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Review: “In a Latitude of Temperance” by Ichabod Temperance

“In a Latitude of Temperance” (The Adventures of Ichabod Temperance #5) by Ichabod Temperance

Available from: Amazon or Barnes & Noble
Released on: 14 August 2014
I received this book free in exchange for an honest review.

Description: The adventure prone Ichabod Temperance and his capable cohort Persephone Plumtartt are again hurtled into baffling mystery and hair raising intrigue. A dangerous mission exposes an unspeakable danger to the safety of the entire world. Assisting our brave protagonists is an amazing cast of extraordinary and charming individuals. Thrilling action in this humourous ride to once again save our imperiled planet from certain destruction carries Ichabod and Co. to uncharted waters of surprise and terror.

Review: Oh, Ichy… Ichy, Ichabod, Ichy…

This wasn’t really my favorite book of the series, I’m afraid. While it was still a fun and lunatic romp through the steampunk realm and full of inside jokes, as well as a lot of alliteration and crazy excitement, there was one big problem for me.

There wasn’t enough Ichabod.

I love the namesake character of the series. Ichabod Temperance is a fun character, adorable and endearing, and what made the first books so much fun. And while he was part of the adventure–he was there–I would estimate…80% maybe of the chapter narrators were everyone but Ichabod and Persephone. And even in those, it felt like we didn’t see as much of him. We saw more of Persephone through the eyes of others.

I want my Ichabod back! My unsophisticated, ‘bama boy jetting around England and elsewhere making funny inventions and swooning over Ms. Plumtartt. While all the rest is fun and funny, it’s just not a real Ichabod adventure without, you know, more Ichabod.

Otherwise, the accents of the exposition make the book kind of hard to read in parts, but more chapters from the perspectives of Ichabod and Persephone would fix that. I don’t have any complaints beyond that, and since I still like this series better than most, I still give it a 4 Fireballs. I do hope to see more Ichabod in the next book, though!

4 Fireballs

Review: “Fire Sign” by M. A. Petterson

“Fire Sign” by M. A. Petterson

Available from: Amazon or Barnes & Noble
Released on: 26 July 2014
I received this book free in exchange for an honest review.

Description: A beautiful forensic engineer hiding a tragic past reluctantly teams up with a troubled cop to stop a serial arsonist targeting churches.

Dr. Anja Toussaint believes that her own dreadful youth foretells who the arsonist is and the shocking motive behind the fires. But Detective Gil Dolan stubbornly sets his sights on a white supremacist previously convicted of arson and just released from prison.

Unfortunately, when Anja blocks his efforts the arrogant cop sets his own plan into motion that leads them both into a fiery trap.

Review: On the whole, I enjoyed this story. It was a quick and fairly easy read, and I really loved the premise/set-up of the main character as the forensic engineer/arson investigator, particularly a woman. I’m not entirely sure if I liked Anja or not, but she’s the type of character that I think was written that way. She made for a unique narrative voice, though, and I did like that.

Some elements of Anja, and Dolan, felt kind of stereotyped, or at least common for characters in this sort of genre. But then, sometimes things are common for a reason: they’re common, so I can’t decide if that’s really a detractor. Also the “near miss” for Anja and Dolan felt kind of odd, a little shoe-horned into the plot and I wasn’t crazy about that. (There was another detail that felt similar and didn’t go anywhere that I wasn’t crazy about, but I don’t want to spoiler anything.)

Also, there was one plot turn that felt like a bit too big a leap for anyone to make who wasn’t Sherlock Holmes so I’d have liked to see more development there, although a small twist at the end was a good one.

So, while there were some elements that didn’t quite hit the right notes for me, over all, I did like the story. 4 Fireballs.

4 Fireballs

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Review: Death by Didgeridoo by Barbara Venkataraman

“Death by Didgeridoo” (Jamie Quinn Mystery #1) by Barbara Venkataraman

Available from: Amazon
Released on: 13 November 2014
I received this book free in exchange for an honest review.

Description: Reluctant lawyer, Jamie Quinn, still reeling from the death of her mother, is pulled into a game of deception, jealousy, and vengeance when her cousin, Adam, is wrongfully accused of murder. It’s up to Jamie to find the real murderer before it’s too late. It doesn’t help that the victim is a former rock star with more enemies than friends, or that Adam confessed to a murder he didn’t commit.

Review: This was a fast read, but a fun one. The mystery wasn’t what I’d call complex and ran in a pretty straight line, as your mystery stories go, but it didn’t bother me. I found the narrator amusing and engaging, reminding me of Kinsey from the Sue Grafton series. 4 Fireballs.

