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Review: “Atlanta Burns” by Chuck Wendig


Atlanta Burns: Available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble

Released on: January 27, 2015

I purchased this book for my own reading. 

Thank you Bella for giving me a place I can share my reviews.


You don’t mess with Atlanta Burns.

Everyone knows that. And that’s kinda how she likes it—until the day Atlanta is drawn into a battle against two groups of bullies and saves a pair of new, unexpected friends. But actions have consequences, and when another teen turns up dead—by an apparent suicide—Atlanta knows foul play is involved. And worse: she knows it’s her fault. You go poking rattlesnakes, maybe you get bit.

Afraid of stirring up the snakes further by investigating, Atlanta turns her focus to the killing of a neighborhood dog. All paths lead to a rural dogfighting ring, and once more Atlanta finds herself face-to-face with bullies of the worst sort. Atlanta cannot abide letting bad men do awful things to those who don’t deserve it. So she sets out to unleash her own brand of teenage justice.

Will Atlanta triumph? Or is fighting back just asking for a face full of bad news?

This book is intended for mature audiences due to strong language and violence.

Revised edition: Previously published as two volumes, Shotgun Gravy and Bait Dog, this combined edition includes editorial revisions.


Atlanta Burns, the book, is hard to like, but easy to love, the same can be said for the character who shares the title. There is much pain in Atlanta and just enough darkness that she can come across as standoffish, and difficult, but her past makes the rough edges understandable and easy to empathize with. The book itself deals with many hurtful subjects causing you to wonder how they can all fit, but they do. Mr. Wendig weaves a tale that draws you through loops and turns, many of which make you want to close your eyes because they are distasteful, until finally it all pulls into a masterful endgame where you find resolution and maybe a little bit of peace.

Atlanta Burns, the young woman, has been through too much for someone her age, but instead of creating a pitiful character she is written into a strong woman, unafraid to do things that others cannot, or will not. Being willing to deal with the rougher sides of life in her town means she has to face the fact she might make herself and those around her targets.

There are not many subjects that cause me to turn away from a book, but the dogfighting in this dealt with one of them. Instead of pushing me away, the manner in which the character and the writer handled it kept me saying “You can get through this.” And I did, and I am glad I did.

Tragedy seems to find this book at every turn and you come out feeling like you have been drug through the dirt with Atlanta. Instead of feeling “justified” in the choices she makes you can see the damage done by them. There is a saying that no good comes without a cost and the story written here is a perfect example of it.

As a new reader of Chuck Wendig’s work let me say that this book has made me ready to read more. His storytelling and perspective make for a well done point of view for bringing an outsider into Atlanta’s darkened hometown. I give this book five fireballs as I really enjoyed it.



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Louise Turner is Visiting! [Tour Stop]

Fire & Sword

“Fire & Sword” by Louise Turner

Published on… 19 September 2013
Published as… Historical Fiction

A Chat with… John Sempill of Ellestoun

Bella: What is the name of the book where we’ll find you? Can you tell us a little about it?
John Sempill of Ellestoun: The tale is called ‘Fire and Sword,’ and it was named after the letters of fire and sword issued to me by King James IV of Scots in the summer of 1489. It tells of the violence and unrest that shook Scotland following the death of King James III in battle. The circumstances surrounding the old king’s death were uncertain – I’ve heard it said that he was murdered – and the time which followed proved very difficult for those men who fought in his name and remained loyal to his memory.

Bella: Tell us a little about yourself. Where do you fit into the story? What should we know about you?
John Sempill of Ellestoun: My father, Sir Thomas Sempill of Ellestoun, died defending the king on that fateful night, and my uncle – who was one of the king’s most trusted advisers – fled to England. He was later charged with treason in absentia. I escaped with my life, an untried youth ill-prepared for the trials that followed. I had always assumed that I would inherit my father’s lands and titles and become an officer of the king’s law and a baron. It had been my dream, too, to win renown in the king’s service, and –I hoped – to earn a knighthood. But my father’s premature death left me without allies, and with an aging widowed mother and an unmarried sister to support besides. All the while the wolves were gathering, biding their time and seeking the right moment to strike against me. The story follows my struggle to survive and prosper in a world which had suddenly become a very dangerous and threatening place.

