Indie Book Review: Sailor’s Warning by Noelle Greene

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Review:

This is the second book by Noelle Greene that I’ve read, and another one I loved. The characters are so real, no stereotypes here – just complicated, flawed human beings. I particularly liked Rob (the hero) as he is honestly one of the most realistic male characters I have ever read in a romance. Quite simply, he’s a bit distasteful at times due to his arrogance or presumptions, but rather than making him dislikeable it actually makes him honest. We are made from our own experiences, and this can result in poor judgement on our own part. There was a moment early in the book when he meets the heroine when her illness is at its worst, an illness that causes her hair to fall out and strips her of her youth. Rather than feeling pity for her (as I expected) he felt disgusted, and then ashamed of himself. It is a reaction many people have in the face of such sickness, and I was surprised the author didn’t shy away from describing it. There was nothing rosy about the scene, just honest and terrible humanity.

Rob takes a long time to redeem himself, to become honest with his own flaws and expectations for life. While I would call the genre of this novel suspense/mystery romance, there are ample doses of family drama and personal discovery too. The hero and heroine are entirely equal in this book as they both go through their own, intersecting journeys. Okay, I’ve talked enough about the hero, let’s hear about the heroine!

Meri Darrow is a scientist (yay!) whose career and health are in tatters (boo!). She’s one smart cookie, although maybe if she’d read as many Agatha Christie novels as I had she might’ve guessed one of the twists earlier (I swear, some novels are as good as textbooks for the things you can learn). Her character is equal parts fierce and wary, her illness (I’m being vague deliberately) having sapped much of her vigour, but not all! As she recovers, she starts to dig towards the truth of the experiments at her old labs. The subsequent mystery and suspense are so much fun. Honestly, what’s not to like about Sailor’s Warning? It has everything I could want! (Hooray for complex characters!)

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Sailor’s Warning, by Noelle Greene

Book Length: 255 pages

Suspense/Mystery Romance (Adult Fiction)

According to the Blurb:

They want her complete silence. He wants her complete surrender.

He’s ambitious. Meri Darrow has Rob McLain pegged. He’s a fund manager, more interested in profit than innovation. Rob wants the privileged life she rejected long ago, right down to the showy ocean view villa. Cute as he is, he’s definitely not her type. But Meri needs Rob’s help after she is suddenly fired from her dream job developing a breakthrough anti-aging drug.

She’s a lightning rod for trouble. Rob is shocked how much he wants this brilliant but naïve scientist, even though helping her could ruin his career. Then there’s her mysterious illness. This intense attraction scares the hell out of him.

They can’t win. Now Rob is about to lose everything he’s worked for. Meri’s attempts to do the right thing have only brought fear and death, putting Rob and his little boy in danger. The best thing she can do for them is walk away.

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Indie Book Review: Tournament of Hearts

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Review:

This book is so much fun! A medieval village, isolated by forests, mountains, and myth, terrorised by flying gargoyle-like monsters. A plot that deals with vengeful gods with a prophecy and a freakin’ Hunger Games-style tournament thrown into the mix. Characters that are funny, unique, and enthralling.  I. Was. In. Heaven.

There was never a boring moment in this book. From when Neven was thrown from one weird situation to the next and he gathered the strength to grapple for control of his density, I was hooked all the way through. Neven was a protagonist I could believe in, and I can’t wait to see what he does in the next books.

If you like anything to do with light medieval-fantasy, you’ll enjoy this book. This is one of those cases where, superficially, it seems like you’ve seen it before. But this story is so well done, it’s taking the things I already love and making me love them all over again.

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Tournament of Hearts, by Dustin Bilyk (The Librarian Gladiator #1)

Book Length: 472 pages

Medieval Fantasy (Young Adult Fiction)

According to the Blurb:

Hamelin, a town separated from the rest of the world, has a deadly problem. Fierce, flying beasts ravage the countryside and cull the sparse human population, forcing the majority of Hamelin’s citizens to live within the safety of her boundaries for fear of being snatched away and torn into pieces. With no help in sight, the Town Council look to their gods for salvation and unearth a chilling answer to their problems.

