Review of ‘Altered Destinies’
Bain, the bastard son of a lord and a healer, is acknowledged by his father and set up a path to make him the eventual inheritor of his father’s estate. Even though he has no desire to rule in his father’s place, he is determined not to let his father, his mother, or his people down. In the domain of Lord Danza, Bain meets Phaera, Danza’s feisty only child, who is more interested in pursuing her calling as a healer than immersing herself in the inanity of court life. When the two meet, sparks fly, but their mutual interest in healing brings them closer. Phaera’s father has promised her that he will never force her to marry, but when the ambitious and unscrupulous young Mathune, who, in addition to his plans to take over all the kingdoms, sets his eyes on her, Danza feels that he has no choice but to betroth her. From here, the plot thickens. Bain, despite his humble, and questionable, origins, is seen as a s suitable alternative to the cruel Mathune. With the help of a young lord whose sexual preferences are tolerated, but not welcomed in the kingdoms, and the indomitable Phaera, Bain organizes a force to confront Mathune.
Altered Destinies by Yvonne Hertzberger is a riveting novel that is hard to assign a genre classification to. Part epic adventure, part dystopian future-earth, it nonetheless will grab your imagination, and keep you entertained for page after exciting page. Hertzberger is a master at creating alternate, but realistic environments and characters that you can love—or hate—with equal measure.
Although this is billed as perhaps her final novel, one can only hope she’ll relent and thrill us with further adventures of Bain and Phaera.
I received a complimentary advanced review copy of this book, and I give it five stars without hesitation. You’ll be doing yourself a great service by snatching it up as soon as it’s released.
Review of ‘Kinky Bones’
Wizards and witches don’t mix very well. Arthur ‘The Hat’ Salzman, wizard enforcer and all-around gangster, knows this, and usually avoids them. But, when Selma (aka Mrs. Pink), a young witch, impersonates Ivan, brother of his sidekick, Vicky, and head of the vampires, and hacks their bank accounts, and then impersonates his daughter, George, Arthur finds himself up to his fabled hat in witches. Mabel, queen of the witches, is up to something that’s definitely not good, and wants Arthur’s help, but, being witches, she and her coven go about it in all the wrong ways until the appearance of the kinky bones, the skeletal remnants of an all-powerful witch, complicates things beyond imagining. As if this wasn’t confusing enough, Arthur meets Penelope, a citizen who has never seen magic, wizards, or dead bodies, and falls in love with her. From that point, things just go downhill.
Kinky Bones by Al K. Line is number 7 in the Wildcat Wizard series, and if you’ve read and liked the first six, you will be totally captivated by this one. The Hat at his best (or worse, depending upon your point of view) as he deals with batty witches, devilish plots, and murderous bones. Just as the bones get Arthur around the throat, and other sensitive, but unmentionable parts of his body, this book will grab your attention and not let go until you reach the end.
I received a complimentary copy of Kinky Bones in exchange for my unbiased, honest review, and honestly, what can I say; it’s one heck of a great read. Don’t let this one get away.
I give it five stars.
Review of ‘Be Careful What You Joust For’
House Hornbolt, a prominent family of Pentavia, is hosting the annual jousting tournament, where the most capable knights in the realm come to compete for the coveted Arwin’s Lance. The eldest Hornbolt son is favored to win, but his younger brother and sisters are not happy with what fate has in store for them. His mother, Lady Isolda, worries about all of her children, but, just days before the tournament starts, she uncovers a secret that threatens not only the peace of the kingdom, but her relationship with her husband, Garrion.
Be Careful What You Joust For by Ryan Hauge and Ivy Smoak is a riveting tale of chivalry and chicanery, with an eclectic cast of characters, each given his or her own chapter, where their lives and dreams are well told. An excellent job of world-building with interpersonal (and inner) conflicts woven in with spine-tingling action that will keep you reading until the semi-cliffhanger ending. I won’t spoil the story by revealing that ending, let’s just say, it both disappoints and entices. Disappointing because it kind of leaves you hanging, but enticing, because you’ll really want to know what happens next.
I received a free copy of this book. A very good story. I give it four stars.
Review of ‘Operation Tropical Affair’
A few weeks into her field training, US Fish and Wildlife Service Special Agent Poppy McVie busts a couple of bear poachers in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. In the midst of that operation, she’s called by her boss and told that she’s being reassigned. Her new assignment; go undercover in Costa Rica with a special operations team already in place to bust an animal trafficking ring.
In Costa Rica, Poppy has to deal with Special Agent Dalton—just call me Dalton—who is wary of having an untested female agent assigned to the operation, even though her cover is as his wife. It doesn’t help matters that they’re attracted to each other, Even worse, Poppy finds herself drawn to an animal rights activist who is after the same illegal operation for his own purposes.
Operation Tropical Affair by Kimberli A. Bindschatel is well-written thriller that takes a deep dive into the illegal animal trafficking business, while at the same time giving the reader a close-up view into the emotions of the characters. Masterfully plotted, with lots of action, this is that rare message novel, it gets the message across without preaching, and it entertains. This author knows her stuff.
Five stars for an entertaining read.
Review of ‘Capturing the Cowboy’s Heart’
Former rodeo champion Cade Tyler, sidelined by an injury and devastated over the loss of his wife in an accident, thinks that life has thrown him all the curves it can. Then, life throws stubborn, sassy, sexy reporter Lacy Dalton in his path. Cade doesn’t like reporters, and he doesn’t like stubborn. Unfortunately, he’s not so sure about the sexy part, and thus the sparks fly.
For her part, Lacy finds herself drawn to the morose cowboy, but the more she learns the more dangerous life gets for her. For someone’s out to destroy Cade and Lacy becomes another weapon they can use to do that.
