Review: Dark Waters

"Dark Waters" by Shannon Mayer

File Size: 377 KB (Kindle Edition)
Language: English
ASIN: B006R03B6C
Purchase: Kindle

This story intrigued me from the start. Especially the part about the two sisters. I loved the relationship between Quinn and Ashling, reminding me of my own sister as I read the book. I definitely related to Quinn, being the older sibling - the urge to protect and watch out for her younger sister.

The world building into the Fomorii and the Tuatha was developed well by the author. I'm sure we will learn more about each in the coming books of the series, but for the first book, Ms. Mayer did well bringing me into the hidden world of these creatures. She definitely set up the mystery and danger surrounding the sisters as they discover their new paranormal powers and how they fit into a prophecy. I hope to learn more - and get the mysteries solved - as the series progresses.

A lot of unanswered questions were left at the end - a great set up for the next book in the series. I was surprised when I reached the ending, still expecting there to be more. The book is a bit shorter than I'm used to and I wish it was a bit longer. It doesn't need more in the way of world building or character development, I just feel like it, suddenly stopped mid-story. I know many authors use this as a set up for book 2, to make readers hungry to read the next one (which obviously works for this book as I really want to know how it all ends) but I still felt a little disappointed by the abrupt ending of this one.

I look forward to reading the second book in the series, Emerald Isle, when it releases this spring.

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.

Review: First Chosen

"First Chosen" by M. Todd Gallowglas

Publisher: Bards Cloak
Pages: 202 pages
File Size: 406 kb
Language: English
ASIN: B0055I14BG
Purchase: Paperback, Kindle
In this high fantasy novel, Julianna is a young woman born admist the clash of gods, given the ability to free the god Grandfather Shadow by one of his followers hoping for his return. On several occasions, in seven year intervals, opponents of Grandfather Shadow try to quash Julianna before Grandfather Shadow can be successfully freed - but in the end cost her family and security, because she's completely unaware of the depths of involvement of her parents in religious and mystical matters. When on her twenty-first birthday Julianna and her friends are ambushed during a birthday picnic, an old friend returns and the full cost of Julianna's birth and gift become apparent. There are also other factors that complicate the return of Grandfather Shadow that involve the mysteries of Julianna's parentage.

The world building in this book is highly detailed in terms of the warring religions and the classes of people who live out following these belief systems, as well as the clashing gods and goddesses behind these religions; in some ways, it reminds of reading Greek or Roman mythology which while occasionally humans interacted with the gods, little was actually said about society - probably because it was a presumed understood shared world experience. The lens with which readers view the religious clash doesn't go beyond a handful of families in this book, which is both good and bad. Fortunately Julianna and the other major characters are detailed and fleshed out enough that a reader is drawn in and wants to find out what happens next. I do want to learn more about Julianna, and about the world on a grander scale, which hopefully will become apparent in later volumes.

The text did however suffer from a number of glaring misspellings, some of which radically changed the meaning of sentences (one that sticks with me is members of the ritual brotherhood being called "Bothers," which rung true in an unintended way). My particular copy, received as part of a free promotion via Smashwords - which is no longer available - also was rife with font size errors with partial or entire chapters in heading size, but the sample I'm seeing online for the Kindle edition doesn't seem to suffer from this. Yet I do have to note the semi-frequent spelling and grammar issues. If Gallowglas put as much care into his presentation as his world development, this would have been a stronger review.

Reviewed by: Shannon Muir

Review: Peace Warrior

"Peace Warrior: Peace Warrior Trilogy 1" by Steven L. Hawk

File Size: 376 KB (Kindle)
Paperback: 262 pages
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-1452891668
Purchase: Kindle, Paperback, Nook
I was hooked into this book from the very beginning. Being a huge fan of military fiction and sci-fi, I was not disappointed by this book. The blurb posted on Amazon drew me into the story and I had to give it a shot. I'm so glad I did.

The story begins with the awful death of SFC Grant Justice. Then it shoots ahead hundreds of years in the future to where Earth has rid itself of war and all violence. Even cursing is seens a major offense that landed one in prison. As I said, that concept pulled me immediately into the story. Advancement in science allowed Grant Justice to be revived to help the Peaceful people of earth to fight against the Minith, an alien race that had enslaved the entire planet. But, Grant's revivial poses problems for the veteran soldier, as his very nature offends the very people he is trying to save.

I found Mr. Hawk's new Earth to be very interesting. I especially loved the new names for countries and cultures as well as the world government he built for this story. It was a great idea that fit perfectly with the "No Violence" world Earth had become. I don't want to give away too much of the story, but the world building in this book is very deep and I felt, completely realisitic due to the way Hawk presents the new world to the reader.