4 Fireballs

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Review: “The High King’s Embalmer” by S. Copperstone

“The High King’s Embalmer” by S. Copperstone

Available from: Amazon
Released on: 4 July 2014
I received this book free in exchange for an honest review.

Description: The royal family’s shape-shifting embalmer is intent on finding those behind the assassination attempts of the family. To further complicate things, he is kidnapped by bounty hunters, escapes, but finds himself hunted by the king’s own men. Can he find the source behind the deaths before the heirs of the family are extinguished?

Review: Did this book have an actual plot? I’m not really sure, and yet strangely, I didn’t mind so much. It would normally bother the hell out of me, but it didn’t in this book.

That being said, it did feel like it needed a bit more beta reading or content editing; someone to catch the repetition (use the term “unusual narcolepsy” again in the same chapter and I’m gonna…) and help smooth timeline transitions. I found myself getting lost in the timeline at several points, which did pull me out of my reading experience.

However, despite this, I liked the book. The world was fascinating, especially as I was obsessed with Egyptian mythology in middle school, although in a story this long, I would have liked to see more put into the actual world-building that we did see and more of the situation explained for the reader. I liked our narrator, too. I really got into him as I read along.

So, it had its share of things I would have liked to see differently, but on the whole, it was an enjoyable book and I think I’ll be looking on to the next one. 4 Fireballs.

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Review: “Predator & Prey” by James D. Horton

“Predator & Prey” by James D. Horton

Available from: Amazon
Released on: 22 July 2014
I received this book free in exchange for an honest review.

Description: Lily works the night shift at a radio station, taking calls from forlorn and damaged souls who can’t sleep. She knows their pain and they find solace in her comforting words. The city is ruthless; nameless creatures roam the streets and prey on the lost and innocent.

As she leaves work one night at the crest of dawn, Lily comes face-to-face with depravity. She is a survivor at heart, but she is unfairly outnumbered and surrenders to her fate. From the shadows an ally emerges, the mysterious and alluring, Wolf. After coming to Lily’s aid, he takes her to shelter.

The immediate danger has passed, but the incident is far from over. Wolf tells Lily she is not prey, and sets off into the night with her by his side to set a wrong right. What she sees when entering the dark heart of the city will change her existence forever. Has Wolf taken on a force too big? Will Lily survive the night?

Review: This story was rather short and went very fast, which you know going in that it won’t be long so I’m debating whether I thought it was too fast or not. I don’t think it was, but still feel as though something was missing. I think this felt more like an excerpt from a bigger book than a story, even a short story, on its own.

But, the reading flowed well. It was enjoyable and intriguing. Nothing jumped out about the two main characters to make you dislike either, and the Enigma Thing worked well for the character of Wolf. Still, I think I would have liked to have seen more of a That Spark OMG to really feel their connection.

All that being said, it was a fun, fast read and I think I’m curious to see what more happens with these two. 4 Fireballs.

4 Fireballs

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Review: “African Titanics” by Abu Bakr Khaal

“African Titanics” by Abu Bakr Khaal

Available from: Amazon
Released on: 19 October 2014
I received this book free in exchange for an honest review.

Description: African Titanics is the untold tale of the African boat people and their desperate exodus to the merciless shores of the Mediterranean. The novel is one of fleeting yet profound friendships, perseverance born of despair and the power of stories to overcome the difficulties of the present. Alternating between fast-paced action and meditative reflection, the novel follows the adventures of Eritrean migrant Abdar. As he journeys north, the narrative mirrors the rhythm of his travels, at one moment speeding away from bandits in the Sahara and at the next patiently awaiting news of a calm sea, maintaining a constant tension between life and death, hope and despair.

Connecting today’s migrants with legendary adventurers of the past, Eritrean author Abu Bakar Khaal places the phenomenon of migration in a broad perspective. The “bug” which grips the hearts and minds of young Africans is just one of many phases which Africa has traversed in its long history from man’s first cradle. With moments of comedy interspersing the harsh reality of migration, African Titanics provides an intimate take on a phenomenon so often in the news.

Review: I seem to be getting a lot of “interesting” stories lately and I know I’m overusing the word, but it’s the one that seems to fit!

African Titanics was another book that gave you that window into something you might not otherwise know much of, at least not in the place/time/heritage of myself. And seeing these things through the eyes of fiction tend to present, I think, an almost truer image. And that’s something that can hold your focus, and this did in that.

We followed a sort of narrative that was almost…First Person Omniscient? Which really isn’t something you see, at least not too often and particularly not in modern novels. Where we followed the narrator in First Person, but he also narrated things that he wasn’t there to witness, and often had a feeling of being very…removed from the narration, whereas most First Person Voices are very into it. It kind of reminded me of “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” in that way, and I liked that book so that’s not a negative comparison.