Bella: What do you think of the author? Be honest. We won’t tell.
John Sempill of Ellestoun: Well (hesitates)… I confess that I’m vexed, because this tale is scribed by a woman, and for a woman to presume to see through the eyes of a man is, of course, unheard of. I’m not even sure why she should want to… I suspect, too, that her commitment to God and Holy Church is not what it should be in this day and age – in fact, I suspect she may be something of a pagan… Where we do find common ground is in our devotion to the Muses and to our shared belief in the wisdom of the ancients. Though I do wish she’d make an effort to learn Latin…

Bella: How do you feel about the story you’re in?
John Sempill of Ellestoun: As a child, I was weaned on the epic tales of history, the deeds of men like King Arthur and the Wallace. To be immortalised in this way is a great honour – in truth, I’m unsure why my life should be celebrated when there are others, such as the king himself, who are more valiant and more mighty. Though the writer is quick to remind me that sometimes it takes more courage to turn one’s back on a feud and to pursue a course of peace, particularly when a man finds himself surrounded by those determined to wage war…

Bella: Do you like being a character in the book?
John Sempill of Ellestoun: I’m flattered, certainly, that someone thinks it appropriate to remember my achievements, but… The church is always quick to remind us that to revel in one’s immortality is vanity, and vanity is a sin like any other.

Bella: How do you see your future? Without giving anything away about the story, naturally.
John Sempill of Ellestoun: I hope and pray for all those things held dear by civilized men. I wish to live a good life, to uphold the king’s law and to help maintain peace and prosperity in my beloved country. I hope, too, that I will live to take my place as head of a loyal, loving family and that through my life I can build the fortunes of my household so that when I die, I leave a secure legacy behind me.

Bella: What do you know about your author’s plans? Can we expect to see you in any future stories?
John Sempill of Ellestoun: Yes indeed – I’m told that the intrigues and plots which unfolded during the reign of King James IV were so complicated and engaging that one book alone is not enough to do them justice. In the tale which follows ‘Fire & Sword,’ I am but a supporting player – my associate Hugh, 2nd Lord Montgomerie steps to the fore instead – though for the third installment in the series, I will be resuming the central role.

Bella: Let’s say they make a movie about this book. Who do you want to play you, and why?
John Sempill of Ellestoun: Ah, I’m not best qualified to consider such matters – why, the whole idea seems fanciful! I have, however, been instructed to report that I’m ‘a dead ringer for the young Marcus Gilbert,’ whatever that may mean – I’ve already made my thoughts clear regarding vanity, but I must confess the secret hope that he’s fair to look upon…

About the Book

On the 11th June in 1488, two armies meet in battle at Sauchieburn, near Stirling. One fights for King James the Third of Scotland, the other is loyal to his eldest son, Prince James, Duke of Rothesay.

Soon, James the Third is dead, murdered as he flees the field. His army is routed. Among the dead is Sir Thomas Sempill of Ellestoun, Sheriff of Renfrew, whose son and heir, John, escapes with his life.

Once John’s career as knight and courtier seemed assured. But with the death of his king, his situation is fragile. He’s the only surviving son of the Sempill line and he’s unmarried. If he hopes to survive, John must try and win favour with the new king.

And deal with the ruthless and powerful Lord Montgomerie…

Buy the Book at Amazon US, Amazon US (Print), Amazon UK or Amazon UK (Print)

About the Author

Louise Turner Author Photo
Born in Glasgow, Louise Turner spent her early years in the west of Scotland where she attended the University of Glasgow. After graduating with an MA in Archaeology, she went on to complete a PhD on the Bronze Age metalwork hoards of Essex and Kent. She has since enjoyed a varied career in archaeology and cultural resource management. Writing has always been a major aspect of her life and in 1988, she won the Glasgow Herald/Albacon New Writing in SF competition with her short story Busman’s Holiday. Louise lives with her husband in west Renfrewshire.

~* Website * Blog * Facebook *~

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The Brethren of the Coast is On Sale!

