Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christmas giveaway

I've reviewed several titles over the course of the past few months, and I think it's time for a giveaway. 

Starting today and running through Dec. 22nd I'm going to gift a copy of one of these ebooks.

To enter:

1) Read through my reviews and select a title you would like to have. 

2) Post a comment on the particular review, make sure you leave a way to contact you. Ensure that you put "contest" in the title of your comment to seperate it from other comments.

3) at 5pm Eastern standard time on the 22nd I will write down all the names and selections, put them in a hat and select one name.

4) if I get over 10 entries i will select 2

5) multiple entries are discouraged but in this case I am going to allow 2 entries per person. 

*Make sure to leave your comment on the book you'd like to win

** Feel free to leave a comment on other books as usual, just do not include "Contest" in your comment.

*** Any person that enters more than 2 times will have their last entries pulled out of the drawing.

Finally if you have any questions please feel free to contact me via email at

Monday, December 16, 2013

Seeking Dr. Magic by Scott Spotson

     What would you do if you were endowed with the power to do anything you wanted? Now, what would you do if you were the only person on the planet with these abilities?

     I'm sure some of you just thought about the wealth you could amass; others may have thought about the good you could do for the world. Maybe some of you would be content with hiding in the shadows while the world passes you by, or maybe you'd want to be in the limelight. My story for this week, Seeking Dr. Magic by Scott Spotson, is a take on that very ordeal.

     The story opens up on a world that has been turned upside down for everyone. In cities all across the planet a strange figure is seen standing on the edge of some of the tallest buildings. All the stories confirm that the man then leaps from the various buildings, landing safely on the ground. Even more impressive the man jumps from the ground back to the top of the buildings in a single bound.

     While the world debates and searches for the strange men dressed in ninja suits a lone man, an ex-FBI agent, Tony Hetfield, sees something that others don't. He begins entertaining a theory about the phenomena being created by a single entity, This theory is tested once a second event occurs, this time a colorful group of super-human street runners blanket cities in a rainbow of multi-colored light.

     With no further leads, besides what he already discovered, Tony makes a grand gesture and even gives a name to the entity. Utilizing a sky-writing service, he has a message written to "Dr. Magic" that includes Tony's name and business number. The resulting tidal wave of phone calls forces his secretary into a mental break, but the elusive man finally appears to Tony.

     After a brief conversation Dr. Magic waves his hand and the two are transported from Chicago to New York, where the man puts Tony into a perilous situation dubbing him the unofficial liaison between the world and the elusive Dr. Magic. As the U.S. government pursues Tony he begins searching for the man based on incredibly vague clues. The world wonders what Dr. Magic wants, Tony wonders what Dr. Magic wants with him.

     Seeking Dr. Magic was unlike any book I have read, not just including the short time I've been officially reviewing. It's hard for me to lump it into one particular genre, but I think my pros/cons will give any potential reader a better idea. As always, I'll start off with the pros:
  • The story flows very well. From a combination of writing style and great transitions its hard to put down once you get started. 
  • The character of Dr. Magic feels real, and for me hit the nail on the head how a person with the amount of power he wields would possibly act. 
  • The story, while being hard to place in a specific genre, is a light-hearted, fun read that fits the weekend read bill perfectly.
     There are a couple of cons that I feel merit a mention, though they are pretty minor:
  • The character of Tony, though he was an ex star FBI agent, seems to be a little to much of a "super detective". While there is a mystery element to the story, Tony's deductions at time seem to be nothing short of clairvoyance. This ties directly into my other 'con'.
  • One of the main sells for this book is the mystery aspect. There is an element of fun in trying to figure out who possibly Dr. Magic could be; however, as I mentioned above Tony's super detective skills pulls some of the fun out as his wild hunches and deductions hit home with little to go on. 
     Overall I'm going to give Seeking Dr. Magic by Scott Spotson a 7/10 based on:

     8/10 for readability - As I mentioned above the story flows very well, and Spotson's writing is easy on the eye. This, alone, makes for a great read and turns the story into a real page turner.

     7/10 for characters - I found myself a bit torn over exactly how to rate this particular category. On one hand you have a few weak ancillary characters, and a super detective whose personality is larger than life but whose detective abilities are almost supernatural. On the other hand you have Dr. Magic who is a wonderfully emotional character that pushes this category up a few notches by himself.

     7/10 for story - The story itself has its strong and weak points. The one thing I feel that it was missing, from this category in particular, was a little more detail. While a big selling point for the story is the fact that it is a great weekend read, a little more into Tony's hunt would have been beneficial.

     7/10 for Dr. Magic - The stories title character is, for me, what sets this story apart. I know I have a specific category for characters, but I feel as though Dr. Magic becomes so much more than just the physical young man he is. The emotion and realism that comes from him speaks of a young man that has grown up 'different' and alone. If you've ever felt alone in life I can tell you he will bring that feeling back in a real emotional response.

     A big thank you to Scott Spotson for reaching out to me, and allowing me to review Seeking Dr. Magic. It really was a great, well written read that I would recommend to anyone looking for something that is uniquely its own.

     If you'd like to pick up a copy of Seeking Dr. Magic click here.

Sparks by R.S. McCoy

by RS McCoy
New Adult Paranormal Fantasy Romance


"Everyone in the world has a spark, a light inside that guides them, keeps them alive.”

Myxini School for Children specializes in training young men and women who have powerful sparks. Strikers are taught to manipulate fire. Trackers learn to find animals in the most formidable terrains. Handlers are instructed in communication with large predators. But forty years have passed since the last time they had a Reader – a student with the ability to read minds.

When Lark Davies enrolls at Myxini, he knows there aren’t many like him, but he doesn’t realize just how rare his abilities really are. He thinks nothing of being asked to keep his spark a secret; after all, he can barely control it. Thoughts and emotions flood unbidden into his mind until he can scarcely walk or hold a conversation. But just when he needs it most, his ability fails him.

Larks meets Khea, a small frightened girl who mysteriously insights his protective nature. He has no explanation for the curious strength of their relationship, and it doesn’t help that she is one of the few people in the world whose thoughts can’t be read. As he struggles to get to the root of their unique bond, Lark begins to unravel more power than even his mentor expected, but in the process makes himself a target to political leaders eager to take control.

Buy Sparks on Amazon for $3.99:


Wearing only my loose brown pants, I crawled into the most comfortable bed I had ever known and sank into the soft down pillows. I had just started to drift off when I heard a knock at the door. I’m going to kill Avis.

“What do you-“ I started until I realized it wasn’t Avis. It was a stunning blonde with blue eyes. Khea.

“I’m sorry to wake you. I just- I had to see you.” Her arms moved to wrap around my waist and hold me tight as I questioned if I was really sleeping or not.

“Uh, do you want to come in?” We both knew the rules about being in someone else’s room after hours, so I pulled her in and sat down on the edge of the bed, still a little surprised she was there.

In the dim light her hair looked a little darker, but her face was still sweet and there was no denying that the last two years had done her well. Who would have thought such a beautiful young woman would come from that skinny little girl in Lagodon?

“How’d you know I was back?” I asked her, trying to appear less tired or shocked than I was.

“A friend told me.”

