January 18, 2018

Curses of Scale by S.D. Reeves

Curses of Scale is an exciting fantasy novel written by S.D. Reeves.

The book starts with a druid on the run to finish a ritual to save his wife from a terrible curse. It, then, flashes back to his fifteen-year old wife, Niena, who wants so badly to be a bard, which is against her grandfather’s wishes.   

Attacks of a dreadful fire-breathing dragon throw the Empire into chaos and propel Niena through the fey realm. Guided by the lord of the fairies, Niena discovers things about herself she never knew before, first of which is the secret of the lyre she has in her possession.

Meanwhile, Niena’s grandfather, an army veteran, is on her trail with a few hunters leading a group of refugees. More than the safety of the people he is leading, he wants to be reunited with her granddaughter.

This is an exciting and action-filled fantasy novel with a very promising premise. Told in the third person and in alternating perspective between the druid Calem, Niena and Niena’s grandfather Marny, the book boasts of vividly described settings and moving and exciting action scenes. Unexpected revelations await the readers and the book culminates in a satisfactory ending.

However, I find the initial chapters too confusing making the story difficult to follow. Moreover, I find the pacing inconsistent that while some parts are exciting and suspenseful, other parts are dragging because of some details which I find either irrelevant or scrupulously described and that other readers may find too verbose. Furthermore, though the ending is very much to my liking, it leaves some questions unanswered. In addition, I find the use of figurative language, particularly that of personification, a little overdone. Finally, it feels strange to find the words ‘college and taxi services’ in the period described in this story.

Still, I find this book very enjoyable especially the action scenes, which make reading feels like watching a movie, and of course the unexpected revelations.

Congratulations to S.D. Reeves (@SD_Reeves) on such an enjoyable book! For more works by the author, click HERE

January 12, 2018

Maggie Elizabeth Harrington by D.J. Swykert

Maggie Elizabeth Harrington: I Live in Two Worlds is the first in the Maggie Elizabeth Harrington Two Book Series created by D.J. Swykert.

Maggie Elizabeth is a sweet, loving and responsible thirteen year old girl who lives in two worlds, the real world and the dream world. She lives in the real world where her mother is dead and her father hardly talks to her. She lives in her dream world where everything is exactly how she wants it to be.

In an era when children are seen not heard; when girls learn to cook, sew and do household chores; and when wives wait for their husbands at home, Maggie Elizabeth questions the norm and struggles to break free by saving a pack of wolf cubs from a bounty hunter, with the help of Tommie Stetter, the love of her young life.

Told in the point of view of a thirteen year old girl in the 1890s, this is a poignant and memorable story of a motherless girl with only her grandmother to mentor her in womanly skills. The author successfully depicts the longing and confusion of a girl whose father prefers talking to God over talking to his daughter. Moreover, the story shows how Maggie Elizabeth, deprived of her father’s love but with her own heart full of love for others turns to a pack of wolf cubs, cares for them and does everything in her power to save them. Finally, the author realistically portrays the candor, audacity and intensity of young love. Anybody who has fallen in love at a young age could relate to Maggie Elizabeth: the power of a glimpse with unspoken promises, the weight of a smile that conveys everything the heart feels, the potency of first kiss and the prick of jealousy.

For such a relatively short book, the characters are remarkably well-developed that they almost seem real and living beings.

Congratulations to D. J. Swykert (@djswykert) on such an enjoyable book. To learn more abot Maggie Elizabeth and Tommie Stetter, check out Alpha Wolves.

January 9, 2018

Srepska by Lucas Sterling

Srepska is an international political and financial thriller written by Lucas Sterling.

After a cyber-attack that paralyzes the payment system in Kenya, Fredric Ulrich of Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), the German intelligence agency, is sent to Budapest to investigate. Besides getting nearly killed, Fredric discovers a plot of Srepska, a criminal cabal, to launch a massive cyber-attack to destabilize the economy of the United States.

Not knowing whom to trust, Ulrich acts warily but chooses to stay in the US to watch everything unfold.

Meanwhile, Lars Christopherson receives an offer too lucrative to refuse. As he works on the job, he comes across with Ulrich and they, themselves, become targets of a powerful cabal wreaking havoc in the mightiest country in the world.   

