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Tag: "adventure"

Review: Jack Absolute by C.C. Humphreys

[ 4 ] June 7, 2013

Jack-Absolute-by-C.C.-Humphreys-e1367598941495Reviewed by A.D. Cole

Jack Absolute, by C.C. Humphreys, is historical fiction at its best. High stakes, high action, a dash of romance, all centered around Britain’s final end-run to suppress the American Revolution. We’ve got a dashing, clever, irresistibly charming champion. His classically educated Iroquois sidekick, named Até. The lovely, if occasionally mysterious, Loyalist American, Louisa. A vicious enemy in Count von Schlaben, who may or may not be a spy. With a cast of characters like this, how can you go wrong?

The story kicks off with a duel, in which we are introduced to Jack Absolute, who very much does not want to duel. His enemy is twenty years his junior and far more exuberant. But it’s his enemy’s second, Count von Schlaben, who catches Jack’s eye. This man will continue to be a thorn in Jack’s side. And because of this illegal duel, Jack finds himself being gently blackmailed by General Burgoyne into returning to the Army. Though it has been eleven years since he last served, and his life’s plans lay in the opposite direction, Jack finds a sense of relief and excitement at having this choice made for him.

Eleven years before, Jack lived among the Iroquois natives. He became one of them. It is his connections with the Iroquois, as well as his knack for counter-intelligence, that make him such a boon to General Burgoyne. But Jack’s faith in the General is misplaced as it slowly becomes evident that the General’s camp has been infiltrated by spies. Throughout the ensuing conflicts, Jack evades death more times than he can count, and sacrifices more than he ever wanted.

C.C. Humphreys lifted the character of Jack Absolute from Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s play, The Rivals, first performed in 1775; you can read about this in the author’s note at the end. In Humphreys’ book, the action takes place twenty years after the events in The Rivals. Jack is no longer a brash young man; instead, now, he is a brash, older man, pushing forty and looking to salvage his family estate, which is in ruins. Richard Brinsley Sheridan is made a character in Humphreys’ novel so that we witness Jack watching himself being portrayed on the stage. An interesting way to handle the situation. Though I would have been perfectly happy had the author not acknowledged the original play at all.

If you haven’t seen or read The Rivals, I absolutely assure you that it isn’t necessary in order to enjoy this book (although I recommend it because it’s a funny play). All that’s required here is a love of adventure and an appreciation for historical backdrops. Although this isn’t a naval adventure, I’d compare it to the novels of Patrick O’Brian or C.S. Forester. I’m looking forward to the continuation of this series. What a fun read!

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

A.D. Cole is a homeschooling mother and aspiring romance novelist. She lives in the Ozark foothills and spends her free time reading, writing, baking and pondering life’s little mysteries.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Source Books PR. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: A Wandering Warrior by Harry E. Gillenland, Jr.

[ 2 ] May 29, 2013

AWW_smallReviewed by Jennifer Jensen

A Wandering Warrior, set in 12th Century England, follows the life of young Thomas Beaumont, a common soldier who has just learned of the death of his honorable older brother and uncle. With no family left, Thomas sets out in search of Simon Mowbray, the man responsible for his brother’s death. Once Thomas has avenged his brother by taking Simon’s life, Thomas plans to give thought to perhaps taking a wife and beginning a family of his own.

While wandering west in search of Simon, Thomas rescues two noblewomen, one of whom sets her sights on Thomas. Though he finds Lady Juliana beautiful, it is a Traveler woman named Emalda who may be the one to steal Thomas’s heart. After Thomas fulfills his vow to his brother, he attempts to make his way back to Emalda, only to learn that her people have moved on.

A Wandering Warrior is the eighth novel by Harry E. Gillenland, Jr., and shows off his creative imagination. The author is definitely a storyteller, but to me this novel seemed incomplete; at only 199 pages, there was certainly room to flesh out descriptions and develop the world just a bit more. At best, A Wandering Warrior in its current state felt more like a rough draft than a polished novel.

