Monday, March 18, 2019

"The Girl and the Clockwork Cat"
by Nikki McCormack

Maeko is often referred to as a “street rat.” She lives on the streets of London, stealing and doing whatever else she must in order to survive. It is not an easy life and it often seems that everyone is against those who seem to have no other way to survive.

Yes, there are workhouses, orphanages, and jail cells where most street kids wind up spending a lot of time, but these are usually worse options than the streets themselves and are rarely somewhere anyone would choose to willingly go. The local police force, or “Literati,” seem to take a particular dislike to the “street rats” and are far too often rather violent when arresting them and taking them to one of their holding facilities.

When Maeko escapes being caught by the authorities after a botched robbery attempt, she soon finds herself in possession of a cat with a mechanical leg and in the middle of a mystery involving a number of murders that seem to be following both the cat and searching for the man who had created it. She is drawn into the hunt for the missing man and soon finds herself as one of those being hunted. Her life is soon as much in danger as that of the man so many are searching for.

I greatly enjoyed reading this book. The descriptions of what Maeko went through on a daily basis to keep herself fed, sheltered, and free of the Literati and other dangers made sense. When you need to do just about anything to keep yourself alive, you put up with a lot more horrific circumstances than you might otherwise be willing to tolerate. Maeko often had to do just that and worse.

This was the first book in a trilogy, and I am very much looking forward to continuing on with this series and finding out what further trouble Maeko will have to survive while on London’s streets. Recommended.

Monday, March 11, 2019

"On Bended Knee" by Celeste Bradley

Lysander Worthington had come home from the war “broken” inside. He could barely function and was prone to horribly uncontrollable rages where he couldn’t always remember what happened during those times. His mother was seriously ill & the doctors didn’t seem able to help her. As her condition worsened and it began to appear that death was imminent, Lysander was sent to find his missing brother Pollux and bring him home.

As he passed through a local festival in Yorkshire searching for a blacksmith to repair his horse’s shoe, Lysander had a run-in with a very angry Ram. And while he managed to keep everyone else at the festival from being hurt when the festival shelter collapsed, he wasn’t so fortunate when the building’s roof fell on top of him.

This was the sixth book in the Wicked Worthington series, though I had not read the previous five books in this series. I’m afraid that in the beginning this was a bit of a problem for me as I knew none of the characters or their histories before that point. It left me more than a bit confused as to who was being spoken of or what had been happening up to that point.

As I got farther into the book, I began to pick up some of the things I had missed out on by not having read the beginning of the series, and began to enjoy the story being told more and more. By the end of the book I was glad I did finish reading it, though I still felt a bit like I had been playing catch-up throughout, sometimes successfully, sometimes less so.

This book also could have used another round or two of editing. I encountered a number of typos that I would have liked to have seen caught before publication. Overall though, I did wind up enjoying the story and will likely seek out the previous books in the series to learn at least some of what I felt like I had missed.

My recommendation for anyone just starting to read this series would be to try to read the first 5 books before starting this one if you have not already done so. While it is possible to figure out much of what has gone before if you truly do not wish to wait to finish reading the others first, I believe you will enjoy the story more by reading them in order. Also, please also be aware that this is not a book meant for younger readers as there is a rather descriptive sexual encounter in the story.

Monday, March 4, 2019

"For the Killing of Kings"
by Howard Andrew Jones

For years, the Altenerai have been the protectors of the realm. Many people dreamt of joining their ranks someday, and though the war that made the names of quite a number of their members become almost living legends, there were just as many if not more who were lost, either through death or disappearance. Some believe that the days where one could earn fame and glory as a member of the Altenerai are gone, and currently the queen seems to favor a new corps comprised of mages rather than soldiers as the main defenders of the realm.

When N’lahr’s famed sword Irion is accidentally discovered by one of the Altenari to be a fake, some of the most capable of the realm’s defenders are soon found murdered. Something treacherous seems to be going on in the kingdom, and amidst this mystery someone is killing anyone who realizes things are not as they should be. Soon Kyrkenall, one of the most famous of the remaining Altenari, and Elenai, a squire, find themselves on a quest seeking answers with many of their companions hunting them down and trying to kill them before they can learn the truth.

