I'm a teacher by day and a reader/reviewer of paranormal romance, urban fantasy, science fiction, fantasy, historical fiction, young adult, and whatever else strikes my fancy.
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Smashwords book reviews by Emily
- The Wild Hunt
on July 02, 2011
Content Advisory: This book addresses topics, specifically past sexual abuse, that may be triggering or uncomfortable for some readers. This book would be most appropriate for a mature reader.
If there's an overlying theme in The Wild Hunt, it's that there are all kinds of monsters in the world. Some you can tell by looking, some reveal themselves much more insidiously. In 100 pages, the story packs a serious punch, and isn't afraid to unmask the monsters in all their many guises.
The story begins innocuously enough- Allie and Erik Herne are on their way to the small town of Wodanfield to move into and renovate a house that was left to Allie by her late uncle. They figure it'll be a good way to earn some extra money from the eventual sale of the house plus regroup and make some plans for their future together. In addition, it's almost Christmas, and what's better than a white Christmas to really get the party started?
What ends up happening to the young couple is unpleasant to say the least. While trying to come to grips with not only the abuse that Allie suffered at the hands of her uncle (yes, the one who left her the house) in the house where they're now living (it's graphic stuff- see the disclaimer at the start of the review) as well what implications that past history may have on their decisions to start a family, they're also confronted with the Furious Host, a murderous supernatural horde consisting of those who were killers when they were human. People are dropping like flies in Wodanfield; it's not a good thing.
While trying to find a way to stem the carnage, Erik and Allie discover that there are layers and layers of secrets in Wodanfield, and nobody's looking to reveal them. When it becomes clear that the monstrosities aren't going to stop on their own, they dig deeper, and realize the sacrifice that will be required to finally send away the Furious Host.
This isn't a story for everyone, and that's okay- this is a hybrid of many different genres, notably horror, but also historical fiction, Norse mythology, and drama. I enjoyed learning about the mythological components of the story and didn't see the ending coming at all. The focus on this story is on the surrounding myth and the battles between the Furious Host and the residents of Wodanfield; aside from details about the tragedies Allie has already had to overcome in her young life and the obstacles to her having a happy future, we don't get a lot in the way of characterization. This story is bloody, aggressive and raw, and makes no apologies. This is not a bedtime story for kids, nor is it an after school special. If you can handle the R-rated elements then this is a unique story worth exploring.
Check out other reviews and more at whatbookisthat.com!
on July 02, 2011
I don't think I've ever described something as a "romp" before, but the word definitely applies to the experience of reading Doodling. As a lifelong fan of Douglas Adams and The Phantom Tollbooth and that style of writing and sense of humor, Doodling was a true joy to read.
That in and of itself is high praise, but the wry humor and deadpan delivery were spot on, and I laughed from the beginning of the book until the end. Through all the laughs, though, is a message that definitely rings true- as chaotic and fast-moving as life can be sometimes, we can slow it down by focusing on little things that make us happy.
The hero of our story is Neville and the repercussions of his decision to get off the world. From starting his own country on an asteroid (and leaving it when he realizes that a rock is simply not a proper president) to discovering a colony of people who worship toasters to ultimately having to save the world from its own breakneck pace, Neville finds himself in the thick of things.
I've read other reviews that say that this would make an excellent illustrated book and I wholeheartedly agree. Despite being a very short story, the descriptions of the people and events were vivid and I could totally imagine some of my favorite illustrators having a field day.
This is the perfect story to unwind with after a long, trying day. Short, sweet, and to the point, there's a lot to love here.
Check out more reviews and other fun stuff at whatbookisthat.com!
- Dragon Blues
on July 21, 2011
Dragon Blues was a surprising paranormal read. Just when you think you've read everything there is to read in a genre, a book will come along that surprises you. Dark and sweet at the same time, Dragon Blues works in a variety of paranormal and plotting elements to come up with something unique, and unique in a world as saturated as PNR is definitely a good thing.
The story here begins with an interesting series of events that, except for coincidence, would have been unrelated. When a pair of drug addicts attempt to rob the store belonging to Noah Long, they set in motion events that will have an impact throughout the rest of the story. Noah is a dragon who shifted to human form 2500 years ago and stayed that way; he has the mind and recuperative powers of a dragon but has been passing in the human world all this time.
Against his better judgement, he lets the two thieves go, figuring that getting the crap scared out of them would be enough to keep them away from his store from now own. When the female thief returns, suffering from withdrawal and claiming she has nowhere else to go but the streets, Noah agrees to let her stay there until she gets things under control. While she's sleeping, he calls her sister.
That sister is Lila Fox, a lethal martial arts practitioner who's been put through the physical and emotional wringer by her family members time and again. She isn't surprised to find out her sister Izzy is in trouble again, but she's mortified to realize that Izzy's drawn a complete stranger into her personal disaster and Lila is on the next flight to Nashville to clean up the mess.
When Lila arrives, it becomes apparent that Izzy is making a complete mess of things at the request of her abusive and drug-addicted boyfriend, but Izzy makes her own, unfortunate choices. Lila understands that she can't make Izzy do anything she doesn't want to do, but it isn't in Lila to give up on people she loves, as she's been on the receiving end of that too many times.
