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review 2017-04-22 21:31
A book for readers who enjoy science-fiction that asks big questions, with religious undertones, and lots of action
As Wings Unfurl - Arthur M. Doweyko

I thank the author who contacted me thanks to Lit World Interviews for offering me an ARC copy of his novel that I freely chose to review.

I am not a big reader of science-fiction (perhaps because I don’t seem to have much patience these days for lengthy descriptions and world building and I’m more interested in books that focus on complex characters) so I was doubtful when the author suggested I review it, but the angel plot and the peculiarities of the story won me over. There are many things I enjoyed in this book but I’m not sure that it was the book for me.

As I’ve included the description and it is quite detailed (I was worried about how I could write about the book without revealing any spoilers but, many of the things I was worried about are already included in the description) I won’t go into the ins and outs of the story. The novel starts as a thriller, set in 1975. A private detective has taken a compromising photo and that puts him in harm’s way. Apple, the main character, seems to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, although later events make us question this and wonder if perhaps what happens was preordained. One of the interesting points in the novel, for me, was that the main character was a Vietnam War veteran, amputee (he lost a leg) and now addicted to Morphine. He also experiences symptoms of PTSD. Although his vivid dreams and flashbacks slowly offer us some background information, and the whole adventure gives him a new perspective on life and a love interest, I found it difficult to fully connect with the character. It was perhaps due to the fast action and the changes in setting and point of view that make it difficult to fully settle one’s attention on the main protagonists. One of the premises of the story is that Angela, the mysterious character who is his ersatz guardian angel, has known him all his life. She is oddly familiar to him, and she decides to give up her privileges and her life mission because of him, but as Angela’s interest in him precedes the story, there is no true development of a relationship and readers don’t necessarily understand why they are attracted to each other from the start.

The story, written in the third person, is told mostly from Apple’s point of view but there are also two other characters, from Tibet, Shilog, a farmer, and Yowl, what most of us would think of as a Yeti, but that we later learn is a member of a native Earth species. In my opinion, these two characters are more fully realised, as we don’t have any previous knowledge or any expectations of who they are, and they work well as a new pair of eyes (two pairs of eyes) for the readers, as they start their adventure truly clueless as to what is going on, and the situation is as baffling to them as it is to us. They are also warm and genuinely amusing and they offer much welcome comic relief. They are less bogged down by conventions and less worried about their own selves.

I enjoyed also the background story and the underlying reasoning behind the presence of the “angels” (aliens) in the world. It does allow for interesting debates as to what makes us human and what our role on Earth is. How this all fits in with traditional religions and beliefs is well thought out and it works as a plot element. It definitely had me thinking.

I said before that one of the problems I had with some fantasy and science-fiction is my lack of patience with world building and detailed descriptions. In this case, though, other than some descriptions about the Tibetan forest and mountains, I missed having a greater sense of location. The characters moved a lot from one place to the next and, even if you were paying attention, sometimes it was difficult to follow where exactly the action was taking place (especially because some of the episodes depended heavily on secret passages, doors, locked rooms…) and I had to go back a few times to check, in case I had missed some change of location inadvertently. (This might not be a problem for people who are used to reading more frantically paced action stories.) I guess there are two possible reading modes I’d recommend for this story; either pay very close attention or go with the flow and enjoy the ride.

I really enjoyed the baddie. Dane is awesome. I don’t mind the bad characters that are victims of their circumstances or really conflicted about what they do, but every so often I like a convinced baddie, who takes no prisoners and goes all the way. She is not without justification either, and later we learn something that puts a different spin on her behaviour (I didn’t find it necessary but it does fit in with the overall story arc). The irony of her character and how she uses human institutions and religions to subvert the given order is one of my favourite plot points and she is another source of humour, although darker in this case.

All in all, this is a book for readers who enjoy science-fiction that asks big questions, with religious undertones, lots of action and not too worried about the psychological makeup of the main characters. Ah, and if you love stories about Bigfoot or the Yeti, you’ll love this one.

