The Panther Moon
The Secret Warrior Series Book Three
Wild Rose Press
Morgan comes into her own in The Panther Moon.
Morgan is a wolf shifter and a member of the Wapicoli pack. She is the fabled Seventh Morcant, gifted by the Star People with the sacred Moonstone. The Moonstone allows her to channel blue energy and zap her enemies. Jackson is her future mate and the seventh Wapicoli. As a direct descendant of the Star People it is his destiny to become the White Wolf and Chief of his people. For now, Chief Okema is still in charge and keeps a protective veil over Wapicoli lands so that the wolves are hidden from their many enemies. Except that Okema is missing and the veil is down.
As the novel opens, Okema disappears and the veil over Wapicoli lands goes down. Morgan and Jackson take over as co-chiefs and travel to the hermit Randalf for advice. They are surrounded by enemies both new and old. Eve and her coyotes, Mateo and his band of city panther shifters and the new threat of vampires. They must gather old allies and forge new alliances if the pack hopes to survive. Morgan must also contact the Star People and seek their help in the coming battles.
This is very much a book at the mid-point in a series. It draws on what has come before and also heavily foreshadows what is to come. Though the author doesn’t mention it, reading this out of order is incredibly confusing. The novel lacks the summary section at the beginning that many serial books have and without it the reader is thrust directly into the action with assumptions made about their knowledge that aren’t necessarily true. The storyline was hard to follow because it was constantly broken up by the insertion of pop culture references that felt forced as they broke the flow of the narrative and added little to the story. Overall, if you start with the first book and enjoy celebrating geek culture this will be your thing.
An ordinary girl is transformed into a superhero.
Verity Chambers lost her eyesight in a car accident when she was twelve. Her parents decided that her sweet sixteen birthday present should be an eye transplant. Verity is at best ambiguous about the idea of become sighted again but her parents throw her into therapy until she learns to see. The trouble starts when she is given not a normal pair of eyes but the eyes of the last veil-seer. The veil-seer is the only one who can pierce the veil between the worlds and see the otherworldly creatures that walk beside mankind. Cassandra appears at the hospital when the bandages are removed and whisks Verity off to Haven.
According to Cass, Haven is a sanctuary for half-breed children who fight the dangerous others. Verity soon learns that all is not as it seems at Haven. She meets Haydn who runs Haven's competition Helm and has a surprisingly similar mission statement. She stays at Haven in spite of Cass' increasing abuses and her own feelings of isolation because she is attracted to Kaydn, Haydn's brother. Things start to fall apart when Verity realizes that Cass and Kaydn are an item. However, she is still willing to stick things out until Kaydn betrays and almost kills her. At that point, Verity asks Haydn to take her home and she tries to go back to her family. Can Verity still have a normal life or will she be forced to go to Helm to protect those she loves?
Gryffyn Phoenix's work is largely derivative. HAVEN AWAKENING reads like the Mortal Instrument series by Cassandra Clare. Gryffyn Phoenix's lines are clearer than those drawn in Mortal Instruments which ends up making Verity look foolish. Haven is clearly a bad place to be and the people there, especially Cass, are overtly abusive to Verity. Since there is a clear alternative to Helm, it is very unclear why Verity stays at Haven. She and Kaydn do not have anything more than a flirtation and she soon learns he is unavailable. Kaydn is also abusive to Verity long before he throws her into the pit. The plotline seems forced and it is hard to sympathize with Verity when she brings much of her troubles on herself. Combining Helm and Haven would make a better novel though it would be even closer to the original model. If you loved Mortal Instruments this is worth a read while waiting for Ms. Clare's next novel. - See more at: http://www.theromancereviews.com/viewbooksreview.php?bookid=17383#sthash.7qLvR2h5.dpuf
The Brain: Nature’s Own Computer
Johns’ book explores how the brain functions. He talks about how we are the result of a blend of natural instinct and nurture. Humans bond with their primary caregiver and this shapes how they interact with others and who they are attracted to later in life. Johns explores the common theory that children develop most of their core identity in the first six years and that abuse within that key time frame can seriously stunt development. He discusses the idea of brain maps and that certain ideas, concepts and feelings are soft wired not hardwired into us. This means that those habits can be changed over time.
