Monday, October 6, 2014

24 Hour Comics Day

No book review this week!

We're a little sad about that, but on the bright side... we attempted the 24 Hour Comics Day after our previous failure at it in 2011. This year, it fell on Saturday, October 4. Naturally I went to my job, shopped, built a model giant Candy Land game for the kids at the library, cooked, got the wood stove up and running, and drove one of my kids to and from town that day. Consequently, I didn't get very much drawing in. But it never hurts to try. At least that's what I tell myself. We don't always attempt the mad race to complete a twenty four page comic book/graphic novel in twenty four hours, but we're always hopeful that some of our indie author friends do make the effort. So if you did take the challenge, we'd love to hear from you! Go ahead and post your comment - add a link to any comic pages you did and we'll be sure to check them out.

I'm posting a few of the pages we did manage to scratch up - but be forewarned - they're pretty terrible. If you have any appreciation for art, any at all, look away while you still can. My daughter wrote a short story and thought we should work together adapting it into a mini graphic.  Given that I rarely manage to turn out images with more detail than stick figures, I did have to invest some of my time Googling 'how to draw'. That in itself should give you some hints about what to expect.

So please, if you even doodled enough to pass as a friendly nod to 24 Hour Comics Day, then by all means, please share! (Yes, share the pain). Here are some of the fruits of our efforts:

Don't worry. We're back to posting book reviews next time.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Into the Wasteland - Lisa Shea

This snappy little novella came as a complete surprise. For one thing, it really is quite good. And for another, it is not at all what I thought it would be. Although the story is exactly as the title claims - a dystopian journey - my first impression is that the story is really more of a western. Yes, a western. From the grubby clothed, gun toting heroine right down to her companionship with a horse named Blaze, the story is a straight shooter. The writing is very clean. There are no superfluous words, added subplots, annoying characters or meandering thought processes. There isn't even a romance. It's a journey survival story and the author sticks to it.

Yes, the reader is thrown into the story without any clues about the world it takes place in, or who the main character is (other than a young woman with solid instincts who adopts the name Hawk). There are gunfights (well, shootings), dangerous characters, and a lot of survival moments like searching for food and shelter. There is also the hint of a mystery man. The reader has no idea whether this mystery man is real or imaginary or what his role in the main character's journey is. It's a guessing game. But sometimes more questions than answers can be a good thing. It keeps the reader reading.

At only 110 pages, it's a very quick read. And as a bonus, it's free (at least for now). One of the things I liked most about the story was that even though it's book 1 in a saga, it could just as easily be a stand alone novella. But because, when I reached the end of the novella, I learned that the proceeds from the sale of this author's books would benefit a battered women's shelter - I decided to buy the next one.

It's available here:

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Thousand Dollar Tan Line

Curiosity won me over. When I watched the series and the movie with my daughters I was intrigued by news that there would be a book series to follow. I could hardly wait to see how the noir version of Nancy Drew would translate into a grown up paperback detective girl. And I was pleasantly surprised. It was a completely different experience from watching the show. The book was not the sharp wit narrative I thought it might be - instead, it was a very readable mystery with familiar characters and a twist at the end plot.

Time-wise, the story takes place soon after the movie. Veronica has taken over Mars Investigations with Mac as her assistant/ tech expert while Kieth recuperates from serious injuries.The business is struggling along on small cases of spousal cheating until Veronica is hired by the local hotel magnate to investigate the disappearance of a girl during spring break. It's twisty and turny with a plot that could fit in a couple of TV episodes. The book treats us to some of the old familiar characters and a little of the Veronica perspective we saw in the show and movie - but it all comes across quite differently in third person descriptive print.

Still, it is quite readable as a mystery whether it's read by a fan of the show or not. However, I do think it will appeal far more to already existing fans. You can pick it up at all the usual places, but if you're a total diehard fan of the TV series and not so much of the movie; or if you're unfamiliar with the whole fandom thing, you might want to pick this first issue up from a library to take it for a spin before committing.
On Amazon

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Purgatorium by Eva Pohler

The Purgatorium (The Purgatorium Series #1)I loved the idea behind The Purgatorium. It is a fast paced YA novel that mixes adventure, horror and romance. It involves kids sent to a resort like island that is part nature reserve and part historical ruin, and something else entirely. One of the characters (the main) is a very troubled girl. All of these points hint at a really great read. So when I received the novel in exchange for a review, I was eager to get started with it.

