Book Review: The Kiss of the Blue Howler by Victoria Bastedo

The Kiss of the Blue Howler by Victoria Bastedo

A Fantasy novel published by Amazon Digital Services (06/03/2017)

Summary:

“But life in a cavern was all-inclusive.” (Page 297)

Life Underneath is full of wonder. For the son of the elader of Ishtish, Xerai, life is simple. He is the Instinctive and must protect the people of Ishtish with his powers of instinct. One evening, he finds Zephyr, a mute ThoEn who can only speak through pictures she paints around her. She is lonely and afraid and doesn’t trust Xera, but when she doesn’t come with him to town before nightfall, the Blue Howlers will get her. The Blue Howlers have never been so aggressive and Xerai, along with Zephyr, will have to figure out what’s wrong before it’s too late.

Keywords:

Instincts, War, Abilities, Kingdom, Underwater, Underneath, Companionship, Friendship, Loyalty, Leader, Sacrifice, Loss, Love, Water, Visual, Creatures

My Review:

Bastedo has an ease of storytelling that is unusual in so many authors! It is so easy to read this story, even trying to understand this new world she has painted for us.

The story and the imagination just keeps growing and all the elements are interconnected in a logical way that gives the story more depth and intrigue as the novel unfolds. The conclusion tied up all loose ends and ended as magically as it began.

Though Zephyr is mute, she is able to fully communicate. I love how this apparent ‘disability’ isn’t a hindrance to Zephyr interacting with others around her. It is so awesome to have diverse characters like Zephyr.

This novel was published by Amazon Digital Services 06/03/2017 and is available on Amazon here.

TLDR Star Rating: 4.75

 

Links for more information:

Goodreads

FreeValleyPublishing

SnoValleyHobbit

Victoria Bastedo WordPress

Book Review: The Surfer Solution by Cathy Yardley

The Surfer Solution by Cathy Yardley

A Romance Novel published by Amazon Digital Services LLC (02/02/17)

Summary:

Allison needs to ace her presentation, but the stress of her job is giving her panic attacks and the only solution is to find a relaxing hobby. Allison always gives 100% and goes full tilt with anything she does and her new ‘hobby’ is no different. She’s always loved the water and she lives in California so surfing is a natural choice. First she has to convince the zen surfer Sean that she’s ready to hit the waves and that he should teach her. Sean has his own set of problems though, like losing his job and his apartment. He can’t get Allison out of his mind and she can’t give up her job or the surfing.

Keywords:

Stress, Anxiety, Career, Panic Attacks, Office Job, Long Hours, California, Surfing, Romance, Relationship, Stubborn, Hard Working, Lifestyle Change

My Review:

We all know that person who is always busy and when you ask how they’ve been they tell you, “busy.” I, myself, succumb to this contemporary phenomenon of busy = successful. For Ali, busy is a way of life, ingrained in her very soul ever since she was a kid. Her family thrives on busy and stress. Allison doesn’t know anything else, but when her panic attacks start taking over her life, she must change or potentially die of a heart attack. If Ali can decide to relax and find something that helps her to relax, then any of us can too. If Ali can acknowledge that being busy and stressful doesn’t always make her happy and isn’t what she wants out of life, then there’s still hope for the rest of us.

This romance built up slowly and steadily through the mutual attraction between Ali and Sean. The pacing was excellent and I was stressed and anxious right there with Ali. I loved all the details of Ali at her job and when she was learning to surf. I feel like I learned more about surfing by reading this book!

This novel was published by Amazon Digital Services LLC on February 2, 2017 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 5.00

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Cathy Yardley’s Website

Book Review: Wild at Heart: A Flipped Fairy Tale (Flipped Fairy Tales Book 5) by Starla Huchton

Wild at Heart: A Flipped Fairy Tale (Flipped Fairy Tales Book 5) by Starla Huchton

A Fantasy/Fairy Tale Adaptation published through Amazon Digital Services LLC (04/09/17)

 

Summary:

Princess Belinda yearns for the freedom of the outdoors. She wants to soar like a bird or run like a wolf. She feels trapped in the castle. So she leaves. Using an enchanted cloak, which allows her to turn into an animal for thirty minutes, she leaves her home. Traveling for days and unhappy with her human body, she arrives at her sister’s castle. Still restless, after meeting with a hermit who grants her wish for freedom, she can now transform into an animal form for as long as she wants. Freedom at last, but at what cost?

