Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Forty Leap by Ivan Turner

Mathew Cristian is a son, a brother, and an uncle. He is a worker and a watcher and a nobody. But Mathew Cristian can travel into the future. Mathew Cristian cannot stop travelling into the future. He is a hero and a savior. He is a fugitive and a revolutionary. Mathew Cristian is a Forty Leaper.

This author has a fairly well known reputation from the series Zombies, and this is a what I am assuming is a big departure from his books having to do with Zombies. I have to say the concept is an interesting one, a guy traveling through time. But to be honest it's not the most completely original idea, but that being said it is an original book using the theme. 

I have to say that Matthew as a character was quite interesting. And quite sad. The book is written from his point of view, and through most of the beginning there is very little dialogue, so the plot is really given from Matthew's point of view. The only issue with this is that it feels like the retelling of a story and not really like you are along for the ride. For me a book really has to grab you, and normally that involves me feeling like I am apart of the action and a part of what is going on within the book. That being said, it was interesting enough for me to continue on reading. I really wanted to know what was going on with Matthew, what the problem was for him. 

The issue for me was really in the beginning was the time jumps. He would explain what was going on in his life at that point in time, and then suddenly we were hours ahead, or days, or weeks even. On the plus side I do feel like I was experiencing the same level of confusion as what was going on with him. I was even more surprised when he was suddenly accused, or thought of as a bad guy, as someone responsible for bad acts. But at the same time Matthew knew nothing about what has happening during his blackouts, so maybe he did. It did add a bit of mystery as to what was going on in the time that Matthew was having these blackouts, and let me tell you book having an elements of mystery certainly helps the reader want to continue on reading the book. 

Matthew generally speaking is a good guy and a good characters. It's easy to feel bad for his situation, there are people he cared about who pass away during his blackouts, and I couldn't help but try to imagine the guilt he felt because of that and how he was going to handle it. That being said he handles things a little more calmly then I expected, he doesn't freak out that he is losing time, just kind of accepts it and keeps going, which that in of itself is pretty sad. 

I could go on about what happens as the book progresses, but I think it would be a disservice to you as a reader, because Matthew's journey is really once that you should go on with him, and not be told about by a review; it truly would ruin the fun of reading the book. That being said I would like to give the book a "good" rating because it is well written and it does keep you interested throughout the book. I think this book would be for anyone who is looking to read something out of the norm. This book doesn't really fit into any one mold, and because of that I think there is a wider audience that it could tap into. So if you are looking for something new and interesting check it out. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Ella by L.S. Burton

Isabella would do anything for her little girl, Ella. She loves nothing more than to let Ella cut her hair, or watch Ella pet the elephants at the zoo. As Ella gets older, however, she finds new friends and becomes distant and dismissive with Isabella. 
Isabella can’t understand why Ella won't talk to her anymore, why Ella ignores her attempts at communicating. She begins to feel as if she doesn't matter, doesn’t exist anymore. Ella is her whole world. She'd be nothing without Ella. 
Unfortunately for Isabella, she comes to see that this may, in fact, be very close to the truth.
This book is really a novella, so I am most likely not going to review it in the same kind of length as I do for full size books, to do so would give to much away. To be completely honest I am not entirely sure about how I feel about this novella. It was kind of a bizarre to be completely honest. 

Right from the beginning you start off with the story being told from Isabella's point of view, and to be honest I couldn't tell who was more the child and who was more the adult. Isabella seems to be under some kind of spell of Ella's and is willing to do anything this young child says. The child Ella seems to live in some kind of fantasy work of her own creation, which knowing a couple of four years old myself isn't to off. 

That being said in the progressing chapter the same thing is also present. What Ella says, is what happens. It doesn't really matter what anyone else says or does including Isabella, who is suppose to be the adult in the situation. I have to say that through the entire first half of the novella I felt like Ella was a giant brat who needed a good time out. 

At some point during the book I started getting the feeling that there was more going on here than meets the eye, and I thought that because of the relationship between Isabella and Ella. Especially when Ella starts talking to a bear for advice, I started to believe that the whole thing was happening in Ella's head and that's it, but if that was the case then why is the story being told from Isabella's point of view. 

So needless to say, I think most of you are going to need to make your own mind up about this book, as well as see if you understand it better than I did. I will say I found it a bit on the annoying side that the book was told from Isabella, mostly because she sounded like she was a two year old, or a young child, and basically that got old for me really quickly. More than that I felt way more confused and lost throughout the entire novella so for that reason and that reason only I am going to give the book a "so-so" rating. But once again I want to mention that this is my opinion and only my opinion, it's very possible that someone else might enjoy this book or not be as confused as I was. So if you would like give it a go! 

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Prodigal's Foole by R.B. Wood

A man can run from his past … but not his future. Symon Bryson lives in self-imposed exile until Monsignor DuBarry goes missing and not even the most adept of the magic practitioners can determine the reason for the abduction. The clues lie buried in the past amidst epic battles and horrific losses but reliving that failed mission uncovers fresh challenges and fearsome threats that reunite his old team. Symon must deal with his own hidden demons and confront the menace that threatens the delicate balance of power. When the darkest of all evils lures Symon into springing a long-planned trap, an unsuspecting world will confront the unthinkable. When all that stands between Heaven and Hell is magic, more than faith will be tested.

I seem to be having more and more of these heaven vs. hell books land on my metaphorical doorstep for me to review. And don't get me wrong, I don't mind one bit at all. I like these books because these are the kinds of books that make a person think about things while they are reading them. Not only that but they also draw from a persons internal knowledge base about religion and their own beliefs while telling a story, and how can you not likee a book that does that. 

The book is really fast paced, which I appreciated. I have a hard time when a book takes a while to get started or has a long lag time in the middle of the book. It's in those moments when I want to put a book down and then never have the desire to pick it back up again. So again I say hooray for the fact that this book is face paced. It reads kind of like a mystery with an urban fantasy twist. So every flip of the page feels like you are getting one step closer to developing your own theory about what happened, or even finding out what happened for real. I do have to say one thing about the pace, while it keep me interested throughout the bulk of the book, I do think maybe the ending went on to long. When an ending goes on for two long, as a reader I start to feel like I didn't enjoy the book as much as I really did because it feels tedious getting through the last couple of pages. It's not a huge sticking point though, because like I said the book is fast paced, and kept me interested throughout most of the book. 