In the story, the main character Daphne Janus and her best friend Cam travel to an island resort that is clearly not what it appears to be. Strange things happen almost from the moment Daphne arrives on the island. First Daphne witnesses a possible crime and then is terrorized by people dressed as ghosts. Many unusual and even dangerous events follow. Daphne begins to wonder about what is really going on at the island and makes arrangements to leave, but her attempts to leave are foiled. Worse, she begins to wonder if she can truly trust her best friend. As the reader moves through the story, it is revealed that Daphne has experienced a family tragedy. She blames herself for the tragedy and has not been able to cope for some time. The real reason Daphne is on the island is not for a resort holiday but for extreme therapy (experimental therapy). But is the extreme therapy going to be effective or is it dangerous enough to get her or others killed?

The best parts of the novel, I thought, were the descriptive paragraphs that gave the reader an excellent view of the island. Also, the plot kept moving and the main character was busy enough to not dwell too much on a few emotions that could slow the story down. Although the character does return again and again to her guilt and the reason she is on the island. I would have preferred that the author give the Daphne character more details from her life, and more detailed interactions with the other characters to build character depth, rather than just the replay of guilt.

Although I really liked the idea behind the story, there were a few things that completely held me up at places. A strong feeling that the story was a kind of... what would happen if the Hotel California was made into a YA novel - was one of those things. I can't help it. It just really made me think of that old song even though the island was more of a treatment centre than an asylum. (The story just had that *patient is trapped and surrounded by dangerous possibly crazy people feel*). That feel also kind of spread out into the plot. The plot jumped around quite a bit and took the reader in a few very different and unexpected directions. It's almost impossible to explain without giving away too much of the story.

The other hold back point was the love interest angle. It was problematic for me. It's a YA novel with romance, so it's not unusual for the main character to have at least three guys interested in her. However, two of those guys (one being her ex boyfriend) seemed to be too old for her (yuck) - although I admit that I was a little confused about what her age was supposed to be (17) and exactly how long after the family tragedy this therapy was taking place (2 years) when I was reading the story. It made me think of those reverse harem animes that don't make sense (and have those too old guys interested in too young girls). I know that some high school girls date college age guys, but given the main character's circumstance, it just felt creepy. Other readers might not see it that way.

Overall though, I really did like the idea behind the novel and I think that the story moves quickly enough that the series has potential. Oh, and the title is awesome.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Another by Yukito Ayatsuji, Horror, Mystery, YA

Volumes 1 and 2

Another, Volume 1Another δΈ‹
Another by Yukito Ayatsuji 

Although not exactly small press, it is fairly difficult to find these Japanese novels in a translated form over here (by here I mean North America). Another is one of those rare finds, currently only available in English in the form of an ebook (split into two separate volumes). It's a horror story and mystery with a distinctly Japanese feel. And while it's true that some of the story and writing do get a little lost in translation, for a unique horror mystery, I can't recommend this enough. I first discovered it as an anime series with subtitles, but by the completion of the series I was all over the internet looking for an English translation in book form. What a waiting game that turned out to be!

It's now available, sort of, on many ebook seller sites. Amazon might have Vol. 1 , but then you might have to search around for Vol. 2 on B&N or Kobo, or one of the multitude of other ebook sellers. It's much easier to find in its other incarnations: an anime series (both subbed and dubbed), a live action movie and an epic Manga book. But being a sucker for a good novel, it was the novel I had to track down. 

The story follows Kouichi Sakakibara, a third year student who transfers to Yomiyama North Middle School after the term has begun. He immediately becomes aware of a strangeness that surrounds his class, third year Class 3. More than just the 'seven mysteries' - urban legends that are associated with an individual school - Koichi's class seems to be genuinely cursed. Class 3, it seems, has become closer to death. Almost every year, although not every year, people associated with Class 3 are haunted by death. During a curse year or 'on' year, people die. They could be students, students' family members or anyone closely associated with Class 3. And they often die horribly. Whenever there is an extra student in the class, someone that was not previously  accounted for at the start of the term, the class has to scramble to make arrangements and it becomes an 'on' year. When Koichi joins the class he decides to get to the bottom of the curse, but can he help prevent the coming horror or will he make it worse? Another struck me as a unique horror and mystery story, not a typical ghost haunting or gory slasher tale. The suspense works well and the reader is often left with a very creepy feeling. For the overall idea and story execution I give it five stars. Given that it's in ebook format, it is probably a good idea that it's split into two volumes of roughly 300 pages or so. The first volume is much better than the second. The writing - or translation - does fall apart a little in the second volume and there are places where the story moves a little too slowly. But I still recommend it.