“I didn’t think you-“ Cared? It wasn’t the right word, but I was beyond amazed that she was interested in my whereabouts. I hadn’t seen her since that night at the Moonwater and it had changed everything for me since then. But for her, I wasn’t aware that she had been affected in any way.

“Ride with me tomorrow?”

“Uh, yea, of course.” It was a struggle to cover how little I wanted to wait. I would have given anything to have her stay.

A wide smile erupted across her sweet lips as she said, “meet me at the lake at noon.” With a lingering kiss on my cheek, she walked back through the door and disappeared into the dark stone corridor.

What just happened? I hadn’t seen her in person in years, and we were hardly close before that. And now she arrived in my room in the middle of the night and kissed me on the cheek. Was it a kiss like a friend would give another? Or more? I couldn’t make any sense of it, but there was only thing I was sure of. I would be at the lake at noon if it was the last thing I did.

Praise for Sparks:


                "...fantastic characters..."

                                       "...imaginative and creative..."

                                                                    "...simply could not put it down..."

Connect with RS McCoy

About the Author:

RS McCoy didn’t ever plan on being a writer. With a career teaching high school science, writing is the last thing she expected. But life never goes the way you think it will. While battling cancer, she picked up her laptop and let the words flow out. One year later, her first published fantasy novel has been released on Amazon and her second novel is in the works. She is a wife, mother of one with another on the way, a scientist, baker, gardener, and life-long science fiction and fantasy addict.

A Big THANK YOU to Blogs who are Hosting/Promoting today!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

MURDERED by James Schannep

     If you've been following my reviews then you may have read my Halloween review that featured a book titled Infected. It was the first "Choose your own Adventure" style book I'd read in years, and the first I'd ever read that was geared towards adults and I gave it a pretty solid review.

     The same author, James Schannep, wrote the story I'm reviewing today Murdered. This story is yet another "Click your Poison" book that allows the reader an interactive experience that is a comical, thrilling and all around wonderfully written read.

     Murdered follows the reader and friends on a trip to Rio during Carnival, particularly during the parade to kick the celebration off. Surrounded by thousands of people, locals and fellow tourists, you become lost while snapping photos. Its once you go down a seedy alleyway to photograph some graffiti art that your descent into the rabbit hole begins.

     The first choice you have happens fairly quickly, and your instantly thrown in the middle of an investigation involving a murdered American federal employee, drugs, and a multi-national energy summit. Each choice brings you closer to finding who is behind the woman's murder, and why she was murdered.

     It would be near impossible to do a real synopsis like I normally do, the multitudes of choices you must make as the story progresses ensure that no two people will play the same way. Instead I'll give a little bit of a 'what I did' synopsis for my first run.

     After refusing to follow the instructions left behind at the crime scene, I bumped into a mysterious stranger before being taken into police custody. A couple decisions later I was deputized by the embassy and officially became and unofficial detective.

     Following my 'gut' I examined the case with two separate agents, both having their own distinct styles we began moving in on our man....then things got interesting.

     Shortly after an encounter with a suspect, that I foolishly lose we're splitting up into two teams. My team, unfortunately, winds up in the jungle with an anaconda and a sniper and two choices later I very much fail my first big case.

     I must admit that I was worried this story would lack the things that made Infected such a great read. Instead, however, Schannep delivered a story that is full of 'pros':

  • The shear fun of an adult 'choose your own adventure' is a pro to this story on its own. Getting to make your own decisions and see the outcomes of your choices is nothing short of wonderful.
  • There is a little less of a comedic undertone in this one when compared to Schannep's Halloween release, but instead of taking away it actually allows you to focus on the mystery and the thrills more. 
  • The mystery behind the story is very intriguing. It mixes so many elements and possibilities that it really keeps you guessing throughout your adventure. 
     There are several elements that I haven't touched on yet, from the quality of the writing to the organization and several other characteristics that mark this as a must read. I honestly can't think of one con that takes away from this story in any way. 

     Overall I'm going to give Murdered by James Schannep a resounding 10/10 based on:

    10/10 for readability - Writing a novel is hard, that's no secret. Even with my own novella I've struggled in places to keep the story readable throughout. I can't imagine trying to organize multiple stories in a way that is fun and relaxed, but at the same time well written, concise, creative and most of all entertaining.
    10/10 for characters - Everyone from the lowliest extra to the more prominent character is as real as you and me. Each one as an identifiable and individual voice that you can recognize immediately, even the way each character talks and acts is fitting to his or her own position. On my, relatively, short journey I can recall each encounter, and each conversation. 

     9/10 for story - International murder mystery that mixes elements of drug trade, espionage and the biggest advance in 'green' energy known to man. Each possibility that exists is well thought out, and the consequences of each decision are all realistic and you'll regret half of the ones you make. 

     10/10 for creativity - Though this isn't Schannep's first trek into the 'Click your Poison' line, it is a creative home run. Combining an original story with branch after branch after branch that takes you to very different places and outcomes is no easy task, and it takes a special mind to be able to put everything together. So for me the thing that sets this story apart is the incredible amount of creativity it took to write and organize this piece. 

     A big thank you to James Schannep for contacting me about Murdered, I can honestly say I enjoyed every page; even my demise was entertaining. A concern that all authors have, particularly when their previous work was a hit, is whether or not they will be doomed to be 'one hit wonders' or will they be able to follow up. I know James had this same thought, but I can honestly say he hit another home run with this story and I highly recommend it for anyone looking for a fun and entertaining read that can keep you busy for days. 

     If you'd like to pick up a copy of Murdered simply click here.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Officer Tequila Shots by James Dearling

     We have all, at one time or another, had the desire to just drop our lives and become somebody else. For many of us its a drive of envy that fuels us, though for others its just simply the fact that we've had enough and we're ready to just make a change. This same desire is the driving force behind my book for this week.

     Officer Tequila Shots follows Norman; a man who is simply fed up with life in general, at least his. As he sits in his cubicle, in a scene reminiscent of the movie Office Space, enough becomes enough for Norman and he sets out to find some type of purpose in his life, other than selling insurance.

     After a short walk he finds himself standing at the doors of a costume store, thoughts of what could be still filling his otherwise normal life. As he enters and stares at a realistic police uniform, his new lease in life becomes apparent. After a quick exchange with the clerk, and a change of clothes, white bread drone Norman becomes Officer Tequila Shots.

     Taking his role, and misplaced respect he fells, very seriously, Norman struts around town tipping his hat and exchanging pleasantries with the 'civillians'; keeping a sharp eye out for anyone he can help. His eagle-eyed patrolling leads him to a pot-smoking group of young teens, and his life, both of them, becomes changed forever.

     Throughout this story I found myself caught in a love-hate relationship, though by the end I'm happy to say there are plenty of pros to reading this story:
  • Norman and his supporting cast are very real people. Their speech patterns, interactions, and decisions they make are almost what you would expect.
  • I appreciate the comedic undertones of this book to no end. While it isn't foremost a comedy, the parts that are meant to be funny really hit the right notes. 
  • The book feels like a good action movie in the way it reads. Each page keeps you hoping for another gun fight or fight scene until the end. 
     While I did enjoy the book as a whole, there are a few thing that I didn't care for as much:
  • The 'Urban' feel felt a bit forced and almost a bit stereotypical, though as I mentioned above it does add to the movie feel. 
  • Some of the characters become a bit one dimensional as the story goes on.
     In the end Officer Tequila Shots by James Dearling is a fun, action filled novella about a man wanting to become someone other than himself. His vigilante ways brings him toe to toe with one of the largest crime syndicates in the city. Though it did have it ticks, what story doesn't, it was a wonderful weekend read that I would recommend to anyone who is a fan of action stories. 

