Sunday, January 28, 2018

"Like Father" by Joe Roland IV

Edited Please Note: It seems that I was given an incorrect version of the book for my review by accident. The author has since sent me a corrected version that has had the formatting issues fixed. This version was much cleaner and much more enjoyable to read than the initial version I received.

This was more of a short story than a full book, and as such I don’t want to go into much detail on my review as doing so would give away too much of the plot. It was an interesting story with quite a number of twists and turns throughout that kept me guessing as to what was really going on. One thing I can say is that the ending came as complete surprise to me. If you like stories with a lot of twists that keep you guessing throughout, you will enjoy this story.

"Journey of the Fourth Queen" by Mark Miller

This book is what I would consider a variation of a twisted fairytale. The fairytale queens of the four kingdoms are all gathering for the first time in a very great while. An evil is threatening their realms; one that is strong enough that it will need all four of them to defeat it. Isis (Queen of the Southern Valley), Snow White (Queen of the Northern Wood), and Cinderella (Queen of the Western Sun) have all made it to the castle at Empyrean. Unfortunately, the Queen of the Eastern Sky was killed before she could arrive. Without the magical power of all four of the Queens, they cannot defeat the returning evil.

With the death of one of the four queens, a new queen has already been magically called to come to the castle at Empyrean to take on the duties and responsibilities of lost Eastern Queen. No one, however, knows exactly who this fourth queen will be, and all they can do is to defend the castle and await her arrival. The three remaining queens have sent out messengers to their kingdoms to gather people to come and fight to defend the four kingdoms. One other was sent out to the Eastern Kingdom to seek out and help the new Queen to reach Empyrean safely. The evil beings attacking the kingdoms will also be seeking to find her and prevent her arrival, for without all four queens working together evil will once again take over control of the four kingdoms.

Two sisters, Zandria and Olena manage to survive and escape an attack on their small village. They have long been given attention by the Eastern Queen and other visitors to their village, and it is assumed that one of them will likely be chosen to become the new Queen of the Eastern Sky one day, if the need should arise during their lifetime. The two girls are aided in their escape by a creature known as a quzzak who helps them flee towards Castle Empyrean. It is a long and dangerous journey that they must survive if there is to be any hope for the four kingdoms. They are also being stalked by evil beings who will do anything to prevent them from reaching Empyrean.

I have always enjoyed reading twisted fairytales, and this was a very unique story, that included a number of both well-known and lesser-known fairytales with very different endings than the usual versions. This book was very well-written and I really enjoyed reading it. The ending of the book sets us up for a second book in the series, and I am definitely looking forward to picking up a copy of that one to read as well. If you like unique twists on familiar fairytales, I would very much recommend giving this one a chance. I don’t think you’ll regret it.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

"Rose of Anzio, Book Two: Jalousie"
by Alexa Kang

This was the second book in the Rose of Anzio series, and I found it just as entertaining as the first book. Anthony and Tessa have admitted their feelings for each other and he has received his Draft notice in the mail. They had roughly two weeks together before he needed to report to the Draft board for his physical and was sent to the Army training camp.

Tessa, still in training as a cadet nurse, decides to transfer to an intensive training program that will send her to be a military nurse attached to a military company overseas once she completes her training. She sees it as an opportunity to possibly be reunited with Anthony and to be there with him during the war. She keeps the fact that she has transferred to this program from both her family and Anthony as she doesn’t want anyone to try and talk her out of it.

It is a risky idea, as there is no guarantee she will wind up sent to the same Company that Anthony has been assigned to, yet she feels that even if she is sent elsewhere that she will still be closer to him than if she remains safely Stateside. She also believes that asking for forgiveness from their families after she arrives overseas will be easier and less worrisome than telling them her plans beforehand.

I enjoyed this book just as much as I did the first one in the series. The author has told a fantastic story that drew me in and held my attention as much as the last book did. The only shortcomings in this book were a few small typos here & there. I am definitely looking forward to when I have the chance to read the third book. I strongly recommend reading this one, especially if you enjoyed the first book in this historical fiction series as much as I did.

Monday, January 22, 2018

"From Within the Firebird's Nest" by Sheldon Charles

This book is a bit different than most of the others I have reviewed. It is a spy-thriller that starts off during the cold-war era in the Soviet Union. The Crimson Firebird Initiative is a plan to retaliate against the United States in the event that they were to attack first and destroy the Soviet nuclear arsenal before the Soviets had a chance to respond. It was long term plan that was designed to destroy the U.S. population and allow the Soviets to relocate and live there instead, as it was assumed that the Soviet Union would be uninhabitable due to nuclear radiation.