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review 2016-12-15 12:42
The Extraordinary Journey of Vivenne Marshall by Shannon Kirk @ShannonCKirk
The Extraordinary Journey of Vivienne Marshall - Shannon Kirk

Shannon Kirk’s award winning debut novel, Method 15/33, blew me away…so when I saw The Extraordinary Journey of Vivienne Marshall was available on Netgalley, I snagged it. Thank you Shannon Kirk and Reputation Books.

 

Such a gorgeous cover and I do hope I am walking on clouds when it’s over.

 

Book Design:  Lisa Abellera

Ebook Design:  Mary C Moore

 

Amazon  /  Goodreads

 

MY REVIEW

 

Be careful…when you are texting. Your inattention could be the death of you.

 

Vivienne lay hovering on the brink of death, one foot in the land of the living and one foot with the dead.

 

Noah, her dead, dream husband explains it to her. The scene made me think of a Supernatural episode, where Castielle says our Heaven is of our own making.

 

Is there a Heaven? Does our life pass before our eyes?

 

What would it look like? Who would you want there with you?

 

What secrets would be brought to light after your death?

 

And if there is a Heaven…what about Hell?

 

The lovely pics sprinkled throughout are a nice touch and I love it.

 

I am sitting in one of my favorite reading places, my patio and watering the lawn, even as the black clouds roll in, the thunder rumbling, and I am lost in Vivienne’s world, unable to quit reading.

 

Shannon’s descriptive words draw me into this novel from the opening pages, her poetic words bring to life fantasy worlds full of vibrant colors, beauty and love, but the flowery prose becomes onerous for me, having me starting, stopping and rereading, but that is me. I think there are many readers who will LOVE it and get lost in the story too.

 

This Heavenly love story is tragic, yet hopeful and very thought provoking.

 

I voluntarily reviewed a free ARC copy of The Extraordinary Journey of Vivienne Marshall from Shannon Kirk.

Animated Animals. Pictures, Images and Photos 4 Stars

 

Read more HERE.

 

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Source: www.fundinmental.com/the-extraordinary-journey-of-vivenne-marshall-by-shannon-kirk-shannonckirk
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review 2016-10-10 15:42
Book Review of The Patriots of Mars: The God That Failed by Jeff Faria
The Patriots of Mars: The God That Failed - Jeff Faria

In 2231, twenty-five billion people walk the Earth. Few lack basic food and shelter. Energy is cheap and abundant. A vast army of 'bots serves our every need, and those who can afford to do so might live forever. To some, it is a golden age.

But Earth is devoid of resources, now harvested on or around Mars. Nations are ruled from above by governments owned by enormous transnats, and from below by powerful street gangs who have largely usurped the police.

 

This world is not for everyone. A fifth of the world's population has withdrawn into the drug Nirvana, while millions more have chosen Martian exile. And a phantom group called 'The Patriots of Mars' has committed an act of rebellion that shocks the world.

Josh Reynolds, a Martian-born teen with a secret, is trying to change his life when he gets caught up in the wake of the Patriots' insurrection. As he struggles to both find and save himself, Josh begins to realize that the change he had hoped for could become something more far-reaching than anyone had imagined.

 

Review 3*

 

I received a complimentary book from the author in return for an honest review.

 

This is the first book in a new science fiction series.

 

Josh Reynolds is a wonderful character. He is a young man of seventeen who was born and lives in a colony on Mars, and works in one of the mines that supplies Earth with resources that have been long depleted on that planet. He was also born with a special ability: He has visions and speaks to the Guide, who is a deity or some kind of spirit that helps him when he's in danger or in need of assistance. When a mine accident is triggered by sabotage, Josh finds himself in the midst of an uprising by The Patriots of Mars, a group of rebels determined to break ties with Earth. Or are they? Things are not all they seem and Josh is thrown into a dangerous adventure that could change the face of Mars forever.

 

This is a book that I struggled to get into at first. However, as the story unraveled, I found myself completely hooked. The book is set in the future, where man has conquered the colonisation of Mars and are mining it for its resources. Everything is overseen (on Earth and on Mars) by MOM, an AI system that keeps things running smoothly. As I was reading this book I kept thinking of the movie I, Robot with Will Smith. Though this book has similarities, there are some major differences too. I was also intrigued with the different characters. I liked meeting Josh's friends: Emily, who is like a sister to Josh though they are not related, Kat is Josh's best friend and John is a big softy though most people are intimidated by his size. I think my favourite character has to be Elvis though, as he is very outgoing and quirky. There are also a few other characters that are brought in, though I struggled to figure out where they fit in with the tale. However, they all came alive on the page.

