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Review of Teyla Branton’s The Escape, Book 3 of The Unbounded Series

The Escape

The Escape is the third book of the Unbounded Series by Teyla Branton. If you aren’t familiar with the series, here’s a brief overview.

Erin is Unbounded meaning she is quasi-immortal. Like other Unbounded she was born like every other human but around the time she turned thirty she experienced the Change. The Unbounded have the ability to recover from serious, injuries that to mortals would be fatal. Their bodies are designed to survive and regenerate. This also means that their reproduction is almost a certain consequence of sexual intercourse.

Erin might live for two thousand years unless someone severs the connections between her brain, hearts and reproductive organs. She belongs to a group of other Unbounded called Renegades. A rival group called the Emporium wants to take over the world and subjugate all mortals to servitude and to do so they must overcome resistance of the Renegades either converting them to their cause of eliminated them – usually the latter unless the renegade possesses an ability the Emporium desires for their breeding experiments.

Meanwhile a group of mortals called the Hunters want to get rid of all both groups of Unbounded, Fortunately for the Unbounded the Hunters aren’t all that bright. Still, they are dangerous adversaries.

In The Escape, Erin is learning more and more about her special ability, called sensing. In the previous episode she realized that she could sometimes borrow abilities from other unbounded and she also learned that sometimes she could penetrate the mental defense of others. Here she must use what she has learned about herself in combination with the abilities of others we met in the previous installments. The objective is facilitating the escape of Renegade prisoners from the Emporium strong hold in New York City. In the process of planning Erin discovers the nature of the Emporium’s evil plans to take control of the government through subterfuge and murder.

Although I’m not normally a huge fan of paranormal novels I have seemed o read a number of them in the past year. II enjoy the unleashed imagination that is possible when characters can defy the laws of physics – or rather utilize or explore other, undiscovered levels of the physical universe. It makes for good fantasy, especially if the story is told with enough realism that a reader can easily be drawn into the story.

Branton excels in character development giving us an array of people to care about throughout the telling. This volume has action, mystery, suspense and romance blended together with a healthy dose of political intrigue. I am looking forward to reading The Reckoning, Unbounded Book 4, already available at Amazon.

Teyla Branton

#TheEscape #TheChange #TheCure #TheReckoning #TeylaBranton #Paranormal #Romance #TheUnbounded #Renegades

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My Goodreads Review of Crimson Forest by Christine Gabriel

Crimson Forest (Crimson Chronicles Volume 1)Crimson Forest by Christine Gabriel

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The small town of Buffalo, Wisconsin, population 650-something, is noteworthy for one thing, its Crimson Forest. A major attraction to hunters during the season legend has it that mysterious creatures prowl the forest looking for unsuspecting victims, something supported by random disappearances in the past.

Seventeen-year-old Angelina and her mother own and operate a popular bed and breakfast. When the poor girl was twelve years old her father disappeared in the forest leaving them alone. Five years later, during the fall after her graduation when many of her friends from her graduating class have gone off to college, Angelina remains at home helping her mother prepare for the onslaught of hunters in anticipation of the season.

All Angelina has ever wanted was to be normal but like the forest she has secrets. It’s just that she hasn’t yet realized what they are. But her life is about to change dramatically and the adventure will lead her to rediscover secrets about herself and the mysterious forest. In the process she will learn how far from normal she is.

Some of the memorable characters are endearing while others are despicable, as Christine Gabriel has created a creepy setting for all kinds of unpredictable paranormal activity. She has blended realism with fantasy in a way that makes the outrageous seem plausible, creating a world where magic exists as surely as the strange red colored moss that covers the forest’s floor and clings to the trunks of its trees. The question becomes what sort of mythical creatures don’t inhabit this strange world? Although this is not a book about vampires, there is one named Stephen who offers a bit of comic relief. For example, he gets excited over the mention of a potential blood bath toward the climax of the story and later on Angelina tells him to go stake himself.

Crimson Forest is the first in The Crimson Chronicles series. It launched on August 30, 2014 with the sequel Crimson Moon set to follow sometime in Spring 2015.

View all my reviews

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Review For Christine Gabriel’s Crimson Forest

The small town of Buffalo, Wisconsin, population 650-something, is noteworthy for one thing, its Crimson Forest. A major attraction to hunters during the season legend has it that mysterious creatures prowl the forest looking for unsuspecting victims, something supported by random disappearances in the past.

