Review~ Witch Wraith by Terry Brooks

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Publisher: Del Rey
Publisher Date: July 16, 2013
ISBN: 9780345523532
Genre: SciFi/Fantasy
Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Publishers’ Description: For centuries the Four Lands enjoyed freedom from its demon-haunted past, protected by magic-enhanced borders from the dark dimension known as the Forbidding and the profound evil imprisoned there. But now the unthinkable is happening: The ancient wards securing the barrier between order and mayhem have begun to erode—and generations of bloodthirsty, monstrous creatures, fueled by a rage thousands of years in the making, are poised to spill forth, seeking revenge for what was done to them.

Young Elf Arling Elessedil possesses the enchanted means to close the breach and once more seal the denizens of the Forbidding in their prison. But when she falls into the hands of the powerful Federation’s diabolical Prime Minister, her efforts may be doomed. Only her determined sister, Aphen, who bears the Elfstones and commands their magic, has any hope of saving Arling from the hideous fate her captor has in store.

Meanwhile, Railing Ohmsford—desperate to save his imprisoned brother—seeks to discover if his famed but ill-fated ancestor Grianne is still alive and willing to help him save the world . . . no matter the odds or the consequences.

Review: I think this is the last in the Dark Legacy of Shannara series, but who knows, it’s hard to keep it all straight. Anything Terry Brooks writes is just plain good or great. He weaves quite the alternate reality in magic-landia.

Although I really liked this series, the last (or so I think) novel kind of fell flat. He wove this great tale and was cruising along then all of a sudden it seemed like there was a rush to finish. There was no elegant culmination of character’s coming together, nor was there this sense of righteous finality that we all look for when good has been trampled on for thousands of pages. The battle scenes were overly developed, which took up most of the story-line, with the pivotal scenes getting scant coverage/development. My subjective feeling is that there was not a lot of creative investment in this. More the work of a good writer that can make a living without the emotional purge that goes with creative insight.

The cover art looks like three half-squashed cherries in a bowl. Why they couldn’t create cover art that depicts psycho Grianne, wielding powers, is beyond me. Another sign of a half-assed job.

I personally will not risk purchasing any subsequent novels by this author, based on his latest work. For the masses whom have read the prior novels in the series, it is a coin toss. If you bought the first two, you mays well buy the last and get some closure/angst.

Review~ Under the Empyrean Sky by Chuck Wendig

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Publisher: Skyscape
Publishing Date: July 30, 2013
ISBN: 9781477817209
Genre:Dystopian
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Publishers’ Description: Corn is king in the Heartland, and Cael McAvoy has had enough of it. It’s the only crop the Empyrean government allows the people of the Heartland to grow—and the genetically modified strain is so aggressive that it takes everything the Heartlanders have just to control it.

As captain of the Big Sky Scavengers, Cael and his crew sail their rickety ship over the corn day after day, scavenging for valuables. But Cael’s tired of surviving life on the ground while the Empyrean elite drift by above in their extravagant sky flotillas. He’s sick of the mayor’s son besting Cael’s crew in the scavenging game. And he’s worried about losing Gwennie—his first mate and the love of his life—forever when their government-chosen spouses are revealed. But most of all, Cael is angry—angry that their lot in life will never get better and that his father doesn’t seem upset about any of it.

Review:  This novel is the first in the Heartland Trilogy series. This was a fantastic read. The characters and story-line were woven into a passionate saga with just the right amount of believability. It is not too far of a leap into current events if you follow the genetic modification of foods developed by agri-businesses.

Some reviewers thought that the beginning was too slow, or that Cael treats women poorly. The author weaves the story-line and characters into a fascinating whole, and not excessively so, in my opinion. It is just the right amount of coverage to do the entire novel justice. As to Cael’s treatment of Wanda; he let’s her down, sure, but that’s life. He did not love her and was being honest about it. Arranged marriages within a lottery system do not love make. The cover art really evokes the images developed during the read. A good perspective on the subject rendered.

I really look forward to the next in the Heartland series where the novel next takes place in the sky. I think I would read anything Mr. Wendig writes as his prose is fantastic.

Review~ The Wrong Girl by CJ Archer

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ISBN 9780987489920
Publisher: C.J. Archer
Publishing Date: June 1, 2013
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 2.5/5 stars

Publishers Description:  Hannah knows she’s lucky to have a roof over her head and food in her belly when so many orphans starve on the streets. Yet freedom is something Hannah longs for. She did not, however, want her freedom to arrive in the form of kidnapping. Taken by handsome Jack Langley to a place known as Freak House, she finds herself under the same roof as a mad scientist, his niece, a mute servant and Jack, a fire starter with a mysterious past. They assure Hannah she is not a prisoner and that they want to help her. The problem is, they think she’s the earl’s daughter. What will they do when they discover they took the wrong girl?

Review: This novel goes nowhere, in a hurry. Seems like you’re always waiting for something to happen, and it never does. You feel like the story-line is being drawn out in lieu of the trilogy. This novel had a lot of potential to involve the reader that was subsequently wasted on confused or angry diatribes by the characters. The story-line had merit but devolved into this sinking morass of emotional inner-dialogue. I doubt that the genre that this novel was intended for, would find this work interesting.

