Original review from June 2010 (Initial reactions) below: This book is a breath of fresh air. In a culture filled with lust for more and more vampire lore daily, we need this book. Ellen Maze tells the story of Beth Rider, a rare character these days, who stumbles into the truth behind the myth and is actually repulsed by the evil behind the creatures of the night. Unfortunately for her, they've already got their eyes on her and Jack Dawn has managed to make her into a tasty treat. But Beth has the peace and power of God and He has other plans in mind.
This book really made me think about what is going on in our culture today and what I came away with was very empowering. I couldn't get this book out of my head when I first saw it and now I know why. I'll have something to come back to in the future when I need another "in the world, but not of it" boost....more
This review was originally posted on my blog, 100 Stars or Less and can be found here.
Starting out 2011 and looking through my “read” list to seeThis review was originally posted on my blog, 100 Stars or Less and can be found here.
Starting out 2011 and looking through my “read” list to see which books I missed reviewing last year I was surprised to find out that this one missed any comments from me. Marilyn Monroe: Unseen Archives was one of my top three favourite books in 2010 so I am here to rectify it’s neglect immediately!
This is a book I settled on after deciding I needed to read more biographies of famous “culturally significant” people. I didn’t know anything about Marilyn Monroe (hadn’t even seen any of her movies) and wanted to see what it was about her that so captivated people when she was alive. I wasn’t sure what books were out there but when I picked this one up I knew it would be perfect. Not knowing anything about her, I knew I would be missing out big time if I didn’t read a biography with photos included.
Marie Clayton has done a stunning job with her biography. Each chapter starts out with a summary of a period in Marilyn’s life. She explains what was going on in her personal life (family, relationships, and career) and then dives into more specifics with the photo captions. And what photos! Marilyn certainly knew how to strike a pose and the photographers certainly knew how to take advantage of her charisma. I was captivated by her immediately just with the opening couple of pages. Then reading the captions and getting to know the context behind these photos certainly kept me captivated.
But even though I credit much of my love for this book in the photography chosen here, what really makes this book shine is the love for Marilyn that comes through so brightly in Clayton’s words. She gives a wonderful portrayal of a person’s life. Marilyn was not just a star but also a real life human that deserved the world’s love. Not just because of that stardom but because of that humanity. From what I have read, Ms. Monroe had a really tough life and I really appreciated the beauty of what Clayton has done for Marilyn here.
In conclusion: stunning photography, fascinating life, beautiful woman, thoughtful biographer. I would not read another biography any other way!
Where do I start with this book? The writing is beautiful and it has a very distinct voice. The story is told from the perspective of four very different women during the summers of the 1920s to 1940’s. We know that some sort of tragedy occurred during this time period but we aren’t given the whole picture. In this way we are taken on a journey that allows these four women to come to terms with what has happened and the roles they played. Here is what makes the writing voice so distinct. The story really isn’t told as if it is a series of events that start at point A and end at point B. Instead it’s very psychological in nature. Basically, imagine a story where the events in a person’s life are told exactly as they are thought about. Imagine a story where when you question “what is that person thinking?” or “what’s that person’s side of the story?” or “does he/she ever think about that time?” we get to see exactly that. As said, the writing was beautiful, but this wasn’t just for the lyrical quality of it but the glimpse of raw emotional and psychological peril we are thrown into. The story was captivating and the characters are ones you will love to hate when you get to the core of it.
The problem I have with this book is – who do I recommend it to? I have a very hard time coming up with an answer to this question. I know that I thought the book was great, but will others? The story can be very repetitive at times both within the same person’s perspective and crossing into all four of them. The characters were very hard to get a hold of in terms of who’s who at the beginning of the story (thanks to the writer for including a character list at the beginning of the book!). The writer also does something that I know a lot of readers are not fond of – telling instead of showing. Don’t get me wrong, I want to recommend this book. I want to hand over my copy to family and friends so they can read it too. But I can’t be too sure that repetition and ‘telling’ won’t be bothersome to them.
