Category: Book Reviews


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.

A Review of “Stenson Blues” by Freddie Silva

 

                          Enter once again into the world of the Seven Kingdoms, where war and political intrigue reign.  In this second book of The Kingdom of Haven series, we meet a most unlikely player, Olaf the younger, sometimes called the unlucky, nephew of the founder of the Kingdom of Haven, Olaf the elder who was exiled from his home some years ago.

 

Nephew Olaf, having been crippled at an early age, is treated as a servant by his family (his last job was shoveling pig sh—er, um, pig stuff), and he is considered to be worthless for anything else.  However, once the family learns of his uncle’s rise in power at having obtained his own kingdom, they decide to send the nephew, along with an insufferably arrogant cousin, to try and curry favor with the uncle since he’s now a royal and they’re hoping some of it will rub off on them.

 

This story is told from the POV of the nephew, and is, in one sense, a coming of age story.  I enjoyed getting inside his head, knowing his thoughts and feelings, seeing his insecurities, watching him grow, and I know this is his story, however, I kind of missed interacting with Olaf the uncle, who’s story was told in the first book (The Order of the Wolf) from his POV.  I would have enjoyed seeing him having had more of a presence.  Just my opinion, though, probably because Olaf the nephew is so young, and the uncle is older – and so am I.

 

Still, it was quite an enjoyable read (I read it in one sitting because every time I tried to put it down, it sort of wouldn’t let me!), one that can be enjoyed by just about any age group.  Though there is not as much action as is in the first one (though there is some), the sense of the adventure of a different, less high-tech world is still there, and there is tons of intrigue.  And, yeah, as soon as the next one is out, I will run right out (or to my nearest internet device) and buy it too!

A Review of “The Order of the Wolf” by Freddie Silva

Okay.  I have to tell the truth.  When I first saw this book, for some reason I had the notion it was about werewolves. You know, with the usual storyline of alpha males, fawning females trying to get next to the alpha, soul mates, pack fights, that sort of thing.  Even after reading the blurb I still thought a werewolf might be in there somewhere.  Don’t get me wrong, I love a good werewolf story but really wasn’t in the mood for one.  Then I read the sample before buying, and boy, was I delightfully wrong!  And, after reading the book, I’m happy to say: I was wonderfully wrong!

Instead, what I found was an engaging tale set in an alternate world and time.  A world of warring kingdoms and mercenary warriors who, though fighting for different rulers of the land, try to hold to a code of honor.  The story begins directly after the destruction in battle of a particular company in the Order of the Wolf, called The Old Guard, wherein our protagonist has been horribly wounded, and is the only surviving member of his company.  He wants to die and join his comrades but is instead, healed and pressed into training a company of newbies by the Order commander.

The story takes off from there through a string of twists and turns, some of them political, all of them intriguing.  It has lots of action but is not just a litany of one battle after another.  There’s even a touch of humor, and, it has a hint of romance but not enough to make you wonder what it’s doing in a story of war and bloodshed as it fits the circumstances.

The writing is clear and concise and the story moves right along.  My only complaint is that it ended before I was ready for it to!  I want to know more!  I want to know what happens next!  Now, I have to sit and wait – impatiently – for the sequel.

I’d recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good read that has action, adventure, and intrigue, set in another time and place.

Most definitely: Five stars!

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