While I rarely comment on the layout of books since a good layout should invisibly support the story this layout puts itself forward. The choice of a blue background instead of the more traditional white is odd and never explained. For instance, a children’s book about the sun might have a yellow background. The color blue doesn’t seem to have a link to the material and so ends up alienating the reader as it constantly separates them from the text.
The table of contents is also strange as it appears to list images and tables instead of chapter headings or perhaps as well as chapter headings. A separate list of illustrations would add clarity here if the author wishes to include that information. HTML 4 is an odd choice for writing a book. The urge to be different and stand out from the crowd is understandable but the wheel is still used today for a reason. Book design is the place where a book should be marketed but an author needs to remember that the primary purpose of a book is to be read and if the layout interferes significantly with that goal than it is time to try something else.
The core material Johns is presenting is not new but he is correct that it is often not presented in a way that is accessible to a lay person. Unfortunately, Johns inserts his marketing ideas into his writing and this creates an authorial voice that talks down to readers. It is important for an author to consider the audience for his book, but they do not need to include this information within the book. They also do not need to explain their voice or word choice. Doing so says that the author lacks faith in their readers and it becomes annoying. All in all, this book has possibilities but as it stands it needs more work.
Genevra Thorne re-imagines the classic tale of Cupid and Psyche. Cupid was the Roman god of love and Psyche was a princess so beautiful that she unwittingly became a rival to Venus. Cupid was sent by his mother to make Psyche fall in love with someone terrible as punishment for daring to rival the gods. Instead, he fell in love with her himself. To protect her from Venus, Cupid had Psyche carried off from a cliff to a magic palace where he visited her every night. Ashton is a Sidhe with the power of Allure; to see him is to want him. When he saves Eden from her fall off a cliff, Eden looks straight into his heart, until his Allure takes her over. Ash is captivated by that moment when Eden saw him, not his Allure, and performs a forbidden spell to remove the memory of their first meeting from her mind. He then devotes his nights to courting her, with the intention of revealing himself only after he has won her heart. Yet, when the other women at the brothel reveal the truth of his beauty, Eden flees and Ash must find a way to assure her of his love. Worse is yet to come for the couple when Ash's family learns he altered Eden's memory for his chance at her heart. Even if she forgives him, can he escape his people's laws and live happily ever after? The concept of Allure is an interesting one. Ms. Thorne takes the idea of faerie glamour and twists it until appearance becomes a trap. She has explored this concept in previous works, but in A FAERIE TALE: THE BELOVED, she looks at it from the inside. What happens when no one can see the real you but only the surface? It is a terribly lonely existence and his Allure leaves Ash feeling trapped by his power. Like any good romance novel, love conquers all and the heart can see much deeper than the eyes. Giving Eden problems of her own with appearance balances the characters as they each have experience being judged on their appearance. Besides being an interesting retelling of a classic myth, the author provides a scathing critic of those who judge a book by its cover. No story is told on the first page; it is only begun. If you are looking for a great fantasy story this summer pick up a copy of A FAERIE TALE: THE BELOVED. - See more at: http://www.theromancereviews.com/viewbooksreview.php?bookid=21304#sthash.Pq9AddEJ.dpuf
The Mickey from Manchester Series, Book 10
A quick and easy read.
The WSB appears to be in charge of Britain’s security forces in this novel. It is never clear what the acronym stands for, but the office seems to be an anti-terrorism task force. Their top agents Mickey and Melia are there to keep Britain safe from terrorists. Unfortunately, Melia is in the hospital and Mickey is busy looking after her, so it falls to Deputy Director Caulfield and Terry the IT guy to fill the void. With Britain on the verge of splitting from the EU, now is the time the terrorists will strike. There is also a Chinese delegation running around town with murky motives and ties to Christian extremists.
The novel follows the adventures of Deputy Director Caulfield of WSB in British security. He is assigned to the Chinese delegation to discover the depths of their ties with Christian terrorists. The delegation is travelling with Reverand Umh, a Christian minister who was an active protester when Hong Kong was repatriated. Caulfield knew him during this time period. During the course of the delegation’s visit, three of them are killed. The unit is forced to fight a man power shortage to find out what is going on.
