Saturday, August 30, 2014

Counterpoint by John Day

   I have decided to start this book review a little differently.  You will see in my past reviews that once in a while I will do something like a character introduction and in this case I think this would be a good idea.  This novel is rather complex and to cover everything would be several pages of review.  So we will start with

Carla: A beautiful, sassy girl in her mid-twenties with a penchant for danger.  Her sparkling eyes and ability to charm can make any man fall for her, giving her the ability to get just about anything she wants.

Max: A widower in his mid-forties who suddenly shut down his business and decided to go on the road looking for adventure.  His mid-life crisis lands Carla right in his lap, and she is a full-time job.

The Duke: Head of The Organisation that Carla occasionally does odd jobs for. The Duke took Carla in a few years ago and has treated her like his own child pretty much.

Sam Leighton: Takes over The Organisation later in the book.  A hard-driven man who will go through whatever lengths needed to keep The Organisation a secret and to keep it going.  He spares no one if it suits him.  People are generally expendable.

   While Carla is out on the job, she is captured and due to her grisly escape methods, she meets Max.  She is on the side of the road and he picks her up.  It is soon apparent that Carla is trouble, but Max is looking for some adventure in his life so he sticks with her.  What he doesn't know is how many times he will risk his life for her and for The Organisation (that doesn't seem completely on the legit side of the law), which he becomes indebted to after they save his life using experimental techniques when he is shot in the face directly after the poor Duke is shot and killed.  To pay his debt, he agrees to go on some missions for Sam Leighton.  These missions are always dangerous and are always to protect the interests and secrets of The Organisation.  Max and Carla go after a beautiful and pricey statuette that everyone seems to want, they are chased by the police and the Russian mafia, they drug a bunch of the Russian mafia, go on a dangerous diving expedition for treasure, and get stuck in a submarine.  Oh and then there is the dangerous volcano as well.  Their adventures are numerous, as well as their close calls.  It is easy to sit and wonder while reading this book, how in the world are they still alive?  No one can possibly be that lucky.  Max is lucky to the point of insanity.  He got shot in the face and survived.  Not only did he survive, but because of what they used during the surgery, he is looking and feeling younger.  His body is even regrowing hair on his bald spot!  Carla, on the other hand, draws trouble like ants are drawn to sugar.  And no matter what type of danger or how tight the spot, she always manages to get out.  In fact, she pretty much killed off her first partner and saved her own skin.  It seems for a while that she is rather ruthless, but then starts to soften some because of her falling for Max.  Even more interesting are her family ties.  She is tied very closely to one of the men trying to kill her and Max in the beginning half of the novel.  She is also tied closely to a friend that surfaces later on.  The book is pretty fast paced and full of action.  And the body count is through the roof on this one!  It could use some editing, and a few spots that seem a little too unrealistic, but it's fiction and one must allow for this.  It is a good, entertaining read.  A solid 3.5 stars out of 5!  This is a book for mature audiences only!  

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Survivor Chronicles: The Upheaval by Erica Stevens

 For those of you who are into books about the end of the world, or the apocalypse, then this is a book you should read.  It has all of the doomsday stuff in it that you see a lot, but it is also much more psychological and at times very realistic when it comes to the actions and thoughts of the characters in the book.  From major earthquakes to volcanoes and birds dropping out of the sky, it has a lot of action in it and there is a lot of death.  It's the end of the world as these people know it; of course there will be death and loss.  Lots of it.  This books is essentially what happens in one day to the world.  It is through the eyes of a few different people in a few different places in the U.S.A.
   The Upheaval is a very appropriate title because the Earth itself has rent in places, causing mass chaos after the mass shock wears off.  Massive earthquakes happen and the birds start diving towards the ground at full speed, some taking people out with themselves.  Unfortunately they are not the only animals you will see in this book gathering together to commit mass suicide.  That was one of the most disturbing things about the book to me, besides the people that are jumping out of buildings trying to escape what's coming, only to never live through the fall.  This is very much reality about people.  It is what happened during the Great Depression.  Suicide rates were up quite a bit during that time.  Some people just couldn't handle the stress.  And it is the same in this book.  There are those that just mentally check out too.  Then there are those who are doing the very best they can under the circumstances and stay with what loved ones or friends that they have left.  Everyone has suffered loss, but they are determined to find what is left of their families and they are determined to stay together.  It is a test of will power.  And it is inspiring to see goodness in some when chaos is reigning.  The characters definitely make you want to root for them to survive!  

