Amazon, Blog, Books, Fantasy, novel, Publishing, Science Fiction, Technology, Urban Fantasy

Review of Audible Service & The Three J’Amigos Trilogy (JADE, JANE and JILL) by Rose Montague

Recently, I upgraded my Kindle Paperwhite. The latest one has twice the memory and is waterproof (within reason, anyway). It also supports Audible audiobooks, which is rapidly becoming huge in the publishing industry, with many Indies and small publishers joining the major publishers with titles in release. So,  I decided to give this new thing a test drive.

Audible Trademark

Audible is an Amazon company, but you don’t need a Kindle device to enjoy the audiobooks. If you have a smartphone (who doesn’t these days?) you can download the Audible App for Apple or Android and play the book through your Bluetooth speakers, headphones, earbuds or vehicle (if so equipped). There are some special trial deals going on for little or nothing. Once you see how much it frees you up, while still satisfying your lit needs you’ll want to sign up for it. You get one free download per month and discounts on other purchases throughout the period. What I have discovered is that I can listen to an average length book in a day or so, while doing menial things like laundry, cleaning the house, riding my bike, taking a walk, just about anything.

Author Rose Montague has been an early adopter of the audiobook format for her action-packed YA/NA books. Previously, I’ve read two of The Three J’Amigos Trilogy, as well as both of her other, spin-off books, which take place in the same universe but feature some other characters that have supporting roles in the trilogy. It was just with all the requests for reviews from others I hadn’t gotten around to reading JILL, which was published within the past year or so. But it was coming up on my “to-be- read” list.

All three audiobooks are narrated by Caryn Kuhlman, who does a fine job. It is essential for continuity between books of the same series to have the same narrator, I believe. Kuhlman varies her voice to make each character distinct, which helps a lot from a listener’s standpoint. For example, Jane in the series is “London Jane” and, yes, she has a British accent.

Cover of Jade Audiobook, 1st in the trilogy.

The one thing I will say that is a difference between listening to an audiobook and reading the eBook or print formats is that if you have read the print or eBook previously, it takes a bit to adjust to the narrator’s voice as opposed to your internal, reading voice. The characters are not going to sound the same as you have previously imagined. But you get used to that in relatively short order.

As for the story – I recommend taking the time to binge read or listen to this series. If you enjoy YA books featuring Supernatural beings (Supes), like Vampires, Shape-Shifters, Witches and Faeries, this is a series you’ll love. It offers a mind-expanding journey into the imagination of the author who is a great, natural storyteller. Her books’ pacing is quick.

Cover of Jane Audiobook, 2nd in the trilogy

Her characters are diverse. Jade is a Supernatural mutt, having the attributes of just about every supernatural being. Jane is a Vampire (Vamp) and a member of her community’s royalty. Jill is the Faeire Winter Queen who interacts with the human world on occasion. The female lead characters are strong, independent, sometimes snarky, sword-wielding, dagger-jabbing, (or steel-bat-swinging) badasses who you’ll be rooting for straight out of the gate. Oh, yes, there is a dragon in the mix as well. As J.R.R. Tolkien informed us, every good fantasy needs a dragon. There is plenty of action, excitement, and globe-trotting along the way, with twists and turns that will keep you on the edge of your seat guessing what will happen next. Rose’s books are a thrill ride waiting for you to jump in and claw at anything available while you hang on for dear life.

Cover of Jill Audiobook, 3rd in the series, 

Following this first exposure to Audible, I’ve decided I much prefer listening to the three books in sequence. While waiting for JANE to be written (after having read JADE) I had forgotten some of the story and had to go back into the first book of the series and catch up a bit. I am certain I would have needed to do the same with Jane before reading Jill. However, listening to the books proved to be the best way to revisit the story in preparation for JILL. The trilogy comes to a satisfying, fitting conclusion that also directs the reader to the author’s other series which features Jewel, a budding teenage badass in her own right. Having read both available books of that series I can say that I can’t wait for the audiobooks and also look forward to the next book in that series.   

Books, Writing

Review of Justin Lee Anderson’s Carpet Diem

Carpet Diem Cover

Imagine the big bang was a little mistake that rapidly spun out of control, the result of divine siblings messing around and being unable to stop it. Of course they roll with it, wagering on which species will evolve to dominate. But the game was rigged from the outset so that it isn’t supposed to end in a stalemate.