That feeling of removal, though, almost makes you feel it more. The almost clinical description of some of their hardships almost makes the sorrow you feel for these migrants greater. Which is interesting, but true. It was a relatively quick read, but he held me engaged.

So, this book feels like a 4 Fireballs to me.

4 Fireballs

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Review: ‘Wizard of Ends, Book One’ by Vanessa Finaughty

“Wizard of Ends, Book One” by Vanessa Finaughty

To Be Released on: 9 October 2014 (Added: Buy this Book on Smashwords or iBooks)
I received this ARC free in exchange for an honest review.

Description: When Lashlor Leaflin offers to escort Queen Narraki Dragonsbaneto the Jeltar Woods, he’s unwittingly caught up in a magical adventure of the type he would rather not have.

The sorceress Assassa believes the Land of Ends to be rightfully hers, but King Lanaran refuses to hand over his crown. In retaliation, the sorceress conjures creatures of darkness to hunt the queen and end her life. Lashlor helps where he can, but it isn’t easy with the Guards of Ends who protect the queen constantly accusing him of being a fake wizard.

A confrontation with Assassa will be the death of him, Lashlor is certain. However, the king insists on his help and it soon becomes apparent that he may have no choice.

Review: This story is a little tough to write a review for, or at least figure out a proper rating.

Here’s my initial and overall thought: this story would have been REALLY AWESOME…if it had been about twice as long. Now, anyone who reads my Author Ego’s books knows that I don’t write long books and I like quick resolutions, so I’m generally the last reviewer to come down on someone about this, but I can’t avoid it here.

The story starts off in the action from the first page, but then lots and lots of things happens very close together in a short span of pages. It’s just all so much and so fast. We don’t get as much time as I’d like for the characterization that really makes a story epic, but the basics were all there. Lashlor was a good character (even if he was obnoxiously passive at times) and the others were good too.

The king and queen come across as rather rash and naive, but the rashness could just be because of how fast the story goes.

But…it’s well written, the basics of good characters and good plot and fun setting and magic are all there. But it’s just way too much too fast, and would benefit from being notably longer, and yet…despite that, I did enjoy it a lot. So…I guess better too fast than too slow. I’m going to give this 4 Fireballs, because I did like it. If it had been longer and still as gripping, it would’ve gotten a 5.

4 Fireballs

Review: “Incorporated Evil” by Peter Widdows

“Incorporated Evil” by Peter Widdows

Available from: Amazon
Released on: 16 July 2014
I received this book free in exchange for an honest review.

Description: What secrets lie behind the world’s largest company?

Charles Barker-Willet is the brilliant CEO of BW Corporation, but what is he hiding?

Sean McManus, a business journalist for a London newspaper, is impressed by the modesty of BW’s CEO. Especially as the results of the company are astounding. But why is he so media shy? What does he have to hide?

In his search for answers, Sean will encounter some of the vilest of human acts and also some of the bravest of human endeavour.

Incorporated Evil will take you on a roller coaster ride from the glittering hotels and restaurants of London’s West End, to the seedy streets of Bangkok and from the historic suburbs of Melbourne to the modern sky scrapers of Hong Kong. As Sean McManus tries to unravel the complicated web of deceit behind BW Corporation.

Review: By the end of this book, it kind of felt like the moral was Good Money versus Bad Money.

I say that because both our bad guys and good guys have plenty of money to work against the other. We see what Evil does with the money, and then what Good does with it to fight against it. But the balance of power is where the differences and the tension lies. Sort of like a money-fueled chess match.

This story starts out fast and does keep rolling right along. I found our main characters, Sean and Liz, a little flat at the start. Kind of like static characters created from a template and inserted into a story, yet as the story moves along, they both grow into three dimensions, likable and relatable. (Although I’ll admit that Clive and his boys were probably my favorites, and Praew was great too.)

Sean and Liz fall in together a bit fast and I would have liked to have seen more of that before the he and she became a they, but their relationship shows through well the more the story goes. Like a separate character that matures in dimensions as they do.

It was a very easy read, though sometimes the names and places could take some work to keep up with, and I do have an affinity for people trying to do Right, even if they’re a little naieve about it at times. I also appreciated how Widdows handled certain types of crimes, with the horror and disgust that is due to them. That always wins points with me.

This is the first book from the author, and I will admit that it does read that way in several places, but it’s still an engaging thriller of a read and I think the author shows a lot of promise for future stories. I’ll admit that I’ve wrestled with what to rate this, but I’m falling on the side of positivity because I did enjoy it and particularly for fans of corporate thrillers, I think this will be an good tale. 4 Fireballs.

