Monday, March 31, 2014

Kindreds: An Alliance of Bloods By Tani Mura, A Book Review

I love it when the story goes to scenes that you don't see coming, and ones that may even get you a little upset.  One such scene in this book did get me a little upset.  But, I have to believe there is a reason for what happened and hopefully the second book will massage my feelings.

Tani Mura gives us a taste of not just one different world, but two via completely dissimilar cultures.  The characters in these two cultures see things differently in some ways, but very much the same in some of their foundational thinking.  They just don't see it yet.  You certainly get the feel for what they think and why, and then, per design I'm sure, you start to wonder how things will jell for them as a whole and be ultimately be resolved.  What you think you want to see happen doesn't quite get there this time, but you do get a surprise.

The surprise has a great amount of potential and depth, again keeping the reader not only engaged, but anticipating and anxiously waiting for more information to be revealed.  The depth of this surprise is one you can only guess at because this author is not someone you can assume or predict with.  She is quite unique and creative.

The characters are well defined.  And even though the lead was sometimes a little too head strong for me, I realized it was only because of where her personality developed from.  To make her any other way would have been uncharacteristic and unworthy of her situation.  The others were true to how they developed.  Tani showed how some can change because of some little thing that was different in their life or change because they couldn't see past their own selfish wants. Tani did it right from one to the next and kept you interested and liking every single one. 

If you like dystopian stories you will really like this one.  It actually had me REALLY curious from the beginning, and even as things unfolded, I never lost that quest for answers.  I really grew to like and even enjoy the characters.  I could see the expressions on their faces and feel the energy  and personality each of them had.  That only comes when an author tells you enough to see them right there before you. Well done Tani.

I know every teen and adult would enjoy this book and once read, will hunt down the next one.  Five stars to a great book.  Thank you Tani Mura!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Red River by Kelly Van Hull, A Book Review

This second book doesn't miss a beat continuing the journey with a creative and structured plot of exciting wonder.
The characters, story and writing I so enjoyed in the first book certainly didn't disappoint in the second.  The very first chapter brought you back into the fold of family and the whole different life they were forced to create.  You easily slipped into and accepted their plight, and sooner than a flash of light you were cheering them on to win.  Win not only the freedom their hearts sought, but a win for the others who may not see the forest through the trees.  Everyone needs a hero, but few can be one.
Dani, I'm sure, never dreamed about being a hero.  She just wanted to do normal things, be independent and laugh with her friends.  Like most teenagers.  But when push came to shove, she wasn't having it.  Forced to face a new reality in the first book brought her to a new level of self reliance and independence that just can't be undone.  And as much as her parents wanted to believe in their own control, the new Dani was not coming back.
Even as she learned that help from her family and friends was priceless, her stubborn pride often got in the way.  The teenage and even sometimes adult stubborn reluctance to meld with her supporters and comrades cost her, but also helped her.  You'll have to read the book to know what I mean.  I just can't give too much away and spoil the adventure for you.
Loss and tragedy are no strangers to Dani, her family or friends.  But reality has a way of dealing the blows and yet blocking the disintegration you would expect.  Sometimes the determination and resolve to win, keeps you going and ensures your propensity for strength.  For them, that strength and weathered hearts were hard earned.  The costs were incalculable as they fought to keep it together, but the wealth would prove to be infinite and forever seared into their souls.
Each character had their journey you got to read and see throughout the book.  The author's ability brought them all together yet kept them separate enough to understand and get to know, and then absolutely grow to love.  I have to say I was even hard pressed to 'choose' as Dani was supposed to do.  I hurt for the loser, yet reveled for the winner.  It was just that involved, intense and yet crazy.  Crazy I couldn't choose, and really didn't know which one she would choose.

The book came to an end and it wasn't one I felt let down with... well except for one part.  I wanted there to be another solution for just one thing, but who knows, maybe there will be yet another book moving this even further.  There really could be, it's a great storyline.  So again I just have to say, get the books!  Seriously, you do not want to miss out on a great story.  Thank you Kelly Van Hull, it was a wonderfully well written adventure I truly enjoyed, and just give another addition to these two some thought.  Please.

