Review: Endless

File Size: 685 KB
Publisher: Astro Impossible Books (December 20, 2011)
Language: English
BN ID: 2940032954088
Purchase: Kindle, Nook, Other E-Readers

It took me a while to adjust to Mr. Bone's particular writing style. Don't get me wrong, I found the prose beautiful, very fluid; just something I wasn't use to. And I must admit the British spelling and grammer caught me off guard at first.

Once I got past the style, I was easily sucked in by the story. I immediately felt for the characters, hated the plight they found themselves, and hoped they made it out alive and unscathed. All the characters had a deep history, their own unique story, giving way to unique personalities. Mr. Bone did an excellent job with their development throughout the story.

Excellent details, especially when it came to the "Black Sea" - aka a cursed desert. I was very impressed by how such a monotonous landscape can still be interesting to read about for more than a page or so!

The ending was unexpected, though not dissappointing. I don't want to give too much away, but the person that defeated the half-man and the Endless, was the opposite of who I thought it would be. It worked very well for the story however, setting it up nicely for a sequel. I look forward to reading more of the Crescent series and Mr. Bone's prose.

Reviewed by: Anastasia V. Pergakis

A free copy of this book was furnished by the author for review, but providing a copy did not guarantee a review. This information is provided per the regulations of the Federal Trade Commission.

Author Interview: Darlene Jones

With blood on her hands, strange words coming out of her mouth, and her face all over the media, Em knows that she did stop the jungle battle, storm into the armed courtroom, face and defeat the zealot soldiers. But, “working” for the powers controlling her, she is haunted with not knowing about or being connected to her own life. And, at some point she will have to decide which of her two lives are her true destiny.

Yves, her controller, has his own set of problems as a rookie learning to be a Power, trying to communicate with Em, facing her doubts and questions as well as his own, and struggling to control the onslaught of emotions that arise from his association with humans. He risks losing his chance for advancement, his chance to free his people, even his life, by falling in love with Em.

In one sentence, what is your book about?

A woman’s life is taken over by beings “out there somewhere,” but the being in charge of her is a rookie on his first assignment and of course he messes up.

What gave you the idea for this story?

Laugh! I started playing with the idea when I suffered from insomnia. I thought it would help put me to sleep. It didn’t!

What is the target audience for your book?

Anyone who likes a good adventure/love story with a bit of sci-fi magic.

What have people said about your writing?

“what a different concept” “captivating” “serious issues to ponder” “fanciful, imaginative love story” “superb job of making two worlds seem real and believable”

How do you want your readers to feel when they finish your book?

I want them to feel that they have read a good story with substance, a story that made them think, and I want them to want to read the next book and the next.

What’s your next writing project?

Book 2 of the series will be out in a couple of months, then book 3 in the summer. I’m currently working on book 4.

Do you think books disappear altogether in future?

Oh Lord, I hope not. And I really don’t think they will. In spite of all the entertainment media available to us, books hold a special place and now with electronic readers, it is so easy to access books. I believe books will be forever.

The best thing about being a writer is... the chance to be creative. To play with story lines, to create characters you love and want to be with, to have those “friends” in your life forever once you’ve written their story.

The worst thing about being a writer is... You know, I can’t really think of a worst thing. I love it all. The first draft, the rewrites, even the final proofing!

You find a magic lamp, give it a rub and a genie offers you three wishes. What are they?

Ah, that’s a great question and the answers are found in my books. EMBATTLED really says it all. I don’t want to say too much more and spoil your reading pleasure.

Who has been the biggest influence in your life?

In my writing life, I have to say Robert J. Sawyer. I had the great good fortune to spend a week in a workshop with him. He is generous and a natural teacher. We learned so much from him. I’ve also attended his sessions at various writing conferences – he is simply the best.

Quick fire:
Favorite flavor of ice cream? Chocolate
Favorite place? Home
Favorite Book? Mixed Marriage (see my website)
Favorite book you've read this year? The Tiger’s Wife

Find Darlene at her website, Twitter, and Facebook.

Check out EMBATTLED at Amazon for your Kindle, Smashwords for your other E-Readers, and GoodReads.

Review: Arantur

"Arantur: Riothamus Book 1" by Rosemary Fryth

File Size: 536KB
Language: English
Purchase: Kindle

The lead character, Arantur, works as the apprentice to Master Cody in Leigh, a well known blacksmith. He doesn't see himself as having any other trade save that he's grown up to learn, and raised by a foster family including a troublemaking foster-brother named Sed. One day, however, a mage comes to Master Cody insisting Arantur must leave his apprenticeship early and go to Glaive - the home of the mages - at once. Arantur finds himself leaving the only home he can remember to be confronted with an unexpected new destiny.