Capturing the Cowboy’s Heart by Lindsey Brookes is an action-romance story that will appeal to even readers, even those who don’t normally read the romance genre. This is not your usual bodice-ripping, heavy-breathing frothy concoction that characterizes the run of the mill romance. Sure, there are the obligatory romantic scenes, and there is definitely a lot of heavy breathing, but there’s also some finely crafted action, and enough suspense to edge this book into fringes of the mystery genre.
Brookes could, if she keeps this up, entice me to read more romance novels. I give it four stars.
Review of ‘Arcene: The Island’
After she and her canine companion, Leel, spend time alone, Arcene is picked up in a hot air balloon by her old friend, Fasolt. Caught in a storm, Arcene and Leel fall out of the balloon and end up on a strange island, with even stranger inhabitants, where she is drugged, judged, and then sentenced to The Hunt.
Arcene, however, has never been one to play by the rules of others. Angry at treatment she feels unfair, she uses all her abilities to turn the hunters into the hunted, and finds herself in a situation that has no clear outcome in sight. Will she prevail and save the islanders from themselves, or will she be consigned to never see her home or son again? Arcene: The Island by Al K. Line is the continuing adventure of Arcene, a 22-year-old woman forever trapped in a 15-year-old body.
The author skillfully switches back and forth between Arcene’s point of view and that of the enigmatic inhabitants of the island in an adventure that will keep you turning pages until the stunning climax. A fantastic pastiche of science fiction, dystopian thrills, and edge-of-the-seat adventure, that will get you hooked on a different kind of heroine.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review, and I give it an unbiased four stars.
Review of ‘The Reluctant Hero’
All Parnell Stillman wants to do is fly, and get his freight hauling airline out of hock. The last thing on his mind is hooking up with a woman—he got his fill of that with his ex-wife. Rebecca Hollis has also had her troubles in the love department. She now works for a home for children, and has been tasked with getting five orphans from Idaho to San Francisco to be adopted—hopefully.
The problem they both face is that they’re thrown together, since Parnell has been hired to fly them, and they hate each other on sight. When bad weather forces the plane down in the wilderness, and they’re forced to get along in order to survive, both their lives change in ways neither could have foreseen.
Jackie Weger’s The Reluctant Hero is something of an adventure/romance, with as much emphasis on the former as the latter. An eclectic cast of characters and a compelling setting keeps the reader’s interest as they struggle to survive against the unrelenting wilderness and deadly weather. Even if you’re not a fan of romance fiction, you’ll like this book. I give Weger four stars for this one.
Review of ‘The Emerald Quest’
Thirteen-year-old Noah Winter has been diving with his parents since he was ten. During a dive on the wreck of the San Isabel, a passenger liner, he finds a strange piece of porcelain. His parents found an old spy glass which is the key to the location of the De La Rosa emerald, which the descendant of the original owner has hired them to find. A ruthless competitor, however, is determined to beat the Winters to the missing jewel, and is willing to go to any lengths to do it.
The Emerald Quest by Renee Pawlish is a young adult action adventure novel that follows Noah as he tries to stay one step ahead of the villains, while at the same time save his parents who have been kidnapped. Even though this book was written for young adult readers, it will appeal to older action fans as well. Young Noah is not a cardboard teen action junkie, but a true-to-life character who is skillfully portrayed. The action scenes, though a bit fanciful in places, keep the pulse racing as you read.
The author seems to know her way around boats and diving. All in all, an outstanding adventure read.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my review. I give it four stars.
Review of ‘Amberlin: Divine Destiny’
It’s tough being special; especially when you have no idea how or why you’re special. Amberlin Gentry lives with her grandfather in a fundamentalist, and quite offbeat, religious community, where conformity is not only desired, it’s enforced. Her grandfather has vowed to protect her, and not make the same mistakes he made with her mother. But, the leaders of the Golden Acres of Christ Community are prepared to go to great lengths to suppress Amberlin’s gifts.
As Amberlin grows, she begins to question everything around her. Troubled by dreams of a beautiful woman, she begins to rebel—drawing the ire of Reverend Stover and his wife Missy. The arrival of a new nurse to work in a mental institution with strange ties to Golden Acres starts to shift the balance.
Amberlin: Divine Destiny by W. Bradford Swift tells the story of Amberlin’s coming of age in a way that will appeal to young and old readers alike. A paranormal mystery that delves into normal—but dysfunctional—relationships, this one will keep you awake at night.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my review. I give it five stars.
Review of ‘Arcene: The Blue Castle
Arcene is a 22-year old girl in a 15-year old body. She likes nothing better than roaming the wilds with her sword and her dog, Leel. During one of her forays, she discovers a blue castle. The logical part of her mind tells her to avoid it, but Arcene is never one to shy away from adventure.
Arcene: The Blue Castle by Al K. Line is a hilarious romp through a world 300 years in the future, after humanity has been decimated by The Lethargy. Line delights the reader with his deft use of language, sometimes funny, with the occasional snippet of bloodletting as Arcene uses her sword to put bad men in their place—dead. Her interactions with Leel are actually the best parts of the book, but the things she learns about herself as she ventures into the strange blue castle run a close second.
Given the language and semi-graphic discussion of human physical relationships, I’m not sure this book is appropriate for grades 7 – 12 as the author claims, but then again, maybe I’m just old fashioned. I enjoyed it though.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my review. I give it four stars.
Weekly Photo Challenge: Adventure
This week’s photo challenge is adventure. I like nothing better than exploring with my camera, and over the years I’ve had what could be called adventures as I seek out new photographic challenges. Here are just a few – not all of them my adventures, but adventure nonetheless: