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Review: “…Can Be Gold” by Serena Akeroyd

“…Can Be Gold” by Serena Akeroyd

Available from: Amazon
Released on: 11 January 2013

Description: The Simone of old no longer exists. She has transmogrified into a woman with whom she can’t reconcile but who she must eventually come to accept. This new Mona is stronger, sexier and with an innate power that she’s only just beginning to understand.

For Zane, she has put her very soul on the line. She has dragged herself to the outer limits of her principles and has entered uncharted territory. All for the man who helped form this new creature that calls herself Simone Barranquet.

But was it worth it? Is he worthy of her sacrifice?

And what of Jake? Is he manipulating her or does he really share the same aspirations? When two enemies unite and become allies, the man at the center of the battle is key.

But will Zane concur? Is he strong enough to accept them both, to have what he’s never known he’s always wanted?

Review: This is the fourth and final installment in the Naughty Nookie: Simone series of novellas, which I have read and reviewed all of: Fall Into Love, Crazy Little Thing Called Lust, and All That Glitters….

I’ve enjoyed all of this story’s predecessors and I enjoyed this one as well. I love stories and particularly love stories that are not like every other love story out there, diverging in ways that are truly different. Akeroyd has done that well here. In this series, she shows that Love, Lust and Life are complicated things that will not be bound by convention or the impositions of society. These four parts of Simone’s story are testament to that, and that’s what I’ve liked about them.

Love should never be narrowly construed.

Happily, Mona (Simone) didn’t annoy me as she did in the first couple. She has come to accept that she’s not like everyone else and not meant to live her life like them, and I like that about her now. Although I did want to shake her (all of them, really) when they were struggling about the unconventional nature of what they want, at the “it’s just not done,” and say: Get thee to the internet! One Google search would’ve cleared that up right fast.

Mona’s narrative voice continues to be engaging, and there was a lot of awkwardness and uncertainty woven through out, which was realistic and thus I liked it. And the sex scenes were all pretty good, too.

The one thing I’m still not sure on is the last two chapters. Do those sorts of attitudes exist? Yes. Do those sorts of things happen? Yes. Was the abruptness of it realistic? Yes. But to have it happen and then kind of be skipped over in two short chapters didn’t set well with me, though I can’t say I thought it totally “wrong” for the story. So my jury is still out on that.

Otherwise, however, I liked this concluding chapter as much as the three before it. For anyone with an open mind and an enjoyment for love stories that are truly different, and yet not at all because love is always love, then I’d recommend it. 4 Fireballs.

4 Fireballs

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Review: “River of Desire” by J. K. Winn

“River of Desire” by J. K. Winn

Available from: Amazon
Released on: 16 January 2014

Description: Imagine traveling deep into the Amazon Jungle, where every step is a struggle through thick undergrowth, any rock or tree may mask a venomous creature and somewhere, at some time, you will run up against a mysterious Hemorrhagic Fever.

River of Desire tells the tale of Leah Roberts, a reporter on assignment in Peru, who hires professional guide, Dylan Hart, to escort her into the Amazon jungle on the trail of a deadly Hemorrhagic Fever. On the river, Leah and Dylan encounter treacherous rapids and carnivorous creatures, but what they fear most is the attraction growing between them. Their travels finally lead them to a reclusive doctor who holds the answer to the sudden appearance of the lethal viral strain.

Don’t expect the ordinary when you begin a trip down the River of Desire. So, hop on board the boat and take a thrilling, sometimes life threatening, but always action-packed ride down the mighty Amazon with Leah and Dylan, who face daunting adventures, but know that love is the most amazing adventure of all.

Review: This book starts out kind of like your stereotypical romance novel with a spunky female reporter who needs the rugged male guide to lead her into the jungle after her story. I might have found it a bit more unique if it had been a female guide and male reporter, but it’s still a fine start.

The attitudes of our hero and heroine are also a bit typical early on, but their attraction for each other grows subtly and I do like that.

However, as the story progresses it gets less stereotypical. Our heroine’s familial angle adds a layer of depth, and the story revealed there in brings it to another level. I really liked the Kruger stuff and how things are not always how they appear.

The pacing of the story is good and I do like the story angles of both South America and the suspense of researching such a frightening disease. These things do allow a realistic progression for the relationship of the hero and heroine, and you are rooting for them by the end and believe it when they connect.