Symon as a character is interesting from the beginning, because he lives in a life or a world that I don't think I would have imagined. It's interesting, the concept of having the Catholic church using magic to fight evil (and personally I can't help but think how cool that would actual be). But Symon really has to go through a journey throughout the book, not just to rescue his mentor, but a personal journey as well. He has to have some character growth along the way, which I enjoyed, because when a character doesn't grow throughout the book, whats the point? I also like that he is not the perfect guy, that he has made mistakes, and that generally speaking he is just as flawed as the rest of us are. It makes him easier to identify with and easier for me to feel an attachment to him early on in the book. 

I also enjoyed that Symon wasn't taking on this journey by himself, he had a group of people from his past who were involved in the task at hand. I like this because it really outlines that one person cannot do it all, and the team dynamic was really great. Sure people but heads, or sometimes they get along, but when people unite for a common goal it allows the reader to not just get behind the main character but also to like the secondary characters. And more so than that it gets them more involved in the plot in general. 

Overall, I would have to say this book is pretty good. I enjoyed the religious theme, while building on it, it wasn't offensive and was a great take on it. I liked the characters, the writing, and the fast paced nature of the book overall. I would definitely see how people who enjoy urban fantasy would enjoy this book, I'm not sure if the paranormal romance folks would feel the same, but I certainly wouldn't rule it out. It's a good book and a fun read. 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Shining in Crimson by Robert S. Wilson

Set in a dystopian, religiously-demented American Empire, the city of Las Vegas is no longer a city of sin. Now called Necropolis, it is a city that eats sin. The vampires of Necropolis wait patiently for the Empire's weekly drop off of guilty Penitents; sinners and criminals full of fresh blood.
Hank Evans is one of those Penitents and he would gladly let the vampires take every drop of his blood if it weren’t for one detail: Toby. Toby is Hank’s only son. Now, Hank must do whatever it takes to escape the city of the dead and save his son from an Empire as bloodthirsty as the vampires it uses to keep its people in line.
My first introduction to urban fantasy was through vampires. Vampires opened the door for me into a world of books I could not have even fathomed on my own. They are responsible for bring to light the world of werewolves, the fae, and all things magic through this fantastic genre I love more than any other. I have been waiting for a really good vampire novel for some time now, and this was a pretty good book for me. 

I have to admit I haven't read a lot of dystopian books, I have read books that take place in the future, but in a world very similar to the world we have today. And for me lately I have been enjoying reading books I haven't read a lot of, you stepping out of my comfort zone. I think I could really get behind this whole dystopian thing, it really forced the reader to imagine a world where things have changed dramatically. Not only that but it forces the reader to really think about what they would do in a time and place where the world has changed. And I love anything that makes me question things, or what I would do in the characters positions. It's books like this one where you want to think about it after you are done reading. 

I really like the world that was created in the book, it was innovative and unique. It's a really interesting way to put together the whole vampire genre, and their place in this new world is truly original. I really like the characters generally speaking. The author does a great job at making it clear how the reader should feel about the characters, which I consider a good thing because it shows that the author has thought the character through and that they have many different dimensions. 

One thing I really enjoyed about the book is that even though the Empire has changed the form of government, if you will, you still see the same themes as you do in just about every government. You can find corruption and politics just about everywhere you look these days, in the past, and of course you would find it in the future dystopian vampire populated world. 

My one big complaint about the book was there were some moments within the book that I felt a bit confused, I had a hard time keeping track of who was talking. I really don't like books where I have to go back a couple of pages and re-read in order to fully grasp what is going on. But in spite of me having to do this a couple of times, the story line was good enough for it not be a huge disappointment or not like me enjoy the book overall. 

Overall, the book was pretty good, the confusion thing is the only reason why I gave the book a "Good" rating and not a "Great" rating. I will say that people who are really into having a lot of romance in their books, this is most likely not the book for you. But if you want a book that is going to make you think, or if you like dystopian books then I think you would enjoy this book without a doubt. I think urban fantasy readers would really enjoy it as well. I have to say I love a vampire book that makes me think. 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Deadlier by the Dozen by Marcia Colette

Adopted at seven-years old, history teacher Mackenzie Lawson has spent the last twenty years dreaming of meeting her family again. However, her hopes to rekindle old memories and find closure have hit one hell of a snag. A hundred-year-old curse placed upon her relatives has begun, unleashing a dozen of her doppelgängers who want her dead. Their purpose is to infiltrate her family and kill everyone in sight. To exact revenge for a wrong that happened more than a century ago. 
Mackenzie must find a way to get rid of her psychotic doubles or risk having them go after her loved ones. However, each doppelgänger kill causes her blood pressure to skyrocket to dangerous levels. This and more attract the attention of a mysterious mutant with patchwork skin who volunteers his services, but leaves out the part about it being his job to destroy the source of the doppelgängers starting with her. Mackenzie needs to figure out where his loyalties lie before DEADLIER BY THE DOZEN becomes deadlier by thirteen.

I'm going to reveal a little bit of myself right now, and say that I have always enjoyed the idea of doppelgängers since watching and episode of Stargate. Can't remember what episode it was but I remember liking the episode and being fascinated with the subject. So when I got this book and realized it was like doppelgängers on speed, I was anticipated a wild ride. To say it was in fact a wild ride, might be putting it mildly. 

The story is told from Mackenzie's point of view, and she is an interesting person to say the least. I do have to say that at the beginning of the book I was a little bit confused by the events, but then again so was Mackenzie. It did take a little bit past the first chapter for the book to really grab me though, and to be honest once it did grab me it did full force because there was no stop to the action. 

