Realm of Mindweavers, by Marianne Ratcliffe

A full and complete story, all the while beginning a full series, Realm of Mindweavers was an enthralling tale.

Zastra, a failure in the eyes of her father because she isn’t a mindweaver, runs for her life after the most brutal of betrayals. Only thirteen and nothing but her father’s instructions to go on, she must survive on her own long enough to escape the country and seek help.

There was a lot that impressed me about the book. Instead of embracing the trope of an active hero with many forms of expertise, Kastra was a passive, almost reactionary, hero that really was just…average. Though young, it was so easy to identify with her as character. She was written with incredible depth.

Secondly, the world building. Oh, easily my favorite part. There was such depth and intricacy to the world. It was vast and unknown. Never once did I feel overwhelmed by the amount of new information about the world. I never felt lost in my surroundings. It was descriptive, well-though out, and so detailed. The setting really shone.

Characters were so fun and engaging. There were many of them, a huge handful of them only minor, but they all stood out as their own individual. They were made for the plot and served an integral part of it. Nothing felt like an afterthought or an unimportant detail. Plot was full of tightly woven depth. It answered all questions, made sense, and had such fantastic pacing. I love the way the series began, and I love everything about the story it told.

This was such an excellent read on so many levels. A series I would be happy to continue, and an author to keep an eye on as well.

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The Wizard in Wonderland, by Ron Glick

Crossovers are tough. Doing a crossover well, especially with popular media, is even tougher. So many extra expectations surface that authors buckle under the pressure, I think.

I’m pleased to announce that was not the case with the Wizard in Wonderland. Alice in Wonderland and the Wizard of Oz leave so much magic in their worlds that a crossover only makes sense. The reader starts in Oz, where Dorothy makes her glorious reappearance. Things aren’t quite right, however, and a new witch is making herself known and threatening to destroy everything the Wizard helped create. The absence of the Wizard isn’t making things easier. A deeper mystery comes to light as two worlds collide and grave misdeeds surface.

The combining of Alice and Dorothy was flawless, in my opinion. I felt like the author took great care to write the characters as close to their original form as possible. Everything from the bantering dialogue, to the tone of the narrator, to the hair-pulling debate of semantics and logic that were so prevalent in Wonderland were there. The storyline made sure to feature both worlds equally, and presented problems unique to the both of them. Story progression happened in a logical and timely manner that didn’t leave the reader behind or confuse them. Transistioning between worlds and perspectives was smooth.

I think my overall satisfaction came with how well the characters were written and how well they interacted with each other and their environment; not just Dorothy and Alice, but all of them. They blended together nicely.

Honestly, I can’t wait to read more. This has serious potential to become one of my favorite crossover series.

A Few Minor Adjustments, by Cherie Kephart

Just a bit of a preface before I continue on with the review: hopefully I’m back for good and able to get back on track for the reviews. A divorce is on the horizon and so the past little while I just haven’t been able to commit myself emotionally or mentally to much of anything. I apologize wholeheartedly; I know there’s many authors still waiting for news of their books, and I promise you I am getting to them. I’m just working through some personal stuff in the meantime. Each and every one of you have been absolutely amazing with your patience–something I can’t thank everyone enough for. Life has a funny way of turning out, and hopefully it’s finally on the rise for me.

Now, without further ado, what everyone came here to actually see:

Memoir writing is a tricky thing. Oftentimes they have strange tones, which make them sound less sincere. They don’t always evoke the emotions that the author intends.

Cherie Kephart’s writing style was very much geared towards emotion. It didn’t feel like a memoir. The first person tone was well-done, and it was immersive for a reader. The pacing was excellently done. The story itself felt whole and complete—the reader got plenty of background information at the right times without a total info dump. Jumps in time we’re documented clearly and in a way that made sense; I never really felt jarred from the story or confused about where I was at.

As far as the emotion went, I liked the level it was conveyed on. The tone wasn’t asking the readers for pity—rather it was broadcasting a show of strength. It felt more like the author was saying: “hey, I’ve had a lot of stuff happen to me, but even in my darkest moments, I never gave up.” I think one advantage that the author had that many dont was a wonderful support system in the way of family and friends. Oftentimes when people take ill, those are the first to abandon them; they can’t ‘handle’ it; the ill person is making them miserable—I’ve seen and heard many examples. Surrounding yourself with good people is sometimes difficult, but something to certainly strive for.

Another thing this novel did was raise awareness for such a tricky illness. Especially one that never really seems to be such a big deal. Sure, everyone’s heard of it, but the disease itself is such a far cry from what people think it is. I was shocked myself when the root of the problem showed.