If you like experimental writing styles, lyrical qualities, and family stories with mysteries to them you may like this book. But just beware of the potential that this book may not be an easy read.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy from the writer in order to participate in a September book discussion over at The Next Best Book Club (Goodreads group)...more
First off, this is the second book in the Rabbit series and I recommend reading the first, Rabbit: Chasing Beth Rider before this one. It is a continuation of the first story but takes place seven years after book #1 ends.
I should probably say that when I finished Rabbit: Chasing Beth Rider I had no idea there was going to be two more. And so while reading I wasn’t searching for any clues about what might come next. That’s why when I started Rabbit Legacy it was really like starting out fresh again. About a third through I was really happy with what was going on here. First I was happy with it taking place seven years in the future. This meant that we got to skip all the gritty details of the in-between years. And let’s face it, not everyone has a big adventure twice (or three times) in a row. It was a lot more realistic to me that these in-between years occurred but I was glad that as readers we got to pick up again when all the action was starting up for a second time. And then I was really happy with all the back-story between two of the characters – Roman and Javier – and the addition of some fresh new faces to spruce things up a bit. And speaking of sprucing things up, the rules have changed, the Rakuum understand the power of “Beth’s God”, and there are all sorts of interesting things happening here.
In terms of spiritual lessons, this book is an abundance of them. I really never even thought the term “vampire Christian book” was possible in this sense but I can see from reading this book (in my case, even more so than the first one) that the pairing of vampires and spiritual lessons is just perfect. My favourite line, spoken by Rakuum leader Rufus is “I know the plans I have for you and they are all about me.” My jaw literally dropped and I had to blink away my shock. This is God’s assurance to us but twisted in a selfish way. God says that he has plans for us and they are not to harm us. Considering the way these creatures think of themselves as gods, this line is really something to ponder. Yet Ellen Maze also makes it clear that if they are willing to acknowledge and come to Him, God will allow it. There is ‘salvation’ for all. But my biggest eureka moments in this book, and this is what I held on to in the last book as well, was just what makes people do things they know are bad for them. Why do people have such a hard time with temptation and lust that they are not living the way they want to. Or that it has so completely taken over their lives that they don’t see reason for any other way of living. Really, it made me think of my own attitude towards certain things in my life. And I think that’s what makes a great book. This is such an amazing book for that and I haven’t even scratched the surface here. There really is an abundance of thought-provoking questions (and answers) that it seems like there is something for everyone.
I really loved this book and recommend readers of Rabbit: Chasing Beth Rider to keep on reading. Don’t be scared of sequels. This was just as great as the first! If you haven’t started the series yet, I recommend you do. And if you are Christian and already a Paranormal Fantasy reader what is stopping you? I can’t wait to get my hands on Rabbit Redemption and am just really grateful that there will be other books by Ellen Maze until then.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Dec 13th temporary review: I will write a review sometime this week. For now I leave you with...
What a great book! It’s a thrilling tale of one night of hostage-taking at K-I-L-L FM 100 – a local music station. Disc jockey Carter was a great charWhat a great book! It’s a thrilling tale of one night of hostage-taking at K-I-L-L FM 100 – a local music station. Disc jockey Carter was a great character to have an “insider’s” look into. Not only his love for music and how he uses it to get through his situation, but also the risks he takes, and how his perspectives on “Killer Queen” (the hostage-taker) changes throughout the story were all just perfect. I really enjoyed the pace of this book. It’s short (only 89 pages) but nothing feels missing or dragged out and being labeled a “thriller” – well…it sure was! The only thing I could say is that the ending does seem a tad bit “cheesy”. I do see why Teric included what he did (and that’s because it also hits a little bit close to home) but I can see how some who’ve had much different experiences might see it that way. That and I really wanted a list of all the songs mentioned in the book so I could listen along (if this was available I couldn’t find it anywhere) mainly because I didn’t grow up with the songs listed and I’m terrible with song names in general. However, having not grown up with this music I really appreciated all the subtle music lessons Teric threw into the story. This is an excellent start to Mr. Darken’s writing career and I’m looking forward to counting him among my favourites.