Throughout the entire book Mackenzie is on the run from all of her doppelgängers as well as the police force for the supernatural community, as well as in some cases the actual police for the "normal" world. While on the run, and seriously scared for her life she has to find a way to not only figure out what is happening to her but who is behind the plots. To the characters strength she is not written as any kind of super hero (thank god), especially in the beginning of the book. In the beginning of the book she reacts completely organically, trying to rationalize events of the previous day and just go on. If Mackenzie had been completely okay with the events I think it would have felt unreal. She learns about herself along the way which allows for character growth, but she is not invulnerable, and does also get injured along the way. 

The other character I want to talk about is Reece, and I don't know exactly where to start when it comes to him. I will say I almost wish the book was illustrated because I am really interested in knowing exactly what the author had in her head when she put his description together. That being said it was kind of fun trying to figure out how I would picture him, especially since the words "Frankenstein" and "patchwork skin" are used as descriptions. It is hard to figure out if he is a good guy or a bad guy, but that works for the book. It makes him more interesting for the reader to get involved in. It creates this air of mystery around him, and as a reader I was always trying to figure out what his next move was going to be. 

There is a lot of intrigue in this book. I could certainly see how a person who enjoys a mystery would like this book, since it really is just one huge mystery. The book is face paced and fun to read. There were even times when I felt pretty bad for Mackenzie always having to be on the run, heck sometimes I was exhausted just listening to her thoughts. There are a lot of secondary characters in this book that make the story all the more interesting, and more than that the characters aren't just place holders to move the story along. Even the characters who only make an appearance for a chapter or two are fleshed out and given characteristics that make them good characters in their own right. 

Overall, this is a pretty good book. It's fast paced for those who like thrillers, it's full of mystery for those who like mysteries. There isn't a ton of romance in the book, but it's still a great read for those who like paranormal romance. Urban fantasy readers should really like this book though. I will say this, I want to read the next book in the series because Mackenzie is a character I really enjoyed. 

Marcia Colette Interview

Today we have Marcia Colette joining us for an interview, and of course later today we will also be reviewing the second book in her Dark Encounters series, Deadlier by the Dozen. I hope you enjoy the interview and stay tuned for the review later on today!

UFR: If you were picking a theme song for this book what would it be and why?
MC: I'd pick Why? by Annie Lennox.   Mackenzie spends most of her time trying to figure out why anyone would want to put a curse on her family.

UFR: If Mackenzie were in a book club what book would she be reading and why?
MC: She would be reading Doppelgangster by Laura Resnick.  Mackenzie has the doppelganger thing down, but it's the kick-ass part that she's missing when it comes to dealing with psychotic her "other selves".

UFR: Are there any characters in the book (and if so who and how so) that share personality traits with you? 
MC: Mackenzie.  We both don't think we're tough until put in a situation where we have to be.  My situations aren't as life threatening as hers, but they can be precarious. 

UFR: What was the hardest scene for you to write and why?
MC: When Mackenzie found out from her brother that her younger sister was shot and how much he hated her for terrorizing his family.  I've lived through that kind of violence and I don't wish it on anyone.   

Friday, February 24, 2012

Night Sighs by Emma Meade

Meet Alex & Tristan, modern star-crossed lovers of the supernatural variety.
Alex is running-on-empty one year on from the death of her fiancé, and the only thing that keeps her going is her romance with the young vampire Tristan. Tristan meanwhile has a serious obsession with Bruce Springsteen and is battling a can't-live-without-you sort of love for Alex. He's trying to persuade her to come over to the dark side but so far she's resisting his efforts.
So come and sing along to Tristan's band, The Dead Beats, the hottest group in London right now and walk with Alex as she teeters between this life and the next.  Because when you're around Tristan, you'll see how much fun it is to be alive when you're dead....
To start off I want to make sure I mention this is a compilation of five short stories. I myself am not a huge fan of short stories because I feel like I don't get a long enough time to really get to know the characters, or connect with them. One of my exceptions to this rule is when there is a compilation of short stories that take place in various worlds I already know, for example when you read an anthology that includes stories of Mercy Thompson's world or Sookie Stackhouse's. I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by this compilation of short stories. 

From the first short story you are introduced to Tristan and Alex, Tristan who is a vampire and Alex who is just an ordinary human. You can tell that the two of them love each other but there is certainly more going on than meets the eyes. And the first story has a way of pulling at your heart strings in a way that is surprising and pleasant especially since it was only about 5 pages long. 

The next story has to do with Tristan and Alex meeting up with each other again after a long absence. For me I think this was my least favorite of all the stories. I found the interaction between the two of them to be cold and almost in a way semi-vengeful and not in a good way. I really felt bad for Alex within this story. 

Then they offer you a bit of a glimpse into a couple in love on vacation, and hey where does a vampire want to go to visit anyways? Why Egypt of course! I mean seriously with all the history and magical mojo going on with the pharaohs why wouldn't a vampire want to hang out in a tomb. Hey death is right up their alley right? I found this story to be funny and more about these two people just being together. 

In story number four you find Tristan in some serious hot water. On the plus side it turns out Tristan has some friends as well as Alex who are willing to put themselves on the line to help Tristan out of this new found jam he had found himself in. I like this story because it has all kinds of elements in it, you see the love between Alex and Tristan as well as friendship and some humor. 

The fifth story is really the first time you see Tristan fully understand how much he loves Alex and how much he is willing to do for her. This story I would say is the most suspenseful of the bunch and highly enjoyable. This was the one story I wanted to read quickly from beginning to end just to find out what was going to happen next. 

Overall, I have to say I enjoyed all of the stories. I do have to mention they all have a lot of sex in them so this is not for the faint of heart or for those who blush easily. I would say this would be right up the alley of people who like paranormal romance or erotica. I can honestly say I would like for the author to make their story into a full length novel, because it would for sure be one I would read. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Tuatha and the Seven Sisters Moon by D. VonThaer

Aodh, The Dagda, a man made of ancient legends, has slumbered for two millennia. Tonight, when the moon is full and the stars are aligned, he rises from his temporary grave to find the world is not as he remembers. His people, have vanquished, along with the majority of his considerable power. Chance takes him to Dru, and together they set out to find the key to reopening his world, whilst forming a bond of friendship neither has ever previously known. During their search, Dru learns Ty was no mortal man, but a god with a prophecy to fulfill. Ty died before fulfilling that prophecy, setting off a chain of events that would forever alter the future. Devastated, Dru abandons Aodh and the life that should have already been hers, and finds herself in the company of the worst sort. She begins a sordid affair with Kas, a daemon whose insatiable lust for power is only outdone by his lust for Dru. Separated from the only friend he knows, Aodh is left to search the world alone for answers. He meets the young and beautiful dancer, Katerina, and is instantly smitten with her grace and purity. He set out to find the key to reopening his world, whilst forming a bond of friendship neither has ever previously known. During their search, Dru learns Ty was no mortal man, but a god with a prophecy to fulfill. Ty died before fulfilling that prophecy, setting off a chain of events that would forever alter the future.