The Tournament of Hearts – a much-celebrated, barbaric event that pits four gladiators against each other in deadly combat. Winning The Tournament brings rich rewards, fame and glory for one’s bloodline. Losing, however, results in a deadly trip to the Sacrificial Altar for you and all of those who share your blood: man, woman and child. The sacrifice is said to be a blood offering to the gods in payment for reprieve – a necessary evil for the greater good of all.

Neven Fairchild, adolescent town historian and librarian, is chosen by random draw to fight for the survival of his bloodline. Utterly inept at doing much other than reading and writing his histories, Neven must find the courage deep within himself to defeat his stronger opponents, for he discovers that much more than the lives of those he loves hangs in the balance. An evil lurks, waiting for its moment to deliver the death blow, and Neven is all that stands in its way, whether he likes it or not.

Indie Book Review: Salted by Aaron Galvin

Salted (Salt series, #1)

Review:

This book had a really interesting idea to it: selkie urban fantasy! The ‘salted’ humans could be traditional leopard seal-selkies, massive elephant seals, dolphins, and even sharks! Each animal determined the person’s social status in the ‘salt’ (ocean). Honestly, the whole concept had me intrigued right from the start, throw in a coming-of-age/self-discovery subplot about a teenager who discovers his own heritage, and I should have been sorted.

Despite the novel concept, the execution didn’t hold my interest all the way through. It’s hard for me to pin it down to something specific – I think the main plot of tracking down runaway slaves was dragged out too much. I did get a little lost with the large number of characters, and for some reason I just couldn’t care for any of the characters apart from Garret. Lenny was a strangely dislikeable character, and I couldn’t sympathise with Chidi’s story. It sounds cold, but my feelings did not change throughout the book, and it’s hard to get invested in a story when you don’t care what happens to the characters.

Still, I am curious as to how the series plays out. This was the first book so maybe if I read the second the characters might be fleshed out in a way and I could connect to them.

Recommended for those wanting a twist on the selkies legend in a modern setting.

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Salted, by Aaron Galvin (Salt #1)

Book Length: 358 pages

Urban Fantasy (Young Adult Fiction)

According to the Blurb:

Life isn’t better under the sea. Lenny Dolan is all too familiar with this reality. A Selkie slave in the realm beneath the waves, he has no choice when charged with leading a crew ashore to capture an elusive runaway. If unsuccessful, the loved ones kept behind will pay for his failure with their lives. But when their target leads Lenny and his crew to deeper, darker secrets, the Selkies are faced with a moral dilemma. Secure their own freedom at the expense of others, or return empty-handed to face the grisly consequences? How Lenny and his crew answer the question will teach them the harshest truth of all. Only through the loss of innocence does one become Salted.

Indie Book Review: Press F5 To Load Game, by LeVar Ravel

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Review:

Straight up this book drew me in with the video-game style title and cover. It looks like a cover you’d find on nostalgic game pack from the nineties. But instead of being filled with floppy disks, it’s filled with video-game references and, bizarrely, politics.

This would be a good book for anyone who’s ever had politicians drive them to violent fantasy.

The story has a unique time-travel method behind it. Unfortunately, I found myself getting board more often than I liked, especially with the scene-setting sequences in offices or government. The main character Lars was nice and sarcastic. He’s not a main character that the reader should like, but it works because he’s so blatantly dislikeable the reader is laughing at him, not with him.

There’s a lot of strange things going on in this story. Frannie’s quirks are jarring at times, but the reader is rewarded when everything comes together in the end. A short read that could’ve been shorter in my opinion, but enjoyable nonetheless.

Recommended for those with the mixed interests of gaming and politics.

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Press F5 To Load Game, by LeVar Ravel

Book Length: 188 pages

Time-travel Adventure (Adult Fiction)

According to the Blurb:

How to win an election:

  1. Shake hands.
  2. Kiss babies.
  3. Travel through time.

“Politics is more difficult than physics,” said Albert Einstein. Now that we can time travel, this is no longer true.