Note: I posted this review on my blog, 100 Stars or Less and can be seen here....more
I received The Naked Gardener at the start of November. It came direct from the author as a giveaway to participate in a book discussion over at The Next Best Book Club. The book came and immediately made me smile with its extra touch of including a package of flower seeds attached to the book with a pretty ribbon. I began to wonder...are these flowers so that I too can garden naked? The thought of it made me giggle. There is no way I am doing THAT. I may have a tall fence but there is also an apartment block towering over my neighbourhood and who knows how far their “peeping Tom” eyes can reach :D I began to read almost immediately, wondering what was in store for me in what seemed on the outside a crazy little book.
Well, the book surprised me in such a great way. Both the writing style combined with the interests and the voice of the book’s main character, Katelyn, spoke to me in a way that seemed incredibly close to life. Within the first few chapters I began to wonder if I was really reading fiction or if I was somehow mistaken and reading non-fiction instead. I even went so far to check the back of the book and online as well. It was indeed fiction and this really impressed me. One of the things I enjoyed most at the beginning of the novel was the description of gardening and Katelyn’s summer home. The gardening scenes reminded me much of both my mother and grandmother in their own gardens (okay, leave out the naked part, and there you go). However, as the book continued and Katelyn’s group of friends went on a weekend-long canoe trip this burst of reality came to life on a whole new level for me. The conversations these women have and their reactions to each other were yet again faithful to the way (I believe) many women actually act in real life.
On yet another level, L.B. Gschwandtner brings up the issues of equality in women’s lives, the importance of being one’s own person, and finding a place in the world (in a woman’s own life, with her own wishes and own circumstances). I’m not sure I quite understood everything she was doing here while I was reading the story or if I necessarily agreed with every detail of it. However, I really enjoyed how this was done. I really started to think about the issues of feminism and the downfalls of being “too preachy” with feministic agendas (the issue of equality really stands out here) in fiction. When I think of feminism I tend to think of a lot of negativity towards men or women trying to act like men to get what they want. I like LB’s gentle approach instead – lifting women up, allowing them to feel great about who they are (rather than trying to change them) and not trying to downplay too much the importance of men in women’s lives. I can’t be sure if this is the reason or if there is another I have not thought of, but I felt a constant air of joy while reading this story. There are some “complaints”, some tough decisions, and a few predicaments the women get themselves into. Somehow throughout all this I managed to have a constant smile on my face while reading – a joyful smile. Periodically – giggles.
But before I get too deep into what I liked most about this book I’d like to point out one small problem I had – and the only thing really holding it back from me considering this a perfect read. I did find it hard to relate to some of the characters. I’m not sure if this is because four of the characters backgrounds and physical descriptions are given to the reader one after the other and my memorizing skills just don’t work that way or for the following reason. L.B. points out in our discussion that she purposefully tries to show women at various stages of their lives. Looking back, it does make sense that the women I connected to most were those closest to my own age. I think this was a very clever way to create difference in her characters as well. I just wish I could have connected to all of them, but perhaps this just goes to show how much I loved the overall story that I actually cared about wanting to connect with the characters at all.
I would highly recommend this book. For anyone reading my review and thinking they would like these things also – I urge you to seek out this book. Then you too may have a smile on your face!...more
I saw this posted up on the Kindle group over at GoodReads. Science fiction isn’t normally something I am excited about and therefore is not something I am normally curious about when I come across suggestions or postings on little-known books within the genre. So it was a different experience for me to have this catch my eye. First, it’s title was something I was very curious about. What exactly is a Space Junque? What does it mean? And a paranormal space opera? What does that mean? For some reason there was something inside of me that just had to know. This little novella (or novelette) was cheap enough that I decided to take my chances.
Well I took my chances and believe I did alright with them. The story is intriguing. It follows a woman named Char and her journey from Earth into outer space on what turns out to be a grand adventure. The world is futuristic and much has changed from our current times. We get to see glimpses of the people (mutants, “ghosts”, DOGs, even gods and other spirit creatures) and politics (one world government) along the way and hear Char’s take on the way things are. The world is certainly a very interesting place and adds a lot to the story.
