Monday, August 31, 2015

One Little Lie

Title: One Little Lie by Steven Tyler
Media Source: Paperback
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Recommendations:  I would recommend this novel for those who like light mystery.  This isn't a murder mystery or one where people get threatened if they keep looking for something.  It is light hearted good novel.
One Little Lie is a mystery novel featuring Luna Susan George.  What a name!  Luna is working for her brother's private investigating firm when he goes on his honeymoon.  During that time a woman comes in asking for a pet detective. This is where the one little lie begins and becomes more lies after another.  Luna states she will take the case and begins to search for a rare cat worth roughly $2,000, what she finds is there is more going on in this household than the matriarch believes.  Someone is stealing the artwork.  Luna (who goes by Susan) spends the rest of the book trying to solve the mystery of the fake artwork almost forgetting about the cat.
 I admit I was not sure what to expect with this one once "pet detective" was mentioned, but it was a surprisingly good novel.  There was a lot of information on the art work mentioned showing the author did his homework on these pieces which is important when writing about such things.  He created an interesting character in Luna Susan.  While she seemed to be easily distracted she tried to remain on point.  How many of us have a hard time accomplishing that?  She struggles with keeping track of the little lies and manages to figure out both mysteries before time runs out.  Tyler wraps everything up nicely at the end and doesn't leave readers wondering what happened.
One Little Lie is a light airy mystery novel, almost reminiscent of The Cat Who novels I read when I was younger.  There isn't a mysterious murder or threats being made, but a genuine mystery of missing art work and a missing cat.  I did enjoy all the film noir mentions, it was a nice touch, almost as if Susan (or Luna) wished to be in one.  The novel isn't over the top or paced slowly.  Everything progressed naturally.  Steven did a good job with it and I am honored he allowed me to read and review his book.  If you enjoy mystery novels that don't rely on murder or threats being made, check out this novel.  It is was a pleasant read for a Saturday afternoon.
** Disclosure:  My Tyler provided me with a copy of the book for an honest review.  **

Friday, August 28, 2015

Bones Will Speak

Title:  The Bones Will Speak by Carrie Parks
Media Source: Nook
Rating: 5 out of 5 paws

Recommendation:  Simply read this book.  Any murder mystery enthusiast would devour this novel.  Even if you haven't read a mystery yet, make this your first.

The Bones Will Speak is a murder mystery where a serial killer who uses religion as an excuse  for his killings.  He stalks a forensic artist to seek revenge calling her a traitor, but a traitor to what?

When Gwen's dog unearths a human cranium she embarks on a journey she never expected.  While searching for the rest of the remains, Gwen discovers the unconscious body of a missing girl.  This discovery leads to a whirlwind tale of a serial killer targeting Gwen and her family because of a previous case she worked on.  IT is discovered that he is a member of a supremacy group that uses the Old Testament to justify their beliefs.  The serial killer takes it farther and uses the same doctrine to justify his killing spree.

Wow, is all I can say about this book.  It has been a little while since a book has blown me away.  I devoured the book so quickly that I finished it in one night.  It captivated me throughout the entire story.  There is not a thing I didn't like about this novel.  Readers are thrown into the story from the beginning and are thrown into a roller coaster of a tale.  Throughout the book we see characters becoming more complex, Gwen goes through changes as she learns to forgive her ex-husband, those around her who constantly ask "how are you feeling", even her ex husband's new fiancĂ©.  She becomes a stronger woman because of her struggles related to the serial killer and those in her personal life outside of the story.  I loved that Carrie Parks added that element to the story.  The readers get to see Gwen in different roles other than being the victim of a crime.

The way she reveals information is wonderful as well.  Some is revealed through other characters doing research, character dialogue, or character experience.  She mixes up the ways she uses to expose information such as the church groups or the killings in another city.  This keeps the story interesting and fresh.  As you are reading this book, you think you have it figured out but then Carrie throws in a plot twist and changes the whole thing. Bones Will Speak keeps you on the edge of your seat. 

I also enjoyed the Christian elements of Beth talking to Gwen about forgiveness, Aynslee praying with Maddie, and the scripture references, even the ones the serial killer was using.  It was interesting to see in a fictional novel someone taking the Old Testament and twisting it to suit their needs.  It was almost scary to think there are really people who believe the same things the serial killer and other organizations that Carrie mentions did.

