Category Archives: Book Reviews

Planet of Men

Planet of Men (Enigma Book 2) by [Crane, David]

Planet of Men: Book 2 of Enigma follows Peter Blackwood as he tries to save his planet Enigma from the lurking dangers of invasion and the alien red cloud. Accompanying him are a ragtag bunch of rebel smugglers as he tries to find and activate the Heart of the Sun before it is too late. Despite his personal struggles and sacrifices, Blackwood has to keep a brave outlook in the face of danger, inventing new, ingenious strategies and tactics to keep the enemy armies at bay.

The starting scene of the book immediately drew me in. The way the author kept lulling me into a sense of calm and then suddenly bringing in the action was startling and always kept me on edge. Peter Blackwood, the protagonist is one of the most relatable protagonists I have read in awhile. He is brave and trying to do his best in the hostile situations he keeps finding himself in. This is not to say that he does not have flaws, because he does. And the fact that we are let in to see him fighting his internal and external demons adds to his wonderful and very real character. He represented a persons desire for freedom and equality, without losing their humanity. I could almost see him as being the male equivalent to Katniss Everdeen of the Hunger Games.

The female characters in this story were also depicted as strong and inspiring. Both Sachiko Nomura and Lita Sandir were both well fleshed-out characters. Their lives existed beyond being simply narrative tools for the story, and I loved both of their personalities.

The imagination behind the weapons and battle methods used in the story were impressive. I usually find myself zoning out in fantasy fiction books when an extremely complicated and difficult-to-follow action sequence comes up. However, that was not the case here. David Crane is an expert at keeping the reader engaged throughout the scene, while keeping it easy to follow.

The insidious presence of the alien red cloud was also one of the most unique antagonistic presences I have come across in sci-fi. The omnipresent danger always lurking around the corner, catching every single misstep- I got chills at the simple but terrifying reality of the situation. This was a gripping book and perfect for anyone with an interest in science fiction and fantasy.

Pages: 231 | ASIN: B008D535S8

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One Queen Of An Ending

One Queen of an Ending is book three in Zachary Ryan’s The High School Queens Trilogy. The Johnson Prep friends and enemies are back for one last volume. Instead of enjoying easy, carefree days, these teens are at each other’s throats, at times almost literally. The book is full of high school drama that is reminiscent of the movie Heathers and Mean Girls with a bit of a Carrie-like twist.

If you think you have problems, this book will make you thankful for your likely mundane life in comparison. The characters have to deal with and/or create family drama, daddy issues, sex tapes, prostitution, tons of accusations, funerals, blackmail, and maybe even more murder. Parents even pit their kids against each other. I felt like absolutely no one felt trustworthy and no moment was peaceful in this fast-paced whirlwind of a read.

If a reader blushes easily or shies away from profanity and/or sexual situations, this book is probably not the best choice for them. But if vulgar words and sexual innuendo don’t bother you then you will find plenty of scandalous moments that will keep your interest piqued. The book also deals with LGBT issues along with other problems that young adults face through high school and into adult hood. One Queen of an Ending is a provocative conclusion to a trilogy, with its sexual and curse-peppered language, even though it has that classic high school feel; I think it’s safe to say that this novel is edgy at best and risque at worst; a step away from the CW channel and a step toward HBO.

The constant vulgarity and profanity was a bit of a turn off for me. I don’t usually mind it, but it seemed like it was every other word in some parts. Even though I understood its use for setting the tone and character, I think a little bit of restraint could have gone a long way with some of it.

One Queen of an Ending has good ideas and deep discourse on social issues facing young adults. I enjoyed the changes in narratives of the different characters because I was able to see the story from their perspective. Many twists in the story and interlacing of characters, punctuated by ‘oh-my-god’ moments makes this book an emotional roller coaster of an ending that is a must read for fans of the series and Zachary Ryan.

Pages: 226 | ASIN: B07WRF47PJ

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Requiem, Changing Times

Requiem, Changing Times by [Parker, R. J.]

