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I Have Demons

I Have Demons by [Adam, Christopher]

Christopher Adam’s book, I Have Demons, is a collection of three stories that are snapshots of the lives of three different people in and around the city of Ottawa, Canada. As the author describes in the preface, the main characters in these stories in some way “live on the margins,” both physically and socially. From an elderly woman who is neglected by her son and relishes any excitement she can find outside the retirement home in which she lives, to a priest who finds himself struggling to find compassion for a mentally ill man who pressures him into a uncomfortable task, to a struggling college graduate who has to put all dignity aside to try to make it in the big city, the author highlights the struggles of people who are frequently overlooked by the rest of mainstream culture.

The thing that left the biggest impression on me while reading this book was Adam’s excellent use of descriptive writing throughout his stories. His ideas become real for his readers through the way in which he is able to describe things, not just by using many adjectives, but by using detailed imagery that makes his story seem real. Everything that he describes, from a blustery wind to an old woman’s hands, takes shape in the reader’s mind through his words and metaphors. The descriptions create a feeling of uniqueness in his stories, and in their own way, can help the reader to see ordinary things from a fresh perspective.

Having said that, I don’t think the title matches the content of the book in terms of a meaningful description. Although the words in the title come from a quote in the book, I don’t feel like this particular quote gave me the correct impression of the content of the book. While the author may want to convey the idea that all his characters have to deal with their own demons, I think that, without context, the title seems suggested to me that this book is one of horror or suspense. Regardless, because the stories are well-written, thoughtful, and descriptive, I highly recommend this book.

Pages: 130 | ASIN: B07K4QG839

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The Enchanters’ Child

The Enchanters' Child by [Sarikonda, Navya]

The Enchanters’ Child is a fantasy novel that follows the journey of three teenagers who are brought together through a bizarre set of circumstances. The Enchanter’s Child is a tale of friendship and, ultimately, trust.

The story is narrated by the three main characters; Wren, Quinn, and Zayne. Each of these characters are young, brave and determined. Each are hiding their true identity from the others – one is the last of Arobol, a group of magic-wielders, one is a prince – the son of the King and a member of the Gavreel Society and one is the infamous Black Assassin. Throughout the journey each must keep their true identity a secret, as they work together for a common purpose – to find the sorcerer. As the story develops we see their purposes are not as common as they have lead each other to believe.

The story is set in a variety of places including towns, forests, artificial towns and even an opulent castle. There are rich descriptions of sights, sounds and smells of the setting. Sarikonda cleverly describes the setting to ensure the reader feels they are there. The forests and gardens are full of magical plants and beasts. The towns are described in depth – easily transporting the reader to the setting.

The characters are generally well developed, although Wren appears to be the ‘main’ character. The story is told from each of their perspectives, allowing the reader to view the journey from three very different perspectives. The characters are developed through their dialogue and thoughts, and descriptions of their costumes, powers and even their unique weapons. The story opens with Wren as narrator, and closes with Zayne’s narration. Rather than losing continuity the story is actually enhanced with the change of narration. It is cleverly done, although I felt that the two male figures could be differentiated further.

Overall, The Enchanters’ Child is an engaging read. The plot is interesting and easy to follow. The setting is described using an array of rich imagery and the characters are intriguing and well developed. Just as you would expect from the title, it is a captivating story packed with magical twists and turns.

Pages: 290 | ASIN: B07L64XW8B

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Slaves of Fools

Slaves of Fools: Book Three in the "Antebellum Struggles" Series by [Erman, Dickie]

When Collette Winters finds herself a widow with a hotel and a plantation to maintain, she is overwhelmed and at a loss for words. Enter Tolivar: a “trusted” overseer and Mr. Winters’s choice to run his plantation and guard his finances. Mr. Winters might not have made the best decision in selecting Tolivar. Any one of the slaves on the Winters’s plantation could testify to the fact that Tolivar is in everything for himself and only himself. When Tolivar’s purchases begin to mount and Collette fails to see the danger in allowing Tolivar to carry on unchecked, all of their lives take a turn no one could have predicted.

Slaves of Fools is the third book in Dickie Erman’s Antebellum Struggles series. Again, readers are treated to the dramatic dynamic between Trent and Collette Winters. Theirs is a complicated love story born out of the antebellum time period. As with book two, readers find that Trent is unfaithful to Collette who remains by his side and is somehow able to forgive even if she isn’t willing to forget.

I desperately want Trent, a businessman and plantation owner, to be smart, but he misses the mark. His desire to put Tolivar in charge of his trust is clearly a mistake but makes for a nice story line leading to the devastation of characters who begin to fall like so many dominoes as the book progresses. Colette’s love for Trent is really his one saving grace.