My little quibble with the world building here is that we don’t really get to hear enough these aspects. The author mentions them, we come into contact with characters that either are or know more about these things but they aren’t really explained. For example, Char mentions the “ghosts” quite frequently at the beginning of the story. She sees them and explains what they are doing. She is afraid of coming into contact with them. But if you asked me to tell you what the “ghosts” are after reading this story, I could not tell you. It’s never explained. As for the DOGs, we learn that they are terrorists, we come into contact with them, see how they operate, but the author either leaves out or forgets to explain what the acronym stands for.
Then there is the strong aspect of the story – the one that really kept me reading. Here’s Char’s social life, an unexpected romance, the mystery of what happened to Char’s twin sister Sky, and what appears to be the coming apocalypse on Earth. I’m not sure if it was the scandalous mysteries surrounding these aspects or the unfolding events which really brought them to life but this part of the story was just great. It is filled with action, twists, and turns that will keep you on your toes, flipping pages furiously until the very end.
As a few readers have said over on GoodReads, I wish this story was longer to make it more flushed out. But I also wish this story was longer just so I could keep reading. Despite my reservations about the world building I really did enjoy this little tale. Surely, I will be reading any sequels that come up in this series....more
I was very skeptical about this book at first. I like books that take place in an Amish setting but I really, really don’t like ‘sappy’ romance novels, which is what most of the Amish books I’ve been seeing lately are all about. But this book was passed down to me by two people who really enjoyed it and were excited enough about it to find someone to share with. I had to at least try it, right? After leaving it for about a month and going back and reading the back cover, realizing it was actually a mystery, I was much more intrigued and ready to start reading.
I really enjoyed this book but I do find it hard to describe it without seeming a bit negative (keep in mind I really did enjoy this book). At first glance there really doesn’t seem to be much different from this book than any other standard mystery. It’s pretty formulaic in that way and there’s nothing really different about Harper’s writing style that makes it so special. The formula? Woman’s husband dies in a freak ‘accident’ but she doesn’t think it is one, mysterious things are happening all around her, she meets a man who happens to want to help her but she doesn’t know if she should trust him, there are twists and turns to throw the reader off and eventually everything comes together in one giant reveal, woman decides what to do about man who has been helping her and she lives happily ever after.
But there was so much about this book I personally really enjoyed that made it hard for me to put it down. First, Rachel is Amish but it’s not the standard Amish story. Rachel isn’t as sheltered as her other community members. She has an English friend and spends a lot of time with her, even using her as a babysitter for her children. She visits the library and reads English books and throughout the course of the story she gets involved with many other English people. This makes her place in the community very unsteady and makes the mystery behind her husband’s death (and her new possible romance) very interesting. It also makes all the explanations of Amish vs. English lifestyles much more realistic. It fits into the storytelling unlike those other stories where the Amish are too sheltered to make the kind of comparisons authors usually do. There is of course romance in this book but it’s not the ‘sappy’ romance I was afraid of. The mystery and ‘creepy’ vibe from the story is much more prominent here. There was lots going on in this story which gave me lots of things to want to find out and keeping me reading. It was very hard to put down.
Bottom line is, I really enjoyed this story. Enough to search through Karen Harper’s other stories to find some future reads....more
This is the second book in LK Rigel’s In Flagrante Apocolyto series, being equal parts paranormal and science fiction. I liked Space Junque (book #1 iThis is the second book in LK Rigel’s In Flagrante Apocolyto series, being equal parts paranormal and science fiction. I liked Space Junque (book #1 in series) because it introduced me to a genre I had never encountered before. The characters were interesting, the plot was interesting, and the world was interesting. Well, I liked Spiderwork even more. My initial reactions upon finishing the book were…”excellent”! And I believe the main reason for that is the plot and the characters just felt deeper – more complex and each unique in their own ways. Being the second book in the series, we also learn about more parts of the world LK has created. For example, in Space Junque, I was disappointed that what Ms. Rigel called “ghosts” wasn’t explained in a way that I could understand what they were and exactly how they fit into the world. But that resolves itself completely in Spiderwork when one ghost plays an important part in the progression of the story. And may I add, I really liked this character and I’m hoping for more “ghost” action in any of her upcoming books.
