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Review: “A Plague of Shadows” by Travis Simmons

“A Plague of Shadows” (Harbingers of Light, Book One) by Travis Simmons

Available from: Amazon
Released on: 14 December 2014
I received this book free in exchange for an honest review, as part of this book’s blog tour.

Description: A shadow plague is creeping through the land of O. The plague ensnares those it infects, and turns them into mindless shadow people called darklings. The darklings have one goal: to pollute all of the nine worlds along the world tree, and bring about oblivion. Fear of these darklings and the magic they possess drives people to kill those that appear different, or go against the holy word of the All Father.

At nineteen Abagail Bauer should be starting a family of her own, but instead she still home, caring for her lame father and their farm. The hard life has made her practical. She has little time for flights of fancy, unlike her sister Leona who insists her doll can predict the future. But that all changes in a single moment. While tending their bees Abagail encounters a blackness spreading through the hive. She knows what it is: the shadow plague. And now she’s been infected.

She doesn’t believe in other worlds outside her homeland of O. But when her father finds she’s contracted the shadow plague, he sends her to live with her Aunt Mattelyn in a world known as Agaranth. Though she’s never met her aunt, she’s the only known person who has contracted the shadow plague and learned to control it. For Abagail, everything she’s ever believed to be myth becomes a staggering reality.

Joined by her neighbor, Rorick Keuper, on a quest of revenge against the darklings who destroyed his home, and her seer sister, Leona, Abagail sets off across the rainbow bridge to Agaranth in hopes of curing herself of the plague. But Abagail finds that her infection is only the beginning of her ill fate. When she arrives in the new world, she’s far from where she needs to be. Braving the winter of this new land, along with the darklings that hunt her, will Abagail be able to find her aunt before the shadow consumes her, or is she destined to become a husk of who she once was and destroy all she holds dear?

Buy A PLAGUE OF SHADOWS today and get lost in the darkness.

Review: I’m still not entirely sure what I think about this book. There wasn’t anything “wrong” with it and I can’t say that I thought it was bad. It may have been my mood while I was reading, because that’s been known to happen, but I couldn’t seem to fully connect with any of the characters and something undefinable just didn’t sit entirely right.

It was a short read, but I didn’t feel like I got to know the characters that well and Abagail did bother me a little, but that may have been her age. (My issues with young female main characters being well documented.) It moved slowly, but the writing was fine. I liked the Norse inspiration as well, which mostly carried me through.

So I liked it well enough for 3 Fireballs.

3 Fireballs

 

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A. Star is Visiting! [Tour Stop]

Wish for Me

“Wish for Me” (The Djinn Order, Act One) by A. Star

To Be Published on… March 2015
Published as… New Adult Steampunk Fantasy

About the Book

Cover Design: Deranged Doctor Design

Three wishes. Two lovers. One destiny.

When the snarky Glory St. Pierre discovers the gold mechanical vase in her deceased grandmother’s basement, she has no idea that she has uncovered a priceless treasure: a genie lamp. With a real genie inside. A very sexy genie with a not-so-sexy grudge against the entire human race.

Irving Amir hates being called a genie. He’s a Djinn, and he is none too happy to be in the service of Glory, who is as intolerable, and beautiful, as humans come. Now he owes her his gratitude for freeing him and three wishes. Damn his luck.

But an arrow through the shoulder alerts Irving to the fact that he is being hunted, and after a truce dinner with Glory ends with them both almost being killed, hating each other goes right out the window. As feelings change and love starts to develop, they must dig through the secrets and lies to find the truth…a truth neither of them will ever see coming.

WARNING: Not suitable for ages 18 and under. A significant source of bad language, sexy times, and dirty jokes. If you suffer from a lack of a sense of humor, take with plenty of wine. If the symptom persists, see a doctor.

“Dream of Me” (The Djinn Order, Act Two) by A. Star

Cover Design: Deranged Doctor Design

About the Author

A. Star Author Photo
A. Star is a fan of dirty passion. She likes to read it, and she damn sure likes to write it. Her first adult romance/fantasy novella is called Invasion, an alien romance about sacrifice. Lover, Divine is the first release from the Mythos: Gods and Lovers series. Future releases under A. Star include three more books in the Mythos: Gods & Lovers series, The Djinn Order novella series, and more.