     Overall I'm going to give Officer Tequila Shots a solid 7/10 based on:
     8/10 for readability - Though being a novella, the story moves at a great pace throughout. Each page has been edited down to the necessities, as a good novella should be, and no word is wasted. The writing itself has a great flow and keeps you turning pages. 

     6/10 for characters - Don't confuse this with a rating on all the characters. The main characters such as Norman, the lead woman and her son are wonderfully written real people. The ancillary characters such as the cops, drug dealers etc are all a bit one dimensional. None of them really distinguish themselves from the others, though to be fair some of them only have one or two lines before they are killed off. This could be a reflection of the amount of characters over the course of a novella and thus the limited space for the reader to connect with any of them. 

     7/10 for story -  I have mixed feelings about the story, but overall really liked it. On one hand the character of Norman has no experience or training so he shouldn't be able to do the things he does. On the other hand Dearling does a wonderful job giving his ineptitude a nod and showing how he almost gets himself killed...numerous times. 

     9/10 for action - One area where this story really hits the mark, and the area that I feel is its X-factor, is the action scenes. Whether it be a fight scene, gun battle or chase scene everything is choreographed perfectly. Each scene feels fluid and moves wonderfully, each punch and ricochet builds a scene in your minds eye that's real and belongs in a movie. 

     I have to thank James Dearling for reaching out to me about Officer Tequila Shots; it's a strong, fun work that makes a great addition to any one's digital library or bookshelf.

If you would like to check out this title for yourself click here.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Indie Author Spotlight - Pina Bruni

     A little over a month ago I advertised that I was closing my site to new submissions due to the workload that was already on my plate. Since that time I've received numerous requests for reviews and I began racking my brain for a way to ensure that every author who reaches out to me can, at the least, still be heard and presented to my audience.

     Finally the thought dawned on me, the most obvious answer to my problem would be author interviews. This would provide me with a way to make sure that every author that reaches out to me can be introduced to the public.

     I do have to put this out there as a bit of a disclaimer to my readers:
  1. I have not read the work that is mentioned in the interview below, and therefore cannot comment on it. I did read the "back-cover" before the interview.
  2. The views/answers to each question will not be altered, paraphrased or otherwise changed in any way.
  3. I will not post any profane or offensive interviews
     The first author I choose was new author Pina Bruni, I actually approached her via twitter in regards to this interview. Through twitter I had seen she had published her first book, independently, entitled Sliding Home.
1. How long have you been writing?
On and off since I was a teenager. That makes it about twenty-five years. Unfortunately, I’ve never had the perseverance to follow through and finish a novel, until now.
2. What first inspired you to take the leap to commercial writing?
I was so elated to finally have a finished product in my hand, the thought of putting it out there for others to read seemed the natural course. This coming from someone who in the past would practically cringe at the thought of another person (other than my husband) reading my written words. I’m very critical of my writing. I put much time and energy into this project. In the end, I stepped back and took an honest look. I liked it. That is high praise coming from me. Why not try to sell it?
3. Where did you pull your inspiration for “Sliding Home”?
Frankly, character development and plots come easily to me. I feel as if I have a never ending well to dip into. I’m a daydreamer and always have been. The characters are Italian-Americans living in a small, suburban town. Certain aspects of the story are from my upbringing, but the true inspiration came from the idea of soul mates. The idea that a love which is meant to be will survive at any and all costs. That neither time nor distance can destroy what is meant to be. I also wanted to feature genuine friendship that endures over the years.
4. What genre would you classify your book in and do you see yourself continuing to stay true to this genre?
I suppose it falls under romance, though I hate to label it as such. If it were a film, I believe it would be described as a romantic comedy. Whether it’s called chick lit or women’s fiction or something else, I’d like to think it’s a novel that is capable of entertaining females and males alike. It’s filled with humor, love, sex, and an array of human emotions that (I hope) will make readers both laugh and cry. As far as future writing, I think I am most comfortable writing in this genre, whatever it’s called. I enjoy writing about the chemistry that happens between a man and a woman, but I also like delving into other relationships between people. I think “Sliding Home” does a good job touching on the different relationships the main character has and has had in her life.
5. How was your experience self-publishing? Besides the writing process did you hit any snags or trouble spots while putting your work on the market?
I did hit some snags. Learning proper formatting so my work would upload properly to the sites was simple with one site, slightly more challenging with another, and utterly impossible with yet another! I finally went through, which I wished I had done earlier. My goal was to have my ebook appear in the three big ebookstores: Amazon, iBookstore, and Barnes & Noble. Amazon was simple to use, Barnes & Noble was a little quirky, but doable. iBooks was a hassle! I used Smashwords to get over that hump and I’d highly recommend it. As for marketing, I’m a virgin at all this. Little by little, I’m learning.
6. Do you have any advice for those of us out there that are going through, or preparing to go through, the self-publishing process?
I’m not sure I’m in the position to give advice. This is all new to me too! I’ve looked at this experience as a learning process. I’ve hit highs, lows, and in-betweens. I’ve felt elated, disappointed, smart, stupid, hopeful, and I’ve felt like giving up, but haven’t. There’s my advice. Don’t give up. My goal was to finish the book. That was a personal promise I made to myself. If I had finished writing my book and it never saw the light of day, so be it. I reached my goal. Anything more is frosting on the cake. Look upon your experience as a special project … and keep your day job. If one day I am able to write for a living, I will be very happy. In the meantime, I am very happy to write.
7. Have you had any reviews for your story done? And if so would you mind sharing the links? (If you haven’t had any reviews done but would like to get a little promotion here, I’ll take any quotes from anybody that has given you any feedback i.e. “Sliding Home is a great read that hit close to home” – and a name. As far as names go unless you have permission I’d prefer initials)
I’m sorry to say I have no reviews yet.
Feedback from a reader: “This book is a great story that held my interest from beginning to end. It made me laugh and cry, and it’s well written.” — Ron Sperry
8. One thing I like to do on my site is to give a little shout out to editors, cover artists, or just anyone in general that contributed to an indie author’s work being published. May I ask if you would mind sharing who did your cover or editing for your story?
This is an easy one to answer. I edited the book and designed the cover myself.
9. Thank you so much for taking the time out to give me this interview, one last question. Have you already begun working on your next book? If so when do you think we could expect to see it hit shelves?
Yes, I have begun working on my next book, which will be book two in my “Sliding Home” series. I am hopeful to have it out in late spring/early summer of 2014.
     If you would like to pick up Sliding Home for yourself, check it out at one of these sites.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Dogs Don't Bark in Brooklyn Any More by Eric Robert Nolan

    Just as a little disclaimer before you read on, I was contacted by Dagda Publishing company in regards to this review. They're an independent publishing company out of the UK, and after checking out them out a bit I feel they deserve a little mention in the review. I do apologize if some of my readers/authors are a little taken back by this fact, but I hope the majority understand that the small publishers tend to take gambles on indie authors.