I greatly enjoyed reading this book. The intricate twists and turns of the plot were fascinatingly complex and well thought out, many of which I honestly did not see coming. The growth of the characters was progressive and reasonably earned as they faced challenges that made them start to see things in new perspectives as they sought to find the answers to questions they did not yet know to ask.

I did find a couple of typos in the book, but they were small and far between. In general, the editing of the book was excellent and I often found myself simply reading and enjoying the story rather than noticing if there were other typos as I read.

At this point, about my only complaint is that I’ll need to wait for the next book in the series to be released before I can find out what will happen next. While the book does not end in a cliffhanger, there is still a lot remaining to be discovered. And given some of the plot twists that were happening, I really want to know what else is coming their way! I will very definitely be looking forward to the release of book 2 in this trilogy. Recommended.

Monday, February 25, 2019

"The Finest Creation" by Jean Rabe

While most might consider humans the dominant species on the planet, they are secretly being guided by the members of the Finest Court. These members appear to their charges in the form of a highly intelligent horse, though most humans don’t notice anything unusual about them, The Finest Court are favored by the Creators and are charged with aiding those they guide to become better than they might be otherwise.

Two young people, a brother and sister, seem to be unaware that they are at the center of a plot that could change the course of life in their country. Someone wants this brother and sister dead, though who that is or why they are so determined to assassinate these children remains unclear. Can the newly assigned Finest guide and protect his charges from those that seek to do them harm? And with his own mentor killed before he can truly be assigned and have his task explained, can this Finest manage to find a way to not only keep his charges safe from those seeking to bring about their deaths, but also to discover the truth behind what his task was meant to entail?

I enjoyed this story a great deal. The twists contained within were well crafted and kept me guessing about what was really going on. I truly enjoyed reading this story and am looking forward to seeing what happens in book 2 in this series, though I felt that this one could have benefitted from one more round of editing/proofreading as I caught a few more typos in the book than I am used to seeing from this author. Overall, it was still a very enjoyable story and one I am looking forward in reading more about in the sequel.

Monday, February 18, 2019

“Earth’s Angels (Adult Version)”
by Beth Worsdell

As the Earth died, it’s waters, land, and air poisoned, the animals and insects dead, humanity had thought the end was finally here. And for many, they were right. However an ancient race of aliens had visited the planet countless times in Earth’s history. They seemed to consider themselves a sort of caretaker of worlds and had helped humanity many times in the past. They managed to arrive in the nick of time to attempt to save many and to restore life as a whole on earth.

They possessed technology and abilities far beyond what humans were familiar with and began the long, slow process of healing the people, repopulating the animals & insects, and cleaning the waters, land, and air of the planet to make it once again habitable. It appeared that the planet would survive and eventually might thrive again, especially if those living on it could learn the lessons that many before them had ignored.

But there was another problem. The previous world that the Angels (as the humans called them) had saved contained a very violent species, one far worse than humans had ever been. And this race had decided that instead of remaining on their own planet and trying to improve things, that they were going to travel to Earth and take over that world instead. So now in addition to healing the planet and all its inhabitants, the Angels need to find a way to aid in Earth’s defense while still working to bring the planet back from the brink of extinction... if it can still be done.

I really enjoyed reading this story. While I can’t speak for whether or not an ancient alien race would come and rescue us if the end were here, the problems that led up to what happens were entirely plausible and very real. I could very easily see what happened to the Earth in this tale happening here as well. It may not be too late for us to fix a lot of the problems that nearly destroyed the planet in this story, but it will take a lot of effort from humanity to even begin to reduce the damage already done.

One thing to be aware of is that this is the Adult version of the book. There are a number of scenes that take place that involve sexual encounters that are inappropriate for younger readers.

This was also the first book in a new series. It was well written and very entertaining. I am glad that I had the chance to read it and will be watching for book 2 in the series when it becomes available.