Seventeen-year-old Angelina and her mother own and operate a popular bed and breakfast. When the poor girl was twelve years old her father disappeared in the forest leaving them alone. Five years later, during the fall after her graduation when many of her friends from her graduating class have gone off to college, Angelina remains at home helping her mother prepare for the onslaught of hunters in anticipation of the season.

All Angelina has ever wanted was to be normal but like the forest she has secrets. It’s just that she hasn’t yet realized what they are. But her life is about to change dramatically and the adventure will lead her to rediscover secrets about herself and the mysterious forest. In the process she will learn how far from normal she is.

Some of the memorable characters are endearing while others are despicable, as Christine Gabriel has created a creepy setting for all kinds of unpredictable paranormal activity. She has blended realism with fantasy in a way that makes the outrageous seem plausible, creating a world where magic exists as surely as the strange red colored moss that covers the forest’s floor and clings to the trunks of its trees. The question becomes what sort of mythical creatures don’t inhabit this strange world? Although this is not a book about vampires, there is one named Stephen who offers a bit of comic relief. For example, he gets excited over the mention of a potential blood bath toward the climax of the story and later on Angelina tells him to go stake himself.

Crimson Forest is the first in The Crimson Chronicles series. It is due to launch on August 30, 2014 with the sequel Crimson Moon set to follow sometime in Spring 2015.

CG1

#ChristineGabriel #CrimsonForest #NewReleaseBook #Paranormal #Romance

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Review of Skipping Stones by J. B. McGee

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Skipping Stones by J.B. McGee explores the full scale of human emotions from despair to elation. For the most part it is Alexandria Hart, (Alex for short) beginning with the summer that she’s fifteen years old. She chooses to spend time with her grandparents in Graniteville, South Carolina instead of accompanying her parents on a European vacation. Tragedy strikes and her world is turned inside out. While grieving, fate delivers diversion, a seventeen-year-old named Drew Foster who promises to teach her everything he knows including how to skip stones across a tranquil pool in the creek near Alex’s grandparents house. Over the course of the ensuing month, Drew becomes the reason she can move past the harshest of times in her life.

Skipping Stones

Skipping Stones is about surviving as much as growing up. It is a well-written story both compelling and evenly paced filled with emotional peaks and valleys. As Alex matures she deal with many kinds of loss in her quest for love and purpose to her life, including a desire to save lives. The endearing characters are memorable creating a page-turner that follows Alex from teenager to young woman as she wrestles with life changing choices.

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Authors Bio (From Amazon profile):

J.B. McGee was born and raised in Aiken, South Carolina. After graduating from South Aiken High School, she toured Europe as a member of the 1999 International Bands of America Tour, playing the clarinet. While attending Converse College, an all girls school in Spartanburg, South Carolina, she visited Charleston often. It quickly became one of her favorite vacation spots. She met her husband, Chad, during Christmas break her freshman year, and they married in 2001. They moved back to her hometown. In 2005, the couple welcomed their first son, Noah. J.B. finished her Bachelor of Arts degree in Early Childhood Education at the University of South Carolina-Aiken in 2006. During her time studying children’s literature, a professor had encouraged her to become a writer.

In 2007, she welcomed their second child, Jonah, and she became a stay at home mom/entrepreneur. In 2009, they found out their two children and J.B. have Mitochondrial Disease. In 2011, a diagnosis also was given to Chad. Please take a moment and learn more about Mitochondrial Disease. Awareness is key to this disease that has no cure or treatments.

J.B. McGee and her family now reside in Buford, Georgia, to be closer to their children’s medical team. After a passion for reading had been re-ignited, J.B. decided to finally give writing a shot. She is an Amazon Top 100 bestselling author of her debut series, the ‘This’ Series.

J.B. is represented by Stacey Donaghy with Donaghy Literary Group.

To buy Stepping Stones:

#BookReview #Romance #JBMcGee #SteppingStones

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Karen Perkins’ Valkyrie Series – Pirates and Romance

Karen Perkins

Well written historical fiction should cause the reader to wonder what really happened – to ask what in the story is fact and what is not. If the story is well executed it should be told without anachronism or other annoying flaws, accurately depicting the period in question. Ultimately it should be the kind of story that leaves the reader thinking that if things didn’t happen exactly this way, perhaps they should have.

The Valkyrie Series is a pirate tale with a love story of two thrown in to the mix. In the background it also points out some of the more glaring social issues of the period such as colonial exploitation, slavery and greed along with the institutionalized oppression of women and man’s inhumanity as contrasted to the desire for freedom of choice.

