Category: What we’ve been reading



 

This is one of the few early reader books I’ve had the chance to read, but it was so worth it. The story felt like a trip down memory lane when friendships seemed few and far between. But it was much more than that.

The tale of Arthur and his golden feather is a fascinating tale as well as a reminder that even the most seemingly popular person can also be one of the loneliest. Arthur is such an individual. His golden feather supposedly grants wishes which means Arthur has lots of visitors, but none of them stay. They only want to make their wish and give him a gift and be one their way, leaving him a very lonely fellow. His parents were taken from him when he was very young, and despite the numerous times he’s made a wish on his golden feather he still has no family, or any real friends.

But when his feather is stolen by Evil Hawk, Arthur goes on a harrowing quest to retrieve the feather. Along the way he meets an assortment of other characters, some are lonely outcasts like himself, others have close families, but each of them has problems of their own that he does his best to help solve.  Before long he realizes he is forming a close band of friends who truly care about him as much as he does them.

Together they not only find more friends and adventures, Arthur finds what really makes a family and true friends.

The author tells the tale with style and smiles, while never talking down to the reader (regardless of age). The book is also filled with wonderful artwork full of color and fun that makes the story even more fun to read again and again.

An excellent early reader tale. I highly recommend it!

Available at Amazon for Kindle at:


Sundance

Having read the first of this series “Soul Taker” I knew we were being introduced to new worlds and adventures and looked forward to the next installment. And I can safely say this second book in the series did not let me down. If anything I felt it really helped things take off even more.

Where in “Soul Taker” we were introduced to an existing angel who gets promoted from Soul Taker to Guardian, this time we see the beginnings of a angel’s rise. Born to parents who made a deal with God for a child, if even for only a short seven years, we watch young Cara grow not only in the mortal world, but in the next one as well. In Heaven she is given the name Sundance, and begins to learn her strengths and grow in skills to the point of being welcomed into another rank of Angels a “Warrior”, one of the first in a very long time.

But for all her skills and abilities, which have impressed even the Archangels, she still has much to learn. Her first assignment will take her back to Earth where she will experience not only pain, but love with a mortal. Is such a thing allowed?

You’ll have to read to find out the answers to that. But there is much more awaiting both the reader and Sundance. For her powers and skills have been noticed not only by higher authorities, but ones below as well. And soon she finds herself the focal point in a dastardly plot from the netherworld.

The author has done a brilliant job with this book in many respects, including uniting both her first and second books with a brief, but satisfying meeting between our former Soul Taker, and this new Warrior Angel. I very much look forward to more of this series which is just beginning.

Available now at:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07VT2GFQ7/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i1

Smashwords:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/953202

Kobo:

https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/sundance-8

Barnes and Noble:

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sundance-aurora-jean-alexander/1132911746?ean=2940163306251

 


Brain Twister

Review by Helen Krummenacker

This book was copyrighted in 1962, which explains why it reads like a very old-fashioned, Cold War Era story on one hand, with the language of the era, and yet has elements that would be futuristic by today’s standards. It also predates the period where writers decided longer is better– it’s decidedly light on padding and has a crispness to the language. Overall, it reads like a Young Adult novel, not demanding much of the reader but imagination and a bit of tolerance for mild sexism and ablism.

The writers, Randall Garrett and Lawrence Janifer, give us an FBI agent assigned a seemingly impossible case: there is a spy working, presumably for the Russians, to ferret out what is happening with a project for a new kind of space drive. The reason that catching the spy may be impossible is that the spy is a telepath. By coincidence, a second research project at the same facility had been studying telepathy and developed the means to determine when someone was having their mind read– but they had no ability to determine who or where the mind-reader was. Their own telepath passed away before they could try to use him to find the enemy telepath– and it is doubtful he could have, as he had intellectual impairment.

So the FBI seeks more telepaths, and they start to find them, every single one institutionalized for mental illness. Not because they seem crazy to people who don’t know they are mind-readers, but rather because the presence of other minds speaking to them all the time has made it difficult to develop a stable sense of self. In fact, the most coherent and helpful of the is perfectly sane except for her believe that she is Queen Elizabeth I, a delusion that worked to give her a strong core identity and manage the voices.