Carrie Parks does an excellent job with this novel, I cannot wait to read more from her.  She has the same effect on me as Ted Dekker and Frank Peretti.  Well done Carrie, well done.

**Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program.  **

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Great Apocalypse

Title: The Great Apocalypse; By Daniel Thompson
Media Source: Ebook
Rating: 4 out of 5

Recommendation: I would highly recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys thriller, philosophical, and even science fiction novels.  It is a great addition to bookshelves.

The Great Apocalypse by Daniel Thompson is a Philosophical  thriller with some science fiction elements as well.  It also explores many aspects of life including faith.  It is the first book in the Sparlock of the Multiverse series, and it is a great start to the series.

The prologue introduces our leading man: Thomas as he is investigating a series of hieroglyphic like drawings on the walls of a psychiatric hospital.  Then the story flashes back to the past, to when the stock market crashes.  With the crash some people actually made money, but none more than Koen Ramsey.  He invites several notable people to a party and does something insane (no spoilers here).  Thomas and Jeffrey (an author) spend their time investigating the crash and Ramsey in hopes of writing a new book.  They get a little more than they bargained for.

There are many different things that i loved about this book.  The art and literature discussions in the beginning of the book had me hooked.  I admit I looked up Bosch's triptych just to see the imaged Thompson described.   I also liked the inclusion of some art like "The Death of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram" that we see in chapter sixteen.  One things I somewhat struggled with was a lot of the political and economic talk.  It has a huge part in the book, but I generally struggle with understanding it, so that is more of a downfall on me rather than the novel.  As I said it plays a major role to the story line and the book wouldn't be the same without it.

When I read about all the various elements that play a part in this novel such as The Bible, Jewish legends, various fairy tales, end times theories, lost art, and Gnostic heresies, I didn't think it would work.  I thought it was too many things thrown into a story, but Daniel Thompson works them all together to create this compelling story.  I enjoyed reading the end times theories; Thompson introduces some that I have not heard before.  They added depth to the story, and another thing that I will be researching as well.  Everything Thompson puts into this story shows he did his homework and knew what he was writing about rather than imply using the elements without backing them up.

He causes his readers to want more from his characters.  You feel for the characters, I was on the edge of my seat so to speak when Dr. Lauren Glenn disappeared.  Thomas was a great characters.  Readers get to watch as he transform from being a meek and timid character to one who excludes strength and does what he needs to in order to meet his goals.  I couldn't put the book down until I finished it.  You won't be able to either.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Survivors: Secrets

Title: Survivors: Secrets by Violet Cross
Media: ebook: Kindle

Rating: 4 out of 5

Recommendation: I would recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys post apocalyptic/survival stories.

Survivors is a survival story taking place after the apocalypse.  It follows the story of Lacey and her crew of survivors as they fight to regain items stolen from them by another crew.  As they do so, secrets are revealed.  Secrets that can change every and turn Lacey world upside down.

Medical experimentation has cause the beginning of the apocalypse.  Testing has caused some people to become super-human.  Those same people started killing those who were not altered, causing a sort of apocalypse.  Humans have run from major cities and are living a life of pure survival.  The "Divines" as the super humans are called, garner a "fee" from the humans for their survival.  Lacey is the leader of one of the small compounds outside the city.  They scavenge for food, artifacts (items of value that can no longer be found such as clocks, cameras, and anything else).  Out of the blue they are attacked by another crew, and all their artifacts are stolen.  Now Lacey acquires a small team to attack Plumber's army to regain their Artifacts.  Along they way they discover secrets and betrayals that could tear their team apart.  How will Lacey manage to keep her team, just that a team?

One of the things I liked right off the bat with this story was the beginning of the end story.  Most post apocalyptic stories have it happening from result of war, famine, meteor strike etc.  I haven't read a novel based on the apocalypse happening because of medical testing to cure diseases like cancer.  It added a unique quality to the novel straight from the get-go.  The rest of the story was well paced and interesting.  Some things were revealed that didn't make sense such as the Divine working with Plumber.  If the Divine feed off of Charlotte's aura or energy, how did Charlotte recover quickly enough to be among the crowd in Plumber's base?  Other than that I cannot find anything wrong with this novel.

