for redemption; it's wonderful. I really enjoyed the way the story was balanced between them, and I think it would have been weak without the vacillating perspectives. The themes Winters slips into the story are also wonderful, but I won't hit you over the head with them.
There are also moments of wonderfully vivid imagery, where I could hear and taste this paranormal world Winters talked about in Dark Mercy. You're transported from place to place, and each setting was crystal clear. I settled right in and never once questioned Winters' style or voice.
Winters' take on the vampire world wasn't entirely new, but both the look into the death/transformation and the way she described the taste of blood was. She describes drinking blood as being able to taste emotions, rather than literal taste. I thought that was great. You also get an insight into the other paranormal creatures of the Preternaturals series, from cyclers to witches to other magical creatures about which we can only speculate.
All in all, this was a great read. I slipped right into the story and didn't leave until I ran out of words to read. I definitely recommend you pick this book up -- as long as you're okay with a bit of sin and a naughty sex scene. I think the depth of the rest of the story will outweigh this for anyone made uncomfortable by lightly described sex in novels, but it's going to be your call in the end.
- Vaempires: Revolution
on April 29, 2012
THE SHORT VERSION
Vaempires: Revolution is the first in an intensely original series by Thomas Winship. Elements from multiple genres are blended together: fantasy, vampire fiction, scifi. It's a cool read with a lot of violence, but it's also a coming of age about two rather bad-ass vampires. You get two perspectives for a broad view of the overall story, but because of the cliffhanger ending, it reads more like an introduction than a full novel. Still, I very much enjoyed it and will be tagging along for the rest of the series.
You're introduced to a lot very quickly in this novel, and you have to keep up. It's action-driven and fast-paced, and I recommend re-reading the synopsis first before diving in if it's been a while. The book's blurb gives you an inkling of what's going on that the first chapter throws you into without warning.
We have two main characters: Daniel and Cassandra. Daniel is the son of the Head Royal Guard, and Cassie is the princess. They live in an era thousands of years in the future, after atomic bombs cause a great Devastation and the world is handed over to be ruled by vampires. What's incredibly neat—besides the fact that this is a scifi vampire novel with freaking vampire zombies—is that we see a constant state of evolution. We're shown how vampires evolved beyond humans, and then we see another vampire race called vaempires (note the extra "e"), which have evolved to hunt vampires. It's all very fun and complex.
There are actually very few central characters, and it helps focus the novel onto its central purpose of showing us this advanced war and the subsequent destruction as the vaempires (again, note the extra "e") attack the vampire cities around the world. The characters we do experience—namely Daniel and Cassie—are further explored because of this isolation. It's amazing to see them come into their own and respond to the chaos and death, but it's even more endearing to see their love for each other. It's the driving force of the novel, and I believe the driving force of life. Their love was very well done and their motivations very well supported.
This is a violent book. Just throwing that out there for anyone who's squeamish. I am a little, won't lie, but I managed to skim the gory bits without losing too much of the story. Some images are still kind of sticking to my brain and I wish they wouldn't, but it's nothing that will keep me up tonight. I often read this before bed and it didn't give me any sort of bad dreams. More exciting, really, because of all the action. I love me some good action scenes.
Winship's style is very detailed, and the action scenes specific. We get play-by-plays of what's going on, which isn't my personal preference for writing action scenes. Still, you see each motion and are given the full scope of the fight scenes, which makes Daniel seem even more bad ass. He was trained to be a killer, even if he'd never had to kill before the attack, and he's been trained to protect Cassie because she's a royal. Only, that's not the only reason he wants her safe.
Cassie is just awesome. I wanted more of her voice because of her strength and unyielding will to survive and protect her people, and sometimes sped through Daniel's perspectives just to get back to her. That could also be because I'm a chick and just better related to women. Not sure.
The ending wasn't my thing, just because I wanted more resolution. I felt like Daniel's character went backwards, instead of maturing, and I kind of bit my lip when I realized I only had a page left and it wasn't enough space to resolve anything. There was also a moment when the conflict climaxed and it seemed that resolution was imminent, but then the rug was yanked from under us. I kinda sat back and thought, damn, that's no fun. It still isn't going to stop me from reading the rest of the series, nor does it ruin the overall story.