The world is also changed from what we saw in Space Junque. What is left of the people that inhabit the planet are ruled by the laws of the goddess Asherah. It’s 8 years after the big war and this almost like having to learn about a whole new world (not quite, but L K has changed her world in some major ways and that takes a bit of getting used to). What I liked about this was we don’t just get one perspective, but two – those of Char and Durga. Both of these women know the same people and have great influence in the political realm but they are different enough we are allowed a glimpse into much more of the world by the split of perspectives. Both of their love stories are also fabulous and add greatly to the reader’s understanding of how these two women’s lives fit into the greater picture that is essentially Asherah’s world. And the souls! I really wish I knew a way to say something about this without spoilers, but um…that was great! The only thing I felt missing from the story was a deeper understanding of some of the peripheral characters. For instance, I would like to know more about Garrick and the chalices (Maribel and Faina come to mind). They are in the story just enough for me to want more but not enough to satisfy my curiousity.
So, if I were you, would I read Spiderwork after having read Space Junque? Yes! Would I read Space Junque just so I could get to some more juicy bits in Spiderwork? That’s a yes also!
Note: Spiderwork was quickly edited to add additional scenes and reposted to Amazon within a week of it’s release. This review is for the second, edited version.
Note #2: This review was originally written for my blog, 100 Stars Or Less. If you would like more information about the book, there are a few more tidbits on it's review page which can be seen here.
Flora is a sacrifice. Julian is her new guardian. It is 3 days until her big Day of Sacrifice. She is being hunted instead. Will Julian protect her foFlora is a sacrifice. Julian is her new guardian. It is 3 days until her big Day of Sacrifice. She is being hunted instead. Will Julian protect her for the benefit of her family or together will they change the world?
This short novella takes place in a paranormal world where families sacrifice their first born in a very public ritual to the gods in order to keep their powers. Some very interesting questions are posed. What would you sacrifice to gain ultimate power? Would you submit yourself to ruin for the benefit of those you love? Try to save yourself at great costs to those you love? Or facing the toughest decision of your life, attempt a third, more risky option in order to change not just your life, but the world?
This is the first book in a series and although action-packed and filled with romance it does feel a bit like we’ve just gotten started here. We’ve learned about the world, the prophecy, we’ve read about a budding romance, and some tough decisions, but the plot doesn’t progress any further and we are left wondering...what happens next? I’ll be reading the next one for sure and expect that with time much more will reveal itself to entice and pull me deeper into the story. ...more
Note: This review was written for my blog, 100 Stars Or Less. You can see the full review here.
This book is chaos! Rebellions are chaotic and SW BenefNote: This review was written for my blog, 100 Stars Or Less. You can see the full review here.
This book is chaos! Rebellions are chaotic and SW Benefiel just simply made me feel the chaos. There is so much going on here. People are running around everywhere doing their own thing, there are attacks, mini-battles, information recon, injuries and death, new characters galore, and I can’t forget the love affairs. There are vampires, and witches, and guardians (Oh my!). There is just so much going on, so many storylines I wanted to follow but couldn’t because I was being dragged in other directions by the narrator. For a book about paranormals and supernaturals the rebellion chaos felt really realistic. Almost too realistic though because it did become at times kind of hard for me to follow.
As far as the romantic element goes, the introduction of Abel as well as the return of Cara, is a welcome change. I did like Flora and Julian in Day of Sacrifice: The Prophecy. However, Cara and Abel’s story just feels more grown up and I feel more comfortable with that. Cara is such a fascinating character too. Having been the parent of someone who was recently sacrificed we as readers get a unique point of view not available from the others. Her pain and regret are evident and we are able to see that not every parent is heartless in their endeavors. Because of the sacrifice she is also able to help in more clandestine ways and this makes for a great side story.
So would I change anything if I were the writer? I think I would have Flora and Julian in the story just a little more. They were the main characters in Day of Sacrifice: The Prophecy. They didn’t need to be the main characters in this one. However, I did keep wondering where they were and what they were doing. We did get glimpses of them. But because of the chaos of everything happening with the rebellion making my head spin a little, it didn’t feel like quite enough.
An interesting series with a unique point of view, I’m sure to keep reading and find out what happens next. ...more