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Tag: "adventure"

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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Blog Tour: Raylan by Elmore Leonard

[ 6 ] January 27, 2013

Elmore-Leonard-RaylanPlease join Elmore Leonard, author of Raylan, as he tours the blogosphere with TLC Book Tours!

Reviewed by Claudia Robinson

“Swung the Glock down to aim eye-level at him and Raylan raised the Sig past his hip and shot her dead center, inches below the heart, the round punching her off her feet to go down grabbing at the bedspread. Raylan circled in his cowboy boots, picking up his suitcoat, put it on and took it off to stand in front of her naked. He stood looking down at her surprised expression her eyes not yet losing focus, turning to glass. Layla said, “I can’t believe you shot me.” Raylan said, “I can’t either.” – Raylan, Elmore Leonard

US Marshal, Raylan Givens, of Harlan County, KY, has a small problem. Two local brothers, known best for the pot adventures and drug dealings, have decided that the real money lays in selling body parts, BACK to their desperate owners. Determined to find out who is behind the boys, knowing their combined intelligence alone, could not conceive of, or carry out, such a delicate venture without bumbling it, Raylan finds himself a potential victim, and in a bit of a pickle, when the trail he follows, leads him to the right door, or bathtub, in this case.

On top of dealing with a pair of dumbass delinquents and their equally vapid family members, Raylan has been hired to protect a mining company’s bigwig, who is in town attempting to convince the locals, including their soot soiled lungs and gasping for last breath spouses, fathers, brothers, sisters, that the company has the town’s best interest at heart. Conflicted, Raylan tries to maintain a sense of moral, while not combining his own opinions with the business of making sure Carol Conlan isn’t killed on his watch.

Cowboy hat and boot wearing Raylan has swag. Impossible to ruffle, quick to pull the trigger, and easy on the eyes, Raylan’s wit, and drawled monotone delivery of quote worthy diatribe, easily steals the show, and could alone, hold any reader’s interest, but Leonard tosses in a plethora of memorable characters, each more outrageous, complex and quirky than the one before. It’s obvious Leonard is a pro; he delivers a book that reads like a movie, each character fleshed out, psychologically (mentally, literally, at times) and physically, to perfection, ingratiating the readers to crook and lawman, alike, gifting readers with visual stimuli, not a talent many writers have mastered.

Funny, intelligent, outrageous and at times, even enlightening, Leonard’s writing style paints a picture of a world where rules are meant to be broken, and enforced, alternately, by bad and good, if it means getting the job done in the end. Fast paced, meaty, and action packed, even readers who haven’t jumped on the Justified TV show bandwagon, will get a feel for, and not soon forget, the bad ass Cowboy vigilante Deputy, Raylan Givens.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Claudia lives on beautiful Cape Cod with her husband and two children.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by William Morrow Paperbacks. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review & Giveaway: Parlor Games by Maryka Biaggio

[ 23 ] January 15, 2013

ParlorGamesReviewed by A.D. Cole

Born in Fox River, Illinois and then raised in Menominee, Michigan, May Dugas quickly realizes she’s meant for more than small-town living. She attributes her ability to manipulate men to her dearly departed father who helped her to an occasional glimpse of the high-life whenever possible. At the age of eighteen, May hitches a ride, on her lover’s generous allowance, to Chicago, where she then works her way out of the relationship. This lover is the first of many casualties in May’s path to success.

Chicago proves difficult to conquer, however, and May opts to work in a bordello. True it is the finest bordello in the city, but May makes use of it only until she’s able to establish some high-society contacts. At last she manages to attract the notice of a bank owner’s son and extricate a proposal of marriage from him. At this point, she experiences her first encounter with the man who would be a thorn in her side for decades to come: Pinkerton detective, Reed Dougherty.

After Dougherty thwarts her engagement, May flees Chicago and embarks on a series of adventures–some profitable, some portentous. Along the way she uses her considerable charms to dazzle and manipulate, always able to land a man willing to spend his money on her. Though she does justice to her mother, sending money back home whenever possible, her methods of obtaining these funds are decidedly shady.

Parlor Games is a historical novel based on the real adventures of May Dugas, a compelling anti-heroine whom the Pinkerton agency dubbed “a most dangerous woman.” Told in first person narrative, the story jumps back and forth from May’s trial in 1917, to the road that led her there. This storytelling method makes for good pacing. The dual stories are brought together masterfully, in the end. The novel is well-researched with generous sprinklings of cultural references to anchor the setting.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. May is at some times despicable and at others, surprisingly human. Her perspective is necessarily biased, but it doesn’t prevent you from seeing the story clearly. The moment Detective Dougherty is brought on the scene, the story elevates from interesting to all-out fun. I suppose the detective was my favorite character because you never knew when he was going to make a grand entrance and throw a wrench into May’s well-laid plans. If I have a complaint, it’s only that we don’t get the detective’s perspective. But this in no way diminishes the quality of the novel.

I most definitely recommend this novel. For lovers of historical fiction or mystery adventures, this is a must-read. The setting is authentic, the characters well-drawn, the landscape diverse and the plot evenly paced. A nicely done debut.

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 and giveaway copies were provided free of any obligation by Doubleday. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Review: Dreamer by Monique Morgan

[ 4 ] January 12, 2013

Dreamer Cv 1Reviewed by Jessa Larsen

Asenya is nothing like her identical twin sister. Zanas has always been brave, headstrong, and completely dedicated to her schoolwork. Asenya has other things on her mind. She is beautiful, confident, and always has a string of love struck boys to play with. She could also be considered arrogant, selfish, and demanding, but that never bothers her. These qualities are the exact traits that make her so well suited to the world of the Dreamers. Not to mention the fact that she seems to have a natural talent that may just surpass any of the Dreamers actually born into the world of Alwahi.

Asenya finds herself kidnapped and taken beneath, but as she fights to discover herself and her true place in the grand scheme of things, she discovers that her potential is far greater than she could have ever imagined. Asenya finds herself hurdling towards her destiny at breakneck speeds, but she has to wonder… is this where she truly belongs? Or will this lead to her demise?

Dreamer is the second book in the Alwahi Series and follows Asenya’s story. We hear a little bit about her in Zana’s story (Pursuer), but Dreamer takes us deeper into the world of Alwahi and gives us a great new perspective on the strange world Asenya and Zanas have joined.

I was very excited to start Dreamer after having loved Pursuer so much. At first I was a little disappointed that it wasn’t necessarily a true sequel as much as an addition written from a second perspective, but I quickly got over it and was utterly submerged. I couldn’t get enough and the story ended far too quickly. The timelines between Zanas and Asenya seem slightly different, but work nicely as long as you don’t expect to read Dreamer as a stand-alone title. You absolutely have to read Pursuer first. (Or maybe I’m just biased since I liked Zanas a tad better than her sister.) This is definitely an exciting series and I’m already anxious for the third installment.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Jessa lives in Utah with her husband, 2 sons, 2 dogs and a cat called Number One Boots Kitten. She is a full time mom and enjoys writing short stories in her spare time. She also likes watching anime, reading books, and playing video games.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Monique Morgan. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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