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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-09-20 18:50
Review: Cinderella, Necromancer by F.M. Boughan

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Ellison lost her mother at an early age. But since then, her father has found love again. He's happy and doesn't quite notice that Ellison does not get along with his new wife or her mean daughters. When Ellison discovers a necromantic tome while traveling the secret passages of her father's mansion, she wonders if it could be the key to her freedom. Until then, she must master her dark new power, even as her stepmother makes her a servant in her own home. And when her younger brother falls incurably ill, Ellison will do anything to ease his pain, including falling prey to her stepmother and stepsisters' every whim and fancy. Stumbling into a chance meeting of Prince William during a secret visit to her mother's grave feels like a trick of fate when her stepmother refuses to allow Ellison to attend a palace festival. But what if Ellison could see the kind and handsome prince once more? What if she could attend the festival? What if she could have everything she ever wanted and deserved by conjuring spirits to take revenge on her cruel stepmother? As Ellison's power grows, she loses control over the evil spirits meant to do her bidding. And as they begin to exert their own power over Ellison, she will have to decide whether it is she or her stepmother who is the true monster.

***Disclosure: I received a free copy in exchange for a review.***

 

What’s Good: How about the opening line for starters- “Blood. The blood of my enemies drips down my forearms, fleeing the confines of the spaces between my fingers, traveling toward freedom on the cold, stone floor.” Got your attention, yet?

 

This is a very imaginative twist on the fairytale. Everything old is new again in this one. There’s a few homages to the classic version of the tale, but ain’t no fairy godmothers floating around here. Nope- what comes to Ella’s aid is far more disturbing and best left undisturbed. Author F.M. Boughan cites researching historical texts and grimoires on necromancy, and it shows. Well done!

 

The necromancy comes into play as part of the struggle between Heaven and Hell, the forces of Good vs the armies of Evil. Ella’s struggles with what she’s doing and why are valid and believable. As her power grows, she thinks she’s come to terms with the price of it, but then she realizes that price is greater than she’s willing to pay. But will she be strong enough to do so anyway?

 

There’s several twists on the tale that’ll keep you involved; it’s like a full-on rendering of the original Brothers Grimm version- you know, with the sisters cutting off parts of their feet in order to fit the glass slipper and whatnot. Often gory and gruesome, this one ain’t for the faint of heart.

 

What’s Bad: Ella’s also a bit of a dunce. The author does a good job of putting you inside Ella’s head and making her feel like a vibrant, three-dimensional character, but too many times in the story she never bothered to question anything or stop to consider the consequences of her actions. She’s got a book of demonology/necromancy in her hands, but never bothers to read any further than what she needs to get what she wants yet always wonders about the dangers of abusing such power… maybe ya ought to flip a few pages ahead and find out???

 

She’s constantly skulking about the house trying to sneak around her new stepmother and siblings trying to learn things, only to bump, bang into or trip over something, leading to another Steve Erkel moment, “…oh, did *I* do that?!?” After a while you can pretty much see when they’re coming up.

 

There’s a few WTF moments in the plot that threaten to derail things. The night Ella’s father disappears he gives her something before he leaves- literally placing it in her hand. Does she look at it right away?- no. When does she look at it? Right after she sneaks out of the house in the dead of night, crawls under the locked main gate, runs all the way through the village to her mother’s grave, calls out to her mother’s spirit, meets a mysterious stranger who protects her from some Things That Go Bump In The Night, and sees her back to the village. Only after she’s safely home again after all that does she actually OPEN HER HAND to see what it was her father gave her. *facepalm*

 

The disappearance of Ella’s father made almost as much sense as all that did. For storytelling purposes he had to be out of the picture, sure, but… his reasons made no sense. It’s the usual “I had to leave to protect you” nonsense, except that he’s the one who created the problem in the first place by marrying Celia and knew full well what was going on, so clearly the best solution was to leave a bunch of people- including his own children- who’ve no idea about any of it at the tender mercies of some seriously malicious individuals and hope for the best. *double facepalm*

 

What’s Left: an entertaining, if flawed, work that you’ll enjoy reading. If all the Fairy Tale Re-imaginings are starting to get stale to you, this one’ll be a bit of fresh air.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-09-04 04:22
Review: Ariella's Escape by Carolee Croft

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Ariella had always believed that the life of a warrior should include indulging in wine and men whenever they were on offer… And in Chaldea, the capital of the old empire, they certainly were. … Especially the man she finds in her bedchamber, a slave provided by her hosts to entertain her in any way she wishes.

 

But when betrayed and surrounded by enemies in a strange land, there is only one man she can trust—the slave who was meant only for her pleasure but is much more than he seems.

 

Demetrius had been captured in battle at the age of 15, and slavery was all he had known in his adult life. When his chance for freedom comes along, his fate is bound to the noble warrior maiden whose voice and body he cannot resist. Duty calls him to return to his kingdom, but the journey will take him places that will change him forever.

 

Together, they make their way through a den of thieves and an enchanted elf forest, but the biggest danger of all may be their fiery attraction to each other and the secret that will draw a dividing line between them.