The title Carpet Diem is a play on the Latin for “Seize the Day”. In this case, Justin Lee Anderson’s novel might be called Carpe Vestis or Seize the Rug. A unique, ancient artifact that Simon Debovar inherits from his uncle, a renowned archeologist, is the source considerable divine interest. You see, what Simon has decided to keep as his living room carpet proves to be the thirteenth and final piece of the ages contest pitting angels against demons. It is all they need to resolve the eternal competition, but according to the Rules, they must have the present owner give it to one or the other sides.

The rug, along with the rest of Simon’s considerable inheritance, came into Simon’s possession thirteen years ago after nearly all of his relations die at a family reunion, the result of an apparent accident involving pudding. As the sole named heir he becomes instantly loaded. And he, an asocial sort retreats even further from society, holed up in an apartment as an antisocial hermit who generally hates people mainly because they smell bad. Simon has disabled his doorbell to prevent anyone from ringing it. But then, after more than a decade of silence, it sounds, waking him from his sleep. He doesn’t answer the door so much from the curiosity of who might be calling but instead to learn how, after all this time, it has managed to ring. Those responsible are an unlikely pair, an angel named Daniel and a demon named Lily who have come bearing propositions. They have long since thrown in together to find the last artifact and are about to make their tempting offers to Simon in exchange. Yes, this is that kind of story, stretching the limits of imagination in the process of advancing plot and having some laughs along the way.

Justin Lee Anderson writes in the tradition of heavyweights like Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams but with a style all his own. He provides a host of bizarre and seemingly unnavigable situations for his characters, which include just about everything supernatural from witches and wizards to teleporters, ghosts and, of all things, an all-knowing deer. There are even some beings that are undefined in the nature of the universe, with unlimited abilities – just to make things more interesting. With imagination unbridled Anderson writes an absurd adventure leaving the reader wondering where it might go next. And the answer is, just about anywhere.

Uncategorized

Review of Chrissy Lessey’s The Hunted Book Two of The Crystal Coast Series

blankbook

The Hunted focuses on the interactions of the characters Chrissy Lessey created in The Secret Keepers and The Coven. The inherent conflict between the good witches of the coven in the small, picturesque coastal town of Beaufort, NC and the evil ones who are descendants of Blackbeard the pirate is extended in a thoroughly engaging way.

Chrissy Lessey 2

First, Lessey reveals more of the backstory, allowing the reader to know about 17th Century events that precipitated the coven’s hasty departure from their homes in Salem, Massachusetts. As you will remember, under the leadership of their new queen Lucia, the founding members of the coven establish their own colony. Lucia’s daughter, Charlotte and two other young witches are sacrificed to deflect the interest of Blackbeard the pirate in their island home. The young witches are taken aboard Blackbeard’s ship and, in due course, transported to the North Carolina Coast.

Susan Moore and her daughter Vanessa are direct descendants of the notorious pirate. Queen Lucia’s lineage carries to the present as Queen Patricia, her daughter and heir, Stevie, and the five-year-old Charlie, Stevie’s son, who struggles with both autism and his emerging magical powers. Patricia possesses the fabled amethyst amulet that, in the past, Queen Diana entrusted to her daughter Lucia on the fateful night that Puritan Reverend Samuel Parris precipitated the witch hunts. Diana sacrificed herself so that her coven could escape.

The Hunted picks up shortly after the conclusion of The Coven as Stevie, Dylan and Charlie attempt to make a future together. But Stevie has yet to tell her ex-husband, Sam, about her new relationship. We also learn more about what happened to Vanessa Moore in the aftermath of the explosion of the boat she was on. And finally we visit with Susan Moore, Vanessa’s mother, who the local coven has stripped of her powers and had her committed to an insane asylum.

Susan befriends Chaplain Benjamin Parris, the proud direct descendant of Samuel, intending to use his interest in eradicating witches from the world to focus on the coven. Lessey sets the key players in place for the fiery confrontation ahead.

Despite Vanessa’s failure in The Coven to secure the amethyst amulet for her mother, Susan still covets it for its ability to enhance its bearer’s powers. If she can secure the amulet her bound powers will be restored and she will become the most powerful witch in the world. She plans to use her newly restored and enhanced powers to seize control of the coven and force those who banded together against her to bow down to her as their queen. In Chaplain Parris, Susan finds a willing, if at first unwitting, assistant.