It’s difficult to find a character as loathsome as Tolivar. Erman has created a fantastic antagonist in this greedy and vile overseer-turned trustee. I believe I released some audible gasps of frustration and disbelief as Tolivar moved through the Winters’s money with lightning speed. Many villains have at least one redeeming quality–not Tolivar. From the extravagant jewelry purchase to asking the creepy, unwanted doctor to take up residence, Tolivar is as intolerable as he is predictable.

I was disappointed to see that Amana, a beloved character from the second book in the series, did not have as prominent of a role in this one. She is my favorite character and has a heart of gold. Her backstory is classic, and she is proof that perseverance is not easily achieved but is worth every second spent trying to achieve it.

Erman masterfully works humor into his writing. Twice I found myself guessing incorrectly and wondering what tone the book was about to take. Without giving anything away, I can say that I was pleasantly surprised both times at how misleading the author is and how well he uses humor to bring the story back around.

I had a few concerns regarding grammar choices, mechanics, and word choice. In addition, I found myself questioning some of the verbiage used as it didn’t seem to fit the time period. Throughout the book, I struggled to discern the characters’ thoughts from their dialogue. A few tweaks in this area would improve readability quite a bit.

Erman has created an engaging and quick read with relatable characters and protagonists the reader will inevitably cheer for.

Pages: 207 | ASIN: B07TDNPMW2

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“Bottom Down, Penelope Brown!”

"Bottom Down, Penelope Brown!" by [Pulliam, April B.]

For as long as she can remember Penelope Brown can’t stay sitting down. She wiggles and worms, dances and turns, and every teacher she’s had will insist throughout class that she remain in her seat. As Penelope enters the third grade, she dreads the new teacher, knowing exactly what she will say – or will she?

April Pulliam delivers a touching message with a simple story. The characters are kept to a minimum to focus on the issues at hand. Penelope is likable and relatable; she is described in good light with age-appropriate language. I appreciate how Pulliam never outright stated Penelope’s difficulties as a problem. She consistently views the characters through a young child’s perspective.

Penelope struggles, like many children, to stay in her seat. Like many young children she wriggles and squirms and is brimming with energy. How do children handle this? How do they handle the teachers that constantly tell them to put their ‘bottom down’? These are lessons that I think many elementary school children can relate to and one that is presented in a fun and understanding manner in this book.

Pulliam and Grantham team up to craft a wonderful opportunity to introduce and validate a child’s woes comparable to Penelope. I would highly recommend Bottom Down, Penelope Brown for the modern classroom.

Pages: 23 | ASIN: B07SRX418X

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Saving Time

Saving Time (Community Chronicles Book 3) by [Lees, Jenn]

In her third book in the Community Chronicles series, Jenn Lees continues the adventures and perils of a world that is spinning into chaos after a major stock market crash. Set in the year 2061, Saving Time is the story of brave Scotsman and his companions who risk their lives to save Scotland from nuclear destruction. In a world where the government has deserted its people and bandits are always a threat, the story’s hero must take matters into his own hands even if that means risking a trip back in time to get the information he needs. Through her story of loyalty and betrayal, Lees shows readers the meaning of self-sacrifice for the betterment of all.

Although the book starts off a bit slow, I found the story line increasingly compelling as the book progressed. The topics of love, time travel, and impending worldly destruction that run throughout the book are ones that are likely to appeal to the reader and keep their interest. In terms of grammar, flow, and ease of reading, the book was well written and enjoyable.

I felt like the time travel part of the book was not as compelling as it could have been. It didn’t seem integral to the plot. The reasoning for traveling to the past seemed vague, especially when the information that the characters acquired from this journey was ultimately unnecessary in dealing with the nuclear threat. I thought that the surprise assistance that showed up for the ultimate resolution of the threat seemed coincidental and made the original plan seem unnecessary.

The characters were interesting and well developed. When they make their way through 21st century England, I enjoyed the outsiders perspective, but would have enjoyed a deeper contrast. Rory and Siobhan’s relationship reflects that kind of contrast and I savored the experience of watching the slow development of their characters.

Overall I thought the book was enjoyable, particularly after reaching the second half where the story really picks up speed. This would be well suited for anyone looking for post apocalyptic fiction with a time travel twist.

Pages: 255 | ASIN: B07PWYVYJC

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A Bite of the Past

A Bite of the Past: Undying Love - Book One by [Nightingale, L.]

