Monday, May 20, 2024

Wings of Ink by Angelina Steffort

Anya, after spending years in a Tavrasian Prison expecting to be killed, is instead given to the Crow Fairies. She is now to become the bride of the Crow King, which as everyone knows is a fate that is usually worse than death. But this is no longer the rule of the old king, where kidnapped brides were forced into marriage, but is it any better? For no crow bride has ever survived even a full year of marriage, but the question remains … why not? King Myron has decided that this will be the last time he will accept another unwilling bride. If Anya dies and the curse that all Crow Fairies live under remains unbroken, he will never try again.


But not all Crows want the curse broken, though they do wish to again be able to take their own brides. Most of them wish to continue in the ways of Myron’s father, back when every crow would steal away a bride at Ret Relah, with each of the women destined to be dead within a year. But others, like the current king, wish for things to change. He wants the curse to be broken, and a new era for the Crow Faeries to begin. Anya is their last hope for that change.


I received a review copy of this book and enjoyed it as much as I did the Quarter Mage series of books. This series takes place in a time after that series, though within the same world and includes a few of the characters that we met in that series. I do not believe it is necessary to have read that series to enjoy this one, though I do believe that it will increase your enjoyment of this book if you are familiar with what used to happen to the women taken as crow brides. 


I greatly enjoyed reading this book. I did correctly guess what was needed to break the curse before the end, but I suspect that since I knew more than Anya did about the curse, (given that I’ve read the other books in this world by the author) that she would have figured it out sooner had she had my knowledge. And yes, there is a reason why she couldn’t simply be told what was needed in order to break the curse, but you’ll have to read the book in order to learn about that for yourself.


This is the type of book that I enjoy and often wish I didn’t need to put it down to sleep or go to work, but alas, life only allows us so much free time to be able to read, right? I enjoyed reading this book, learning about the different factions among the crow fairies, as well as seeing some familiar faces from the other series. Watching each  of the characters grow and learn about each other, discovering that often their assumptions were very wrong, is something that I enjoyed about this book. If you’ve read Ms. Steffort’s other series and enjoyed it, then I can pretty much guarantee that you will enjoy this one too. It is an excellent fantasy book that explores a different side of another type of faerie. Recommended.


https://amzn.to/4b7KKcF (Amazon link)


https://books2read.com/u/4XjPKL (Books2Go link to other vendors)


Amazon requires me to state that I have an Amazon Associates account that I use to generate the links to the books on their website. Purchasing something after following those links will earn a few pennies for me off the sale, though as of yet I have not earned anything from my Amazon Associate links.

Monday, May 13, 2024

Black Ballad by Rick Heinz

This is an interesting new RPG (Role Playing Game) that can take place in virtually any setting or campaign. How is that possible, you may wonder? Well, as an explanation, have you ever been in a campaign where the entire party was killed? That’s where this campaign comes in. It takes place in the realm between life and a character’s final death. In a realm where the dead are awaiting their passage into either being resurrected or they are ready to pass into their eternal rest.


I read a review copy of this book, and it sounds like a well defined and easily adaptable adventure for players to explore if their characters have died, but they aren’t ready to give up and create new characters and would like to continue playing to see what might happen in the afterworld. It is easily adaptable to be used with whatever campaign or game system you and your group happened to be already playing.


It’s been a few years since I’ve played AD&D, but reading this rules system and adventure, it seemed very well explained and I can see how it can be adapted to other RPG systems. The adventure really sounded like a fun one to me, and there were multiple side quests and options for different outcomes depending on what choices the players make. There is no intended ending for this one. It is entirely up to the players as to who they choose to interact with and what they choose to do or not do. And there are outcomes that are well thought out and planned no matter which path your party chooses to take. There’s even an outcome for if they choose to do nothing at all and simply enjoy their afterlife in this realm that exists between life and death.


All in all, I was impressed by how well thought out it all was by the creators of this adventure/realm. It sounds like a very fun idea, and one that I could see quite a few people enjoying, no matter what types of players are in the group. I’ve played in adventures where everything went according to plan, as well as ones where it feels like the group “took a left turn in Albuquerque” and have gone so far “off-script” from what was planned for them that the Game Master had no idea how to get them back on track. But so far as I could tell, this one allows for that to happen and lets the players determine when and where the story will go.