Keywords:

Fairy Tale Adaptation, Contemporary Fairy Tale, Magic, Wards, Glamour, Survival, Family, Love, Romance, True Love, Strong Female, Adventure, Travel, Walking, Wolf, Animal Transformation

My Review:

This book takes a character from a previous book and tells a new fairy tale. I wish I’d remembered more from that previous book as I couldn’t remember much context when Erata came up in the story. Thankfully, most of the story centered around Belinda.

I absolutely loved how Belinda was portrayed. She was flighty and had a head for adventure. She was headstrong and stubborn, rushing headlong into things. She grew so much during this story and it was fascinating to see her change and grow.

Again, all the dialogue and any time a character was trying to teach another character were superb.

This novel was published through Amazon Digital Services LLC April 9th, 2017 and is available on Amazon here.

 

TL;DR Star Rating: 5.00

 

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Starla Huckton’s Website

Book Review: Click Date Repeat Again by K. J. Farnham

Click Date Repeat Again by  K. J. Farnham

A Chick Lit Novel Published through CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform  (4/19/17)

 

Summary:

Jess never thought she’d try out online dating, but her best friend Chloe gifts her a three month subscription and tells her to try until she’s had at least three bad dates. Jess starts to really get into the swing of online dating when she meets a few good prospects, but one date turns into two bad dates. Will the third bad date make her quit altogether or will she meet that special someone?

Keywords:

Online Dating, Chick lit, Twenty-somethings, Dating mishaps, Dating baggage, One Night Stands, Attraction, Love, Friendships, Yahoo Personals, Flight Attendant, Bars, Blind Dates, First Dates

My Review:

Farnham delivers again with an easy, delightful, and fun to read chick lit book in Click, Date, Repeat Again.

I love how she uses characters from book one, like the world we knew expanded. It was so cool to read about Chloe and to see how her relationship from book one with Daran is still going strong.

Jess has some serious faults and vices, like all of us in the real world, but she is also compassionate and gives everyone the benefit of the doubt. She’s realistic and lovable, despite her flaws.
I do think the ending was a bit rushed and some of the pacing was rushed, but I enjoyed this book from beginning to end.

I recommend this book for anyone who enjoys a light read, a chick lit novel, or reliving the ins and outs of dating.

This novel was published through Createspace Independant Publishing Platform 4/19/17 and is available on Amazon here.

TLDR Star Rating: 4.25

 

Links for more information:

Twitter
KJ Farnham’s Website
Goodreads

Book Review: A Wish to Build A Dream On by Vivian Vaughan

A Wish to Build A Dream On by Vivian Vaughan

A Historical Romance Novelette published by Diversion Books (03/22/15)

Summary:

Andie joins a cattle drive as a cook so she can earn enough money to keep the ranch her late husband left her. With her 9-year old son, Jordan, in tow they join the cattle drive headed to Kansas. But the trail master didn’t realize he’d hired a woman. Women aren’t usually the cooks on a drive. Will she be able to keep her job and the men in line? Will self-proclaimed bachelor and trail master, Mr. Catlin, fall in love with cookie?

Keywords:

Romance, Historical, Ranch, Cattle Drive, Cook, Tension, Men v. Women, Gender Roles, Love, Cattle, Disaster, Widow, Mother

My Review:

I held onto all the details of life in the late 1800’s and wish there were more details. This story was too simple to be truly engaging. I wanted to see more of the interactions between the men and herself to really show the life of a chuck wagon cook and life on a cattle drive. Each little detail was interesting, but there weren’t enough of them!

This story was too repetitive. We hear over and over again that Reese doesn’t need a wife and won’t be cornered into it and that Andie thinks he’s attractive. If this story was longer and had time to become fully developed and fully immersed in the little details, I would have been much more interested. If you’re looking for quick historical romance read and don’t mind the repetition, you may enjoy this fast-paced read.

This novel was published by Diversion Books on 03/22/2015 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 3.00

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Book Review: Pole Dancer by Nikki St. John

Pole Dancer by Nikki St. John

A Contemporary Fiction Novel published by Nikki St.John (10/21/14)

Summary:

After Alex is fired as a celebrity publicist, she moves from her hometown of NYC back to her parent’s house in Atlanta. After months of looking for a job, she finally starts working for a high end purse shop in the mall. After discovering pole dancing and a possible new celebrity client, Alex is on her way to a new career and a new self.

