Category: Book Reviews


Rise of the Discordant: The Complete Five Book Series by [McMullen, Christina]Available at Amazon

Once again, I find myself reviewing a book by Christina McMullen. Or rather, I should say “books” as this is a box set. I’ve never done a review of a box set before and I’m still not sure exactly how that should be done but I’m going to give it my best shot.

Each book builds on the previous one and segues flawlessly into the next. For me, reading them this way was an enjoyable experience and it kept the magic going in this tale of good vs. evil. Or rather, it is a tale of order vs. disorder.

The story takes place in a small Midwestern town and is told in the first person using the POVs of different characters, a method for which I usually don’t care, but in this case, I felt it worked quite well because it afforded greater insight into the thoughts and motives of each individual.

As you might expect, some folk are given the task of fighting this, er, fight.

There are the agents of Order, chosen by the Creator to be such after they’ve met their demise in some violent way. There are psychics and witches fighting alongside them, and then there are what I would call some gray area folk who also join the brouhaha, including a decidedly different bartender in a bar that’s central to the story. They don’t always agree or get along and there was my occasional thought of, “This is a good guy?” but they’re determined to keep at bay the denizens of Chaos who are hell-bent on causing mayhap and mayhem, and major disruption in the world. Theirs is a tough job and all isn’t necessarily as it seems (wherein I had the occasional thought of, “This is a bad guy?”) and the outcome of the battle against the denizens of Chaos isn’t clear.

The take on the Creator of Everything is unique but I found myself nodding and thinking, “Yeah, that makes sense”. There is a dark thread that runs throughout (I mean, there are all sorts of dark creatures such as vampires, werewolves, etc. which means there’s bound to be some maiming and killing) but, after all, this wouldn’t be a proper McMullen tale without some chuckles and believe me, they’re there. Still, the story makes you stop and think.

And I stopped and thought – several times – and in the end, what I thought was I was sorry to get to the end! I wanted more of this never-ending story! Anybody that likes paranormal fantasy will love this!

Five stars because Christina McMullen has done her usual job of entertaining the heck out of me.

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This first book in a series is a fine tale and a great beginning. The characters are well developed and it has a well-written plot. I also love the cover so kudos to the artist.

Ellie, the space girl of the title, learns some life-changing facts about herself and her family and has to come to terms with that all while dealing with a nefarious enemy out to conquer the galaxy. There’re aliens, action, surprises, a little romance, and the feel of a good old-fashioned space opera.

What’s not to love?

I recommend this book to anybody who likes a good science-fiction story (or wants to read one for the first time!)

(Click image to see excerpt at Amazon)

SELIA's Promise: A Short Story by [McMullen, Christina]

I chose this story to read because it’s short and I don’t have a lot of time at the moment. Besides, I’ve enjoyed other of this author’s books and figured I’d find a laugh or two in it. And, believe it or not considering the dark premise, I did.

I can’t say a lot without giving too much away because, after all, it IS a shortie, but this I can say: it’s the best apocalyptic story I’ve read in recent years. It is dark and clever and it grabbed me from the beginning. I went through the highs and lows – and more highs and lows – along with the protagonist, and could not see what the end would be – until the very end. And it was perfect.

It is well written (as is usual for Christina McMullen) and I’m so glad she wrote it!

Zenzoris Returns (The Sophie Radcliffe Series Book 1) by [Burnley, Jenny]

Buy links: Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk

 

Sophie Radcliffe is a gutsy and brilliant (and somewhat foul-mouthed) computer scientist from Texas. She’s also a ten-year veteran of the Intergalactic Law Enforcement Agency. She and her two human partners captured a Drogg criminal named Zenzoris and locked him up forever.

Zenzoris, a particularly ruthless and nasty bad guy, made a promise to exact revenge against Sophie and her planet, and he’s also determined to destroy the Intergalactic Council and seize control of the galaxy.