The ebook can be hard to find, so here are some links that might be helpful if you're interested:

Another, vol 1, 2
Another Vol 1 on Amazon
Another Vol 2 Kobo

If you don't want to struggle with the challenge of finding the novel versions of the story, you can pick up the Manga (a whopping 700+ pages) on Amazon or at Chapters. The Anime is more readily available, but get the subbed version. Trust me, the voices really don't work as well in English. And I would probably skip the live action movie altogether. Not that it's bad or anything, just, you know, the usual. Books and movies made from books. How many of those movies do you actually really like?

Monday, March 24, 2014

Priceless by Crystin Morgan

 From Smashwords:

A gang of art thieves is running rampage around the world, stealing contemporary paintings from galleries, museums and private collections. International police forces are baffled. To make matters worse the criminals are developing a taste for murder. As events unfold through the pages of the British national press, the outcome is more bizarre than anyone could have imagined.

It is certainly an interesting novella, although in all honesty it might be too short to review. The format is definitely novel: a short story/mystery created entirely through news articles. Just like novels that are composed of letters or journal entries, Priceless offers the reader a refreshing change. Although, creating a piece like this is unique, it does kind of sacrifice flow. So it really depends on the reader whether or not they will like this one. The writing is good and  the mystery okay. (Yes, the mystery is only okay. I think it's just too difficult to build suspense or use all those other nifty devices with this kind of writing.) If you're looking for something very quick and different, I'd say go ahead and give it a try. It was free on Smashwords when I picked it up.

Get it here:

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Path of Pins by Hannah Kollef

Path of Pins (Paths, #2)
With the second installment of the Paths series, Path of Pins, the world remains on the brink of destruction. The Rose Queen has been destroyed but a powerful undead villain is released and he won't stop until until everything is consumed by darkness and the balance between life and death is lost. Kat and Jim try to stop this from happening while Kat continues to search for her father. Roger has been separated from his sister and Jim, and he must find his own way back to them along the path of pins.

For a second book in a series, it was good. The story moves along at a steady pace, although it's a much darker story than in the first book.  More characters are killed off and new fairytale and mythology elements are introduced. The characters' individual powers (Kat's, Jim's and Roger's) develop as they encounter increasingly dangerous situations. The descriptive content is particularly well done.

As with the first book, the bulk of the story is carried by Kat. However, in Path of Pins, Roger has a larger part as sections of the tale follow his journey as well. For me, the story didn't flow as well as it did in the first book because of this breaking up of plot lines. Also, by relating some of the folk tale content through Kat's visions or when some of the characters injected it through their own personal histories, the story didn't feel as seamless as it did in the first book. Overall it was a good story, but I didn't enjoy it as much as I did the first book.

I do recommend this one as a continuation of the Paths series and look forward

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Exciting Experimental Book Review Format!

Okay, so here it is....

For all the YA readers out there, I'm trying a new book review format. At first I tried out some animation software, but it was incompatible with my old Vista operating system. So I tried POWTOON instead. It's actually presentation software I found on the web, and wow, does it work. I can't sing enough praises about it. I hope you'll check out the link below. It's an experimental book review for Hannah Kollef's Path of Needles. That's the first book in a series, and since I'm reviewing the second book in a week or two, I thought it would be a good choice. (It may help the author as well - depending on the feedback I guess!).

In the meantime, I'm also checking out other formats and tinkering around with different software. So if you're an avid YA reader who follows reviews, please check out this link to YouTube and let me know what you think. Comments here or on YouTube are welcome. I hope you enjoy it!

Buy it on Amazon (paperback or Kindle)

Sunday, February 16, 2014

February Reads - last minute

Trying something new again...