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

My Familiar Stranger: The Vampire Hunters (Knights of Black Swan Book 1) by Victoria Danann

   After being pushed through a machine and into another world, Elora Laiken has essentially been turned inside out.  She has been pretty much skinned alive with major internal damage as well.  Ironically, the man that pushed her through the experimental machine did it to save her life.  Had she not ended up in the compound of the Knights of the Black Swan, she would have almost certainly died.  This new world Elora is thrust into is much like her own in many ways, but there are some differences as well.  Like how she had never heard of chocolate.  During her recovery, she gets to know a knight named Storm who was the one to save her life.  They fast become friends.  As she heals, she is under observation and basically lock and key like a prisoner until they can decide whether she is a threat to this world or not.  It wasn't previously thought possible to travel like how she arrived.  After she is essentially healed, she meets the other two nights who are a part of a special unit with Storm.  The guys, Ram and Kay, are different.  Kay was born with a berserker gene that can make him crazy if he lets it and Ram is an elf.  Elora is intrigued that elves are real and Ram is more than just a fine specimen.  He's a known ladies man and has his eye on Elora.  It turns out that Elora is a bit of a novelty herself.  Her cells are more dense than those of the humans on this world and she weighs twice what she looks.  And she has been trained her whole life in martial arts and defense.  Because of some oversight and underestimation of her abilities, Ram ends up injured on accident by Elora.  But he just can't say no to her when she wants something.  Because of his injury, Ram and Elora become close friends with a possible budding romance.  Storm is jealous and dealing with his feelings towards Elora while the group is also dealing with the local vampire population.  They have become quite a presence in the area and the knights have to put a stop to all of the disappearances.  Elora has to learn how to reign in her desire to protect the knights before she gets herself hurt or killed, while the knights need to realize that she is very capable of handling herself should the need arise.

   This was a much longer book than I am used to reading,  but Victoria Danann did a great job of keeping the interest there in spite of the length.  It was one fascinating and exciting read!  I thought the idea of Elora being thrown into what is essentially a parallel world to her own was an interesting one.  It was shocking and just sad that she had never heard of chocolate before.  Just like most women, she loved it when she tried it!  Then there is her relationship with the three knights.  It is a complicated relationship because they all feel the need to protect her because she is a woman and women in their world are never knights.  They don't have the physical strength and endurance needed to be one of them.  Not to mention it would be a possible distraction from their mission.  Storm and Ram become rivals who are both in love with the beautiful Elora.  Most men cannot keep their eyes off of her.  There is just something about her.  She even gets a vampire admirer by the name of Istvan Baka, who is an essential part to this story.  It seems like there is nothing she can't do, well, except decide who she wants to be with.  And she seems to live on the razor's edge, constantly indulging in dangerous activities.  I would recommend this read to anyone who is a fan of vampire or paranormal novels!  Beware, there is some adult content!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Pre-Order A Stolen Heart by Brenda K. Davies!!

A Stolen Heart, the newest Brenda K. Davies book, is now available for pre-order on Amazon, Apple, B&N, and Smashwords! The pre-order price will only be available for a short time after release so grab your copy now! Links are posted below!...


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Divergent by Veronica Roth

"Decades ago our ancestors realized that it is not political ideology, religious belief, race, or nationalism that is to blame for a warring world.  Rather, they determined that it was the fault of human personality- of humankind's inclination toward evil, in whatever form that is.  They divided into factions that sought to eradicate those qualities they believed responsible for the world's disarray."

   Beatrice Pryor lives in a post-apocalyptic world where people are classified into five factions and that is where they live, regardless of whether it is with their family.  Everyone takes a test to see which group they fit into.  Whether it is the peace-loving Amity, the protectors of Dauntless, the truth-tellers of Candor, the selfless and governing faction of Abnegation, or the smart people of Erudite, everyone must choose where they belong.  Anyone can switch from the faction they were born into, but most don't.  When Beatrice takes her test, her results are inconclusive; she is a Divergent.  She doesn't conform to their mindset.  The test doesn't work on a Divergent.  And there are those who think they are very dangerous, and are out to contain and kill them all.
   During the choosing ceremony, Beatrice's brother surprisingly chooses Erudite and she chooses Dauntless.  But it doesn't take long for Tris (formerly Beatrice until changing her name when she chose Dauntless) to realize that she doesn't exactly belong in this faction either.  It seems like there is nowhere she would exactly fit in like everyone else.  And because she is weak, she is in danger of being cut from the initiation.  Those that don't make the cut are factionless.  To some, this is a fate worse than death.  Four, an instructor, starts helping her, although Tris doesn't always realize it.  He recognizes her potential and she soon starts rising in the ranks.  However, this causes her to form enemies within the initiates.  Some of them are ruthless and will do whatever it takes to keep their rankings and stay in Dauntless.  Not only are some of the initiates ruthless, but some of the leaders as well.  It seems that they have strayed from their original manifesto of "We believe in ordinary acts of bravery, in the courage that drives one person to stand up for another."  
   The further Tris gets into initiation, the more in danger she is.  Not only from those jealous of her position, but those who hate her former faction.  She will never completely conform.  Four tries to help her all that he can, and the two of them start falling for each other.  He has his secrets too.  Secrets that will hit closer to home for Tris than she could ever imagine.  But they are both strong, and they must uncover what the Erudite are up to before it is too late.