Bottom line: this is a cool book. If you like vampires, fantasy, or hell, even scifi, I think you'll like this. It's an interesting blend of something new and refreshing, and I think it would make the coolest video game in a long time. Seriously, read it and tell me that wouldn't kick ass as a multiplayer -or- an individual campaign game! It rocks.
on April 30, 2012
THE SHORT VERSION
I fully admit that I stayed up until 6 a.m. reading the last 60% of this book. I tore through it quickly, in only two days, so it’s a fast and light read. Five has humor, spunk, and a thrilling imagination to it. Bits of the story were left unraveled at the end…bits that could have used explaining…but since it’s the first in a series, I’d imagine we find that out later. While our main character’s spunk made me love her, her resolve can be shaky and she occasionally acted in ways I thought were out of character. However, this book is full of sarcasm, quips, sexy men, and a political power play that adds an intriguing twist.
I’m honestly not entirely sure where to start with Five. The Story itself is interesting because Rich has woven together two distinct worlds: ours, and the magical, hidden realm of Faeresia. While I’m not personally a huge fan of the name, her descriptions were delightful and imaginative and her creatures were vivid and real.
Our MC, Rayla, is a sassy girl that runs away from home to persue her dreams. She wants to be an artist, and she’s actually really good. Her future is everything to her, and no one is going to take that from her. Well, that is, until several beautiful men start courting her. And by courting, I mean they’re trying to kidnap her in the night because they’re actually magical beings called fae, and she’s the key to making them more powerful. Unstoppable, actually.
Scary. Too bad they’re all drop-dead gorgeous. That’s a little distracting.
So the characters are pretty well done. Though the men were initially a little bit stereotypical (“latin lover” and “jungle warrior”), they are unique and their personalities develop over the course of the book. Rayla and her best friend, Cassie, are a hoot. There’s a ton of snark and humor that kept me glued to their development, and I loved the side stories that played within the book. The villains are, on the whole, also unique. And, damn it, they’re sexy too.
There’s an entire political undertone to Five that makes it more than chick lit and team-whoever reading. We discover why Rayla’s being pursued, and why she’s unique to anyone else that has also had to endure this strange courting process. We learn how some of the men want to use her, and we’re constantly wondering if any of them actually care.
I started to lose a little of my fervor when Rayla actually discovers a bit of the fae world for herself (I don’t consider that a spoiler, because it’s vague and come on, you knew it was going to happen). Point is, things felt like they were unraveling. All this choice she was given throughout the story suddenly doesn’t matter, and as much as she fights everything, no one listens. For someone so powerful, she becomes weak.
The pacing was pretty good, and any editing issues were minor and mostly unnoticeable while reading. The voice itself was strong and vivid on the whole, with just a few dramatic or flowery bits, and I just loved the imagination of the fae world, the trolls, and the magical beings. Styx is probably my favorite creature, and Zach my favorite character.
The ending was slightly off, though, and I’m not wholly sure why. I can’t really discuss it without spoilers, so I reserved those for the toggle below. But in general terms, it left me a tad confused. Granted, this is part of a series, and you can thankfully dive right into the sequel since it’s available now. But in terms of Five as its own book, there could have been more resolution. Rayla, who previously was hell-bent in her conviction, had what I thought was a sudden change of heart that really made no sense to me. I did stay up until 6 a.m. reading it, so I dunno. Maybe I was delusional and sleep deprived, but even as I reflect on it today, I wanted more answers to wrap up the first book before we dive into the new tension introduced at the end to start off book 2.
A few nitpicking details aside, this is a good book. I mean, 4 stars and all. There were some plot developments that confused me, or led me astray in a way that was never explained or corrected. But there were several more moments where I laughed out loud, and the characters Rich builds are fun and very sexy. If you’re a fan of a bit of sexual tension, power plays, self discovery, and a look into the magical, I think you’ll enjoy this.
- Vaempires: White Christmas
on May 01, 2012
I really enjoyed this novella. It gives us an insight into the characters from Vaempires: Revolution and explores both the lovers and main characters of the primary book as well as the underlying tensions that fuel the primary conflict later on.
Winship has a talent for adorable or lighthearted scenes that made me chuckle. I was often laughing to myself or grinning while I read, just because it was cute or I could relate to Daniel's character.