Told in the third person perspective, this is an exciting political and financial thriller with a great and timely plot. Subjects include cybercrime, blackmail, kidnapping and unexpected partnership and friendship. The book is, all in all, an easy read and given the realistic description of the panic caused by payment system failure a very interesting reading material.

What I like most about the book is the likelihood that something like this would happen anytime in any country. It displays how dependent we have become to online transactions and the paralyzing effect it would have on our daily lives. It sends various messages for readers to contemplate on.

However, though it is for the most part fast-paced and thrilling, some parts are somehow dragging. Moreover, I find the characters less developed than I hoped. It seems like the author focused more on the protagonists’ professional skills and abilities, military training and law degree but less on personal life. That makes it somehow difficult to connect with the characters. Finally, given the action-filled and suspenseful chapters, I find the ending less climactic than I expected.

Still, I enjoyed this book immensely. I find it a little scary which I think is part of the author’s objective in writing the novel. I recommend it to fans of political thrillers and cybercrime novels.

Congratulations to Lucas Sterling on such an exciting book!   

Srepska was an OnlineBookClub.org Book of the Day on January 2nd . You may check it out at Online Book Club.  

January 8, 2018

The Bellringer by William Timothy Murray

The Bellringer: Volume 1 of The Year of the Red Door is an exciting adventure and epic fantasy novel written by William Timothy Murray.

Robby Ribbon is a nice and fine lad in Passdale and the pride of his equally fine parents. When his cousin, Kingsman Ullin Saheed Tallin, asks him to perform a most unusual errand, Robby is eager to oblige. However, a few wrong turns along the road and an unfortunate encounter places him in an old fortress where he finds the Great Bell of Tulith Attis. Completely unaware of the significance of his actions and even of his mere presence at the old fortress, Robby inadvertently rings the bell and starts a series of events that will change not only his life but the fate of the entire Seven Realms.

Told in the third person perspective and with a consistently steady pacing, this book is an epitome of a great epic novel with no dull part or scene right from the first page down to the last. It features multiple themes including love, friendship, honor and courage among others. Settings and scenes are vividly described in minute details giving the book a movielike feeling.

Moreover, the author creates endearing, admirable and unforgettable characters first of which, of course, is Robby Ribbon, the kind albeit naïve bell ringer, a responsible son, a loyal friend, a faithful lover, and someone who always tries to do the right thing, a quality he got from his honorable parents.

What I enjoyed most about the book, besides the interesting plot and the delightful characters, is the concept of living with honor, credibility and high morals, as is the case of the entire Ribbon family. Mr. and Mrs. Ribbon are probably the best parents a child could have, the perfect neighbors and natural leaders. From these two characters alone a reader will learn a lot about how life is supposed to live.

It is, indeed, one great book. It is interesting, intense, exciting, unpredictable and undoubtedly well written. I recommend it to fans of fantasy novels especially those of The Lord of the Rings.

Enjoyable as the book is, however, it is not an easy read. It requires full attention to details, vast vocabulary and a healthy imagination to enjoy it to the fullest. Furthermore, reference to abuse and some violent scenes may not be suitable for very young readers.

Congratulations to William Timothy Murray (@WilliamInfodesk) on such a great book! For the next book in this wonderful series, check out TheNature of a Curse.

The Bellringer was an OnlineBookClub.org Book of the Day on December 29th, 2017. You may check it out at Online Book Club.

January 1, 2018

My 2018 Book List

I have read 135 books in 2017. As a book reviewer, most of those books are by independent authors while a few are mainstream books which I read for fun an amusement. This year, I made a short list of only 10 books to give space for other and most likely books by indie authors. If you are a book author, you may want to add your book on this list. 

1. Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
2. Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs
3. Gone by Michael Grant
4. The Girl on the Train by Tate Taylor
5. The Timekeeper by Mitch Albom
6. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
7. The 9th Life of Louis Drax
8. The Lost Lullaby by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller
9. Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray 
10. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

Yes. There are two classic novels on my list and yes I seriously want to read them. 

Anyways, here is the list of books I read in 2017. You may click the title for the review of a particular book. Mainstream books, however, are not reviewed, basically because I do believe they don't need it.