What is going on? That is the perennial question as the novel jumps all over the place, telling you about this event or that. The novel reads as a series of loosely connected vignettes. The author’s style of telling instead of showing is confusing as he tends to lead up to action scenes and then, skip over them to relay them later in retrospect or often, not at all. Reading Reverend Dumb often feels like reading half a novel as you keep waiting for the part that explains what’s going on and links the disparate scenes together and it never comes.
What is there is fast paced and interesting, but leaves the reader deeply confused about what story the author is trying to tell, what is happening to his characters, and why we should care. This may be the author’s intent, to showcase the confusion often felt by laymen around security personnel and politicians, yet he needs to tone it down a bit so that the reader can still follow the plot. This has the seeds of a great suspense novel, but as it now stands it is a quick dive into inanity.
Liz Jekyll is the Omega wolf-were of pack Beo. An Omega wolf, in Jenny Schwartz' world, is the emotional center of the pack. Liz's grandfather is the leader of the pack and, amid rumors that he will soon designate a replacement, his granddaughter has found herself overrun by beaus. Her most persistent suitor is Brandon Moffat, the only one of the three front-runners who is still single.
Brandon believes Liz's hand in marriage will be the edge that wins him the leadership. Liz isn't interested in marrying Brandon, but is unwilling to hurt his chances by publicly discouraging him. She is also hiding a secret that makes it hard for her to get close to anyone right now.
When Brandon refuses to heed her hints, Liz turns to Carson Erving, an alpha wolf-were and American biologist. Carson has his own secrets that have made him fight his growing attraction to Liz lest he bring her into a dangerous situation. Still, when Liz claims him as her boyfriend, he is all too happy to play along.
Then it is revealed that Liz is harboring Daria Gretsky, the chief witness against human trafficker Andrew Thirkell. Carson, though he is involved in growing gentian, a plant believed to be the key to immortality, puts his plans on hold to protect Liz and ensure Daria is cared for. Once it becomes clear that Liz is a target and one of their own has betrayed the Beo pack, the hunt is on, but will justice or revenge prevail?
Jenny Schwartz writes with a light touch. Her novel is fast paced and the reader comes to know both Carson and Liz. There is also a side story where Albert, the mage who warded Carson and Liz's homes, romances Daria. The antagonist of the story is less well developed, as the reader comes to know him only in broad strokes. He appears to be motivated simply by greed; it would have been nice to gain some more insight into his character. The man gives up a respected position in his community, the support of his peers, and a loving family to become a slave trader. Some insight into his thought process would be nice. Even if his thoughts are something along the line of it's easy money and no one will ever notice, which appears to be how Ms. Schwartz is characterizing him.
A more minor irritant is that the author calls the weres wolf-weres instead of werewolves. She does introduce other types of weres such as leopards in the novel and this appears to be the reason for her odd terminology, but the grammatical inversion is annoying and slows the pace of the novel. This term may also be an attempt to purposefully alienate the reader, in which case it works, but a better way would be to stick with traditional naming schemes. Always make your novel unique in positive ways, such as the Gentian plant that holds the promise of immortality, and the fact that Ms. Schwartz' weres aren't already near immortals.
DOCTOR WOLF is an interesting take on weres that anyone interested in urban fantasy should try. The idea of the Omega wolf as the heart of the pack is a particularly fascinating concept that Ms. Schwartz uses to great advantage in her novel. - See more at: http://www.theromancereviews.com/viewbooksreview.php?bookid=21638#sthash.cRDyIwcn.dpuf
A case of love at first sight, in CINDERELLA BUSTED, billionaire Rhett Buchanan sweeps gardener Lily Foster off her feet. All Lily Foster has ever wanted is to make her father Hank's greenhouse Bloom & Grow the best it can be. She has succeeded in that dream beyond her wildest dreams, with Bloom & Grow becoming the best place to buy specialty trees in the U.S. The greenhouse has also just launched a wildly popular new interiors line. Yet, Hank didn't live to see Lily's success and some developer is trying to force her to sell by seizing the small cottage she lives in on the property. The cottage apparently violates the building code. Rhett Buchanan is the owner of BDC development. When he meets Lily at her greenhouse, he thinks she's a customer. Lily doesn't correct him because she doesn't think he'd ask a gardener out and she really likes him. Lily is a millionaire in her own right, but landscaping is hardly glamourous. She wants Rhett to fall for her as hard as she has for him before she admits she designs lawns, not gowns. Unfortunately, Rhett's ex, Delia, has other plans for Rhett and spills the beans. Rhett accuses Lily of being a fortune hunter and tells her he never wants to see her again. The second half of the book mirrors the first, as Delia breaks the once-again happy couple up by staging a scene where it looks like Rhett was cheating on Lily with Delia. Lily is devastated and immediately breaks up with Rhett. There is also the underlying question of just who the developer