All the State House gossips go abuzz when an influential senator forms an alliance with Rep. Frannie Upwood, the capital’s most famous underachiever and favorite butt of jokes. Why his sudden interest in such a lightweight politician?

It’s up to Lars Uxbridge, the senator’s disloyal staffer, to find out, after he joins a network of political spies. What Lars discovers is a secret far beyond anything other state reps can muster.

Indie Book Review: South of Reality by A I Alexen

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Review:

I really like reading books and stories that have animals as the protagonists, and as Animal Farm showed us, ‘animals’ does not equal ‘for kids’. Having said that, South of Reality can easily be enjoyed by kids, but at the same time I found a lot of fun in it too.

The story is written at about upper middle/high-school level and up (enough to challenge the younger folk while ensuring the adults aren’t patronised). Set on a family farm, the animal dynamics are thrown when a charming tomcat arrives with nefarious purposes. The tale is woven in a pleasantly cosy fashion with a curious mystery to start and a heart-warming banding together of the animal kingdom to finish, and I love it when I realise the reference a book cover is making!

This is a great holiday read (and I conveniently read it over the Easter weekend!) that I can recommend to anyone wondering what our fuzzy friends get up to when we’re not looking…

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

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South of Reality, by A I Alexen

Book Length: 145 pages

Animal Adventure (Young and Young-at-heart Fiction)

According to the Blurb:

A cat burglar, two upstanding dogs, & a malicious rooster join forces on a mission of mercy!

When guard dogs Arky and Peyson investigate a mysterious and shady new feline arrival, they could never have foreseen what lay ahead – midnight chases in the forest, employment among humans, deals with a malicious rooster, and much more, bringing them closer and closer to breaking the all-important animal code!

#Indie #BookReview: The Wolf You Feed by Angela Stevens

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Review:

Epic family drama with werewolves. If that doesn’t grab your attention, I don’t know what will!

By epic, I’m referring to the great swathes of time the story covers: about sixteen years by my reckoning. During this time we see Tore defy his clan for the sake of love, rescue a friend and tries to build a new life, only to have tragedy dog his steps.  The family dynamics are compelling and play out like a classic drama: power struggles, heirs, pride, usurpers and revenge are the names of this game.

The title is a reference to a famous Native American proverb that is really the mantra of the story, which makes me think of it as like a fairy-tale retelling in a way.  You can read a condensed version of the proverb in the blurb below.

I enjoyed The Wolf You Feed a lot, more than I expected since it’s such a unique mix of genres. Because of the epic nature of the story there were moments where I tuned out a little (I’m sorry, I can’t help it! It just happens…) but I can definitely recommend this to other readers.

Recommended for lovers of family dramas, or those wanting to read a different kind of urban fantasy.

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The Wolf You Feed, by Angela Stevens

Book Length: 251 pages

Paranormal Family Drama (Adult Fiction)

According to the Blurb:

Tore Vargr finds his world turned upside down when he is forced to choose between the love of his life and the life he loves. He chooses Annike, disrespects his brother, Erik, and sets off a chain of events that shape his life in a way he could never have imagined.

Outlawed from his clan, Tore embraces his new responsibilities of father and protector as he carves out a new life in a human world. But a jealous brother has a long memory and Erik is nothing if not patient when it comes to exacting revenge. When Tore’s past catches up with his present, he has to learn to pull from an inner strength.

There is a battle of two wolves inside us all.
One is evil: it is anger, envy, greed, arrogance, jealousy, resentment, lies.
The other is good: it is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy, truth.
The wolf that wins?
The one you feed.

– Cherokee proverb

Spanning two generations The Wolf You Feed is the first book in a heartbreaking trilogy set in the shape shifting worlds of werewolves and skin walkers.