Banks and O’Neil are on a mission, and they have a defined target: Clint Holden. Obtaining access to one Clint Holden will not be the easiest of tasks, though. Making their way from their own world to Clint’s is the first obstacle. Finding him among the masses of country folk is their second. Standing, unknowingly, in their way is Jason Cooper, a washed-up police officer still biding his time on the force. Banks and O’Neil face some interesting obstacles as they search for Clint Holden and seek to accomplish their mission. If they can get past Cooper, finding Clint will be a breeze, or will it?

Requiem, Changing Times, by R.J. Parker, is an adventure of otherworldly proportions. Peppered with humor, steeped in suspense, and filled with everything fantasy fans seek, Parker’s novel delivers it all.

I enjoy humor in any fiction book I read. Some plots call for it more than others. Parker understands this better than anyone. Throughout this unique plot alternately set on Earth and beyond, Parker manages quite well to give lighthearted lines to his cast of characters. Their exchanges are welcome breaks to some of the more intensely focused exchanges.

One aspect of the book that did tend to interfere with the flow was the introduction of accents by some of the characters. Rather thick and intricate accents permeate much of the reading and require some rescanning of text to fully grasp the character’s intent. While I am all for accents and a true-to-life feel, these accents seemed to halt the flow somewhat.

Parker introduces Clint and Corbin as relatable characters readers will appreciate and find likable. Watching the entire adventure unfold with school-age boys as the key protagonists makes the story all the more relatable. Readers who want the feel of the adventure stories from their youth will find Requiem, Changing Times right up their alley. Complete with school drama and a teacher every reader will love to hate, Parker’s novel sets up a fantastic background for the two main characters, Clint and Corbin.

I highly recommend Requiem, Changing Times to any reader seeking a new science fiction fantasy. Those of us intrigued with stories of the extraterrestrial will find Clint and Corbin’s adventure a fast-paced quick read for its length. Memorable characters and a unique set of circumstances involving the two young boys make Requiem, Changing Times a must-read.

Pages: 450 | ASIN: B07XY439NX

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Remember, No Matter What; Chin UP, Tits Out

Chick lit: Remember, no matter what; Chin UP, Tits Out: A chick lit romantic comedy (Chin UP, Tits Out: A chick lit comedy series) by [Oh, Miranda]

Remember, No Matter What; Chin UP, Tits Out by Miranda Oh centers around an 18 year-old girl named Hadley Hope McLeary. The story begins with Hadley working at a fair in Winnipeg, Canada. She meets a handsome boy named Riaan who is from Africa. They fall in love but when the fair comes to an end, he has to continue traveling to other fairs until going back to his country. Devastated from being apart, they do their best to have a long distance relationship. They plan to find Riaan a working visa to enter Canada again, but it is a long and difficult task. They do everything they can to be together, but will they manage to get the visa? Can their love withstand the long months apart?

The authors uniquely positive attitude towards life shines through in the tone and style of this fun romance novel. The writing style is absorbing and easy flowing, which for me, is starkly different from many romance novels in the genre. Miranda Oh uses colloquial vocabulary, not the typical punctuated dialogue, that adds depth to both the characters and the story. I felt like this would be a fabulous Rom-Com movie; a feel good roller-coaster of emotion.

The plot is positively campy and the emotion is genuine and deep, but I felt that the the pace was a little fast. Many events happen quickly without giving me a moment to contemplate what just happened or guess what might happen next; but this is a personal preference.

Hadley and Riaan are exceptional and well developed characters, but I felt that I knew a lot about Hadley and not so much about Riaan. Their families come up every now and again but I would have liked more background on their families; mostly because I wanted to see how Miranda Oh’s amusing perspective would have portrayed them.

All in all, this is a very enjoyable romance novel that was difficult to put down. This is a perfect read for the weekend. I look forward to reading the second book in this series. I highly recommend reading this beautiful romance story.

Pages: 77 | ASIN:  B01BQ8RJ9Y

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Just Finish!