Karen Perkins begins her tale with Ill Wind, a novella length story that introduces us to 14-year-old Gabriella Berryngton. Set in the late 17th Century we are transported back to a time with very different rules. Although her story begins in colonial Massachusetts Bay her father arranges for her marriage of convenience to Erik the son of a wealthy Dutch businessman named Jan van Ecken. Against her will she is taken aboard a ship to the Caribbean island of Sayba. On the way she learns that van Ecken’s business associations are at least questionable and, as the story progresses, she learns that she is aboard a pirate ship. Her adventure as well as a great deal of suffering at the hand of overbearing and oppressive men is just beginning.

Gabriella begins as an innocent girl but rapidly becomes experienced in the darker aspects of the real world into which her father is forced her, a dangerous existence defined by wealth, slavery and nefarious dealings with some unsavory characters.

The second book of the series, Dead Reckoning is a true novel in length and in structure. It is told from the perspective of two character, Leo Santiago who we met briefly in Ill Wind and Gabriella van Ecken, the previous is bent on revenge against the pirates that tortured and raped his mother before killing her and the latter seeking escape and freedom from her imprisonment as the nominal wife of Erik.

Dead Reckoning has the feel of a epic journey into the world of privateers marauding the Caribbean. Again the attention to detail in the descriptions of the ships and the character’s clothing is second to none. The level of accuracy makes it easy to lose oneself in the adventure, getting so involved in the story that you continue to think about the character and wonder at the outcome of their stories long after you set the books aside. Karen Perkins is herself an accomplished competition sailor, so it comes as little surprise that the nautical terms and descriptions of the ships, their rigging and the basics of how to sail such marvels of construction is meticulously factual, leaving the reader feeling as if he or she has learned something and might even be able to survive aboard such ships.

The third installment of the Valkyre series is Look Sharpe! Having read the books in the numerical order as perhaps intended is not necessary, though. Since Karen Perkins structured the story from the perspectives of its several main characters the reader might actually start by reading Look Sharpe! and gain a different perspective on the characters and their stories. Though I found Dead Reckoning to be the most complete novel in a traditional sense, each of the three installments has its strengths as a story.

The risk of telling a story from multiple perspectives is that the story gets lost in all the background details and the reader gets bored with hearing the same bits told over and over, albeit from differing perspectives. But here Perkins takes care to avoid redundancies. Although there is some overlap in the details, having each character’s unique point of view is actually enlightening. The way Perkins presents the material is effective instead of distracting. However, there is a huge problem in structuring a story as multiple character profiles. And the Valkyrie Series story arc suffers in the process.

There is a different way of presenting the story using a mixture of character point of view and chronological order. In order to create the story in such a manner the entire story must be drafted first then arranged into a logical flow. The difficulty in this method is that it is time consuming and requires an author to extend work on an epic tale such as this over a span of years instead of the usual few months it takes to draft a novel.

My problem with giving any of the books in this series a complete endorsement is that two of the other books feel incomplete as novels and the one that merit the title, Dead Reckoning, leaves many questions unanswered. Look Sharpe! answers the questions of who is Henry Sharpe and why does he act as he does in assisting the events in Dead Reckoning. I can assume that the soon to be released Ready About and the short story Where Away also serve to fill in the backstory’s details.

Structural problems aside, the Valkyrie Series has a lot to offer for those who love historical pieces about pirates and high seas adventures. The character based story telling delivered in first person lends intimacy in the connection between the reader and the characters making for a enjoyable read. Had the story arc of the entire series been used as an overall structure for telling the series from the perspectives of Gabriella, Leo and Sharpe (and perhaps Magdalena) I believe the books could have made a stronger impact as works of epic adventure literature. Perhaps, once the story is completely told, the author might reorganize the various parts and tell the story chronologically through each character’s perspectives.

The quality of writing is first rate with only a few minor editing errors. Some of the spellings are peculiar to the period and the fact that the author is British. Single quotes are used in dialogue, which is not a big deal to American readers who have read some British authors in the past. Because of the manner of telling through the eyes of multiple characters there are jumps in time and a few instances of overlapping events seen from different points of view.

Regardless of the structural shortcomings of the series I highly recommend these books. Perkins is a gifted writer. Her characters live and breathe for the reader.

The Valkyrie Series

Trailer:

https://www.goodreads.com/videos/66279-the-valkyrie-series

To buy on Amazon.com:

Ill Wind

Ill Wind : http://tinyurl.com/omwgyml

Dead Reckoning

Dead Reckoning: http://tinyurl.com/qbkpurv

Look Sharpe!

Look Sharpe!: http://tinyurl.com/op6e88l

#pirates #HighSeas #Adventure #Caribbean #KarenPerkins #romance