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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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Review: “Season 7″ by D. F. Nightshade

“Season 7″ by D. F. Nightshade

Available from: Amazon
Released on: 20 August 2014
I received this book free in exchange for an honest review.

Description: Richard has been a security system salesman for about a year now. He’s good at what he does and loves his job, but doesn’t feel valued at the workplace. He’s passed up for promotions he feels he should get and is constantly second-guessed. His anger starts to affect his job performance. Stressed out Richard goes to a bar to try to calm his nerves. On his way home from the bar he is waved down by Nautilus who is nothing but trouble.

Nautilus is a seemingly normal guy who just so happens to be an alien. Nautilus believes that Richard is the “special one.” The one destined to rule his planet, but everything’s not as it seems and Richard has to find that out the hard way.

Or does he?

Review: This story was…interesting, and strange. I felt that the concept was very creative, and I liked that part of it. I always commend authors on scenarios that aren’t like every other story, and I believe this was the case here.

Unfortunately, the story fell short on the execution of that idea. The mechanics of it didn’t work for me as I felt that the plot wandered a lot and elements were just added “for the hell of it” without true purpose to the story or the characters; the Point of View changes were jarring and I thought unnecessary–since going a long while with one character’s PoV and then adding random others later is something that I generally don’t like; and then this book also suffered from Pointless Female Character Syndrome, where female characters were seemingly just added to have female characters but without giving them strength, depth, or reason.

I wish I could have liked this story better, but unfortunately, it just wasn’t for me. 2.5 Fireballs.

2.5 Fireballs

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Review: “Wizard of Ends, Book Two ‘Dark Creature'” by Vanessa Finaughty

“Wizard of Ends, Book Two ‘Dark Creature'” by Vanessa Finaughty

To Be Released on: 23 October 2014
You can pre-order this book at: Barnes & Noble or iBooks
(P.S. The author has informed me that if she gets 2000 pre-orders, she will dye her hair blue.)
I received this ARC free in exchange for an honest review.

Description: Escorted by soldiers of Ends, Lashlor sets out to find an old flame, Rune Arcana, the only person who can help to remove the curse placed on the Queen of Ends. Lashlor believes that Rune currently resides in the Mountains of Eclador – a place from which no one has returned in all of recorded history. She could refuse his request. She could be dead. Lashlor and his companions could meet the same fate.

If they do not brave the mountains, however, Queen Narraki will remain in the form of a rabid creature of darkness… forever.

Forever is a long time, and King Lanaran fears the Wizard of Ends will not return. Ignoring Lashlor’s advice not to meddle with the curse, the king employs other magic users to attempt to undo the dark magic.

Review: Do you remember how I said that if the last one had been paced better, I would have given it a five instead of a four?

Well, I’m happy to report that this second installment was paced much better. Although it was still fast-paced and kept rolling along, it didn’t have so many Really Big Things happening so very close together. The progression was smoother, and made more sense.

Lashlor was much more consistently active as a character, and I was thoroughly amused by our new addition of Rune Arcana. The story was exciting, engaging, and very funny. Three things I like in a story.

I actually don’t have much to say, except…when is book three coming out?

As promised, 5 Fireballs! If you like fun, fast-paced, funny fantasy (and alliteration), I would recommend the Wizard of Ends.

5 Fireballs

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: “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: “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: 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: Crazy Little Thing Called Lust (Simone: Part Two: Naughty Nookie Series) by Serena Akeroyd

“Crazy Little Thing Called Lust” by Serena Akeroyd

Available on: Amazon * Barnes & Noble * Smashwords
Released on: 7 December 2013

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

Description: After the revelations that sprang forth after her one night stand, Simone feels both betrayed and guilty as hell in the aftermath. When Zane calls her, looking to take her out again, what can she say apart from, ‘Get real! And while you’re at it, get lost!’

But when Zane refuses to take her rejection and forces her to listen to his unorthodox tale, he sets Simone on to a path she never imagined impossible.

With her life changing about her, only her friends can keep her grounded.

But does she want to have her feet planted firmly on the ground?

Or is she ready for adventure?

Even if that adventure means her becoming something that goes against her every principle.

Review: I liked part two better than part one. I found the main character’s snark a little less exaggerated and her emotions a little less annoying, although I still don’t know why she annoyed me quite so much at the end of the last one. There are other elements to her and to the story that make me relate to her better.

Also, I found the sex scenes hotter in this one and yet I really like how realistic she makes them.

I’m interested and excited to see where the latter two parts go and hope they go where they look like they’re going, because I enjoy books about relationships that rebel against convention, which is where we’ve gone and where it looks like we’re going. So, yeah, looking forward to that.

Not sure what spark it needs to push this up that last notch, but it’s a 4.5 Fireballs from me.

4.5 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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