It’s quirky and amusing, and a rather fast read (I read it over the course of two one hour lunch breaks). It isn’t going to change your life, but if you like sci-fi crime/spy novels, it holds together with internal consistency, a quick pace, and fun imagery.

 


Noble Rot

5 – Stars

Monsters don’t always hide in the closet…

     A failing marriage, a struggling writer, a new job, a new place, a new beginning… What could possibly go wrong? For Allison Pilch just about everything and anything. Walking away from a failing marriage Allison sets out on a journey to find her own way as a person and a writer and soon finds herself not only with a new place but a new job as well in the real estate office that is also the property management of her new home.

     But as with anything too good to be true, there are mysteries and secrets that should be best left alone.

     Her new boss, a handsome and devilish (almost literally) fellow has his eye on her. As does the owner of the building she’s currently living in. But unlike her boss, this man shuns the light and hides in darkness, covered in bandages to avoid being seen for very good reasons. A past transgression has left him with a terrible curse that has left him very much alone and isolated.

     Soon Allison finds herself being drawn to each man, the one she can see and the one who remains a mystery but has inspired her writing in ways she never expected. Soon a web of intrigue and horror begins to unfold and Allison realizes she’s in the middle of a nightmare and that there are more than one kind of monster in the world…

     A thrilling beginning to what I hope will become a trilogy or series.

Amazon: 

https://www.amazon.com/Noble-Rot-Carson-Buckingham-ebook/dp/B0762WXVC3/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1539188388&sr=8-2-fkmrnull


Vampire's Rule

His name is Jack, his nickname is “Jackpot” and with good reason. Killed by a werewolf, but changed at the last moment by vampires he is spared from death. Then by a freak chance, he becomes mortal once more after an encounter with another werewolf. Now he’s not completely human, vampire or werewolf… he’s something more.

K. C. Blake presents us with a unique blend of traditional vampires, werewolves and a bit more thrown in. It’s a fast-paced tale of life, death, rebirth. Second chances that may not be all we hoped they would be. Friends and family become enemies and allies, with twists and turns sure to keep the reader on edge.   The pacing is good and the story intriguing.  Definitely an enjoyable read.

Now this is the first in “The Rule” series. The characters can be a little hard to like at times, but when setting the stage for a series this can be forgiven as we watch them grow and find that there is still a lot more to come from this author and these books.

Highly recommended for vampire and werewolf fans.

 

 


REVIEW BY ALLAN KRUMMENACKER

5 – STARS   “Serving up a deliciously creepy read…”

This is the first book I’ve read of Miss Remiel’s and I have to say she did not disappoint.

Camille Dutton is a fascinating protagonist who finds herself on an island community where she’ is expected to simply work at the local library. “I’m a book waitress…” she keeps telling people. Nothing more, nothing less. She doesn’t consider herself amazing or unusual. But she soon finds herself being slowly surrounded by people who seem oddly fascinated by her. Even some of the books in the library seem to have taken an odd interest in her like set of “The Devil’s Handbook” which seemingly falls off the shelf of their own volition.

Then there’s the strange yet fascinating gentleman named Derek Gallagher, who like her is not native to the island.  But his purpose for being there is not a new start, but to delve into a strange series of disappearances (especially children) that have occurred on the island.

Soon both Camille and Derek find they are being drawn into a Satanic plot, that is linked to an all but forgotten incident from Camille’s past.  And now the ultimate darkness seems to be reaching out to try and claim her once again.

Excitement and surprises await the reader in this first installment of the Book Waitress Series. I can hardly wait to get my hands on the second installment.