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Review: “Wednesdaymeter” by Dean Carnby

“Wednesdaymeter” by Dean Carnby

Available from: Amazon or Barnes & Noble
Released on: 29 April 2014
I received this book free in exchange for an honest review.

Description: An eggplant wails, a ladder breaks, and the guise of civility shatters.

A professor of festival studies, a potato hunter, a deadly career counselor, and a part-time terrorist are struggling to retain their sanity in a magically mundane city. Their carefully laid plans fall apart when they meet Mr. Pearson, an everyman who suspects a conspiracy of evil polygons behind his company’s absurd practices.

Theirs is a world in which people use raw produce and wasted time to alter reality. If it were not for the stringent safety standards on fruits and vegetables, the citizens would live in misery. Most live a life of willful ignorance instead, desperate to avoid facing the threats surrounding them. Festival season is about to begin, but the colorful banners cannot hide the tragic past any longer.

Review: As I write this review, it’s been about a week since I read the story and I’m still not entirely sure what I just read…

This was a very strange book. Using raw vegetables to do things like run faster or change appearance, which you can fold like paper and uses wasted time to function… People like polygons… And yet, I commend the author’s imagination and creativity, and as bizarre as it was, it was a generally well-constructed story that I did over-all enjoy.

After the Curiosity Factor wore off, the story did begin to drag a little through the middle. The characters felt somewhat two-dimensional at times as well, but part of it–given the scenario and backgrounds–made sense and may have been intentional, although it did make it a little hard to fully “hook into” the character we were reading about.

The conformity versus non-conformity theme is, however, one I greatly appreciate, so I liked that about it and I did ultimately like the strangeness of it. It had the feeling of allegory although I’m not entirely sure what exactly it’s allegorical to.

So…I liked it, although I can’t say I really liked it. 3.5 Fireballs.

3.5 Fireballs

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Boom Baby Review’s Best of 2014!

2014 was a really busy year for me, and I tried to amp up the reviewing. Although there were some books that weren’t quite my thing, I was really lucky to get some great books. As such, I want to give a shout out to my 4.5 and 5 Fireball reviews of 2014! Each one is linked to the review, so you can check out what I thought about it. And now, in no particularly order, they are…

Fantasy

Wizard of Ends, Book Two: Dark Creature by Vanessa Finaughty & Majra by J. Simon

Monster Lit

Waking the Merrow by Heather Rigney

Contemporary Poetry/Prose, Military

Starved for Bullets by Ryan Goodrich

Erotic Romance

The Brethren of the Coast by Barbara Devlin (Reviewed in 2014: My Lady, The Spy; The Most Unlikely Lady; One-Knight Stand)

Steampunk Action/Adventure

The Adventures of Ichabod Temperance by Ichabod Temperance (Reviewed in 2014: For the Love of Temperance; A Study in Temperance)

Superhero, Comedy

Scarlet Winters by J. Kwong

Contemporary Literary Fiction

The First Noble Truth by C. Lynn Murphy

Historical Fiction

Agnes Canon’s War by Deborah Lincoln

…and that was the best of 2014. Thank you to all the authors and readers who made this a great reading year. I’ve got the proverbial stack of books already to get 2015 kicked off with a bang, so watch this space for more books and more reviews and more everything!

Happy 2015!

Lee French & Erik Kort are Visiting! [Tour Stop]

Harbinger

“Andromeda’s Fall” by Abigail Owen

Published on… October 2014
Published as… Fantasy

Lee French’s Top Ten List

Top Ten Fantasy Inspirations

In order of my encountering and/or becoming somewhat obsessed with them (to the best of my recollection).
1. Charlotte’s Web
2. Roughly two hundred paperback novels I frittered away my allowance on as a teenager and no longer have, and probably wouldn’t recognize if you shoved one in my face.
3. Dungeons & Dragons
4. Mercedes Lackey
5. William Shakespeare
6. Medieval France and Jeanne d’Arc
7. The legend of King Arthur
8. Ancient Persia
9. Norse mythology
10. The Inquisition (nobody expects this on a top ten list)

About the Book

Adjusting to her new life as a soul-bound agent of the Fallen has Chavali pushing herself harder than ever before. Between learning to fight, dealing with idiots, and climbing stairs – lots of stairs – she has little time to waste on thoughts of the future. Or the past.