The characters were well balanced and developed with strengths and flaws unique to each individual.  I liked the sarcastic nature of Lacey and the joking personality of Luke.  Both reminded me of people I know.  I honestly wanted more dialogue between the characters to get a better feel for their personalities.  Some things seemed a little predictable, but those are things that any avid reader would pick up on.  Things that would provide the reader with the "Woo I knew it!" thought.  A lot of people think predicting something is a bad thing, in this case it is not.  It gives a sense of excitement while you continue to read what happens next and how the other characters will respond to each secret that gets revealed.

The last few chapters felt like Miss Cross is beginning to set up things for another book.  The tension builds, drama increases even though you are on the downhill side of the climax.  The end is slightly frustrating, only because I didn't want it to end!  I turned the page to a note from Violet saying Lacey will return in another book.  So not fair Violet! 

**I was provided a copy of this book for an honest review**

Monday, August 24, 2015

Initiated to Kill

Title: Initiated to Kill by Sharlene Almond
Media Source: Ebook

Rating: 3 out of 5

Recommendation: I would recommend this novel to someone who enjoys a good mystery novel.

Initiated to Kill is a historical fiction which takes place in two different time periods following two different men.  One who causes trouble in Whitechapel district of London in the 19th century.  The other reeking havoc in Seville, Spain in the 21st century.  The latter is trying to get into the mind and motive behind the actions of one of history's most noted serial killer:  Jack The Ripper.

Young women are turning up missing, the only connection between them are their fondness for the party lifestyle and the habit of leaving with men they just met.  Not many think much of their disappearances as they have done this before.  Detectives Rivera and Valero are investigating these disappearances and have numerous suspects in mind.  When two hearts are mysteriously delivered to the police department, things begin to get messy.  The detectives now must race against time to discover who the killer is and how to stop him.

This novel jumps a little bit between different flashback so to speak.    The flashbacks are with different characters of the story, and sometimes it is hard to figure out who the past memories are for. Then there are Jack The Ripper chapters describing his murders and aspects of it.  Even well into the book (at least halfway through) the reader still doesn't know the purpose behind the Jack the Ripper references, they don't seem to fit with the storyline.  It isn't until the 77th chapter that a connection is made, and the connection doesn't make sense.  AS the detectives are talking with the medical examiner, he mentions seeing a case such as their a few years back.  When asked which case he says Jack The Ripper, now unless the ME was a live in the 1880's which is highly unlikely, he would not have seen or worked the case.  It would be different if it was stated that he STUDIED a case like theirs.  That creates a huge flaw already. 

As the story progresses the Jack the Ripper references aren't even needed.  They aren't used as much as I had suspected them to be.  I expected a lot of similarities not just a copy cat or relating the two killers to the Freemasons.  The story stands on it's own without Jack the Ripper being involved in the story at all. That aspect of the story was a little disappointing.  The idea of Freemason involvement was a little different and added a certain quality to the novel.  We tend to see the masons as trying to hide things, being secretive not so much killing and preforming rituals within the killings.  That element of the story helped elevate the disappointment in the Jack the Ripper aspect.

The main story was very interesting and well written.  The flashback of the different characters are not needed especially when it is hard to tell which character the flashback is for.  I found myself wanting to read the main story more than the flashbacks, and actually wanting to skip over them (which I didn't).  Would I suggest this book?  Yes.  I would recommend it to others with the disclaimer that  there are things that don't make sense.

**I was provided a copy of this book for an honest review**

Friday, August 21, 2015

After The Auction/ The Lost Torah of Shanghai

I am going to do something a little different than normal, I am going to combine two books into this review because if you read one, you need to read the other.

After The Auction and The Lost Torah of Shanghai by Lind Frank
Media source: Paperback

Rating 4.5 out of 5

Recommendation:  I highly recommend these novels for anyone who enjoys a good mystery, historical elements.  I was enthralled with both books and recommend them to anyone who wants a good book on their shelf.