I was also impressed with the character of Grant Justice himself. He is a fully developed character, three dimensional. As a girl and Army Brat, I was completely entranced by Grant's sense of duty, honor, and loyalty to humankind. And yes, I admit, I found the character rather sexy too.

I can't wait to read more of this series. I couldn't put this one down. I can't wait to read Peace Army, the second book in the series, that already awaits me on my Kindle. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves military fiction and sci-fi.
Reviewed by: Anastasia V. Pergakis

Review: Plato's Gateway

"Plato's Gateway" by Brian Jeffreys

Publisher: GrandMobius Press
Pages: 346 pages
File Size: 273K (Kindle)
Language: English
Purchase: Paperback, Kindle, Nook, Other E-Readers

I purchased the Kindle Edition of this book in December 2011. What attracted me to it involved the book's description of the lead character having an autistic brother who would come to play a pivotal role. While the idea of people with disabilities in SF isn't new - the late Anne McCaffrey's THE SHIP WHO SANG and PARTNERSHIP come to mind, along with the later THE SHIP WHO SEARCHED she wrote with Mercedes Lackey - the idea of mentaldisabilities and in particular autism has not been handled as frequently. My expectations were set of how a man struggled with his autistic brother in a futurstic time, and as implied by the description, how people with differences could make a difference.

The biggest reality though is that this really isn't Jerry's story, who is the autistic brother, but on the brother Phillip. Not only do we see Phillip's life affected by having to become Jerry's guardian, but when an unexpected event changes things for Jerry how he deals with that after.

It also focuses on his unexpected love relationship with Space Marshall Amanda Hayes, with whom he's had more than a few run-ins while trying to own his own ship after dropping out of school to take care of Jerry. Yet the stresses of the sales piece, while they do mention Phillip and Amanda, place primary emphasis on Jerry becoming the hero against the evil Dr. Plato, who has some secret plans of his own. I really wanted to see more of Jerry, and at times raced through chapters hoping the next one I'd see him, only to find more about Phillip.

One thing I did like was the use of a generation ship as a plot device, they rarely show up in SF anymore and present all kinds of cutural and other issues than can be explored. Jeffreys does deal with a couple of them to small degrees. A lot of the book though action, and not a lot of character or culture exploration, so we never spent too much time on any of this.

Generally the book is well written with good use of language, description, and action. The book has a few glaring typographical errors, including getting the brothers' names switched on a couple of occasions which is critical. Another really odd thing about my copy (the Kindle version) is that one of the chapters about three-fourths of the way through (17, to be specific) is about a batallion fighting plant-like space aliens that has nothing to do with the rest of the book or even feel like a sequel setup. I frankly don't know why it's there, and perhaps I missed something.

PLATO'S GATEWAY offered what felt like a groundbreaking premise, but failed to deliver. I think the key may lie in the first sentence of the author's preface, where he says, "I struggled with whether or not to introduce a character with autism into this story" and I think the discomfort shows. Researching the author, he does have a lot of personal experience with autism and I felt I could have learned a lot more about the struggles and promise of autism based on his knowledge, but it never really came through in the characters, which is a shame.

Reviewed by: Shannon Muir

Review: Fezariu's Epiphany

"Fezariu's Epiphany" by David M. Brown
Paperback: 386 pages
File Size: 560 KB
Publisher: CreateSpace (May 16, 2011)
ISBN-13: 978-1456500597
ASIN: B00515BM9W
Purchase: Kindle, Paperback, Nook
I must say, I fell in love with this book. At first, I wondered why the book started before the hero of the story was even born, in his Mother's POV, but as I continued to read I realized that without those first few chapters from the Mother, I don't think I would've felt as connected with her or Fezariu. David handled the passage of time rather well as we follow Fezariu's life as he grows up. Through the use of letters the hero writes to his childhood friend, we get a full few of what is happening to him without the scenes dragging on. It was a unique feature that I don't see often - and even then it's usually not done well. David, pulled it off perfectly! Also, I feel that having the passage of time expressed in the form of letters from Fezariu, allowed me to connect with his friend - her loss, her missing him, etc. It was great to be able to connect emotionally with so many characters in this book, instead of just the hero.

Now, before people that know me scream at me - yes, I know I've said before that I'm not a fan of most fantasy novels as they are crowded with flowery words that take away from the plot. Well, David doesn't do that - and if he did, the plot itself was so amazing, I didn't notice!