The concept of the plot was that children would be raised to be able to pass as United States citizens, speaking English, learning the customs, but being trained to be loyal Soviet Union undercover agents. When the time was right, they would set the ultimate plan in motion that would decimate the population in a way that no one would be prepared for and once activated would be unstoppable.

Parts of the book are set during the time when the plan was first conceived and set in motion, but others take place in the present day when there no longer is a cold war between the two nations. There are only two men who knew the entirety of the plan, and one of them had a son who had been raised as a sleeper agent. This man has realized that he needs to find a way to make sure that the Crimson Firebird Initiative will never succeed in it’s original intent or mission, for doing so will be far too costly in human casualties as well as including his son in with those who would be killed. The U.S. has no knowledge of this plot or the fact that there is someone out there who is determined to see it to completion. Can it be prevented or is the U.S. population doomed?

This was an interesting story that contained some very interesting twists. However I really wish the author had spent more time on the editing and proofreading. Quite often I ran across sentences missing words, others with words added in that didn’t belong, and some errors that at times just distracted me from the overall story. The concept was a good one, but more time spent on the editing could have made it a great one.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

"Her Rocky Trail: Seeing Ranch Series" by Florence Linnington

Today’s book was a mail-order bride novel, though it differed a bit from most of the ones I have read. In this one, Kitty is on her way by train to meet the man she will be marrying in the town of Shallow Springs. Traveling with her is her younger sister who will be living with them. However before the train reaches town, it is attacked by robbers and Kitty’s younger sister Helen is kidnapped by the thieves.

Cyrus, who will be replacing the town’s retiring sheriff, was on his way to town to meet the train and the woman who had agreed to marry him when he noticed that the train had stopped on the tracks a short distance from the town. Detouring to investigate, he winds up helping to drive off the robbers attacking the train, but was not in time to prevent them from kidnapping a young woman as they escaped.

A small posse is quickly gathered from the male passengers on the train to go after the bandits in the hopes of rescuing Helen. Kitty, unwilling to leave her sister’s fate in the hands of others, follows the men and joins the posse rather than return to the safety of the town. Needless to say, a small group of men and one woman with no supplies and no food, attempting to track down a band of robbers to rescue a kidnapped girl are not in for an easy time, assuming they can even find those they are searching for before they are too late to save Helen.

While this book differed slightly from most of the mail-order bride stories I have read, it works very well. I started reading it too late in the day to finish it in only one sitting, and only a need to sleep convinced me to put it down overnight. This author is an excellent storyteller as well as a fantastic writer. I saw almost no typos in this book, making it a very quick and very enjoyable read. If you enjoy mail-order bride stories like I do, you really won’t want to miss out on reading this one. I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

"The Madam's Highlander" by Madeline Martin

Freya is the Madam of an extremely popular brothel in Edinburgh known as Molly’s. Molly’s is not what you would usually expect in either a brothel or it’s Madam. The women employed to entertain the men are primarily war widows or other women who have lost their husbands and have chosen to work as prostitutes of their own free will rather than because they have no other options. Freya also provides education for the women who work for her, as well as offering jobs in the brothel that do not require them to work as a prostitute.

Many of the customers at Molly’s are members of the Black watch. They are Highland warriors who work with the English soldiers, and are often reviled by their countrymen and considered traitors. Ewen, or as many of the women working in Molly’s call him “Captain Nay” because he doesn’t drink anything stronger than tea or join any of the girls in their rooms, approaches Freya for help. His duty will not allow him to travel to the countryside to check on his elderly mother and he wishes for Freya to check on his mother’s well-being when she next travels to visit her family.

Freya isn’t at all interested in helping him, yet he manages to manipulate her into doing just that. What she finds isn’t what he was hoping she would learn, and leads to other problems for the both of them.

This was a very short but enjoyable book to read. The interactions between Freya, Ewen, and later on their family members was something I found fun to read. I really didn’t want to put this one down, and I finished reading it in only one day. Sometimes a quick, lighthearted read is exactly what one needs, and for me, this book more than filled that need.

Monday, January 15, 2018

"Judging by the Cover" by Dawn Doyle

This book was the story of two troubled young adults. Demi is in witness protection and hiding from her remaining family. She was the sole witness to the murder of her parents and brother. If she were to be killed there will be no way to convict those responsible, and they are desperate to find and eliminate her before their case can be brought to trial. She has been in protective custody for over a year and relocated several times already to try to keep her safe.