The editing, as far as grammar and sentence composition, seemed fine. Where the editor lacked in assisting this book to be all that it could be was with the exposition and dialogue. In the opening chapters, everything was so rushed. The entire back story is given to the reader through third person narrative in one large clump. For my tastes, I prefer back story to be delivered more creatively, using techniques such as dialogue, flash backs, and a small bit of narrative summary to move the story along. The dialogue felt forced; yes, the novel is set in a different century, but it didn’t have a natural flow to it. There was never any guessing about the characters; they all said exactly what was on their minds, which didn’t make a single one of them all that interesting.

Thomas was a little too unbelievable to me. After all that he goes through in A Wandering Warrior, he’s just a little bit too trusting, forgiving, and happy. He trusts people with his true identity and purpose, merely based on a hunch. He’s lucky more times than nearly all people are, which doesn’t ring true to life. He loses important people, and doesn’t seem to grieve their deaths. When coming face to face with the person who indirectly caused one of the deaths, he is forgiving. Thomas’s life isn’t easy, but through it all he is too positive.

A Wandering Warrior is an interesting story, and I’m sure it will please some readers. I’m a sucker for happy endings and romance too, and this novel offers plenty. Everything was simply too easy for Thomas, and parts that could have packed a more emotional punch were not developed well enough to make me feel anything. Simply put, I think this should have gone through several more rounds of contemplation and editing before being published.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆ 

Jennifer graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in English. She occasionally dabbles with her own fiction writing, particularly with the Young Adult and Paranormal genres. She currently resides in Utah with her husband and daughter.

Review copy was provided by Harry E. Gillenland, Jr. Compensation was received but in no way influenced the thoughts and opinions expressed in this review.

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Review: Pandora’s Temple by Jon Land

[ 2 ] May 4, 2013

Land_PandorasTempleReviewed by MaryLu McFall

The author of Pandora’s Temple has dozens of books to his credit. The hero of this particular adventure is Blaine McCracken, an indestructible mature man who can face any situation with aplomb and courage. His sidekick, Wareagle, is a seven-foot Indian who, thankfully, does not call Blaine kemosabe. The two of them are on their way to rescue four college students who are hostages of a dangerous Mexican drug dealer. The trip is successful even taking the Dangerous Drug Lord captive and turning him over to the proper authorities at the border. The adventure takes a turn in New Orleans where Blaine and Wareagle are called to investigate a disaster on an oil rig. No, the culprit isn’t BP.

Everyone on the rig has been killed, except Katie Demarco (not her real name, naturally). She left the rig and is in New Orleans trying to contact Todd Lipton head of WorldSafe, an environmental group known for guerrilla tactics. Katie calls to warn him that Ocean Bore was not looking for oil, that she thinks they are on to her being a plant, and to be careful. Todd is not being careful, having granted an interview to reporter, Beth Douglas. Since the group is hidden at a site in Greenland, technology catches up with them and now their location is known. Disaster strikes within three or so chapters, and the entire group is killed by an unknown enemy.

The scene switches back and forth in one short chapter after another. Many an adventure writer today writes this way, bringing the reader to a cliff and leaving the scene after an intervening chapter or two of another plot line. In most cases this device works. However, after being cliff-hung over and over in this one it became aggravating, annoying, and over-done. Still, the action scenes were interwoven with character backgrounds so that I did come to know the characters. Blain is sixty-some, and that seemed a bit of a stretch. As they say, old soldiers…whatever. Wareagle is too nearly a cliché of an Indian to be a fully rounded character, but he serves as a sidekick with indestructible genetics. Katie is much more complex, and her life and her choices are based on events that gradually come to light.

Interwoven is the ancient story of Pandora’s Temple. Within the temple that was built in ancient times is a jar with, you guessed it, safely sealed inside what no man should ever fool with—and it’s not hope. The search is on for the Temple, supposedly somewhere in the Mediterranean. Our heroes have had escapades there before, and they are reluctant to return. But return they must and they do so with Katie who is finally shown to be quite an efficient killer.