Learning new software can be a bit like walking uphill in a blizzard. On an icy road. Without a hat. So rather than step outside and walk uphill through that raging blizzard (yes there really is one right outside my door today), I've opted for the learning curve. So please be patient with me as February is going to be a slow month. There are only 3 books selected for review on my agenda and I hardly know what to expect.

The first I hope to tackle is:

The Path of Pins by Hannah Kolleff
I have great hopes for this one as the first book in the series was captivating. It's YA urban fantasy that feeds on the orignal, terrifying versions of fairy tales.

Malakhim Volume 1: Here After by Aleph
Horror. No clue as to what I should expect.

Priceless by Crystin Morgan
Mystery, Short story, freebie

In the meantime I'll be figuring out a new program that may (or may not) help me create new and exciting book reviews. Here's to winter!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Two Indie Books for Younger Readers

Spear Bearer

 A very pleasant surprise! This story is a quick read with likeable characters and an interesting plot. It's a middle grade fantasy, has a steady pace and will easily appeal to a reading audience taken with books like the Spiderwick Chronicles or the Narnia series. Very few mistakes for an ebook. Recommended.

Here's the synopsis from Smashwords:

 Manuel is a soccer phenom on the field and off the field a magician’s apprentice—an apprentice to a real magician, not a pull-the-rabbit-out-of-the-hat kind. This magician can knock things off the table from across the room using his mind. You see, the magician isn’t an ordinary human, and neither is Manuel.

Lizzie has long since figured out where the presents under the Christmas tree come from, and she knows that tiny, winged ladies with wands don't really pay cash for baby teeth. Only little kids believe in fairies and elves. But Lizzie's world is about to be turned upside down. She is about to learn that the legends of old are not all make-believe. She is about to discover the ancient and powerful artifact that is her family legacy. And she is about to join the family business--a never-ending mission to remove from Earth all fugitive spirits.

Manuel and Lizzie live worlds apart, but a sorcerer with plans to rule the world needs something they each have, and he is hellbent upon getting what he wants.

Smashwords Link


Not quite finished. Although I liked this one, I think it could benefit by a little heavy handed editing. There were quite a few mistakes that should have been caught and at a certain point it became distracting. The story has potential and the characters were appealing. Well paced, and I can't really complain about a free book.

From Smashwords:

In a world where all citizens are Perfects--people with genetically perfect DNA, Kristi can't help but feel like a sore thumb. She's an Accident--a child never meant to be born and therefore is not a Perfect. Just when she thinks her life couldn't get worse, it does, starting with the arrest of her adoptive parents. Now Kristi is entangled in a web of secrets she has to unravel.

Smashwords Link
When sixteen-year-old Hannah Sheraton is arrested for the murder of her stepgrandfather, the chief justice of the California Supreme court, her distraught mother turns to her old college roommate, Josie Baylor-Bates, for help. Josie, once a hot-shot criminal defense attorney, left the fast track behind for a small practice in Hermosa Beach, California. But Hannah Sheraton intrigues her and, when the girl is charged as an adult, Josie cannot turn her back. But the deeper she digs the more Josie realizes that politics, the law and family relationships create a combustible and dangerous situation. When the horrible truth is uncovered it can save Hannah Sheraton or destroy them both.

This was a tough one to review. There were so many expectations. The reviews sounded so promising, I was really looking forward to sinking my teeth into a good thriller.

Although Hostile Witness is a legal thriller, calling it a legal drama might be a tad more accurate. Unlike many of the thrillers I've read, the suspense, twist and smattering of danger all make their appearances at the end of the story. So it would be difficult for me to put a thriller label on this anywhere but at the end. In fact, I was getting close to the end before I was interested in the story at all.

This all seems very negative for a book with so many good reviews. And it's not that the book is bad. It's really not. It just wasn't what I expected, so I was disappointed. The blame lies with me.

The first half to two thirds of Hostile Witness builds upon the main characters, their back stories and the oh so slow unfolding of the case against sixteen year old Hannah. Unfortunately, I disliked this first half immensely and nearly abandoned it. Halfway is my usual jumping ship point if I haven't been hooked, but for some reason, this time I persevered. 

Overall, the writing was clean, but I found the characters were stereotypical and not at all likeable. I found it very difficult to care what was happening in the story. Personal taste? Maybe. Luckily, the last third of the story picked up considerably with its courtroom drama and that tiny bit of danger thrown in. I believe that last third of the book  fits the legal drama (thriller?) genre well. Perhaps too well. 

