Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Balanced On A Blade's Edge, by Lindsay Buroker - Book Review

Balanced On A Blade’s Edge, by Lindsay Buroker
Published:  March 30, 2014 on Smashwords, and Amazon Digital Services, Inc.,
Pages:   226 kindle
Genre:  Adventure, Magical, Steampunk
Source:  Author Free Day on Amazon Kindle

Colonel Ridge Zirkander isn't the model of military professionalism - he has a tendency to say exactly what’s on his mind and his record has enough demerits to wallpaper the hull of an airship - but as the best fighter pilot in the Iskandian army, he’s used to a little leniency from his superiors. Until he punches the wrong diplomat in the nose and finds himself issued new orders: take command of a remote prison mine in the inhospitable Ice Blades Mountains. Ridge has never been in charge of anything larger than a flier squadron — what’s he supposed to do with a frozen fortress full of murderers and rapists? Not to mention the strange woman who shows up right as he arrives...

Sardelle Terushan wakes from three hundred years in a mage stasis shelter, only to realize that she is the last of the Referatu, the sorcerers who once helped protect Iskandia from conquerors. Their subterranean mountain community was blown up in a treacherous sneak attack by soldiers who feared their power. Everyone Sardelle ever knew is dead, and the sentient soulblade she has been bonded to since her youth is buried in the core of the mountain. Further, what remains of her home has been infested by bloodthirsty miners commanded by the descendants of the very soldiers who destroyed her people.

Sardelle needs help to reach her soulblade — her only link to her past and her last friend in the world. Her only hope is to pretend she’s one of the prisoners while trying to gain the commander’s trust. But lying isn't her specialty, especially when the world has changed so much in the intervening centuries, and if Colonel Zirkander figures out who she truly is, he’ll be duty-bound to sentence her to the only acceptable punishment for sorcerers: death.
I really enjoyed reading Balanced On A Blade’s Edge as it has the right mix of adventure, sweet romance, and other-worldly elements that work for me. Lindsay Buroker’s writing style is direct, with steady pacing that moves, and she develops the romance gradually. Overall, I found this to be more of an adventure novel with magical, steampunk, and romance elements.

Colonel Ridge Zirkander isn’t thrilled about being sent to the remote Magroth crystal mines as new commander of the fortress for a year as a reprimand for assaulting a diplomat. After all, he’s a celebrated flier. Magroth prisoners are used to mine for special crystals that enable the airships of their world to fly at a bleak outpost location. I love that the Colonel isn’t a stickler for behavioural or other protocol. And he’s a bit of a quirky, funny character who cleans his own office, speaks with the prisoners, and even talks to himself.

Sardelle is one of the ancient Referatu sorcerers that settled the Magroth area over 300 years ago. Buried in an explosion long ago, she has miraculously survived and now is released due to mining activities that open the cave she’s trapped in. She’s smart and book-read, and I really like how stealthy she is about getting around on a prison base using her magical talents.

In this new world, magic and sorcerers are feared. The Colonel begins to suspect that Sardelle isn’t a regular prisoner but doesn’t know her true nature. He might not fall for her if he did. Things ratchet up when the fortress comes under magical airship attack, and the miserable General Nax shows up.

I found this a very satisfying read all around that I would heartily recommend to all adventure, steampunk/romance enthusiasts. You won’t be disappointed.

 My thanks to Ms. Buroker for a free day on Amazon, though it’s taken me a while to get through backlog. I look forward to reading more of Lindsay Buroker’s books in future.  4.5 Stars!

You will find her on the internet at the links below:

Happy New Year 2016 Readers! This will be my last review for 2015 but I’m already lining up new reads for the new year and hope you will join me again.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

A Vampire's Christmas Carol, by Cynthia Eden - Novella Review

A Vampire’s Christmas Carol, by Cynthia Eden
Published:  November 5, 2013, Amazon Digital Services
Pages:   79 kindle
Genre:  Paranormal, Seasonal
Source:  Author/Free Day on Kindle

Ben Prescott hates Christmas—he’s a vampire, and to him, there’s certainly nothing jolly about the holiday season. While the humans are running around being merry, he’s hunting in the shadows. Ben plans to spend the holidays his way…by stalking deadly prey.

But fate has other plans for Ben.

Three visitors are coming Ben’s way…A demon who will force Ben to face his past, a ghost who will show Ben the present he could have, and a shifter who will reveal the darkness that waits in Ben’s future. Unless Ben can change his ways, he may just turn into a real monster, one who can’t be saved by anyone or anything.

‘Tis the season…to be undead.’

Ben’s redemption rests in the hands of the one woman he loved and lost—Simone Laurent. If Ben is going to have a chance at being more than just the beast in the darkness, he has to prove himself to the lovely Simone. A very hard task, considering that, once upon a Christmas Eve, Simone died in Ben’s arms…
I’m not really a vampire book reader but I couldn’t resist this paranormal take on The Christmas Carol, especially as author, Cynthia Eden, was offering free days on Amazon! This is a unique, endearing twist to the traditional holiday tale.