Just Finish!: Don't think you can; KNOW you can by [Kachmarski, Sean]

Sean Kachmarski was overweight and out of shape. He would laze around his couch but when he got off it, he really got off it. He got up and ran. Not very quickly but his commitment despite not being an athlete was impressive. This is a story of one regular everyday man overcoming his personal limitations to do something wonderful, impressive and to see things through.

This is not a motivational story for the overachiever, the one who wins everything. It is a motivational story for the average person. The person who tries to achieve something by sheer will. It is a story of the trials and tribulations that come with committing to something and the urge to quit becomes so strong that you almost choke from it.

Sean Kachmarski has bared all in this inspirational book. He has let the reader see his whole journey. The bad, the ugly and the fortunate. The candid narration of his story from the futon to the lineup is not only inspiring; it is a kick in the butt for anyone who may be stuck in a rut.

Regular folks need motivational stories from other regular folks. Imagine an overweight unfit person being told how they can run a marathon by a seasoned athlete. If you were the overweight person, you would not believe it.

The way Sean tells this story makes it relatable. He makes his story interesting by relating personal stories with simple language. The story is relatable but its unique perspective gives the reader a heartfelt literary experience.

Sean Kachmarski delivers a down to earth story about the human spirit and the will to change yourself. By the end of the book, you really will know you can. You will no longer doubt your ability. His positivity is infectious and something I admired. This is a book you will both enjoy and benefit from.

Pages: 205 | ASIN: B084BVCDD2

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Murder in the Atchafalaya

Murder in the Atchafalaya (Hawk Theriot and Kristi Blocker Book 1) by [Riley, Jim]

Jim Riley’s book, Murder in the Atchafalya, is the story of treasury agent, Kristi Blocker who bravely delves into the swamps of Louisiana to solve the murders of her two fellow agents. Things go bottom side up relatively quickly for Kristi. Some villainous figures force her hand, and she defends herself. Subsequently, she flees deeper into the unfamiliar bayou. She finds herself literally up a tree in order to survive the elements and alligators. Lucky for Kristi, Federal Agent, Hawk Theriot shows up on the scene none too soon.

The book begins with Kristi looking for answers about the murdered agents. As quick as a blink, tables turn and turn back as there is a power struggle between the agent and a man who could be involved in the murders. Quick-witted Kristi proves over and over that she will never give up without a fight, and she can generally outsmart anyone in her path. With a new teammate in Agent Theriot, the pair seems like an unstoppable duo.

This is a great book that will keep readers interested from the very first page. The agents always have tough and dangerous work to do. It feels like there is danger around every corner. Tackling, gunslinging, and dodging bullets paired with the already dangerous Louisiana bayou compounds the hazard. This builds the excitement level and keeps things interesting. There is hardly a dull moment. All of these things make the book a real page-turner with the makings of an action movie. I did notice a few (very few) errors in the book. Over all, though, it was very well-written, exciting, and an enjoyable read.

Readers will likely notice the good vs. evil sort of theme that is prominent in age old tales present in Atchafalaya. Our hero figures are met early in the book as they are fighting the forces of evil from the jump. We are thrown into the good guys fighting the bad, and the bad fighting back. The main characters are likeable, and there are corrupt, menacing characters that readers will love to hate. It doesn’t hurt that the agents are smart, capable, tough, and charismatic.

I also love the use of local color in the book. I can just see the store called T-Bob’s Grocery that is frequently mentioned. The language of the Louisiana natives, as well as their customs and cuisine are present throughout the book. Hawk shops for crawfish and shrimp boudin in the store, helping to bring that undeniable Louisiana basin feel.

Riley made a fan of me. I really enjoyed getting to know the characters, and would love to see where they go from here. I enjoyed Riley’s writing style and the southern influence that crept in. I highly recommend it.

Pages: 209 | ASIN: B084SPW5G6

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Stuart Duffelmeyer and the Masters of Plagues

Stuart Duffelmeyer and the Masters of Plagues by [Reynolds, Dewey B.]