Keywords:

Pole Dancing, Reality TV, Rap, Rappers, Rich, Publicist, Celebrity Publicist, Corporate Life, Strip Clubs, Strippers, Professional Pole Dancer, Social Media, Betrayal, Friendship, Family, Communication

My Review:

I wanted to like this story but the typos, lack of editing and at times confusingly written scenes got in the way of my full enjoyment. This fun fiction book would have pulled at least four stars, grammar notwithstanding because the story was so juicy, if not for the abrupt (more than just a cliffhanger) ending. It literally stops mid-scene between two characters.

Pole dancing was throughout the book (after the first part), but it wasn’t the defining characteristic of the main character, which I liked. It wasn’t all about pole dancing, but it was an important part of the plot.

The pole journey of the main character, though she was a cheerleader in her earlier life, was somewhat unrealistic (at least for the majority of people). In a short span of a few weeks, she is able to do intermediate pole moves as a curvier 30-year old. Pole dancing takes quite a bit of time and even if this fast level of learning is possible in real life, it would be an anomaly. The strength to do moves takes time and the main character hadn’t even hit a gym in months when she started pole dancing. By the end she’s doing doubles moves, superman, and intermediate level inversions.

This novel was published by Nikki St.John on October 21st, 2014 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 3.25

Links for more information:

Goodreads
Twitter
Instagram
Facebook
YouTube.com/PoleDanceNation
PoleDanceNation.com

Book Review: Jump When Ready by David Pandolfe

Jump When Ready by David Pandolfe

A Young Adult Speculative Fiction Novel published by Amazon Digital Services LLC (01/09/14)

Summary:

Henry didn’t mean to die. The afterlife is not how he imagined. He can still see the real world, but he can’t interact with anyone alive. Placed with a group of afterlifers, Henry must let go of life in order to move on. Henry might have been able to let go of his past life if he didn’t witness his sister getting kidnapped!

Keywords:

Death, Teenagers, Suicide, Kidnapping, Chase, Punks, Friendship, Family, Letting Go, Moving On, Rescue, Accident, Coming of Age

My Review:

This book was a bit boring in the beginning until Henry’s sister is kidnapped. The action involved in the kidnapping sparks Henry’s storyline as he was floundering in the beginning. The afterlife Henry is part of is a Between Lives state and therefore between any real action and it’s not until his goal is revealed (save his sister!) that his own story becomes exciting.

I enjoyed how Pandolfe described death. Given many names: afterlife, between, death, etc, this state of being and place was interesting and well-described. This semi-fantasy aspect of world building was intricate and with a set of rules that were fascinating to read about.

If this book had started closer to the kidnapping, it would have been a much more exciting, engaging, and higher-rated novel but as it is (if you don’t mind the slow and lengthy buildup), it was a fun and easy read.

This novel was published by Amazon Digital Services LLC on January 9th, 2014 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 3.50

Links for more information:

David Pandolfe’s Website

Goodreads

Twitter

Book Review: The Ashes and the Sparks by Mary Victoria Johnson

The Ashes and the Sparks by Mary Victoria Johnson

A Young Adult Fantasy Novel published by Fire and Ice for Young Adults (10/18/16)

Summary:

“You can hide things as well as you want, but they’ll never go away. Not entirely.” (Kindle Locations 1209-1210).

Jorun spends her nights prowling around underground with a group of other teenagers. They run through a series of tunnels under their isolated island village, pretending to be monsters to scare their family and friends. One day, a boy from a neighboring island makes his way into their secret tunnels with stories of real monsters – invaders in airships. At first nobody believes him, but after the sky is darkened by flying ships, they will have to believe him and do something about the invasion.

Keywords:

Steampunk, Isolation, Small Village, Friendship, Family, Adventure, Danger, War, Technology, Weapons, Fighting, Civilization, Parallel Reality, Tension

My Review:

I have never before read a book where part one and part two worked so well together even though they were very different from each other. The first part of the novel was about a new civilization that had its own customs and traditions. The main character, Jorun, felt different and didn’t quite fit into her society’s customs. This story was interesting, especially with the secret tunnels and the mythology the people told their children. I was intrigued. It was hard to like Jorun at first though, since she spent her nights scaring little kids. She wanted to impress the other tunnelers and didn’t really try to change anything about her role in the village or rebel against the tunnelers when she didn’t agree with what they were doing.