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Saturday, March 8, 2014

Tent City by Kelly Van Hull, A Book Review

I sat staring at the last page, wondering about the story, thinking about the events, and mentally willing there to be more pages to turn.  This story grabbed me whole, wouldn't let go and I gladly accepted its grip.
I truly fell in love with these characters, the story, the writing, and absolutely everything in between.  The drama kept moving, and the descriptive scenes took me on a journey I won't soon forget.  I found myself feeling as if I was there, it could happen, and wondering how I would react.  Would it be the same as Dani did, or something far beyond what I can imagine?

Dani is the lead character.  She was a normal teenager without much to worry about except feel like all teenagers do, that life would be much more interesting if they were on their own.  Until she is, and she discovers how unprepared she is and succinctly realizes she would much rather be back home.  Circumstances won't allow that though, so she learns to adapt and grow into an almost self reliant young woman.  I say almost self reliant because she stubbornly wants to be, but soon discovers that help for and from others is more precious than pride.  She and her brother were better off with a few new friends once she understood self dependency was a waste of time and resources, when a group does so much better with more efficient results.

As in any life, true friends are far and few between.  Dani and her friends are no exception, but the depths of that truth are seen in emotional veins that rock their world to the edge of sanity.  Wavering on threads of despair, they find their way toward freedom and happiness, bearing the agonizing hurts of loss and tragedy along the way.

With each sentence you learn more about your new friends, and feel their heart beat catch with yours in each step they took.  You root for them, you hurt for them and you thank the author for taking the time to write as richly as she did so you had the fortune of that experience.  Each character had their moments of you wondering are you serious, but that's what kept them real.  They weren't perfect in a far from perfect world and that made it easy to really like them, greatly enjoy the story, and desperately hope for more.
That last page was a killer, because that's what it was, the last page.  Thankfully Kelly has book 2 out, called Red River.  I of course will be reading it as it is already up on my kindle now.  Get the books!  Seriously, you will miss out on a great story otherwise.  Thank you Kelly Van Hull, it was a wonderfully well written adventure I truly enjoyed.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Sceptor Book II The Emerald of Phaunos by Scott L. Collins, A Book Review

This second book is just as good, moving and creative as the first one.  I loved it, and I know kids and teens will love it too.  I read this in one sitting, and I'll bet kids will too.  The downside is the third one isn't out yet.
The story about four kids that grew up too fast from circumstances beyond their control, truths beyond their years, and morals that keep them straight has all the markings for an exciting, and enduring venture.  And that's exactly what it was with showers of contrast and really creative twists the plot is full of surprises, and yet Scott weaves several bits of quality lessons into the story which I found to be really wonderful.

The fantasy in the story is really creative with the different people, animals and whatchamacallits  keeping it lively and very entertaining.  The story concept is simple but the writing takes it to a whole new level with inventive scenes that keep you turning the pages until the end.
These four kids learn things about each other, themselves, and life.  They understand how it should be, the evil that is and can be, and what can be done to change it.  They brave the elements, the unknown obstacles in their paths and face their fears head on, but they don't show any less of the reality of what they would show emotionally if it really happened.  The characters are kept real and personal allowing you to get to know them, like them, and cheer for them.  You have to laugh with them, feel sorry for them, hope they survive, and run with them when they need to.

The value of family is evident in this story, not only in their need to see and maybe even save their parents, but realizing that they are also a family all their own.  They come to realize that they care for, love, help, and most of all need each other more than they had ever anticipated.  What started out as scared kids not knowing what to do with their new situation in life soon became a family of kids determined to turn things back to the way they should be.  Hopefully back to the way they were.  Although I have a feeling that after going through all this, it won't be quite what they want either.  I think a new way of life is on the horizon.
As these children go through their mission fighting to survive, the reader will feel the determination, and revel in their successes.  It's a quality book for children and young adults that will be greatly enjoyed and talked about with their friends.  I have sent these to children I believed would really enjoy them, and know some have already.  This series is a great gift to a child you know.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Artifact by K. T. Bowes, A Book Review

Oh how to tell the loft of the spirit that flies as you read this story.  This tale is a love story that touches your soul, and grabs your heart spinning your world.