"Fear doesn't shut you down; it wakes you up.  I've seen it. It's fascinating." He releases me but doesn't pull away, his hand grazing my jaw, my neck.  "Sometimes I just...want to see it again.  Want to see you awake."-Four

   There is so much in this book that I could never cover all of it in a review of this book, so I didn't even try to.  I only went over a small bit of it instead.  I have to say that it was an excellent read!  Beatrice Pryor just might be one of my new favorite heroines now.  She becomes strong and brave.  And she learns that being brave and being selfless are sometimes one and the same.  Facing your fears doesn't always mean conquering them either.  Sometimes they are always there.  It's more about not letting the fear control you.        So many big lessons in this book.  Beatrice becomes Tris, strong and brave Tris.  She also becomes a little harder and doesn't always help others like she would have in the past.  This causes her some guilt, but it is something she learns from.  You can only try to do better next time.  You can't go back and undo what has been done.  Survival in Dauntless is very hard and unforgiving.
   And then there is Four.  Four who has many secrets.  Also Four who likes Tris.  He is a hard and seemingly ruthless guy, but underneath it all he is just as human as the rest.  He may be intimidating, but he wants the best for the initiates and drives them hard so they won't fail.  Tris has a hard time deciding how he feels about her sometimes until Four makes it clear that it's not safe for people to know about their feelings for each other.  Once she goes into his simulation, Tris understands his fears and just who Four really is.
   As if it isn't hard enough to have to try to make it through initiation, Tris's entire faction is in danger because of the Erudites.  They are trying to stir up trouble by releasing mostly false reports about the Abnegation withholding luxuries from everyone and how the whole faction is corrupt.  But it will end in an explosive conflict that will leave you wanting more of this story!
   By the way, to me, it seems like the Divergent are the only normal people in this society.  They are our interpretation of a well-rounded individual.  Interesting, is it not?

Monday, August 11, 2014

Cover Reveal!!! The Dragon and the Scholar Book 4: Dragon's Bride by H.L. Burke (available September 19th)


Dragon Prince Ewan has promised his beloved, Shannon, that he will become a man again or die in the attempt. Now he will do anything to make good on that promise.

With the aid of his scholarly friend, Martin, Ewan consults the great Dragon Queen Harviss, who offers him a unique solution: return to the past to find Ewan's Fey ancestor and beg for her help. Leaving Shannon behind, Ewan and Martin travel to a dangerous past and fall into the clutches of a powerful Fey queen. 

Meanwhile, Shannon finds herself alone and with child. Unable to sit still with her husband absent, she joins with Ryan of Westshire in the prince's desperate search for his young son. King Riley, however, will see Ryan dead before allowing him to find the lost child. 

Can Shannon find a way to unite Ryan with his son? Or will the attempt cost her not only her life but the life of her unborn baby? 

Will Martin and Ewan ever find the cure they seek or will they remain trapped in the past and Ewan separated from his bride forever?

Author Bio:

Born in a small town in north central Oregon, H.L. Burke spent most of her childhood around trees and farm animals and was always accompanied by a book.  Growing up with epic heroes from Middle Earth and Narnia keeping her company, she also became an incurable romantic.

An addictive personality, she jumped from one fandom to another, being at times completely obsessed with various books, movies, or television series (Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Star Trek all took their turns), but she has grown to be what she considers a well-rounded connoisseur of geek culture.

Married to her high school crush who is now a US Marine, she has moved multiple times in her adult life but believes that home is wherever her husband, two daughters, and pets are.

Friday, August 8, 2014

The Dragon and the Scholar Book 3: Dragon's Rival by H.L. Burke

  The dragon/prince, Ewan may no longer be denying his feelings for Shannon to himself, but he is to her.  And he refuses to really speak about them to any of his friends either.  He still feels like he is doing what's best for the both of them by staying out of the way.  After returning to Regone, Ewan tells Shannon that he doesn't love her.  Shannon, crushed and heartbroken, falls into Prince Ryan's arms.  She agrees to marry him, but they decide not to tell anyone besides King Riley, Ryan's father, until after King Edmond's marriage to Brighid (Ryan's sister).

