Friday, 22 March 2019

Review for " Nadia's Heart: Part 1" by Wendy Altshuler

Review for "Nadia's Heart: Part 1" By Wendy Altshuler

Nadia's Heart is the first book in a series about Nadia, a young girl in a small village who is suddenly thrust into multiple strange new worlds, with a mysterious boy as her guide. Nadia seems to be brought along by this boy on his quest, only to eventually learn she plays an important role in his quest. Nadia struggles to come to terms with this knowledge, while trying to help the people she meets and comes to appreciate.

Woah boy, this book was a ride, and I can't be sure it was a good one. The book starts relatively safely by introducing the reader to the main character, Nadia, and it also introduces her weird hobby (spoiler alert: it revolves around hearts). Altshuler doesn't however, describe much else. In fact that's a pretty consistent theme in the book, where places are mentioned, people spoken of, dialogue present, but there is very little detail given. Many times in books the author will keep things vague and keep secrets, only to reveal them either mid way or throughout the tale, which brings on an 'AHA' moment, and despite waiting on the edge of my seat, that moment never came. If I had to make an analogy to how it felt reading this book, I would say its like sitting on a train and watching through the window straight on and getting dizzy from watching the scenery whiz by. I mean so many plot points and characters came flying at me when I read the story, and considering it was only 77 pages, that's quite the feat.

Despite the execution somewhat lacking, I did like the story. There is huge potential here with what Altshuler has laid out already, and even though I would say he plot is chaotic there is still interest there about where the story is going. I also know that the more you write, the better you get at it, so perhaps later books in the series will read a little more cohesively. I will also say there is something to be said for quick reads; where you want to throw yourself into a new world, a new plot or timeline, but perhaps larger volumes are just not for you, and if that's true then I think this series would be great, its got enough to satisfy any love of reading, while not totally eclipsing your life (looking at you Fire & Ice).

To learn more about the author, Wendy Altshuler, click here.

To purchase this book, go here.

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Book Review: Billy and the Cloneasaurus by Stephen Kozeniewski


William-790 was just another William going about his day with all the other Williams. But on the day he was to be replaced, something happened. Something that had never happened. He lived past his deadline. Living now in the unknown, 790 looked for some kind of meaning behind it all but found so much more.

I really had no idea what to expect from this novel. I think perhaps from the title I thought it would be a bit of a silly story, and to an extent it was a little. I was glad to read something a bit more light-hearted, but still with an intriguing storyline. But then things became so much darker than I expected, in a really good way. It’s easy to read through this novel, put it down, and think “well, that was good.” But I think what the author has really achieved is giving readers the opportunity to analyze ourselves and our current society. Maybe not so much as a Truman Show kind of way, but at least about our priorities. Like 790, we too should question the way things are and our priorities as a society.

What’s really nice about this book is that not only will it age well (there are only a few pop culture references, but more in the past) but it will hold up to multiple readings. Yes, the big reveals won’t have the same impact but there will definitely be things the reader will miss, or will focus in on during later readings.

Billy and the Cloneasaurus is a wonderful story highlighting current issues in our society, and is a warning for what may come. I highly recommend this novel to anyone who believes we as a whole can be so much more than we currently are.

You can buy the book on Amazon.

Thursday, 14 March 2019

Book review: Madworld (Book One) by Rob Alvir


Right away I can say that I was turned off by the book within the first few pages. The narrator is a bit grating, and heavily misogynistic, which I really dislike just in general. I don’t make excuses for it, as though it’s a writing style. It’s not. And whether that’s the character of the narrator to have those thoughts, I really don’t want to read it like it’s okay. And not even twenty pages there are so many other issues: editing, over-explanation, unbelievable characters and situations. A drug is being tested for the first time, the lead researcher hasn’t shown up and no one has bothered to call her to see where she is?

Even the description of Madworld itself could have been done much simpler. It was as though the author was trying to make it sound more complicated as to impress the reader. I’m not buying it, unfortunately. It doesn’t help that things are explained over and over. If the intention is to drive the reader mad, as perhaps it might be, then the author has certainly achieved that. Unfortunately, it doesn’t endear the book to me at all. I do understand the over-explanation was showing the psyche of Max especially, and how everyone experiences it differently but it could have been done much differently.

And then, just like that, book one is finished. I feel a little ripped off only having Book 1 but it's probably for the best. Also, the bad guys? Aliens. Because of course. When I was first asked to review this novel, it was advertised as though I was getting the entirety of it but then realized I only received Book 1. Again, it's probably for the best. I'm sure the rest gets into more details about Matt's descent into madness (and Madworld) and if you can get past the writing then maybe you'll be able to enjoy the rest of it.

I really dislike writing negative reviews. Even more, I dislike warning people against reading something. Unfortunately, this will be one of those times. Although maybe it gets better and more enticing in later books, but I wasn't hooked enough to look into it which is unfortunate as the premise itself (Madword, maybe not the alien part) is quite intriguing.

You can buy the book on Amazon.