Jordan is haunted by the memory of his best friend and neighbor Gord’s death. Jordan had gone to a job interview and blames himself for not being there to save his friend’s life the day Gord died. When Demi and her guardians move into what used to be Gord’s house, Jordan is not ready to accept someone else living there and takes out his anger and frustration on Demi, who in return takes hers out on him.

Both Demi and Jordan are each dealing with issues that would leave anyone quite traumatized, and each of them must find a way to cope with their problems as well as learn to accept the other into their lives. No matter their personal feelings about each other, they will be neighbors and running into each other very often whether they wish to or not.

This is not a book meant for younger readers. There is some violence and a great deal of very descriptive sex within these pages. It is entirely appropriate to the plot of the story, and while there was quite a bit more rather descriptive encounters in the second half of the book than I generally prefer, I don’t believe this story could have been written nearly as well or effectively without them. This book was very well written & definitely kept my attention and interest. I found myself enjoying it much more than I had expected that I would.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

"A Kingdom of Shadow" by Clara C. Johnson

This was the story of Ellyn, a young woman struggling to help keep herself, her mother, and her brother alive. They lived in a small cabin in the woods and it has been a very harsh winter They don't have much food, Ellyn’s brother has been ill for a long time, and their mother has been nearly catatonic since the death of her husband. Ellyn has been doing everything she can to keep her family alive and to try and bring her mother back to herself while taking care of the three of them.

Barely succeeding in keeping the three of them fed and finding ways to afford her brother’s medication, things become much more difficult when a man stumbles across her in the woods while he is being hunted by a very large, black wolf. He was gravely injured and clearly needed help. After managing to kill the beast hunting him, which then dissolved into a black smoke, Ellyn carries the unconscious man to her home where she and her mother stitch him up and nurse him back to health.

Shortly thereafter, more of these mysterious, demonic wolves arrive to attack their home. Ellyn’s brother is killed in the attack, though the other 3 of them survive. Knowing more of these creatures will soon return, Jared convinces the two women to go with him to his world and he opens a portal through which he takes them. But the demonic wolves that had been hunting him were originally from his world, so while they may be safe for the moment, there are numerous other challenges ahead of them.

It turns out that Jared is a king who cares a great deal for his people and their welfare. Ellyn and her mother are given a home in Jared's castle, and seem to be starting to rebuild a life in their new home. However the Darkness seems to be more prevalent here, even if most people seem to believe it is nothing more than a legend or a part of history that no longer exists in their world. Can Ellyn and her mother really build a new life here? What will become of them in this other world where they don't really know what is going on or how to stop it.

This was the first book in this series, and I really enjoyed the plot and the story it told. I do, however, really wish the author had given it another round of editing and proofreading. While her spelling was consistently correct, there were a number or instances where the word used was clearly not the one intended as well as there being a number of other typos and errors. Despite these issues, I do want to read the next book in the series, as I really want to know what will happen next, (and I will be keeping my eyes open for when book two is available), but I do hope the author takes the time to find someone to help her with the editing, as doing so will only make her books even more enjoyable to read.

Monday, January 8, 2018

"Sleepless in Staffordshire" by Celeste Bradley

Today’s book is a holiday romance novel. The main characters are a young woman and her 8-year old brother who were orphaned after their parents died in an accident a number of years earlier. They now live with their aunt and uncle who run a small town’s Vicarage. Their new home is not as well off as they had been born to, and it is a much harder and more difficult life that they have been living for these past 6 years.

Every winter at around Christmastime, Bernadette and her brother Simon start finding bottles with a note in them floating down the river. Being curious, they have been rescuing these bottle and reading the letters contained within. The letters are from a man named Matthias and are his means of dealing with the death of his wife and young son. Reading these letters, Bernadette feels she has come to know and understand Matthias. She has even begun developing feelings for the desperately sad and lonely man that she has never met.

Then the Vicar, his wife, Bernadette, and Simon are invited to come and visit during Christmas to Staffordshire by John, the young, new Vicar there who had once studied with the them before accepting the position in that town. There is to be a Christmas Ball this year that they will also be allowed to attend at the local Lord’s manor. For Bernadette and Simon it is their chance to meet the man behind the letters. But what she hasn’t realized us that the young Vicar is still infatuated with her and is now in need of a wife himself.