#Indie #BookReview: Marinian Pearls by Laura Gilfillan

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Review:

I’ve never read a mermaid book, and after reading this book I realise that I need to read more. Marinian Pearls shows off the ocean and all its diversity, and I fell in love with it. The sequences where we explore under the sea were magical, from the bright, sunny surface down to the very depths of the ocean floor.

I don’t know if it was the intent of the author, but I could easily describe this book as a modern reimaging of “The Little Mermaid”. The specifics of the story are completely different (such as Haley’s motivations, the nature of mermaids, and, of course, the romance is turned on its head), but I couldn’t help but feel the story was inspired from the old fairy tale. Which is a good thing, of course – I love fairy tale retellings!

There were moments where some sections dragged a bit, but they weren’t enough to detract from the freedom that both the reader and the main character experienced as a mermaid.

Recommended for fans of fairy tale retellings, paranormal romance, and the sea.

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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Marinian Pearls, by Laura Gilfillan

Book Length: 310 pages

Mermaid Paranormal Romance / Fairy Tale Retelling (Young Adult Fiction)

According to the Blurb:

What would it really be like to live in the sea? Haley finds out when she discovers a magical string of pearls that transforms her into a mermaid. While she explores the sea, she forgets all about being human, until something happens one day to remind her. She finds her way back home, only to discover that she’s been gone for a whole year.

Her parents, shocked and upset, had concluded that she must have died, since she had been missing for so long. She is dismayed to find that she has become another year older without having even realized it. Plus she has a whole year of school that she will now have to make up. She knows she’s going to have to work hard to pick up the pieces of her life. But it’s difficult for her to return to normal, because again and again she is drawn by an overwhelming urge to return to the sea.

Indie Book Review: Empath by Becca J Campbell

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Review:

This is like a double-dose of New Adult – Jade has to not only deal with the adjustment to moving from her parents’ home and going to college, but she also has to adjust to her hypersensitivity to people’s emotions. She’s been isolated for most of her life because of her unique ability and has trouble putting up the floodgates against a class full of nervousness, excitement, rage, fear and frustration. This book has a lot of self-discovery, a lot of rocky starts, and a lot of heart-to-hearts. I found a lot to enjoy in this book.

The ‘flawed’ idea was a fresh take on gifted people. Each character had intriguing abnormalities that hindered more than helped them, hence the whole ‘not a gift, it’s a curse’ tagline. This isn’t a paranormal story with ‘magic’ per se, and at first glance their ‘flaws’ have no use – they’re certainly not superpowers! That’s what kept it interesting though, the attitude that “this is what I’ve been given, and now I need to cope with it.”

The writing was comfortably paced from multiple perspectives, so the reader gets an insight into all the major players. The romance was appropriately romantic without being saccharine (so it’s my kind of romance), and I found the antagonist slant a surprising dose of variety. Becca J Campbell has rolled a lot of genres into this one book, adding the following minor genres to the majors of New Adult Paranormal Romance: family drama, crime, adventure, thriller, and self-discovery.

I’m going to read the sequel. Recommended for lovers of new adult with a fresh take on the paranormal.

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Empath, by Becca J Campbell

Flawed #1

Book Length: 298 pages

New Adult Paranormal Romance

According to the Blurb:

Supernatural empathy isn’t a gift, it’s a curse.

Anywhere she goes, Jade’s emotions are replaced by those of the people around her. Jade grew up in a suburb of Colorado Springs, protected from other people by her parents. Now she faces college-and the world-with nothing to shield her from unwanted feelings.

When Cam, a classmate with a major crush on her, unintentionally hijacks her emotions, Jade struggles to keep from being carried away in feelings of attraction. When Ethan, a psychopath with a thirst for fear, fixates on her, the emotional impact could be lethal.

Caught in a deadly trap, Jade must untangle the emotions and find a way to use her empathic curse to overcome this killer or be overcome by him.