The book ended very well. It didn’t tarry on or drag out. I think the author got her point across and let it be. Endings are tricky, and something that can make or break a novel, but the author managed a very logical stopping point, both narratively and emotionally.

Deamhan (Deamhan Chronicles #1), by Isaiyan Morrison

3_8_18 Deamhan

 

Veronica Austin is on a mission to find answers about her mother. Her separation from the Brotherhood leads her to seek those answers in vampire and Deamhan dens. The closer she gets to her answer, the uglier things get…from both sides of her associations. What’s a girl to do?

 

After reading Maris: The Brotherhood Files, I was already familiar with this author, and their world, going into the story. I liked the fact that in the world created, books are written for both sides. While Maris focused on the Brotherhood, one faction of the overall conflict, Deamhan focused on the other. Between the two books, the author did a wonderful job with compare and contrast. The narratives didn’t contradict one another. The author had tight control over their world.

 

While the worldbuilding soared, the characters felt a little flat. They didn’t seem to have much in the way of personality beyond doom and gloom. Even Veronica felt boring as the main character. It was a very familiar plot with very familiar archetypes set as players. I will say that I loved the diverse representation that went into creating the characters.

 

The author was well-versed in the ways of convenient plot devices. Situations meant to evoke specific emotions used unique devices to achieve their goal. While the plot was familiar, some of the paths to get there were not. The first-person writing style was consistent and clear, and done in a tone that didn’t make it feel cringy.

 

So far, I would have to say I’ve experienced relative success with this author and their novels. They’re standalone, but set in the same world, which builds upon itself with every novel. The vampires are stereotypical, but tolerable. There’s enough uniqueness that it doesn’t feel like every other vampire novel out there.

 

Buy it here!

Southwest on the A303, by Adam Gary

Sometimes taking a journey is the best cure; grief, loneliness, or just a clear headspace. After losing a very important uncle, Alex is gifted a van and an opportunity to travel. With some gentle encouragement from his mom, he sets out to see sights and experience things that will change his life.

Southwest on the A303 is about conquering anxieties, learning to let go, and learning how to just live life. Along the journey Alex is reluctant to take risks, but his Uncle Bill left beyond some very convincing arguments for Alex to just go for it.

At its heart it’s a sad tale. Loss is difficult for anyone to handle and some people cope better than others. Some have an immediate silver lining to their situation while others have to really search. A303 provides a lick of hope for those still searching that they’ll be alright one day.

Buy it here!

Good news!

My laptop was finally salvaged 😭😭

…three hard drives later. But this means that reviews will resume tomorrow!

I’ve adjusted a few things at work so hopefully in the next few weeks I’ll have a little extra free time to not only finish the fifty some-odd reviews still in line, but to also implement some changes to the site that I’ve been sitting on for a little while. Hold tight, guys! I promise I’m almost there!

Wildcat, by J. P. Harker

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stars-5-0._CB192240867_

 

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I’m going to preface this by saying that Wildcat is an incredibly long book. However, such care was put into its composition that I feel like readers would hardly notice. There were very few lulls in the narrative, and the plot carried the reader along insistently, keeping them turning the pages.

 

How much loss can one person stand, really? After her tribe is forced into an alliance with their Gaian conquerors, Rhia finds herself ripped from the life of a warrior and wife to a life of indulgence and subservience amongst the Gaian people. Her inadvertent exposure to a darker plot that threatens the lives of those she cares about returns her to her roots and nothing will stand in her way to protect them.

 

Wildcat was a ridiculously emotional ride. The author managed to find a delicate balance between Rhia’s more feminine side (the desire to settle down, be a wife and mother) and her warrior side—her urge to fight and protect. A real Wildcat, as the name suggests. The tale had its dark and gritty moments, without feeling like the main character was being knocked down all the time. Moments of levity and relaxation came in where they were needed most. And it all flowed so well together. I only felt a little lost at the beginning, as the author introduced the world, the various tribes and their customs. Once all of that straightened out, it really was smooth sailing the rest of the way.

 

I have to say that the description was on point, one-hundred percent. It gave a clear indication of what was happening. Battles and action scenes were controlled and properly paced with it. The prose could probably be compared to a mixture of Tolkein and King. Characters were done so well. They were three-dimensional, and their relationships were meaningful.

 

This was a really good book. The final quarter of the book was so intense, so emotional. I had to take a deep breath when I finally put it down. Despite the length, it’s worth every word.

 

Buy it here!