“I am Theodore Callington. I have a family. And a home. I belong somewhere.” These longing words are spoken by Teddy, who has lived a tortured life. An orphan taken in by a murderous uncle, regularly beaten to a pulp. An escaped cowboy, loved by an adopted family but trampled in the rodeo. And an unwilling vampire, slowly feeling his way to redemption. What will happen when Teddy attempts to reclaim his humanity from the devilish vampire who made him what he is? Follow Teddy’s twisted and terrifying journey in L. Nightingale’s A Bite of the Past: Undying Love.

A Bite of the Past is an exploration of what it means to be human, and conversely, sub-human. It is a heartbreaking story of cruelty, rejection, and longing for the love and stability of a family. Teddy’s journey is also one of hopefulness, reconnection, and the ascendancy of good over evil.

As our devastatingly handsome and sometimes repugnant main character, Teddy is truly a tortured soul—one dealing with the excruciating pain of his past but also searching for the truth and love that lies between the horror. Through sheer will-power, Teddy salvages the memories that have been suppressed by his malevolent teacher—the ruthless László. Under his tutelage, Teddy is truly a gruesome creature who carries out deeds that are sometimes hard to read.

Nightingale’s prose can be disorderly at times—perhaps intentionally so, as a reflection of the muddled psyche of her main character. He is confused much of the time, piecing together fragments of memories while simultaneously trying to quell his inner demon. This confusion spills over to the reader who, at times, feels lost as the narrative doubles back.

The twists, turns, and major surprises of the book do keep the reader engaged through the final cliffhanging scene. Gruesome descriptions of fights and killings will appeal to fans of macabre action. The throwback scenes to the wild west are charming, and Teddy’s vernacular peppers the book with memorable sayings, such as “the temperature would drop like a naked gunslinger beefed on a Dodge Street.” Overall, the yearning for love will resound with all.

A tale of a wayward cowboy looking for redemption that will strike a chord with its readers.

Pages: 343 | ASIN: B07SGWRTCN

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Issaura’s Claws

Issaura's Claws (Incarn Saga Book 1) by [Wibell, Katharine]

Issaura’s Claws, written by Katharine Wibell is the first book in the three book Incarn series. The story is set in the kingdom of Elysia, an island inhabited by two races: humans and theriomorphs. The novel focuses on themes of racial divides, trust, friendship and gender stereotyping. Interwoven are legends and traditions, gods, and mythical creatures. All are called to work together when the kingdom comes under threat.

The setting for Issaura’s Claws is the kingdom of Elysia. Although outwardly appearing united, socially, the kingdom is divided invisibly into two groups: humans and theriomorphs. This divide becomes evident to the reader in the opening lines of Chapter One; “Trouble.  In the schoolyard, Lluava spotted a group of boys near a large oak. Definitely humans”. The reader feels Lluava’s pain as she describes these bullies and how they attack an innocent lamb. We then see her surprise and disappointment as she realizes that even her teacher sees theriomorphs as inferior. The author cleverly contrasts the beautiful setting with the social turmoil that exists in the kingdom. It is a clever way to address themes of stereotyping and racial divides.

Lluava is the main character in this story. She is a seventeen year old theriomorph, (a race that appears human but has the ability to change into animal form) and it is evident from the beginning she is headstrong and determined. Unlike her mother and many other theriomorph’s she values the old traditions and has not succumbed to all things human like many others. When an army needs to be raised she volunteers without hesitation. She begins to break down gender stereo types when she is placed in the women’s camp to learn to nurse the sick. She demands to be trained in combat, and is eventually permitted to train at the men’s camp. It is there that she soon proves she is a force to be reckoned with.

Overall the story is interesting an easy to follow. The one aspect of the plot that I felt could be improved was the number of ‘traps’ Lluava and her friends fall into. She and her friends are portrayed as intelligent, so the number of blatant traps they seem to fall into becomes implausible.

Issaura’s Claws is an entertaining fantasy novel. Descriptions of the setting and characters are detailed and rich. The themes of the story parallel with dilemmas that society faces today. I look forward to reading the second book in this fantastic series.

Pages: 362 | ASIN: B01MZZB80P

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Don’t Drink The Pink

Don't Drink the Pink by [Fegan, B.C.R.]

Don’t Drink the Pink, by B. C. R. Fegan, is a children’s story about a little girl, Madeline, and her quirky grandfather who is always full of surprises. From the time that she is one year old, Madeline gets to choose one of her grandfather’s magical potions each year as a birthday gift, always following her grandfather’s warning not to select the pink one. Every birthday she is excited to discover what special ability the potion will give her that day. The tradition continues even as she gets older, but after her grandfather becomes frail and sick, she finally learns the secret behind her grandfather’s last surprise – the pink potion that she has been avoiding every year.

