Category Archives: Book Reviews

On the Spotlight: The Moreva of Astoreth, by Roxanne Bland

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Blurb

In the world-building tradition of Andre Norton, Anne McCaffrey and Ursula K. LeGuin, The Moreva of Astoreth is a blend of science fiction, romance, and adventure in a unique, richly imagined imperialistic society in which gods and science are indelibly intertwined. It is the story of the priestess, scientist, and healer Moreva Tehi, the spoiled, headstrong granddaughter of a powerful deity who is banished for a year to a volatile far corner of the planet for neglecting to perform her sacred duty, only to venture into dangerous realms of banned experimentation, spiritual rebirth, and fervent, forbidden love.

Link to Follow Tour:  http://worldwindtours.com/index.php/2016/08/04/tour-sign-up-the-moreva-of-astoreth/

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29614594-the-moreva-of-astoreth

Buy Links:      Amazon | B&N | Kobo 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Moreva-Astoreth-Roxanne-Bland-ebook/dp/B017JY331W/

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-moreva-of-astoreth-roxanne-bland/1122928113?ean=9780996731607

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/the-moreva-of-astoreth-3

roxanne

I’ve been a fugitive from reality since forever. As a child, I constantly made up stories–some would call them lies–about my family, friends, neighbors and even strangers on the street. I had friends that only I could see. Oh, the adventures we had!

Learning to read was a revelation. Words fascinated me. Whole new worlds opened up, and since my parents forbade nothing, I read everything. Some of it I didn’t quite understand, but I didn’t mind. I read it anyway. I even read the dictionary. When I was a little older, I was big on mysteries–English cozy mysteries, that is, Agatha Christie, were my favorites. Then I graduated to horror. Whenever a new book came out by Stephen King, Peter Straub or Dean Koontz, I was first in line. I was reading a little science fiction at this time–Robert Heinlein and authors like him–but I really didn’t get into it until I was in college. The same with fantasy. I really got into high fantasy–Lord of the Rings style–in college.

During this time I was still making up stories, but not writing them down. They were private. Besides, I thought my family and friends would laugh at me. In fact, the only story I recall writing was one that won a contest when I was in elementary school.

So anyway, life goes on. I went to law school. After I graduated and entered the workforce, I finally started writing down my stories. I wrote a bit here and there, short stories that never saw the light of day (which was probably a good thing). Then I fell ill. I had the flu for a month. Bored out of my skull, I started writing a piece of fan fiction, though I didn’t know that’s what it was at the time. I showed it to a friend of mine who suggested I finish the story.

Well, that piece of fan fiction fell by the wayside, but in its place came a manuscript that would eventually become my first book, The Underground. I absolutely adored writing it. I absolutely adore writing, period. Slipping into that alternate reality for hours on end, there was a time in my life when it was called daydreaming and I got into trouble for it. Now it’s legitimate. And that’s the best part of all.

Author Links:  Website | Twitter | Facebook 

Website:  http://blackrosepress.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Roxanne-Bland-Author-289392377750996/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RoxanneBland2

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Book Review: The Last Wife of Attila the Hun, by Joan Schweighardt

The Last Wife of Attila the Hun by Joan Schweighardt is an ambitious, superbly researched, excellently written novel based on Germanic legends and the true life of Attila the Hun that will mesmerize fans of historical fiction. There isn’t a lot of fiction based on Attila, so being a lover of history I was instantly intrigued about reading the book.
The novel moves back and forth in time, interweaving two stories. In one, we meet Gudrun, a brave Burgundian noble woman with a lethal mission, destroy the infamous Attila the Hun. In the other, the reader travels to the past to learn the overwhelming events that brought Gudrun to this difficult, suicidal undertaking.
From the beginning, Schweighardt’s imaginative storytelling and attention to detail shine through the pages, bringing Attila’s fifth century landscape to life in all its gritty vividness. Characters are deftly drawn, and I found myself instantly sympathetic to Gudrun’s situation, as well as absorbed by the other characters. This was especially true of Attila’s second in command, with whom Gudrun develops an unusual relationship. Attila himself is portrayed in chilling detail.
Needless to say, I love the fact that the story is seen from a female perspective. At times, her focused obsession for revenge propels the tale at a breathless pace. Juxtaposing with her present life as Attila’s prisoner are her memories of her great yet tragic love with Sigurd.
I’m not surprised the novel has won awards and it’s been translated into other languages. Dark, mysterious, and beautifully layered, The Last Wife of Attila the Hun is filled with lust, revenge and passion, and comes highly recommended by this reviewer. If you’re a historical fiction enthusiast, this is for you.
Find out more about Joan Schweighardt here. Read my interview with her on Blogcritics. Purchase the book on Amazon.

