Saturday, 30 January 2016

Greta and the Lost Army, by Chloe Jacobs - Book Review

Greta and the Lost Army
Mylena Chronicles, #3
By:  Chloe Jacobs
Publish Date:  February 1, 2016 
by Entangled TEEN Publishing
Genre:  Young Adult, Teen, YA Fantasy
Pages:  259 Adobe Digital Editions
377 Print
Source:  Entangled TEEN Publishing/via NetGalley

After spending the last four years trapped in a place of monsters, demons, and magick, the last thing the fierce teenage bounty hunter Greta expected was to ever be back on Earth. But a rare opportunity gives her and the Goblin King Isaac the opportunity to do just that. Now she’s home. With a boy in tow. And her parents have lots of questions.

Although Greta finally has her heart’s deepest wish—to see her family again—every step she takes to reconnect with them drives her further away from Isaac. Greta and Isaac planned for her to return to Mylena and become his queen, but she’s not sure if she can go back to that harsh world, though staying on Earth means giving up the boy she loves.

But a powerful enemy refuses to let Greta escape. A demon who will stop at nothing to destroy her and everything she loves. Even if it means following her to Earth and forcing her to face a fate as unavoidable as love itself.

I came into the Mylena Chronicles late, at book 3, so it was great that author, Chloe Jacobs, gives a prologue scene at the beginning of The Lost Army showing when Greta originally met the goblin prince. This helped give me immediate perspective for where Greta’s been in the last two books though I think it’s definitely better to read the series start to end.

Greta, Isaac the goblin prince, and the boys have finally made it home to Greta’s family after four years and the boys are reunited with their families. I felt the author deals with this scenario very realistically. Returning to regular life after everything she must have experienced in Mylena is not going to be easy and her take on mundane life is going to be different. And mundane life is just not going to cut it for Greta while the demon Agramon still has to be defeated so we know where stubborn Greta is headed.

I felt the writing style/prose a bit run of the mill but the author keeps the action tight and scenes moving with great emotional connections to the characters through the whole book. We return to the battle against Agramon and his hold on the faerie hive full tilt back in Mylena. It’s pretty hard going. Can they even muster enough forces to take down the powerful demon? There’s a neat twist I didn’t see coming towards the end.

Isaac is very steady goblin prince and you get a good sense of the strong, even magical, connection between him and Greta. I would have liked to see more of what he actually looks like in book 3; I got a sense that he’s big and devoted to Greta but not a lot else. It’s great that Isaac has no problems with Greta being human. And she’s one strong, determined girl who knows her own mind and works through thick and thin to get what she wants.

I really liked Greta and the Lost Army as an enjoyable, solid YA fantasy romance. Totally feel good ending. 4.4 Stars!
You will find Chloe Jacobs on the web at these links:

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

The Secret Language of Women, by Nina Romano - Book Review

The Secret Language of Women
Wayfarer Trilogy, Book One
By:  Nina Romano
Published:  September 29, 2015
Turner Publishing Company
Genre:  Romance, Historical, International
Pages:  372 Paperback, 381 PDF
Source:  Author/Turner Publishing Company

Set in China in the late 1800’s, The Secret Language of Women tells the story of star-crossed lovers, Zhou Bin Lian, a Eurasian healer, and Giacomo Scimenti, an Italian sailor, driven apart by the Boxer Rebellion.

When Lian is seventeen years old, she accompanies her Swiss father, Dr. Gianluca Brasolin, fluent in Italian, to tend the Italian ambassador at the Summer Palace of Empress Dowager where she meets and falls in love with Giacomo.

Through voyage and adventure their love intensifies, but soon is severed by Lian’s dutiful promise as the wife to another. Forbidden from pursuing her chosen profession as a healer, and despised because she does not have bound feet, she is forced to work in a cloisonné factory while her in-laws raise her daughter, Ya Chen. It is in Nushu, the women’s secret writing, that she chronicles her life and her hopes for the future.