Nite Fire: Flash Point, by C. L. Schneider

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4 stars

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Flash Point was an intriguing novel to say the least. If you’re a lover of dragons and half-breeds, this is right up your alley. Dahlia Nite, our heroine, fled her world because of one mistake. Now she must protect her new home from the threat of powerful creatures—and from a plot deeper than she can imagine, of course.

 

This entire novel is very well-written. The author paid close attention to detail and the story really came to life in the mind of the reader. So much attention was paid to the worldbuilding. I loved the setting, and I loved how the author separated the two worlds.

 

It took me a little while to warm up to Dahlia. At first I thought it was because she was so good at everything—I’m not going to say she didn’t make mistakes; she did, even though it didn’t always feel like that. I spent some time thinking about why it bothered me so much and I realized that it was the first-person tone that was used. For me, personally, there are two types of tones when it comes to telling a story through first-person perspective: self-absorbed and casual (I’m currently working on an adequate way to explain what I mean by this, I promise). I think without meaning to, Dahlia took on that self-absorbed tone which succeeded in turning me off of her character at the beginning. As the story progressed, though, Dahlia really grew on me and the tonality was something I was able to successfully overlook.

 

If that happened to be my biggest complaint of the novel, I’d call that a win. I liked the story, the story progression, and the other characters. I was genuinely afraid that a notorious love triangle was going to come along and complicate character relationships. In this novel at least, that fear was assuaged. The author set up Dahlia’s backstory nicely and it fit in well with the plot. By the end of it, I was really happy that the author chose a female protagonist. I just don’t see the story being the same without her.

 

For all personal hang-ups, this turned out to be a worthwhile read. It piqued my interest in the rest of Dahlia’s adventures, and I can only hope that the final climax is as epic as the novel appears to be building towards. Well done.

 

Buy it here!

Madam Tulip, by David Ahern

2_1_18 Madam Tulip

4 stars

 

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Aiming for the high-flying life of an actress, Derry’s quest isn’t going so well. With a bit of help from her pre-cognitive abilities, Derry dons the alter ego of Madam Tulip after a bit of luck at the race tracks. Things went a little awry at the party she performed at, and now Derry’s trying to prove her friend’s innocence…with a little help from her abilities, of course.

 

I felt like Madam Tulip had a little bit of everything—except for romance, really, but that was alright in my book. Derry’s character and her subsequent development were more than okay without it. I digress, however. The book had mystery, intrigue, drama at the celebrity level, drug lords…man, Madam Tulip’s life was not boring. I was happy to see that the author significantly nerfed Derry’s pre-cognition. It helped add challenge to the story, though it was hard to maintain.

 

The mystery was a fairly linear, straightforward one. There were a couple of twists here and there—even with limitations applied, some abilities allow for things to get too easy. There were moments that felt easy, but the way they pushed along the novel was nice. So, there was a balance to find and sometimes it slipped in one direction and then the other.

 

I liked the characters; Derry’s father especially. I really enjoyed their relationship. It was weird, but at the same time felt realistic. And, I’ll be honest, it’s pretty hilarious. I won’t say he was used as comic relief, but certainly used as a tool to diffuse tension and bring a character or scene back to something of an equilibrium.

 

This was a cute story with some neat settings. Likeable and relatable characters were at the forefront of this novel. A worthwhile read.

 

Buy it here!

Icarus, by David Hulegaard

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4 stars

 

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Whatever ending I expected, Icarus did not follow. The storyline veered hard to the right in an interesting way that will surely suck readers right in.

 

After a young girl goes missing, her friend hires Miller Brinkman, P.I. to investigate. What he finds begins a crazy adventure that pushes the bounds of the genre.

 

Aside from Miller sounding like a neckbeard on occasion (“I tipped my Fedora…”) he was a very likeable character. For a mystery novel it progressed in a patient manner that aided the narrative and didn’t give too much away. The foreshadowing was pretty on point as the book managed to hold everything to the end.

 

The mystery itself was also a rather riveting one. Things certainly were what they seemed like at the beginning. That’s what mysteries are for, though, right? At the heart of it were good characters. They were different from each other, with their own voices and their own role to play in the narrative.

 

I liked the way the style transitioned to accommodate the supernatural themes. It definitely had an X-Files theme to it towards the end.

 

While the novel and singular mystery wrapped up nicely at the conclusion, it ended on such a cliffhanger. And it was a good one, done in just the right way with enough tension to still make the reader feel a little anxious. I genuinely enjoyed it. I would love to read the sequels.

 

Buy it here!