Both novels focus on Lily Kovner as she searches for lost Jewish artifacts.  She is a spry woman who lets the journalist aspect of her character sometimes get the best of her.  Much like Rachel in The Amber Room, Lily travels across the globe searching for answers, only to get more than she bargained for.

After The Auction:

While attending an auction for work, Lily Kovner is shocked to see a Sedar plate on the auction table.  What's special about this plate?  It is the plate that was stolen from her family home by Nazi soldiers.  Lily embarks on a quest to not only get the plate back but also find justice even if that means she needs to travel to various continents to find it.  She and her family and friends are shaken once Lily begins to received threatening notes and phone calls.  Even though a woman who was aiding in the search is found dead, Lily continues her search.  Along the way Lily reconnects with long lost family, begins a love affair, and learns more about the looting of Jewish artifacts and what happened afterwards.

From the very beginning, I was engrossed in this story.  I have always been a sucker for stories dealing with the Holocaust, even if they are fiction.  I found Lily's story to be fascinating and hung on every twist and turn.  Frank included surprises you didn't expect, even if you expected it to happen, you were still surprised.  She created a character in Lily that readers feel immense compassion for, and are able to feel each emotion she goes through during the course of her quest.  I have heard and read stories about the Holocaust and survivors etc, but nothing about the looting and recovery of art/artifacts.  The plot was well designed and unfolded wonderfully; it kept you interested all the way through.  There was not one point where I wondered when the story would climax, everything built up perfectly. 

The Lost Torah of Shanghai:

The Lost Torah of Shanghai takes place about a year after After The Auction lets off.  Ruth, Lily's cousin, learns a valuable Torah her family protected has been stolen.  She contacts Lily and Simon to help her solve the mystery of who stole it and why.  Once again Lily travels across the world in search of this Torah.  Just as the year before, she is plague with threatening letters and phone calls trying to sway her from finding this artifact. 

There are a lot of the same elements between the two books.  In both she is threatened in somewhat the same manner (phones calls, notes), a relative is revealed, family history is discovered, even someone related to the search is murdered again.  While there are the same elements, it is done differently and presented in a different way.  It becomes new in the second book.  I found the history behind the different types of Jewish heritage very interesting and found myself wanting to research them to learn more for myself.  Both novels holds the readers attention and captivates them through each novel.

Linda did an exquisite job with dialogue, descriptions, character development.  We have a strong, independent woman in Lily, her independence almost becomes a fault as she doesn't let others assist or protect her. A woman who feels she can take care of herself and hold her own against threats, which she does.  Most strong characters are younger, but we see a 60 something year old woman fighting off assailants, highly intelligent and resourceful.  She is an amazing character. In the second book: Lost Torah of Shanghai, we see her evolve, display vulnerability, and reveal aspects of herself we didn't see in the first book.  Throughout Lost Torah, Lily is referred to as the Jewish Miss Marple; a slight nod to the Agatha Christi character, but I am not sure if I would compare these two books to the Agatha Christi series.

Simon's character, I wanted so much more from.  He held a lot of mystery and intrigued, but wasn't used as much as I would have expected, especially in the second book.  The first he was Lily's love interest, and while he remains the love interest, he doesn't seem to have a bigger role than a little fluff with an argument or moments of agreement with Lily.  The same with Ruth, while it is her family the story deals with, she is not a major character in the story. I expected her to be almost like a side-kick in this story but she fell to the background.

I highly enjoyed reading both books, I devoured them within a day that I started reading them.  I couldn't get enough of the story.  So much in both novels were interesting that I wanted to look up afterwards to learn more about such as the Kindertransport and the different Jewish heritages.  Both novels spark a renewed interest in history for me. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Literary Humor

I am always a sucker for silly literary puns.  This one always cracks me up, hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Infinite Sacrifice By L.E Waters