If you’ve been following my blog at all, you’ll know that I’m a huge fan of Barbara Devlin’s Brethren of the Coast series. If you want to check them out but haven’t yet, now is the time! The fifth book is coming out in November, and our author is hosting a sale for the first four. Just .99 each! This sale will last until the end of September.

Barbara Devlin Banner

If you want to know what I thought about Enter the Brethren (Brethren of the Coast #1), you can read my review here.

If you want to know what I thought about My Lady, The Spy (Brethren of the Coast #2), you can read my review here.

If you want to know what I thought about The Most Unlikely Lady (Brethren of the Coast #3), you can read my review here.

If you want to know what I thought about One-Knight Stand (Brethren of the Coast #4), you can read my review here.

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Review: “From a Far Land (Jaben’s Rift)” by G. David Walker

From a Far Land (Jaben’s Rift) by G. David Walker. I received this free of charge because the author and I are in the same goodreads writer’s group, and he’s a nice guy. You can buy a copy at Amazon.

Description: Jason Bennett never intended to change the world, his own or anyone else’s. But when an ordinary family vacation sends the teenager to Teleria, an extraordinary world of might and magic, his arrival sets the wheels in motion on events that will change that world forever.

In Teleria, Jason is thought be Jaben, a paradoxical figure from ancient prophecy destined to save or doom the world. Through half-truths and misunderstandings, Jason gets caught in a dangerous tug of war between the ruling Circle of Nine and one of his own ancestors from three hundred years in his past. Adding to his dilemma, he finds himself at the center of a conflict between two of the Altered, a small group of godlike beings, one of whom is secretly aiding Jason’s ancestor, violating a Covenant that has kept Teleria safe from their influence for over a millennia.

Unable to return home, Jason must learn to use power he isn’t convinced he has, keep from triggering a war between the Altered that could devastate the planet, and survive the plans of some among the Circle who believe the prophecy calls for his death.

Not quite the summer vacation he had in mind.

FROM A FAR LAND takes the reader on a journey of honor and deception, betrayal and self-sacrifice, as Jason tries to figure out who is telling him the truth and who only wants to use him, before Teleria’s fate is sealed forever.

Review: I don’t know why, but I’ve had this book on my ereader for a while and just haven’t gotten to it. Through no fault of the book or whatever, I just keep having other things come up. Silly things. I finally read it, and I really liked it.

Through much of the book, I found it intriguing and entertaining. Walker has a fluid style to his prose, and manages to change perspectives without making me feel bounced around. The opening was enough to make me want to know more. For some reason, despite liking all the elements, the whole picture didn’t grab me and say OMG THIS IS THE BEST BOOK EVAR!

You know, we all have those things, but it was a solid 4 Fireballs book, maybe 4.5, while I was reading the first 80% — as my Kindle tells me, so I can’t say pages. There was some odd use of in-story time that threw me a little and some pacing that pushed-me-pulled-me, in being a little dragging and then go-go-go.

Even so, I read at a quick and comfortable pace. And like I said, I otherwise liked all the elements: the characters, the world. I thought the loremaster stuff was very cool and liked the color/gemstone thing. The Altered were also very cool. (Have a theory there I’m curious about if the author elaborates on in further stories.) I liked the dimsai, that it could be very powerful but did exact a toll on the users. Made it epic but realistic/balanced to me.

Then around 80%-ish, it finally grabbed me. I really dove in and it killed me that I kept getting interrupted in my reading! I loved the… “surprise arrival” we’ll call it, since I don’t want to give anything away, and the battle chapters were great. I had a real Lord of the Rings feeling, more the movies than the books for the imagery captured. And since I love those movies, this is a big compliment.

Since I just adore me some warrior-leader archetype, giants and kick-ass fantasy chicks, I can’t decide is Gatlor, Calador or Lenai were my favorites.

There was some trite stuff to the ending, but it was the kind of trite I like. It managed to wrap stuff up while leaving enough intrigue for the next book, which I am so totally going to read… when it comes out. :) So, I’ll join the crowd. 5 Fireballs.

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Review: “Prossia” by Raphyel M. Jordan

Prossia by Raphyel M. Jordan. I received this book free in exchange for an honest review. You can purchase it at Amazon.

Description: Trying to grow up in a galaxy full of advanced technologies and people who’ve isolated you from society is one thing, but trying to grow up in a galaxy where you can end up dead by poking your head around the corner of a burning tree or crumbling building is another! When a race of aliens known as the Cyogen return and oppose the galactic rule of order known as Truth’s Grace in a far off galaxy, a young Goolian named Alytchai is thrown into such a world in order to protect her tiny speck of a galaxy she calls home.

Even though her race is considered naturally skilled in the art of combat, Aly’s physical and mental differences in processing things make her question if she can be the servant and defender her planet has called to be. Fortunately for her, Aly finds support by looking to a group of both local and off-world creatures that she can always rely on when her confidence on and off the battlefield is questioned. Then again, some of the people she thought she could trust have their own series of conspiracies and dark secrets that might jeopardize everything that Aly has been taught to believe and trust her entire life.

So how will this Young One from the middle of nowhere overcome these issues while engaging in the horrors of war? Can she overcome the Cyogen? Can she overcome the war? Can she overcome herself?

Review: Okay… this is going to be a complex review. There were a lot of elements that I liked about this story, but I had issues with it in equal turns. It makes me uncertain about whether I actually liked it or not. I was able to finish it, but between my issues and sci-fi not always being my favorite, I might not have kept on with it had I not taken it for review.

What I didn’t like…

I had some problems with the language in the writing. It would have been okay, since this is a sci-fi book with no humans, but only if it was kept to the alien’s dialog. But it was in the exposition too and that really kept pulling me out of the story. It was a strange mix of “alien talk,” psuedo-archaic and modern colloquial.

It also needed editing… like, “smile” is not a proper dialog tag. You can’t smile words, or shrug, or grin them. And there were many, many cases of words being mixed up: descent for decent, waist for waste, contempt for content. Again, was this a try to make it sound non-human? But it was in the exposition.

The story is written in Third Person Omniscient, so the flip-flopping tones (formal to informal), the inconsistent word usage, couldn’t be easily explained as alien perspective. That would have been okay in First Person, or even Third Person Limited. (I’m still a little on the fence about the Omniscient voice, since it’s not my favorite, but Jordan actually did fine with it so I don’t think it hurt the story.)

Jordan does very well to avoid most information dumps, though sometimes it leads things to not be as well explained as a reader might like, but you get the point.

This next point is my issue and not the author’s. Aly – the main character – is well written as a teenage female protagonist, as well as the other things she is. (You have to read the story to find out.) But… I don’t like most female teenager main characters. And sadly Aly was not the exception. Her melodrama and inconsistencies drove me nuts. It made it hard for me to sympathize/relate.

There was a little bit of Mary Sue Syndrome with her too: a character the commands more loyalty and love than I see reason for in the story and actions of the character.

My last issue was the main plot line in relation to the story. It’s obviously more of a character study than a plot driven one, but still, it is a story about war – building to a war, being in one, and so on. But the way it’s paced and moved, I felt no immediacy or urgency from the characters or in myself. Made it hard to hook into it.

And some Events at the end that I think were supposed to be shockers didn’t really shock me at all.

What I did like…

Now, I know it sounds like I’m bitching all over the place, but the fact that I’m pulling out this much actually shows that I saw a lot of potential and a lot one could like in the story. The fact that I did finish it was also telling, because I have a very frightening DNF rate when it comes to books.

I liked the mix of being naive and knowledgeable about other races and planets in the Goolian, and the controlling one’s being thing was interesting. I really liked Gurthyus (whose name I think I’m misspelling from memory).

This story kind of gave me a Starship Troopers feel, which amused me.

Prossia really did have a fascinating concept and I liked the premise. I liked that there were no humans. The Sungstra stuff I found really cool, but I can’t say why because then I’d give away too much of the Reveals later on in the story. I don’t know if I’ll read other Prossia stories, but I may. I am curious.

And the character illustrations at the end were a nice touch.

I had too many issues to justify a higher rating than 3 Fireballs, though I think if it weren’t for those things, I would have given it a higher rating, and I acknowledge that some of my issues were entirely me-specific and other people will likely have no issues with them at all.

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