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review 2018-05-24 14:59
Back to basics
Windows on a Lost World - V.E. Mitchell

There is something appealingly basic about Victoria Mitchell's second contribution to the Pocket Books series of Star Trek novels. In it the Enterprise takes a team of archaeologists to a deserted planet. There they uncover evidence of an even older civilization than the one they were sent to investigate, one that left behind mysterious "windows" that are still active and were subsequently buried by their successors. An accident sends Kirk, Chekov, and one of the archaeologists into the window, where they vanish . . . and the Enterprise suddenly detects alien life on a previously uninhabited world.

 

What struck me about Mitchell's novel as I was reading it was how well her book captures the essential framework of an episode of an original series: the Enterprise explores something, encounters a problem that jeopardizes some of the crew, and then the rest of the crew works together to unravel the mystery and save the crew members in jeopardy. For this comfortingly familiar structure Mitchell provides a story that would have been impossible with the budget and effects of the series, with a refreshingly original alien species unlike any that had been envisioned beforehand. And even if the the the character traits and skill sets of her new characters are a bit too convenient for the story, overall the combination makes for one of the better Original Series novels, one that synthesizes well the best elements of the show and the possibilities of the written page.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-05-24 10:32
A Seditious Affar - KJ Charles
A Seditious Affair - K.J. Charles

Yes, I am one of those readers who picks up stuff when it's on sale and then doesn't get around to reading it till later, so while I'd previously read and enjoyed other books by KJ Charles (though I see I've only reviewed one of them here, which I need to rectify), A Seditious Affair has been sitting on my ebook reader for a while before I got to it this week. Don't be put off by the fact that it's the middle book of a series because, while knowing the other character's stories would probably fill in some finer points, you don't actually need to know the other players to enjoy this story. 

 

The basic premise is that it's almost the end of the Regency period and the current government is lurching from crisis to crisis, not helped by brutally putting down any kind of opposition - this is the time of the Peterloo massacre, a time when radical thinkers of all varieties were putting out publications by the ton. You don't have to know the history of the period to enjoy A Seditious Affair but it does add a little extra to the story if you do, for example when Cato Street gets a mention, you might know its significance.

 

One of those radical thinkers, a self-avowed atheist called Silas Mason, is one of our protagonists here and a year before the book starts had let himself be talked into a regular engagement with a man looking for something in particular. Our other protagonist, Dominic Frey, is far more well-heeled than Mason and works for the Home Office - his day job is hunting down seditionists, while at night (or at least on Wednesday nights) he enjoys being verbally humiliated and then sexed up by a man whose name he doesn't know. 

 

Naturally, while they've managed to remain ignorant of each others' identities for a year, the wheels fall off that particular wagon as their worlds collide explosively. Both are subsequently left to figure out how to make sure Mason doesn't end up with a prison sentence (if he's lucky) for sedition and Frey doesn't have to sacrifice his principles, against a backdrop of growing feelings between them and the ongoing fact that they are committing illegal acts together on a weekly basis. This is definitely one of those scenarios where I was left wondering how the author was going to sort it all out!

 

Anyway, everything gets resolved (even though there's always a feeling that it might not be a permanent reprieve) and in the meantime there's a lot of hot sex. I don't think I've read anything by KJ Charles I haven't at least enjoyed and, while I'm not convinced I like any of the supporting characters in this book sufficiently to read their own exploits, I may yet be convinced to change my mind...

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review 2018-05-24 06:29
Book Tour: Curse of the Ancients by Hawk MacKinney
Curse of the Ancients - Hawk MacKinney

If you wanted to travel to the Middle East or at least a part of it. You do so though Hawk McKinney latest book "The Curse of Ancients". To me it get adventurous and involves mysteries though out the book. I also believe it got some real good crime and detective in the book.

We meet up with Craige Ingram once again, and one of his best friend McGarald. Craige is ask to come and look and be a part of the investigation and find out what going on and finding out. The action be hotter and intense.

Craige bring in another friend from his seal team. When, his home is being threaten and get him and his friend involved some more. They will not back down until they find the answers.
Are terrorists involved and who or what is going on that leaving agents dead? Hawk McKinney does this and pull you in for adventure and battle. Who will win? The book is a page turner and surprises though out. Who would want artifacts and why?

