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review 2020-01-15 05:30
Review: Eternal Wanderings by Danielle Ackley-McPhail
Eternal Wanderings - Danielle Ackley-McPhail

**Disclaimer** I received a free copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Netgalley!


I wish that I had known this book was the fourth in a series before I requested it because I think I would have enjoyed it more having read the previous works. But I did not know and the premise sounded fascinating.


This was a good story. It was very well written, the characters were engaging and the story was a lot of fun. The author also peppered in enough information about previous books that I was able to follow along by about 40 pages in. I was captured in the story even when I didn’t entirely know what was happening.


My biggest complaint with this one was the length. The story described in the synopsis is only about 70 pages long, barely a novella, when I was expecting a full length novel. The remaining 70 pages of the book was a collection of short stories for this series universe. I skipped all but the first one because I had no idea who any of the characters were and didn’t feel the title story should be negatively impacted because I couldn’t follow those side stories. But 70 pages is barely anything. I felt like the story was just reaching the climax point and then it was over.


So, while I loved the writing and I loved the story I was left feeling unsatisfying because it didn’t feel complete. I may venture back to this series at some point and read from the beginning though because it was very well done.

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review 2015-05-25 03:03
Review: Transcendence
Transcendence - Danielle Ackley-McPhail

Anthologies are always difficult to review, this one as much or even more so than others I've recently read. The link between these stories is transcendence, the act of becoming more than you were. This isn't always a positive change, but the submissions - for the most part - are able to carry the common thread.

There are four poems included in this collection, but half were ultimately forgettable. Two poems, Dervish and Death, stayed in my mind after reading and caused me to pause... Neither of these poems were long to really contain a story, and yet they were compelling enough in the combination of words to keep me interested.

As for the stories themselves, there are both extremely short ones as well as longer tales. Some, such as Skippy and Purgatory, show the protagonist battling inner demons... One with a happy ending and the other perhaps less so. Some tales are on the darker side with endings we normally might not like, but in The Misses Moirai the ending was perhaps the best available to Asia, in a story that combines mythology with a horror that persists into the modern day. The ending story, Transcendence, fits its name and the title the best, showing the capability of change not only in the protagonist, but also in everyone she touches - and guides - afterward.

While some tales were more successful in my mind, none of the stories were disappointing, making this a successful 4 star anthology.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.




If you enjoyed my review, please help me share it by marking it as helpful on Amazon. I have included the link to my Amazon review in the Source section at the bottom of this review.

Source: www.amazon.com/review/R2BAFICFWBFE4E
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review 2014-09-01 22:02
Book Review: Baba Ali and the Clockwork Djinn by Danielle Ackley-McPhail & Day Al-Mohamed
Baba Ali and the Clockwork Djinn: A Steampunk Faerie Tale - Danielle Ackley-McPhail,Day Al-Mohamed

Eighteen year old Ali bin-Massoud is visited by a mechanical falcon while in England apprenticing under Ustad Babbage. The falcon leaves him a gift, a puzzle box - something he's loved for years - inscribed in his home language with his name. This one is more special as it's crafted with clockwork and magic. Kassim, Ali's older brother, rudely is awaken in the night to find his fathers horse has returned, riderless and blood soaked. Ali had his own plans for his life, until he is called home by his brother to help with the home. Kassim has his own motives for calling his brother home, the greed for something he heard his father talk of with his younger brother. But the family's hidden secret and honor surfaces, following Ali and after the pieces that have surfaced. Ali has the mind for mechanics, and a profession from the family's past that needs nurtured to clear the dishonor in the family. Along with taking care of the family secret.

The culture and structure of living is strongly projected here in this story. The second son of a successful merchant, Ali would have to find his own way in life as his older brother inherits the business. We even see the prejudice that's present toward Ali and his difference in dress and skin tone in a different nation, bringing a feel of real to Ali.

The story twists magic and clockworks together, even some steampunk elements. There is talk of magic found in England along with that at the desert. But we see the magic more in the desert with the djinn. Clockworks become a magic of their own in this world too. Something wondrous to others not of the mechanical mind thinking.

The writing is artfully descriptive. The story of Ali and the forty thieves is one well know. Danielle and Day twist that tale with a bit of truth, magic, and mechanical for us to hear.

We get the story from Ali's and Kassim's point of view, even from another's later on. It makes sense why it's shift to the other character after you meet them. But it's the view of the whole world and happenings. It explains what is happening and why. I wonder if Ali realizes how lucky he is in avoiding the tortures and death on numerous occasions, thanks to his kind heart and friends he makes.

An old tale remastered to include magics of different kinds. Sit back and relax with this old tale. 

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text 2014-08-28 14:32
Shout out
Baba Ali and the Clockwork Djinn: A Steampunk Faerie Tale - Danielle Ackley-McPhail,Day Al-Mohamed

I just want to give a shout out for both the authors of this book.  My review was a three star one, and I used the term cliche in it.  However, both authors liked the review (and did not post comments at all).  I know much is made about BBAs.


Just wanted to give some Good Behaving Authors, a shout out.

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review 2014-08-09 19:26
1001 Steampunks
Baba Ali and the Clockwork Djinn: A Steampunk Faerie Tale - Danielle Ackley-McPhail,Day Al-Mohamed

Disclaimer: ARC read via Netgalley.


                Everyone should know the story of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. It’s a wonderful story; largely because of the servant woman who saves her master though her intelligence. This short novel is a steampunk version of a tale, which means that Ali is an inventor who as the story opens is apprenticed to Charles Babbage.


                And there are airships.


                Which are cool because some of the scenes with Babbage and the pilot of an airship are quite good.


                The novel is good, enjoyable if not great. What stops it from being truly outstanding are the cliché types (or almost cliché types). Perhaps it is unfair to criticize a fairy tale retelling for the overuse theme of bad older brother, Kassim, picking on his saintly younger sibling, Ali but retellings should bring something more to the tale than just set it in a different setting. It is true that there is some redemptive feeling in the relationship between brothers, but having Kassim even strike his wife feels too much like a cliché. Kassim doesn’t truly have a redeeming feature, and though his character is given some shading Dirk Dastardly, strangely, is who springs to mind when picturing Kassim.


                The other issue is the relationship between Ali and Morgiana which is more complicated than a simple master/servant relationship. There is more a slave/master aspect so it makes the love story seem a bit, well, controlling. It is a problem that many retellings of such tales would have, many historical fiction works as well. If there is a master/slave relationship, how equal are the lovers to modern sensibilities. A master/servant relationship has more of a sense of, if not equality, of choice to it. In fairness, there is some adjustment of Morgiana’s character to adjust for this change in status. Morgiana is very much like her original in terms of intelligence, and like the original tale, is the more fascinating character than Ali Baba.


                The setting is wonderfully described and a sense of place is conveyed by the word choices, actually using correct technical words to describe Eastern dress and custom (with a glossary at the book if a reader needs it).

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