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Book Review: ‘The Crimson Calling’ by Patrick C. Greene

crimsonThe Crimson Calling by Patrick C. Greene is a suspenseful, fast-paced tale featuring a strong, bad ass heroine, and lots of non-stop action. It puts a new spin on vampire lore by combining the old myths with the modern military.

In a world where just a few hundred vampires secretly remain after the eradication of 1666, Olivia–Liv–Irons is a young woman with unusual military talents who is emotionally tortured by the loss of her child and the man she loved. One day, she is a approached by an ancient alluring vampire with a proposition she can’t refuse.

Now, it rests in her hands to save the good vampires–as well as humankind–from a sect of the evil undead who want nothing more than to rule the world on their own terms. Including turning humans into foodbags. But at the heart of this mission, there lies a secret…

Olivia is a lovable character, strong and independent, yet kind and vulnerable, the perfect combination with her bad ass attitude. There is also an array of interesting secondary characters as well as a villainess readers will love to hate. Intense and entertaining fight scenes between the immortals will satisfy fans of the military/vampire fiction sub-genre. Adding to this mix are the alluring forests and rolling hills of Eastern Europe, as well as erotic descriptions of vampire transformation.

Greene has a gritty writing style that doesn’t shy away from the nastier side of things–and language. His combat descriptions are awesome. At the same time, he does a skillful job in getting into the mind of his young and vulnerable protagonist, showing us her doubts and fears with a caring touch. The ending seems to be open to a sequel so I’m definitely looking forward to read more. Entertaining and recommended!

Find out more on Amazon.

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Book Review: ‘Luck Is Just the Beginning’ by Celeste Leon

LuckcoverthumbBased on a true story, Celeste Leon’s beautifully written debut novel is the story of a young man in 1940s Puerto Rico who wins the lottery, only to realize that, as the title states, luck is just the beginning.

Young Ramon is able to see visions, a gift he inherited from his mother. When he sees a number flash across the sky, he decides to buy a complete lottery ticket. At first, he’s thrilled to have won a fortune, for his plan is to go to college, become a dentist, and make the world a better place by helping the people of his village. But, as it turns out, money changes a lot of things—people’s intentions, expectations, desires—even one self’s, and not always for the better. Now, people approach Ramon because they want something from him, and he starts to doubt everyone, even the girl who claims to love him. Likewise, he starts doing things he later regrets.

This is the era of WWII, and in the midst of it all Ramon tries to face the challenges that threaten to destroy his life, especially a man whose envy has made Ramon his target for revenge. Overnight, all facets of Ramon’s life turn upside down—his dwindling family business, his relationship with Elsie, his dream to go to college in the States. At some point, even the police are after him.

The novel is rich with Puerto Rican flavor and historical details, and Leon writes with simplicity yet profound perception about human nature. Ramon is an endearing, utterly likable character—an honest, good-hearted man who makes mistakes yet rises above them.

Luck is Just the Beginning was honored with a Mariposa award for Best First Book in the 2016 International Latino Book Awards, and was also a finalist in the “Fiction: Multicultural” category of the 2016 International Book Awards.

Read my Blogcritics interview with the author.

Find out more about the book on Amazon or from the author’s website.

This review was originally published in Blogcritics Magazine.

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Book Review: ‘The Asset’ by Anna del Mar

The_Asset_High ResTrying to survive from a deadly past that torments her, Lia Stewart is hiding in a small Rocky Mountain town until, one day, a wounded warrior with a dog shows on her doorstep; a gravely injured SEAL with a heart and soul just as tortured as hers. Against her best judgment, she decides to help him – a kind act that may cost her life.

The Asset by Anna del Mar is an emotionally compelling and sizzling romance, has two protagonists to die for, a well-thought out plot with carefully-timed, revealing twists, mounting tension, and thrills that will keep you turning pages.

From the beginning, I was hooked with the story and mystery. I was also impressed with the quality of the writing and the emotionally compelling aspect of the romance as it evolved between Lia and Ash. The backstory was deftly handled by this promising author. Bits and pieces of information about the characters and their stories bring one to light as the story progresses. Each new revelation seems to be more important then the previous one and adds to the novel’s sense of impending danger as it approaches the climax.

Aside from the lead characters there is also a lethal antagonist and an adorable German shepherd in the mix. While the former is of course important to the plot line, the latter gives the story, and readers, needed breaks from the tension.

Anna del Mar is an exciting new name in the steamy romance genre and I look forward to reading more from her. If you love romance, especially military romance, this is a must read!

Read my interview with the author on Blogcritics.

Cover art credit: Carina Press/HarperCollins. Published with permission from the author. 

My review was originally published in Blogcritics.

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Review: ‘Dee and Deb Off They Go Kindergarten First Day Jitters’ by Donna McDine

deeTitle: Dee and Deb Off They Go Kindergarten First Day Jitters

Genre: children’s

Author: Donna McDine

Websitewww.donnamcdine.com

Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc.

Purchase linkwww.donnamcdine.com and Guardian Angel Publishing and Amazon

About the Book: The anxiety of finding one’s own place and friends in kindergarten without the comfort of having her fraternal twin sister nearby at first overwhelms Dee until she realizes even without her fraternal twin sister, Dee and her classmates for the most part are in the same boat.

My thoughts:

This is a super cute picture book about two twin sisters, Dee and Deb, who go to kindergarden for the very first time. The story focuses on Dee. She’s anxious about being separated from Deb, as they go on their separate classrooms. However, Dee soon finds out that mostly all of the other kids in her class have the same worries she has, and she ends up making a very good friend, soon realizing that she can have other friends besides her twin sister Deb. The little girls are adorable. This is a very simple story written for ages 3-6. If you have twins in your family who are soon attending school, this is the perfect book to read to them and discuss first day jitters and separating issues. Recommended!

donnaAbout the Author:

About the Author: Multi award-winning children’s author, Donna McDine’s creative side laid dormant for many years until her desire to write sparked in 2007. Her latest release Dee and Deb Off They Go Kindergarten First Day Jitters joins the four early reader children’s picture books, A Sandy Grave(January 2014), Powder Monkey (May 2013), Hockey Agony (January 2013) and The Golden Pathway (August 2010) all with Guardian Angel Publishing. Join McDine as her adventures continue as she ignites the curiosity of children through reading. She writes and moms from her home in the historical hamlet Tappan, NY. McDine is a member of the SCBWI.

Connect with Donna on the Web!

www.donnamcdine.com

www.donna-mcdine.blogspot.com

https://www.facebook.com/DonnaMcDineAuthorhttps://twitter.com/dmcdine

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Book Review: ‘Christmas Romance 2015 – Places to See Series’

Christmas Romance 2015If you’re a fan of romantic stories and you love traveling and being transported to other countries, curl up in front of the fireplace these holidays with Christmas Romance 2015 – Places to See Series.

Now available as a box set, this uplifting collection is made of four interrelated stories about four women who encounter unexpected love during Christmas in the countries of their dreams. Friends and co-workers Aubri, Paget, Erika, and Jade work as buyers for Simon’s Department Store. Their boss and “surrogate” father, Mr. Simon, having lost his daughter and believing that life is too short, decides to send his four favorite employees on their dream trips, all expenses paid.

The collection includes:

“Kisses and Strudel: Christmas Romance – Germany,” by Jennifer Conner

“In Love with Paris: Christmas Romance – France,” by Sharon Kleve

“Christmas in Tuscany: Christmas Romance – Italy,” by Angela Ford

“Twice as Nice Christmas: Christmas Romance – Bulgaria,” by Natalie-Nicole

Four stories to warm up the hearts of romance readers, Christmas Romance – Places to See features four lovable heroines, four to-die-for heros, and last but not least, four settings that sparkle to life with all their sights and sounds. Each tale is a delicious piece of chocolate to devour in one sitting. Christmas Romance is a light, upbeat, fast read and perfect for this time of the year.

My review originally appeared in Blogcritics

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Book Review: ‘Bach, Casals and the Six Suites for ’Cello’ by Steven Hancoff

Being an avid, life-long fan of classical music and having studied the violin in my later years, I jumped at the opportunity to review this ambitious work put together by internationally renowned guitarist Steven Hancoff.
Hancoff 3CDBach, Casals and the Six Suites for ’Cello, a project that took Hancoff eight years to complete, is a fascinating, immersive multimedia extravaganza that combines music, history and art, a gem for classical music enthusiasts.
The ebook has four volumes:
VOLUME 1: THE LIFE OF J. SEBASTIAN BACH
VOLUME 2: THE LEGACY OF J. SEBASTIAN BACH
VOLUME 3: PABLO CASALS AND THE SIX SUITES FOR CELLO SOLO
VOLUME 4: FROM TRAGEDY TO TRANSCENDENCE
Volume 1 is all about Bach’s life; volume 2 is about Bach’s death and the following 80 years of total obscurity until his music was discovered by Felix Mendelssohn; volume 3 focuses on Pablo Casals, his heroic life, and how serendipity brought him to Bach’s music; finally, volume 4 consists almost entirely on nine videos about the mystery and greatness of Bach, and how he didn’t allow his personal tragedy to define his music. Over one thousand illustrations grace the pages of the volumes, including three hundred works of contemporary art. There’s also a scholarly bibliography.
The four-volume ebook is available on iTunes and is accompanied separately by a 3-CD set recording of Hancoff’s acoustic guitar transcription of the suites. Readers may listen to samples here.
Like some other famous creative artists in history, Bach led a harsh life, losing his siblings and parents by the time he was ten, then having to work for years in an environment that didn’t support his music talents. He was even thrown into jail at some point. He never recovered from the death of his wife, whom he loved dearly. It was in times of deep pain and hardship that he created his sublime masterpieces, Six Violin Sonatas and Partitas for Violin Solo and then his Six Suites for ’Cello Solo.
The cello suites are a testament to the tragedy in his life, to all the pain and sorrow, but also to his determination and transcendence—a gift to his then gone beloved wife. Particularly interesting and surprising is how Bach’s prodigious music almost fell to oblivion if not for the efforts of Felix Mendelssohn’s great aunt, and how Pablo Casals discovered the suites in a little shop in Barcelona and how he studied them for over a decade before performing them in public.
Steven Hancoff’s passion and reverence for Bach and his music resonate throughout and shine through the pages of these volumes. He’s done an admirable job presenting “the miracle of Bach,” as Casals once put it. Moreover, his transcriptions of the suites in acoustic guitar are a pleasure to listen to: serene, bitter-sweet at times, filled with emotional power and depth, always sublimely beautiful.
Bach, Casals and the Six Suites for ’Cello is a feast to the senses, a testament to the greatness of Bach and comes highly recommended from this reviewer.
Useful links:
Listen to a samples Steven Hancoff’s transcription of the six suites here:http://www.stevenhancoff.com/music.html
Watch the video “Bach in 3 Minutes” on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=19&v=QZmmIIMBBug
Watch Hancoff’s various videos on the subject: http://www.stevenhancoff.com/videos.html
Connect with Hancoff on Facebook and Twitter @StevenHancoff.
My review was originally published in Blogcritics.