So, while I thought the beginning lacked a bit of uniqueness, it definitely differentiates itself as it moves on and ultimately, I really enjoyed it. 4 Fireballs.

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Review: “All That Glitters” by Serena Akeroyd

“All That Glitters” by Serena Akeroyd

Available from: Amazon
Released on: 8 December 2013

Description: With Mona gradually realizing that life is a fickle mistress, she knows she has choices to make. Choices that will change her future forever. And regardless of the chaotic tangle of her affair with Zane, she still wants and needs him to be a part of her present.

But with news of their affair having hit the gossip columns, Mona knows there’s little to no chance of that happening. Where once the future was bright, now it’s bleak until the remarkable occurs. A stranger who’s not so strange turns up at her door and offers her an alternative path.

To Mona, being a kept woman was as unorthodox as could be, but what Zane’s husband, Jake Harris, suggests makes less sense than Martians taking over NYC. In fact, he might as well propose that she turn green.

But for Zane, is she willing to do the unthinkable?

Is she willing to take on sex god no. 2 to retain no. 1?

Review: I’ve now reached part three of the four in this series of novellas. I’m still continuing to enjoy them, and the movement of Simone’s character from everything she’s known into the unconventional is painfully realistic.

This one is different, however, from the other two. There is far less sex and more focus on developing the whole of what I believe is coming in the fourth part. There’s this angle with Jake’s work and some historical aspects to that. It made it stand out from the first two parts, almost feeling like a different style, but not in a bad way.

I still struggle with Simone a little, but not so much as to not enjoy the story and want to read how it all concludes. Another 4 Fireballs.

4 Fireballs

 

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Review: “You Can’t Kill the Multiverse*” by Ira Nayman

“You Can’t Kill the Multiverse* (*But You Can Mess with its Head)” by Ira Nayman

Available from: Amazon
Released on: 9 January 2014

Description: It’s just another day in the Transdimensional Authority, with teams of investigators doing what they do best (well, after breakdancing) – investigating. Bob Blunt is en route through a Dimensional Portal™ to Earth prime 4-7-5-0-0-7 dash iota to investigate cars exhibiting most uncarlike behaviours – ribbit! (Breaking all of the Transdimensional Authority rules…number 127, he is without his partner, ‘Breakfront’ Balboa, who is on leave after an unfortunate incident with the Vulvar Ambassador to Earth Prime and a staple gun). Beau Beaumont and Biff Buckley have already arrived on Earth Prime 5-9-2-7-7-1 dash theta to find themselves surrounded by machines whose only intention is to serve human masters – even if it kills them! Recently recruited TA investigator Noomi Rapier, with her partner ‘Crash’ Chumley, is on Earth Prime 6-4-7-5-0-6 dash theta where all matter at all levels of organisation (from sub-atomic particles to the universe itself) has become conscious. Meanwhile Barack Bowens and Blabber Begbie, taking the Dimensional DeLorean™ to Earth prime 4-6-3-0-2-9 dash omicron, face multiple apocalypses (already in progress), and Bertrand Blailock and Bao Bai-Leung are having trouble travelling to their intended destination: the home of the digital gods. At first, they all appear to be looking for unauthorised and probably counterfeit Home Universe Generator™s, but could what’s really happening be more sinister?
(Yes. Yes, it could. We wouldn’t want to leave you in suspense…)

Review: After I finished the book, I put aside my ereader and thought: I have no idea what I just read.

Seriously! Ira Nayman writes some of the strangest and most convoluted books around, and yet you somehow seem to follow and to “get it,” and it’s amusing the whole way. He has a way of being very “breaking the fourth wall” -esque with his exposition, but it’s always humorous and on point.

The prose is littered with semi-covert pop culture references that are funny when you don’t get them and really funny when you do. And for me, he hits on pop culture references that really speak to me, like Star Trek of World of Warcraft (I want a gummy bear mage, dammit!) and that makes me like it even more.

He’s one of the few authors I’ve read who can write something like this and do it well, so that you end up sitting back and saying, “I have no idea what I just read, but man, I had a really good time doing it!”

It’s another solid 4 Fireball hit for me.