Ben is busy with his usual during the yuletide season, stalking prey and sucking the life out of them, when he gets his first of three visitors, the demon William Marley. Despite the fact that Ben prides himself on using his vamp powers to hunt down only criminals and killers, he eventually learns that he may not exactly be 100% in the know about his alleged victims.

Between the demon Marley, the ghost of his former love Simone, and the panther shapeshifter, Ben is taught a thing or two to try get him to change his ways of heading too far down into the dark side. Ben also discovers the real depth of Simone’s love for him, from the beyond.

This is a charming, short, and sometimes sizzlingly sexy read that will give paranormal and seasonal readers a sweet bit of Christmas. Grab a copy for a feel good read during your holidays. 4.3 Stars!

Cynthia is an award-winning author of several romantic series and you will find her at these links:

Have a wonderful holiday season everybody!

Monday, 21 December 2015

Marie, by Ana Elise Meyer - Book Review

Marie, by Ana Elise Meyer
Teumessian Trilogy, Book 1
Published By:  June 26, 2015
by Amazon Digital Services
Pages:   PDF 339
Genre:  YA, Sci-Fi, Thriller,
Source:  Author

The human search for a solution to disease and physical decay has driven many to go to extreme measures. Dr. Carl Stanley’s efforts are no exception, his creation, Marie becomes the picture of physical perfection; possessing the ability to heal at a rapid rate. She has been groomed from infancy to apply her gifts in the service of war. However even a woman given all the physical gifts in the world is not immune to pain and suffering. One can only be pushed so far before pushing back. Can they handle what they have created....Can she?

Sometimes the cure is far more dangerous than the disease. 
The premise of this novel is a very interesting one; medical experimentation beginning from infancy to induce certain traits in order to create super soldiers. The author begins with 10 babies that start their life and grow up in a secret military facility. Marie, an abandoned infant, is the odd girl against nine boys.

The beginning is a bit slow as everyone grows up in an endless and brutal regimentation of training and medication in the facility. Eventually something very unexpected occurs and Marie escapes with one of the boys. Some great plot twists lead to Marie’s development into a ruthless killer of evil characters.

This is the first book in the trilogy; still, I was expecting to learn a bit more about the secret biology of her self-healing. I gather this will be expanded upon in the following books but it would have been good to give the reader something in book 1 which ends up being mostly cut-throat action.

Lots of action through the second half of the book as we follow Marie and company implant, Tyler, on her satisfying crusade of revenge. Marie is incredibly clever, and just as cold and ruthless, but she does have a heart against all odds of the experimentation done on her. The ending is very unexpected!

Overall I found the writing style fast paced and I think it will resonate with younger readers more. I found the speech of the members of The Company that run and own the medical facility somewhat immature. They’re brilliant and evil scientists but to me their speech came across as if they were 19 year olds. As well, a writer doesn’t have to use the f*** word frequently to make characters appear tough. Finally, some editing to clean up odds and ends would have been helpful.

So, I thought this very interesting premise which would actually make a great action-thriller movie, but I felt the writing style needs a bit more thought and polishing to bring out the best in such a thought-provoking premise as this one. Great cover.

My thanks to the author for a reading copy for the purposes of an unbiased review. 3.7 Stars!

You will find Ana Elise Meyer on the web at the links below. The second book in the series, James, is also now available.

Friday, 4 December 2015

Starlight, by William Stacey - Book Review

Starlight, by William Stacey
Dark Elf War, Book 1
Published By:  Bastard Sword Press, August 20, 2015
Pages:   PDF 529
Genre:  YA, Fantasy, Urban, Military
Source:  Author

A secret power. The revival of magic. An ancient evil stirs.

Twenty-year-old university dropout Cassie Rogan has returned to her small British Columbia home. Tortured by an accident that killed her parents, she drifts, failing life at every turn. When an impossibly localized lightning storm hits the surrounding forest, Cassie discovers her supernatural side.

After centuries of atrophy, the forces of magic are flowing back into our world, and Cassie can wield arcane powers. Her life seems destined to turn around, until the downside of magic brings everything to a screeching halt. Horrifying mythical beasts now prowl the northern wilderness—including the Basilisk—an enormous eight-legged lizard that can turn its prey to stone.

Recruited by a secretive agency, Cassie must quickly master her powers to protect mankind. As she develops her skills, a dark power secretly watches from the shadows. The Fae Seelie (a.k.a. the Dark Elves)—humanity's ancient enemy—have returned to settle the score.

Starlight is the first book in the Dark Elf War series, an epic urban fantasy and coming of age series that features fast-paced action, mysterious creatures, careful world-building, and breathless pacing. Author William Stacey is a 2014 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Quarter-Finalist.
Starlight is an action forward, well written tale of troubled youth finding their way via military special Task Force Devil that both enables their unique abilities and brings them to Faerum, a magical land. The author weaves extensive military knowledge expertly into a journey to a fae world, then criss-crossing back with Maelhrandia, a dark elf of the royal line, and her dangerous, magical creatures back to earth.