Indie Book Review: But Thomas Aiken Is Dead (Part 1) by Alex McKechnie

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Review:

But Thomas Aiken Is Dead deals with a lot of ideas, all of them fascinating. The story is written two ways: first, as an interrogation transcript from the future; second, as a diary written by a distraught father in the present-day.

It is deliciously trippy finding out how these two documents are related.

Atia is a sort of futuristic archaeologist, looking back on our time with increasing fascination. She and her species is much more than just robots, but I’ll let you read the book to discover that for yourself. She is feisty and opinionated in the face of her arrest, unabashed about her desire to be more ‘human’ (though that’s not what she calls us).

As the story unfolds, so does the lore, and it is FASCINATING. I’m fully geeking out about this because it’s pretty high-concept but it’s presented in a way that I can understand. This RARELY HAPPENS! Shit usually goes over my head but Alex McKechnie has managed to explain it in layman’s terms without making the future sound any less amazingly complex.

Think Matrix 2, but the ending makes sense.

I cannot wait for part 2. This is right up my alley. Highly recommended.

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

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But Thomas Aiken Is Dead (Part 1), by Alex McKechnie

Part 1/3

Book Length: 70 pages

Speculative Fiction (Adult Fiction)

According to the Blurb:

“Sometimes blunt tools construct beautiful objects.”

Two lovers are divided by seven hundred years; one living just a few steps from the end of history, the other already long dead. Present day, Thomas Aiken has little else left to live for but his journalist daughter. When she disappears without warning, he devotes himself to securing her return. He abandons life as an architect in exchange for obsessively collecting evidence and, in the evenings, writes her letters which he will deliver on her safe return.

Seven hundred years later, Atia – a conscious AI entity, discovers Aiken’s letters. She understands Aiken’s grief well enough, she’s lost a child herself. More than that, the Cadence, her home, is falling into anarchy. Pining for a time when life was imperfect and fragile, she insists on presenting as an original biological human. Fuelled by long-dead Aiken’s search for his daughter, she incites a rebellion that will alter life’s course on Earth forever.

Book Review #HBTour Hopebreaker by @deanfwilson blog tour by @MasqTours

I reviewed Hopebreaker with Masquerade Book Tours. Visit the other blogs on the tour!

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Review:

Steampunk! I don’t read it nearly as often as I should, mostly because I found a couple of pretentious books that tainted my view of the genre. Not this one! Hopebreaker made me think of a ‘western-style’ steampunk (I think it’s the deserts), but it’s so much more than that – a great blend of otherworldly fantasy comes into this tale that I think will appeal to lovers of demons and more urban-fantasy types. This could be a great book to introduce the steampunk genre to my friends.

Our main character is a smuggler with a reluctant conscious, who gets thrown in gaol with the golden-boy of the resistance. The world-building is done very well, explained in drips and drabs to provide enough context for the current situation without getting bogged down. I didn’t quite get the relationship between Jacob and Tabera, but that’s okay because neither did Jacob. Maybe there could’ve been more development of the secondary characters, but I see this first book as ‘setting it up’ while telling a ripping good yarn.

In essence, Hopebreaker is fun. I really enjoyed the overarching plot of the resistance and the tank-fighting scenes. The action and chase scenes were well paced within the story and the pseudo-engineering made it that much more enjoyable. The world of Altadas fascinated me and I’m looking forward to finding out more about it.

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Hopebreaker, by Dean F. Wilson

The Great Iron War #1

Book Length: 220 pages

Steampunk Adventure (Adult Fiction)

According to the Blurb:

In the world of Altadas, there are no more human births. The Regime is replacing the unborn with demons, while the Resistance is trying to destroy a drug called Hope that the demons need to survive.

Between these two warring factions lies Jacob, a man who profits from smuggling contraceptive amulets into the city of Blackout. He cares little about the Great Iron War, but a chance capture, and an even more accidental rescue, embroils him in a plot to starve the Regime from power.

When Hope is an enemy, Jacob finds it harder than he thought to remain indifferent. When the Resistance opts to field its experimental landship, the Hopebreaker, the world may find that one victory does not win a war.

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