I also enjoyed the fact that at the end of the story, the author includes a number of ways in which we can help to heal our own planet and improve things for humanity now, rather than simply waiting and hoping that someday a kind race of aliens will arrive to save us from our own mistakes.

One thing I did appreciate about this story, was that given the subject, it would have been very easy for the author to have written in a story scolding our race for its foolish past, but that was not the point of this tale. It was a story of kindness and redemption. A story of new possibilities and starting over. I appreciated the tone that she chose to use in this story and am looking forward to seeing where she will take her story from here.

Please Note: I've learned from the author that there is also a Young Adult version of this book available for anyone looking for something that is appropriate for younger readers.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

"Valentine Emma"
(Frontier Valentine Romance Series)
by Katie Wyatt

Waking up after the stagecoach accident, Emma found herself all alone. She didn’t know what had happened to the other passengers or where she was. But with the weather getting colder, she only knew that she couldn’t remain there if she wanted to survive. She had been on her way to meet her intended husband when the stagecoach was attacked by bandits. A kind gentleman sitting next to her had urged her to hide under the seat when they were attacked as the bandits seemed to be looking specifically for her. It seems to have worked as she was not found.

Cassidy had waited at the station for Emma to arrive, but she never showed. He could only assume that she had changed her mind and decided not to marry him after all. It seemed a miracle when the distressed, injured, and nearly frozen woman wandered into town the next day, alive and still wanting go marry the man with whom she had been exchanging letters. But who was the stranger who seemed to also be looking for Emma, and what did he want with her?

This was a sweet little Valentine Romance story that can easily be read very quickly. (I read the entire story in one sitting.) I would have enjoyed it more had it been a bit better edited, as I caught a number of dropped words as I was reading, but overall it was still a fun read and very appropriate for Valentine’s Day. While it is the third book in the Frontier Valentine Romance series, I don’t believe anyone reading it will feel lost if they choose to read it as a standalone selection.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

Monday, February 11, 2019

"Totem Magic: Going MAD"
by John "Griff" Griffin

There is a magical population that works and lives alongside the mundane world. Non-magical beings are unaware of the existence of magical beings. And in the magical world, mages “go MAD” at about the age of 12 or 13. It is when they gain control of their magic and begin to learn how to use their abilities. Most mages have totem animals that they are called to try to protect from extinction. This is not an easy thing to do in the best of times, much less in a way so as to not let those without magic discover the existence of those who do possess it.

This book centers mainly on two young future mages who are on the verge of”going MAD” and gaining their full powers: Vulchy and his best friend Jasmine. Jasmine’s father is a member of the Gravitas, a group that governs the mages and helps keep their world secret from those without magic. Many times they also try to help out humanity however they can from behind the scenes. But even among those with magic, there are forces of good and evil, and when Jasmine’s father is kidnapped, Vulchy and Jasmine need to find and rescue him before his latest invention can be used to help destroy humanity instead of saving it.

I really loved reading this book. It is aimed at a young adult audience though I believe it would appeal to readers of all ages. The author not only did a fantastic job of writing his characters and drawing in my interest almost immediately, but he did an amazing job with the editing/proofreading of his story.

I learned a lot about the various animals involved in this story, most of which are currently on the endangered species list. The magic used and involved in this book was fun and very entertaining. I think most readers will want to keep reading until they’ve finished the story (as I did.) The author has clearly done his research when it comes to the animals we encounter in his story and their abilities as totem mages. I learned a lot about a number of animals that I am unlikely to run across as well as their habitats and what is causing them to become endangered and facing extinction.

While like global warming, this is a theme throughout the book, it is not written in such a way as to make the reader feel like a lesson is being forced upon them. Instead, it I felt like while I did learn a great deal, it was done in a gentle manner that entertained at least as much as it educated. I truly enjoyed reading this book and believe that others will too. I hope that the author is able to continue on with this series as I would love to read more about both the Totem Mages we were introduced to in this book as well as about others we have yet to meet. Recommended.

"The Girl and the Clockwork Cat" <br>by Nikki McCormack

Maeko is often referred to as a “street rat.” She lives on the streets of London, stealing and doing whatever else she must in order to...