First of all this is a very interesting concept. And for the most part was a really interesting read from beginning to end. But there are a couple of things within the book that were slightly annoying so I am going to go over there before going on to the good things about the book. 

First off, there were some formatting errors in the book itself. I'm not sure if the copy I received was an ARC or not, but it looks like a smash words copy. And even though I am one of those people who is willing to overlook the every once in a blue moon format error, this was a big one. About half way through every page the authors name would appear and then on the other page it would have the name of the book. The second issue with the book the chapters alternate with between two separate stories (they all come together at the end), but in the beginning of the book it often feels like you are reading two separate books, and for some people that could be a bit on the confusing side. 

I will say that those two things aside the book was pretty good. The first chapter was a bit on the confusing side, but I think that is what the author intended, since it does introduce the reader to a brand new world. The second chapter really brings you into Katerina's world, which it would be mild to say that she lives a hard time. It is really easy for you to feel for her situation, and it's obvious that she has a past, but you don't get much information about her past. You do get little hints every now and again about Katerina's past, and when you do it makes you even more sad about whats going on with her life.  Katerina is on the run from a life we can only imagine. And her escape is well planned and thought out, but at the same time it's so sad to watch, the terror in her actions shine through from the pages. She is one of those characters that you instantly identify with. It's rare for a character to do that with me, normally it takes more than a couple pages but for some reason she just pops right off the page and it is so easy to both love her and want her life to get better. 

Now you also have two other sets of characters you meet early on, Dru and Aodh. Dru is more confusing to understand because you often feel like you are missing a huge part of her backstory, but every once in a while there are moments where her personality and past are aloud to shine through and you feel for her. Aodh is an even harder character to get to know, only because he is so out of place and well out of time. However, even though you don't feel for these characters like you do with Katerina, they are seriously interesting. Not only that but watching Aodh try and fit in with a world he does not belong in is highly amusing and very funny at times, especially when Dru is just trying to make sense of everything as well as be able to enjoy her own creature comforts. Their stark differences so easy to see from early on it's amazing, Dru is a vegan and Aodh is a raw fish off the bone eating cave man. 

Of course the course the characters take don't always stay on the path you think that you think they will go down. But that is part of what makes the story so interesting and entertaining. I do have to say that about half way through the book the it really started to pick up the pace and become a real page turner. So overall, I am going to call this a good read.

D. VonThaer Interview

We are joined today by D. VonThaer who is the author of Tuatha and the Seven Sisters Moon, which is being reviewed later today. I hope you enjoy getting to know her a little bit better before reading the book review a little bit later today!

UFR: If you were picking a theme song for this book what would it be and why?
DVT: I think the best theme song for Tuatha could be Seize the Day by Avenged Sevenfold. *Seize the day, or die regretting the time we lost.//Newborn life replacing all of us, changing this fable we live in.*

UFR: If Aodh were in a book club reading present day books, what book would it be and why?
DVT: I think Aodh would read Bram Stoker, or maybe Stephen King. I think he would enjoy their cleverness, their ability to go to places within the mind, and be the first to do it. Stoker wrote the book on vampires. It was sexy, it was thrilling, it was terrifying. Dracula was written with such grace, I think Aodh would appreciate that. I also think he'd be a fan of King. I think he'd enjoy the wanderings of King's mind, the crevices he shows to the world that most people bury or take a pill to subdue. I think Aodh would find that fascinating.

UFR: Are there any characters in the book (and if so who and how so) that share personality traits with you? 
DVT: Dru absolutely by far is the closest to me. Her personality is much like my own. She is independent to a fault, and only realizes her mistakes far too late. She doesn't always see that independence is not always a virtue. (And the fact she gets herself into trouble when her temper gets the better of her.) She has such power that she doesn't even realize because of her past, because of her family, because of her lack of self-awareness. 

UFR: What was the hardest scene for you to write and why?
DVT: Katerina's torture was an absolute nightmare to write. I constantly stopped writing and tried not to put it in the book. I had crying fits during editing. I actually had friends call me and yell at me for what I'd done to her.  

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Scars on the Face of God by C.G. Bauer

Hex signs protect every barn and outbuilding. The local tannery spews its poison on land and in the river. And babies disappear at birth. An orphan and one-time felon who earned his nickname from the sound a crowbar makes when it hits a man’s head, Wump Hozer is now the custodian of Our Lady of the Innocents parish in Three Bridges, PA. Wump is old and tired. He’s fought all his life against the tannery’s waste, against God, and against the blind eyes of his good neighbors. Nowadays he tries to ignore the old monsignor’s exploits with the young women of the parish and the strangeness surrounding the local orphanage, and does what good he can for his wife, the church, the nuns who run the orphanage, and the poor orphans themselves. Childhood memories and strange presentments begin to plague him when a brick wall unearthed at the site of a new restaurant collapses, and raw sewage carries hundreds of bones into the pit left behind. It looks like the Devil’s made Three Bridges his new playground. A blasphemous bible will tell Wump why.
This book was a really surprising read, and if you ask me to tell you why I found it so surprising I'm not sure I could put it completely into words. But what I can say is the following, it's well written, makes you think, and is written in a manner that is very realistic. 

I think one of the harder things to do as an author is to be able to get a reader to engage with a character, and of course you have to do this with however the author chooses which POV to use. This first person is well written, and very well thought out, there is never a moment where Wump does anything that I would consider to be out of character or confusing. It was very easy for Wump to pull me into his life and into his story and for me to want to find out more (although I will mention it took most of the first chapter to actually grab my attention which makes me wish the first chapter had found a way to be more captivating). 