The jar holding the secret is shown early in the novel, but no one recognizes it for what it truly is. A sub-plot emerges with a Japanese villain also seeking the jar, but his intentions are totally different. All in all, a overly complicated plot comes to a satisfactory close with some meeting their karma in expected ways.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

MaryLu McFall is the author of A Little Karmic Murder, an eBook that is available on Kindle, Nook, and all other electronic readers. She lives, works part-time at an independent bookstore, and will soon have her Young Adult novel, The Family Lancaster, published as an eBook as well.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Open Road E-riginal. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: The Holder’s Dominion by Genese Davis

[ 3 ] March 16, 2013

the_holders_dominion_genese_davis_finalcoverart_webReviewed by Krystal Larson

Kaylie has had a difficult life. Her father died when she was still young and her family slowly fell apart. To escape the memories, she went away to college. One day, her friend, Elliot, shows up at random. He is upset and looking almost insane about something called “morphis.” Kaylie feels as if she has to help him; she ends up slipping into Elliot’s strange world of Edannair and begins having very unusual adventures. Edannair exists exclusively online, or at least it’s supposed to. A strange player who calls himself “the Holder” convinces his followers to engage in dramatic and dangerous offline dares. Kaylie wants to try to beat the system and this evil-doer, but can she win and pull her family back together?

The Holder’s Dominion had two interesting plot lines.  The focus varied between Kaylie’s estranged family and the odd world of Edannair and the Holder. This flip-flop was done in such a way that the reader will not have a hard time understanding the plot. Even though it seems like the two plot lines are too far apart from each other to fit together, the author somehow ties everything up evenly to make it work.

For the most part, the plots were fast-paced and packed with interesting and nail-biting events. The characters were developed evenly. The reader will find it easy to like Kaylie and enjoy reading about her. For a girl with a sad past, she was remarkably strong-willed and smart. She was always willing to help a friend and seemed to truly love her family, even though it was fragmented. The author included memories from Kaylie’s’ childhood and youth to help the reader connect to her even further.

The other characters were equally interesting. The Holder was made out to be a “true villain” and one the reader will probably feel no pity for. The Holder is the epitome of “online non-etiquette.” It seems to be a phenomenon that people are willing to go further and say things online that they would never do or say in every day life. The author had an interesting take on this phenomenon, illustrating it very well. It also helped that the author is an avid video-gamer and her hobby added a certain realism to the book. Overall, this book would be a fun read for teens/young adults.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Krystal is a young college student who loves meeting new authors and finding great books! Her favorite place to read is the Botanic Gardens.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Kelley and Hall Publicity. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Blog Tour & Giveaway: A Conspiracy of Alchemists by Liesel Schwarz

[ 23 ] March 12, 2013

15849472Please join Liesel Schwarz, author of A Conspiracy of Alchemists, as she tours the blogosphere with TLC Book Tours.

Enter to win a copy below!

Reviewed by A.D. Cole

Paris, 1903. Great, monstrous dirigibles dot the sky. The women’s suffrage movement is in full force. Fairies glow green in bottles of absinthe. And the world, unbeknownst to most of its inhabitants, is on the verge of cataclysm. Not even dirigible pilot Eleanor Chance, with her proclivity toward Reason and her outspoken dissent of all things magic, can ignore the signs occurring both around and within her.

When Elle finds out that her latest cargo is actually a person, she is unhappy to say the least. She has no desire to get involved with any sort of illegal activity, especially when that activity involves forces from the Shadow realm. But having already accepted payment, she finds herself flying the dashing warlock, Lord Greychester, back to England. In spite of his irresistible charms, Elle refuses to trust him. It quickly becomes clear that the man intends to use her for his own, possibly nefarious, ends. Upon arriving in England, Elle finds out that her father, a professor specializing in electromancy, has been kidnapped. And her new warlock friend seems to know something about it. Furthermore, she begins to suspect that she was chosen to transport her cargo for reasons other than her excellent piloting skills. But how deep does her involvement go? And how can she be so thoroughly entrenched in a conspiracy of magic without her knowledge?