When Sophie hears he has escaped from his prison pod to instigate his nefarious mission, her job is to recapture him and throw him back in the slammer.

The story is well written with a good plot and surprisingly well developed characters for being so short, and the author also manages to throw in a rather startling twist. The story has aliens, secret portals, computer coding, wormholes, spaceships, stuff blowing up, plenty of action, and some moments that really had me chuckling.

I enjoyed this quick read and I think that anyone who likes science fiction – and space opera in particular – will get a kick out of it.

I give it five stars.

A Shot at the Big Time: A Maxima City Talent Novel by [McMullen, Christina]

Available at Amazon

I liked this story. To expand on that statement – I really liked this story! It is quite a different take on characters with superhuman powers told from the point of view of a Talent, as they’re called, who’s not on the side of the “good” guys.

Frostbyte, a female Talent who admits to being on the other side of good, is determined to exact revenge on a member of the hero faction, Magnificent Man, for a traumatic incident suffered by her family when she was a kid.  She finally gets her chance at moving up into the big league of villains and prepares to deal out her payback. Things escalate and s**t happens.

That’s all I’m gonna say.

Well, except for this: The story moves along at a good pace; it’s got satire, a little romance, a bit of angst, some heavy drinking, fighting, IT fixes, stolen panties, and a woman longing for pockets (not necessarily in that order), but best of all, it’s got FUNNY!

I would recommend this book to anyone who’s ever read a super-hero comic book and/or to anyone who needs a good laugh.

Five stars – for making me snort.

Going Green by Christina McMullen – available at Amazon

Over the past year, I’ve accumulated a host of books on my Kindle that I’ve simply not gotten around to reading. I’ve had this one since back in the spring and I’m kicking myself for taking so long to get to it – but glad that I finally did.

I’ve read a few zombie apocalypse stories and I have to say that this one is not what I expected – and that’s a good thing as I like stories that take an old theme and turn it into something new and fresh.

It’s kind of a case of “the road to Hell being paved with good intentions” or maybe “missing Heaven and hitting Hell” would be another way of describing it. It’s the end of the world (as we know it) written in a series of interconnected stories that describe the catastrophic outcome of a wrong-way government official having released a toxic agent onto the world that causes nearly everyone to become a shambling, grunting, flesh-eating zombie. While the book is short, the story is complete and definitely won’t leave you hanging. I don’t want to say a lot because I’m afraid of introducing a spoiler but I certainly liked the twist at the end and felt it was the perfect ending.

I loved the writing style, the satire, and the humor, and I certainly will be reading more of Christina McMullen’s work. (While perusing my Kindle I was happy to discover that I already have a couple other of her books and I’ve already bought her newest one.)

If you like sci-fi and zombie stories (and even if you don’t!) you will love this one!  A solid five stars.

Click to buy @ Amazon – available in ebook and paperback

 

In some respects, this book kind of reminds me of Herman Hesse’s “Siddartha” in that the protagonist is on a path to self-discovery. It is a book that is an experience. It has time-traveling, religion, and science, with a good dollop of mysticism.
From the moment the protagonist awakens to find a mysterious being in his room, you’re off to other dimensions and other worlds as he is taken on a mission that twists through different times and places. He is brought up against a powerful antagonist and placed in circumstances that would blow anyone’s mind yet he somehow manages to maintain his sanity in his attempts to rise to the challenges.
I must admit that I found it somewhat hard to understand in places, and felt there were a few things that could’ve been made clearer. However, I still found it to be quite an intriguing read and I believe it to be a great book for anyone who loves enigmatic plot twists.

4/5 stars

First, let me say that it has been a while since I read a vampire story, but of course I’ve heard of, and read the synopses and samples of several popular such books, including the ones that were made into a series of movies.

To my pleasant surprise, this one is not like those.  It has a much different (and, in my opinion, much better) plot, and while I generally don’t care for prologs, the one for this book was really good.  It gives the prehistory that explains the circumstances in the story without over-telling, or getting too long and convoluted.