 

***Disclosure: I was provided a free copy in exchange for a review.***

 

This was an odd book. It definitely belongs in the Erotica Fantasy Romance category, even though it's not billed as such, which hurts it because if you knew that going in, you wouldn't feel so let down by it all.

 

What's Good: a female protagonist who swings a two-handed sword, rules her own lands and gets to make use of a sex slave while on a diplomatic mission? Heck yeah- I'm in! But that initial encounter at the start of the book is as good as it gets. The reasons behind the assassination attempt were interesting, showing a deeper game than some of the players knew they were involved in. But it needed more development, more to invest you into it.

 

What's Bad: where to start? How about the stilted, overly formal way everyone speaks all the time? All that was missing was a few doses of 'yea, verily' and we'd have Shakespeare.

 

Or the ridiculousness of the sexual situations? Ariella gets to bang Demetrius while visiting the castle- fine. But an innkeeper who wants a live sex show in exchange for room and board... and protecting them from the soldiers chasing them? Not buying it.

 

Or all the @$$ pull magicks that sound like they came from an all-night D&D session? Ariella happens to possess a magic crystal that creates a yellow-brick road that lets ride over the castle walls...? And that she's descended from a line of legendary magical warriors- a lineage she never knew about- so now she's also the Chosen One? Gotta be kidding me.

 

And that Wild Hunt-style thing with the elves... no, none of it made much sense and just felt like page filler. *smdh* The idea behind the prophecy is kinda interesting, but clumsily handled. It reminded me of a 90's anime called X- where two people were destined to be at opposite ends of a prophecy. And no matter which path one of them decided to take the other would have to automatically oppose them. Because reasons. That's pretty much what's going on here.

 

What's Left: what started out as an interesting fantasy adventure with a strong female lead that devolved into some kind of teenage hormone fest that's pretty much off the rails. Not that it can't be salvaged, but I don't see that happening.

 

2.5/5 stars

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text 2016-01-13 15:20
Cover Reveal: The Running Game by L.E. Fitzpatrick

 

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Title: The Running Game

Author: L.E. Fitzpatrick

Genre: Dystopian

 

Rachel’s father called it the running game. Count the exits, calculate the routes. Always be ready to run because they’ll always be coming for you. Whatever happens, they’ll always be coming for you.

 

On the surface, Rachel is just an ordinary doctor, trying to stay alive in war-torn London, but she has a secret. Rachel is a Reacher – wanted by the government and by the criminal underworld – for her telekinetic powers.

 

Charlie and his brother John had a reputation for doing the impossible. But after losing his family, Charlie is a broken mess and John is barely keeping him afloat. In desperation, they take a job from a ruthless ganglord only to discover the girl they are hunting is a Reacher – one of their own kind.

 

James Roxton, a conman and thief, is searching for the man who tried to kill his mother. Suddenly embroiled into the plan to kidnap Rachel, he decides he can turn things to his own advantage.

 

Even with the help of dangerous and dubious allies, can Rachel turn the game around and save herself?

 

 

L E Fitzpatrick is a writer of dark adventure stories and thrillers. Under the watchful eye of her beloved rescue Staffordshire Bull Terrier, she leaps from trains and climbs down buildings, all from the front room of a tiny cottage in the middle of the Welsh countryside.

 

Inspired by cult film and TV, L E Fitzpatrick’s fiction is a collection of twisted worlds and realities, broken characters, and high action. She enjoys pushing the boundaries of her imagination and creating hugely entertaining stories.

 

The Running Game, her latest book and the first instalment of her dystopian Reacher series, is due for re-release in October 2015 under the Booktrope label.

 

Blog: http://l-e-fitzpatrick.blogspot.be/

 

 

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text 2016-01-12 14:56
New Release: Henchgirl by Rita Stradling

 

 

Henchgirl Cover Choice 1

 

Title: Henchgirl

Author: Rita Stradling

Genre: YA Urban Fantasy

 

I had never thought my life was ideal, but it had been manageable.

 

By day I pretended to be a human, going to a ‘human’s only’ high-school, making human friends and trying to get the attention of Keanu Hale, my school’s quarterback. At night, I worked as a henchman, making sure no one got in the way of my grandfather’s hotel-empire which spanned across the Mabiian island chain. I was my grandfather’s most cherished weapon, I stole and manipulated emotions, I would even drain someone of their ability to feel joy if my grandfather ordered me to.

 

I won’t apologize for what I did, it kept my sisters fed and my grandfather from finding out that my mother squandered our monthly allowance on shopping and throwing extravagant parties. It kept my family alive. But more importantly, my job kept me from being trained to be a wife and married off to some rich and powerful dracon, a human-dragon hybrid, as all girls with one-eighth dragon blood are.

 

As I said, my life was just manageable, until Wyvern Manderson vacationed to my island. Wyvern Manderson, the rich, powerful, and famous for something or other, half-dragon jerk, just kept showing up, sabotaging my missions and ordering me around. On top of that, for some reason he was always angry at me.

 

Pretty soon I was suspended from further missions, facing eminent financial ruin and still had to see the jerk everywhere I went. When my friend Amanda from my human-high-school vanished, Amanda turned out to be Wyvern’s human half-sister he was keeping secret and protecting.