     Okay, now we have the official stuff out of the way its time for the good stuff. The story I'm reviewing this week is The Dogs Don't Bark in Brooklyn Any More by Eric Robert Nolan, and you'll see as you read I'm a huge fan of this story for many reasons.

     The story opens up on Captain Rebecca O'Conner of the 54th Saws (Special Animal Warfare Squad), and her squad as they attempt to combat an enemy far more ruthless than any man has faced so far...wolves.

     I've done reviews on stories about shape changers and werewolves, but this is the first I've ever even read about talking, intelligent wolves. The world population in the 2050's is down to only a few million, and the governments are in shambles. In the early 2000's a virus began systematically killing off billions of people and, as many speculate, affected the wolves in a way that gave some of them an almost human like intelligence and the ability to speak.

     This ability allowed them to organize and create an army, driving the humans into a few select walled cities such as New York, Boston and a few others. For 30 years the humans have been fighting back, and Rebecca and her team are tasked with all the deep cover high profile missions that involve the wolves.

     More than just writing about a military squad fighting smart, organized wolves that Nolan incorporated so well while keeping the intricate hierarchies that govern wolf societies in real life. The story jumps from Rebecca's present to her past from chapter to chapter, more than just flashbacks though, the insights into her past really tell its own story about why she is the way she is. Each personality quirk from her borderline social awkwardness to her hard-nose, albeit hesitant, commanding style.

     While the fact that these flashbacks take place every other chapter throughout may seem daunting and a little repetitive, I can tell you that it is in no way the case. What Nolan has really managed to create is a story within a story, each could stand on its own without the other, but together they create a seamless singular story that is enhanced by this combination of past and present.

     While the young Rebecca battles unimaginable loss of her both her best friends to the same evil, though in very different ways; the elder Rebecca is preparing for a specially assigned mission that boasts turning the tide of the Wolf War. While the end of the younger Rebecca's innocence comes in a very unexpected way, the older Rebecca's end is very expected for the wolves that know where she is going to be and will be ready to fight for their lives.

     As I mentioned above I'm a huge fan of this story for several reasons, and there are several pros to this story:
  • The flow of this story is absolutely wonderful. Each page finds you grasping for the next in anticipation of what's to come.
  • The visuals that Nolan is able to utilize are remarkable. The fight scenes are all well choreographed and you really see the massive timber wolves and their gnashing teeth charging into the fray of the much weaker humans and their deadly weapons.
  • The emotionally charged Rebecca becomes a wonderful character that feels real, her emotions and plights make her a protagonist that you'll find yourself rooting for both the 33 year old woman and the 16 girl old girl.
     The only real reason I could think of not to check this story would be the genre, but it really hits home on multiple different genres. The primary would be a little mix of action adventure with some fantasy, due to the dystopian society and talking wolves. Really there is a solid mix of several different genres that make this a great read for anyone.

     I'm going to give The Dogs don't Bark in Brooklyn Any More by Eric Robert Nolan a 9/10 based on:

     10/10 for readability - There is absolutely nothing bad I can say about Nolan's writing. Each chapter transition works well, and the way the two different settings play towards the over all story is nothing short of perfection.

     9/10 for characters - I mentioned above about how great a character Rebecca O'Conner is, but the ancillary characters are fantastically written as well. Each one is a personality in his or herself and maintains consistency throughout. I'm a particular fan of Francis, the sociopathic eagle-eyed wolf slayer that is a major part of both stories.

     9/10 for story - I've already raved about this once so I won't go into great detail on this besides to say that both the wolf war centered story and the story of Rebecca's youth could easily be written into their own separate stories.

     9/10 for emotional response - Finding a name for this X-factor eludes me, which also makes me question my craft a little. I really feel the thing that sets this story apart from others is the emotions Nolan is able to drum up. While you're reading about young Rebecca you find yourself feeling her joy, her growth, and most importantly her loss. The same goes for the adult Rebecca and the way she deals with the loss of her squads men, the fear that builds up in her when the wolves attempt to assassinate her and she's cornered by three exceptionally intelligent, and large foes. This is possibly the most page turning factor, next to the ease of Nolan's writing.

     A big thank you to Dagda publishing for reaching out to me in regards to this title. Its wonderful when a publisher will take a chance on an author, though its no wonder based on the quality of this particular work.

     If you'd like to pick up a copy of The Dogs Don't Bark in Brooklyn Any More click here.

     If you would like to visit Dagda Publishing's homepage click here.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Affinities by Chris Hollis

   There are so many different things we all chase after in life; some of us want money, family, an ideal job, I feel safe to say that if you're reading this getting published and having your story on the shelves in bookstores around the country. I'm sure there are a multitude of desires that I don't have the hundred years it would take to conceive and put here. There is one, again of many, that each of us shares...a second chance.

     Affinities by Chris Hollis opens on Andrew; a young man with a major dilemma. Every day he wakes up in his apartment, at the same time, with a blistering headache and no recollection of the  day(s) that have past since he was forced to sleep in an almost narcoleptic fashion by an unknown adversary.

     As the days pass and Andrew's attempts at escaping become more daring, even landing him outside his girlfriends house in the bushes before sleep takes him again, he begins piecing together what is going on and even gets the name of his assailant. This is where the story begins taking its first big twist, and we meet Daniel.

     Daniel has bigger problems than Andrew, because Daniel isn't himself anymore. Due to something that drew the two together two years ago Daniel is slowly taking revenge on Andrew for a wrong the man feels needs righted. Utilizing drugs and other means he maintains control of Andrew and slowly destroys his life while he tries to put his back together.

     The twists keep coming as more about the two's relationship to one-another is revealed, and more and more loved ones become affected on both sides. Finally Daniel is presented with a choice to either end both men's lives or to forgive the past and allow Andrew to move on in peace.

     Hollis put together a strong story that is both strong in its delivery and feels new. This story is full of great pros to reading it, some are:
  • The story, while not necessarily totally new, is unique and well written. Hollis does a wonderful job setting himself apart with the way he twists and turns the story, making you second guess what you think is happening throughout.
  • There is a flow to the story that makes it easy to turn the page as the transitions from chapter to chapter seamlessly.
  • The characters all have a very unique voice, this voice carries into one certain aspect of this story that displays a talent of a very seasoned writer.
     Whenever I read a story written as well as Affinities I try and knit pick as much as possible to find even one 'con' to reading the story. Once in awhile one of these stories really doesn't have a downside, and this is one of them.

     In the end, Affinities by Chris Hollis is a solid, action packed thriller that provides a bit of mystery and plenty of suspense. It is well written and filled with a cast that emotes off of the pages. I highly recommend picking it up for any thriller/suspense fan.

     Overall I'm going to give this story a 9/10 based on:

     9/10 for readability - As I mentioned above the story flows wonderfully. Each transition between parts, chapters and paragraphs is easy on the eye and makes it hard to put it down.