   Meanwhile, there have been strange goings on.  New servants and such have been appointed to the king in Regone.  A man named Donovan has been watching with interest and questions what is going on.  Because of his questions, he loses his position in the palace guard and his life is in danger.  He must find someone who he can trust, and someone who has influence with the king.  Ewan is that someone.
   In Westshire, King Riley has employed two "alchemists" who seem to be doing some shady work for him.  Whatever they are concocting is nothing good.  Will, a stable boy, has been closely watching the palace along with the king and his son. There is an uprising in the making and he is gathering intel for his superiors.  What he doesn't count on is owing Prince Ryan his life.  Will wants nothing more than to despise Riley, and Ryan as well if he turns out to be anything like his father, but can't seem to find it in himself to feel that way about the prince.
   It will take all of them, along with their friend Martin, to keep Regone safe from King Riley's treachery.  He is always scheming, and him playing nice only makes everyone more nervous.  It wasn't that long ago that he wanted to kill King Edmond.
   Shannon is in danger of marrying someone she doesn't love.  Ewan's very life is in danger by an unknown source.  Donovan and his wife are almost killed, and Will too.  Even Regone itself is in danger.  The stakes are high...

   This is another great novel in The Dragon and the Scholar series!  Yes the stakes are high!  Ewan must make his decision once and for all about Shannon, who is in love with him.  Ryan wants a chance at making Shannon happy and is willing to make her his princess and one day queen.  Although Shannon would be a fine queen, she isn't sure that kind of life is for her, but she is very fond of Ryan.  The cards are laid on the table for them in this book and the end is fantastic, but still very surprising!
   Will is a new character we are introduced to and he has secrets of his own.  These secrets go deep and not all of them come to light yet, but I have a feeling we will be seeing more of him in the next book.  He is just a young man, but a wild and somewhat troubled one.
   Donovan is not a new character, but he plays a much bigger part in this book.  He is an honorable man, but questions authority too much for the liking of his superiors and loses his job.  A watchful man that will end up being an unlikely hero.
   Poor Martin is exhausting his resources and himself trying to find a cure for Ewan's curse.  There is a glimmer of hope....
   This story had some very complex parts and separate happenings that all end up twining together nicely!  An easy 5 stars!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Cover Reveal: Pandora, Wild Child by Sunniva Dee (available October 2014)

I’m free. Freaking free!
I’m in college with my best friends and far, far from home!
With my Scheuermann’s disease as the excuse, my father kept me locked up at home all through high school. Here in Deepsilver, I can finally be me, Pandora, so—
Why the hell should I hold back?
They accept our fake IDs at Smother, our local haunt. I’m the life of the party, everyone loves me—hell, I could get away with murder in this place! Drunk off my ass, I dance on the bar, and—
I’m on top of the world!
I need to get it together, though. If I don’t pull off good grades, my father won’t pay my tuition. There’s no way I’m moving back into his “fortress.”
At the bar, I set my eyes on a gorgeous stranger. My plans don’t involve him long term; one night should be enough. But Dominic is more than I bargained for. God, I’m so drawn to this man. My skin hums at his touch because—
He expels the shadows of my past and replaces my pain with desire.
Perfect Dominic. Beautiful, graduating, soon-to-move-on-with-his-life Dominic.
I’m a wild child. A hot mess. Not grownup and focused like him. He’s addictive, and I am weak, but—screw this; I can wean myself off him! With the right antidote—
Addictions can be broken.

I write New Adult fiction with a paranormal twist and don’t shy away from romance and heart-wrenching passion when necessary.

I moved from Norway to the United States in 2001, and the first awesome five years I spent in the San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles. Then I read “The Book,” aka Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, which spurred my husband and me to move cross country to beautiful Savannah, Georgia.

I’m currently on my seventh year in the Deep South, where I enjoy the heat and the humidity. Besides writing, I spend my time with our “petting zoo” as in an opinionated parrot, a herd of cats that are experts on keyboard shortcuts, and puppies that…uh, bark.

I hold a Master’s degree in languages, with concentrations within literature and linguistics. I taught at college level for a decade before settling in as a graduate adviser at the Savannah College of Art and Design.

Writing is my passion, my joy, and my addiction. When I’m not writing, I read.
Shattering Halos is my debut novel, and its standalone sequel, Stargazer, is due out later this year.

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