Saturday, April 25, 2015

V is for Voices of the Soul by Rene Folsom




Throughout her entire life, Ella has heard voices. Voices inside her head. She's never given much thought as to why she has this gift… or this curse, depending on which way you look at it. It's not until she meets the mysterious Jonah that she begins to question her inherited abilities as a Soul Seer. 

Learning to deal with loss and love, Ella manages to live a seemingly normal life… or so she thought. 


My Review:

Wow. All I got to really say about this one is wow.  Voices definitely surprised me. I was really impressed with how much Folsom fit into eighty-four pages. 

I was intrigued by the story from the start. I knew going in that this being a short story, that was the beginning of a series there were going to be unanswered questions. But they only served to draw me farther into the story, not annoy me.  I want to read more of the Soul Seers series to see how the author answers them.

 I liked Ella. The story is told from her perspective. But I was able to learn enough about the other characters that I wanted to find out more about them as well. For a moment the insta-love/lust with Jonah did cause me to sigh. I'm not too keen on insta-love, but the way the author ended the story it all made sense and by the last page all was forgiven.

 The ending....just oh my god. Did not see it coming. Yes, it's a cliffie. Yes, there are TONS of unanswered questions. But this is one of those endings that just makes you want to get to the next book as soon as possible. Not that easy a trick when you've only had a little over eighty pages to reel your reader in. 

Voices is definitely getting 5 out of 5 stars from me. I've already put the box set of the series, which is books 1-6 on my wishlist and I can't wait to pick it up.



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I got this book from Amazon because it was on sale and decided to review it for this event. All opinions in this fair and honest review are my own.




My Adventures in Weight Loss @ Weight Watchers Week 47

So I still can't shake this cold. I didn't lose any weight this week, but at least I didn't gain any weight this week.

Weight: 184.4 lbs.

Friday, April 24, 2015

U is for The Unholy by Paul DeBlassie III





A young curandera, a medicine woman, intent on uncovering the secrets of her past is forced into a life-and-death battle against an evil Archbishop. Set in the mystic land of Aztlan, The Unholy is a novel of destiny as healer and slayer. Native lore of dreams and visions, shape changing, and natural magic work to spin a neo-gothic web in which sadness and mystery lure the unsuspecting into a twilight realm of discovery and decision.



My Review:

I enjoyed The Unholy.  When I finished it I could understand why it was an International Book Awards Winner.  The descriptions are amazing. The story drew me in and I liked seeing the characters inner selves slowly revealed as it progresses. It is an interesting take on good and evil.  It reveals how religion can be twisted and used for evil as well as good.

While I liked The Unholy, there were a few things that prevented it from completely blowing me away. Unfortunately they are tied in with things I did like so I'm going to do this review a bit differently and let  you know what I liked while at the same time what I didn't. Instead of just separating it into two different categories.

Let's start with the characters. The story centers on two main characters, on good and one evil. It does an enthralling job of showing the reader exactly how each are not only driven by their chosen side, but how they got to be where they are in their respective lives.  By the end of the book I could completely understand why Claire choose the path she did and why she reacted to the people in her life as well. I could also see why Archbishop Anarch had chosen the path he did and why he was so driven to willingly sell his soul for the power he desired. However the other characters in the book...While the reader could relate to them, their background was not nearly as satisfying. Also while some of their motives were made clear, others just seemed to be lacking.  A perfect example of this is the archbishops assistant, Father Gall. He is obviously evil and it's hinted at that he has had a history that brought him to know the things he does now and how to do them. But considering how much effort was put into the main characters, it just seemed not as much was put into his background, just bits and pieces.  I would have loved to find out more about some of the supporting characters and how they became involved, both in Claire's life and Anarch's.

The story itself pulled me in from the beginning. Besides the obvious fight between good and evil, there are also the family secrets that surround both Claire and Anarch. I turned each page eagerly awaiting to see what would be revealed next. The only issue I had with it was at the end. I don't know if the author needed to keep the story a certain length or what, but the end just felt rushed. It all comes to a sudden climax in the last few pages.  After reading the entire novel I just felt that there could have been, should have been, more. The book is quite obviously a stand alone novel and the ending leaves everything tied up in a neat little bow, but the way it ended was just so sudden. After pages of in depth descriptions of the world, as well as the characters and their experiences, I just expected more for the grand finale.

The descriptions that I just mentioned are the only thing that I have no issues with. I was there in the wilderness with Claire. I easily followed Anarch's decent deeper into madness. I could smell and feel the magic, both good and evil in the air. DeBlassie's world is based on a framework similar to our own and I think that also helps to make the reader feel as if they are there.

