Tuesday, 14 May 2013

It's nearly time...

All this reading and reviewing I've been at intensely since Christmas is gonna have to stop....I need to get back to writing. It's crawling up to summer here in the UK - that ONE DAY a year usually gets me in the mood to outline something that may be meandering through my hazy brain.

 
So -- for those of you kind enough to follow/read/occasionally glance at my reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, Blog, Shelfari, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ (I do like to network :) -- I STILL have a large TBR list, but will be pausing reading/reviewing whilst I outline a new project.
 
Of course, I really should learn to multi-task and read WHILE writing.
 
...But I'm a man! What do you expect from me?
 
Anyway, "summer" heralds the arrival of a new project outline, so I must press pause on the reading.
 
...just....got...a...few...more....to...finish :)
 
I think I've got about 5 I must review before I switch off the tablet and let it discharge. Won't take long - I'm a greedy reader.
 
Oh, and to anyone else (and I'm sure there are many of you) who are starting new projects this summer, very best of luck and good wishes for much success.
 
Happy summer, folks...and for the writers, happy scribbling :)
 
 
 

Friday, 10 May 2013

Review | Eternal Island, K.S. Haigwood

Eternal Island (Book 1 in the Eternal Series)Eternal Island by K.S. Haigwood
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fun, imaginitve and fast-paced fantasy adventure:

Eternal Island is a place of many magic persuasions and many mysteries. Invisible to anyone not invited, it homes vampires, witches, seers, mind-readers… pretty much any kind of paranormal entity you can imagine. It’s also a place of luxury, without hunger, deprivation, poverty – but a place ruled with the iron fist of Abe, the High Vampire, who dictates a firm-but-fair philosophy.

Abe is foretold of his true love by psychic, Rainey. His true love is Ariana, overwhelmingly desirable to him, but currently in a coma after a breakdown. Her husband died in a tragic accident and the shock caused her a total collapse. But rescued from her hospital bed by Rainey and her witch skills, she agrees to go to the island to meet her ‘supposed’ soul-mate. And once there, she soon discovers that she is a highly powerful witch with, seemingly, unlimited capabilities.

On her journey of self-discovery, during which her powers gradually manifest in the most unexpected and untimely ways, Ariana is pursued relentlessly by the love-stricken High Vampire. But Abe will have to learn some patience – not something he is used to – because Ariana, despite her irresistible attraction to Abe – is in no rush to jump into a relationship with anybody so soon after losing her husband – especially a vampire!

The story illustrates fascinating aspects of all things magical, all things devious – as we are introduced to the scheming Julia who is determined to seize control of the island – and all things romantic. With a tasteful input of sexual content, emotional roller-coasting, sneaky plans of betrayal and ominous warnings of tragedy, this story will hook you in and draw you effortlessly through the pages. There are some wonderfully drawn secondary characters, and a precise eye by the author for bringing so many characters and events to a neat and exciting conclusion. Recommended.

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Friday, 3 May 2013

Review | My Soul To Keep, Sean Hayden

My Soul to Keep (Rise of the Fallen, #1)My Soul to Keep by Sean Hayden
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Be careful what you wish for…


It’s a great thing to fall in love. It’s an absolute devil of a thing to jeopardise the one you love. What price would you pay to have granted any wish you could imagine?

Connor, the very definition of an average guy, enjoys not much more in life than playing video games… and loathes not much more in life than algebra! In a moment of manic lunacy, he decides to make a deal with…the devil?… he has no idea. He’s just bored. And he has a black candle. And with a drop of blood scribbled over a randomly composed ‘contract’ to trade his soul for a wish, he has a moment of ‘crazy’.

Up to the kerb, straddling a throbbing motorbike, roars a beautiful young woman, Clarisse. Impatiently, she has only one thing she wants to know from Connor… ‘what d’ya want?’

Clarisse is one of the Fallen. And much to her amazement, shock and – well, horror – Connor asks for that which should never be asked for…

…To be one of the Fallen.

Clarisse, reluctantly, must grant him that wish. After all, a deal’s a deal. And now she has to guide him through the complex structure of his new role. But she doesn’t do so with good grace. In fact, she has nothing but malice for he whom she calls the “worm”, who dared to ask for such a thing…

However, Connor’s life takes a bright turn, as Jessica, blind and beautiful, walks into his high school and into his life. Whilst very carefully courting this jewel in the classroom, Connor must deal with the training which the demon Clarisse forces him through, the undertaking of his new obligations, and still of course…algebra.