     8/10 for characters - There is a relatively small cast of characters in this, and an even smaller amount of ancillary characters. Each character, however small a part, is an emotionally charged individual. You'll find yourself wanting to know each one's story and who he/she is, but you will find yourself able to know exactly what they're thinking just based on the intricate way each one is written.

     8/10 for story - The story itself is in some ways a classic thrillers, but it takes you on a journey filled with twists, turns and second guesses. Though the story feels like a classic, the storyline is very unique and in no way is it a carbon copied thriller.

     9/10 for twists - I feel like the x-factor in this story is really the twists. This isn't like an M. Night Shamalan tale where the twists throw something new into the mix that doesn't fit; instead the twists in this story redirect you in a sort of slight of hand fashion that keep you guessing who is who and what is what.

     A huge thank you to Chris Hollis for contacting me about Affinities. I found it a wonderful book and highly recommend it to anyone looking for their next great read.

If you'd like to pick up a copy of Affinities for yourself click here.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The end, my Friend by Kirby Wright

    There are several theories as to just how the beautiful blue ball we all travel on each day will end. Asteroids, earthquakes, volcanoes and nuclear wars dominate book shelves, in both the fiction and nonfiction sections all over the world and the web. There is a less talked about, but nonetheless serious, situation that many believe is on our doorstep in reality.

     Economic and political turmoil rocks our world every day. Examples of the death and destruction due to wars and violent protests drown out the few remaining sentiments of good news that seem to exist. There is a questions that many of us have always wondered, just how those innocent people trapped in these situations live their day to day lives.

     The end my Friend by Kirby Wright answers that question, in its own way. The story follows Tony, a simple man living a simple life with his wife Evo in California. The two built a normal life as two 'normal' middle-class Americans. That whole life is slowly brought to an end during a slow down slide of the American economy, and the uprising of an Army that slowly decimates the West Coast.

     Luckily for the couple the military march passes there community without making their near their home .Unfortunately, however, for the couple the neighborhood slowly becomes a place of martial law ran by a makeshift militia. Each day that ticks by is full of love inside their home, all the while the world outside is slowly slipping into chaos.

     Finally the choice is made for Tony and Evo as the neighborhood becomes a makeshift war zone and escape is the only opportunity. Packing only the necessities, though the little extras Tony allows Evo gives you a little insight to the couples relationship and just how much the two rely on one another.

     Through their travels they're confronted with everything from gangs of wondering children, looters, thieves, and gangs of thugs that want nothing more than to take Evo for themselves and to take Tony out of the picture. One man in particular wants Tony's head so bad he travels hundreds of miles to track him down to the one place Tony and Evo were able to call a real home for weeks after leaving theirs.

     As everything comes to a head Tony, Evo and the others all must decide whether to stand and fight, or run from the embodiment of the chaotic world around them. No matter what the decision they make the world is in a downward spiral, and this challenge is just one of many that the group will surely face in the near future.

     This is a story of real 'what would you do' type story; with each stop along the way making you question just how you would behave while the world crumbles around you.

     This story had a lot of pros for me, here are just a couple:
  • Wright's writing style is very down to earth, and gives you the impression that you're being told this story by somebody you know. That's not to say the writing style is 'amateurish' in any way, more along the lines of a relaxed style that makes for a comfortable read.
  • You constantly are turning pages throughout this story. It moves over a long span quickly, but doesn't feel like it skimps on the details in any way.
  • The love between Tony and Evo is really palpable, and it draws out that emotion as it leaps off of the page at you.
     While the pros are solid reasons to read, there are a couple of cons that I feel I should note:
  • The story does seem to move a bit quickly at times.
  • The characters, this doesn't include Tony and Evo, seem flat. Though the intense fight scenes are filled with raw emotion, outside of that they just seem to lack a little depth. 
     In the end The end my Friend by Kirby Wright really gives you an insight to a less spoken of, but no quieter, possible apocalypse. More importantly however, it is a testament to what true love can get you through. That, to me, is the underlying message to this story and its one that this story truly delivers on.

     Overall I'm going to give The end my Friend by Kirby Wright a 7/10 based on:

     7/10 for readability - As I mentioned above for the bulk of the story I'm a big fan of the laid back tempo throughout the story. Each transition is smooth and you'll find yourself turning the page, hoping that each encounter will find Tony and Evo unscathed and together.

     6/10 for characters - Tony and Evo are two very well done, strong characters that play off each other well with strong dialogue and emotion. The ancillary characters, however, seem to fall a bit short; this is probably contributed to them being side by side with two strong main characters.

     8/10 for story - There have been many apocalyptic style stories written in the past. While many are about large scale wars/acts of nature that rock the foundation of the world all at once, some are 'calm before the storm' style books and still others follow situations that are so gradual everything sort of sneaks up on the characters. This story fits somewhere between the second and third styles, and does so well. Each stop on Tony and Evo's journey pits them against some unknown that you really can see in the world Wright created.

    8/10 for realism -  Wright does an amazing job capturing how, in my opinion, people would really act if the situation presented itself. During a collapsing economy, and amidst a marching army, I would expect some people to take up the mob mentality, while others I could see just doing their best to get by and live their lives as normal as possible. This realistic aspect had to be my x-factor for this story for the skill needed to construct such a perfect world falling so imperfectly.

     A huge thank you to Kirby Wright for allowing me to review The end my Friend. It really was a great read and I recommend it to anyone, even the romance fans will enjoy this read.

     If you would like to pick up a copy for yourself, simply click here.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Happy Halloween!!!

     Happy Halloween everybody, well almost Halloween at least. I've been torn, since I began this blog, on whether or not having a Holiday blog post with related titles would be a bit to cliché and expected.

     The answer was a big resounding "clichés be darned" and here we are now. I did decide to go against the norm a bit, however, and instead of one title like I normally review I'm doing a total of four books for this review. Each story in this is geared up towards an age group, or category, all perfect for cuddling up either solo or as a family.

     I'm going to go in order from 'youngest' to 'oldest' in the reviews so that the family readers can avoid having to skim to the bottom.

     The stories I have for you this evening are:

  1. Where the Wild Things Are - By the late Maurice Sendak
  2. How I met my Monster - By R. L. Stine
  3. Dead Boys - By Michael Penkas
  4. Infected: Click your Poison - By James Schannep

     I know that most of you, if not all, have either read, been read to, or have read to Where the Wild Things Are at one time in your life. Perhaps it was, like me, 20+ years ago during one of my first trips to the library. I can remember cuddling up and being amazed at the world Sendak was able to create utilizing visuals and beautifully crafted words.

     The story follows Max; a young boy who is obsessed with being a 'Wild Thing'. He even goes to the extreme of putting on his wolf pajamas and terrorizing his house, much to the dismay of his mother who sends him to bed without his supper after he screams that he will "Eat YOU UP" when she calls for him.

     As Max grumbles and groans a forest grows in his room, and in moments he is sailing across the ocean in his own private boat. He sails and sails for years and years until he lands on an island, an island that is home to the real 'Wild Things".

     Max's adventures on the island grow and grow until he finally realizes just what it means to be wild, and even being king isn't enough to make him want to stay. Much to the dismay of the Wild Things he sets off on the long journey home, and finding a surprise for him awaiting him in his room.