Source: nrcbooks.blogspot.com/2018/06/book-tour-curse-of-ancients-by-hawk.html
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review 2018-05-24 03:15
One of the most-hyped YA fantasy novels of the year so far is out: does it deliver?
Furyborn - Claire Legrand

One of the most hyped books of 2018, with not one, but two versions of early review copies sent out to reviewers and booksellers months in advance, some with a special promo box, 'Furyborn' has been primed for its release for (I'm hazarding a guess) about 8 months now. Every blogger and reviewer I know has wanted to get their hands on a copy of this book to read and review (and likely have the 'one with the artwork on the cover' in their permanent collection) because it is THE book on everyone's blog, and the 'must-read fantasy series of 2018', according to blurb on the back of the book. The publicity campaign has done a rip-roaringly good job to get everyone on board. So does it live up to the hype? Those are high stakes these days when YA fantasy is the genre to reel everyone in.

 

The premise is grand: two young women, one thousand years apart from each other, hold the immense power that will either save their world or doom it. Each one is either the queen of light and salvation, or the queen of blood and destruction, according to prophecy: which one is the Sun Queen, and who is the Blood Queen?


Rielle Dardenne must endure seven trials to test her magic, which she has been hiding since was a child, and prove herself to be in control of her elemental powers, or she will be executed. Then, some thousand years later, Eliana Ferracora is the counterpart to would-be Queen Rielle. She is a bounty hunter and assassin, known as the ‘Dread of Orline’, and she goes on a mission to find her mother who has been taken along with countless other women, in the violent empire of Ventera. Eliana has had to join a rebel captain, the ‘Wolf’, to get to the heart of the disappearances. And while Rielle knew of her powers for many years, Eliana is just coming to terms with her magic, the power that her body has to heal itself. These two storylines and timelines alternate back and forth throughout the novel, between Rielle and Eliana, and don’t seem to relate to each other; the only thing binding them together throughout is talk of the Sun and Blood Queen .

 

So I’ll be honest: it was really hard for me to connect to ‘Furyborn’, and I dipped in and out of the book for a while and read several complete other books at the same time, which is unusual for me. It’s only at about halfway through the book that I became more invested in the story and the characters (and then only somewhat), and then I reserved my time solely to this book. For a long book (512 pages), having to read half of it to get invested, is close to reading a whole shorter-length YA novel, so that’s a lot of reading to try and see what all the fuss is about. It’s not to say there wasn’t any action happening on those pages; it just felt like it wasn’t going anywhere. I couldn’t even put my finger on why I felt like the action wasn't ‘happening’, but I rarely ever skim through words on a page but sometimes I wanted to because the same stuff seemed to keep repeating itself.


I was also getting tired of the back and forth between the two storylines; maybe if the reader got to sit with one of the characters longer, a better connection could be felt. I personally felt like you never are given a true feeling for the actual relationships in this book because you can never stay with them long enough to connect with them.
Both lead characters lack the real spunk or inner beauty that I feel they needed to shine through as deserved heroines, so maybe that was what held me back from truly loving their stories. I didn’t feel like either of them were pulling me through to the finish line.

Despite the world-building and the pretty fascinating underbelly of this novel built on dark angels and visions, which are pretty good openings for some amazing subplots, as well as the thrilling opening to the book ‘An End, and a Beginning’, I don’t feel like ‘Furyborn’ delivered for me.


Legrand is a dynamic author and her lyrical writing skills make much of what you read look like poetry. But I don’t like feeling as though a book is 100 pages longer than it needs to be, just so a book is an ‘epic fantasy novel’. I also wanted more time (but not with extra pages) to get to know these characters so I could connect to them. I hate feeling like I’m writing all of this and it will be an unpopular opinion, but I think this could have been so much better, because this was a ‘big one’, but I’ll be reaching, not for the sequel of this, but for Legrand’s ‘Sawkill Girls’ next.

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text 2018-05-24 01:45
Souls Don't Tell Lies by Fizza Younis

It was one of those lazy days that could transport you to your past. Lately, I had been spending increasingly more time thinking about that one past encounter. There were certain things weighing on my mind, some answers I had received, but some I was still looking for.