Rebelling against the life forced upon her, she empowers herself to act out against the injustice and becomes the master of her own destiny. But her quest for freedom comes at a costly price: the life of someone close to her lost in a raging typhoon, a grueling journey to the Yun-kang Caves, and a desperate search for beauty and love in the midst of brutality. 
The Secret Language of Women is the fascinatingly written journey of Lian, daughter of a Swiss physician and Chinese mother, set in China on the verge of 1900. Because of the influence of her European father, Lian grows up very non-traditional and desires to be a healer like him. It is from her mother and grandmother that she has learned Nushu, women's secret writing. Lian’s parentage is especially relevant as the story takes place during the Boxer Rebellion, a Chinese uprising against all foreigners, probably even those of mixed heritage.

We follow Lian from her first bliss of love with shipboard Sicilian chef, Giacomo, as they spend time at the Empress Dowager’s palace, then unexpected separation, on to Lian’s brave quest in life to find happiness and love. Her ordeals and wanderings really take the reader through a large cross section of Chinese life at the turn of the century and a gamut of human experiences.

Nina Romano runs two narratives; that of Lian’s as well as Giacomo’s through their never-ending search to find each other again. I was looking for more distinct voices between the female and male perspectives even though Lian’s story is told in first person while Giacomo’s is mostly third person omniscient. Both are told in a similar tone so the author may have wanted the entire story to have a continuous feel.

The book is replete with cultural and esoteric pieces, traditions that endure through separation, war, and death through the generations. Some of these are details on the practice of traditional Chinese medicine, herbalism, and lots of fabulous food (Italian and Chinese).

The astrology references intrigued me as I sporadically study Qi Men Dun Jia where I learned the Chinese divide the day into 2-hour segments corresponding to their animal signs; hence “hour of the rat” etc.

We also see the terrible effects of the rebellion on the Chinese themselves and foreigners alike.

Ultimately, I think the value of Nushu in this novel is that it provides a way for these women to journal/express their true personal thoughts without censure in a society that overlooks their real contributions. They are considered chattel and/or sexual possessions. The actual and terrible practice of foot binding that required repeatedly breaking bones in the feet of very young girls and causing a great deal of pain to achieve a perceived level of beauty/sexual utility is a stark example of this (that this practice brought unforeseen sexual benefits is one of the strangest things that I’ve ever read).

My fav quote: “You are alive, therefore all things are possible.”

If you’re looking for a deeply satisfying and contemplative read, I highly recommend this beautifully detailed book.  5.0 Stars!

My special thanks to Nina Romano and to Turner Publishing for the pleasure of a soft-cover reading copy. This in no way influenced my review.

Book Two of the Wayfarer Trilogy, Lemon Blossoms, is being released February 16, 2016. For more on Nina you will find her on the web at these links: 

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

The Curse of the Golden Coins, by Kaye Pascal - Review

The Curse of the Golden Coins
By:  Kaye Pascal
Published:  February 14, 2015 on Amazon Digital Services
Genre:  Historical, Civil War, Mystery, Paranormal
Pages:  181 Word Doc (40,000 words)
Source:  Author/Book Review Swap at Goodreads

Treasure. Curse. Adventure.

1865. Some legends aren't meant to stay buried. Some myths have a life of their own.

In a cave, Del discovers a chest of gold coins. He thinks it is a long forgotten treasure. Soon he discovers his treasure is a curse. He must face a sinister spirit and a vengeful enemy. With the help of Sawyer and Willow, he embarks on a journey where magic meets myth.

He must break the curse before he becomes its next victim.
My review of The Curse of the Golden Coins is for the Goodreads book review swap group. My thanks to Kaye Pascal for a reading copy!

This is a tale of a young man who yearns for adventure despite having been born on a genteel Arkansas plantation.