Part two really brought the story and Jorun to life. She became a stronger person and didn’t just follow the traditions of her village or the footsteps of the other teenagers. She became alive and defiant and a true strong main character.

The dynamics of the parallel universe of Europe were fascinating without feeling politically cumbersome. The plot twists totally threw me and completely made sense! Part one dragged a bit, but part two was excellently paced and the climax was very exciting.

It was nice to read a standalone fantasy/steampunk with a good and satisfying ending. I look forward to seeing what Johnson comes up with next.

This novel was published by Fire and Ice for Young Adults on October 18th, 2016 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.75

Links for more information:

Mary Victoria Johnson’s Website

Goodreads

Twitter

Book Review: Feyland: The Twilight Kingdom (Feyland Trilogy Book 3) by Anthea Sharp

The Twilight Kingdom (Feyland Trilogy Book 3) by Anthea Sharp

A Science Fiction/Fantasy Novel published by Anthea Sharp (12/15/12)

Summary:

Feyland is ready for release, just as soon as beta testing concludes. Jennet, her dad, Tam, Roy, and several others have been chosen for the team. With an excuse to be in-game, it should be easy for Jennet to prove that Feyland is dangerous, but at first glance the game appears… normal. Still, it doesn’t take long for Jennet and Tam to get sucked back into the real Feyland. The realm of faerie still wants nothing more than to break free into the regular world.

Keywords:

Fae, Video Game, Worlds Collide, Evil, Gaming, Class Distinctions, Tech, Gamers, Friendship, Prototype, Mischievous Characters, Danger

My Review:

This book and this series will make anyone want to be a gamer! The excitement and camaraderie of playing an epic fantasy adventure seem very appealing. Though I am not a gamer, I really enjoyed the up close view of Jennet and Tam playing through Feyland.

As someone who doesn’t like to read epic fantasy, I thought this series was an excellent bridge between fantasy, contemporary and dystopian literature. It was fascinating enough to keep me interested in the gaming/fantasy sequences and the details in the world building were well-done.

I was glad that the relationship between Jennet and her father was resolved in this final book and that the relationship between Jennet and Tam was pushed and explored more. Roy also developed quite a bit between where we first see him and at the end of the series.

Overall a great and exciting book and series to read!

This novel was published by Anthea Sharp on December 15th, 2012 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 5.0

Links for more information:

Anthea Sharp’s Website

Goodreads

Twitter

Book Review: Feyland: The Bright Court (Feyland Trilogy Book 2) by Anthea Sharp

Feyland: The Bright Court (Feyland Trilogy Book 2) by Anthea Sharp

A Science Fiction/Fantasy Novel published by Anthea Sharp (05/21/12)

Summary:

Jennet barely escaped the clutches of the evil Dark Queen of Feyland, with the help of Tam Linn in the Dark Court, but the game is still set to release. The land of faeries is still attempting to step through the boundary of Feyland to wreak havoc on our world. Roy, the son of the CEO of the game company provides another complication as he appears to glamor all those around him, except Jennet and Tam. Not only do they have to figure out a way to stop Feyland’s release, they now have to figure out a way to stop Roy and his illusions.

Keywords:

Fae, Video Game, Worlds Collide, Evil, Gaming, Class Distinctions, Tech, Gamers, Friendship, Prototype, Mischievous Characters, Danger

My Review:

I started reading this second book in the series as soon as I put down book one and it took very little time to get back into the magical realm of Feyland and the world and lives of Jennet and Tam.

I was excited to see more of Marnie as she gets more time and importance as a friend in this second book. Of course, the growing friendship and budding romance between Tam and Jennet is also quite exhilarating to watch. I absolutely love slow to develop romances, especially ones based on more than just attraction.

One of the greatest little details about this book (and series) is the fact that I see gender equality. The book isn’t all about the greatest female who must take upon herself the mantle of saving the world (almost every dystopian book ever). Feyland is more than just a female main character. Tam has as much action time and importance as Jennet. Then there is the fact that the CEO of the gaming company is a woman and the most famous celebrity simmer is female. Huzzah! Finally those in power and those in charge are not just male! And their genders didn’t even matter!

I loved this second book and the ending was perfect. I can’t wait to read the final book in this series.

This novel was published by Anthea Sharp on May 21st, 2012 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 5.0

Links for more information:

Anthea Sharp’s Website

Goodreads

Twitter