His powers grow. Rather too fast for comfort. Algebra is no longer a problem. Athletics come easy. Nothing, for that matter, is a problem and everything, for that matter, comes easy. Except that he can see vampires. He can see witches. He can see everything he'd rather not see, but must learn to accept that nothing is as it seems. His first task as a Fallen seems, like everything else, easy enough. But [without giving up spoilers]… there may be some consequences of an unpredictable and quite dangerous nature to deal with further down the line.

Ever said ‘I don’t know my own strength’?

That’s Connor’s problem…he doesn’t.

This is a belly-laugh funny tale of an average boy made special. And how he copes with the terms of his blood contract. How he copes with an overwhelming desire for the beautiful Jessica. And how he copes with the sweet, snarky wench, Clarisse. It’s a swift read because you just want to keep on laughing at the misadventures of this errant teenager. This line is just one gem out of many: “I wanted to seem intelligent, so I kept my mouth shut” – and let’s have another: “Only one thing travelled faster than light, gossip”…

Excellent!

My Soul To Keep is funny as all Hell broke loose, imaginative, cleverly developed, and littered with bizarre surprises. Recommended.


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Sunday, 14 April 2013

Review | Exiled, M.R. Merrick

Exiled (The Protector, #1)Exiled by M.R. Merrick
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Seamless blending of fantasy and highly colourful thrills:

Chase Williams is an angry young man, disappointed in what he sees as his own failures to live up to his bloodline legacy. The son of a displeased father, yet a skilful fighter and hunter, he is also, unknowingly, destined for a role as Protector – which, despite his misgivings about his own abilities – the story gradually shows is his true calling. The question posed throughout the novel is – can he live up to it?

Exiled from the Circle for failure to reach his expected potential, Chase and his mother take to the urban environment – living a struggling existence, one in which Chase – a hunter – is constantly battling for his life against demons and killers. He is also trying to work out the duplicitous plans of the Council, whose schemes seem altogether contrary to everything Chase understands about them, and which plans are as evil in their intent as anything the Underworld might plot. He forms a reluctant alliance with a disaffected Council Vampire, Marcus… and with Rayna, a sassy and ever so damn sexy witch.

Battling for his life, fighting to protect his mother and his allies, Chase’s life is one long scrap for survival and understanding. It’s also a voyage of discovery, as he gradually realises that he might have more power than anyone could have expected: it really all depends on how much stress he’s put under!

This is a vivid and graphic fantasy story, with non-stop action and suspense. It slides neatly between urban scenery and an alternate dimensional arena. It’s also a story of conspiracy and double-dealing… making you wonder who the hell can Chase trust. There is a delicate romance element between he and Rayna – and Rayna herself is a strong secondary character, with a role to play that’s far more important than you could possibly guess.

A furious, all-action adventure story set with a backdrop of magic, demons, and vampires. Richly detailed and descriptive, this fantasy crosses genres effortlessly. Thoroughly engrossing story. Recommended.


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Friday, 5 April 2013

Review | Blood Legacy, Marianne Morea

Blood LegacyBlood Legacy by Marianne Morea
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An intense and thrilling vampire epic:

This is an incredibly detailed and fast-paced paranormal story that had me hooked from the first page and rushing through the story to see what came next.

Carlos was unwillingly turned three centuries ago, since which time he has fought determinedly to resist his vampiric dark side, and fight for justice no matter what it costs. Trina is an unknowing ‘sensitive’ who can see more of the vampire world than she understands… or wants to see. At its heart, this is a simple love story; yet underpinning that kernel of romance is a vast story of confusing attractions and history, which elements combine to make a high-tension suspense plot.

Carlos and Trina are inexplicably attracted to one other: the ancient vampire with incredible powers, and the innocent waitress with as yet undiscovered abilities. The story spans three hundred years, has some beautifully detailed insights to Spanish culture, touches on the Spanish Inquisition, and – above all – twists and turns in a way that every clue dropped throughout the story is a riddle to a surprising turn of events.

The story is richly detailed, deliciously violent without crossing into gratuitous, with excellent prose quality and vivid detail. Both the sex and romance are described in a tasteful way, with no indulgences permitted. This book also rids itself of vampire clich├ęs, and highlights the somewhat unusual routines of a vampire.