Delbert Baxter leaves his pleasant life to become a US federal army private in 1865. He eventually turns deserter. Sawyer, one of father’s plantation slaves, also joins the army and then comes to aid Del in his escape. The story takes an intriguing turn when Del discovers ancient Spanish cold coins and his desire for adventure comes true though not in the way he might have wished for since the coins come with a vengeful spirit.

This story is an unusual mix of civil war/plantation life set with paranormal elements. The characters, including Willow the Cherokee woman who joins Del and Sawyer, are interesting and I felt the writing style nicely evoked a time and setting much less complex than modern day, even a little other-worldly. The gold coins are linked to Hernando de Soto, the first Spanish explorer to have crossed the Mississippi river. There is some mystery surrounding his death.

However, there are several technical issues with the writing. These include incorrect comma use, missing periods, incorrect homonyms, in some sections too much passive telling versus showing, lack of contractions making for a bit stilted writing, and some typos. I also found the romance between Del and Willow develops beyond the reader’s eye so this needs more open work to round out the novella/novel.

These issues bring down my rating a lot. The writing is somewhat detached in places as if the author is writing about the characters not in the here and now but from a long ago book. This is quite dreamy and I don’t feel easily works in modern fiction which is (based on the books I've been reading), fast, and pretty much in your face.

Overall, I felt the story was interesting with a good period feel but needs editing and more polishing. 3.5 Stars

You'll find Kaye Pascal on the internet at these links:

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Sands of Time, by Christine Church - Review

Sands of Time
Fate of the True Vampires
By:  Christine Church
Published:  October 26, 2015, CreateSpace
Genre:  Paranormal, Vampire
Pages:  77 PDF
Source:  Author/Bostick Communications

Mysteries uncovered from tombs. Secrets dug up from the grave. The truth about vampires has been unearthed. These are the journals of an ageless woman; a hybrid half human, half "Pet Mer" (Sky Gods in ancient Egypt), a blood-drinker from the ancients. Their story is scarce told but Kesi's is all too clear... 

She appears a delusive goddess, wanting more than anything a family. Unable to bear children, and after the death of her husband, she travels the world searching for a way to share her bloodline ("creating" children, later known as "Vampyre"). She offers aid to those who need her. But her deep desire to have kin of her own blood is not met until she comes across a Chinese alchemist named Yin - another of her race. Hope for a life with him is banished, however, by his dark desires to destroy all of the world's hybrid offspring, to find a "cure" for the "blood drinking aberrations" created by those of his and Kesi's kind.

Taking what she needs and leaving behind chaos, Kesi runs, always searching. Her everlasting quest takes her through history, from one continent to the next, from her home in Egypt, to China, Rome, Scotland, and finally France. But she is never able to outrun Yin, and eventually she must face her enemy and the darkness within herself in order to have that which she truly desires.

Read her story. Learn the truth behind the "myth" of what humans call the vampire. Read about Kesi’s unique take on her species and those they create, and discover the mayhem and bloodshed caused by a man determined to put an end to vampires forever.
Sands of Time gives a very unique take on vampire origins from Egyptian times where the author uses ancient myths to create the historical origin of the Pet-Mer (Sky Friends).

Centuries pass through the written journal entries by Kesi, a blood drinker, hybrid Pet-Mer. These bring the reader through many countries and experiences.

Kesi is a very thoughtful and considerate Pet-Mer who doesn’t kill her food source. She is intent on having ‘children’ or reproducing her kind. I found her positive personality comes through clearly in her journal, and she believes in her own kind.

I like this writing device of telling pieces of a story through journal entries though here it’s a kind of story telling journal. The author might have shown in some way why Kesi was writing her sporadic notes. I was curious to know!

This is nicely written though in a tone and style I think somewhat of as “reminiscence” which I no longer enjoy. It has a passive, dreamy quality. I prefer the more immediate, present style of writing of most fiction I’m currently reading.