Overall I would definitely recommend The Unholy. My main issue being I wish there was just a bit more to certain parts of it the book itself. I'm giving it 4 out of 5 stars. It is available both in print and e-format so if you are looking for an intriguing read to pick up I think it is worth putting on your list to get.

If you want to find out more about Paul DeBlassie III and The Unholy check out his spotlight here on my blog. Along with his interview there is also an excerpt from The Unholy to enjoy.




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I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review to be included as part of the Blogging from A to Z April (2015) Challenge on my blog. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

T is for Time Killer by Todd Thiede




In the small city of Rockton, Illinois, someone is tired of waiting. He’s tired of standing in line at the grocery store and tired of waiting at the drive-through line. Now he’s doing something about it.

The first murder rocks the city. The entire Bjornson family—except the father, Stephen—has been brutally murdered, and the killer has left a message behind, written in the victim’s blood: Don’t Waste People’s Time. It’s a grizzly start for two young detectives who’ve just become partners. But Max Larkin and Jesse Fairlane put their personal distaste for each other aside and start concentrating on how to find the killer from striking again.

As they investigate the scene of the crime and interview Stephen at the hospital, the clues slowly begin to add up. Could this be a deranged killer who struck ten years ago and has now returned to the area? Before they can answer that question, another murder is reported, and Max and Jesse suddenly realize they have a serial killer on the loose.

But as they get closer to the truth, a past memory begins to haunt Max, one that might lead to a break in the case—or the end of his career.



My Review:

I liked certain things about Time Killer, but I can't say that it completely won me over. 

The things that I liked about it.:


I liked the story. The mystery behind who the killer is and his reasons for the killings. While some things I did expect to happen, it wasn't a disappointment when they happened. 

I liked the multiple viewpoints. You get to see the story from multiple characters points of view. It really helped to put the reader in the characters shoes. A great example of this is how when you see a room from Larkin's point of view. You see how he notices things and how his detective's mind pieces things together. I really never felt that I couldn't see the places they were in around me. I will warn that I think some of the descriptions are graphic. This is a murder novel, so I don't think that's a problem. I just want to warn others readers that the graphic parts are there.

What I didn't like.:

I really didn't like the present tense. I'm not a huge fan of it to begin with, but I've read stories where it works, and I think that this just isn't one of them. I understand that in present tense the story puts you more in the characters shoes as things are happening. However I think this could have been brought across using past tense. 
I also had issues with how some of the scenes transition from one to another. Usually when there's a change of scenery either a new chapter starts or there's something in the formatting showing that there is a difference between the previous scene and the next one. But in quite a few scenes, it's literally the next line and the characters are in new surroundings. It really jolted me out of the story because I felt I had missed something and I needed to go back and reread sections to make sure I hadn't missed something. 
Also while I liked the majority of the descriptions there were some things that were described that just felt random and unnecessary. For example, there's a scene where Jesse runs into a room to help a sleeping Max. She's and Max are the only ones in the room and he is still asleep, but out of nowhere the author comments how hot Jesse's legs look. It was unexpected and being that there was no one else in the room to see how she looked except the reader I really didn't see how it was important to state.  I could have seen if Max was awake and maybe that's what he was thinking, but he wasn't.

I think if you're looking for a new mystery to pick up that you might consider Time Killer. It being in the present tense is an issue for me, but I know that it isn't an issue for others. But even if tense wasn't an issue for me I'm not sure if I would pick it up knowing what I know about it. My biggest issues being the transitions between scenes and the random descriptions that just didn't seem to have a point in the story. 

I'm giving it 3 out of 3 stars. I'd give it more if the transition issues weren't there, if only because the other things that I didn't like are personal opinions. But the scene transitions are something that should have been picked up on by the author, their editor or a beta reader and could have easily been fixed.     





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I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.




Wednesday, April 22, 2015

S is for A Study in Temperance by Ichabod Temperance





Amazon & Goodreads Summary:


Could this be the case that launches my career into the art of reason and deduction? Surely, the peculiar occurrences surrounding the American tinker, Temperance, and the Plumtartt girl's calamitous assault on an unsuspecting Victorian London are of such a merit that they warrant my singular talents.
I am struck by the shortsightedness of Scotland Yard's detectives in this matter. Directing my intellect to see that which they, consuming the same informational data, remain blind, my keen observational ability far outstrips the best that the constabulary can muster. My every effort strives to be the greatest this field of study has ever known.
Hah! I'll do it! I shall accept this peculiar commission. This 'case of the adventuresome duo' could be the perfect way to showcase my unparalleled skills as a Great Detective! 