Stuart Duffelmeyer has no idea what is about to hit him. He’s a loner in his own right, a guy with few true friends, and has a complete inability to foresee his own downfall. When a group of “friends” arrange to give him a night to remember, he agrees with no second thought. No one in the room on that fateful day could ever have dreamed that Stuart was deeply tied to the supernatural and protected in his most vulnerable moments by forces more powerful than anything any of them had ever seen.

Stuart Duffelmeyer and the Masters of Plagues, a novel by Dewey Reynolds, lays out the experiences of one Stuart Duffelmeyer–a successful young man who yearns for a relationship and genuine friendship. Stuart is easily coerced and falls for almost anything. When he agrees to meet up with the group of his NYU classmates at a hotel, he is unknowingly walking into a trap. What they don’t know is that Stuart is covered in a veil of protection none of them can see–even Stuart.

Reynolds takes the story of a bullied man to a whole new level. With the introduction of the supernatural via an alienesque rat, the author gives his main character a unique depth. I have to admit that I didn’t see this aspect of Stuart’s experience coming in the first few pages. The author blends the supernatural into the story line quickly and smoothly.

There are eight characters in addition to Stuart who play an important role in his demise. Any more than three key characters tends to cause confusion for readers. I found myself rereading and double checking myself as I tried to keep these eight characters straight. This, along with the repetitive nature of some dialogue and exchanges, keeps this book from being perfect.

Reynolds does a magnificent job of developing Stuart’s character throughout the story. A clear picture is painted of a young man who is isolated, ridiculed by others, but grows increasingly determined to change his life. Nowhere else will readers find a weak character more strongly developed, nor will they find a better example of overcoming bullies.

Stuart’s otherworldly experiences make his story even more enthralling. The powers he is offered are representative of the power inside the victims of each and every bully. By creating a fantasy with a relatable main character, Reynolds has given readers a new kind of hero–one who is strong in ways readers can not only appreciate but cheer.

Fans of fantasy and those who yearn to cheer for the underdog will find a new favorite character in Stuart Duffelmeyer.

Pages: 286 | ASIN: B07YXCXG61

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Shave Ice Paradise

Gina is on a mission, and it’s one she never envisioned herself having to accept. When Aunt Nalani is found dead, Gina is asked to dig further into the case as the police don’t see a reason to do so. Known for her uncanny ability to find things, Gina finds it difficult to say no to her aunt’s good friend and her pleas for answers. Her investigation leads her to Curly, and things are never the same. As the two work on the down low with Moreno, Gina’s good friend and confidant, they uncover a trail of clues they can only begin to understand.

Shave Ice Paradise, a novel by Mark Daniel Seiler, details the mysterious death of Nalani and Gina’s quest to uncover the truth about her disappearance and discovery of her body in a place Gina is sure she’d never been. When Gina meets Curly, the entire tone of the book changes, and the story takes on a new feel. Gina and Curly are an unlikely pair indeed.  The addition of Curly adds a welcome dimension to what could have been a sobering plot with a cast of mourning characters. I appreciated the occasional comedic relief provided between both Gina and Curly and Curly and Moreno.

Seiler writes a fast-paced mystery novel. Gina and Curly move quickly from one site to the next and rapidly begin putting two and two together. I am impressed with the way Seiler is able to relate one clue to the next and keep the pace of the story flowing smoothly. In addition, the dialogue throughout the book is engaging and helps to develop a cast of well-developed characters. I found myself trying to work through the clues even when I took breaks in the reading.

There is some profanity throughout the book though not enough to deter readers from continuing. Seiler assigns this type of language appropriately to his characters, and it adds to the story by helping readers visualize how emotionally invested they are in the events. I am not one to use profanity in my own writing, but I appreciate it when it adds to the plot.

I have always been a fan of mysteries. There is nothing quite like a well-done mystery, and Seiler has more than achieved that through Gina and Curly. I highly recommend mystery fans pick up a copy.

Pages: 250 | ISBN: 1947003682

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