4 Fireballs

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Review: “Game of Souls” by Terry C. Simpson

“Game of Souls” by Terry C. Simpson

Available from: Amazon
Released on: 28 February 2013

DescriptionYour soul is your magic. The nobility will stop at nothing to steal it.

Keedar Giorin still remembers the night when soldiers killed his mother. The Night of Blades. He was three, but the memories are written in his mind in blood, flames, scales, and his mother’s mad cackles.

Assigned by his father to save two young noblemen or risk a repeat of the massacre on his home in the Smear, Kasandar’s most lawless district, Keedar dives headlong into the mission. He uses his most secret skill, a magic that could bring the King’s Blades hunting him, a magic that could be a death sentence if reported to the wrong ears.

But even that risk is part of his father’s calculated plan. A plot to determine who was behind his mother’s death, while securing a new ally for their guild, and seeing their people rise from squalor and oppression to strive for the identity and power they have all but forgotten.

Plans, however, do not always follow the path drawn out. What will Keedar do when a count takes interest in his magic? Where will he run to when the hunt begins? Can a young man now growing into his power find a way to defeat the most ruthless of assassins?

Review: I found this to be a very good book, hamstrung by issues that could’ve been avoided by some good beta readers and an editor with a eye for streamlining and smoothing prose. I know that many reviewers rate lower for poor editing, but I don’t, when it’s a matter of proof reading–spelling and grammar. This wasn’t the case here, however. I will elaborate as I go.

First off, the prologue was very good. I found it to flow well and be very gripping. And the opening of the first chapter was also great. This is a good writer with a wonderful grasp on imagery. Later on in the story, the post-auction scenes were succinct but powerfully chilling.

The magic system (and its racial relevance) and religion created in this fantasy world was also fascinating, and well presented. Our author did not just “info dump” the whole thing on us, but spaced it out so we could learn it gradually. I really appreciate that in books.

The characters were, on the whole, good. They were interesting and engaging, and our younger characters showed a lot of growth through the story, which given what they were subjected to, was necessary and realistic. While the more focused and obsessed, older and set-in-their-ways-and-goals characters, obviously didn’t do as much growing. But that was okay.

There were many intriguing elements introduced in this world, things that I really enjoyed. It dragged a touch here or there, but over all, it was a very engaging read. If these had been everything to it, it would have been an easy 5.

Unfortunately, there were a lot of places where the prose was very rough. It’s not grammatical inaccurate, but it does not flow smoothly. There are areas that it’s awkwardly phrased and arranged, or is repetitive. Repeating words or facts too much makes you feel like you’re stuttering while reading, and that pulls you out of your experience.

The other issue I had–and why I mentioned beta readers–is that I stumbled over a few places that felt like continuity issues. One seemed to be a character being one age in one chapter and then suddenly two years older two chapters along, when two years had not passed in the story. At least not that we were told. There were a few other things, but continuity in such matters is important to me. I don’t like having to flip back to make sure I didn’t misunderstand something.

Given the above issues, however, I can’t call this a 5. But it is a solid 4 Fireballs and I would recommend it to readers who enjoy high fantasy.

4 Fireballs

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Review: “A World of InTemperance” by Ichabod Temperance

A World of InTemperance Cover Art

“A World of InTemperance” by Ichabod Temperance

Available on: Amazon
Released on: 8 January 2014

Description: It is New Year’s Eve, 1875. In this humorously told Steampunk tale, adventure-prone Ichabod Temperance and his lovely sweetheart, Miss Persephone Plumtartt, once again find themselves swept up into a whirlwind of misadventure and international catastrophe. The entire world totters on the brink of war, as various nations develop arsenals of dreadful power. It seems as though every nation on Earth lusts for Empire. A sinister plot boils to change the course of human history. Along with a remarkable cast of characters, including sapient animals and clockwork men, our heroes find themselves plunged into unimaginable peril!

Reviews:

And here’s my next sequel review!

I found that I didn’t enjoy this one QUITE as much as I did the first book in this series, but I did still enjoy it. I found that there was a charming quirkiness to the first one that I found lessened in this one, at least through most of the beginning, though I saw more of it as the book progressed and I enjoyed it more as I saw those things return.

This book did kind of make me think of what Patterson’s “Zoo” would have been like if it had been steampunk, and funnier, and, y’know, written better.