1. The Key by Marianne Curley
10. Winter by Marissa Meyer
26. Indeath by Cornelia Funke
38. The Shadows of Olympus
41. Nightlord Sunset by Garon Whited
48 Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
50. The Apostates Book Three: Lake of Fire by Lars Teeney
51. Artemis Fowl and the Time Paradox by Eoin Colfer
55. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J.K. Rowling
56. The Necromancer by Michael Scott
59. The Dramen Lore by Mukta Sharma
61. Hollow City by Ransom Riggs
69. Domestic Violence in Lebanon: A Depth Psychological Perspective by Maysar Sarieddine
71. The Sleepwalker Tonic by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller
75. God Without Religion: An Alternative View of Life, the Universe and Everything by Dr. Michael Arnheim
77. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
80. Furthermore by Tahere Mafiti
84. Living in Light, Love and Truth by Kaye Iliopoulos
86. Harry the Happy Mouse by ngk
93. We Are the Ants by Shawn David Hutchinson
97. Origins by Dan Brown
103. Shit My Dad Says by Justin Halpern
112. My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella
120. The Timekeeper by Mitch Albom
126. Fifty Shames of Earl Grey by Fanny Merkin
129. Superhighway by Alex Fayman
132. Holding up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

December 31, 2017

The Golden Helm by Victoria Randall

The Golden Helm:  More Tales from the Edge of Sleep is a wonderful collection of beautiful short stories written by Victoria Randall.

The book boasts of twelve interesting stories most of them quite thought-provoking, some are amusing and entertaining, while some call for self-examination.

Though I enjoyed reading all of them, my favorites include The Golden Helm, Parenthood by Choice Inc. Invests in a Time Machine, Edith’s Gift and Scent of Evil. These stories present choices. Through these well-conceived and well-written albeit relatively short stories the author portrayed situations in which the protagonist is given choices that test his/her character.

While I find the Incident in the Library and Dragonfire quite amusing and entertaining, Apple Seed and Influence are somehow thought-provoking, whereas Dinosaur Voices, Beyond the Cavern of Madmen, Silent Presence and The Unicorn in the Garden carry serious and profound messages.

The book, ultimately, displays the author’s writing skills in both the fantasy and science fiction genre. The stories are all easy to read and understand and with the book having various themes including power, morality, fear, freedom, kindness, influence, ingenuity, moral values and humanity, all of them leave something to think about.

Congratulations to Victoria Randall (@Entlover27) on such a great collection!        

December 23, 2017

Crossing the Line by Elle Knowles

Crossing the Line is a touching book written by Elle Knowles.

Helena is having trouble with Jim, her husband of thirty years. He seems to be always unavailable for her and is spending too much time with his associate. With three grown up children, a granddaughter and another grandchild on the way, Jim and Helena have too much to lose, so, Helena tries her best to pretend that everything is alright with their marriage by always justifying Jim’s unacceptable behavior.

However, things get from bad to worse when Helena discovers questionable transactions in their bank account and starts digging for more evidence of Jim’s wrongful actions.

This is a story about a strong woman’s attempt to save her marriage. This is a book about family, love and friendship among others. The author successfully depicts how far a woman would go to protect the most important thing in her life, her family. The plot, though not extraordinarily original, is eye-opening. It is touching and moving and some readers may find it relatable.

The author creates an admirable protagonist in Helena. She is the epitome of a strong, determined and independent woman. Her strength keeps her family for as long as she could while her determination leads her to the truth and sets her free.

The writing is generally spontaneous making the book an easy read. However, I find the pacing a little slow and the narrative too detailed that some parts sound unnatural. Moreover, there are some misspelled words (like then instead of than and Alley instead of Allie) though only very few are still noticeable.

Still, I enjoyed this book and I find Helena a memorable character.

Congratulations to Elle Knowles (@knowleselle) on such a touching book. For more books by the author, click HERE.

December 13, 2017

Hatching the Phoenix Egg by Joel Horn

Hatching the Phoenix Egg is the second book in the Mare Tranquillitatis Series created by Joel Horn.  

The story of the Lost Coast Rocket continues with the indefatigable Ken O’Brien’s launch in a one-way trip to Jupiter aboard Tranquility. With a limited life span of ten years, Ken resigns himself to a lonesome existence away from everything he loves the most including the green-eyed girl he has loved for most of his life.

However, a great and welcome surprise arrives, courtesy of Akira, when Ken least expects it. Now, he has a choice. But the felicity brought by that choice is cut short with the discovery of something bigger than everything Ken has ever known.

Ken is faced with a dilemma that no man has ever faced before. The immensity of the possible consequences weighs heavily on his soul as the future, or lack of it, of his beloved birth planet rests on his shoulders.