is after Lily's home and business, and what will happen when the truth comes out? Will there be a happily ever after for Lily and Rhett or just a new golf course for BDC? CINDERELLA BUSTED is a modernization on the classic tale. Yet this Cinderella has neither a stepmother nor stepsisters nor is she poor. She lives in her cottage alone and runs her business with the support of her best friends Rob and Tammy. The only element of the classic tale that Petie McCarty has kept is that billionaires are the princes of the modern world. Miss McCarty may be better off not drawing such a close parallel to the story of Cinderella as it twists readers' expectations in ways that her story doesn't go. Delia, Rhett's ex-girlfriend, and Whittenhurst, the lawyer, are the antagonists of this story. Had the story had a more neutral title, it would have allowed readers to draw their own conclusions. Instead, the title creates a preconceived storyline that Ms. McCarty then throws out the window. This is a pity as it undermines an otherwise interesting, though overly structured, storyline of love at first sight. Ms. McCarty not only develops Rhett and Lily as real people with real concerns, but creates a supporting cast of their matchmaking friends. Delia makes a great villain with her egocentric view of reality. As long as this is read with the understanding that Lily is not Cinderella, it is a great read. - See more at: http://www.theromancereviews.com/viewbooksreview.php?bookid=20255#sthash.eaKmaQCs.dpuf
Vampires are real and the battle for humanity has begun. Five years ago Blaze Knight, a half-breed vampire with the ability to control fire, was captured and tortured by vampires working for Cyrus Chimola for seven months. His brothers then managed to find and rescue him. He is now heavily tattooed to hide the physical scars from his experience. The emotional scars are less visible, but no less enduring, and he has only been clean two years. Before that, he tried to use heroin and booze to run from his demons. Once again, his brothers saved him, this time from himself. He has even started seeing a girl, Elena. Valerie Medeiros is a member of the NYPD. When Blaze's girl Elena is found brutally murdered, covered in hand prints of flame and drained of blood, Blaze becomes the prime suspect. Once Val meets Blaze, she realizes he couldn't have killed Elena, and they team up to hunt down her killer. Blaze's one-time captor Cyrus is back in town and gunning for him. Cyrus is a rogue vampire and has learned that drinking Blaze's blood will allow him to control fire and walk in daylight. In exchange for Blaze, Cyrus has sold this secret to the vampire Sire of New York, Alek Konstantinov, causing Alek to come gunning for the rest of the Knights. Can Blaze escape Cyrus and forge a new life with Valerie or will he be forced back into captivity and madness? RELEASING THE DEMONS is a fast-paced adventure that grabs the reader from the first page and never lets us go. L.D. Rose chooses to tell the story of Blaze's captivity mainly through flashbacks interspersed throughout the novel and triggered by the novel's action. The flashbacks add to the reader's understanding of Blaze's character and, by not placing them all together as a coherent prologue, Ms. Rose avoids information overload. The short scenes give reasons for Blaze's actions in the present without overloading the reader with drawn out scenes of torture. The author uses the same format to explain Valerie's extreme aversion to vampires, as we learn in snippets about her younger sister's murder. What is confusing is that the abilities of Blaze's brothers seem at odds with his past and his current physical condition. Blaze is covered in scars and has lost all feeling in his hands because of his prolonged torture. Yet, the reader learns that Blaze's brother Kasen is a healer whose power is so great he can heal broken bones with a touch. So why hasn't Kasen healed Blaze's scars? There are presumably limits to Kasen's gift. We are told for instance that he feels the pain of those he heals, but those limits need to be made clearer. At the moment, it just reads like Kasen didn't feel like fully healing Blaze. This is unlikely to be the case since it is made clear throughout the novel that Blaze's brothers love him. That is why it is so odd that it took seven months to find him when he was still in New York and one of the brothers, Rome, is a powerful physic. Again, the limits of the brothers' powers need to be clearer. Yet, this is a minor irritant in an otherwise amazing book. If you are into urban fantasy or dystopian fiction this is a great read. It is also nice to see a novel where the vampires are the bad guys. There are too many Twilight knock-offs out there. RELEASING THE DEMONS is something else. This novel speaks to the new shift towards dystopian fiction. Yet it offers hope and even love in a world overrun by evil. Ms. Rose's vision of a shattered Manhattan where humans and vampires wage war every night is eerily real for a fantasy novel. A must read. - See more at: http://www.theromancereviews.com/viewbooksreview.php?bookid=18793#sthash.EUDihBfg.dpuf
Austin Macauley Publishers
ISBN 978 1 78455 284 8 (Paperback)
ISBN 978 1 78455 285 5 (eBook)
Moristoun by Kevin McAllion is an introspective look the reasons for suicide. It is a deeply intellectual world. McAllion dissects the modern world and takes an in-depth look at the dark side of consumer culture. The secrets of Moristoun unravel as the novel progresses and the main character James Patrick McSorely is left to decide what meaning he finds in life. The novel looks at the world through a dark and dispirited lens yet the characters still manage to go on.