All in all, if you enjoy playing RPGs, then this is one that I think you should consider giving a try. It definitely sounds like fun to me. Recommended.


https://amzn.to/3VD6BUw (Amazon Link)


https://4horsemenpublications.com/product/the-black-ballad-a-metal-infused-rpg-campaign-and-setting-perfect-after-a-tpk-chronicles-of-the-crossing/ (Link to the book on Publisher's website)


https://books2read.com/u/3yMZWv  (Books2Read link to other Vendors)


Amazon requires me to state that I have an Amazon Associates account that I use to generate the links to the books on their website. Purchasing something after following those links will earn a few pennies for me off the sale, though as of yet I have not earned anything from my Amazon Associate links.



Monday, May 6, 2024

Elixir of Life by Andrew Dulay

This was a  medical thriller dealing with life and death, involving the medical staff in a Saudi Arabian hospital, their patients, the people of the town, a group of men who arrange for the illegal buying and selling of human organs for transplant, as well as those who decide to sell one of their own kidneys.  This book deals with some tough issues, including alcohol addiction, rape, poverty, adultery, accidental death, and murder. For many very obvious reasons, this is not a happy tale, though it ends on a more positive note for some of the characters than it does for others.


I read a review copy of this book, and while I did enjoy parts of the story a great deal, there were other aspects that I had some problems with. It is a complex tale with what feels like four distinct, though often intertwining, plotlines going on. It is also a very, very long book--at the end of the story, my Kindle said I had read about 750 pages.


I also feel that this book could have possibly benefitted with another round of editing and definitely needed a proofreader's expertise as well. While everything was spelled correctly, there were a number of wrong words and incorrect forms of words (example: passed vs past and light casted shadows vs light cast shadows). 


One other item that I felt was a bit problematic for me (though others may feel differently) and that added to my feeling of this book being too long, was that at times it went into great detail on a transplant surgery. While I do understand that some of the plot does revolve around things that happened during surgery, the book often goes into great, specific detail involving the minutiae of the surgery. For me, it was much more detail than I felt like I, as a reader, needed or wanted to know. And in some cases, with me not having a medical background, it meant the involved items were meaningless to me. I felt that much of what I read was unnecessary and that leaving it out would have made the book easier to read and more enjoyable for me overall. 


As I mentioned, there were parts of the story I enjoyed a great deal. The characters were very interesting and their individual stories were often the parts that I truly enjoyed learning about. The author did a good job of interweaving several intertwined, but initially separate plotlines together, and those were some of what I found most enjoyable about the story. But with over 700 pages, I do feel that this book would have overall been better off had it been broken into two or three books, rather than keeping it as one extremely long novel. And as such, I feel that I must rate this one as 2.5 stars, for while I did enjoy parts of it, there was room for improvement, especially when it came to the editing/proofreading.


That being said, I do feel that those who enjoy medical thrillers that clearly contain a great deal of actual medical knowledge and expertise from the author will likely enjoy this book more than I did.


https://amzn.to/3y3V7iZ (link to book on Amazon)


https://books2read.com/u/baERqa  (Books2Read link to other vendors)


Amazon requires me to state that I have an Amazon Associates account that I use to generate the links to the books on their website. Purchasing something after following those links will earn a few pennies for me off the sale, though as of yet I have not earned anything from my Amazon Associate links.

Monday, April 29, 2024

Witch Of the Red Thorn by Maria DeVivo

In the town of New Haven Harbor, It has been three years since the last of the Salem Witch Trials ended. Reverend Boone is aging, and a new priest will soon be arriving to replace him. While Barbara and her sister are out in the woods collecting flowers to decorate the church, they come across What appears to have been a ritual sacrifice. Hoping that it isn't a sign that Salem's evils are now targeting their town, Barbara sends Tansy back with a warning not to reveal what they had seen. Then she returns to clean the site of the remnants left behind of the evil ritual before the new reverend arrives, hoping it was just someone's idea of a prank. But she will soon learn the truth.