Kate knows how to not only spin the narrative to great emotional depths, but inscribe the scene with pitch perfect points of interest laying bare all that's necessary for the reader to live the scenes; feel the emotions, hear the wind and even feel it flow over their skin.  It's a trait all authors strive to reach and Kate has it right.

Lara, the main character, has an interesting job.  She loves it and relishes what she learns from it.  You can sense the intensity of her regard for it as she uncovers and preserves history, bent on keeping it alive and intact, feeling the emotions its secrets may hold.  But being in such a profession doesn't keep her heart from feeling the hurts or loneliness that can happen in her real life.  As you learn her story, you feel her struggles, pain and hope.  You hear her sobs, her laughter and silence.  And you get to know and care for her, wanting all that hurts to be turned into love and joy.

Then you meet Arama.  His first impression is cutthroat, rude and yet exuding virile handsomeness.  How could anyone resist that or should I say forgive that and not resist the other?  But judging by appearance only usually has some unexpected surprises underneath, and Arama is no exception.  What Lara wants to believe and thinks she sees are not what lurks beneath the surface.  Thank goodness for heartfelt women or we would all be a lonely lot.

As the story unfolds and you feel the waves of emotional turns and twists, you realize how you want things to turn out, and hoping that's how it ends.  And even though the other characters weren't as pivotal to the story, you learned enough about them to want to know more too.  You were allowed glimpses into their lives and yet left with a few questions, which kept you glued to the story from beginning to end, searching for more.  Hoping for more.

So this is how the author keeps you entertained in her works, looking for the next venture she pens to the page.  Enjoying the creative thoughts she spins out in a tale that wraps around you as you turn one page to the next, you relish the moments you get to spend in another place, another life and another time.  Kate wrote a love story that was much more than that.  If you like love stories, you will love this.  It's a short story that I could have read for days.

The Stone Gods by C. B. Pratt, A Book Review

This creative tale ranks tall with all the colorful stories depicting Greek mythology.  Enos the Thracian takes you on an enjoyable journey.  It's a journey beyond the norm, yet he envelops you with such unique and interesting charm that you become embedded in the story.

Seriously, I felt like I was there, walking, talking and observing all that was going on.  Okay, and maybe like in the old days, swooning over Enos.  I admired him, and better yet, I really, really liked him.  Cynthia Pratt has created a monster, a monster of a man as addictive as chocolate.  From the beginning you are wondering about him, picturing what he looks like and searching for clues to know more about him.  With her spell binding writing she creates a thirst that is never really satisfied; you want more of him even when the story ends, and even after you close the cover.

This is the second book in the series, but the story can actually stand alone.  Well kind of... like I said, you want more of this Enos the Thracian man of wonder, so one book just isn't enough.  The story though does come full circle so you don't begin in the middle of the previous book, and you end with a clear picture ending, even as you want another written page to follow the last.

Enos was created to solve problems, at least that's what he does for a living, but the story has hinted that there is more to the depth of this creation than has been told... so far.  I am wondering what the first book had to say, and of course have purchased it to read and hopefully ease my quest which I am sure it will help, but with Cynthia Pratt's masterful work the next book will have to be purchased as well.  You just can't get too much of Enos.

The other characters are entwined enough to keep you firmly entrenched in the story, but never take away from the main character.  You don't find yourself really wondering more about them than Enos, which I'm sure, was the author's intent all along.  They all keep the story animated, colorful and interesting, but still manage to keep you focused on what Enos does, how he will react, what will happen next, and of course what he looks like.  Ah, the never ending questions of a female reader about a virile male character.
I had to give this story five stars.  With a good storyline, a vibrant and enticing main character and the author's ability to make sure you want more, it couldn't be anything less.  I will absolutely read the first book which is already on my shelf, and rest assured the next book or books as well.  I have always enjoyed stories based around Greek Mythology, and this one can certainly claim the top hat spot.  Thanks Cynthia Pratt, your adventure was fun.  Get the book and enjoy.