Overall, if you’re a vampire novel fan, Sands of Time is a unique, perhaps even moralistic take on the dilemma of being a blood drinker and is well worth checking out. This is a novella leading to more books in the series. 4.2 Stars!

Find Christine on the web at these links:

Monday, 11 January 2016

In The After, by Elisa Dane - Cover Reveal

In The After By Elisa Dane
Published By:  Swoon Romance, February 2, 2016
Genre:  Contemporary, Romance, YA
Source: Xpresso Book Tours

Sadie Reynolds is a liar with secrets. At school, she’s part of the popular crowd known as AE, despite being broken inside. She hides it well. She has to. The slightest bit of imperfection will land her in the same shoes as her Geeky neighbor named Ian.

Ian and his only friend are the objects of Sadie’s friends’ ridicule, ire, and entertainment. The AE rule the school with intimidation and retribution against anyone who would dare question their supremacy.

Sadie steers clear of most of it, terrified someone will find out her secret. She isn’t the least bit perfect. In fact, she suffers from PTSD stemming from the murder of her mother right before her eyes when she was a child. She can barely cope from day-to-day, hiding her truth and trying to fit in. But she knows it’s only a matter of time.

Hayden is a “Waverly,” a kid with the misfortune of living in the small farming town of Waverly that borders the very affluent Lexington Parrish. The AE don’t mix with “Waverlies.” Ever.
Desperate to get away from her oppressive friends, Sadie crashes into Hayden at a bonfire and the attraction that sparks between them is nothing short of electric. But Hayden’s an outsider and when things heat up, Sadie will be forced to choose between her friends and her new boyfriend.
Only Queen Bee Britt isn’t having it. She will not allow Sadie to cross her. Sadie can either do what Britt wants her to do or she will reveal Sadie for the PTSD freak that she is.

Sadie does some soul searching about who she is and who she wants to be. She can’t live her life like this. Not anymore. One fateful night will help her see how much things have to change.
She’s determined to no longer allow the AE to rule her life. She will be strong, stand up for Ian and love who she wants in Hayden. Determined and invigorated, Sadie goes to school feeling hopeful for the first time in forever.

But, the unthinkable happens.

Shooters attack dozens of students before the two eventually take their own lives, leaving the school a decimated shadow of what it once was.

Suddenly who lives where, wears what or loves whom seems like the least of Lexington Parish’s problems as everyone and everything changes forever in the after.

IN THE AFTER by Elisa Dane is a hard-hitting and heart-warming story of tragedy, love, loss and redemption. It is recommended for readers 14+.


ELISA DANE is a self-proclaimed book junkie. A lover of handbags, chocolate, and reality television, she's a proud mother to three All-Star cheerleaders. Writing is her absolute passion, and it's her mission to create stories that will not only take you on a romantic journey that will warm your heart, but help you find a new respect and interest in the sport of All-Star cheerleading.

Elisa is no stranger to the publishing world. She writes steamy paranormal romance under her real name, Lisa Sanchez. Her adult works include the Hanford Park series (Eve Of Samhain, Pleasures Untold, and Faythe Reclaimed), Obsessed (an erotic suspense), and a paranormal novella, Cursing Athena.

Elisa lives in Northern California with her husband, three daughters, and a feisty Chihuahua who stubbornly believes she's human.

You can connect with Elisa at the following places on the web:

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

The Dark Realm, by Anthea Sharp - Book Review

The Dark Realm
Feyland #1
By:  Anthea Sharp
Published:  April 12, 2012, CreateSpace (1st published December 1, 2011)
Genre:  Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal
Pages:  318 Kindle, 328 Print
Source:  Author Free Day on Amazon Kindle eBooks

What if a high-tech computer game was a gateway to the dangerous Realm of Faerie?

When a game…

Feyland is the most immersive computer game ever designed, and Jennet Carter is the first to play the prototype. But she doesn’t suspect the virtual world is close enough to touch — or that she’ll be battling for her life against the Dark Queen of the faeries.