"'Twas the hand of fate that brought Miss Plumtartt and me together, for, in truth, we have been happenstance-stricken and adventure prone ever since." -Ichabod Temperance, For the Love of Temperance

Such is the case once again as Ichabod Temperance and his lady love, Miss Persephone Plumtartt, are hurled into adventure and mystery. This time, they return to Persephone's ancestral estate in England, where they hope to enjoy a much-needed vacation. However, fate has other plans for the young couple, as a series of murders close in upon the innocent pair. A notorious Victorian Era London detective assists the plucky protagonists through a tangled web of intrigue involving an incredible cast of suspicious characters.
 


My Review:


We're gonna turn back time a little bit with this review. It is the fourth book in the Adventures of Ichabod Temperance series.  However it is the last book from the series that I will be reviewing for this challenge. So yes, the reviews are slightly out of order.  All I can say is blame the alphabet. 


This is another amusing installment of the series.  This time we get to return to Miss Persephone's home in England.  Not only do we get to meet quite an interesting new cast of characters, but one literally famous literary detective as well. 

I have to say I am impressed with how the author works in a classic character, while at the same time making the character one of his own. He also doesn't use someone else's creation to carry his story. His own characters shoulder that weight  and keep the story moving, exciting and funny all at the same time.   Once again we also get to see the story from more than just the main characters points of view. I, personally, really enjoy getting to see the perspective of the supporting characters. It gives a fresh and amusing view of the story, as well as the main characters themselves that otherwise one might not always see.

I love the authors sense of humor as well.  Even in the darkest hours  it never takes itself too seriously.  It helps to keep the book light and fun. I also really enjoy the way that the author finds a way for his characters to save the day that is always amusing and unexpected. You never quite know how it's going to end.  Even in this one there is a definite surprise at the end that I didn't see coming. Again, it involves how the author weaves the characters into the story, so I don't want to say more and give too much of the ending away.

I have thoroughly enjoyed all of the books in the series. They are all quite capable of being stand alone novels.  Even so, I still think that they should be read in order. I really can't wait to see what the author has in store for Ichabod and Miss Plumtartt's next adventure. If you haven't read any of the books in the series yet, definitely go pick them up. With summer right around the corner, whether you pick up all the books out so far, or just the first few in the series, it will definitely give you something fun to read while you're relaxing on vacation. I can say that the books are addicting so if you read the first you'll want to read the rest. 









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I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

R is for Released by Megan Duncan




After a demon apocalypse kills their parents and everyone they know, 17-year old Abby Phillips, her brother, Carter, and friend, Max flee their home to travel through what has become the wastelands of America. When radio transmissions of a resistance offering shelter and safety cease, Abby is tempted to give up. Struggling to overcome life-threatening obstacles in their dangerous journey, Abby and her companions quickly discover there are much worse things lurking in the dark than they could have ever imagined. 

My Review:



Overall I did enjoy Released. It's got an interesting story line, I haven't read many yet that demons are the cause of society falling apart, instead of say zombies, disease, etc.. I also did enjoy the characters, especially Abby. But there were a few things that just didn't do it for me in the story.

What I did like:

As I said I liked the story. While I will say I prefer zombies over all other forms of societal destruction, I do say that I really enjoyed how the author used demons and slowly introduced different versions though out the book. As the characters learn about them so does the reader so there isn't a whole bunch that you have to learn about all at once. Also the ending is obviously a lead in to the next book in the series, but it isn't a sheer drop off. It does it's job of leaving the reader wanting to find out more about what is going on and what is going to happen to the characters that you've met so far.There's one line at the end of the book that really got to me. I can't share it, cause it will completely spoil the whole story of the book...but it's good. 

I liked the characters. The book is told from Abby's POV so you only get to know the other characters through Abby's interactions with them. But it was enough for me to feel familiar with her brother, his friend Max and some of the others they meet along the way. I liked Max and Carter, however there were a few that I think I was supposed to like that I just didn't.  For me I think that was just I didn't like certain characters personalities, not a failure in anyway on the way they were written.

Things I didn't like:

There were a few details...glitches if you will that kinda bugged me. I'll try to explain without giving away any big ticket item spoilers.  