When Izzy and her boyfriend, Kevin, do something really stupid and in the process reveal that someone is after the secret of Noah's health and longevity, Noah and Lila agree to work together to avenge Izzy's death and halt the threat on Noah's life. They didn't plan on falling in love (or as close to love as Lila is willing to own up to) in the process, but it just goes to show that not everything in life can be planned out to the last minute detail.
Dragon Bound was beautifully paced and written, not too long or too short, with lots of details thrown in for flavor that I haven't seen anywhere else. Noah's devotion to his music, Lila's unique personality and abilities, and the beautiful backdrop of Nashville all help with the setting and flavor of the story. The ending, too, was supremely satisfying. I hate the phrase "happy for now" and so was pleased to see this ending as "happy together for the first time in a long time." If anybody deserves peace and happiness and a committed relationship where the other person's loyalty is beyond question, it's Lila and Noah.
If you're already in love with PNR or are looking to explore the genre more fully (join us, JOIN US) then I definitely recommend giving Dragon Blues a go.
Read more reviews and check out other fun stuff at whatbookisthat.com!
- The Doppelganger Song
on Aug. 08, 2011
Content Warning: This story contains elements, including an attempted suicide, that may be troubling or triggering for some readers. Discretion is advised.
Paranormal is one of those genres that can be fused with just about any other with generally positive results. It allows for concepts and ideas to be combined in new ways while never eliminated plain old white bread everyday phenomena from causing an event or series of events. The Doppelganger Song uses this notion extensively and the end result is a mystery that takes its time in revealing each of its many details and secrets.
Psychologist Dr. Holly and her security consultant paramour, Frank, are an unlikely team of investigators. They've been romantically involved for eleven years (never married, though, don't make the mistake of assuming) and both are secretly wondering if it might be time to pack it in. When Holly is asked to consult on a case by a, let's call her a friend, Dr. Rose Steiner, she and Frank work the case together, combining his investigative skills with her psychological knowledge.
The case is a complex one- a young teacher, Emma, is in Bellevue after going out the window at the boarding school where she lives and works. The police are satisfied that it was a suicide attempt, and indeed, in the moments leading up to the actual fall, Emma was contemplating suicide- her life was going nowhere, the guy she thought she was madly in love with has dumped her like yesterday's news, and this seemed like the only way out. The thing is, she backed away from the ledge, but somehow ended up on the ground and in the hospital anyway. Who pushed her? Was she pushed? Is there anything to investigate here at all?
Dr. Steiner thinks there is, and that's where Holly and Frank come in. Strange things have been happening at the school, including other people having seen someone, or something, that looks exactly like Emma on the school grounds. A doppelganger by definition is a ghostly double or a twin; therefore the paranormal connection becomes evident.
The story is twisty and layered, and is an investigation on the part of the reader. The details are there, but admittedly they do require a lot of digging to uncover. Everyone has secrets. I literally mean everyone, as even our intrepid investigative duo have some things that they need to share with one another, and the sooner, the better. Their relationship is up in the air and remains so throughout the story, which was an interesting and unique element. Typically you see a couple that's either steadfast and committed, thoroughly broken up, or broken up and considering reconciliation; I don't recall any other story where I've come across a leading couple in that gray pre-breakup-but-then-maybe-not area.
The Doppelganger song isn't a police procedural, and it isn't a rip 'em tear 'em thriller. It takes its time getting from point A to point B and isn't afraid to make some stops in between, but if the reader stays focused and true to the end, it's definitely worth getting to.
on Sep. 02, 2011
Flidderbugs is the story of Kriffle, a bug politician and rising heir to his father's position in public affairs in the great tree where all the Flidderbugs live. The issue on the table, of course, is whether the leaves on their tree have three points, or four. It's the fundamental question that governs their lives, governs who's in power, governs everything. Kriffle knows that the leaves have three points, and anyone who thinks otherwise has to just be lying to the populace for nefarious purposes.
Hidden in that scuffle, though, is an allegory about fanatical devotion to ideology and about how small difference seem to be big when they're all anyone talks about. Star-Bellied Sneeches, anyone? Fargeeta, Kriffle's uneasy ally in this foliage based debacle, puts it elegantly:
“Most ‘bugs are so determined to believe that their tribe alone is right. They’re not interested in hearing anything that might contradict that. They would never even consider that the truth is more complicated."
Even more serious is the fact that petty disagreements like three points versus four can cause dramatic fallout, because after all, if everyone is sweating the small stuff, then nobody is worried about the big stuff.
At a quick 41 pages, this story is refreshing and attention-grabbing. Not quite a comedy, but still funny in that it resonates strongly of real-life scenarios, this is a good one to get people talking. I can see this being used in a civics class to introduce a variety of topics in a new way, and to take some of the polarization out of these conversations. After reading Doodling I came into this story with high expectations, and I definitely wasn't disappointed. Read and enjoy!
Overall Grade: A