The Hunted is very well-written, fast-paced and engaging. Lessey advances the storyline masterfully, more than fulfilling the promise of The Coven. The characters feel as real as their North Carolina hometown. You expect to be able to go there and meet these fictional people who are members of The Historical Society. At the conclusion there is little doubt where the tale is heading for the third installment. I look forward to reading it.

The Hunted is due out in the Fall of 2015 from Pandamoon Publishing. Review is based on an author supplied Advance Readers Copy.

Uncategorized

Review Of The Change by Teyla Branton

The Change Cover

Teyla Branton’s The Change is book one of The Unbounded series, a fresh take on paranormal adventure. The series currently comprising four volumes, the most recent publishing earlier this summer (2014). As the introduction to the extended tale, The Change provides ample character development while establishing the foundation and associated conflicts for everything that is to come in the battle between three factions: the mortal Hunters and the two sides of nearly godlike Unbounded, the Emporium and the Renegades. Branton provides a historical basis for the conflict creating enough plausibility for the reader to suspend disbelief, a critical part of paranormal storytelling.

Branton’s writing style makes for a comfortable read providing enough variation to remain fresh and compelling as she employs first person to convey the story through the eyes as well as other senses of Erin. Barely surviving a horrendous traffic accident in which she was severely burned over seventy percent of her body, Erin learns that she possesses a gene that allows her not only to survive but also to be better than she was before as her body now replicates and repairs itself quickly.

Although near immortality at first it might seem a dream come true, the reality of her new situation casts Erin into the midst of a centuries-old battle. If that wasn’t bad enough, the Hunters that would like nothing better than rid the world of all Unbounded. In the process of self-discovery Erin is compelled to choose which side she will join. She learns that nothing about her life is easy or even what it seems including her ancestry and that her gifts that are rare even amongst the Unbounded.

The Change is full of suspense, action and intrigue with several twists and turns as the reader constantly learns more about the surreal world that exists beneath the unsuspecting noses of most mortals. With attention held from start to finish the reader reaches a conclusion that serves more as a respite than resolution. There is a good deal left to be resolved in the subsequent installments.

Teyla Branton

Link to Amazon:

#paranormal #bookreview #TheChange #TeylaBranton

Uncategorized

Response To A Challenge: Review Of Fried Windows

WP_20140613_003

From time to time I review things. Novels, music, concerts, plays and a few off the wall experiences have been fair game in the past. But I have never officially, publicly reviewed any of my own work, until now. I’m doing this on a dare, in response to a personal challenge. I will not post this review of Fried Windows anywhere like Goodreads, Amazon or anywhere else for fear of someone assuming I’m more vain than perhaps I am. I humbly submit this only because I think it might be enlightening to hear the author’s thoughts.

Of course, I’ve read Fried Windows – so many times I’ve lost count, not that I was really trying to keep track. I dare say I have read it more than anyone else ever will. I’ve read previous versions no one else has seen save for a few beta readers. I know what was deleted during the final edits and where the skeletons are hidden. What was removed and replaced in prior revisions now exists only in my memory of the original story. Also, what  triggered the creative process that resulted in the original draft is part of the story of my recent life. I’ve shared some of these insights in the past, of how I left a bad situation that was killing me and on the way produced a novel. But I have never given the work a formal, critical review.

Here goes:

Fried Windows (In A Light White Sauce) by Elgon Williams is urban fantasy meshed with various other genres including mystery and science fiction. The result is entertaining though the plot, at times, becomes complicated and twisted as the storyteller fuses the various element together and have it make some modicum of sense. Then again, does fantasy need to make sense?

Strawb is the standout supporting character. Her eccentricities are the glue that binds the amalgam, giving necessary cohesion to the storyline. Without her presence Brent, the hero, would drift aimlessly through a fantasy world he barely recalls, bouncing from one experience to the next while trying to piece together the puzzle he made of Lucy’s life.

Lucy is as an innocent child at times. After all, she is disconnected from any real world underpinnings.  This allows her to be free but she also laments what she knows is no longer within her. Brent is as attracted to her as he ever was as a child when she was his imaginary friend. But within his Carlos persona, Brent finds the desire to stay with her in the Inworld nearly irresistible. In the course of remembering things from the past Brent/Carlos realizes he was at least complicit and possibly responsible for what changed  Lucy and why she is trapped in only one world. In the process he appreciates that what he did as well as what he did not do now exposes his real world children to fates similar to Lucy’s.