Review~ Reaper’s Novice (Book 1) by Cecilia Robert

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Publisher: Fiction Addiction
Publishing date” January 10, 2013
ISBN 9781482350760
Genre: Scifi/Fantasy Teen/YA
Rating: 4/5 stars

Publisher Description:
Seventeen-year-old Ana Maria Tei’s life has always been perfect: loving parents, good grades, and a future so bright it outshone the sun. But now words like “separation” and “divorce” are sending her world plummeting to hell. Determined to keep her family intact, Ana plans a family-bonding trip from Vienna to Tuscany. Except fate has other plans. Ana’s parents and siblings are killed in a car accident on their way to pick Ana up from school.

Enter Grim, aka Ernest. He promises to relinquish the four souls if Ana agrees to trade her soul for theirs and serve a lifetime as his novice. In order for Ana to graduate from her Reaper’s Novice station to a Soul Collector graduate, Grim puts her to test. To her horror, she finds out becoming a Reaper’s Novice didn’t happen by chance. It was preordained, and she is forced to make a choice: save her family’s souls or come to terms with who she really is and complete the task set for her.

I really enjoyed this novel. A little bit of wading through the teen hormone thing, but the author weaves it into the story-line so you’re not left with an internal-dialogue hangover. You feel frustrated and indisposed at the same time the heroine feels it. This is good writing that imbibes the reader with a sense of presence. Look forward to the next in the series.

Review~The Narrowing Path by David J Normoyle

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Publishing Date: April, 2013
Publisher: Fiction Addiction
Genre: Scifi & Fantasy, Teen YA
ISBN 9780957313330
Rating: 4.7/5 Stars

Publisher Description:Every six years, the world draws nearer to the sun. In Arcandis, those who want to live must claim the limited places in the Refuge, a series of underground caverns cooled by the sea.

The teenage boys of noble birth are sent out into the city to demonstrate their wits and strength. Some prove themselves in combat, others display their empire building skills, still others attempt to kill off their rivals. Out of over a hundred, only six will be selected by the leaders of the great families and allowed a place in the Refuge. The rest will perish, one way or another.

Not only is thirteen-year-old Bowe younger and weaker than most of the other boys, he has no family to support him. He is expected to die on the very first day of the narrowing path. Instead he begins a journey no one could have anticipated.

Review: Wow! Nice read, all the way through. The author starts the story with no preamble, and just throws you into his world, which makes for a focused read until you figure it all out. It does not take long to get up to speed, and once you do, you’re in for a ride. Really good character development and story-line. Some reviewers thought that it was too violent to be in the YA/Teen genre. I didn’t think it was too bad, just sword play and torture.

Bowe and cohorts are well defined and carry you along with their hopes and dreams. Rah, Rah, right? The scene descriptions are well done, so visualizations are effortless. The cover art is very well done, but does not have much to do with the content of the book. More like an allegory depicting a representation of the story. The author really needs to get off his ass and finish the series or at least have a series completion timeline.

I highly recommend this book to anyone, old or young. Publisher should really eliminate the “Teen, YA” genre as it may preclude other readers from purchasing.

Review~ The Geneva Decision by Seely James

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Publishing Date: March 1, 2013
Genre: Mystery/Thrillers
ISBN:9780988699625
Rating: 3.5

Publishers’ Description:  Pia Sabel plays to win.  Until a few weeks ago, she was an international soccer star. But now she’s taken the helm of her billionaire father’s private security company, and she’s playing against a whole new set of opponents – the kind who shoot to kill.  On her first day on the job, Pia’s client is assassinated in front of her. There’s no time for training, so Pia must trust her instincts and athletic skills to unravel the complicated maze of money laundering and piracy that will take her from Swiss mansions to the jungles of Cameroon.  Her battle-hardened employees suspect she’s just a spoiled rich girl with a mean corner kick. But Pia’s got some unexpected moves of her own. Will they be enough to bring her team through its mission?

Review: I almost dropped this book off the Kindle carousel before finishing due to the stilted writing and jumbled logic train. Luckily, the subject was easy to follow….if there ever was one. I guess in La La Land, women’s’ ex-soccer stars use slide tackles and bicycle kicks as an invented martial art and can take out terrorists with a series of punches…….blah blah…………run 10k in……….blah blah……super rich…..blah……..vendetta…..blah……….almost lover dies………..blah………. Pretty formulaic all told, but you know? Despite a rough start, Pia started to grow on me; at first she is just an annoying hyper-narcissistic athlete but soon reveals a little vulnerability. She still is a rampant egoist, but in subsequent books she may evolve into something interesting to read about. I would have placed this in the “Teen/Young adult” mystery genre.

Review~ Muckross Folly by J.L. Austgen

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Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Dreampipe Publishing
ISBN:9780985063047
Publishing Date: March 2013
Rating: 3.0 / 5 stars

Publisher Description: Reeling from the destruction of her team at the hands of her deputy, FBI agent Evelyn Morgan vows revenge against her nemesis, the assassin that planned the operation, Omar Ben Iblis. The trail leads to an old friend, well-connected and well placed in Washington’s political establishment. When he refuses to help, Morgan must scramble to find the pieces to the puzzle. While investigating, she discovers a vicious new menace, more cunning and deadly than anyone she has ever faced. Trained and mentored by Ben Iblis, this new threat has already struck her family, and if Morgan doesn’t act quickly, she’ll be the talented protégé’s next victim.