There were several new elements I really enjoyed: Bolt was awesome. I really liked Cogito as well. In both cases, I love when we see humanity via the inhuman. It’s a theme I really like, as anyone who has read my Adelheid series will know. Our Author continues to have a way with wonderfully color characters, which we see a lot more of in this book. Gauzot was a lot of fun, and I liked her fight scenes in particular. Piston was also very amusing.

I did find that the ending felt a little rushed, but still funky and fun. So, still a great read and one I’d definitely recommend. I even had to read a couple parts aloud to my husband that I found particularly funny. I’ll be reading the third book! A solid 4 Fireballs.

4 Fireballs

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Review: Dangerous Curves by Morgan K. Wyatt

“Dangerous Curves” by Morgan K. Wyatt

Available on: Amazon * Barnes & Noble * Smashwords
Released on: 23 May 2013
Released by: Secret Cravings Publishing

I received this book free via Masquerade Romance in exchange for an honest review.

Description: Wolfe Jackson is hot on the trail of a domestic terroristic who has been causing havoc and panic by blowing up factories. The trail, although sketchy, has led to a convention in the Midwest. Is it a false trail? Wolfe is unsure, but he knows that a certain blonde named Krista bears investigating.

Krista Harlow finds her life as a principal dull. So bland in fact, she thinks attending the annual principal conference might enliven it. She even harbors secret romantic aspirations. As a principal, she must keep everything strait laced and buttoned down, but that was before she was mistaken for a corporate spy and saboteur, and possible murderer.

Wolfe initially approaches the suspect by pretending he knows her. Krista plays along, proving she’s either devilishly clever or she’s really interested in him as a man. The road to restore his credibility is full of dangerous curves.

Review: I find myself without a lot to say about this one. It wasn’t rave-worthy, but was solidly enjoyable for an erotic suspense. Although I found myself expecting more erotic to the erotic romance, but it was fine.

It was as realistic as the set-up could be in the frame of a romance novel, because all romance novels require some suspension of belief. I do wish we’d seen more about why it was more than just physical chemistry, though. We don’t see them talking or getting to know each other much, although he’s got reason to know her but not she him.

There was also a point where Wolfe mentions something Krista said, but we never see her say it or even when she might have said it, since we don’t much see them talk!

Still, Wyatt pulled off those difficult “buddy camaraderie” exchanges very well and, like I said, it was overall enjoyable. 4 Fireballs.

4 Fireballs

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Review: Sir Edric’s Temple by Thaddeus White

“Sir Edric’s Temple” by Thaddeus White

Available on: Amazon * Barnes & Noble * Smashwords
Released on: 30 October 2013

I purchased this book on my own.

Description: When Sir Edric Greenlock, the Hero of Hornska, is summoned to attend the King in the dead of night he fears imminent execution. Committing adultery is frowned upon in King Lawrence’s domains, especially when it’s with Lawrence’s wife. The King, however, has something else in mind. Priceless royal treasures have been stolen, and the King dispatches Sir Edric to retrieve them in a mission that could optimistically be described as suicidal.

Accompanied by his pathologically loyal manservant Dog, the prudish elf Lysandra, and a man called Colin, he must travel to the Unholy Temple to retrieve the royal treasures from a mysterious thief.

Review: This was a far shorter story for White, but that works for the book. It was about what I’ve come to expect from him in over-all enjoyableness, although it was funny–as it was meant to be a comedy, he achieved it, though only for those who like somewhat morbid humor and frequently bawdy quips. As I do, it worked for me. His meandering style remains but I’ve come to enjoy it, and his penchant for funny and unusual words also continues. Rumpy-pumpy, really?

Another solid 4 Fireballs!

4 Fireballs

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Review: Fall into Love (Simone: Part One: Naughty Nookie Series) by Serena Akeroyd

“Fall into Love” by Serena Akeroyd

Available on: Amazon * Barnes & Noble * Smashwords
Released on: 11 November 2013

I received this book free via the Masquerade Crew in exchange for an honest review.

Description: When Simone Barranquet meets Zane Matthews on a night out with her friends, little does she know that her life is about to change.

Crashing into Zane, her mundane existence is teetering on the edge. A whole new world of sexual exploration awaits her, if she’s willing to take a leap of faith in a man she doesn’t know who leads a life she can’t understand.