This is not your usual vampire story and I’d like to thank the author, and ebook Miner at Goodreads, for giving it to me for free in return for an honest review.

I’m not much for reading romance and this book does have that element, which is great for those who love romance with their paranormal.  This story, in fact, has a fair amount of elements common to paranormal/fantasy, but the author has managed to present them in such a manner that makes for quite a different and interesting read.

My only criticism is I felt the book would have benefited from at least one more edit as I noticed a few inconsistencies and errors, and some repetitions, that I think would have been caught with another one.

However, for the most part, it is pretty well written and the author seems to have a touch for this kind of tale.  This was an enjoyable read and a great beginning to the series.

I would recommend this book to anyone who has a liking for paranormal/vampire/fantasy.

Second Coming: It’s all just a game by Andrew Smith

 

This is a very well written mystery/ thriller/supernatural/horror story which also dips into metaphysics.  I know that’s a mouthful, but that’s how I see it.  Not to mention the very interesting historical component involving the Crusades.  This story has a lot of twists, and I’m going to be as general as possible as I don’t want to introduce any spoilers, but it’s definitely not for children or the faint of heart.   There is no fluff involved here.   This is deep and dark with lots of violent action, and a lot of the horror is not of the supernatural variety.

The book starts a little slow, in Jerusalem, with the very pregnant wife of the protagonist, Charles, stopping on a lark to see a fortune teller, or oracle, and immediately getting into a situation that went terribly wrong.  The plot builds up from there, and  I must admit that at first I thought it wasn’t going to be my kind of story or to my tastes at all because of the violence, or the political/religious aspects, and I’m not much into either of those.  If you feel that way, I would advise you to keep reading.  I did, and am extremely glad I did.

The author is so descriptive with his characters that in short order, the reader gets to know them well and they become real people with personalities that are likeable (or not, such as the priest Estevez).  One can get pissed at them for doing something thoughtless, such as Charles’ seeming obliviousness in certain areas of his life which, among other things, strains his relationship with his son, Marcus.

There are plots and subplots, and things are not all black or white; the reader gets a sense of people doing the things they do because they believe it’s their duty or is the right thing to do (even if they’re wrong).  These are not cardboard characters; even the bad guys have layers (though some are what I, or anybody else, would consider to be just plain bad).    We learn a great deal about the revenant, Izz al-Din, and to my shock, there came a point where I found myself actually sympathizing with him, and believe me, I can’t remember a time when I’ve done that before!  And, he’s a truly bad, bad guy.  Trust me: this bad guy’s story has a real twist, in more ways than one.   The author sure knows how to surprise you and how to use words to paint images so you actually see a particular scene, some of which get pretty graphic.

This is a full-length, standalone novel but did leave what can only be construed as some “loose ends”, so I’m sincerely hoping there’s a sequel in the works.  In the meantime, this book is a highly intriguing, thrilling and enjoyable read.

I must say that this is a good book.  Because I read book two first (at the time I didn’t realize there was a book one), I thought this one would be anticlimactic.  However, I was wrong.  It does answer one major question I had while reading book two, but this is an entertaining story that stands quite well on its own.

The protagonist, a most unlikable man – a telepathic serial killer with paranormal powers – is in prison awaiting trial for his crimes.  He’s bent on causing disruption, both in prison and in court, and “going out with a bang” but is thwarted in his efforts by the Friar of a secretive order of the Catholic Church when he is pressed into service to stop a living legend from the Bible who’s working to bring about the Apocalypse.

It’s a case of fighting fire with fire (or evil with evil) that begins a little slow but twists its way to an unusual, action packed, conclusion.

As I discovered with book two, it is well written with few errors in a style that is easy to read and understand, and I’m looking forward to book three.

I think anyone who’s a fan of paranormal/supernatural fiction that has a Biblical bent, will enjoy this story.

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