 

 

 


REVIEW BY HELEN KRUMMENACKER

Away With the Fairies

This is one of the Phryne Fisher novels, a mystery set in Australia. These deal not only with solving crimes– in this case, looking into the suspicious death of an eccentric writer of fairy stories– but also the social structures of the times they are set in. It’s 1928, and the aftermath of the Great War is still felt in everything from the growth of women’s career options to international politics. For Miss Fisher, the international politics has turned her personal life on end, because her Chinese boyfriend is in danger just trying to handle his family’s import business while China is in crisis. As for the mystery, most of the suspects living as neighbors to the deceased were also her co-workers through a women’s magazine. And what a women’s magazine it is! While there are columns on child-raising and fashion, the magazine is full of how-to information on building your own radio and fixing your car, as well as health and gardening advice.

The editor is a feminist and sees her magazine as a means of changing the world, by making it so that people see achievement as not merely for extraordinary women, but every woman. I found this an important take because in the history of feminism, there was a split after winning the vote between women who wanted to focus on opening opportunities for extraordinary women (what I think led to the idea of “white feminism” being about leadership and opportunity for women of the privileged classes) and women who wanted to focus on helping the most vulnerable women (immigrants, working class, etc.). By making a magazine that intended to lift up women regardless of background, giving them skills that would save money and show them as competent and capable, the editor was, in essence, trying for a middle ground that would move all women forward.

Phryne is sympathetic and joins in with the magazine, filling in for their fashion writer who is away. While Miss Fisher is wealthy now, her background was quite different and she has a refreshingly practical approach to get maximum wear and versatility with minimal outlay, with a bonus column on remaking vintage clothing into couture to get a special occasion look at thrift store pricing. While her work on the articles is mostly a way to gain access to the suspects and a minor part of a plot involving assassination attempts, pirates, and the search for a motive, it tells us about Phryne’s character– how she can turn a chance encounter with a friend into an opportunity to create a win-win scenario; how a cover ‘job’ is attended to with the diligence appropriate for someone seeking a career; and how her respect for Dot gives her even more insight into the needs of the everywoman than her own life experience can.

True to the concept expressed in the magazine, the writer uses the novel to give us not merely the extraordinary Miss Fisher, Bunty, and other seekers of adventure, but the quiet strength and leadership of the magazine editor and the matriarch of the Lin family, the single-mindedness of a passionate photographer who will spend hours to get the perfect shot and work for plates, and the wholesome determination of Dot, or a widowed mother, or prodigal niece who combine their labor with principle. There is something to admire in most of the women, and while there are a few who are more notable for folly in the end, there is hope (except in the case of the deceased) that they will learn from their mistakes and come out better and happier for it.

This is the first I have read of the Miss Fisher books, although I’ve enjoyed the TV series. As usual, books give so much more wealth of detail and the opportunity for greater depth. Kerry Greenwood takes the time to delve into history and social themes, grounding them in reality (piracy is organized crime, not merry mischief) and weaving them together from separate plot strands, as when she links post-trauma reaction to mutilation and betrayal in different circumstances. While the novels can be enjoyed on a superficial level of escape into a distant time with a flamboyant heroine pursuing justice, I think most readers will find satisfaction in the sense that they have learned a little, thought a little, and been given an opportunity to see ways to live well.


Waverly

REVIEW BY ALLAN KRUMMENACKER

5 – STARS “What price for sanity?”

    Waverly Hills Sanatorium is an actual place in Louisville Kentucky that the author visited as part of a paranormal investigative team. By the author’s own admission their paranormal experiences where ‘minimal’, I feel the setting and strangeness of exploring an abandoned place with so much history lent a great deal to the creation of this novel.

     Ben Clausen has landed a job teaching English over at the U of L, and is now searching for a place to live. His search has brought him to the most unlikely place to find an apartment, one half of the old Waverly Hills Sanatorium a place famous for its tragedies and ghostly legends. Only one half of the place has been converted into apartments, while the remaining half is still in severe disrepair and is kept off-limits, perhaps for very good reasons.

    But beggars can’t be choosers, and with the rent priced just right Ben moves in and soon begins meeting his fellow residents, but are all of them truly real? There’s the down to earth Kayla, who seems to know a lot about the place and the residents, the disconcerting Mort Shackelford who meets an untimely end by a strange visitor, and the fascinatingly exotic Scarlet Snow who seems to weave a spell over Ben in more ways than one.