Review: Over all, I did like the story. It was engaging and easily paced, and a very quick read–not just because it’s also pretty short. It didn’t spend too much time waffling in the story, and the sex scenes (which were really most of the book) were fun, and also funny.

I did find the narrator to go a bit overboard in her personal life diatribes in the first few pages, but not too bad and the snark of the First Person made it tolerable in its amusement factor. But she lost points with me for the Heathcliff references, though I’m apparently one of two people in the world to not read “Wuthering Heights” like a romance and to think Heathcliff was a sadistic, psychotic bastard.

Guess it’s just me…

I liked that both characters were southerners transplanted to the north and it made for some further amusement, and then we zipped through the next few pages and I enjoyed them.

At the end, however, I almost got turned off the story by her reaction to the…”revelation,” we’ll call it. Not that it wasn’t justified–he should’ve told her–but…I don’t know. Something about her bugged me. Maybe her utter refusal to the idea of there being an explanation; an alternative lifestyle. But still, I’ll keep the open mind cause it would be a shock and he should’ve been honest.

I’ll admit that I cheated and read the book blurbs of the next three parts in this four part series. If it ends up (ultimately) where it looks like the author intends it to, and the author doesn’t annoy me in how she presents it, I think I’ll enjoy the next three parts…as long as Mona doesn’t irritate me again…

Still, despite my little gripes with the narrator, I enjoyed the story and may well read the rest of the series down the road. 4 Fireballs.

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Review: “Dark Messages” by Daniel J. Weber

“Dark Messages” by Daniel J. Weber

 

Available on: Amazon * Barnes & Noble * Smashwords
Released on: 31 October 2013

I received this book free in exchange for an honest review.

Description: Tune your ears to the darkness, hearing the messages therein. Turn your eyes to the pages. Watch darkened words as they seep through those cavities in your skull, fill every pore of your skin, and enliven your heart with Dark Messages. Life can be full of fear, but the emotion does not have to live in vain. Consider the messages skulking behind each dark, horrific story in this collection.

Review: This was a collection of short stories by the same author. I’m going to review each story individually, and then have some final thoughts on the collection as a whole.

Undying Memories
This was interesting and had the feeling of allegory. It felt a little overwritten and repetitive, however, which made it hard for me to sympathize entirely with the mother character, despite my usual penchant to get too much into stories of this nature. (It was a tough topic and one that I usually struggle with.)

A Mile in My Shoes
This one I found to have a rather fascinating premise. Despite the colloquialism that is the title, people never think about the shoes. And then there was the circle in the story, which I liked.

A Storm is Coming
It was very short–flash fiction, really–but I’m a big fan of anthropomorphism and personification, so I really like that. A short but cool story.

Master of Death
Again with both the personification and the circles, but as they are both things I like, it worked for me. It had a very surreal feeling to its style, and that made it a little convoluted at points. But still intriguing.

Know Not What They Do
This one I didn’t really like. Not *because* it was religious, but because of what it did in that frame. The demons made it a sort of “cop out,” I found, and removed the human involvement and responsbility that I think is integral to the biblical story. That, and the removal of the women at the tomb annoyed me, but that’s a pet peeve, if you will.

Infinity
Another story with a slightly heavier handed feeling of allegory, a little too much for me, so this wasn’t my favorite in the group although the theme of infinity and what goes around, comes around, is a theme through out the whole collection and so it was still a fitting tale to end on.

Over all… Themes that I enjoy, as mentioned above, were recurrent in the stories and I did like that.

One interesting thing I noticed after I finished was the feeling of a sort of…removal from the narrators. It made it feel like the readers are observers rather than participants. The stories are dark and emotional, yet it lacks the feeling of emotional involvement to the reader. At least as much as one might think there would be.

Even so, the surrealistic feeling to the prose’s style made me feel like the removal was intentional. That we were meant to be observers to these stories, and as such, it was a goal that was achieved and did work for the collection. Thus what in other stories would be a detriment, makes something of a benefit here.

The stories do involve many dark elements–suicide (of a sort), murder, abuse, destruction on various levels and of various types–so it’s not a collection that would be for everyone, but if you can handle these elements and want to look at them from this step back, you’d probably enjoy it.

Apparently my reviews lately are brought to you by the number four… 4 Fireballs. The observation effect worked for the collection, but for me, I have to be more emotionally involved for a higher rating.

4 Fireballs

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