The world definitely displays as well thought out, from the politics to the classes of magic - both key factors in the text. However, the book also has a few struggles. There's no real conflict or tension other than the lead being dragged along on a journey to a destiny that doesn't appeal to him; at no point is there any serious physical endangerment or impediment as they go from place to place. The characters feel like pawns at times when they are moved from one locale and discuss various world development points of conflict and history, then get moved somewhere else and repeat it; it's as if the author is using them as ciphers to explain her world development, versus seeing them as characters who happen to be in this magical, fantastical world. Arantur, for someone who is discovering so much about his past history and having his whole world turned upside down, doesn't get terriby emotional just rather analytical and distant about it all, which seems odd. Also, I could see the ending coming long before it actually did, save one particular element which despite multiple rereads seems unclear and pretty contrived (but I can't say what it is as that would be a major spoiler). If Arantur himself wasn't as interesting as he is, I'm not sure I would have read to the end of the book, as most of the characters are pretty flat in development.

Because of the strength in the world building, I would be interested in seeing the next book, with the hopes that the characters begin to show additional promise.

Reviewed by: Shannon Muir

A free copy of this book was furnished by the author for review, but providing a copy did not guarantee a review. This information is provided per the regulations of the Federal Trade Commission.

Review: Freerunners

"Freerunners" by Joseph Chandler Cain

File Size: 324 KB
Paperback: 226 pages
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-1467975483
Purchase: Kindle, Paperback, Nook
I have to admit that when I first read the description for this story and saw the words "zombie plague" I was leary of reading it. I'm not a fan of zombies. However, I gave it chance because of the dystopian/science fiction elements that appeared to be in the story as well.

I was not disappointed. While I can get sucked into a story and thoroughly enjoy the read - and want to read it again and again - it is rare that a book makes me cry - big fat tears. Yes. A zombie story made me cry like a baby.

My attention was immediately snatched from the first page and the story didn't let go until the end. The reader is immediately immersed into this dystopian world of government lies, conspiracies, and fear. The suspense rolled over me page after page and I couldn't wait to see what would happen to the Freerunners next - the group of young people who fought against
the oppression of the High Council and the Overlanders.

With the animal-like Posessors and the somewhat brain dead Less Thans, the fight for the Freerunners hits them on all sides - above and below. The Overlanders are watching their every move, and the Posessors are simply trying to eat them.

I honestly would recommend this book to anyone - not just dytopian or science fiction or zombie fans. This book is simply amazing and I have no complaints or negative thoughts about it. I was blown away and like I said before, I cried big tears at the end because of the horrors and determination of the characters to win. Very powerful and emotional ending.

The ending seems to be set up perfectly for a sequel and I do hope there is one. I will read the story just because Mr. Cain wrote it, and just because it's a Freerunners story. Mr. Cain made me fall in love with a zombie story and I want more!
Reviewed by: Anastasia V. Pergakis
A free copy of this book was furnished by the author for review, but providing a copy did not guarantee a review. This information is provided per the regulations of the Federal Trade Commission.

Author Interview: Patrick Chiles

Stranded in orbit, with no way home before the air runs out…

At hypersonic speed, Polaris AeroSpace has become the premium choice for rapid travel around the world. When a veteran crew’s flight is marooned after a series of baffling malfunctions, they must try to stay alive knowing that help may never arrive.

As they struggle with dwindling life support and increasingly desperate passengers, their colleagues scramble to mount an audacious rescue. In a race against time, they will face shocking betrayals in a fight to save their friends. Unraveling a web of industrial espionage, they learn the truth to be worse than imagined. And one man will discover that escape may demand a terrible sacrifice.

PERIGEE opens the next chapter in air and space travel, where ordinary people must sometimes accomplish extraordinary things.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’ve worked in aviation for over twenty years, pretty much across the whole spectrum: military, airlines, charter, and corporate. I’ve been writing off and on during that entire time, most recently for an industry magazine and a piece for Air & Space Smithsonian.

I’ve pretty much been an airplane and rocket geek since early childhood. Sleek machines that fly really fast and make lots of noise doing it have always been addictive to me. So when I went off to college, my obvious choice of majors was English. Yeah, go figure…

What are your pet peeves (dislikes) in life?

Adults, particularly those with children, who still carry on like hormonally-challenged adolescents. I take family pretty seriously and have a low tolerance for people who don’t but elect to have children anyway. Once you bring a kid into the world, it’s time to stop acting like one yourself.

If you could change one thing in this world, what would it be?