     Sendak's tale of the Wild Things is a classic tale that really fits the season. Though it is about monsters, of one kind or another, its written in a light hearted safe way that kids of all ages can enjoy without worrying what could be hiding in the shadows when the lights go out.

     Being that this is such a popular tale, and more than anything I'm wanting to reintroduce it and suggest it as a great Halloween story, I'm not going to mention pros or even give it a rating as I will with the stories down the line.

      One thing I do need to note for those that may not know is that in addition to writing the story, Sendak also did the illustrations for it. There are few artists out there that can create ever memorable words, as well as illustrate masterfully.

     If you'd like to get a copy of Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak click here.

     I couldn't be more excited to be reviewing this next story. This author was actually my first thought when I had decided to break this post up by age groups, though I had no idea I would get the privilege to get his permission to review one of his works. While this author falls outside of the realm of my typical indie reviews, as did Sendak, his continued success over the past 20 years of scaring the pants off of young readers makes it an impossibility to talk about scary stories without his name coming up.

     I remember opening up the first book in the ever eternal Goosebumps series when I was 8 years old. I had purchased it from our schools Scholastic book fair, and by the end of the week I was out of books from the library. I can even recall my first 'signed' letter from the R.L. Stine fan club after I became a member and began receiving books and a magazine monthly.

     What I remember more than anything else is the sheer joy of hiding underneath my makeshift fort I had made out of bed sheets and a bottom bunk while I reread every story after I finished the newest edition.

     I debated which story of his I wanted to do. I read the list of books and settled on The Haunted Mask. I read the back cover and prepared to dive back in to a story I had loved as a child, but hadn't read in 15 years. I stopped myself and rethought my plan.

     As much as I wanted this post to reintroduce a classic Goosebumps story to the younger crowd; I also thought it would be fun to introduce myself to a new story. Something I could do an honest review on, as well as see how Stine has adapted himself to the younger generation. The result was discovering the newest edition to the series Goosebumps Most Wanted.

     The concept is to take popular stories, characters and worlds from older stories and to give a new twist with a particular focus on classic villains. I was immediately drawn to the story How I met my Monster. It follows Noah Bienstock, or Bean to his friends, and his ever growing obsession with monsters. He sees them everywhere, not just in the nightmares he has every night.

     His obsession grows and grows until it reaches a whole new level when he begins to suspect the new kid in class, who just happens to be his new best friend that lives in his building, of being a monster. He begins spying on Monroe, following him everywhere looking at every 'suspicious' thing he does.

     The 'twist' at the end will seem familiar to anyone who has read The Girl who Cried Monster from the original series. If you haven't, I can say you will be pleasantly surprised.

     I think the thing that surprised me most about this story was Stine's ability to adapt his writing over the years. Besides technological advances that separates the current generation from past, there are also differences in attitudes and priorities that are addressed making it a perfect fit for any school age child.

      Due to the shear amount of pros for this story it was almost impossible for me to narrow down any pros at all, but I managed to pick three that I feel really stand out:
  •  Stine's evolution through the years really surprised me. I was expecting the stories to feel like they did when I read when I was young, but I was wrong. Instead it both feels familiar, but with a young feel that is a testament to the authors adaptability and connection with his audience, even when it changes generation to generation.
  • There is a lighthearted humor to most of the books in the Goosebumps series' and it isn't lost on this one. At 29 I found myself chuckling at the one liners littered throughout the creepy tale.
  • The story, while pulling from a classic Goosebumps world, is original. I expected it to feel very much like the original story from the original series, but instead it is a story that feels new and original.
     I had worried that being a fan of the original series would limit my ability to give this story a fair review, and similarly not be able to give a good referral for a Halloween read. Due to the changes in audience that Stine has adapted to, though,  the book became something brand new for me.

     Overall I'm going to give How I met your Monster by R. L. Stine a very solid 10/10 for both this Halloween or anytime.

     I can't begin to thank R.L. Stine enough for allowing me the pleasure of reviewing one of his books for this special Halloween post. Getting to review a story for an author that you've idolized is a feeling that truly is the pinnacle of my short time writing.

     If you would like to pick up a copy of How I met my Monster, or any other book, by R.L. Stine click here.

     If you're like me you've read your share of spooky Halloween tales at night. Some of my favorites were always books that were compilations of ghost stories pitting unsuspecting mortals against terrifying paranormal villains; particularly when the ghosts psychologically  torment their prey. Each time I would read a few of my favorites I can remember sitting awake staring at shadows in an almost comical display of true cowardice.

     As I've gotten older, and I'm assuming this goes for most of us, the scare factor is kind of lost. Instead of watching shadows you're drifting off to sleep, content with what you read but just not scared.

     The third story for my Halloween review is Dead Boys by Michael Penkas. Dead Boys is a compilation of 4 stories that attempts to bring back that hair-raised feeling you had when you were a kid. The stories inside aren't your typical ghost stories; each one has a twist that leaves you unnerved for different reasons.

     The first story is titled The Parable of the Lazy Rooster and follows a priest drinking alone at a bar. While there he overhears a forlorn woman asking about a drink with particular properties, a drink that allows whoever consumes it to see things that no living person is able to see.

     The priest discusses the drink with her, and her reasons for pursuing it. After informing her that he knows how to prepare the drink, he begins deliberating the consequences of making it for the young lady. What ensues leaves you with a chill that, while not innately scary, emanates through you. Particularly when the priest begins an inner monologue explaining the origins of the drink.

     The second story in this list is a little more explicit so if you pick this title up and wanted to read it to the kids I would reconsider, at least for this particular tale. Cold Comfort follows a young female 'escort' called by a member of a clergy for a special 'job'. (Obviously at first this seems like it could be a less than clever stab at the classic corrupt clergymen but you find out quickly this is not even remotely the case).

     The woman, while willing, is a little hesitant to be fully engaged in her duty. This hesitation, however, is quickly taken away by an almost too close encounter that those that are into extreme ghost stories such as American Horror Story will certainly flock to. I do have to caution again that there is an adult aspect to this so use discretion, but in the end this has become a favorite ghost story of mine and was my favorite so far, until I finished the next story that is.

     Up next is a story titled Wet Dog Perfume which follows a lone man spending his night mourning the loss of his dog at the local dog park. It had only been a week and he isn't sure what to do with himself now that the long walks at the park are over.

     As he sits and tries to cope, a young woman enters the park and takes a seat next to him. You immediately feel the quiet intensity she brings to the story as she begins to feed the pigeons in her own 'special' way. As the two silently watch the pigeons eat their unique meal the man starts to feel something about the girl, something that makes her even more unique than what she used to feed the pigeons.

     This story is a little more unnerving than the first. Whereas the first story gives you a bit of an uneasy feeling from the content, and more towards the end, Penkas uses an environment and emotion to set the scene. As is the trend in all these stories, the twist ending really gives you that pins and needles sensation that we all long for this time of year.

     Batting cleanup is Midnight Cappuccino. It's a story following Wendy Williams, a distraught mother who spends night after night in her comatose son's hotel room. It is a tale that is played over several times in which everyone around her tells her he is gone, yet something keeps her holding on hope that he will come back.

