Monthly Archives: May 2016

Spore by Tamara Jones

When people start returning from the dead, they not only bring their own questions, but for Sean and Mare, they stir up memories that Sean can’t avoid.

SporeTitle:  Spore
Author:  Tamara Jones
Publish Date:  June 2, 2015
Genre:  Horror
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s DescriptionThe dead are coming back.

Ten naked people walk from a cemetery into artist Sean Casey’s backyard: ten Spore People who used to be dead. One, Mindy, stays with Sean while trying to reclaim her life, but her ex would rather she return to her grave. Sean struggles to protect Mindy and other Spores while battling his recurring—and worsening—nightmares. Meanwhile, the media feeds a panicked frenzy that leads both the hopeful and hateful to Sean’s front door.

As the Spore fungus spreads, so does the fear. When mutilated children match Sean’s nightmares, he realizes his own worst terror may be closer than he thinks.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Percy_Procrastinator_100Percy Procrastinator says…

We met Tamara Jones at the North Iowa Book Bash in Clear Lake, IA (hosted by BF Bookies).  She spoke on a panel about worldbuilding. She came across as an introvert with a rich, and sometimes sick, imagination — exactly the kind of folk we like!  So I decided to check out her novel, Spore.

Things I didn’t like: The biggest thing I didn’t like about the book is that it needed better editing. It is written in third person limited and sometimes switches views between paragraphs. That was quite jarring for me, causing me to lose momentum in the story as I had to go back and figure out when the views changed. Even an extra line break between paragraphs would have helped with this issue and made transitions much easier. As a minor point, I would have liked an epilogue as well for some of the things that were in the background.

Things I Liked: This was a well written, good book! It has a good mystery and some good science fiction. I liked Mare and Sean as characters and could certainly identify with some of the problems they had as well as the struggle to do what is right. There are several good plot lines running through the book and I enjoyed them all.

The twists—and there were plenty of them—were well handled and while shocking, completely believable. There was never a reveal that came out of the blue. Given a moment’s pause to think about what happened, I realized every reveal had been carefully planned and was supported by the story.

I appreciated that the author was specific about things that won’t change quickly, such as street names, highways, and some places. Then vague about the things that would change, such as the attorney general’s name, or governor’s name. I think even though the story established a specific date for the story, that this serves the story better than if those things had been named.

badge4v4This was an enjoyable read that pulled me into it within the first few pages and I read it all in one sitting. I haven’t done that in a while and it felt great!

Other reviews…

If you like this book…

I would compare Spore, in general, to horror novels by Stephen King, Dean Koontz, or Clive Barker.

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Damnation’s Door by Amy Braun

It’s the conclusion of the Cursed Series trilogy by Amy Braun! After going through, literally, Hell on Earth with friends such as Connie, Dro, Warrick, Max, and Sephiel, it’s so hard to say goodbye. I hope our band of demon slayers can find just a little bit of happiness and peace here at the end.

FTC Notice: This book was provided free in exchange for an honest review. This is no way impacts my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000037_00035]Title:  Damnation’s Door
Author:  Amy Braun
SeriesCursed Series, Book 3
Publish Date:  June 7, 2016
Genre:  Urban Fantasy
Source: Provided by the author

Publisher’s DescriptionDemons are free. Angels are fallen. Hope is dying…

Constance Ramirez and her adopted sister, Andromeda, have stopped Lucifer’s plan– They have closed the Heaven Gate and kept the demons out. But their choice came with brutal consequences, and now every angel on earth is trapped in their mortal body.

All that remains is closing the Hell Gate and establishing a balance once and for all. That means returning to the city of Constance’s nightmares, which has become a haven for murderers and monsters. But even more dangerous than their hunt is that Andromeda’s powers and instincts are turning darker, and this time Constance doesn’t know how to protect her.

Constance is ready to fight for her life, but her enemies have plans she can’t begin to imagine, and they’re prepared to make her suffer…

Trust is lost and hearts are broken in the epic conclusion in Amy Braun’s Cursed trilogy…

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Nervous_Nellie_100Nervous Nellie says…

This is an urban fantasy. Two kick ass sisters fighting for their lives. No sex, some violence. Conclusion to the trilogy, which is difficult in itself. Realistic ending though neither heroine dies, I am relieved to report.

This was a hard book to read for me. Firstly, it’s the ending of a series, which is difficult in itself. Secondly, Andromeda is not exactly the good sister. Connie is obligated to save her according to her own code. Everything that is to fear is coming to Connie. She has to return to where her Blood Thorn beginnings started. It’s a scary place for Connie and she is even more afraid for her sister.

badge4v4I was not disappointed in this book, but the story was dark. It marked a certain amount of reality and neither Constance or her sister, Andromeda, will come out of unscathed. The death and destruction wasn’t a shock, but the pain that Constance has to endure has got to scar her for life.