These are some buzzkill questions! I’m alarmed by the growing number of people who behave without any sense of reason, propriety, or common sense. Whether it’s undue influence from reality TV, the Internet, or fluorinated drinking water…in the end it doesn’t matter. Too many people have surrendered their ability to think rationally and/or control their temper.

Why do you write?

Because the voices in my head won’t shut up!

I’ve always had an active fantasy life; for some reason my mind is constantly playing out alternative dialogue to everyday occurrences and I think cinematically. So once I’ve worked out the plot details, the storytelling kind of handles itself.
Bottom line, not enough writers are producing the kinds of books I enjoy reading so it’s up to me to fill in the gaps. That’s probably what drives most of us.

What is your writing routine (if you have one!)?

Routine is everything when you have to balance writing against a family and a day job. It starts at oh-dark-thirty each morning, which is the only time the house is quiet. I put on some coffee and have a couple hours of uninterrupted “magic time” before the wife and kids are up. Evenings are for editing, which doesn’t require as much mental isolation. I can do that in the living room with the family.

In one sentence, what is your book about?

A passenger spaceplane is stranded in orbit, with no way home before the air runs out.

What gave you the idea for this story?

It had been percolating for a long time and really gelled around 2003 when Virgin Galactic was established as the first “spaceline”. Anyone who reads SF probably knows all about them. Their eventual goal is to offer point-to-point suborbital service to just about anywhere in the world, which I think is a lot more feasible than most people realize. If they found enough people to pay $200K for a quick hop out of the atmosphere, they can probably find a lot more who are willing to pay for a longer trip that actually gets them somewhere. And over time, the operating costs will come down to the point where ticket prices may be something like Concorde’s were. So not cheap, but not impossible either.

My aviation jobs have all been variations on figuring out how to avoid the “worst case” scenarios. So I mulled over what might go seriously wrong on a high-energy suborbital flight, and realized it could make for a pretty good story while remaining believable…especially if I could weave my airline experiences into creating a fictional spaceline. This was going to be more of an “Airport” for the 21st century than a space opera.

What have people said about your writing?

The reviews have been really good, which has been tremendous gratifying. I think writers fret about that more than actually getting paid for their work.

For the most part, readers are finding Perigee to be exactly what I’d hoped for: fun, realistic, down-to-earth (despite the setting), with well-developed characters and a compelling story. My favorite so far: “A real barn-burner”.

How do you want your readers to feel when they finish your book?

Like they have to catch their breath because they’ve been holding it for the last three chapters.

What’s your next writing project?

The sequel’s working title is Apogee, but I’m also considering Terminal Velocity. Same setting and characters, but now they’ve started tourist flights around the Moon…which again, is not that far-fetched. Space Adventures has already sold one ticket for a Soyuz-based lunar flight.

It won’t be a fictional Apollo 13 as I’ve no desire to try and one-up real life. But there will be problems…big ones, with the potential to affect the entire planet. And they’ll be orchestrated by people with motives that have nothing to do with greed, but everything to do with fulfilling religious prophecy and the power they can derive from it. Our heroes will possess the only way to get to them before it’s too late.

I don’t want to give away too much, but if you’ve already finished Perigee, you’ll recall quite a few main characters are former military. They won’t be allowed to stay “former” for long.

Quick fire:
Favorite place? The Pacific Northwest, when it’s not raining. I like mountains.
Favorite book you've read this year? The Things That Keep Us Here, by Carla Buckley.

Find Patrick at his Blog and find PERIGREE at Amazon and GoodReads.


Today, Friday, February 17th is Patrick's birthday! (Happy Birthday!) Today, you can get PERIGREE for FREE on Amazon! So go download a copy for your Kindle or a friend's Kindle!

Review: Sue's Fingerprint

"Sue's Fingerprint" by Andrew D. Carlson

File Size: 665KB
Pages: 232 pages
Language: English
Purchase: Kindle, Other E-Readers,Paperback

A mysterious substance seems to be making what appear to be duplicates of animals in the small town of Enterprise, Kansas. However, when the living beings start to include copies of people, the Department of Homeland Security ends up getting involved and bringing all these copies to an abandoned military base to live. Deceptively simple in its short chapters and use of language (the author wants to primarily reach young adults, though it is enjoyable at young adult or above), this book tackles major issues regarding what defines a person as we get to know each copy living on this base.

Each character is memorable, even amongst those where we know the original and the "copy," though we don't get into them too deep emotionally I think this may be because they don't know what to feel and are finding themselves. As they learn more about the Earth and quickly begin to learn, the question arises if they are a threat or not, and where the mysterious substance that formed them originates. A director with Department of Homeland Security, Ted, finds himself making tough choices as to what to do.