When another agent fails to report in, Chavali is sent on the mission to discover her fate. Ready or not, she saddles up for a new adventure with new dangers.

The search takes her to Ket, a coastal city slathered in mystery. There, she faces ghosts from her past and demons of her future as she seeks answers. All she seems to find are more questions.

Plague, murder, lies, espionage…this city harbors much more than meets the eye, and maybe too much to handle.

Buy the Book at Amazon

About the Authors

Lee French Author Photo
Lee French lives in Worcester, MA with two kids, two mice, two bicycles, and too much stuff. She is an avid gamer and active member of the Myth-Weavers online RPG community, where she is known for her fondness for Angry Ninja Squirrels of Doom. In addition to spending much time there, she also trains year-round for the one-week of glorious madness that is RAGBRAI, has a nice flower garden with absolutely no lawn gnomes, and tries in vain every year to grow vegetables that don’t get devoured by neighborhood wildlife.

~* Website * Twitter * Facebook * Goodreads * Pinterest *~

Erik Kort Author Photo
Erik Kort abides in the glorious Pacific Northwest, otherwise known as Mirkwood-Without-The-Giant-Spiders. Though the spiders often grow too numerous for his comfort. He is defended from all eight-legged threats by his brave and overly tolerant wife, and is mocked by his obligatory writer’s cat. When not writing, Erik comforts the elderly, guides youths through vast wildernesses, and smuggles more books into his library of increasingly alarming size.

~* Twitter * Facebook * Goodreads *~

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Jennifer Melzer is Visiting! [Tour Stop]

Siren

“Siren” by Jennifer Melzer

To Be Published on… 5 January 2015
Published as… Paranormal Romance, Fantasy

About the Book

On the night Siren Talbot’s boyfriend was going to propose he disappeared without a trace.

She loved Carver. She was willing to wait, but three years is a long time, and the new guy in the apartment next door isn’t about to walk away from a damsel in distress.

Sweet, charming, Patrick’s always there when she needs him, and Carver? Well… he’s still gone. It’s been three years, and her whole family says it’s time to move on. Patrick’s a good man, he loves her and he’s promised her the happily ever after she deserves.

She’s willing to overlook his secretive nature and the occasional flare of his prickly temper until a single discovery untangles the carefully spun threads of her new husband’s secret life.

Patrick knows exactly what happened to Carver.

Pre-order the Book at Amazon

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Review: “Majra” by J. Simon

“Majra” by J. Simon

Available from: Amazon
Released on: 24 August 2014
I received this book free in exchange for an honest review.

Description: Aris has managed to live a quiet life, even in a stark desert land of glorious tales and beautiful lies, crazed artists and mad hermits. So what if he has a knack for tales? A mere messenger can’t change the world. Mighty great works he’ll leave to mighty great men.

Now the soldiers of Majra have come to pacify his “savage” people. Few dare stand against them. Certainly Aris never meant to. Taking work with the invaders was a way to help his family, not gain insights into the alien ways of their singular truth.

Beset by beguiling widows and vengeful plutocrats, firebrand Sheyks and sword-tongued maidens, the choices Aris faces could save his land—or break it.

Review: I was reading this book and I had a little trouble getting into it at first, because it kind of just has this unique way about it; it just seemed kind of strange and I was like, “What am I reading?” Thinking I was perhaps not in the right mind for it–this happens a lot–I took a break, read something else, and then returned to it. Since it then took me only three nights to finish it, I figured I had the right mind this time.

You have to get used to it. It’s just kind of… Well, the word that kept coming to mind as I laughed my way through certain scenes was “ridiculous” but I’m not using that negatively. It was just kind of wild, like a permanent stream of consciousness between actions of the characters, to their interactions with each other, their sarcasm and storytelling. Once you get in the flow, though, it’s quite a ride–funny and engaging and even powerful.