 

The story had several different plots and I was unsure as to where it was going. There's several different themes: friendship, politics (both Earthly and Martian) and robots seeking autonomous freedom for their own identity. However, by the time I reached the end, most of the sub plots had come together and I had a bit of an "A-ha!" moment. There are several twists that I didn't see coming and enjoyed the Bazaar scene where Josh and Lowrie meets a slave trader called Ugato, as well as the Steampunk Samurai fight scene with Elvis for an upcoming and brand new TV game show. Josh's destiny is still evolving by the end of the book and his character is growing, so there are several unanswered questions which, I hope, may be revealed in the second book, Rise Of The Technorati. I was, however, intrigued with the Guide aspect of the story as it gave it a spiritual feel. I am not sure what is in store for Josh in the future, but am looking forward to finding out. Although this book doesn't end on a cliffhanger as such, it is set up to begin the second story.

 

This is Jeff Faria's debut novel. I really enjoyed his writing style, which is fast paced and entertaining. However, I felt that there were too many things happening plot-wise and his story didn't flow as well as it could have done. Nevertheless, I will follow his career with interest.

 

Although there is no sexual content or bad language, I do not recommend this to younger readers (under 16) as I am not sure if they would understand it properly. I do, however, recommend this book to older teens and adults who love YA science fiction and/or space opera genres. - Lynn Worton

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review 2016-08-11 22:18
Book Review of HUNTER by Cynthia Lucas
Hunter (Soul Warriors Series) (Volume 1) - Cynthia Lucas

Nyx Leron is a Hunter. A demon hunter. The thing is....demons aren't what fairy tales or religious texts say they are and reality is only a matter of which reality you happen to perceive.

 

After being sentenced to serving a term in Reality Level 3 on the prison planet known as Earth for a galactic 'crime' he didn't commit, the Hunter soon learns that the balance of power and the control of Sacred Knowledge that can free all souls from endless cycles on prison planets like Earth are in the hands of corruption.

 

After his targets escape, losing him his bounty and his debt payoff, he barely escapes with his life and unexpectedly lands in the apartment of librarian and sometime tarot card reader, Lyra Hall. With a coven of soul-sucking demons now on his tail and traces of his energy in her living space and on her person, the Hunter has no choice but to take the human woman with him as he makes his escape to another galaxy, dimension and reality level where he will try to figure out how to protect the billions of souls that are now in danger.

 

Lyra Hall is a librarian with a vision....literally. Since childhood she's been able to 'see' things in the dark that others couldn't; shadows that come to her when she's on the verge of sleep. Are they real? Or just an overactive imagination from reading too many books on the occult? Lyra's about to find out when she wakes up in the middle of the night to what she thought were two demons standing beside her bed, only to discover instead the most handsome blue eyed man she's ever seen, accompanied by a snow white wolf. When he tells her that in order to save her life he must take her with him on a journey across reality, dimensions and galaxies, she thinks he's a delusional psychotic who may be dangerous...that is until the demons that are hot on his tail begin to materialize in her apartment!

 

As she and the Hunter make their escape Lyra has no idea how deep the 'rabbit hole' goes , but she soon discovers she's about to embark on not only an adventure beyond any she could have imagined...but an awakening of who she really is and the real meaning of the word 'soul mate'.

 

Demons...they're not who you think they are, and sometimes possession by one is your only salvation.

 

Review 4*

 

This was an intriguing science fiction romance.

 

Nyx Leron is an interesting character. I really liked him. He is a demon hunter and has been given the ability to travel through portals to other higher dimensions in order to collect them. However, after discovering that things are not all they seem and in an attempt to escape his would be captors, he stumbles across a mysterious woman who now faces danger because of his actions. Forced to keep her safe, he must unravel the secrets kept by his employer.