The author holds a background in chemistry, which comes to play in the book. His description of how things works feels credible while not overwhelming. The fact the science comes off as grounded, and not just a foil for the character stories, strengthens the work. This is a good read, probably more of a quick read for an adult versus a young adult reader, but will leave anyone a lot to think about.

Reviewed by: Shannon Muir
A free copy of this book was furnished by the author for review, but providing a copy did not guarantee a review. This information is provided per the regulations of the Federal Trade Commission.

Review: Peace World

"Peace World: Peace Warrior Trilogy 3" by Steven L. Hawk

File Size: 453 KB (Kindle Edition)
Print Length: 229 pages
Language: English
ASIN: B005W67V8G
Purchase: Kindle, Nook
While I was sad the story had to end - I could have continued to read about these characters forever - I was happy with how the story came to a close. Mr. Hawk wove so many intricate plot layers together, I was shocked time and time again at how everything related to each other and how things played out for the characters.

I gasped out loud and cried through this book. The amount of detail really took me inside the characters minds, how they felt and why they felt that way. Mr. Hawk developed his characters with their own unique personalities. Each had a deep richness and I felt as if the characters had become "friends" and real people through reading the series. I love all of them! Okay, well I love to hate the villains but even they had their own motivations and desires and were not evil just for evil's sake.

I hope this is not the last we see of Grant Justice! Like I said, I'm sad to see the trilogy over but I was not dissapointed at all. I couldn't wait to see how things turned out, that I read all three books in a week! This series did not dissapoint and I will read it again and again.

Reviewed by: Anastasia V. Pergakis

Review: Rebellion

"Rebellion: Chronicles of Charanthe 1" by Rachel Cotterill

Pages: 418 pgs
File Size: 629 KB
Language: English
Publisher: Createspace
ISBN13: 978-1452846323
Purchase: Kindle, Other E-Readers, Paperback

REBELLION - the first book in the CHRONICLES OF CHARANTHE series - follows the journey of Eleanor, a young woman raised in a school where children are raised not knowing who their parents, and at the end of training are given assignments as to where they will forge their careers.

Elanor has always dreamed of becoming an assassin, a dream fueled in part by secret training by a mysterious man called Laban, but assassins are supposedly only the job of legends that can only be achieved by refusing the Empire-given assignment and then following trials to reach the Association (the home of the assassins). When Eleanor is told that despite her rebellious ways she's destined for a life as a police officer, she leaves in search of the legendary Association. This gets into a series of misadventures along the way - including working for a band of pirates -
that result in her captivity with a young man named Raf whom she comes to care for, but through his friendship finds the Association where she to the dismay of some becomes its first female assassin candidate. Once she arrives at the Association and meets the young men from some of the other schools, she finds that the challenges are just beginning and the politics are not all that they seem.

The world of Charanthe is developed in great detail, as evidenced by the various lands Eleanor visits before and after she finds the Association. All the characters are developed enough to serve their roles, none are deep or well-rounded but in a story where deception and mislead is key this may be intentional and doesn't feel a problem. At times reading this I felt like I was reading J.K. Rowling's famed series but set in a school for assassins instead. Eleanor may at times seem a bit wishy washy as she displays good skill at using her weapons but less refined social skills, but it must be remembered that most of these characters are still at this moment teenagers with room to grow and develop. I look forward to seeing how this plays out in the second book and if the issues face develop along with the character's social maturity and the secret politics at play. This is a well developed start to a series with a lot of potential.

Reviewed by: Shannon Muir

Review: Cleanse Fire

"Cleanse Fire: The Kinir Elite Chronicles 1" by Anastasia V. Pergakis

File Size: 383 KB
Paperback: 258 pages
Publisher: Drachen Geist Publishing
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-0984795109
Purchase: Kindle, Paperback, Nook, Other E-Readers, Hardcover

Cleanse Fire, by Anastasia Pergakis, is a well-written, action-packed fantasy novel, which grabs the reader on the first page and doesn't let go until the end. We are immediately introduced to the protagonist, Captain Derac Vidor, a captain of an elite group of warrior elves. Derac's unit fights against their enemies, humans and dwarves, and must contend with treachery from their superior officers. Derek's life is complicated by his inability to move on from the horrific manner in which his wife died ten years earlier. The author skillfully portrays his painful letting go of the past, and the relationship that develops between him and Kie, one of the warriors in his unit.

The skilled fighting ability of the elves resembles our own Special Forces soldiers. They kill with dispatch and have little remorse for the deaths of their enemies. This novel is not for the faint of heart. The author makes the characters three-dimensional, with strengths, weaknesses, and quirks of personality. At times, I thought there was a little too much fussing about clothes and hair by the warriors when their lives were constantly imperiled. A small issue, which does not detract from the novel.