Even though one of my favorite parts of Vaempires: Revolution was Cassie's voice, I didn't mind not looking through her eyes in this novella. Part of that comes from the fact that this is a quick read and the other part stems from the fact that White Christmas only explores Daniel's love for the princess, so her input isn't really needed. It works.
The ending was good. It had a HEA effect, one that was expected and necessary to keep the reader happy, I think, but the tensions building through this novella and the dramatic irony sprinkled throughout makes it more than just a HEA.
All in all, awesome. BUT you have to read Vaempires: Revolution first to really appreciate it. No cheating.
- From Where I Stand
on Dec. 29, 2012
THE SHORT VERSION
From Where I Stand is full of poetry that lingers. The emotion is real. There is a truth in these poems that lets you know you’re not alone in feeling a certain way, and that in unto itself made me smile.
Zimmermann’s poetry touches on everything from the everyday joys of nature to the heartbreaking grief of seeing someone you love in a casket. The range of emotion is a journey, and I’m fairly certain you’ll want to reread several of these poems. That’s the beauty though—you can, and they don’t get old.
Considering the raw nature of some of the content, it’s refreshing to see a poet be so brutally honest and open with his readers. For instance, a few of the poems focus on Zimmermann’s fear of becoming like his father, who left early on in the poet’s life. The emotional scars are revealed in subtle ways as the poetry progresses, and never preaches. I never felt as though I was invading anyone’s life, but I did understand.
Bottom line—Rob has a powerful voice that bleeds through the page and hooks you from the very start. His work made me start reading poetry again.
- Winter's Homecoming and Other Poems
on Feb. 09, 2013
Winter’s Homecoming is a short collection of poems by Robert Zimmermann to tide us over from his previous collection, From Where I Stand, while he writes more poetry. It’s a fast read, but you’ll more than likely want to reread at least one of these poems once you finish.
You can read through these poems in about ten or fifteen minutes—it’s a really short read. But what I liked best about this collection was that I wanted to go back and reread a couple of them. Namely, Cutting a New Course and The Boarder.
The theme of this collection seems to be “snippets of life.” Each poem is a snapshot of a moment in time, complete with vivid imagery or carefully chosen repetition to entice us.
Poetry fans will no doubt enjoy this collection, and I think it’s a pretty good teaser collection for those who haven’t yet read Zimmermann’s From Where I Stand. I recommend both. Enjoy.
- I Would
on Feb. 19, 2013
The Short Version
I Would, by Robert Zimmermann, is a poem full of longing and loss. It's a short read—just one poem—but I really enjoyed it. It's the sort of poem you reread, and one I suspect will develop new meaning as you experience new adventures and heartache through life.
The poem's basic storyline follows the narrator, who is explaining how much he misses someone. It's built in a way that can lend itself to nearly any close relationship, which I liked. It can have multiple meanings depending on your current walk of life.
This is a sad piece that I reread to fully appreciate, and I can definitely empathize with the sense of emptiness the poem creates. It becomes more powerful with each read, which I always admire in a poem.
I don’t want to give away too much more, but here's the bottom line: I really enjoyed this poem. I hope you give it a read and maybe a reread, too, because I like to think you'll enjoy it as well.
I received an ARC from the author for an honest review. 4.5 star rating.
- Breakfast In Bed
on Feb. 28, 2013
Breakfast in Bed is a fast but fun read that has the perfect blend of sexy and sweet. It’s well worth the few cents to buy it. I particularly liked the narrator’s voice. Despite the fact that it’s labeled as erotica, there is a backstory to the lustful elements that makes you smile. It’s only 600 words so I can’t really say much more without spoiling it, but I CAN say that this comes highly recommended.
- Ruby: A Mystic Stones Jewel
on March 28, 2013
Rubyis a paranormal short story from the Mystic Stones series by Kayla Curry. Curry released this short 5,000-word tale of her two main characters to tease readers into exploring the series, and it definitely works.
The short is a glimpse into the relationship between the two main characters, Ava and Tom. Ava is a leasing agent in a business complex, and her job is basically to rent out offices to wealthy business tenants. Tom, similarly, runs Psytech—one of the companies that rents from the company Ava works for.
The paranormal catch? Tom is a vampire. An important one who works for powerful people. And he wants Ava… both for business and personal reasons.