Monday, 11 March 2019

Review for "For my People: Awacha Nay" by Heidi Ennis

Review for " For my People: Awacha Nay" by Heidi Ennis

For My People: Awacha Nay by [Ennis, Heidi]

For my People: Awacha Nay is a story of the land around what is now the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest of the United states. It starts during what is assumed to be the last ice age where early aboriginal people are trying to survive in desperate environmental conditions. These scenes act as flashbacks to a time just prior to European contact, and tell the story of a leader of one tribe, fighting against everything to provide for his people. Witnessing these events is the main character Asku, a descendant of the chief Saigwan who led his people through disaster. Asku is the eldest son of the current chief and is receiving visions of the former chief of their tribe Saigwan. Through these visions Asku learns about what it takes to become a chief, and when his tribe is threatened he must use what he has learned to help his people.

This book was a lovely read, and really got me emotional in places. I have no idea of the background of the author; whether or not they have an indigenous background, but it does seem well researched, and I appreciated the inclusion of a lexicon for words at the back of the book. I normally struggle a bit with main characters that don't have much in common with me; Asku is a young boy, living in around the 1500's (my estimate) who is indigenous to North America, and is the eldest son of the chief of the tribe. In comparison I am a woman in my thirties who is not Indigenous to North America, and I do not have any parents in any position of power that I would inherit. Seeing the differences between us, I could sympathize, but not really empathize with the struggles and issues facing Asku, but as a testament to Ennis' skill I found myself constantly feeling the pain he felt during difficult times, the worry he felt when it seems like so much was placed on his shoulders. The joy he felt when he kissed a girl for the first time. Ennis really did a great job in allowing me, the reader, to be able to understand the main character, despite our long list of differences. Ennis also wove the flashbacks in the story so artfully that it enhanced the read, rather than distract, or worse, confuse the reader.

Overall this was a delightful read. Any book really that can start to make me cry I think is a pretty powerful one, because that's not an easy task. Interestingly enough the end of the book is probably my favourite part, because it gave me just a hint, a little flavour for what would come next in Asku's life, and honestly I don't know what I want more; Ennis to make a sequel or not, because I think leaving the ending hanging just a bit is a fantastic way to leave a story, because it lets you imagine the story from that point onward, making it a book that keeps on giving.

To learn more about the author, Heidi Ennis, you can go here.

To purchase this book, go to Amazon.

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Book Review: The Cerulean's Secret by Dennis Meredith


The Cerulean’s Secret follows the story of Tim and his accidental involvement in the theft of a genetically engineered cat. Worth more money than he’ll see in his entire lifetime, Tim has to help solve the mystery of the iridescent feline and who stole it. But along the way he discovers much more than the thieves' identity, but the Cerulean’s secret.

I’ll admit that I was initially drawn to the book because of my own novel, which also deals with animals and genetic testing (albeit in a slightly different way). It sounded so silly that I had to try it out. I can honestly say that I was not expecting this novel. I finished it largely in one sitting, which is quite rare for me. Dennis Meredith’s writing is quick, witty, and completely believable. Was some of it a little cheesy? Yep. But that honestly added to the story. It’s a very distinct style, and one I enjoyed thoroughly. I also really enjoyed how this novel can age. There are no definite years mentioned in the novel itself, or pop culture references (which I hate seeing in sci-fi) so it can stand the test of time.

The idea of genetically engineering animals honestly isn't that far out of our reach. Perhaps not in the ways described in the novel, but it’s there and definitely worth exploring as an ethical and even social issue. Meredith introduces the reader into this near-future society without bombarding us with heavy explanations. Everything feels natural as though we’ve always known this about the future technology. At times I felt as though everything just happened to line up so perfectly and was a bit overdone, but honestly I think that added to the style. And I really enjoyed how while the characters figured things out, the reader was kept in the dark until the big reveal. I thought that was really well done, but now re-reading it may not give the same impact.

So, my overall thoughts? Go read this novel. Enjoy.

You can buy the book on Amazon.

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Book Review: Twice Upon a Time - edited by Joshua Allen Mercier


Twice Upon a Time is a short story anthology with a focus on re-tellings and re-imaginings of fairy tales, folklore, and myths. I don’t tend to review anthologies, but I do love me a good fairy tale and as I’m also a fan of the Cinder series I wanted to read more re-imaginings of the same genre.

I’ll find it easier to review the anthology as a whole, as it would be too much to review each individual story. Of course, some I enjoyed more than others but I’ll try to speak generally when possible. In general, I really did enjoy reading the different stories. At times I was frustrated that I wasn’t able to identify the fairy tales/folklore they were inspired by and I’m not sure it’s as simple as my inability to recognize the story. Some were definitely based on obscure fairy tales (which there's nothing wrong with), while others weren’t a retelling but rather a completely new story with the same moral lesson as the original fairy tale. In that case, I likely wouldn’t have included it in the anthology or would have advertised it differently.

Some stories were not short stories at all, but instead were excerpts of a full novel. Those were the worst for me and I don’t think the editor should have included those at all. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy them, but they don’t have a place in this type of anthology.