Review: I really started out liking this novel…a lot. Edgy beginning with a real “in the moment” feel to it. It eventually meandered and devolved into a narcissistic internal dialogue of the wronged “femme’ fatal” whom can break grown men’s necks with a single strike…yada yada yada. It is not so much the story-line as it is the style of writing, which tends to step on its own heels in the telling. The logic train leaves the tracks quite a bit.

In order to get into this novel, suspend your dis-belief with super girl and be patient with her internal whining.

Review~ The Kings Deception by Steve Berry

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Publisher: Random House/ Ballantine
ISBN:9780345526540
Release Date: June 2013
Rating: 2.1/5 stars

Publisher Description: Cotton Malone is back! Steve Berry’s new international adventure blends gripping contemporary political intrigue, Tudor treachery, and high-octane thrills into one riveting novel of suspense.

Cotton Malone and his fifteen-year-old son, Gary, are headed to Europe. As a favor to his former boss at the Justice Department, Malone agrees to escort a teenage fugitive back to England. But after he is greeted at gunpoint in London, both the fugitive and Gary disappear, and Malone learns that he’s stumbled into a high-stakes diplomatic showdown—an international incident fueled by geopolitical gamesmanship and shocking Tudor secrets.

Hmmmm, where to begin. This novel sucks. It is mindless, boring and repetitive. They should rename this novel “Memory Lane” for all the detours into the historical past. The worst part of this novel is the constant recriminatory internal dialogue of what happened between Pam and Cotton, oh so many years ago when they were both unfaithful. Who gives a crap. There is frickin’ page after page of mindless drivel-filler, that my one conclusion is that the author was lazy in every regard. Plus we have Cotton’s son, dumb Gary, wandering around asking questions like a two year old. Let’s not forget secret agent “Hot Chick” that unloads her pistol into a steel door lock and manages to open it. Krikey!!!! And she’s Horney for Cotton too!!! What a hunk of shjt.

Money better spent is on a burger made by angry teenagers.

Review~ “The Still” by David Feintuch

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The Still by David Feintuch

Genre: Fantasy/Scifi
Publisher: Open Road Media
Publishing Date: January 8, 2013
Rating: 4.2 stars out of 5

Publisher Description: David Feintuch’s fantasy debut: the rousing tale of a young man’s quest to reclaim his throne and master his own soul

Rodrigo, Prince of Caledon, is petulant, selfish, and uncaring. When his mother, Queen Elena, dies, he fully expects to inherit the title of king. Instead, his uncle usurps the throne, and Rodrigo is forced out of the kingdom, along with his brother and best friend.

In order for Rodrigo to take back his birthright, he must win not only the allegiance of the Council of State, but also the Still, a mystical power that can be channeled by the rightful king of Caledon. To wield that power, Rodrigo must be pure, must be honest, and must be crowned king. Rodrigo’s success or failure will determine the fate of not only his homeland, but of his very soul.

This is a real solid story teller, whom develops complex interactions and story-lines. Main characters are well developed, as it is a long novel, yet the subordinate players seem fairly one dimensional. I get the author’s attempt to purvey a young man on the verge of manhood, whom struggles with his identity and turns to gay sex in order to preserve his sanity and the “Power” with his consort.

I look forward to the next in the series, “The King”, in hopes that he finally gets laid by a woman.

Review~ “Grounded” by G.P. Ching

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Author(s): G.P. Ching

Publisher: All Night Reads

ISBN: 9780985236755

Genre:Fantasy

Review Rating: 4/5 stars

Publisher Description: “In the year 2050, a secret government study nicknamed Operation Source Code injects eight volunteers with a retrovirus.

Publishers Description: Seventeen years later, Lydia Troyer is far from concerned with the energy crisis. Growing up in the isolated community of Hemlock Hollow, life hasn’t changed much since 1698 when her Amish ancestors came to America. She milks her cow by hand, makes fresh bread every morning, and hopes to be courted by Jeremiah, the boy who’s been her best friend since she could walk. But when Lydia’s father has a stroke and is taken to the outside world for medical treatment, Lydia and Jeremiah leave Hemlock Hollow. An ordinary light switch thrusts Lydia into a new world where energy is a coveted commodity and her own personal history makes her the most sought-after weapon on the planet. ”

Review: I love this authors….er writing. You get a sense of the constrained, in thought, action and life practices of the future Amish (famish?) with a blend of wonderment at what could or might be. GP Ching takes you there in a subtle ministration of the written word. When you realize how caught up in the novel you are, you will do a David Byrne.

The only downside is that other able adults, inclined to read, will skip this novel and the series to come, based on the publishers categorization of “Teen and Young Adult”. Good writing is just what it is, good, and to categorize a very good novel into a niche bears re-visiting. Don’t pass this up.