The novel begins with Moristoun’s lawyer Buchan. Buchan is assigned McSorely as a case at and decides to lure him to Moristoun. At the same time, Hogg is on trial for attempted murder. By hiring McSorely to assist in Hogg’s case and watch over the newly orphaned Munchkin (a Scottish Deerhound whose owner has passed on) Buchan hopes to bring meaning back into McSorely’s life. McSorely becomes fascinated with Hogg’s case but he doesn’t truly come back to life until he meets Gail at her father’s pub the Tortured Soul. Attracting Gail’s attention motivates McSorely to try reading and to attempt to win Hogg’s case. Sadly, Hogg’s case is hopeless and McSorely cannot bring himself to finish Gail’s favorite book. When he enters the jail to speak to Hogg after sentencing in one last attempt to be the hero McSorely is told the secret of Moristoun. Will he destroy Gail in his attempt to live happily ever after or will Buchan reach the in time?
Moristoun is an incredibly thought provoking book. While for the most part it offers a bleak look at our consumer driven, technology-laden society it also offers hope. The message is as long as you stay in the game, stay alive, some good can still come your way. Gail acts as a beacon of light in the despair that consumes Moristoun. She knows what the world is like but she is still eager to get out and be a part of it. Moristoun is well written though it tends to have a highly intellectual tone that talks down to those how don’t understand it. Less dense language would make the novel more approachable to a wider audience. The novel does preach at times but avoids organized religion in favor of a more spiritual view. Overall an interesting take on what happens to those who commit suicide. Reminiscent of the movie Wristcutters: A Love Story.
How do we know what is real? Drew Monroe has developed a new way to use virtual reality. The worlds he creates are so real that those immersed in them feel the grass under their feet and smell the flowers around them. Using this technology Drew has created Elysium. Elysium is where those who has lost a loved one can enter a virtual world and say goodbye. Two years ago April Patterson's husband Kevin was killed in a liquor store robbery. April's world collapsed that day and she buried her hopes and dreams with Kevin. Now she lives day to day. Her friend Janie is terribly worried about her and bought her a date with an online service that claims to be able to make your dreams come true. April asks Madame Eve at 1night Stand for a date with her husband. Madame Eve sends her to Drew, who just happens to be a client of hers. As the lines at Elysium blur between fantasy and reality, April is left wondering if her date was with Kevin or Drew. Can April let go of the past and learn to love again? Elysium presents the fascinating idea of virtual technology as a therapeutic aid. Therapists often have clients write letters to the deceased to express their feelings. Would it be better to pour those feelings out to a representation of the lost loved one or would it extend the grieving process? In the novel, it forces April to accept Kevin's loss and allows her to move on. This seems too simplistic, though the time April takes for herself after her revelation does make the process more believable. The main problem is that the technology is so interesting it completely overshadows the actual story of April and Drew. The backdrop raises up and takes over the story. As science fiction, this book has potential if the technology in it were further developed; as it stands the story feels surreal and alienates the reader. - See more at: http://www.theromancereviews.com/viewbooksreview.php?bookid=21615#sthash.6VT2qu3f.dpuf
Elizabeth Ramsay is English tutor and ESL Teacher.