I received a review copy of this book. It is the second book in the series and I enjoyed it a great deal. It is a rather dark tale that takes place in a time when there had been great hysteria over suspected witchcraft and devil worship. In this story, we once again find both. In the beginning, everyone in town appears to be good and godly people. And while many of them may be, there is always something hidden inside that doesn't quite follow the norms of society. And in this case, not only does that prove true, but there are also evil and demonic forces living among them. Some of whom are only beginning to discover their power.


I found this story very interesting. While It is book two in the series, it takes place both well before book one but also directly references some of the events in that book. Be warned, this book does contain a fair amount of graphic sex, violence, Satanic rituals, and gore. It is not a book meant for younger readers. 


But if you have read and enjoyed the previous book in this series, then I believe you will also enjoy this one. If you enjoy stories that, while not about the Salem witch trials themselves but that are similar and do reference them, or if you enjoy horror stories, then this book is one that you will Likely enjoy as well.


https://amzn.to/3PIpVvW (Amazon Link)


https://4horsemenpublications.com/product/witch-of-the-red-thorn-dawn-of-the-blood-witch-2/ (Link to the book on the publisher's website)


https://books2read.com/u/bwVW1Z (Books3Go links to other Vendors)


Amazon requires me to state that I have an Amazon Associates account that I use to generate the links to the books on their website. Purchasing something after following those links will earn a few pennies for me off the sale, though as of yet I have not earned anything from my Amazon Associate links.



Monday, April 22, 2024

Dusk Walker" by Crystal Wood

Echo's former mentor has gone missing from the realm where the dead souls who have not yet moved on to their final destination reside. No one knows what has happened to him, but Echo is determined to find and help him out of whatever trouble he may be in. Did I mention there seems to be a soul eater on the loose in the realm of the dead as well? So a party of adventurers is gathered to solve this mystery and rescue Echo's missing mentor.


This is the first book in s new series. It also ties to/is set in the world of a new Role Playing Game called Black Ballad. (I will be posting an upcoming review of the RPG as it has not yet been released, so keep your eyes open for both the RPG and my review of it.) I read a review copy of this book, and enjoyed it. It is a complex tale that involves both the realm of the living and the dead, though the majority of the tale takes place in the realm where the dead souls live. Some things may at times seem a bit contradictory, but I promise you that if you keep reading, they are explained in a way that makes complete sense as to why they actually do not contradict what you may have thought was happening. (Sorry that I can’t be clearer here, but I don’t want to include any spoilers in my review.)


I enjoyed this book. It was a fun tale that reminded me of when I was in high school & played a lot of D&D adventures as well as read a lot of the books that tied into those settings. So for me, while the setting was a different realm, the concept had me remembering my high school days & my enjoyment of both the game and the books. 


If you are like me and either both played RPG games & read the books, or if you simply enjoyed the novels associated with the various D&D realms, then you will definitely enjoy this book. And if you've not previously tried either one, but enjoy a good adventure fantasy novel, then give this one a try. I found it fun and entertaining. (And no, you don’t need to have any understanding of the game to enjoy the accompanying novels.


https://amzn.to/3TZbsOL (Link to book on Amazon)


https://4horsemenpublications.com/product/dusk-walker-a-black-ballad-novel-chronicles-of-the-crossing-1/ (Link to the book on the Publisher's website)


https://books2read.com/u/3nMO28 (Books2Read link to other vendors)


Amazon requires me to state that I have an Amazon Associates account that I use to generate the links to the books on their website. Purchasing something after following those links will earn a few pennies for me off the sale, though as of yet I have not earned anything from my Amazon Associate links.

Monday, April 15, 2024

The Disposable Soma by Zeb Haradon

Centuries from now, politics have changed dramatically. The Democratic Party are Conservatives, The Republican Party are Liberals, and the Empathy Party are Anti-Socialists. There is about to be a robot on the Supreme Court, opium and other drugs are commonly used by most everyone, addiction and withdrawal symptoms are easily removed by taking another readily obtained drug, and cybernetically enhanced intelligent parrots are common companions/pets. They are even among the most popular bands. 


