Book Review: Disintegration by JE Purrazzi

Disintegration (Malfunction Trilogy Book 2) by [Purrazzi, J.E.]

5/5 stars

JE Purrazzi is a part of the Phoenix Fiction Writers, a marketing collective of speculative fiction authors of which I am also a part. PFW authors consistently put out quality work, and Purrazzi is no exception. Her Malfunction Trilogy (the third book is in process) is one of my favorite dystopian series’ EVER. If you like Red Rising or Wool, you will really enjoy this series.

Disintegration is Part 2 of the series. All I can say is… WOW. What a fantastic follow up to book 1. Purrazzi does it again, and in every way, too. Unforgettable characters, fantastic action, twisting plots, and so much more. Cowl is rib-cracking hilarious, Bas just rips your heart to pieces, and Menrva… well, I’ll just let ya’all read the book. Do it. You won’t be disappointed.

Grab it on Amazon, or add to your Goodreads.

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Book Review: Out of Nowhere

Out of Nowhere (The Immortal Vagabond Healer Book 1) by [LeClerc, Patrick]

3/5 stars

I can’t remember the last book I’ve read that’s left me with so many mixed opinions about it. That in itself is a good thing, I think. There is a lot to commend, so I’ll start with that. First, the writing is clever and the voice is unique. Sean was a mostly like-able, in an annoying yet funny type of way. He reminded me a lot of one of my brothers, actually. Witty, snarky, with enough eye-rolling humor to make me want to slap him in the back of his head while laughing. Second, it’s refreshing to read a story centered around the medical field by someone who actually knows what they are talking about. As a nurse, one of my pet peeves is an author not doing their research about this, and so it was nice that I didn’t have to that with this story. The jargon wasn’t forced, it was natural. So clearly the author was trained in the field. I really enjoyed that aspect of the book. Third, Sean felt like a real person, with conflicting motivations, emotional responses, and varied reactions to situations that were believable. I liked how, since he is supposed to me immortal, he seemed “set in his ways,” at times yet open to change at others. I suppose that’s why the seeming sexist comments and thoughts he had didn’t bother me like it seems to have bothered other readers. While his views on women leaned toward objectification at times, he didn’t go full throttle in that direction. He has this moment at the end of chapter 34 of self-reflection in this regard, and it was incredibly refreshing how the author handled it. Sean was honest with himself without having an unrealistic, total change of heart or mind. It was a step in the right direction, and much more real to life than other books I’ve read touching on this subject.

So why the three stars? Most of the reason is personal preference, I think. There were aspects of the story that drove me a bit crazy. Immortality is a fascinating concept to explore, but I feel like it was brushed over in favor of witty humor. Sean, although seeming like a real person, seemed to just accept certain things about himself that I feel the author could have delved deeper on. While the character was entertaining, he also came across as only skin deep. I enjoy a read that dives deep into issues instead of only brushing on them. Second, the plot itself left me mostly uncaring what happened. I wanted Sean and Sarah to win, of course, but I wasn’t invested in it, more like a half hearted “Oh yay, hope you guys succeed”, give a thumbs up, and then walk away. And honestly, at the climax I skimmed over it because it was leaving me unsatisfied. It seemed unrealistic to the point of boredom. This is all going to end based on a duel? Except it’s supposed to be modern day but this drug dealer is actually bound by family honor going back centuries? The author tried to address it by commenting that Americans tend to not understand this. Meh. Maybe, but it still fell flat. And since the duel itself was so short, I feel like the author threw a in that last bit about Pete almost dying almost as a bone for the reader. Hurried, here I’ll add this to extend the climax a little bit, type of thing.

All this to say, I enjoyed it enough to finish. And I’m sure lots and lots of people will love it. While I can see why this was entered into SPFBO, I also don’t think it quite fit the criteria. It came across as more thriller than fantasy.

3/5 stars, and kudos to the author. Entertaining, for sure.

Grab it on Amazon or add to your Goodreads.