 

Lyra Hall is also an intriguing character. However, I found her to be slightly annoying. I'm all for strong females but something about her grated on me. I don't know what it was and I still can't put my finger on why. Nevertheless, other readers may not have the same reaction to her. She is a librarian living on Earth, but she has been able to "see" creatures that are not exactly human. When a stranger kidnaps her, she finds out that things are not as they seem and her life will never be the same again.

 

I really liked Vega, Nyx's lupine companion, and a few of the other characters such as D'Anan and Talon. The Chancellor, who happens to be an elemental, was decidedly creepy and dark, and he made the perfect villain.

 

This story was an exciting mixture of action, adventure, danger and romance. I really liked this book. Why the four stars I hear you ask. The reason was simple: It was a metaphysical/science fiction story rather than the paranormal romance I had expected. It was my fault, as I saw the cover and didn't check the genre when it showed up in my recommendations on Amazon. I love science fiction anyway, so that wasn't too much of an issue. What threw me was the spirituality/enlightenment angle. I'm all for spirituality and enlightenment, but this story made my head hurt with the seven levels of reality. However, I enjoyed how the author incorporated it into the story. What I struggled to understand is why, if spirituality and enlightenment is attained with peace and knowledge up until level six, the author used pain as the catalyst to become an elemental? It was a jarring contrast.

 

As the story progressed and secrets were revealed, I found myself intrigued all over again. There were several twists I never saw coming and the ending surprised me. Although disappointed that this was not the paranormal romance I thought it was, I would consider reading more of this author's books in the future.

 

Cynthia Lucas has written an intriguing romance. I enjoyed her writing style, which was fast paced and descriptive. This kept me turning the pages. However, I felt the flow was not as smooth as it could have been. Some scenes felt clunky and too laden down with heavy philosophical ideas. Nevertheless, this did not detract too much from my enjoyment of the story.

 

Due to scenes of a sensual nature that are rather hot (although not as explicit as some romances I have read), I do not recommend this book to younger readers under the age of 16. I do, however, recommend this book if you love science fiction or paranormal romance. - Lynn Worton

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review 2016-05-25 09:50
The Locksmith's Secret- Tahlia Newland

   This is a total standalone that builds on the character Prunella Smith, who appeared in Tahlia Newlands earlier metaphysical, mixed genre delight, "World Within World's". This one is again a weave of differing themes and stories that interlink based around the thoughts, life and writing of the author Prunella Smith. Each of the main story elements would work as independent short stories. These superficially independent threads are spliced together into one mystical reality. The binding themes are ultimately metaphysical. Each of the four main plotlines run as strands in Prunella's possible past and certainly present being. Actually the book reflects, openly from a deeper level, many elements of Newlands real life that are flickering away in the background. Prunella isn't Newland, but she might be in some parallel existence. The Australian bush, cats, steampunk, crafts and Buddhism continually bounce around the complex reality that is the real author. All fiction carries some sense of the author. This one does everything but try hiding the connectivity. The beating heart of the book is classic romance, which is always, quite unavoidably, deeply personal. Possibly I'm not even deep enough yet, because there is another even stronger binding theme than romance, that being of female emancipation and the associated problems of finding real psychological independence from cultural and emotional ropes that affect all of us.

   The point of the book, as I read it, is that Newland is exploring different aspects of herself, not through introverted memoir but rather through extrovert expression in her layered fictional plot inventions. We have Newland herself, Prunella, Nell and Daniela, all giving us insight into each other and into one spiritual female whole. The stories strongest plot protagonist is also female, though, classically, true evil only rests in a male persona. We must excuse that device, as that is a more than fair reflection of the physical worlds in which most of us have always lived. The relative weaknesses and strengths of the sexes are after all the whole social history of mankind. The book is about both spiritual and physical emancipation. Male readers need not be put off by this review. We generally come out of these stories well. The romantic spirit wins through, but not without clear reflections from real life.
   This is a beautifully written and intelligently crafted book. It is at once, spiritual, contemporary, historical fiction, a steampunk thriller, speculative fiction, philosophical and a social commentary, and above all else, a classic romance. We are still in worlds within worlds, such that at finish I'm not sure if some sort of spiritual 'Buddhism' is driving the author, or the author is demonstrating her own magical realism. You may have to read several of Newland’s books before you can make any deep judgement. I've read them all and still can't be sure.

AMAZON LINK

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