This book is a political satire that seems to be about the absurdity of politics and politicians. It shows the lengths that they are willing to go to in order to try and win an election, knowing that most of them have no interest in trying to change anything or make life better for anyone. One of them is even willing to have an opium addicted parrot who is the lead singer of a famous band as his vice president.


This book has quite a few subplots going on in addition to the main election story, making it a rather busy story. The subplots are so intertwined throughout the story, that it took me a while to realize that they were all meant to show the extremes that each of the characters would go through to achieve their own desires, no matter what the cost.


For a good portion of this book, I thought I was seeing some typos in the format of two words that had dropped a space from between them, but toward the end of the book it was made clear that it was intentional. It was supposed to be an example of how language shifts over time, but for me, it threw me off until the explanation came late in the book.


I received a review copy of this book, and honestly, I'm not really certain what I think of it overall. Parts of it I enjoyed, while parts of it I had some trouble placing within the larger story as a whole. This book was the first book in a series, and I suspect that it will become clearer as the story continues to play out in later books. It’s an interesting story, but I feel like there was so much going on that I almost wished that some of the subplots had been left out, as I’m not entirely certain if they have been wrapped up or if they will be further explored in later books.


For me, I would rate this book rate at 3.5 stars. I did enjoy reading it, but I also feel like I missed more about what was supposed to be going on than I should have. I think that anyone who enjoys fictional tales about the absurdity of modern politics and the lengths that politicians will go to in order to win an election, will likely enjoy this book, as will those who enjoy political satire.


https://amzn.to/3VH3Dyu (link to book on Amazon)


https://books2read.com/u/mgyr1q (Books2read link to other vendors)


Amazon requires me to state that I have an Amazon Associates account that I use to generate the links to the books on their website. Purchasing something after following those links will earn a few pennies for me off the sale, though as of yet I have not earned anything from my Amazon Associate links.

Monday, April 8, 2024

Witch Of the Black Circle
by Maria DeVivo

Josephine (Joephie) is a teenager who was cursed by a witch before she was born. Her mother has moved the two of them often. They never really stay anywhere long enough for them to set down roots, and thus Joephie expects that this town will be no different than any other location where they have lived so far. In each town, her mother sends Joephie to a private school and a church youth group, hoping that evil influences can be kept away from her daughter. But in the 1980s, during the height of the “Satanic Panic” and the “sex, drugs, and rock & roll” era, that’s all but an impossible task, when one was already cursed.


I received a review copy of this book and enjoyed reading it. I was in high school during this time period. And as someone who played Dungeons & Dragons at the time, I can’t tell you how often I had to explain to people that it was just a game; it wasn't going to influence me to go out & kill anyone. Having lived through that time period as a teenager, I couldn't resist seeing this author's representation of a group of teenagers in the 1980s.


I enjoyed reading this book. While I was a little disappointed that there was no mention of the game Dungeons & Dragons, MTV, or a myriad of other 1980s specific items, this story was focused primarily on other aspects of the 1980s Satanic Panic. So I do understand why such things were not included in this book, though I would have like to have seen them mentioned. There was still more than enough of the other parental fears and teenage activities that were common back then; some of which went much farther than most teens did back then when it came to exploring the occult. These teenagers sought to actually open a portal and summon Satan


This is a horror novel with all the sex, drugs, and rock & roll that one might expect from a book set during that time period. Throw in some teenagers learning about the occult, the forces of Satan, and some graphic sex, violence, death, and gore, and you've described this book. Be warned that it is not a book meant for younger readers as it does contain some very graphic sex and a fair amount of violence and bloodshed. But for those who enjoy horror novels set in the 1980s, you should enjoy this one. I certainly did.



https://books2read.com/u/m2KGe6 (Books2Go link to other Vendors)

(Link to the book on the Publisher's website)


Amazon requires me to state that I have an Amazon Associates account that I use to generate the links to the books on their website. Purchasing something after following those links will earn a few pennies for me off the sale, though as of yet I have not earned anything from my Amazon Associate links.

Wings of Ink by Angelina Steffort

Anya, after spending years in a Tavrasian Prison expecting to be killed, is instead given to the Crow Fairies. She is now to become the brid...