A Conspiracy of Alchemists is a riveting steampunk adventure and appears to be the first in a series. I felt like it got off to a slightly rocky start. The whole, “I’m a woman and I can do anything a man can do” attitude of the main character was slightly grating. But that eventually quit bothering me. It was also a little unclear to me just exactly how magic is viewed by your average citizen, in this world. Elle, for example, espoused strong disbelief for the power of magic. At the same time, she seemed perfectly accepting of the little absinthe fairy floating around and didn’t blink at Lord Greychester’s confession that he is a warlock. So that troubled me at the beginning.

The author also opened up so many questions and so much plot that I had little faith in her ability to bring everything together. But read with confidence! The ending culminated powerfully and tied up all plot strands quite neatly. Certain twists were a little less surprising than they should have been. I would have liked a bit more information up front. It was eighty pages in before I felt I had a good handle on the world and the plot. But there was good forward momentum throughout. About halfway through, the action kicks up a few notches. And I found the ending very satisfying.

All-in-all a very entertaining read and quite an ambitious first novel. This was my first foray into steampunk. If you’re an urban fantasy fan considering this particular sub-genre, I recommend this book. I felt like I was swept into a world that was a mix of Moulin Rouge and Dracula. The combination of magic and science blended into such a rich historical setting was a whole lot of fun. I’ll wait with baited breath for the sequel.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

A.D. Cole is a homeschooling mother and aspiring romance novelist. She lives in the Ozark foothills and spends her free time reading, writing, baking and pondering life’s little mysteries.

Review and giveaway copies were provided free of any obligation by Del Rey. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Blog Tour & Giveaway: Captain Blackwell’s Prize by V.E. Ulett

[ 21 ] February 3, 2013

perf6.000x9.000.inddPlease welcome V.E. Ulett, author of Captain Blackwell’s Prize, as she tours the blogosphere with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours.

Enter to win a copy of the book below – open to US, Canada, UK and Australia!

Reviewed by Lauren Cannavino

Every now and then it’s nice to read a book that is outside the realm of what you would normally read. For me, a historical fiction novel that is about adventure and love on a navy ship would usually is not a book that I would typically reach for. That said, I am happy that I made the leap because I really enjoyed Captain Blackwell’s Prize by V.E. Ulett. This is not just a tale of love on a pirate ship, but instead a piece of historical fiction that blends British Naval history and details into a pleasing love story. There were times when the book was a bit over descriptive and wordy, but the story managed to surpass the focus on minute details and moved along nicely as the book progressed.

Captain Blackwell’s Prize is the story of the larger than life, rough and tough, British Sea Captain James Blackwell. When Captain Blackwell and his ship the Inconstant overtake the Spanish ship the La Trinidad, one of the prizes of the conquest is a beautiful and mysterious woman named Mercedes. Captain Blackwell is immediately taken by her beauty and restrains himself from immediately taking her as his own, but the infatuation and interest is clearly there. While some of the unfolding of the couple’s relationship is a bit predictable, the interaction and exchanges between the two are very enjoyable. Mercedes is smart and holds her own and maintains her place with Captain Blackwell.

The story goes through a sequence of events that I honestly was not expecting, and as a result, more of the secondary characters receive attention and develop their own interesting stories in the process. V.E. Ulett guides the plot along nicely, and I found myself wanting to read more the closer the story got to the end. I was pleased with the outcome of the book and was happy to discover that there is a sequel to continue the adventure.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

About the author

A long time resident of California, V.E. Ulett is an avid reader as well as writer of historical fiction. V.E. is a member of the National Books Critics Circle and an active member and reviewer for the Historical Novel Society. Eighteenth and nineteenth century journals and letters inspired the writing of Captain Blackwell’s Prize. The sequel takes Captain Blackwell and Mercedes to the far side of the world, on a new personal, and cultural adventure.

Lauren Cannavino is a graduate student, freelance writer, wine lover, and avid reader. Random musings can be found over at www.goldiesays.com.

Review and giveaway copies were provided free of any obligation by Fireship Press. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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