I thought Cassie a great female lead protagonist. She’s troubled and can’t find her way in the beginning, but then hits her stride as she becomes involved in the black ops program Task Force Devil. I admire Cassie’s toughness, and that she knows her own mind. She eventually agrees to travel to Faerum with the task force as the basilisk killed her sister in our world and she is seeking justice.

Supporting characters are well hashed out, and I especially liked the evangelical Elizabeth as a foil to Cassie, bringing events a curious, alternative perspective. It’s interesting that Elizabeth is portrayed as powerful in her own right and cannot be just dismissed as a religious nut job. All the characters are well thought out and each has their good and bad.

The author’s military knowledge is apparent right away and we are given great descriptions of high-tech weapons and military equipment throughout. Tracking scenes are well thought and played out. This is more of an adventure/YA military ops read with overtones of Fae Seelie, Amerind lore, and a bad-ass monster basilisk.

Starlight is a long book and I was getting combat reading fatigue by about page 360 though it’s well written and kept me engaged all the way through. I think for the general, or YA/fantasy reader the long tracking scenes could be lessened without diminishing the book.

I liked learning about the use of mana, or how the sensitives tuned into the ambient energy around them, drew it in and then used it as their growing supernatural abilities allow. I was also interested in Maelhrandia, 12th in line to the Fae Seelie throne. I would have liked to spend more time in Faerum but think that will be coming up in future books.

The Canadiana was a treat as I don’t usually read Canadian-themed novels.

Starlight is a great action novel that approaches a magical fae world from a militaristic perspective. I found myself rooting for the human side of course but wondered about the combative take to the story. I would probably give Starlight 5 stars for all of its merits but I’m not big on military. If you are, you'll love this book. 4.5 Stars!

My thanks to the author for a reading copy for the purposes of an unbiased review. I was unable to access his author website at this time, but you will find William Stacey on the web at the links below. He is also the author of Monastery, a fantasy/horror.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Crystallum by Laney McMann - Book Blitz

Crystallum, by Laney McMann
Published by: Booktrope Editions, October 26, 2015

Kadence Sparrow wasn't born a devil's child—she was turned into one. Now, she's hiding from the truth, and running for her life.

For years, Kade's true nature has lurked behind an illusion, so when her dad gets another job transfer, she knows the drill: no close friends, no boyfriends, and most importantly: don't expose what she is. Ever. Keeping secrets is easy. Lies are second nature. So is the loneliness—and the fear. But when the Shadows attack and Kade meets Cole Spires, he could expose everything she's trying to hide.

As one of the Celestial Children, Cole lives by an oath: defend the Ward, protect the Primordial race, guard the gateways, and stick to his own. Everything else is a distraction, and besides, he’s lost enough. Cole's job is clear, and no one his age does it better. So, when he meets Kade in a club downtown, he assumes she just wants his attention. Most girls do, but Cole soon realizes ... Kade isn't like most girls.

The children of heaven and hell are living among us, fighting an age-old war. And falling for someone from the opposition is not an option. But a chance encounter between Kade and Cole will blur the rules, as Kade's journey to keep her truth hidden catapults them together and into a web of lies, forcing her to not only face the demon inside her, but to answer the hardest question of all.

Which is thicker—blood or water?
Welcome to my blog. Today I'm featuring Laney McMann's Crystallum, Book 1 in her new Primordial Principles series, for Xpresso Book Tours. Please read on for an excerpt!
PLUMB STOOD in the driveway, hands on her hips, a piece of bright yellow paper in her hand. Cole groaned, exhausted, as he made his way toward her. The only light was a dim one above the door on the Brotherhood's front porch.

Plumb waved the paper in the air. "It's four fifteen in the morning, and I'm afraid to even venture why I received a notice for you to appear in front of the Warden later today. And Danny has nothing to say, which could only mean one thing—" Plumb looked him up and down. "With the condition you're in, I'm not sure I want to know where you've been."

"You probably don't." Cole held his hand out for the summons.

Plumb handed the paper over, scowling, and Cole slipped it, unopened, into his pocket.

"Are you going to tell me where you've been?"

"Thought you didn't want to know." He walked toward the porch. There was a time, when Cole was much younger, that he never would have spoken so bluntly to his Lead, but those days, buried by all of his new responsibilities within the Ward, had faded. They were close to equals now, even though Plumb was about fifteen years older.


"I'm tired as hell. I've been up all night." He turned to face her. "Okay? I need to get some sleep."

"What were you doing in the middle of the night that the Principals couldn't handle?"

"A girl."

"Excuse me?”

"No...I, no, I wasn't doing a girl. She just...never mind." He headed for the door, flustered. The last thing he needed to do was think about Kadence like that. His brain already went into some kind of jumble every time her name was mentioned, and it was bad enough that she'd had her hands all over him.

“You were with Tiffany? Until four in the morning?" Plumb sounded like a disapproving mother.

"Cole, I understand you're seventeen, and boys—"

"I was with Kadence." He wished she would shut up.
Laney is also known for her Fireborn series.
I just love her book covers!

Crystallum is available now at many fine online book sellers, including:

You will find Laney on the internet at these links: