The Page Turners by Deanna Knippling

page-tunrers-coverI normally do not read novelettes, but this one intrigued me. Mention the words magic, grimoire, or sorcerer, and you have my interest. Deanna Knipplings‘ The Page Turnershas a lot packed into forty six pages. I very much enjoyed the story although I didn’t care for the second person perspective. I was lost as to which book belonged to who’s story, but this is short enough that I can easily pick it back up for a second read through. I highly recommend The Page Turners. It is a unique concept that is worth the time it takes to read forty six pages.

Sometimes a book comes out of your soul

You’re taking a train ride from Alabama to the Chinatown in San Francisco to be with your mother, who is dying of cancer. The year is sometime in the 1920s. A white man walks by, carrying a book that slips away from him. He can’t find it…it’s after midnight and the train is dark.

The book calls to you.

It says its name is Jimmy O’Toole and the man who dropped it is a sorcerer. You’re holding a grimoire…although it used to be more than that.

It used to be a person.

You know your mom should be able to work this out. She’s always been into magic.

You just have to live long enough to get the book home to her…

 

Wildmane by Todd Fahnestock

Wildmane - Cover

Wildmane; Threadweavers is a fabulous epic fantasy, with an emphasis on epic. Todd Fahnestock’s wordsmithing painted a world that I could touch and smell. I was captivated from the first page to the last.

Mirolah wants a quiet life, but the villagers in her town will kill her if they discover the truth. She is a magical threadweaver, the first to surface in three hundred years.

Long bereft of magic, the human lands are dying. Humans are devolving, and their culture is crumbling. Their legendary protector, the demigod Wildmane, has given up on them.

When a monster sent for Mirolah slays her adopted sister instead, Mirolah is pulled into a quest to bring Wildmane out of his self-imposed exile and restore magic to the lands. Undead threadweavers rise to stop her and cage Wildmane. To beat them, she must learn more about herself and threadweaving than she thought possible, more than the greatest threadweavers of a bygone age. And she must do it quickly…

There was one small exception that I had trouble with….

****Possible spoiler alert!!! STOP READING if you don’t want to know******

Wldmane is a great character. He is a man lost in black despair over losing the love of his life, but it reached a point of being too whiny. As a result I had less respect for this character through the rest of the story. Not every reader will have this hang-up, but it stayed with me and took away from the power of the book.

With that said, I still highly recommend this book. If you are an epic fantasy fan, this will definitely satisfy. Fahnestock has invented a world you will want to revisit, and when Book 2 comes out, June 19, 2018, I will be one of the first in line to purchase it.

Writing a Book Review

Writing a book review is not just about how much you liked or disliked a book, but an opportunity to have a more in depth look into the writing itself. When you are asked to write a book review your first step, obviously, is to read the book. Every word of the book. No matter how poorly it is written, you still have to read the book in its entirety.

As you read, take notes to jot down some of the areas you found to be thought provoking, or if you notice your emotions being tickled in some way. If you come across a passage that is quote worthy, write it down to have in your final written review. Consider what the author is trying to accomplish in the story. Here are a few questions to consider as you are reading:

  • How does the story flow?
  • Does it carry you along on an unforgettable journey, or are you pitched about with no rhyme or reason?
  • How invested are you feeling?
  • Do you care about any of the characters, where they are, and the challenges they are facing?
  • Are there any gaps or unexplained holes in the story?
  • In the end, are all the loose ends tied up?

Once your reading is done, review your notes then set it all aside for a day or two. You may not feel comfortable doing this because you might loose the spark and excitement you felt while reading the book. Or, you might find that this is a good time to breath and allow the story to sink into all the nooks and crevasses. You may find yourself more objective in your review.

You have taken the time you need to absorb the book and now it is time to write a review. Most reviews contain the basics: Title, author, publisher, date of publication, genre, page or word count, ISBN. Once the basics are in, then tackle the body of the review. Be sure you are reviewing the book that was written, not what you wish had been written. To whine about what you wanted defeats the whole purpose of a review, which is to inform a potential reader if this is a worthwhile book to read.

Tell your audience what you thought of the book and why. Just saying “it’s a good/bad book” is not much help. Give examples of what made it good or bad (remember the notes you jotted down?). Were there so many grammatical errors your head was spinning, or did the story sweep you away to another planet where you could taste the grit and feel the oil in the air? These added details will give the reader a better idea of why you liked/disliked the book.

Many reviewers will include a brief synopsis of the story so the reader has an idea of what the book is about. If your review is going to be listed on Amazon, Goodreads, or Bookbub, you may not need the story intro because it is already there. But, if you are reviewing it on a blog or for a magazine it is a good idea to give a quick introduction to the story.

Including something about the author is another option. Is it a debut novel, or the final in a 10 part series? Maybe the author usually writes scifi and this is a break out historical fiction. These little tid-bits add interest for the reader and will keep them reading your review. In turn, they will read the book you have just reviewed and the author may ask for another from you.

Keep your comments as balanced as you can. No matter how horrible a book is, there has to be something good worth mentioning. Authors have pretty tough skin, but make an effort not to send them out to the slaughter. They have spent months – or years- on it. Give them some nuggets they can grow with as an author. Your review should teach as much as criticize.

Your review is not about you and your taste in genres. It is a way to help a possible reader know what a book is about and why they too might like to read, or pass to the next choice.