Book Review: Skies of Dripping Gold by Hannah Heath

Skies of Dripping Gold by [Heath, Hannah]

5/5 stars

Hannah Heath is a part of the Phoenix Fiction Writers, a marketing collective of speculative fiction authors of which I am also a part. PFW authors consistently put out quality work, and Heath is no exception. Everything she puts out is pure gold (see what I did there?) She is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors.

Skies of Dripping Gold is my absolute favorite short story I’ve ever read. Heath manages to create a grand, epic scope of a world in just one short story.

Skies of Dripping Gold is a beautiful, haunting story. I read a lot, yet it is rare to find something that really touches you, in your heart and soul. But this story did. The sibling relationship between Gabriel and Lilly was unique. The concept of faith was illustrated in a way I’ve never read before. The themes of pain, suffering, special needs, and love were powerful. There is really no reason why this story shouldn’t be read widely. I loved it.

Go grab this one now for only 99 cents. Or add it to your Goodreads TBR. It’s a steal. Trust me on this one.

Book Review: Never Die

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4.5/5 stars

When I first started the book, I knew I would love it. It starts with a good hook, and then doesn’t disappoint as it delivers chapter after chapter.

In fact, it exceeded my expectations. You know it’s good when throughout the day you find yourself preoccupied with when you can get your tasks done and go finish reading. When I finished, I couldn’t decide whether it was a 4 star are 5 star for me. I finally landed in the middle.

First, the characters were incredibly unique. You’re first introduced to Cho, also called Whispering Blade. There isn’t much backstory given until later in the book, but it only adds to the character’s mysteriousness. Part of the character arc, if you will, is the fact that she takes her oaths incredibly seriously, and endears herself in that way. Then, Ein is introduced. I have a huge soft spot for creepy children characters (weird, I know), and employed one in my own book series. So maybe I’m biased. Either way, Ein has all the right elements: a mysterious power, an unknown backstory, a strange mission, and yet is likeable.

More characters join into a motley crew of strange heroes who are subject to Ein and his mission. Each one of them is unique, to the point it borders on genius. You never confuse who is who, even though they each have two, if not three, names. But the POV is so well written you don’t get confused about whose viewpoint you’re in (although, one critique… it was a more distant POV so sometimes you were into the POV by a few paragraphs before you knew what perspective you were reading from). Although, this isn’t unusual for fantasy. All in all, it’s the characters who really drive the book. My personal favorite was Iron Gut Chen.

The plot was pretty ingenious, but I don’t want to go into too many details so I don’t spoil it. My only minor complaint, and one reason for 4.5 instead of 5 stars, was the endings predictability. The entire book was so well written, though, that is was nearly impossible not to guess what was going on. This is generally the opposite for why I find books to be predictable: bad writing leading to too obvious conclusions for the ending. However, Never Die is so incredibly well done that you can see where it’s going, and the excitement builds, and bam! The delivery comes and you’re left breathless.

I could go on and on. Honestly, this is my favorite book of 2019 so far. One tiny complaint: it needed one more proofread before publication. There were a few punctuation errors per chapter, and a few tense changes mid sentence scattered throughout the book. But it no way detracted from the overall feeling of quality work you get as you read.

All in all, a massively well done story. If you are a fan of fantasy reads, add this one as “next to read” on your TBR piles!

Book Review: We Ride the Storm

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When I first picked this up in my quest to read all the SPFBO finalists this year, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I’d heard great things, of course, but I tend to not get my hopes up when it comes to high reviews of books. I’m so happy this book exceeded my expectations.

The start of the book was a bit too brutal for my tastes, so I almost DNF’d it. But the characters made me love them right off the bat, so I kept with it. Although the violence is heavy, and the content dark, I was sucked into this world where light shines in unlikely places.

First, the characters are fantastic. Rah, with his honor, and the way he stands up for even his enemies. Miko, with her courage and loyalty. Cassandra, with her wit and intelligence. All three fight against internal and external struggles, making them well-rounded, fleshed-out, and downright believable.

Second, the plot has just enough twists to keep you on the edge of your seat, but without sacrificing world building. This is a hard balance to navigate when writing fantasy. The author does a phenomenal job.