     This particular night there is a new visitor to the hotel room, yet one that Wendy knows all to well. It isn't known whether he is a kindly visitor, or one that is here for his chance to deny the woman something she yearns for. Once the visitor has completed his plea he is gone, and Wendy is left to again make the decision whether to let her son go, or hold on to hope that he will awaken and she can once again hold her baby boy.

     This compilation of tales is very well thought out and perfect for cozying up by the fire, and as such it was easy to find some pros for Dead Boys:
  • Each story brings about an uneasiness that feels perfect for this time of year.
  • Each story is very well written and is a page turner in itself. For me, in particular, I found myself going through the whole book in one sitting due to the ease in which it was written.
  • Penkas does a wonderful job setting up thrilling settings with his words. Each story touches its own emotion in a short time, literally making you feel sickened, angry, happy, and sorrowful.
     As I've done with the other stories I'm going to give an overall rating for the story, but I'm not going to go into the particulars like I've done in past reviews. This isn't a permanent thing, rather just something I'm doing for these four reviews.

     Overall I'm going to give Dead Boys by Michael Penkas a 9/10.

     I have to thank Michael for reaching out to me and giving me the opportunity to read and review his stories. It was a real pleasure to get that uneasy, nervous feeling from a story in the way that Dead Boys delivers.

     If you'd like to pick up a copy of Dead Boys for a Halloween read, click here.

     Lastly this evening I have something so unique I'm yet to read/see anything quite like it. It's entitles Infected: Click your Poison by James Schannep, and it is literally choose your own adventure type, or better yet a Give yourself Goosebumps for adults.

     One thing to note is that Schannep designed the story to be compatible with ereaders, and I can vouch that it works like a charm. He advertises that it takes away the chance you see something on the next page that could be an ending that you spoil for yourself, and that fact really proves true early on.

     If reading a story like this on an ereader doesn't strike your fancy, a print copy is available. After going through a storyline on my kindle, my wife jumped on Amazon and ordered herself a hard copy to have (she's like me and would rather read a physical book whenever possible).

     The story behind Infected is Schannep's take on a zombie apocalypse caused by a corporations drive to create an immortality drug, one that succeeds in its own way. Each decision forces you from one extreme situation into another; some of these decisions are obvious landmines, while others seem to be the only possible good idea...and then you find out otherwise.

     One of the, many, things that sets this apart is the lighthearted nature with which Schannep writes. Each page, and most of the decisions, are riddled with puns that should be dry and not funny, but yet the timing fits so well that I can guarantee you'll laugh at most of them.

     Humor aside the writing is another thing that I would kick myself if I didn't mention. Besides being a creative comedian, Schannep is a wonderful writer. Each page, paragraph and word has been edited and belongs and feels as though you're reading your own novel that is about you.

     Since there are so many options and so many outcomes its impossible for me to give a real synopsis of Infected. I can, however, give you my wife and my first attempt at going through the story together. We started out okay, and escaped certain doom a time or two making decisions together and for a moment it seemed as though we were going to survive...that is until our first real hiccup.

     We were faced with one of the many decisions that seem like you can't go wrong, but after deliberating we could not agree to disagree so she made the decision for us. Next thing we knew we were zombie food and things were over, or at least we thought. It turns out death is not always the end, though through the excitement it quickly became ours.

     I had trouble with this one, due to the uniqueness, in selecting some pros. I did narrow it down a bit, but there are so many more:
  • The overall story lines, I can't tell you how many combinations you could hope to achieve, all work well with a very strong central story.
  • I know I mentioned it already but the humor woven into the dire situation works on so many levels. While most of the jokes are puns, the timing is done like a true pro and they become a wonderful part.
  • Schannep really is an author at the end of the day. The writing is spot on and you will find the adrenaline coursing through your veins as you make your decisions and turn the pages with both anxiety and excitement.
     There is honestly a hundred more things I enjoyed about this story, or stories rather, then I could honestly put down. I feel the best thing to do is give it the overall rating it deserves a very solid 10/10.

     I mentioned above that my wife enjoyed this book on my Kindle so much she had me pick her up a hard copy, I asked her for a quote for my blog:

     "Infected does a wonderful job of  bringing back the Choose your own Adventure books you loved when you were a child. I laughed and cringed page after page and end after end."
                                                                                                                   - My wife, Ronda

     Thank you so much to James Schannep for contacting me with the trailer, and for allowing me the pleasure of reviewing Infected: Click your Poison. For anyone interested here is a link to the trailer.

     If you would like to pick up a copy for yourself click here.

*I didn't mention it above, and I wish I would have, but this book has been written as an adult adventure book and as such there is content that is a little more to the adult side. I suggest reading through before you let your teens try and survive the apocalypse.

     Thank you for taking the time to read the Halloween edition of I hope that I either opened your eyes to a great story that you may have never heard of, and more than that I hope I gave you a great idea for a Halloween read, we sometimes take for granted sitting down with the family and reading a story together.

     Have a very happy, and safe, Halloween.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Middle On by K.R. Cox

     This weeks review is a New Adult fantasy, though its written in a way that makes it different from your typical fantasy. The elements that make a typical fantasy are hidden a bit and come out slowly, rather than forced on you as it normally is.

     The story opens in the town of Middle On with a group of three friends searching for their fourth friend. It's apparent from the beginning that they aren't your ordinary group of friends, its very obvious that they have been bonded over something much deeper than time. The friends separate to find their lost friend, and luckily succeed before he does something unforgivable.

     After the intense prologue, you get into the main story and discover that Orryk is a young man struggling to live life after being orphaned just months before. You also discover that while the friends have been friends since youth, the ever creeping problem of adulthood is approaching. This issue is one that plagues the young protagonist and combined with his ruthlessly abusive cobbler master forces him to pursue the one person that can give him answers, his father.

     Having left years before, Orryk's father has been more than a touchy subject for the young man. It brings out a hatred that emanates from the pages itself and you begin expecting a confrontation straight from an old Johnny Cash song.

     As Orryk begins exploring his options to gain the capital, and information, he needs for his journey several tests are thrown his way. An opportunity to gain back all the money owed to him by his master for his apprenticeship presents a test of his morals, an old friend of his father sheds some light on the man's character; the man also introduces Orryk to one of many wonders he will face on his travels to come.

     You can really feel the boys desperation as he decides what type of man he wants to be, and how far he will go to become it. You also get a connection to this character that is hard to describe, and if you're anything like me you'll learn a little about your own moral compass as you applaud for and sneer at the decisions Orryk makes.

     Once the dust has settled and the time has come for Orryk to begin his journey he faces his ultimate test which is brought to him by a kindly man who shared a drink, and laughs, with him just a few nights before. The stranger confronts Orryk on the road and as the story closes, Orryk finds out just what the world he has entered is all about.

     There are so many things I can say about Middle On I managed to narrow it down to the most notable pros such as:
  • The bond between the four friends isn't something you take from reading, Cox managed to make the dialogue and actions truly present four inseparable lifelong friends.
  • The story continually moves forward and keeps you turning the page.
  • In addition to the bond of the Orryk and his three friends, Cox truly brings out an emotional response to Orryk's lot in life and his struggles, both internal and external.
     It was hard to find any real cons to this story, in reality the ones I did find were definitely more cosmetic and didn't affect the story any:
  • There are a few action scenes early on that seem a bit over the top, though they almost seem as if the reasons for them will come out in a later sequel. For this story they seem to fall a bit short when compared to the action sequences later on in the story.