To be fair, Hostile Witness is a solidly turned out, professional product - but I guess I was hoping for something unique.
On Amazon

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The League of Super Heroes, Rise of the Super Villain by Celeste Ayers

Very short, lightning fast read. Pretty sure this is either fan fic or something similar. A party game book? Based on a game? It's a first for me - how ever it may be classified. This is the first of several short novellas.
The story:
Reminiscent of the nineteen fifties comic books, this story has the feel and style of an earlier world. It's the culture of super heroes and dime store novels. The real super heroes and villains are men, the women are decor. And before anyone jumps up to point out that Ghost Girl is a super hero - well, sure she is. But she is also a looker and (not surprisingly) has to get rescued. In spite of her cool and highly useful super power. When I read it, I was reminded of watching early 1970s cartoons and that live action Batman show with Adam West when I was a kid. It's that kind of culture that comes through - minus of course the sound effects like 'biff' and 'kerpow' when the action happens.

I'm really not criticizing. This is a super hero/ super villain face off with characters named Justice, Freeze, Ghost Girl, Explosion Man, Muscle Man.. You get the picture.

So how should I rate it? Maybe with a big fist and an exploding guy. It's hard to say. The writing was okay, the story okay... for a very comic booky tale without the graphics (at least my epub version didn't have any). I have to admit I was expecting graphics as the book was found in the fiction sub genre - comics and graphic novels. It was also listed under party games and role playing. Needless to say, I was disappointed. Great cover though. The book is based on or written for a role playing game of which I am unaware.  I recommend it to those with a personal preference for that sort of thing.

The synopsis from Smashwords:
A super hero died last night, it looks like someone is out for blood. The super heroes thought they were safe. They thought wrong. Darkness lurks in the shadows, a darkness the heroes could never see coming. Is there a new threat on the horizon or has one of their own stepped over to a darker path? Super hero and super villain are about to collide in an all out war that will see friends parted and new alliances made.

League of Super Heroes: Rise of the Villain is a story based on the hit party game by Celeste Ayers.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Bone Cell - Richard Futch

The real synopsis (from Smashwords):

A spooky dream of a gigantic crow and an old, crumbling church in the lost reaches of a forest. A hint of mystery, murder and mayhem in dark underground passages. A poor magician and his little girl, surrounded and harassed by a group of mad trappers…

These are the visions that bring Ian and Connor to the site of their abandoned tree house where, unsurprisingly, the crow awaits. As they sit in the embrace of the crow’s eerie time knot, the strange bird tells them a nearly two-hundred-year-old story of how a town and great church came to be and of the misery that befell it. Of how the church became home to many animals and birds, and of the massive oak that had since grown up through the floor and slowly engulfed the church’s remains. But now the tree has begun to wither and an avalanche of death will soon follow. The two boys are the crow’s only remaining hope because of an innate talent they have been diligently hiding. They will be required to walk into the teeth of an old crime that has gone years unpaid, and of course the crow cannot promise that they will not be swept up in the flood of danger and madness that is fast approaching. Because something has changed in The Bone Cell and Connor and Ian are the only ones who can do anything about it.

It really has a great cover. Coupled with the short synopsis (I really should have read the whole thing) and the fact that it was free, I picked this one up quickly. It's for a very young teen or middle grade audience. It's also very short and can be read quickly. It promises action and the writing is very simple. I think that sums up the positive things I can say. I wish I could be nicer in this review, but in all honesty I genuinely hope this version of the book gets edited and revised. It has potential.

If you decide to read this version of the book, don't stop at the short synopsis for the book. Read the whole thing. The one I pasted up there from Smashwords. The story is - and I kid you not - more than two thirds the crow's narration of a long ago trouble that befell him and others. It's a story about the crow, a mouse, a Fat Man, a Church, a tree, a Magician and his daughter, a cat, a spider, bad people... Unfortunately, it's filled with unnecessary details and sidelines that make it confusing. It really is two thirds of the way through the story before the reader even finds out what the crow wants from the boys (Ian and Connor).

The last quarter of the story - the part described by the short synopsis - is better. The boys finally get their dangerous adventure - although they admit that after all that story telling, it's a bit of a let down.