    Before long Ben finds himself caught up in a series of strange encounters, and not all of them are purely of this world, all of which could be leading to his own destruction/damnation…

    But beggars can’t be choosers, and with the rent priced just right Ben moves in and soon begins meeting his fellow residents, but are all of them truly real?

    The author weaves an intricate and tantalizing tale, often leaving the protagonist with the questions of “Did that really happen?” carefully blended with intrigue from human sources, that keeps the reader wanting to know more.

     A good page-turner. A perfect read for the Halloween season. Hope to see more.

AMAZON:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07CRB4VGV/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i2


gospall

REVIEW BY ALLAN KRUMMENACKER

4 – STARS “An Eerie Blend To Satisfy Horror Enthusiasts…”

Mix one part voodoo, one part devil worship, three parts darker side of human nature and you get “The Haunting of Gospall”.

The author does a wondrous job of blending these three elements into a intricate yarn that transcends the high seas. He starts us off with a brilliant opening scene upon the SS Gospall in the 1800’s, showing a keen insight of what sailors and captains faced on the open waters during one of the more contentious periods between England and France.  We’re introduced to characters we come to admire and care deeply for, both in the 1800’s and the present, as the tale unfolds and a mystery that links the two time periods slowly unfolds.

We meet Sean, who is blessed unwillingly with psychic talents that has led him down a dark path once before.  The author also introduces us to his beloved Sophie who not only listens to him when he starts telling her about strange events that led not only to his mother’s death, but also the strange visions and encounters he has been experiencing.  Led by Sophie, they start digging deeper into the mysteries which leads them to a meeting Seamus Mallom, a former exorcist, with demons of his own that led to his hanging up his white collar… so to speak.

Soon the trio find that all that is happening around them and the world seems linked to the final fate of the Gospall, the villainous pirate Santia that had usurpsed command of the vessel, and an island where the darkest of magics were being performed.

Sins of the past and a final battle for salvation hang in the balance, but is it already too late for the world?

A ripping good yarn, especially for the Halloween season.

AMAZON:

https://www.amazon.com/Haunting-Gospall-Solomon-Strange-ebook/dp/B07FW33WW5/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1539195210&sr=8-1&keywords=solomon+strange


Blogger’s Note: I know I promised the second entry about things I learned about putting together an anthology, but the bug we’ve been fighting turned into bronchitis, possibly bordering on pneumonia.  So we’re both on heavy antibiotics which does not make for very sensible thinking or analyzing, much less writing.  So please bear with us and hope you enjoy this latest book review.  We hope to be back in the saddle very soon.  Thank you.

 

raising steam

 

This particular offering by the late-great Mr. Pratchett was a wonderful read, in my opinion. I’ve seen other reviews where people lamented that his declining health was clearly showing in this book saying things like “it wasn’t as funny…” or “…it felt like this was his farewell to the fans…” etc. A lot of this is understandable considering the rare form of alzheimer’s he is fighting. But for me, this book felt more like a wonderfully wild ride that took us to various parts of the Discworld, just as the invention of the first train in Ankh-Morpork intended.

Pratchett uses the invention of the first steam engine to take us all over and reintroduce us to a number of old and familiar faces and places. We go back to Uberwald to visit Lady Margolotta, The Low King of the Dwarves, Bonk, the goblins, Harry King “King of the Golden River” (a river you would not want to swim in by the way folks), Commander Vimes and the Watch, Death, Lord Vetinari, and of course the incorrigible scoundrel of the piece Moist Von Lipwig.

We get to see some of these wonderful characters interacting with each other in various ways, some for the first time like Lipwig (the “reformed” con-man) working with Stoneface Vimes. Mr. Pratchett has been modernizing his world little by little throughout the series introducing the “Clacks” for communicating quickly over great distances, the first newspapers (spreading information to not just the gentry, but the common man), a new monetary system that is not based on the gold, so the addition of the steam engine seemed quite appropriate. With each book he brings his scattered characters closer to one another, while still providing a fun-filled thrilling ride along the way.

In “Raising Steam” he delivers that same fun but in a big fast noisy way. Well worth the read.

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