Ok. My biggest issue is electricity. The world has basically gone to hell. (Yes, pun intended) So many people have 'disappeared' that as far as the reader can tell the three main characters are only a handful of people actually left.  Electricity, or the lack there of, isn't really discussed or brought up by the main character. While there is mention that they'll have to be siphoning gas and there are references to camp cooking stoves and generators it's never said about whether power is out completely or just in certain areas. But I assumed from what I read that yea, the powers out. Then there are two scenes in the book where the power is suddenly there.  In one scene a bit into the book the characters stop at a gas station and after one of  them goes inside to turn on the pumps they find one that works and fill up their car. Now at this point I'm going on the thought that there is no one left to keep the grids up so there is no power. So my issue is how did they turn the pumps on and how did they get the pumps to pump without electricity? I know older pumps, WAY older don't rely on electricity in the same way new ones do, but it isn't mentioned that this is an older gas station or anything like that. Plus before this scene the characters had already been siphoning gas from other cars. In another scene they come upon another survivor who seems to have electricity in their home to power a radio and do laundry. But they aren't there long enough to explain if the person is using a generator or not.  It just struck me as odd plot holes in a book that otherwise I really didn't have an issue with. I know some would say I'm nitpicking, but it really bothered me. I reread the book up to those points to see if the electricity issue was brought up and it wasn't. Not really one way or another. The story was good enough that I can ignore the power issue and I want to see what happens to the characters in the next book. Plus I got the book on Amazon for free so it's not like I was out any money.  But it is still something that I think needs to be mentioned. Even if the author didn't have access to an editor to point out the issue, a decent beta reader should have been able to. 

The first chapter of Chaos, the next book in the series, was included in this one and even without reading it I still put it on my wish list. As soon as I get a chance I do plan to pick it up. Also Released is still free on Amazon at this time so I do recommend picking it up. It's an intriguing start to what looks to be an interesting series. I want to find out more about what's behind the demon invasion and to see how Abby and the rest handle it.  Plus there's that one line I mentioned. It was really sweet and it made me want to see what else this author decides to put to paper.  That being said I'm giving Released 4 out of 5 stars. I liked the characters, I liked the story and the world Duncan created and I really want to find out more about whats going on. The link to Released on Amazon is below the cover above, as of the time I'm publishing this it is still free. So go grab it. Let me know what you think. If you've already read it I'd love to know if you liked that one line the way I did.


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I got this book from Amazon because it was on sale and decided to review it for this event. All opinions in this fair and honest review are my own.




Monday, April 20, 2015

Q is for A Question of Will by Alex Albrinck





They murdered his wife and son. They burned down his house. They beat him within an inch of his life. And then they realized they had the wrong man.

They should have killed him when they had the chance.


Will Stark is a self-made multi-billionaire, happily married and a proud father. He arrives home to find his house destroyed and his family murdered, and is himself rescued from certain death by a mysterious trio.

His rescuers are part of a splinter faction of a centuries-old secret society that has developed incredible technological advances, and unlocked the method to release humanity's innate potential, and skills long thought the realm of magic. Will was mistakenly believed to be a key dissident and fugitive, on the run from the primary group, known as the Aliomenti.

Society believes him dead, and Will elects to work from the shadows to learn the secrets of the Aliomenti, secrets that can help him seek his own form of vengeance.

Or, perhaps, become the man they'd sought all along.


My Review:



I have mixed feelings about A Question of Will. I wasn't sure I liked it in the beginning...but by the end it had really won me over.

In the beginning Question starts off slow. Yes, it does start off with quite a bit of action. The Aliomenti have sent Hunters and and Assassin after Will and his family. People die, things explode. But it just seems to take a really long time for all of it to happen. Things don't really start to pick up until nearer to the end of the book. Also throughout the book there are A LOT of secrets. Once they are revealed everything else in the book makes sense, but until then the book at times gets annoying with all the mystery.  

 I would go into more detail but it would definitely be a spoiler and the whole part of why I ended up enjoying the book was how it all fell neatly into place at the end. 

See that's where I get confused feelings. The ending...didn't see it coming until it got there. Yeah, I had suspicions, but nothing concrete. The author did a really great job of bringing it all together and answering a lot of questions or 'what the heck?' moments that had popped into my head while reading.  The ending of the book really made the book. The ending is a great lead in to the next book in the series, but it isn't a cliff hanger. There's still a few things I want to learn more about, but considering it's a series that's to be expected.

I'm giving it 4 out of 5 stars because of the pacing in the beginning of the book. I do plan on picking up the next book in the series. Also A Question of Will is currently free on Amazon so I would definitely say to pick it up and if you do I'd love to know what you think as well. 






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I got this book from Amazon because it was on sale and decided to review it for this event. All opinions in this fair and honest review are my own.