I really hate being negative on indie reviews - I know it's not easy to go out there and publish your work. However, I do think the story has potential. It just needs to be reworked and edited properly. Particularly while reading the crow's story, the entire first two thirds of this short novel, there's  a good chance that the reader will give up. If the author just revamped the story, maybe by deleting a substantial amount of the first part or if it gets broken it up with present day action (not just the characters interrupting the crow during the story telling) - it would make a much more appealing fantasy.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Hallowed (Waters Dark and Deep #1)Hallowed by Monica Leonelle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Here's an excerpt taken from the synopsis on Goodreads:  

Brie van Rossum has always been the baby of the family, until she discovers that she is a Hallow, a descendant of humans and archangels. Oh, and that everything her mother has ever told her is a lie...
Pilot van Rossum feels like his life is spinning out of control. His mother has passed away recently, his family is constantly hounded by the media, and he can’t figure out how to control his younger sister...

A broken family, a deadly secret, an impossible romance… Hallowed is the first book in Waters Dark and Deep, a sexy new young adult urban fantasy series by Monica Leonelle (recommended for mature teens 14+).

For a novella that I just happened to find by accident, I was impressed. The story is well developed and offers a different view of the angel/demon/human eternal war and relationship type of story that is quite popular in YA fiction. The introduction to the characters and setting - particularly in the first chapter with Thessa and the underground city created for and by Hallows was very well done and pulls the reader in. It's short but not too short - great for a quick e-read. Once the story gets going, the reader gets introduced to Brie and Pilot, siblings who move to Hawaii to live with their estranged rock star father after their mother is killed. The bulk of the story then follows Brie and Pilot and their struggle with their new situation, complicated by Brie's discovery that she has Hallow powers. The teens are gradually pulled into a world influenced by Hallows, the children of angels and humans, and the Nephilim, the children of demons and humans. The story is just beginning in this book, but it has promise.

When I picked it up it was free - so I really have no complaints at all.Yes there were things missed during editing but it's hardly worth mentioning anymore. I haven't had a single ebook without errors so far. It's available at all the usual ebook outlets - Amazon, B&N, etc. but I picked my copy up at Smashwords. Worth checking out.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Dead Again by George Magnum

In the abscence of stars, this is my overall rating. It's not bad, I'll admit, but it's also not going on to a favorites shelf. Not to say anything against a good zombie tromp... I love a good zombie horror story. Unfortunately it's getting harder to find a good, original zombie broohaha. I'm always wishing I'll find
Dead Againthat next rotten gem, but sadly, it's just not meant to be... yet.

I'm not going to trash the book - surely it will appeal to many. And by that, I'm really thinking men. Or young males. Maybe I should qualify that a little further. Young males who really can't get enough zombie horror and play endless zombie brawling campaigns on an Xbox. Or PS3. PS4. Maybe Steam. In fact, my overall feeling was that the story could have been something that mutated out of excessive game playing. And as much as I really wanted to like this, it just kind of stuck in my 'meh' zone.

None of this is to say it's bad. The writing was okay. There was a heap of action. There were Zombies. Military stuff. Betrayal. Characters (yes - the called back into action type to form an elite team). And a really nice cover. Okay, so it was the cover that grabbed me. And then there's that cliff hanger ending. It's meant to make you buy the next installment. Again - it's not a bad thing if you really liked the book. And even if I try, I really can't be too hard on a free book.

For those of you who really love zombies, platform or computer gaming and stories that really feel generated from a young male point of view, here's the synopsis from Goodreads:

The Black Hawk chopper banked a hard turn, rotors thumping, providing a bird’s eye view of the burning landscape. Commander Peterson couldn’t help wondering what people around the world thought of this apocalypse. Maybe they accepted it as a biological infection. Maybe some believed a curse had descended upon the world, that this was the end of days. Maybe some already realized the inevitable, horrible truth: only the strongest would survive.

Within forty eight hours, it had become a global pandemic. There was no explanation. The dead were rising, returning to life, and devouring the living. Commander Peterson, leader of the most elite fighting unit in the U.S. armed forces, was assigned one, last final mission.

In his worst nightmares he never could have imagined this unholy war, or that he and his team were to become the one last hope that still remained….