Fezariu's life is affected by the White Oak, a famous brothel in Clarendon - indirectly. As a small boy, he decides he's cursed - after his mother's disappearance and his step-father's death. He runs away to the Meralax Mercenaries before anyone else he cares about gets hurt. He devotes himself completely to the mercenaries, throwing himself into the dangerous missions without hesitation. Fezariu just wanted to forget his past - and be rid of his curse. But he couldn't risk ever being close to anyone. Fezariu eventually realizes he has to face his past in order to be free of his curse.

This book is just great all the way around. I think honestly, my only disappointment is not seeing a map of Elenchera at the beginning of the book. However, the details about the world and the locations were clear enough in the that I knew where everyone was. I'm such a visual person though, it would have been a nice touch to actually have a map.
Reviewed by: Anastasia V. Pergakis

Review: Epsilon Broken Stars

"Epsilon: Book 1: Broken Stars" by Erin M Klitzke

File Size: 447 KB (Kindle Edition), 1 MB (PubIt Edition)
Language: English
BN ID: 2940013250819
Purchase on: Kindle, Nook, Other E-Readers
Epsilon: Broken Stars is the first of several books by Erin M. Klitzke in which a young man who served the Alliance named Aaron Taylor – who spends most of the book going by the alias of Wil Terrel – ends up covertly working for a secret Resistance after the disappearance of his significant other while on a mission. An added twist is that Aaron's father and grandfather are known for their allegiance to the Imperium, with whom the Alliance is in conflict.
The book categorizes as "space opera" and that is an accurate summation of its focus. While the reader stays very much aware of the politics going on, the real story is about who the players are and how this war affects each of their lives personally, whether it's Aaron's adventure, or the psychic Resistance lead Dr. Lucas Ross, or fellow resistance leader Sam. That's just some of the players on the canvas, and watching how their personal stories play out is rather fun to follow. Even with many people going by multiple aliases, it wasn't hard to keep them all straight even though a cast list is provided in the beginning.

I will note that I reviewed a Smashwords version of the book that I received during a free promotion in Fall of 2011. There were some points in this version where the dialogue was all left justified and the paragraphs not indented for about a half a page at a time, which did make it hard to follow who was speaking and took a couple reads; I don't know if this is true of all versions. Also, there were a few bits of missing punctuation and typos but those can happen to anyone. Again, I don't know if they are in all versions of the book but needs to be noted for readability.

There are a couple of elements that seem convenient and out of left field, such as the missing girlfriend having an identical twin sister, and some other parts I can't give away because it would spoil the ending. However, since this is more space opera versus hardcore action science fiction I considered it acceptable despite being noticeable. I would gladly go on to read other books in this series because the rich depth of characterization drew me in to everyone's stories and I wanted to know the outcome. Some things are resolved in this book, but there are greater issues that clearly make it worth a series as well.
Reviewed by: Shannon Muir

Review: Excelsior

"Excelsior" by George Sirois

Paperback: 207 pages
File Size: 287 KB (Kindle Edition)
Publisher: Infinity Publishing (July 30, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-0741460882 (Paperback)
ASIN: B003TXRYAY (Kindle Edition)
Purchase: Kindle, Paperback, Nook.

Excelsior tells the story of Matthew Peters, a somewhat lonely teen drudging through high school. He lives in a world he created from vivid dreams about Excelsior and the epic adventures that befall him. At least, he thought he created it. When one of his comic characters shows up, live and in person, Matthew soon realizes that his dreams were really memories – and Excelsior is a real person from Denab IV!

I was immediately drawn into this story from the first line and it kept me hooked until the very end! With action and more action in this story, it’s sure to keep you on the edge of your seat, just like it did me. I read it in one shot, fearing that if I put it down, I would miss a vital piece of information! The world of Denab IV that we visit in this story is truly magical. George put exquisite amount of work and detail into describing the new world and the culture of the Denarians and Krunations. I was sucked into the world and instantly felt a connection to the Denarians and their fight for survival.

I was most drawn to Matthew of course, because I could completely relate with him. Becoming lost in a story and almost obsessed with characters the way Matthew does with this comic, reminds me so much of myself in High School it’s not even funny! There is one moment where Matthew has his nose a few inches from the page he’s working on, not paying attention in class and I instantly remembered practically the same moment as it happened to me!

All parts of this book pulled me in and I became totally immersed into Matthew’s adventure! This is one of the best books I’ve read in many years and I highly recommend it to anyone – not just sci-fi lovers like myself. I think anyone will fall in love with this book because of it’s simple yet complex twists that just suck you right in!

Reviewed by: Anastasia V. Pergakis