Third, the magic system is understated without being forgettable, and unique without being overdone. Again, the way the author balances this tightrope act is incredible. There isn’t any explanations for WHY some things are the way they are, which is one reason this isn’t a total 5 stars for me, but I’m hoping it comes out in the next book. I don’t mind a good mystery, or leaving the reader questioning, but my personal preference is to have a broader understanding of the magic in the world.

All in all, this is a phenomenal read if you like dark epic fantasy with creative work building, well balanced magic, Deep characters, and flashes of light to break up the shadows. Can’t wait for the next book.

4.5/5 stars

Book Review: Girl Desecrated

Girl Desecrated: Vampires, Asylums and Highlanders 1984 (The Fergus She) by [Cowtan, Cheryl R]

So I’ll be honest with you. This isn’t the usual type of book that I find myself drawn to. Vampires and demons aren’t my thing. I don’t jump up in down at angsty teenager drama heavy on the romance. I read Twilight cringing, but kept to it because my younger sister liked it. And let’s be honest… Jacob. But I digress.

So when I found this book, I don’t really know why I decided to read it. The cover was appealing. The tagline was clever. Maybe that’s why? Either way, I’m glad I did.

Cheryl Cowtan manages to pull at your sympathies for a truly unlikable hero. Rachel is everything you hope your daughter doesn’t become. Disrespectful. Snarky. Has a chip on her shoulder the size of a bowling ball. But as the layers are pulled back, you realize there is a lot more to her than meets the eye.

And just what IS the Fergus She? As the details are revealed in all their horrible fascination and heart-pounding terror, I realized that I really did care what happened. And it was almost without me even being cognizant of it. I pulled for Rachel, even as I knew that things weren’t going to end well. That’s the beauty of what Cowtan does with the story; she lets you see where the end is going, and much like a car wreck you can see happening even before the collision happens, you very much want it to NOT happen knowing it will regardless. Yet you can’t put the story down.

Angus, the male love interest so to speak, is a stereotypical male heartthrob. That’s one of my only complaints about this book. Why oh why does every romantic interest have to have huge muscles, dreamy looks, and an attitude? But that’s par for the course with this particular genre of writing, I suppose. Part of me wishes the author had branched out of this, but I can also see why she didn’t. Besides, he’s Irish. Everyone knows Irish men are all good looking… right?

Between the complex plot line, fast-paced action, scary scenes that keep you up at night, and clever writing, I’d give this a 4 out of 5 stars. Why is not 5? Three reasons for me. I’m not a huge fan of explicit sex scenes (this one had some). There were a few grammatical errors that were consistent enough to be a bit frustrating (periods in the wrong place, etc). And lastly, the stereotype super sexy hot dude who is the epitome of perfection. But none of those things detracted from the story in the least. Give it a try if you enjoy gothic fantasy!

Link: Girl Desecrated

Authors website: http://www.cherylcowtan.com/

Author’s email list: http://www.cherylcowtan.com/novelnews

 

Book Review: The Raventree Society by J.E. Purazzi

This actually isn’t a book. It’s an ingenious idea, really. J.E. Purrazzi has released a mini-series type of short stories. It gives the impression of being a TV series, with the stories called “episodes”.

I love them. The series is called The Raventree Society. The first four episodes have been released: The Strawberry Lane Hotel, The Haven, The Coal Mansion (my favorite!) and The Cleo (it comes out June 29th). Episode 5, the finale, is set to be released in a couple months.

They are ghost stories, but I’ll just say, they aren’t your typical ghost stories. Are they scary? Oh yes. Are they creepy? Definitely. But the characters are what makes this series shine. When I think of ghost stories, the first thing I DON’T think of is intricate, well-developed characters or impressive plot lines. But this series has them all.

The gist of the story (I won’t give away any spoilers, don’t worry) is set around a man named Kyle. He’s a paranormal investigator on a TV series called (you guessed it) the Raventree Society. His brother disappears, and the stories are set around Kyle trying to find him. Along the way, he runs into all manner of dangerous and scary situations. But that’s all I’ll say.

Seriously. Do yourself a favor and download these. They are only 99 cents each, and even if your not a fan of creepy, scary stuff, you’ll thank me later.