Title: Infinite Sacrifice by L.E Waters
Media source: Kindle
Rating 4 out of 5

Recommendation: This book is different from most other books.   It takes you on a journey through various time periods and opens your eyes to ideas you didn't think about.
Infinite Sacrifice is a novel that would be considered historical fiction, because it takes place in various different time periods.  It is a fiction novel focusing on the various lives of the main character.   I cannot give you a name or even a gender because it is different in each life.
The novel starts off with the main character entering a "holding area" if you will and is told they need to witness their previous lives before continuing on.  Then the lives begin.  We are taken through ancient Egypt to Sparta then we are off to Denmark and then London.  But that is only the beginning, there are two more books in the series.   Each life the main character is a different gender as are the secondary characters, but they all remain together in one way or another.
This novel takes an interesting look at reincarnation.   The idea that each life helps the soul learn a specific lesson is used as the basis in the story.   After a few lives,  readers can begin to pick up on what that lesson is.  The author does a fantastic job at creating multiple characters in each life that develop in their own ways.  I especially enjoyed the addition of a beloved pet following in the reincarnation process.  Do animals reincarnate?    It really got me thinking about reincarnation and things I didn't think about before such as each soul group always being together.  Like the thought that my friends and family could have been with me in previous lives.  It is an interesting idea.  One that I don't think is explored enough.

The novel is captivating as each life began I found myself wondering how each character will present itself and how each life will end.  The author includes a chart at the end of each life to help keep track of who is who and what their beacons are.  Beacons are described as a characteristic that remains with a soul throughout each reincarnation such as a mole, scar, or even color of one's eyes. I find it impressive to able to take a character and develop it through the story, while making it into other characters.

Walker does an outstanding job with this novel.  I have it in ebook format, I want to get this book and the other two in the series in paperback.  This novel has provoked many in depth conversations and discussions with friends in regards to the theory on reincarnation and how the soul needs to learn something in each lifetime.  I highly suggest this novel.<a href="">Infinite Sacrifice (Infinite Series Book 1)</a><img src="" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" />

Friday, August 14, 2015

Author Interview: Andi O'Conner

I have a special treat for you all.  I recently had the honor of conducting a small interview with Andi O'Conner, author of The Dragonath Chronicles (so far two volumes).  Along with the Dragonath Chronicles, Andi has also written the Legacy of Ilvania (short story {2 volumes}), and The Vaelinel Triology (So far one book).  Andi is exceptionally talented and I am so very excited to share her interview. 
 Where did you get the inspiration for your novel?  

The inspiration I get for my writing comes from life. I know it sounds like such a simple answer and kind of a cheat, but it's true. Even though I write fantasy, a lot more can be taken from real life events and issues than most people think. In order for fantasy to be relatable and resonate with your readers, it needs to be real. Characters need to experience real emotions, issues, and situations. I've included things such as abortion, discrimination, religion, epidemics, rape, and spousal abuse in my books. Of course, the topics I write about fit within the realm of the world and story I'm building, but my readers can easily relate to the characters and events.

As far as inspiration for plots and characters, all I can say is that my brain works in mysterious ways. I can't really say where any ideas come from. People think I'm lying when I say things just pop into my head, but it's true! I recently got the entire plot for a short story because I decided I wanted to write about an assassin. That got my brain spiraling off and some really neat twists on the typical assassin were born. The best answer I can give is that I'm exceptionally creative and quite content to sit back and observe.

Who designed the cover?

The cover for Awakening was designed by I had used them for my short story Redemption and they did such a great job I decided to stick with them. I gave them the idea I had for the sword and kraylock (the red and black sphere) and they designed such a brilliant cover! It's eye-catching and perfectly captures the feel of the book. It's mysterious in the fact that it makes people want to know about the sword and kraylock and what they have to do with the title. It also captures the darker feelings and themes of the book
Can you walk me through your writing process?

My writing process is extremely unstructured. I don't outline. I don't write out the plot line from beginning to end. I don't have a list of characters who will be in the book.

When I begin a new work, I have the most basic of an idea, and I just start writing. I let the characters and events tell me what to write. I don't know what's going to happen at the end of the book when I begin. I don't know what a certain character is going to be like, though I know they most likely won't be the same as they were at the beginning. I am a firm believer in letting my characters and imagination carry me through. I let my characters evolve and react to situations in their own ways, and I can't know what that will be until they get there. I have come up with so many ideas half-way through a book that I know I wouldn't have thought of if I'd written an outline and planned out the plot and story arc. Many people ask me what happens next, and I honestly can't tell them. I'll find out what happens pretty much around the same time as they will.