It was a Sunday morning and I had no where to be, no one to see, and nothing to do. So, I decided to go out, visit my favorite café, and read for a while. That was when it all happened. In one moment my perception of life changed drastically. Suddenly I felt the need to be more than who I was. More than a person living a very conventional and mundane life. I hated change, I feared it even. I feared leaving my comfort zone, cocooned in my neatly organized principled life, I was not ready to admit that basically I was a coward. Reading was my escape, it was something that made me feel brave, between the pages of a book I could almost pretend to be adventurous. It felt right somehow. There was no need for me to be a risk taker, why would I when I could simply keep on living a peaceful, albeit a boring life? That day everything changed when I received a note from a stranger.

I am uncertain why I responded to that one question the way I did. I was not that person. I was never the kind of person who listened to her heart, my brain had always been the dominant organ, until that one fine day. Perhaps it was someone else who took over my consciousness, at least that was the only plausible explanation I could find. But then words have power we all know this, us who read as we breathe.

Back to that day, so, there I was minding my own business and reading one of my all-time favorite books when someone passed me a note. I opened it, “Are you happy?” That was all it said. No names, nothing else, just a simple question someone who cared for you would ask. Was I happy? I thought I were until that very moment. Suddenly I was not so sure. What was happiness anyway? Do we even know that? I was living a quite life, I had a job, a house, and something to read at any given time. I always thought that was enough. But was it really?

I looked around searching for the author of that cryptic note. It was not a question you would ask a stranger so I wondered who wrote it and why would they be interested in my happiness. That was when our eyes met. It was the first time I noticed how mesmerizingly warm brown color could be. Little did I know that those eyes would haunt me for the rest of my life, literally.

The woman stood up and walked towards me, “may I sit here?” She whispered or maybe she just had one of those husky voices that sound like a whisper.

“Yes, sure. Do I know you?” I replied

“I doubt it, but I know you. I’ve know you for as long as I’ve know myself.” That sounded bizarre but I stayed quiet. I waited for her to elaborate and was not disappointed when she continued, “this may come as a surprise but we are soul twins.”

“Okay?” I was not sure how to respond to that statement. What was soul twinsanyway? Honestly, at that point in time I was starting to fear that I had made a big mistake in talking to a stranger. She was starting to look creepy stalker-ish. I was never a big conversationalist. It was not a norm for me to talk to strangers. I sometimes wonder why I welcomed the woman’s company, but I still do not have an answer to that question. All I can say is that something about her felt … right. I did not know her but at the same time I believed it when she said that she knew me. She most definitely did.

“I can see your skepticism. I assure you I am no looney. I know what I am talking about. We were meant to meet like this. I have waited a long time for this very moment. There is so much I need to tell you and so much you need to understand before we start our journey together.” She was looking at me as if I were the most precious thing in the world. It should have been weird and yet it was not. I was listening to her as if my very existence depended on it. Still, I was not someone to throw caution away.

“Look lady, I have no idea who you are and what you are talking about. Either explain yourself in a way I can comprehend or kindly leave me to my reading.” Annoyance was evident from my tone. The woman was undeterred though.

“All in good time, Sarah.” She smiled and she called me by my name. I was now sure that she was a stalker. Maybe she frequented the same café like me. It was not like I notice people or my surroundings much.

“You do know me.” I stated, “how? What do you want from me?”

“Nothing more than your time.” She said calmly. “First, answer my question. Are you happy?”

“Yes and no. I am not sure. I am content, I think.”

“No, that’s not what I meant dear or rather that’s not what I want to hear from you. You cannot live life like this. It is not living, you just exist, nothing more. You need to be happy. I wish to see you laugh out loud. I wish you to feel exhilarated by something you are passionate about. What are you passionate about?”

This conversation was spiraling out of control for me. Who was she and how did she know about my life so much. True that I had never thought or my life as boring, but she had a point. She was right I was living half-heartedly. It sounded depressing coming from someone else’s mouth. I was at peace, wasn’t I? I did not need passion or laughter. I preferred my quiet existence. Once again, I was lost for words. My confusion was palpable. That woman had the wheels of my thoughts churning. But first thing was first.