The book itself is a really interesting look at life in general, even though it is done through the eyes of one person, and it is a book that you will think about even when you are finished reading it. I was to especially mention the use of flashbacks in this book. Often times with characters you can feel like you don't know enough about their past, and therefore don't fully understand the way they think or the way they are. The use of flashbacks in this book really helps the reader to understand the character, and not only that they are well written. It's not confusing to tell the difference between a flashback and present time for the book. Also in a way I think they also help to make the reader want to know more about what is going to happen next as well as have a desire for more information about the character. 

I think I have to say that one of my favorite things about Wump is he is a deeply flawed person. He has a past, and one that most would not approve of. But that being said he really is the good guy in this story. I find it highly annoying and unrealistic when the main character is this perfect being who can do no wrong, it makes the character not only not believable but I also have a hard time cheering for characters like that. With Wump you find out about his past and then you know the kind of person he is in the present day, and those two things combined make you really want to pull for him, you want things to go the right way. And I think for me I had a feeling of pride for him, because he was able to turn himself into a person that people would be proud to know. 

I really enjoyed this book, and it really made me think. It made me think about religion and the kindness of people. It also made me take a look at myself as well. I am a Catholic so I think it may have been easier for me to follow along with some of the more religious bits in the books, so beware some people who aren't familiar with Catholicism might not know everything, but I don't think it would be hard to figure out. I would not recommend this book to people who are easily offended when it comes to the subject of religion, but other than that I can say I would recommend this book to most people I know, because I think they would enjoy the journey the book takes you on. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Paradox The Angels Are Here- Patti Roberts

My name is Juliette.   Nine hundred years ago, I died.  Today, I am alive... 
This is not a story about Vampires. However, we are talking about a predatory being that existed long before the word Vampire was ever whispered... the real monsters behind the legendary Vampire myths that reigned in Ancient times. They were a race of Fallen Angels called Grigorians. 
Grace is a little girl on a journey of discovery. A journey that she is struggling to understand as she deals with the catastrophic events that are forcing their way into her otherwise seemingly normal, if not sometimes, strange world. She finds herself trapped in a nightmare, consumed by her paralyzing loss and overwhelming grief. The haunting visions and untimely deaths of others are a constant reminder that life and death are only a heartbeat away.
I'm not sure why but I seem to have a strong love for books with both either the Fae or Angels. I think for the fae it's because there is such an infinite amount of things an author can do with it. For angels however, I think it has more to do with when I was a young girl in Catholic school I was always fascinated with the idea of angels, I even thought I saw one once. So now as an adult seeing authors using these figures I have enjoyed by entire life in so many creative way, I really do enjoy it. 

Now about the story itself, it's interesting to see how there are two different world being shown in the book. First there is the world of the angels and how that world works. Which is interesting and complex to say the least. Then we are brought into Grace's world, who is really just a girl who has the soul of an angel living inside here. Grace is living in a world that kind of just makes me a bit on the sad side, she really don't seem to have a lot of life in her life, just a lot of hardship. For me though because Grace has a lot of heavy things going on in her life, it made it easier for me to connect with her, and easy for me to pull for her, to want good things to happen with her. 

Another thing I found interesting about the book was that throughout the book I found myself trying to figure out who the other cast of characters really were, were they also angels in disguise? Where they bad people? It almost always seemed to have an air of mystery around everyone throughout the entire story. 

The writing itself is very well done, although there were a few editing errors that I did find slightly annoying. But the fact that the storyline was more original than I was expecting and the people in the story were almost always having things or doing things happening to them that I didn't see coming. I really enjoy a book where I don't know what is going to happen next, it always propels me more to want to turn the page and makes my mind really think about things. If there is one good thing about this book it is that I enjoy that it makes me think about things, I thought about things in the middle of the book, but even when the book was over I was still thinking about things. 

Overall I am going to say this is a good book. I think the reason this book isn't a great book is because it does kind of have a feel like it should have been a longer book, that this book is a little bit unfinished. I think if the book had been longer I could have gotten to know all the various characters better as well as the two different worlds that the author created better. That being said I could definitely recommend this book to urban fantasy readers who enjoy angels, or even those who don't, or looking for something new to read. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Night Shifters by Emily Devenport

That's the last thing Hazel remembers her mother saying. She really means to keep that promise. But she suspects she’s broken it – or maybe just failed to fully realize it, because she hasn’t become a doctor, or a lawyer, or a mermaid -- or anything much, really. Yet, in one way, she has kept her promise -- because Hazel is a Grand Champion Dreamer. When she’s asleep, she dreams a dazzling universe full of heroes and monsters, princesses and goddesses, cities and temples and gardens that make the most wonderful places on Earth seem dull in comparison.
During the day, she does what she has to do to pay the bills. At bedtime, she turns in, confident that she will dream, and that the sun will come up in the morning. So on the evening of her last day, she embraces the night wholeheartedly and drifts into the universe of her imagination.
But when the alarm goes off, she opens her eyes to darkness. The sun hasn’t come up, the world outside has become a City of Night, and the dwellers there are Night Shifters -- gods and elves, daemons and djinns, dreamers and wizards. All of them have their own agendas, all of them are chasing Hazel, and as she fights to understand this world of dreams and her place in it, she can’t help remembering what her mother said.
And she wonders. All those years ago, when she swore to never give up on her dreams, did she really understand what she was promising?
I wasn't sure what to expect from this book, because it is a book that basically takes place in two separate settings according to the synopsis. It can be quite confusing for a reader to have to understand and follow a person who exists in two worlds throughout one book, and I have to say that was a concern for me when I started reading the book. I will say that it was a slightly valid point. It takes a little while for you, the reader, to catch on to the premise of the book. While reading the first chapter I did have some issues, thinking to myself what is going on here? all while thinking I was missing some important piece of the puzzle. But at the same time I think that might have been part of the authors intent, I mean even though I was confused I was interested in finding out what was really going on, but then again so was the main character Hazel. 