The conclusion is not, in any way, as inevitable as you might expect in any romance story. Edge-of-the-seat suspense. Recommended.


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Friday, 29 March 2013

Review | Shades Of Gray, Andy Holloman

Shades of GrayShades of Gray by Andy Holloman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A richly expansive adventure story:

This is a detailed and evenly-paced story that shows how desperation and urgency can lead a man to dark deeds. Highly detailed and precise in narrative delivery, we see a man on the precipice of despair willing to risk everything … and paying the worst possible price for crossing the line.

A devoted father, John, finds himself in extreme financial difficulty. With his business failing and his precious daughter in need of expensive medical care, John becomes involved in a drug smuggling operation with Wanda, a rough diamond who herself is trying also to look after her child in difficult circumstances. The events of 9/11 have stunted the trafficking of drugs, leaving Wanda struggling to provide for herself and child. The events of 9/11 have also left John’s travel agency business in dire straits, leaving him in the same predicament with his own daughter.

Already ‘partnered’ in a fashion with the sadistic Jamel, Wanda makes a hesitant working-relationship with John to bring drugs into the country and earn the money they both need. An uncommon relationship is formed, in which they both use their particular skills to make the business arrangement profitable.

John is driven by desperation, and reluctantly agrees to the complex plans he and Wanda form. But everything they do must be kept secret from Jamel, Wanda’s former business partner, if they are both to succeed – and stay in one piece!

This is a novel that gives us a vivid insight into the sordid operation of drug-trafficking… a novel which has either been well-researched or simply the product of a vivid imagination… and much kudos to the author for making me wonder which. It’s also a story of heartbreak, struggle, and how far a parent will go to protect its child.

I thoroughly enjoyed the gradual unveiling of this adventure, the tense particulars of each step of John and Wanda’s planning, and the shocks and twists which illuminate the plot line. This story sucks you into a seedy world, complete with its inherent dangers, and above all the frightening consequences. The most innocuous events early on in the book are tied up with a slamming twist at the end, in which the cruellest ironies are revealed. Recommended read.


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Monday, 25 March 2013

Review | Forever Changed, Tiffany King

Forever ChangedForever Changed by Tiffany King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Conflicting emotions expertly drawn through a moving story:

Tiffany King demonstrates a talent for taking a character through personality and emotional changes, showing an evolvement from the behaviour of a child to the behaviour of an adult. In my humble opinion, this is the mark of a good YA story… showing that very transition into maturity. And King writes this behavioural switch effortlessly through a page-turning storyline.

Kassandra is Miss Popularity in High School – a somewhat spoilt and self-indulgent young lady whose priorities are brutally turned around by a family tragedy that takes her father and throws her life and family into turmoil. Burdened with grief, her mother withdraws into a dissociative state, leaving Kassandra to take care of business, and take care, above all, of her little sister. Dealing with her own grief, watching her mother retreat more and more into a dysfunctional state, caring for her traumatised little sister, Kassandra is suddenly laden with responsibilities no girl of that age should have to bear.

Maddon is the abused son of the man responsible for all of this tragedy. He is also irresistibly drawn to Kassandra, even though he feels guilty and even not-worthy of anything but her scorn. And indeed scorn is what he gets as he tries to approach her… she literally hates the boy in school whose father ruined her family. Yet over time, at a carefully measured pace, the story shows how two victims of tragedy can draw together, for support, for friendship, and maybe for love.

I found the story illustrated in a skilful style by the use of alternate POVs – each chapter following the previous from Kassandra’s aspect to Maddon’s, back and forth. This keeps the pace lively, gives the reader a vivid portrayal of what both main characters are experiencing, and takes us through the exchange of feelings which this tragedy has brought about to both of them. The principal background characters – namely Kassandra’s school friends, who should be supporting her at this time – are shown to be nothing more than fickle, shallow and fair-weather friends… none of whom are worthy of much more than a slap across the wrist for being so damned vacuous! The author depicts an intelligent indicator of what TRUE friends should really be like.

At its core, this is a story of two people who are reluctant enemies, but who are drawn together despite circumstances. You can expect the twists and turns that a good story boasts, and you can expect a moving prose that leads you hungrily to keep turning those pages. Recommended.


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