“I am not sure why you are asking me this. Why are you interested in my life? Who are you anyway?”

“Did I not tell you that I am your soul twin. Of course, I am interested in your life, in you.” She replied in her calm manner, which I was beginning to associate with her. She had an air of tranquility which was hard to decipher, however, it was very soothing. I wanted her to keep talking. “If you are happy then I will keep on living the way I always have. Your unhappiness will lead to turbulence in my life.” Now she sounded sad.

I laughed at that, you might not understand the importance of it but I laughed! I never laughed, I smiled, but full on laughter? That was so unlike me. I could not help it though. I was beginning to think that she was indeed a looney, also wondered at the same time why I were listening to her aptly. She had me intrigued I would give her that. I was curious to know more, but was there more?

“So, let me get this straight. You think that our souls are twins and that my happiness is related to yours. Is that right?” I asked.

“Yes, that is correct except I do not think it I happen to know if for a fact.” She smiled.

“That is absurd. Besides I have told you that I am quite content with my life. Thank you!” I was getting impatient as the conversation was now in unchartered territory and that was making me uncomfortable. Who talks about souls and happiness? Those things do not mean anything in this paper world. She was making me think about things that I would rather not think about.

“Please, listen to me! You cannot live like this forever. You must find your passion and pursue it. You need to be happy, it is of utmost importance.” She said earnestly.

“Okay, tell me more.” I said it even though I did not want to listen to her any more, but I also wanted to see where she was going with her unusual demands.

“Every soul is created in twos, like ours. Two souls come into existence together, one is destined to be born into this world while the other remains unbound and free to roam the universe. It just exists without really existing. When its twin dies both souls return to their origin and that is when they become one. Our souls have existed for over a hundred years and then you were born as Sarah, while I remained unbound. It was a happy existence for me until you started to wither away. I cannot stand by and watch you waste this life. You must take full advantage of what has been given to you so that when we return to our origin as one there are no regrets, no unfulfilled dreams, and no desire to get another chance because this is it, we will not get another chance ever again.” She tried to explain things in a way she though I would understand. She was wrong though because nothing she had said made any sense to me. It was all so farfetched that it sounded like a plot of science fiction novel.

“You are here, right in front of me and you want me to believe that you are just a soul without body? Are you serious?” I pointed out the most obvious flaw in her theory.

“I can explain that.” She kept smiling and now her smile was starting to creep me out, but her eyes remained the same; warm and inviting. “I am not here, nor are we having this conversation. At least, not in a way that humans do. It is just our souls conversing with each other.”

“That is ridiculous! I am here, in my favorite café, reading what I love the most. You wrote me a note, a note! That is as human as you can get.” I think I was a little more forceful with my statements than I needed to be, but it was the last straw. Now she wanted me to believe that I was hallucinating. Had my life become so pointless that I was having conversations with my soul twin? It was a very disturbing thought indeed. Immediately I started to think about the last time I had a real conversation with someone who was not a character from one of my favorite books. I was indeed turning into a pitiful creature, no wonder my so-called soul twin was worried about my very existence. Huh, I was starting to believe her, my very logical and rational mind was telling me to trust her beautiful brown eyes. They say eyes do not lie, hers seemed honest for sure. But how could I believe in things like soul twins? No, I could not, no matter how honest her eyes were, her words were just fiction. Or so I thought until someone was shaking me awake.

Apparently, I had fallen asleep while reading and when I woke up there was no woman with warm brown eyes anywhere in the café. There was no note inquiring about my happiness. It was just me and my book as usual, just us. But I was left with a nagging feeling in my gut, those hauntingly pretty eyes in my mind, and that soothing husky voice in my ears… urging me to be happy… to be passionate… to live my life to the fullest… because this is the only one I have got. I knew then that it was no mere dream. I had finally found the courage to seek my adventure and that altered the course of my life forever, all thanks to my soul twin.

Where ever she is right now I am quite sure she is still smiling at me.

© 2018, Fizza Younis. All Rights Reserved

Source: medium.com/@fizzayounis/souls-dont-tell-lies-5834657385e4
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