Anastasia's crisp and clean writing provides necessary details of the actions and events, as well as the thoughts and feelings of her characters, without resorting to the excessive use of adjectives. This style facilitates the fast pace and doesn't force the reader to reread previous pages to figure out what is happening.

The wizard Takurix plays a pivotal part in the novel, even though "his hour on the stage" was not long. The author's use of a spell to enable the wizard to go back in time and see what really happened when his wife was killed, as opposed to what he thought he saw, was well done.

My main problem with the novel was the lack of a background, or explanation, of how the current state of affairs came to be. The reader doesn't know why the elves fight humans and dwarves, or why the fairies are their allies. This is critical because we are introduced to a war that began at least ten years earlier. At the start of the novel, I wondered if I was reading a second in a series of novels, rather than the first. I think the author has an opportunity to address this issue in the next novel, which I look forward to reading. The novel wraps up enough details to reach a satisfactory conclusion. It leaves many questions unanswered, leading the reader to the next novel in the series.

Reviewed by: Neil Benson
A free copy of this book was furnished by the author for review, but providing a copy did not guarantee a review. This information is provided per the regulations of the Federal Trade Commission.

Review: Peace Army

"Peace Army: Peace Warrior Trilogy 2" by Steven L. Hawk

File Size: 387 KB (Kindle Edition)
Paperback: 338 pages
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-1461100935
Purchase: Kindle, Paperback, Nook,
I was so entranced with the beginning of the Peace Warrior series, that I immediately read "Peace Army" just a few days after finishing "Peace Warrior". I was not dissapointed at all!

Mr. Hawk delivers an action packed story that left me breathless. I couldn't put the story down and even walked around the house with my Kindle in hand, so I could continue reading!

Once again, Grant Justice goes toe-to-toe with the Minith aliens trying to enslave Earth. I love the fact that we were able to get into the mind of more characters in this book, like Titan and Mouse for example. We also were introduced to some new characters. I immediately was drawn to the characters, cheering them on or hoping the good guys won! But, with so much at stake, I feared that by the end of the book, someone was going to die. I literally held my breath through some parts because I hoped that everyone made it through unscathed!

The complex layers from Book 1, "Peace Warrior," expanded and filled to create amazing amounts of tension. The style in which Mr. Hawk delivered all the different pieces caused me to read the entire book in one sitting. I just kept thinking "One more page, one more chapter". The cliffhanger ending made me want to cry, but luckily, I already had the third book in the series waiting on my Kindle. I literally jumped right into "Peace World" without stopping.

Reviewed by: Anastasia V. Pergakis

Review: Doodling

"Doodling" by Jonathan Gould

File Size: 130kb
Language: English
BN ID: 2940011200267
Purchase: Kindle, Nook, Other E-Readers,

Neville Landsdowne "fell off", or more accurately let go, of the crazy spinning world. First he has to orient himself to no longer being in his fast paced environment. Then, as he meets others who met a similar fate and how they've adapted, he comes to learn this newfound existence won't
last forever. Unexpectedly, he finds himself at the forefront of the effort to try to bring everyone together to figure out what to do before time runs out. The characters he meets all are very quirky, with all of them well developed for their metaphorical roles in this tale. For a tale about slower moving life after falling off the world, the story is surprisingly fast-paced in a very good way.

DOODLING, simply put, is a metaphor about life. To fully explain the metaphor would spoil the ending, but essentially it's about how to cope when life goes absolutely out of control. Neville in his situation amongst the asteroids is like taking a breather from life. Dealing with the danger
compares to letting the world run a person's life again instead of a person choosing the course of their destiny. A fantastical journey is a great way to impart such thinking on a profound subject.
The only thing I found myself wanting more of is that I don't get a sense of Neville before he fell off the world. This is not to say you would need to show him on the world and then falling off it - it is always better to pull the reader right into the action - but I have no sense of him in terms of his age. I don't know if he a college age man, a middle aged man, or an older one. All the people he meets are more interesting than Neville himself, which is interesting so that he doesn't distract from their quirkiness. This might have been intended for readers to bring any vision of Neville they wanted to the table as an everyman, but for me I wanted something more concrete about him to grab onto like one of those asteroids to understand the hero I rooted for and to know how much he fully comprehended the before and after impact of falling off the world.

Reviewed by: Shannon Muir
A free copy of this book was furnished by the author for review, but providing a copy did not guarantee a review. This information is provided per the regulations of the Federal Trade Commission.