While reading this book I do have to say that I thought this book slightly reminded me of something that would come out of the imagination of someone in a drug induced stupor. But then again that is what some dreams come off as, so I guess it is no surprise that the dream land that Hazel exist in has a bit of an out their feel to it. 

I do have to also mention that while I liked Hazel I didn't find her to be 100% believable. While she is a good character and is interesting to follow along with, she doesn't always feel authentic. She is a 26 year old woman but for me feels like she was written like she was a teenager, and that alone made it very hard for me to be completely invested in her as a character. I am a reader that really needs to connect with the main character or the book just isn't as successful in pulling me into the plot as it could be. 

Overall the book is short, and really what you get out of the book is what you want to. It is definitely a book that allows the reader to decide how they feel about the book and what they want to take away from it. The dream land is a unique concept and one that keeps the reader guessing which is always a good thing to have in a book. I don't think the writing was award winning but it was definitely a solid work. Moreover I think the audience for this book could either be the YA audience or a younger adult audience, because like I said I often felt like Hazel was written more like a teenager than as a 26 year old woman. If you are interested in a book that transports you into a trippy unique universe than this is the book for you. 

Michael Meyer Guest Post

How did you decide upon the name for your novel?
            What to name a novel requires a lot of thought. Getting just the right words to convey not only a little of what the book is about but also to tweak the reader’s interest, takes time. I must have gone through fifteen different choices, all of them appealing to me in one way or another, until finally I had the epitome that I needed: COVERT DREAMS said it all for me, the writer.
            COVERT DREAMS, my international thriller, is very aptly named. There are two alternating stories that are linked in a horrifying way. The novel begins with a terrible murder back in 1984 that somehow is connected to the disappearance of an American’s spouse in today’s Saudi Arabia. B.J. suddenly starts experiencing increasingly terrifying dreams, all of which seem so realistic. Is he living a nightmare, or is it reality? How can he dream the same dream night after night and know intimate details of Munich, a city in which he has never been? How can he speak German in his dream, a language he does not know? Why does everybody think he is losing it? Is he going crazy?
            In the alternating story, Stan Halsey, a newly arrived professor in Saudi Arabia, suddenly discovers that his wife is missing. But how can a woman suddenly disappear in the Saudi Arabian heat, along with every trace of her very existence? Why is there absolutely nothing, not one single detail in any records anywhere, to prove that she is indeed a living person and that her spouse is not crazy for thinking so? Why do both the American government officials and the Saudi Arabian authorities insist that she has never even existed? 
            What is real, and what is not? Who is really who, and why? What is behind the murder, the kidnappings, and the nightmares all leading up to what end? Dreams indeed play a large part in this novel of suspense, and the word covert plays a significant role. I chose words that would not only provide a bit of a clue as to the content, but which would also entice the reader to want to read the book.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Through the Third Eye by Lynn Boston

In this fast-moving thriller, Clay Barton and Shali Faisal are seeking ancient documents hidden since the beginning of recorded time--documents that could forever change the course of human history. By using CIA parapsychology techniques for past life regression, they finally locate this treasure trove of ancient knowledge, but not before a harrowing journey that takes them around the world. Now is the time to reveal the secrets, but a dangerous and unknown force is trying to stop their efforts. This thought-provoking thriller may make you think about the world and events in a new and disturbing way.
I've been interested in this book and books like it because I have always been interested in the way the human mind works. I mean seriously the things people can come up with in their brains or actions people take part in always boggle the mind when you break it down to the psychology. Even with my fascination with psychology I know very little about the idea of past life regression, and I find the idea intriguing and really an interesting twist to write a story about. I think one of the main things I appreciated about the book was that I learned a lot about things just throughout the course of reading the book. I think the author spent a lot of time with research, or worked in some kind of field similar to the subject matter in the book in order to be able to so eloquently "talk" to the reader in a way that was both easy to understand as well as easy to pick up and learn. 

I think the premise of the book over all is a fairly interesting one, I mean they are looking for specific documents and the way they go about looking for them is through sessions about people's past lives. It's not a common theme in books, so you have to give the author a lot of props for the originality alone. If you think about all the books you have read where people are looking for an object or for something in general it reads more like a cop novel, and to me this did not have this feel. 

I also want to mention the skill in the writing itself. I find books with a lot of dialogue in it often doesn't give the reader enough information. There is something to be said for being able to read a book that is primarily coming from within a character's head, it not only gives you insight into the character but as well as the surroundings. Of course dialogue is always important, especially in progressing the plot, but when it's too dialogue heavy sometimes as a reader you don't feel like you are getting enough information. This is certainly not the case with this book, and I appreciate the skill level that took on the authors part. 

Although I was not entirely sure what to expect when I started this book it was really a quality book. I was impressed by not only the level of knowledge and research, but also in the skill of the writing. Another thing that impressed me is how I could easily see how this book would appeal to people who like all different kinds of genres. I could see a person who enjoyed thrillers, sci-fi, fantasy, crime books, and a lot of others kinds enjoying this book. So basically if you are someone who visits my site regularly I think this book would be appealing to you based on that fact alone. 

S.. Ravynheart & S.A. Archer Guest Post

All That Matters
by S. Ravynheart and S.A. Archer

Donovan watched the four earthborn Sidhe abandon the dance floor to gather around him. Kieran flopped into one of the deep cushioned chairs and immediately started up with his barrage of questions. "What was it like? The Mounds?" Even though the noise of the Glamour Club thumped, Kieran’s power over sound ensured that only the lightest ambient music reached them. Kieran slung an arm around Trip, cuddling her against him. It wasn’t anything serious, just casual affection, although casual affection among the fey was often sexual in expression. Still, it was good to see the bonds beginning to forge within the group. It was essential in building their strength.