Fegan’s book is a fun and heartwarming story of the special relationship between a girl and her grandfather. I think that the book’s idea of magical potions and special powers will appeal to the author’s young audience and the consistent rhyming style is sure to grab the reader’s attention and keep them reading. The illustrations that accompany the text are well done, as usual, and give the reader delightful visual details that help create a connection to the story. Overall, this is a fun story that is perfectly suited to its audience. Absolutely fun, cute, and entertaining!

Pages: 40 | ASIN: B07SH1M437

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The Journal

The Journal by [Stevens, R. D.]

The Journal, by R.D. Stevens, is the story of a young man’s search for his older sister after she goes missing in Cambodia and the police have given up looking for her. As he navigates an unknown country without any real plans, he realizes his trip isn’t just about finding answers to questions about what happened to his sister, it’s also about finding answers to questions he has about life. In his travels throughout Southeast Asia, as he meets people along the way who help to uncover the events of his sister’s life, he learns to challenge what he thinks he is capable of and to see the world in a different way. In the end, he learns a lesson about what is really important in life.

I thought this story was captivating and that Stevens did a great job of pulling the reader in through a relatable narrative. The narrator shares his thoughts, feelings, and fears with the reader in a way that seems real, relatable, and honest. The regular use of aphorisms in the story is a unique way to not only give the reader some food for thought, but also to help the reader understand the characters better and to get insight into what they are thinking. The way the author plays with time, switching between the current story line and the events of the past, helps to keep the reader’s interest and to slowly develop the characters and their personal histories in an interesting manner.

Although the book itself was compelling, I don’t feel like the title is. It’s vague, nondescript, and, in my opinion, doesn’t really capture what the story was about. In addition, although I found the plot to be well conceived, it bothered me that everything seemed to be a bit too perfect in some parts, a bit too coincidental in the way everything seemed to work out. I felt that the conclusion felt rushed. After taking so much care to build up the characters, the ending came in a few quick paragraphs that didn’t do justice to the complexity of the characters.

That being said, I really enjoyed the book. Although I think there is some room for improvement, the overall quality of the writing was exceptional and the story was engaging.

Pages: 253 | ASIN:  B078C7SH7N

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Discover the Compassion

Kaylin McFarren Author Interview

Kaylin McFarren Author Interview

High Flying follows stunt pilot Skylar when she’s flung back in time and has a chance to investigate her origins. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?

I have always loved time travel stories and have been intrigued by the idea of changing our personal history if given the chance. Our parents have a great deal to do with who we are as individuals but sometimes we don’t understand them and knowing about their past lives become a true education and door to our future. In addition, my father worked for United Airlines for years and I remember sitting on his shoulders, watching planes take off from the tarmac at LAX. I’ve had the opportunity to virtually fly around the world and the idea of bringing my passions together seemed perfectly natural.

Skylar is a well developed and endearing character. What were some themes that were important for you to capture in her character?

I wanted to creating a troubled young woman who was damaged by the choices her parents made and negatively impacted by the people she’s lost in her life. By being forced to experience her parents’ lives first-hand, she has the opportunity to grow, let go her anger and self hatred, and ultimately discover the compassion she holds inside.

Skylar is orphaned when she was young and she tries to reconcile that throughout the book. What were some driving ideals that were important for you to explore?

I initially wanted to make readers aware of the thought process behind cutting—a troubling behavior that was introduced to me by a dear friend. It is more common that people would like to admit or believe and is becoming a common practice among young girls in our society. Bullying and isolation often leads to this method of dealing with anxiety, as well as physical or mental abuse. Skylar finds her release through martial arts and eventually flying. Her struggles with overcoming the neglect she’s known is what makes her a stronger person and a more endearing character in this story.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I’m currently working on a sci-fi thriller that involves reincarnation and stolen souls. So I guess I’m pushing myself to try genres outside of my comfort level, which has been great fun thus far. I typically write one book a year, so I would watch for this one in 2020!

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

HIGH FLYING by [McFarren, Kaylin]

Skylar Haines has struggled with personal demons most of her life, going to dark extremes to subdue anxieties rooted in her tragic past. On a perpetual hunt for the next adrenaline hit, she discovers a passion for flying and becomes a hard-edged stunt pilot, verging on obsession. In the sky, following her most daring airshow, she encounters a mysterious storm and almost collides with another aircraft, sending her into a perilous dive. Guided by a mysterious voice, she manages a safe landing but finds herself transported to another time.

Eight months before she was born. One week before her father was murdered.

Though baffled by her circumstances, Skylar soon arrives at a single certainty: Before her lies a remarkable chance to change her family’s destiny drastically for the better — or possibly even worse — depending on the choices she makes, before her window of opportunity closes.

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