Turns real…

Tam Linn is the perfect hero — in-game. Too bad the rest of his life is seriously flawed. The last thing he needs is rich-girl Jennet prying into his secrets, insisting he’s the only one who can help her.

Winning is everything.

Together, Jennet and Tam enter the Dark Realm of Feyland, only to discover that the entire human world is in danger. Pushed to the limit of their abilities, they must defeat the Dark Queen… before it’s too late.
This is really a neat book. Written in a succinct, just-enough-of-everything writing style, it had me racing through it. If you’re a gamer and can’t get enough, you need to read The Dark Realm. If you like fey, paranormal, magic novels, pick this up.

When I read the description for The Dark Realm, I loved the idea of crossing magical barriers. I’m not a gamer, but I read exactly for this reason; escapism.

We begin with Jennet’s final game fight with the fey Dark Queen. Jennet loses and the queen takes something from her that she will need a champion to retrieve. And she needs it back in order to survive in the real world.

Then Jennet moves with her dad to a new town. She’s really hoping she’ll find a gamer champion at the new school she is to attend. She finds Tam. I like that Tam is curious about the VirtuMax company but he’s not at all into getting the wrist implant that those who are well-off have. He also deals realistically and calmly with his complex life issues but is open to new possibilities that intrigue him as well.

As Jennet and Tam start Feyland, the game begins to bleed through into real life. Vice versa, some elements of the real world cross into the game. I wonder how many gamers are looking for this experience!

I loved Marny as a supporting character. She’s a little outside of the mainstream but has a great sense of herself and is good with it. I didn’t get a good feel for was Tam’s brother, Peter (Bug); his looks or exact problem.

I like that the author uses gaming as a way to cross social class. Jennet’s main priority is finding a talented gamer who then turns out to be a decent guy. She doesn’t let the fact that he’s from another social class stand in the way.

This novel has roots in the Ballad of Tam Lin (Scottish Borders) written by Francis James Child (1882-1898).

Nice ending without a cliff hanger, though there’s an opening for book 2. Overall, a neat fast read though not particularly complex. The author might have made more of the threat to all humanity.

4.0 Stars!
Thank you to Anthea Sharp for the free day on Amazon. You'll find her on the web here:

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Update 2016 Kristin Ravelle

Happy New Year all!

Hope you've had a great holiday with loads of fun, great food, and good times with loved ones.

I've had a chance to plan for a busy year of self-publishing myself. Here are some new titles that I'm working on and will hopefully complete in 2016.

Fated For Sanchez
This is a title that I'd started work on some time back that has been calling me to finish it. It's a contemporary romance in the Harlequin style. Sanchez and Lilli share a special connection from their grandfathers' times that draws them together in the present but which also threatens to tear them apart. Sweet-spicy read with a Spanish hottie businessman.

Immortelle (Book II Iron Web)
Bryn and Curran are on the run from the OED, along with Elain who they've managed to pick up from Moorfield's. Dinas Affaraon is magically hidden in the Snowdonia mountains and only Bryn's ability to read raven calls will help them find it. They're looking to learn new earth magic that will help in the growing fight against One Earth Dynamic, the encroaching world authority that is putting tighter controls over its citizens. Will Bryn and Curran come closer together in their struggle or discover new things about each other that drive them apart?

A Trail of Broken Glass
Fractured Fairy Tales
I've been wanting to write a fairy tale, Christmas story, retelling for about two years now. I'm finally getting it together with A Trail of Broken Glass; planned release for November 1, 2016. This is based on the Hans Christian Anderson tale, the Snow Queen, my absolute favourite. What if the sovereign of snow and Kai really have the hots for each other? Impossible you say. Let's see...

Good fortune in all your blogging and writing endeavours in 2016. I look forward to my first book review of the year, The Dark Realm (Feyland #1), coming soon!