Donovan leaned forward, making eye contact with each of the youths to ensure he possessed their keen attention. He needed to make certain they were each clear on what he was going to share with them. That the gravity of his words weighed upon their souls. "The Mounds was much like Ireland might have appeared ages ago before it was crisscrossed with roads and steal replaced stone for construction. You've heard of Dublin. London. Belfast. Edinburgh. Great cities the humans have created. They do not compare to the artistry and splendor of the cities within the Mounds. There were all manner of fey living there. Sidhe. Brownie. Pixie. Changeling. Beyond the fey towns rolling emerald hills extended for miles and miles. The Unseelie and Seelie castles surveyed the land from opposite ends. Thanks to the magic of the Sidhe we lacked for nothing, not even weather or the appearance of a sky. It was more magical than you could imagine."

He paused, giving them time to imagine that enchanted place, before Donovan’s expression darkened and his voice deepened with anger. "That was what it was like before the Seelie destroyed it." He paused a moment, letting that sink in deeper. "In their lust for power, in their overwhelming greed, they drove your parents away from their homes."

"Craving dominance over the Mounds, they relentlessly tried to crush the Unseelie. Even to the point of consuming the magic of the dark court to supplement their own. In stealing the Mounds from us, they ripped it away from everyone else. The Seelie destroyed it. The Seelie brought it crashing down upon everyone who had not fled, leaving them entombed, lost... forever."

“Because of the Seelie, the Mounds are gone. Because of the Seelie, we are all that is left of the Sidhe.” Donovan’s hard gaze connected with each of the young earthborns gathered around him. The new Unseelie. His Unseelie. “We are all that matters now.”


Saturday, February 18, 2012

Sword: Tales from the Green Sahara by L.D. Agnew

Travel with the Sword through two thousand years of tumultuous history - from its other-worldly prehistoric origin to a semi-barbaric future. Wielded by various figures, the Sword is a catalyst for tragedy, treachery and revenge.

This was a very interesting book in premise alone. It kind of took elements from multiple different genres and melded them together, and in some places within the book it worked really well and was really interesting, and in other places it felt like it was trying to do to much all at once. 

I have been taking a lot of classes on writing and on an author's voice as well as Point of View. It is a very interesting concept to have the book be "narrated" by an inanimate object. But at the same time if you really thing about it, object, especially ones like swords end up outliving their owners, so the stories that they could tell and things that they have seen could all be both intriguing and unique to the object itself. And the book does discuss a lot of the differences in owners as well as the different beliefs of people of what the sword means. 

I feel like I need to find a lot more to say about this book, but unfortunately I just don't. The writing was a little on the dry side, which is okay for some people, but I don't particularly care for dry writing styles. Basically the writing style didn't pull me into the story. And it's not that the characters were terrible or the premise was bad I just honestly never felt a real connection with any of them. 

I can say on the plus side that I didn't hate the book, I was able to read it from beginning to end, and as much as that sounds like nothing, I assure you it's not. There have been many times I have picked up a book read a chapter or two and physically could not make myself read the rest of the book. I was able to go through the entire book, it just didn't engage me all that much. 

While I am going to give this book a "so-so" rating, I do want to mention a few things. There are many writers whose writing styles I don't like but yet remain extremely popular. For example, my husband loves R.A. Salvatore, but the writing is just so dry for me that I hate them all. So just because I don't like this writing style or because I found it dry, does not mean that there is not an audience for this book. The concept is unique and intriguing so keep that in mind while reading his review. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Cosmo's Reason by Julie Losoya-Harthi

Reason Regan is just an average witch who lives and works in a town run by demons. Her familiar is a shape-shifting pig named Sherman. Life is pretty boring until she meets Cosmo, an attractive Italian vampire who just so happens to be the prince of all vampires. He is sent to protect her from rogue vampires that escape to her town. She soon finds herself the princess, but life as princess of all vampires is not so easy. From stakings to abductions, this book will keep you on the edge of your seat.

I like reading books by all kinds of authors, and one of my biggest pet peeves with a lot of review sites is they like to stick with the established author who is backed by a big publishing house. I don't think I have ever made a decision on a book based on who published it, or if it was self-published (thank you eReaders for that). I will say that first time authors do have a lot of growing pains, and if you talk to people who have published several books they will always tell you that first book had a lot of flaws in it (in their eyes, not always the reader). Part of why I enjoyed this book is that the bones of it are good, and I know that when the second book comes out it is going to just get better, sometimes experience really does help especially with writing. 

That being said I can honestly say I don't think there is a girl out there who isn't going to like Reason. She's a great character and mostly because I think everyone can see a little bit of themselves in her, she is just an average girl whose world is turned upside down and has to find a way to make it work. You literally just can't help yourself, you want to pull for her throughout the entire story, you want everything to work out for her in the end. And when she starts to really hold her own and grow into her own and really start to have confidence behind her, you can't help but feel proud of her and the journey she has been on. 

There are a lot of little touches in this book that I like also, like for instance the pig, seriously who would have thought of putting a pig in a urban fantasy book? And the world building is pretty good, especially for a first time author. I didn't have very many times while reading the book where I felt confused or disconnect which is a huge plus for me. Plus the book is full of action so there is little to no chance of you getting bored while reading it. 

I also like Cosmo, the character himself is quite entertaining and interesting to read. And there is also some backstory there between the two characters. I do have to say that this book does have it's moments of being hot and heavy so if that isn't your thing you might want to be aware of it. 

Overall, it was a good book. I would not recommend it to YA readers because of the "hot and heavy", but paranormal romance and urban fantasy readers alike would enjoy this book. 

Julie Losoya-Harthi Interview

Today we are joined by Julie Losoya-Harthi, who is the author of Cosmo's Reason. We will be reviewing the book later today so I hope you enjoy this little sneak peak into the world she has created. 

UFR: If you were picking a theme song for this book what would it be and why?
JLH: Now that is a question I never thought of.  I suppose I would pick Tourniquet by Evanescence.  I think Reason feels she owes her strength to Cosmo and that without him, she would not be the strong woman she has become in the book.  He is her tourniquet.

UFR: If Reason were in a book club, what book would it be and why? 
JLH: Reason would belong to LLewellyn's Book Club because it contains all books on the supernatural world in which she lives.  Being a witch, she was always interested in learning more about her craft and how to improve it and they have the best selection of books on witchcraft.