 

Taking on the mission to find Amanda might have been what I needed to save my family from losing everything, but to do it I would have to spend all day everyday with the jerk. To top that all off, Amanda was not the only girl who disappeared, and when girls started being discovered dead I realized that my sanity wasn’t the biggest thing I would be risking in this investigation; I might very well be the next to die.

 

 

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Rita Stradling lives with her husband and son in Northern California. Her six year old son wants to be a train when he grows up. She has a BA in Art History and a particular interest in modern and medieval art.

 

Rita has an insatiable novel addiction and mostly reads young adult and adult: paranormal, urban fantasy and high fantasy.

 

 Goodreads Website Amazon

 

Get the book on Amazon, in eBook and paperback format.

 

 

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review 2016-01-02 03:18
Review: Calasade- Sanguinem Isle by Mark Stone

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Caderyn Fortis has been many things—loyal husband, soldier, war veteran, public servant. Now he is a fallen nobilis and gambling addict, an alcoholic who never got over the murder of his wife. In his darkest hour an opportunity comes that can help him recover his self-worth and make up for the mistakes that cost him his wife. All he has to do? Discover who kidnapped a young woman and where they took her, then rescue her. He must do this while not alienating his employer—the best suspect—or falling in love with the woman helping him.

 

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Wearing naught—

—teeth chattering—

—trapped in a pit—

—staring at the moon that never seemed to move—

—cowering.

Weeping.

Who were they?

What had they done?

What did they want with her, a lowly serva?

Who, what, what.

 

She wished for an end to her unrelenting questions and she wished, too, for escape before...What they wanted came to her like a zigzagged bolt illuminating the sky. There was no choice—she had to get out, had to flee. She told herself it did not matter the pit was several times her height or that her knees threatened to buckle as she stood, told herself neither was it of consequence that her legs wobbled in getting her to the wall with the most outcroppings. She reached up and began to climb, whimpering each time her fingers gripped the jagged rocks, moaning when those edges cut into the soles of her feet. The pain was unimportant. Nothing compared to what her captors planned.

 

***Disclaimer: I received a copy in exchange for a review.***

 

The beginning is a bit hard to follow: a hunter almost becomes prey for the creature he’s after but ends up being saved by a beast-hunter, who in turn is tasked with kidnapping a young woman. Mark Stone’s style is interesting but he lays it on a bit thick.

 

Dialogue comes across as formal and stilted- a result of speaking proper Latin, obviously- but he does have a flair for creating atmosphere and setting. Even so, you can almost feel the sticky floors of those seedy taverns, gambling dens and whorehouses and the dank, moist darkness of the caves. Good stuff. There’s some typos which seem deliberate. Certain passages where instead of commas to indicate a continuance or change of heart, words are struckthrough. (ask, no demand becomes ask, no demand). Not sure if this was an editing gaffe or purposefully left in, but it knocks you out of the story.

 

The world of Calasade is based upon classic Greco-Roman culture, and all that it includes. Terminology, nouns and such are all spoken of in Latin terms, which is to be expected but can get weighty. And you’re unable to grasp the breadth of the world or get a sense of scope as no maps are included- another oddity given the many illustrations that are included. The drawings are a very nice touch- the symbols and sketches are well rendered and give a better sense of characterization as well as flavor. So why no maps?

 

The main character, Caderyn Fortis, is a man teetering on the brink. A desperate wretch of an alcoholic struggling against the constant, seductive lure of losing himself in oblivion, he battles his inner demons- and he’s got some good ones- daily… hourly… alternating between wanting to dull his pain and trying to find himself again. It was interesting to see his thoughts about his struggle, but it ended up being the dominant aspect of the book- which was not what the blurb leads you to believe. Jana, a servae (servant) tasked with aiding Caderyn and those he recruits to help find the girl, is an intriguing character that gets largely reduced to a sex object. Being a beautiful, intelligent woman Caderyn naturally lusts for her, but her attraction to him is unconvincing. Jana’s throwing herself at him from the outset; initially to facilitate her master’s wishes, of course, but along the way develops feelings for him that remain pretty unjustified outside of lust… and I’m still not sure why she even feels that for him.

 

The conflict that serves as the plot has a few layers to it, none of which are handled well. The titular locale- Sanguinem Isle- has virtually no bearing on the story. Indrasena, the young woman that’s kidnapped, has something her captors want and need. What that something is gets revealed in due course, but very clumsily and almost as an afterthought. The focus of the story falls onto Caderyn and Jana- their blossoming relationship and the complications that will result from it. I’m guessing that being the sixth book in this world setting some things are given, but more time needed to be spent upon building the story itself instead of relegating the premise of the blurb to a subplot. This causes the pacing to suffer as the story simply comes to an end; things are developing, answers are discovered, machinations revealed… and then it all comes crashing to a halt with an expedited wrapup and sudden transition to the setup for the next story. It’s like the author got tired of writing this book and wanted to get started on the next one.

 

Calasade: Sanguinem Isle has a lot of potential- a lot. The author needs fulfill it. 3/5 Stars.

 

 

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