– See more at: http://asthepageturns.blogspot.be/2015/10/book-review-bach-casals-and-six-suites.html#sthash.GARw6tsC.dpuf

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Book Review: ‘Sorrow’ by John Lawson

perf6.000x9.000.inddSorrow begins with a mysterious traveler on a mission, secretly carrying a box which contains a precious, powerful weapon.

Then the story moves to Vestiga Gaesi, where we meet Faina, the seductive yet naive fourteen-year old girl with a mysterious past who is staying at the Viscount’s luxurious home — where the story mainly takes place. Then, that night, an important Bishop is murdered, and Lord Ash is called to solve the case. It appears this isn’t the first crime committed against members of the clergy in the past few months. Thus begins his investigation. Soon, he has a suspect: Sorrow. Unfortunately, no one knows who this Sorrow really is, for this killer appears to be a supernatural creature that sheds black tears while killing. Who is Sorrow? Why are victims clergymen? What is Faina’s real identity and why is she in Vestiga Gaesi?

Lawson has created a very real, dark fantasy world that readers will be able to picture vividly in their minds. The descriptions, mood, and dialogue all help bring this story’s detailed world to life. The characters are deftly drawn and come across as genuine people. The prose sparkles with beautifully crafted language. Lawson’s strength lies in characterization and creating an imaginative dark world. I’d like to add that I found the details about religion and the clergy to be very well researched.

There’s an array of interesting characters with equal levels of importance that, together with intriguing twists and turns, will keep readers guessing: Phindol, the unfortunate traveler; Lord Ash, the detective who tries to solve the murder; and, of course, Faina, the alluring Lolita-like protagonist shrouded in mystery who seems to unwillingly seduce all men who set eyes on her. Though the writing is in good taste and there’s nothing graphic, I should mention that some of her scenes with Lord Ash and Phintol, both adult males, might be considered a bit disturbing to sensitive readers.

Sorrow is a standalone novel. However, it takes place in the same world — though hundreds of years apart — as Lawson’s previous novel, The Loathly Lady, also by Dragonwell Publishing.

Recommended for fans of dark fantasy who like a strong touch of mystery.

Purchase on Amazon / Dragonwell Publishing

My review was previously published in Blogcritics Magazine

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Book Review: ‘Stolen Dreams’ by Christine Amsden


StolenDreams_med-193x300
I can’t believe this is the last book in the Cassie Scot new adult paranormal mystery series! I really have enjoyed this series a lot.

If you’re new to the series, I advise you to pick up the books in order:

Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective  
Secrets and Lies (Cassie Scot #2) 
Mind Games (Cassie Scot #3)
Stolen Dreams (Cassie Scot #4)

In this the final installment, talented author Christine Amsden brings the infamous Scot vs. Blackwood family feud to a close, but not without filling her story with enough intrigue, mystery, twists and surprises to keep you thinking about the characters for a long time.

And this is, really, the biggest draw in these stories, the characters, especially Cassie and Evan. Cassie has been such a likable protagonist throughout the series, smart and strong and opinionated, yet caring and warm-hearted. Evan –yes, arrogant, condescending and overprotective Evan — has also been the perfect hero. They were school sweethearts…until Evan’s father stole her powers from her and gave them to Evan, thus starting a conflict between them that brought them to the depths of despair, especially for Cassie.

There are many subplots in this book, but the main problem happens when Cassie’s father is killed and she and her family think that Evan’s dad is the one responsible. The primary storyline has to do with finding out if this is true or not and, if not, then who, in fact, is responsible.

There are many surprises in Stolen Dreams, and I enjoyed all of them. Fans of romance will especially enjoy the focus on Cassie and Evan’s relationship. I loved the ending. In sum, this was a wonderful series, and the author delivered a satisfying closure. I wonder what she will come up next? I’m certainly going to be on the lookout for her future books.

My review was previously published in Blogcritics Magazine. 

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