UFR: Are there any characters in the book (and if so who and how so) that share personality traits with you?     
JLH: That question can be answered easily. 
 It is Reason.  I took much of my own personality and put it into her.  I sometimes say she is my alter-ego, the person I would like to be, but she also has many of my weaknesses as well.  She doesn't realize how strong she actually is.

UFR: What was the hardest scene for you to write and why? 
JLH: That was the scene when Cosmo was hurt and Reason thought he was dying.  I actually cried when writing that part because I became so involved in the story line, it was like it was real to me.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Between Seasons by Aida Brassington

Patrick Boyle dies in the fall of 1970, just days before he's due to report for the Vietnam War draft, which seems like a good thing until he realizes he's stuck in the house with no indication of when he'll be escorted to heaven. And after his parents leave the house, he's trapped without company -- until a mysterious woman who can channel his memories buys the house forty years later. The spring brings with it new life, but falling in love with the new owner may only bring heartbreak to them both.

This is a really intriguing concept for a book, I mean could you imagine being stuck in a house for years after your death? I myself am not a fan of a lot of ghost stories, mostly because they tend to lean towards the horror genre, and thank goodness this is not a horror genre book. I do however like a good story that makes the ghost a character that has depth as well as draws me into the character enough for me to forget that they are actually a non-corporeal person. 

Patrick's story is just so sad right off the bat, you can't help but feel bad for a guy who dies and is trapped in a house. It's hard to watch the parents who have lost their child leave the house and watch poor Patrick have to go through his own wake. I think the most impressive thing about the book and about Patrick was that the book didn't get stale. Even though the book takes place in one real location, with someone essentially stuck there, it never got repetitive. I can't stress how much of an accomplishment it is that the book didn't get old throughout the entire thing. 

I think the biggest concern for me in this book was, I was really craving some kind of emotional relationship with the two characters. So when Sara shows up my main concern was how the relationship was going to pan out and when she moved into the house, I literally felt like I was on pins and needles waiting to see how the two of them are going to finally going to talk and interact and maybe even fall in love. 

Overall I enjoyed the book, and the whole thing was a pleasant surprise. I'm not entirely sure I would recommend this book for YA readers, but anyone who likes a good romance or even looking for a new take on the idea of a "ghost" story. 

Aida Brassington Interview

Today we are joined by Aida Brassington author of the book Between Seasons, which we will be reviewing later on today. She offers some great insights into the book and I hope this interview peaks your interest enough to read the review later today and the book! 

UFR: If you were picking a theme song for this book what would it be and why?
AB: There's a song I listened to a lot while writing this -- Through Glass by Stone Sour. The sound of it and the sentiment really get to the heart of the loneliness that spurs the novel. Both Patrick and Sara have experienced loss and want in a major way, and it draws them together.

UFR: If Patrick were in a book club (or more applicable for the book, what book would he read while trapped in the house), what book would it be and why?
AB: Funny you should ask. Patrick hides a small cache of books in the house before his parents move on. His favorite: The Turn of the Screw/Henry James. In my head, he loves the book because he can identify with it -- it's a ghost story, but the reader is left to wonder if it's all in the main character's head.

UFR: Are there any characters in the book (and if so who and how so) that share personality traits with you? 
AB: Absolutely. Patrick and Sara are both avid readers, as am I. Patrick and I share a love of music. And, of course, Sara and I both live in haunted houses.

UFR: What was the hardest scene for you to write and why?
AB: The scene where Patrick's parents leave at the end of chapter one. It's a fairly emotional scene, and it was difficult for me to understand what that must feel like. I gave it so much thought and agonized over trying to get it right. In the end, I think it contains just the right amount of sadness and disillusion.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Athena's Promise by Annetta Ribken


As the front desk manager of a hotel on the edge of Zombietown, Pallas is used to dealing with angry centaurs, surly trolls, and zombie housekeepers. The trouble really starts when one of her guests ends up dead. But that's not her only problem.
Pallas needs to find the killer, and fast, or she'll lose her job, her home, and the ragtag family she's adopted out of her crew of "critters". 
In the course of the investigation Pallas uncovers connections to a nasty Oddities dealer deep in the heart of Zombietown, forcing her to expose a trauma from her past which could threaten her future. With everyone and everything she loves in danger, the promise made to the Goddess Athena may well damn her if she breaks it, but she is bound and determined to save her friends, her home, and everything she's built.

There is something to be sad about having a unique hook, something out there, that makes you as a reader say "huh, I really want to know what happens". For me it's the fact that Pallas works at a hotel at the front desk. When I first started going to college I was working at the front desk of a hotel, and believe me it isn't an easy job, I myself had to deal with a shooting (someone got shot in the butt, so it wasn't a murder like Pallas). So needless to say when I saw Pallas worked the front desk of a hotel that catered to the supernatural, and one where I murder happened, I was super intrigued.

As a front desk worker Pallas is basically responsible for anything and everything that comes up in the hotel. Making sure employees have everything they need, guests have everything they need, dealing with conventions, and reservations, oh and of course the inner politics that are in every job; oh and of course all the while trying to navigate all the difficult and different supernatural "critters" circumstances.

I love Pallas, she is a take charge kind of girl who is willing to do anything to get the job done. And it's not just because she is some crazed work-a-holic (although she is), it's because he work is her home, and all those people that she works with are her family. She's also a girl with a past, and a past that she hold close to the vest. In fact it's kind of fun going throughout the book and trying to put together the pieces of this woman's past.

Another reason why this book is such a fun read is because it is a part of a larger murder mystery throughout the book and it's really interesting to attempt to figure out who did it, why they did it, or if someone in the hotel did it.

There are parts in this book that make you laugh, and there are parts that seriously make you want to cry along side of Pallas. The employees are all creatively written and distinct in their own rights. Not only that but the world building is fantastic. What I think is even more impressive about this book is so much of it takes place in one setting, and when you have a book take place in one setting it can easily become repetitive. But that was never a problem for Athena's Promise, it was fun and interesting from beginning to end.

This was good book, a fun read, and kind of made me wish I worked a zombie hotel. There isn't anything to hot and heavy in the book so I would say it would be okay for younger readers, but those of you who really like urban fantasy this is a great read, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.