4 Fireballs

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Review: “Spelled” by Kate St. Clair

“Spelled (Amethyst #1)” by Kate St. Clair

Available from: Amazon
Released on: 1 April 2014

Description: Misfortune seems to follow the Sayers family. Georgia has tried to reestablish normality since her mother died, and she’s no closer to escaping her strange past when a mysterious fire destroys the only other high school in her tiny Texas town. Georgia is thrown into the company of Luke, a cryptic senior who brings her face to face with the truth about her heritage. Her loving, perfect mother created her family for the singular purpose of birthing five of the most powerful witches in the world, capable of terrifying magic. Now that she knows the truth, can Georgia keep her siblings safe? Who is behind the dark cult that’s after her family? And does Luke know more about her powers than even Georgia does?

Review: This was a fun, fast read of a paranormal novella.

Our narrator, Georgia, is very engaging. I liked her. And anyone who reads my reviews knows that for me to say I liked a teenage female narrator in a Young Adult story? That’s saying something, because it’s pretty rare. But she’s not whiney or obnoxious–at least not without understandable reason. She’s just a girl trying to survive high school and be there for her siblings, despite all the insanity around her. Luke and Georgia’s siblings are also endearing.

The beginning grabs you immediately and our author’s style is very readable. I will admit that for the length of the story, it can be a little confusing to catch up with events and names in the beginning, and then with some events at the end, but generally speaking, St. Clair does well to help you along so you can read without getting too bogged down.

It was fast-paced, flowed well, and at the beginning you think you know where it’s headed but then there’s a twist I didn’t anticipate. And I liked that, too.

If I had any complaints, it would be that it would have been better if it had been longer. But it still worked and it’s the first in its series, so I’m looking forward to more to come. I can’t quite rave to a 5, but this was a very enjoyable solid 4 Fireballs.

4 Fireballs

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Review: “The Unknown Sun” by Cheryl Mackey

“The Unknown Sun (The Destiny Series Book 1)” by Cheryl Mackey

Available from: Amazon or Barnes & Noble
Released on: 29 April 2014

Description: Seventeen-year-old Moira is haunted by the accidents that claimed her parents and sisters. When a strange boy who seems to know too much about her past attacks her, Moira fears death will come for her a third time. She is rescued by twins Airi and Belamar, the winged heirs to the throne in Skyfall, and taken to safety in their world.

But Skyfall is dying, and the gods who had created and protected Airi and Belamar’s world have been missing since the Great War. Moira, Airi, and Belamar must find a journal left by the twins’ deceased mother, Tanari, that tells of a prophecy that must be fulfilled to find the gods known as The Unknown Sun so that Skyfall can be saved.

Deeper, darker, secrets unravel around the three friends as a revolution threatens their quest and the boy who tried to destroy Moira on Earth hunts them. Tanari knew more than she had let on, and within her journal a story is more than it seems, the past foretells the future, and a far-reaching plan is unveiled.

Why did Tanari reach across time and space to entrust a simple human girl with saving Skyfall? Who are the mysterious “Four” mentioned in the journal? And why does another god want her, and The Unknown Sun, dead?

Review: First off, let me say that Young Adult is usually not my genre. And, in the past, when I’ve read Young Adult with a female narrator, I’ve usually wanted to throttle said character. I am happy to report that despite both of these things having been my track record, neither were true here and I actually enjoyed The Unknown Sun quite a bit! (I.E., I did not want to smack Moira for being a twit, so this is a big plus for me.)

My primary complaint is that it moved too fast through a lot of it, for my tastes. I like stories that move quickly and don’t linger too long before getting to the action, but this one jumped in a little too fast. I wanted more time to get to know our characters before all the Big Dramatic Stuff rushed at them.

However, it wasn’t SO fast that I wasn’t able to get into them at all. The character development early on was just enough to keep me with them and on their side until later when my appreciation for them really set in. Would I have liked more development earlier on? Yes. Did the lack of more keep me from liking it? No.

Moira I liked, although better as we went along. Bel and Airi were just the type of characters I love, however, so I was with them right from the start. I also like the emotional set up to the group of the three.

Although I know there’s more stories to come in the over all story, I still feel like the story told in this one needed more to it to be told fully. (Like I was saying about character development earlier.) And yet, just the same, it wasn’t enough to pull me away from enjoying it on the whole.

I really liked The Four. The wings in relation to emotion was very cool, too. Overall, I really liked the world created as well. This had a lot of little things working for it that I really liked.

Plus, I have to note that after reading the book so I knew the significance, the cover is very cool.

I am interested to see what happens in the next book. I can’t give it a raving 5, but it’s a solid 4 Fireballs.

4 Fireballs

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