I also was not a fan of how the stories were arranged. There didn’t seem to be any flow or pattern to the entries. I likely would have tried to organize them in some form of pattern, such as moral lessons, type of retelling (alternate universe, sci-fi, role reversals, etc) but as far as I could tell it was a bit of a jumble. There was also the inclusion, near the end of the anthology, of two biblical narratives which seemed very jarring and out of place. I understand that the anthology was advertised as including myth, but I would be very careful calling Old Testament narratives myth, especially if they are based on events that have been historically confirmed. There’s a completely separate genre for stories set in that time period. Two in fact: historical fiction, and Biblical fiction.

Overall, the stories chosen for the anthology were well written and I enjoyed the imagination of the various authors. Again, some of the stories I wouldn’t consider re-tellings, but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying them for the unique qualities. I would have preferred a bit more flow to the layout of the anthology as a whole. But overall I did enjoy the variety of stories.

You can buy the anthology on Amazon.

Monday, 4 February 2019

Excerpt from "Jason Caroll and the Olympians Book 1: Incarnation of Apollo" by Solomon Merid

An exclusive excerpt from "Jason Caroll and the Olympians Book 1: Incarnation of Apollo" by Solomon Merid

Cover Image

"I understand what you are saying," said Zeus, looking intently at the young, solar physicists. "TV and radio transmission all over the world have been disrupted. Aurora borealis and aurora australis have been lit like giant, Christmas trees."
"You are right about it, Archmagus Zeus," said N’krumah. "Solar storms generated by the corona stream through space at speeds as high as 800 miles per second. They had disrupted their television transmitting satellites and had also temporarily altered the Earth’s magnetic field."
"There were problems with computers and the Internet too," said Indira. "Power transmissions in various parts of the world were disrupted. Huge power blackouts had sent many cities into complete darkness."
"Let me have a look," said Zeus and headed to one of the solar telescopes which used special filters in order not to damage the eyes.
Zeus brought both his eyes to the binoculars of the solar telescope. He saw huge, coronal loops, known as fountains of fire, writhing like giant, celestial snakes of fire. There were so many of them close to each other. "O Holy Presence!" he exclaimed.
Apollo went to the solar telescope and looked at the sun. He saw giant, coronal loops suddenly touching each other and causing a huge solar flare. "O tempora! O mores!" he exclaimed.
"What is it? You just saw two coronal loops fuse together," said Zeus.
"They are coronal loops which have just touched each other and short-circuited each other," said N’Krumah.
"They are frightening, those coronal loops which short-circuit each other," said Shapiro. "
Come and look through this telescope."
As Apollo took a step or two toward Shapiro Zeus put up his hand, "Stop! First we must see baby Jason and his mother in the hospital," he said. "Come over here, Apollo."
Apollo went and stood near Zeus. Zeus pointed his staff at the wall-sized screen in the lab and a huge golden-yellow image of Sol in ultra-high definition lit up on the giant, holographic screen. The screen showed the huge, writhing, coronal loops on the sun in 3-D.
Shapiro, N’krumah, Indira and the three Olympians stood in a bunch and watched the strange, mesmerizing sight on the surface of the sun. Sol looked like some strange lifeform of fire. Zeus and Poseidon stood side by side. They looked like identical twins.
"Go ahead, Poseidon," said Zeus.
Poseidon pointed his trident at the screen and said, "Delia’s hospital room" in a soft voice.
The screen split into two. Sol appeared on the left side and the image of Delia and Avatar Jason appeared on the right side. Athena and Ares were standing outside the door of Delia’s room. Ares wore a stylish, black suit by Giorgio Armani. A white shirt, a flowery purple tie and dark sunglasses completed the attire. Athena wore a black, leather overcoat with imitation fur collars. Athena and Ares vanished as two nurses appeared in the corridor leading to Delia’s room.
Zeus waved his staff in the air and said, "Zoom in!"
The image of baby Jason lying in his crib suddenly jumped onto the right side of the screen. Suddenly baby Jason’s face turned red as beetroot. Lines of rainbow colors flitted over his face intermittently. A golden-yellow halo formed around his head. Athena had placed a Sleeping Charm on Delia and she was sound asleep as usual. All of them stood inside the Astrolab and observed Sol and baby Jason projected side by side on the screen. The coronal loops on the surface of Sol were so close together that they short-circuited and produced a solar flare every five minutes or so. They observed something astounding. Whenever two coronal loops short-circuited each other and produced a solar flare baby Jason had an attack of hiccups and he burped loudly. The instruments also showed an increase in Jason’s heartbeat.
"Great galaxy!" Poseidon shouted. "It appears that Jason’s physiological conditions are working in synch with solar phenomena on Sol."
"CORRELATION OF FLARES AND BODY FUNCTIONS OF JASON DETECTED," said the speakers of the supercomputer.
"I will be damned! What is going on, Zeus?" asked Apollo. His eyes were riveted on the two halves of the screen.
"SOL AND JASON ARE IN SYMBIOTIC RELATIONSHIP." said the speakers of the supercomputer.
As if in answer a huge coronal loop on Sol appeared on the left side of the screen and waves of psychedelic lights undulated around baby Jason’s head.
"Holy Presence!olyHolhhhh" Poseidon exclaimed.

This author is currently working on publishing the book, and we hope to have news of purchasing outlets soon!