The story is well written and the characters are very well developed. Author Braun really knows her way around a written word as she is an incredible writer. I will be honest that this series left me melancholy. The writing was great, it’s just that the characters had a realistic ending instead of an elated, super pumped victory. I’m not a super fan of reality but I am looking forward to reading Amy Braun’s next series.

Invested_Ivana_100Invested Ivana says…

What drew me to this book: The fantastic cover of Book 1, Demon’s Daughter (by Deranged Doctor Designs), and a polite request from the author, turned me on to the Cursed Series. Now that the end is here, there is no way I’d miss the final installment!

Why I kept reading: Damnation’s Door is intense! There is a lot of hand-to-hand combat in the streets of Juárez, where our band of demon hunters are searching for Lucifer and his minions. Each character suffers through a trial of betrayal and loyalty, putting their personal strengths and beliefs to the test. The level of drama is sufficiently epic, considering this isn’t just a battle for each person’s life, but also a battle for the fate of the world.

There are also some tender moments. Throughout the series, you wonder if Constance is too broken by her experiences to truly open up to other people. Not only has she suffered massive amounts of psychological trauma (and she’s not even 21!), but surely she has some severe traumatic brain injury going on from all fighting she does. So seeing the tender moments between her and the other characters is very rewarding.

badge4v4Why I recommend it: The Cursed series is definitely one to read for fans of urban fantasy and the serious side of TV’s Supernatural. It is dark and somber, without much of the snarkiness you see in some UF offerings; but, the relationships between characters—particularly Connie and her sister, Dro—are complex and poignant. I can’t help but invest emotionally in these folks and their trials, and inevitably count them my friends.

Our reviews in this series…

Other reviews…

Damnation’s Door releases on June 7, so be sure to watch Amazon, Goodreads, and your favorite review sites for other reviews. 🙂

If you like this book…

…you might like the Elemental Assassin series by Jennifer Estep, the Redneck Apocalypse series by eden Hudson, or the Cal Leandros series by Rob Thurman.

FTC Notice: This book was provided free in exchange for an honest review. This is no way impacts my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

 

Inkspirations for Women by Marci Shimoff & Judy Clement Wall

FTC Notice: This book was provided free in exchange for an honest review. This is no way impacts my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

imageTitle: Inkspirations for Women
Author: Marci Shimoff & Judy Clement Wall
Series: Inkspirations
Publish Date: 3/22/16
Genre: Stress Relief Adult Coloring Book
Source: Book Expo America signing

Publisher’s Description: Take a break from the busyness of life with Inkspirations for Women, a captivating collection of exquisite original art from Judy Clement Wall. Whether you are new to the coloring craze or a gel pen aficionado, Inkspirations for Women will help you relax and unwind while unleashing your creativity with this eclectic mix of designs to color and customize. From nature scenes and floral designs to animals and meditative mandalas, each page offers a welcome excuse to take meaningful time for yourself while creating stunning works of art to keep or to share. The world is your canvas–go ahead and make some beautiful marks!

Pages are perforated for easy tearing and sharing, to frame or hang on the fridge. We’ve also used “lay-flat” binding to manufacture the book which eliminates that annoying bulge in the spine when you open a book. – See more at: http://www.hcibooks.com/p-4368-inkspirations-for-women.aspx#sthash.vnzwAd0H.dpuf

Nervous Nellie’s nervousness necessitates knowledge of the novel (or, in other words, SPOILERS).


imageI have never participated in coloring in an adult coloring book. I know Ivana has several and she loves them. When I was waiting at BEA, an assistant to an author approached me and asked if I’d like to try an adult coloring book. She even offered the authors to sign it for me. I figured I’d get to talk to the authors and see what inspired them and if their book was the same as all the rest.

The authors were very nice. I looked through their book and I was rather Nervous_Nellie_100inspired myself.  Instead of pages to just color, there were inspirational quotes. Oprah Winfrey, Audrey Hepburn and Helen Keller were some of the names of women I recognized. Each page has decoration to color on the left side and the quote.  On the right side, the whole page is covered in art.  The art isn’t child-like nor is it so complicated that it’s overwhelming.

After I finish this book, I will keep it to look at over and over again because the quotes are awesome and the artwork is fantastic.  There are no rules in this book.  I get to decide the colors, decide if I want to add elements myself and the best part is I get to feel good looking at my finished project.

Some adult coloring books turn me off, but this one….there is something about it.  Relaxing? Meditative? Sure.  Fun? Most definitely.