Unleashed by Tempest C. Avery. A YA paranormal romance, book 2

Unleashed (Underworld, #2)
Spencer Perry has everything she asked for - her soul mate boyfriend returned to the living. All it took was a trip to the Underworld and a dubitable deal with a god. Now Spencer must pay her debt to that god by spending time with him in the Underworld, or Hades, the namesake she'd learned in school. It's a situation that complicates her relationship with her boyfriend Micah and fosters new feelings for the god Hadrian. It also places her in a situation akin to that of a Greek myth - Spencer's own story seems a little like that of the myth of Orpheus, a little bit the myth of Persephone. But as Spencer has discovered, myths can be distorted. The self proclaimed Queen of the Underworld wasn't some innocent maiden stolen away and forced to remain in the land of the dead for part of a year. Persephone was a monster. And she's a monster determined to destroy Spencer.

It took me far too long to get to this one. I originally intended to do this months ago because I enjoyed the first in the series, Unhinged. But in reality, when I picked this one up... months ago (and I actually paid for it), I was really buying it for my daughter. She was the one who just had to find out what was going to happen next.

Although I really enjoyed the first book, I have to be honest in that I wasn't as thrilled with this one. It is a continuation from where Unhinged left off - Spencer is still clearly in danger and the once perfect relationship she had with Micah might not be so perfect now that he's resurrected and among the living. For me though, it wasn't quite enough. Sure, some of the hanging threads at the end of Unhinged were tied up in Unleashed, and of course some new ones were created so we can look forward to book three. The story did continue, but I have to admit I was expecting more actual story in this one than I found. Don't get me wrong - it was okay and it does get moving in the second half- but there was far too much storytelling time spent on emotional recapping and one character admiring another but thinking it was wrong. It started to feel repetitive. There weren't really any new emotions or relationship dilemmas with the Spencer/Micah/Hadrian situation - until almost the end. On the positive side though, there was a little more going on with the minor characters.

Overall, I liked the story but the four star rating is more my daughter's. I did buy the ebook and at $2.99 I'm not complaining. It was worth it. Sure there were a few editorial things overlooked, but considering I have shelled out a whole lot more for traditionally published books (as ebooks) and found a similar amount of mistakes, it's nothing. When I pay more than $10 for an ebook that has errors (and so far I haven't read an ebook without some kind of error or errors), I totally feel ripped off. Particularly if I think the story is only okay. So for a $2.99 book with a few mistakes and a story I still enjoyed - Unleashed gets my recommendation.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

What's up for January 2014

 Got my list, and checking it twice, I'll read these books whether naughty or nice. Seriously though, Christmas is long over, it's 2014 and time to prioritize. So this is a list of indie reads I'm planning to read and review in the upcoming weeks. Stars or no stars.

It's been a long time now since I've picked up a truly good indie. It could be that I'm just looking in all the wrong places, or maybe my luck just fizzled in 2013. I've picked up free books and paid for others. I've read most, but some were remarkably unbearable and had to be abandoned. Regardless, it's time to get back to reviewing - but this time - good or bad the book will get some kind of review. I apologize in advance for not sticking to the 4 or 5 star reads format. But as you know, sometimes we get into reading slumps - that stack of books we've read but we don't have the heart to review because no matter how deep we dig, there's nothing positive review-wise in those pages.

So here's the book order for the next little while:

Unleashed by Tempest C. Avery, 2013 YA (the sequel to Unhinged) - currently reading
Dead Again by George Magnum (book 1, short), zombie horror
The Bone Cell by Richard Futch, December 2013 (short), MG/young YA, mystery/fantasy
Hallowed (Waters Dark and Deep 1), 2013 by Monica Leonelle
Spear Bearer by Stephen Clary, 2010 YA - (book 1)
Imperfect by Tina Chan, 2013
League of Superheroes, Rise of the Villain Book 1 by Celeste Ayers, 2013 (book 1, a short novella)

I will stick to the YA, thriller and horror genres as much as possible - but action adventure will undoubtedly sneak it's way in. In the meantime, I'll also be distracting myself with best sellers - sometimes I just can't help it. Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson is beckoning me at the moment. And so far, it's a page flipping tale of revenge with plenty of super villain action. I'm reluctant to put it down. It's a highly enjoyable YA.