I enjoyed reading this book. It was at times heartbreaking and hopeful with a number of interesting twists. My only regret with this book was not having had the chance to read it before Christmas, as it is an excellent holiday story. But even though it is now after the holidays, I would still recommend reading this one. I don’t think you’ll regret it.

Friday, January 5, 2018

"Secondhand Secrets - Miss Main Street: Book 1" (Previously titled “Tangled in Time”) by Angela Castillo

Let me start this review by explaining why I’ve listed two titles on this book. The author has rereleased the book under the title “Secondhand Secrets” (which is the title I found it listed as on Amazon), but at the time of my reading the book for review it was still listed as “Tangled in Time” on Goodreads. It is the same book, but until the listings are updated, you might need to look for it listed under the previous title in some stores.

This book starts out with a young woman returning to what had been her grandmother’s home in Texas. Her grandmother had passed away and left her antique shop to Darcy. As she returned to the small town that she had loved visiting and spending her summers at when she was growing up, Darcy finds herself remembering and rediscovering her love of small town life. She had grown up in L.A. and attended college there as well. She has chosen to leave behind a boyfriend who seems to view her more as a beautiful accessory than as her own person and to remain in the small Texas town of Wimber, fix up the store, and run it herself instead.

Now Darcy has to deal with another store owner who wants to buy her antique store and doesn’t seem willing to give up on trying to get her to sell it, reconnecting with old friends, a now ex-boyfriend who doesn’t seem ready to give her up, and the possibility of reconnecting with an old friend that at one time might have become something more. There is also the mystery of a locked closet in her grandmother’s house with a very solid door that she cannot find the key to open.

This was a very sweet and sentimental romance novel. The characters had realistic problems and reacted to things the way you would expect people to act. It was a nice, light read and I enjoyed it. There were a few typos here & there in the book, but the story was a good one. Between the possible growing romance between Darcy and Ramsey, the mystery of what is hidden behind the locked closet door, as well as trying to figure out why a successful clothing store owner was so determined to gain ownership of Darcy’s antique store and there was more than enough going on in this story to keep me reading. I believe this is the first book in what looks to be a promising series.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

"Rose of Anzio, Book One: Moonlight" by Alexa Kang

For today, I read the WWII Romance, “A Rose of Anzio, Book One: Moonlight.” It starts with a young college student named Anthony coming home to find a girl who appears to be stealing roses from his family’s memorial garden. When he confronts her, she is unfazed by him, takes her roses, and leaves. It is only later that he learns that she is currently living in his family’s home as the war in London (where she is from) has gotten too dangerous for her to remain there. Her parents have sent her to stay with his family in Chicago until it is over.

Tessa is not happy about being sent away from her home and family to safety in America, but having no choice in the matter she is doing her best to endure and hope the war will soon end so that she may return home. She seems to share no interests with the other girls she attends private school with nor does she have any real desire to get to know them. To her, they seem shallow; only interested in boys, clothes, and their position in society.

Tessa’s mother was a nurse and her father an actor in London, and she was used to a much less society-oriented upbringing than she is now being faced with. She winds up befriending a family living in one of the “seedier” sections of Chicago and fits in with them better than with the other St. Mary’s girls. She spends as much time with them as she can, even taking a summer job as a waitress so that she can take them to baseball games and they can do other fun things together. (Their earnings all go to help support their family, and Tessa wants to be able to use her earnings to allow them to have some fun with her.)

Anthony, in whose family home she is living, clearly does not approve of how she spends her time. He is used to dealing with a more gentile sort of girl, who spends her time at social events rather than swing dancing in clubs or waiting tables in a restaurant. When the two of them are forced to interact, their mutual disdain for each other is quite apparent.

I really enjoyed reading this book. It showed what life was like for those living on different sides of society both before America joined the war as well as a good bit after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. This book was described as a romance, though most of the story seemed to be more historical fiction. There was some romance in the story, but the largest portion is found towards the end of the book. (I expect the romance to play a stronger role in book two of the series.)

Overall, this book drew me in and kept me interested all the way to the end. I loved watching the interactions between the various characters as they got to know more about each other and how they lived. It is well worth the time spent reading it, and I will definitely be looking for the next book in the series to read when I get the chance. If you enjoy WWII historical fiction/romances, you definitely will want to read this one.

Firefax by A. M. Vergara

During the Revolutionary War, there are rumors of a city of gold that is hidden on an island whose location is known only to the Firefax fam...