The Enhanced Series

My favorite kind of reading are multiple books, and T. C. Edge has a ten book series that I was excited to get to reading. Book One, The Enhanced, introduces us to a future dystopian earth where genetically modified humans (the Enhanced) live in the upper-crust of society while the rest (Unenhanced) live in the outskirts and are subjugated by the Enhanced.

The series follows a 19 year old orphan named Brie Melrose. She lives in a group home with her best friend, Tess, an over-sized clumsy boy, Drum, her caretaker, Mrs. Carmichael, along with several other kids with varying degrees of attitude. Brie finds herself under the scrutiny of the Sevants (the highest level of the Enhanced) which is exactly where she does not want to be.

Without giving any spoilers I won’t go into any further details about this first book, or the other nine. (If you are desperate to know, you can go to the author’s page and dive in.) I will, however, review this series as a whole, rather than taking each book one at a time.

Overall, I liked this series. T.C. Edge has developed a world that is similar, yet very different from our own. For the most part it is a believable place, and the characters are well developed. The story itself carries the reader through with plenty of action and unexpected twists and turns.

I did find myself skim reading a lot of the later books where the main character (Brie) has extensive internal debates and analysis of the world she lives in and the people she is close to. It became overly repetitive and if it had been condensed, ten good books would have made five fantastic books. I also took note of several misspelled words (this is in British English so I am not referring to those differences) along with grammar issues. A few more beta readers might have caught these. There were a couple of major issues that were not resolved by the end of the series. I may have missed something from skim reading, but because they were big holes I would have expected more than a few words to wrap these things up.

With that said, I do recommend these books. The story is a good one and the world T. C. has built is believable. Of the entire series my two favorite books were the first, The Enhanced, and the tenth, Renegade.

Here is the full list of The Enhanced Series:

  • The Enhanced
  • Hybrid
  • Nameless
  • Assassin
  • Avenger
  • Defender
  • Captive
  • Invader
  • Renegade

 

**One final advisory word to the youngest readers; these books do have intense battle scenes which may not be suited for the more sensitive reader.

Blood on the Tracks & Dead Stop; Book Review

Dead Stop (Sydney Rose Parnell Series Book 2) by [Nickless, Barbara]       Blood on the Tracks (Sydney Rose Parnell Series Book 1) by [Nickless, Barbara]

I just finished the second of a three book series by award winning author Barbara Nickless. Blood on the Tracks and Dead Stop will set your heart pounding. Special Agent Sydney Rose Parnell is a railroad cop facing grizzly crimes, while fighting an internal battle from her stint as a mortuary specialist in Iraq. With her K-9 partner, Clyde, she takes the reader on a wild ride solving gut wrenching crimes along the railroad lines in Colorado.

The Sydney Rose Parnell Series will put the taste of grit in your mouth, and the feel of grime on your palms. It will keep you guessing to the last pages. Nickless weaves a tight cloth that leaves no lose threads for the reader to reach any conclusions too soon.

Blood on the Tracks Awards:

  • The Colorado Book Award, presented by Colorado Humanities & the Center for the Book.
  • Daphne du Maurier Award of Excellence for mainstream mystery.
  • Colorado Authors’ League Writing Award for genre fiction.
  • Suspense Magazine Best Book of 2016.

The third installment, Ambush, comes out late in 2018.

I am excited to get my hands on Ambush……….I pre-ordered it on Amazon.

Author Barbara Nickless with a proud furry friend.

Among the Lesser Gods, by Margo Catts

margo-lesser-gods Among the Lesser Gods by Margo Catts

Among the Lesser Gods explores the question, “If we make a decision in childhood how does that shape and mold our present?” This lovely story is set in the mining town of Leadville, Colorado. A young woman, Elena Alvarez, has made many bad choices in her life beginning with a deadly fire at the age of five. She begrudgingly completes college and is in an unwanted pregnancy. Now, her grandmother invites her to stay with her for the summer and care for a family who has suffered their own losses.

Margo Catts’ debut novel is beautifully written. Catts shows how a young woman comes to terms with her past through living in the present. The story pulls the reader in, weaving a delicate tapestry of joy, sadness, elation, devastation, and fulfillment. A great read.

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell


★★★★☆
This hefty novel opens in 1806 with the meeting of the Great Magic Society. Theoretical magicians meet to discuss their discoveries while reading about, but not practicing, magic. A gentleman does not, after all, practice magic.

Ms. Clarke weaves a wonderful tale filled with shadows lurking in dark corners and chilled breezes that sneak through the window cracks. Magic is coming back to England after a 300-year absence, and Mr. Norrell and Jonathan Strange are in the middle of it all as they fumble through dusty spell books.

The reader spends the first third of the book with Mr. Norrell and his fussy approach to magic. His counterpart, Jonathan Strange doesn’t make his first appearance until well into the story.  The two characters are the opposite of one another in every respect. Mr. Norrell is small, mousey, and reserve in personality and magic. On the opposite side, Jonathan Strange is tall, handsome, and bold.

Their lives become deeply intertwined and neither Johnathan Strange nor Mr. Norrell understand the depth until the last chapters and pages.

I loved the writing style of Ms. Clarke, which is reminiscent of the time-period in which the book takes place. The humor is dry, and hidden among the words. If you are not an English major, you may miss many of the jokes that are drizzled throughout the book. The writing style is colorful and the reader will be treated to smelling the acrid air and feeling the rough textures.

The use of end-notes gives the reader some backstory of side characters and events. They are a fun diversion away from a long story, but they were a little disruptive at times. I skipped a few just to continue with my reading.

Overall, this is a great book to lose yourself in.