As you come to the end of the book and look back over the steps you’ve taken with it, you realize that this was actually a very multi-layered tale. It’s a story about right versus wrong; what we know versus what we think; faith, but from many perspectives, including those who embrace it earnestly and those who pervert it; coming of age, and how children turn to adults before we realize it; the places of men and women; of grown children with their elder parents…

I know, right? But it’s done very subtly, so it’s not until you’re almost done that you’re like, ‘hey…’

Also? Also? And this was big reviewer-hearts from me: We had some smart, strong female characters here too, which was awesome. Our female lead (this book was written in dual first person) was a riot. “Rescuable Commodities” was fantastic. I loved her perspective, but she was very real. Not perfect. You aren’t sure you’re going to like her at first, but you really get behind her and root for her.

It had a few missteps, but it’s really sticking with me, so 5 Fireballs.

5 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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Marc Secchia is Visiting! [Tour Stop]

Shadow Dragon

“Shadow Dragon” (Shapeshifter Dragons, Book Two) by Marc Secchia

To Be Published on… 10 December 2014
Published as… Young Adult Fantasy

About the Book

Chameleon Shapeshifters, uncontrollable storm powers, and the rise of Sylakia’s Dragon-elite. The battle against evil scales new heights, but the price of victory grows ever dearer.

Once, a Shadow Dragon ravaged the Island-World. Insatiable. Unstoppable. A Dragon-killer. Now the Shadow Dragon has reappeared, on a collision course with Aranya and King Beran’s campaign to liberate the Islands from the scourge of Sylakian tyranny. He is dark, beautiful and deadly, a predator of untold power.

Meantime, Thoralian weaves his web of guile and betrayal right in the hearts of Aranya’s friends and allies. He will bring them to an encounter only he can win.

Incredible aerial battles. An Ancient Dragon bent on enslaving Aranya. The treacherous secrets of Dragon magic. This is the fight for which destiny has shaped a heroine of rare courage–Aranya, Princess of Immadia. Criminal. Shapeshifter Dragon. A woman who will confront evil at any cost. Spite her at your peril.

Pre-order the Book at Amazon

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Review: “The Mystery of Farholt” by Jonathan Johnstone-Wilson

“The Mystery of Farholt” by Jonathan Johnstone-Wilson

Available from: Amazon or Barnes & Noble
Released on: 10 October 2014
I received this book free in exchange for an honest review, as part of this book’s blog tour.

Description: Two strangers, Haargen and his young daughter, enter the tiny town of Horsend. They need a guide to lead them through the wilderness, and they need one fast.

There is only one person in Horsend with the knowledge and the skill to take such a job: Farholt. Whether he is a hunter, a poacher, or a ranger depends entirely on who is asked. Haargen may not trust the man, but he has no choice but to take him, because there is no way he could find his way alone. Saddled with a guide he doesn’t trust, a daughter unfit for hard travel, unexpected burdens, and secrets that he cannot tell, Haargen begins an arduous journey with a haste he cannot afford to explain.

To make matters all the worse, Farholt has secrets of his own. Secrets he has carried with him all his life. Whether these secrets will help Haargen’s mission, or hinder it, is a mystery that no one is likely to parse out.

Not quickly enough, in any case.

Review: This is a difficult review to write. (This is not, apparently, unusual for me.)

There was nothing bad about this book. It had an interesting cast of characters and as a recent complaint of mine in books (those reviewed and those I couldn’t finish) has been the poor writing of (or total lack of) female characters, I appreciated that this one HAD real female characters and that I thought they were well done. Sure, they were flawed, but all of them were so it was balanced.

Come the end, the secret of father and daughter didn’t really shock me. Farholt’s was a surprise, though, and I liked that.

Yet even so… I never fully connected. It felt like a really, really long prologue. There is this lingering feeling of nothing really happening. Like there’s no true climax to the book, that it’s just building up to something to come in a future story. (Hence it feeling like a prologue.) So it kind of felt like it dragged at several points.

Also, I don’t usually mention the editing of a book in a review–unless it’s really bad, it doesn’t effect my review–but this one surprised me. There’s a list of editors and people who worked on this book at the end and yet I caught many mistakes as I read. That was a little disconcerting to me.

So, I didn’t dislike it but I didn’t really like it either. 3.5 Fireballs.

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