     In the end Middle On by K.R. Cox delivered on all fronts. It is a story written by an author that knows his audience and knows how to pull an emotional response from a reader, a skill that even some of the most seasoned authors never master. I definitely recommend this story for anyone, even those that don't frequent the fantasy section will enjoy this read as it falls somewhere into a genre of its own.

     Overall I'm going to give Middle On by K.R. Cox a solid 9/10 based on:

8/10 for readability - As I mentioned earlier the story continues to move forward with little to no repetitive ideas or actions. Each word belongs and there is not a wasted one throughout; the result is a page turner that will keep you vested until the end...and then asking for more.

8/10 for characters - I already spoke about the four young friends, but the passion and emotion aren't just limited to them. The vast majority of the citizens of Middle On are very complex and possess a personality of their own. Of course there are a few characters with relatively small parts that may lack that, but even they are recognizable from encounter to encounter.

9/10 for story - The story behind Orryk and his 'coming of age' adventure is truly wonderful. There is everything from loving the strength he possesses, and his ability to draw more from those around him; to hating him for decisions he makes, though that's going to depend on your moral compass when you read. I found myself so drawn in that I am waiting on pins and needles to see where Orryk's journey takes him.

10/10 for emotional response - The real x-factor in this story, at least for me, was without a doubt the emotional response this story draws out of you. Each interaction, flashback, thought etc brings about either a true emotional response where you find yourself angry, sad, sympathetic, or laughing out loud, or it causes you to check your own moral compass which is something I've only had a few other stories bring out.

     A huge thank you to K.R. Cox for contacting me and giving me the opportunity to read Middle On. It truly was a great read that I am more than excited for having had the opportunity to read, and I will be picking up the sequel in the near future.

    If you'd like to pick up a copy of Middle On for yourself click here.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Legends of Leone by M.G. Dekle

     As the number of stories I read grow I'm amazed to find how different each author is from one another. Some write stories that seem to extend from a dark place within and create terrifying horror stories, others try and keep us on the edge of our seat with action and thrills, but there are some that seem to try to keep things light hearted. My review for this week, Legends of Leone by M.G. Dekle, was definitely of the ladder.

     The story opens on the city of Toble's Crossing during a time of wonder; the stars themselves have descended from the heavens above onto an island at the center of the lake. As they go to investigate Leone Verrat, a very inquisitive 4-year old, begins collecting small stones that are scattered around the area. Strangely they glow when she focuses her thoughts onto them. Before anybody has a chance to notice this, however, she is pulled into the ground in an Alice in Wonderland type event that catapults her into a room with two very strange men.

     One of the men takes a liking to Leone, the other is standoffish and seems more interested in the stone she brings with her. Luckily for the young girl the kindly man takes her in, promising her that one day she will have a chance to go back through the portal once they can reopen it; he does, unfortunately, neglect to mention exactly just how long that will be.

    Once the prologue ends you're transported 13 years into the future where 17 year old Leone has just graduated from Blueroot Academy, a premiere school for children with unique afflictions for magic. Though she has graduated towards the bottom of her class, she has still been nominated to partake in "The Ordeal". The Ordeal is a test of skill that determines whether or not a person is qualified to take on his/her chosen profession, one that if failed can send the most promising student into the rear of any job candidacy.

     On the way to get the details and her approval to undertake the Ordeal, Leone runs into a young swordsman named Falchion. Falchion is at the top of his class, and you quickly find out that his puns are not on par with his skill in battle. It is revealed in a meeting with the school's dean that the Ordeal requires a partnership to be completed and oddly enough Leone and Falchion are paired together much to both their delights.

     As the two begin their journey it becomes apparent that the two were written to be both polar opposites of one another, but in a way that makes them the perfect fit as staring characters. Their traits also play an integral part in the way they take on the Ordeal's many different obstacles that will be presented to the group, though the obstacles become the last of their worries when they're attacked by a vicious crystal golem that breaks into the cave that houses the trials, a golem that was forbidden to be created.

     While the story progresses and the cast of colorful characters that Dekle created grows, Leone and Falchion are forced to battle kings guards, dodge elves and befriend dwarfs; all while continuing to fire the witty banter and one-liners, and learning more about their heritages. Each page throughout reveals a little more about the sinister plot that is unfolding in the Elvish world, one that threatens to tear the very fabric of the worlds apart and send the races into an all out war for control and survival, all the while keeping you laughing and cringing in the same paragraphs.

     This story is one of those that I could rant about all day, but I've managed to narrow it down to a few major pros:
  • The banter between the characters comes off a little forced at first, but quickly grows on you and you find yourself chuckling page after page regardless of the situation.
  • The way that Dekle portrayed magic usage is something I've never read. Each spell is cast by the mage taking a component and mentally manipulating its properties giving them endless possibilities, though keeping the strength they possess in check.
  • The way the page/chapter transitions flow incredibly smoothly. This is one of those stories where you find it hard to put down due to the smooth way it reads.
     One of the most difficult parts of reviewing stories of this quality is finding a con to list, even something that may be a downside for some people is hard to find. There really is only one or two small things I could find that were minute things when compared to the overall story:
  • The puns and witty banter seem an omen to much more dry humor to come, and to some that's what will happen. As I said earlier I grew to enjoy the borderline silly humor though.
  • One thing that did catch my eye was the way Leone and Falchion solve the various trials in the Ordeal, or at least the ones they are able to solve. I'm not saying they walk in and walk out of each trail, but the solutions come a little easier. This is definitely a small note and when you read this story you'll see what I mean.
     In the end Legends of Leone by M. G. Dekle is a wonderful fantasy story that takes you into a great new world with wonderful new characters. I strongly recommend adding this fantasy to your library, you won't be disappointed.

     Overall I'm going to give this story a 8/10 based on:

9/10 for readability - As I mentioned earlier the transitions in this story are incredibly smooth, combine those transitions with good writing and it creates one of the most readable stories I've read so far.

8/10 for characters - Besides the praise I've already given to the main characters, the ancillary characters you meet throughout Leone's journey are wonderfully done. Each one has his/her own personality that you find yourself falling in love with the wide range of characters.

8/10 for story - The story behind Legends of Leone is a wonderful beginning to what I'm sure is going to be many great stories from this world and characters in general. The story takes races from classic fantasy epics, such as dwarfs, elves, orcs, etc and spins them in their own way that separates them from their classic fantasy brethren.

8/10 for humor - The x-factor for me in this story is the humor aspect. From the unexpected spell mishaps to the puns, to the quick witted comments during dire situations the story really keeps you chuckling throughout. The ease with which the humor is presented is the best part of this particular category.

     A big thank you to M. G. Dekle for contacting me about this story, and a big apology for getting it out later than I had originally intended. I will be back on track after the next review, and will be going to Sunday's only for my reviews.

If you'd like to pick up a copy of Legends of Leone click here.