Despite the seriousness underlying everything, Fried Windows was always intended to be a lot of fun. What if someone offered you a special gift of reconnecting with childhood? It’s a fantasy that perhaps we have all permitted. In a world of mortgages, car payments, bills and responsibilities, what sane person hasn’t wanted to escape for a while? In the background, as Brent experiences being a kid again it alters him. A lot of what he does seems crazy – even to himself. As readers we are left to question what is real and what is not about this curios man and his strange story. What did the mysterious organization called The Program do to him? How much responsibility do they bear for Brent’s apparently tenuous grasp on reality?

At one level we might just as well accept that Brent is bonkers and leave it at that as we go along for the ride of a lifetime. But the possibility that he is not, that what he perceives is a veiled reality that the rest of us ignore, opens endless opportunities for us to explore. And as a writer, exploring unbridled imagination is a way to find artistic expression.

I won’t give any overall star rating to my own work. I find the awarding of stars counter productive, anyway. How can one equate the works of two different authors and determine that both being excellent deserve the same rating. Also, as a reader, there are stories I like better than others but that does not diminish the effort that went into creating the story. No doubt some will find areas that could be improved in Fried Windows. Each of us might write this story differently. But I feel the book does its job, establishing the foundation for what is yet to come as the real world learns more about Brent Woods and his multiple layered fantasy universe.

There, was that so hard? At the risk of seeming self-aggrandizing, I am posting this review. If it comes off as self-promotion, so be it. I would have never written Fried Windows if I did not intend for others to read it. Certainly, I would have never gone through the extended process of publishing it if I did not believe in the story. Whether you buy it as an eBook or paperback, rent it, borrow it or whatever, I hope you enjoy the experience of reading it. I also hope you learn not to assume things about the nature around you. What we believe in is a matter perspective and perception, after all.

Me crop 2

#FriedWindows #ElgonWilliams #author #NewReleaseBooks #MustReadBooks #Writing #BookReview

 

Uncategorized

Put off that beach trip… Review of Regina West’s The Long Way Home

My advice: put a hold on the beach trip until your copy of Regina West’s new novel arrives. The Long Way Home is this summer’s must read. But you don’t have long to wait. It’s due out at the end of the July in eBook and paperback.

Twilah Dunn is a partner in a successful, LA-based, advertising firm. In fact, her ideas and skill with the clients has made the firm what it is. But one day her comfortable life is turned upside-down. She receives a phone call from her old hometown. Her father with whom she did not have the best of relationships has died. She goes to the house she shares with her fiancé needing comfort from him but instead catches him in bed cheating on her with her best friend. Suddenly, her trip back to her North Carolina roots to settle her father’s final affairs takes on a completely new purpose. In the process of getting away from her present she discovers a new potential for a future she never expected.

Although The Long Way Home is a romance in every sense, it is also about relationships. This well-crafted love story brings together two people whose pasts have all but defeated them. Drawn to one another by circumstance as well as mutual need, Twilah Dunn and Aidan Perry discover deeper connections to the people of a small Southern town and the land of her ancestors as the two of them address intense desires for one another.

The book is introduces us to memorable characters and through realistic dialogue. The pacing effectively delivers the combination of mystery and suspense along with the steamy bits you expect from the genre. The result holds undivided attention from start to conclusion. Regina West distinguishes herself as a storyteller, creating a compelling tale about friendships and family where traditional small town values collide with reality of the modern life.

Regina West

#mustreadbooks #bookreview #newreleasebooks #TheLongWayHome #ReginaWest, #newauthor

Uncategorized

Another day, another five-star review for Fried Windows

jeff-skinner-main-author-page-background

This one comes from Jeff Skinner, Toronto, Canada based author of the soon to be released The Vaccine’s Agenda:

Don’t let the title fool you, this book is quirky and fun. It’s not the serious tome the title implies. I started the story with a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory feel, where you enter a world of pure imagination where everything is possible. The Carlos storyline was an interesting twist, and most authors would be content with this storyline. Elgon takes us further; the book changes to include the darker side of thought and the effects they can have long after you think you stop thinking. Elgon is able to take the reader on a ride, straddling the line between dream and reality, where the confines of one are not as defined as they are for most of us.

As a father with a young daughter, I was drawn in by the danger in this book and how Elgon was able to make it feel real.

This was a book I enjoyed reading and would gladly recommend to my friends.

#fivestar #bookreview #FriedWindows #ElgonWilliams #newreleasebook