I'll take notes to make sure I'm consistent between different books or short stories in a series, but I refuse to outline. It's too restrictive and won't give my characters enough freedom to learn from their experiences and evolve into (hopefully) better people.

How did you come up with the title?

The title Awakening comes from a few events that happen throughout the book which center around the theme of an awakening. A spirit is awakened and returns to Dragonath. After Darrak, the protagonist, is betrayed, a strength and resolve he didn't know he had awakens within him. Dragons, who were thought to be a myth, appear to lend their aid, so there is a sense of awakening there as well. The theme of awakening also appears in other ways, but I don't want to spoil everything!

What authors have inspired you? And in what ways?

My biggest inspiration has been Terry Brooks. He was my first major foray into the fantasy genre, and I was immediately drawn into the world he created. His Shannara series introduced me into how real and relatable make-believe can be. The complexity of his magical objects (the elfstones) was fascinating, and I began to realize how intriguing and interesting fantasy can be. It doesn't have to be just mindless entertainment. It can be extremely thought-provoking as well as being fun. To this day, the only time I've cried while reading a book is reading one of his works.

The other major author that has inspired me is Tolkien, though not in the way you may think. He taught me what not to do. The world building is very descriptive and well thought out, but there's no connection with the characters. He didn't bring any emotion to me as a reader. He created this beautifully detailed world, but then left all these holes in the plot. He constructs this supposedly horrifically powerful magic ring, but then doesn't show his readers WHY it's powerful. There's all this magic in the world - wizards, magic rings, elvish magic - yet it's never used or explained. His battles are almost non-existent and honestly quite unbelievable. If this one ring is as powerful and coveted as it's supposed to be, the conflicts and battles over winning its possession would be much more epic. Many people love his work, and he's kind of seen as the god of fantasy, but for me he's served as an example of things to avoid doing. Or better put, things to make sure I include in my writing.

What is it about a particular genre that draws you in?  Would you say you typically stay within a chosen genre or do you experiment?

I love fantasy because it serves as an escape to another world, yet at the same time it's extremely relatable. I think the major draw of fantasy is the belief that it could be real-that it could exist. When characters and worlds are created well, the reader not only feels like they're there, but they feel like it's real. I mean honestly, how awesome would it be if magic existed? What if there really were elfstones or kraylocks or magic rings? It's intriguing. It's exciting. And who could actually exist.

I stay within the same genre. Fantasy is what excites me and intrigues me the most, and what I feel is most in tune with my brain. :) That's not to say I'm not opposed to trying something new, and I may if an idea pops into my head, but for now I'm sticking with fantasy, particularly dark fantasy.

With so many books being made into movies, what actors to you see staring as your characters?

This is such a fun question! I actually haven't thought about this before (and I hardly ever watch movies) so I had to do some research! Here we go:

Darrak - Elijah Wood
Andillrian - Emma Watson
Anarra - Dakota Fanning
Mionee - Natalie Portman
Ipzaag - Matthew Lewis
Garenth - Colin Farrell
Captain Rorend - Luke Evans
Biran/Payton Niemel - Bryan Cranston
Detaldin - Aiden Turner

How do you think your specific genre has influenced pop culture?

There has been a definite increase in fantasy/sci-fi movies and a renewed interest in the genre. I think the pop culture and literary culture have sort of fed off one another. Tolkien has such a huge fan base and the books were what inspired the movies. But the movies created a buzz and helped bring a lot more fans to the world of fantasy. I think that helped people see that fantasy can and should be taken seriously and more authors began to write in the genre. Many series and authors became extremely popular and again, influenced movies which have continued to bring in new fans of the genre. Because of both the literary and pop cultures, fantasy is no longer seen as only for 'nerds'. It's something everyone of all ages can enjoy and relate to.

Each one of Andi's books seem so fascinating.  Unfortunately I have not had the honor of reading any of her books, yet, but they are on my list of To Read.  Be sure to keep checking back for a review of any one of her books, I am sure I will devour each one. 

For more about Andi visit her site here. Or you can follow her on goodreads.