Because Ruby is just a teaser, we don’t get a lot answers behind Tom’s paranormal nature. Honestly, more questions are raised than answered, but that’s what happens in a teaser. The pacing worked well, and the sections were evenly split between Tom and Ava’s perspectives. It was easy to follow along.
I enjoyed Ruby. There was danger, a hint of romance, and a promise of something exciting to come in the Mystic Stones series. I’d say give it a try—who knows? You might fall in love with the series.
- The Legend of Orchis and the Five Sisters: Book One
on June 05, 2013
The Legend of Orchis and the Five Sisters: Book One is incredibly imaginative, vibrant, and often funny. I would say this high fantasy novel is best for adults 18+ because of its brutal fight scenes and descriptive deaths, but I really enjoyed reading it. Though many transitions were jarring and the narrative could use another editing polish in places for clarity, I believe this debut novel will please fans of the epic/high fantasy genres.
The Legend of Orchis and the Five Sisters: Book One is just a neat story. This is a long book, so this will be a longer review than usual.
The novel is third omniscient and therefore shows multiple perspectives of the events that unfold, but the book primarily follows a young girl nicknamed Mushy as she discovers her magic.
The world itself is pretty damn cool. There was a lot to absorb at the beginning, so there was a learning curve at first. I felt a little lectured to in the first few chapters, but it settles out over time and gets back to the story. Basically, magic is an entity of its own, with its own life force and consciousness. When a strain of magic is born, it essentially attaches to a creature that serves as its host (there are many creatures to choose from in this world). They become bonded in a familial sort of way. I really liked this take on magic, and watching the characters weave spells and employ various strains of magic sparked my imagination.
There was a wide cast of characters, which actually didn’t confuse me much. Usually with a cast this large, I lose track. While I did confuse the two villains at times, I figured it out by the end. I think those two names were too similar for my liking, but everyone else had distinct personalities, abilities, and histories. Little mysteries appeared throughout the novel, which intrigued me as to the backstories of some of the minor characters. I suspect the author could make a career out of writing just about this world.
As I mentioned, the voice is third person omniscient. This means you’ll flit into multiple characters’ heads throughout a single scene, and I found this jarring at first. I settled into it by the middle of the book, but it was a little rough there in the beginning. I think it’s just because third omniscient is rare these days. The Legend of Orchis and the Five Sisters: Book One is actually a pretty good example of how to do third person omniscient right.
The conflicts throughout the story were pretty standard epic fantasy fare: power hunts, the “chosen one” (of sorts—this was slightly different with Mushy), powerful circle of friends, training to protect oneself from the power-hungry villain. A new element of faith in God (who in this novel is a woman) is an interesting twist to most epic fantasy, considering I don’t see faith as a common high fantasy theme. Don’t worry, though—the author doesn’t beat you over the head with this. It’s an element of the plot, but not a soapbox.
I will admit that some conflict just didn’t sit right for me. Some teacher/“wise man” characters acted childish and taunted each other when I expected more maturity from them. One of those same masters made life-changing decisions for Mushy even though he’d only been her master for all of a day, if that. Mushy’s “sister” (long story) went evil and murderous in what came off to me as almost too abrupt. At one point, Mushy meets a demon and goes from acquaintance to best friend in about an hour, which just seemed to happen too fast. Things like that: small moments of discord that didn’t quite sit with me as fully believable, simply because the actions seemed out of line with what I believed to be the character’s motivations.
A bit on the novel’s structure: The Legend of Orchis and the Five Sisters: Book One isn’t linear. There are essentially two parts to the book: the end comes first, and then the beginning/middle/resolution comes afterward in an epic flashback of sorts. It was a little…odd. Within that setup, the transitions between chapters weren’t always linear either and sometimes caught me off guard. I stuck with the novel and still very much enjoyed it, but I was confused at times and had to play catch-up on occasion.
The ending satisfied me—it resolved the novel’s primary conflict while still leaving enough open for another book (which is on its way, the author says). I’m happy with how the novel wrapped up and feel that it worked out well.
Bottom Line: I recommend The Legend of Orchis and the Five Sisters: Book One to any fans of epic and high fantasy. This is pretty loyal to the traditions of epic/high fantasy, and the world is vivid and brilliant. You might get confused in spots, but I still think you’ll like it. There’s a lot of imagination, and lot of creativity, and heart in this book.