FTC Notice: This book was provided free in exchange for an honest review. This is no way impacts my opinion of the book or the content of my review...

$20 Online World Building Course for Fantasy Writers

$20 online class about fantasy world building. I think I might attend just to be a better book reviewer. 🙂

The Write Stuff

As you can probably imagine, there’s a lot of work that goes into writing a fantasy novel. One of the things I had to do for The Legender was invent an entirely new world. We fantasy nerds call the task “world building.”

For the last 20 years, I’ve been working on the craft of world building and fantasy writing. And a few months ago, I began taking what I learned from the process and formatting it into an online course on Udemy–a course I would like to offer to you for free.

This course is designed to teach you how to create a believable and compelling world for your fantasy story–a world your readers will want to get lost in again and again.

In the course you will learn how to:

  • Build a compelling and believable world for a fantasy novel
  • Establish rules for your world
  • Give a sense of depth…

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A Virtual Dream by Brent Roth

Title: A Virtual Dream
Author: Brent Roth
Series: Dragon’s Wrath Book 01
Publish Date: April 12th, 2015
Genre: LitRPG, Sci-Fi
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description: When Brent Roth suffered a workplace accident that rendered him temporarily immobile, he found himself lying in bed dreaming of a better life. He dreamed of a life where maintaining his health was no longer a daily struggle, and then when he had lost all hope, he had discovered a new virtual reality game on the horizon. A VR-MMORPG that offered him everything he lacked in real life, everything that had eluded him.

A world where he could find adventure, companionship, and success all wrapped up in the singular package of The Dragon’s Wrath. The game offered him a chance, a chance for salvation… a glimmer of hope.

It was better than a dream, it was a virtual dream.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Vagabond Vahn says…

For some, the relatively new genre of LitRPG has no meaning.  To clarify, all novels in this genre take place – partly or entirely – within an VRMMORPG: a virtual reality massively multiplayer online role-playing game.  A young genre, Goodreads already lists 115 LitRPG novels here.  This is a genre that has yet to capture a major publishers eye, and the novels I’ve read thus far are self-published and often translated from other languages.  I decided to delve into some, and the next few reviews I post will be novels from this genre, for better or worse.

The Good: Dragon’s Wrath is fun.  I like video-games, and I’ve played my share of MMOs over the years.  Reading a game set within one, but with a virtual reality capsule that allows players to feel the sensations of the world is interesting to think about.  As with many LitRPG books, the main character discovers things within the game that few to no other players have, and Dragon’s Wrath is no exception.

One of the few well written novels in the genre where the character both is, and wants to be, left to themselves far from civilization.  Time is split between the real world where Brent attends Alpha/Beta tester meetings, and his time in the game where he forges his own path in the snow-covered north in an area most players have written off as useless.  There he works to level up and build a town entirely himself, without the aid of other players.

The setting is fresh.  Reminiscent of video-games such a “The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim” and “Savage Lands”, the viking-inspired, cold and harsh snowy mountains help maintain the feeling of isolation that Brent is looking for.  The time spent alone, basically playing a single-player game helps introduce the VR experience to the audience and set it apart from other LitRPG novels.

The Bad:  While the time spent in-game is mostly fantastic, some of the scenes set back in reality slow the pace detrimentally.  It’s great to know that he’s funding himself while unemployed by selling off the collection of cars he’d built.  It’s nice to know he doesn’t want to do that, but has to.  That said, taking the time to describe driving around with a potential buyer ultimately doesn’t have any major impact on, and pulls us away from, the story in-game.  I can see what the author was trying to do by having those moments – and indeed, the scenes during the Apha/Beta test meetings are worthwhile – but the others unfortunately serve to slow things down.

There are homonyms sprinkled throughout that may bother some.  That said, this is also somewhat common in self-published novels in my experience, and so early on I came to terms with it.

The Conclusion:  Certain scenes slow the pace of what would otherwise be a badge4v4superb entry in the LitRPG field.  It is the first in a series however, and serves as a fun and solid foundation for more to come.  It is definitely one of the better in the genre and certainly worth a read if the concept of LitRPG intrigues you.

Setting up a character far from civilization who mostly interacts with NPCs allows for a fairly introspective ride.  However, there are other players introduced both here and as the story progresses through the next entries, which will help those for whom this genre feels too alien.  If this review is your introduction to LitRPG, Dragon’s Wrath is worth trying.

Other reviews…

If you like this book…

…consider trying Survival Quest (The Way of the Shaman, #1) by Vasily Mahanenko, Project Daily Grind (Mirror World, #1)  by Alexey Osadchuk, or Patch 17 (Realm of Arkon, #1) by G. Akella, all in the LitRPG genre.