This is a suspenseful science fiction novel with some apocalyptic scenarios. Scenes vary from the sinister outer space, scalding desert to the unforgiving wilds. Just like the first in the series, this book features numerous themes including love, friendship, faith, loyalty, determination and perseverance.

For me, the most important part of the book is the emphasis on life and enjoying it to the fullest with the ones we love. The author subtly reminds us of the things we easily take for granted like time, friends and home, that we forget the value of until they are taken from us.

Needless to say I enjoy this book even more than the first. Except for some space and physics jargons which are totally foreign to me, I like everything about the book and though I don’t consider myself a fan of Ken’s I admire his tenacity and determination and I believe that if I were put in the same situations, I would do the same things he did.

Congratulations to Joel Horn on another great and enjoyable book! For more books by the same author, click HERE,                                       

December 3, 2017

The Yoke by Darrell Dunham

The Yoke is a touching and inspiring book written by Darrell Dunham.

Since his mother’s accident, Barnabas Mitchell’s life has become a constant struggle and a series of hardships and difficulties. Just when it seems like it wouldn’t get any worse, his father left and never came back. Barnabas buried himself in his studies and did very well in school. Unlike other kids his age, Barnabas had only a few preoccupations that gave meaning to his life: taking care of his mother, writing on his journal and playing basketball.  When his mother died, Barnabas lost faith in God and in people. He fell into depression. However, out of love and respect for his mother’s memory, he soldiered on.

Bill Cushman is the good looking and charming son of a rich and influential man. He is lazy and arrogant, thinks highly of himself and less of other people. He never works for what he wanted. He cheats his way through it, uses other people to get it or simply asks his father to do something about it. Wherever Barnabas goes, Bill unexpectedly shows up and makes life harder for Barnabas than it already is.

This is a wonderful and beautifully written book about one man’s struggles and unwavering determination to live a respectable and honorable life despite the seemingly endless difficulties. It is an inspiring tale of love, courage, perseverance, integrity and faith. It shows how a man with nothing to show for himself but his work ethics and credibility can make it through and be among the best in what he does. Moreover, it depicts how God works in mysterious ways by sending someone the worst person to bring out the best in him, and using the most unlikely person to bring about the change that the best and finest people could not.

The author creates admirable and endearing characters including Sam Schultz and Kyle and Sarah Williams. In the end, however, I find Stephanie Schultz my favorite. She is patient, smart and kind and she lives by her faith through and through.

The part I like the most in the book is when Barnabas was presented a choice between ending his financial difficulties for good and doing what is right without any indication of getting anything in return. For me, it was the greatest manifestation of honorability.

However, I find some parts of the narration a little bit unnatural for fiction. Moreover, as especially mentioned in the book, a part of the court case was somehow too technical and might cause some readers’ interest to falter.

Despite those issues, I enjoyed the book immensely and I recommend it to those who are looking for inspiration and to those who simply want to feel good.

Congratulations to Darrell Dunham (@DunhamAuthor) on such a marvelous book!            

The Yoke was an OnlineBookClub.org Book of the Day on November 28th. You may check it out at Online Book Club.

November 29, 2017

A World Without Color by Bernard Jan

A World Without Color is a touching novella written by Bernard Jan.

The book chronicles the last three difficult, sad, but love-filled days the author shared with his beloved cat of fourteen years and nine months. How he kept his vigil over someone he loved the most as he watched him go gradually, painfully but bravely.

More than the cat or the pet, this book is ultimately about love in its unconditional form. It depicts the extent of a person’s attachment and affection to a non-human and the love that transcends the boundaries of the species. Moreover, it describes the beauty of unreciprocated action in the name of duty and obligation as a manifestation of love. Finally, it presents the ultimate choice someone has to make: either to carry the burden of being the angel of death to the one he loves the most for the rest of his life by putting an end to the agony and suffering of his beloved or to wait for the end to come on its own as he watch the love of his life expire swiftly and painfully.  

However, this novella may be understood and totally appreciated only by readers who have the rare opportunity of experiencing that same kind of love the author felt for his cat. Regrettably, not all people, pet-owners included, have that same intimate and passionate relationship with their pets.

Congratulations to Bernard Jan (@BernardJanWorld) on such a touching novella! For more books by the author, click HERE