First, I want to say that Frank Scozzari is a master storyteller and a great writer. For this reason, I'm starting with 5 stars, but I'm going to dockFirst, I want to say that Frank Scozzari is a master storyteller and a great writer. For this reason, I'm starting with 5 stars, but I'm going to dock half a star because his proofreader failed him terribly. The developmental editing was great, the grammar was great, but the typos were really distracting – not enough to completely detract from the story, however.
Please bear with me on the rest of this review, because this is going to sound critical, but please wait till the end. I had a very hard time with this one, and almost put it down a few chapters from the end, because the main character was infuriatingly aggravating, at least for me.
This story begins with a description of what I assume was The Lovers of Valdero. It turns out that it's our main character, Morgan Stanfield, looking at the archeological dig on a computer screen.
Where do I start with Morgan? I couldn't stand him! I didn't relate to him at all, and I barely felt sorry for him. He is a hopeless romantic, searching for some ideological relationship, an idealistic fantasy found on the pages of fairy tales. This didn't detract from the story, but it made it really difficult to like Morgan.
Don't get me wrong, I definitely believe in love. I think someone can find someone and live with them for the rest of their lives, through good times and bad times. But good god, try to live in the realm of reality.
Right after he pines after the "eternal love" he sees reflected in the picture of the embracing skeletons, he starts searching for love. Not by going out and meeting people, but right there on his computer. When the Americans fail to satisfy him, he turns to Bride.ru, a Russian bride website. He flips through dozens of pictures of Russian women and finds Natasha. For him, it's "love at first sight." He is completely smitten, and sends her an email.
. . .
Personally, I'm completely inexperienced with dating apps and hook-up sites, so perhaps I shouldn't judge, but I just feel like there's a lot of fraud and terrible mismatches that happen when using these websites, moreso with Russian ones. When we get to chapter two, I learn that his friends agree with me, and try to talk him out of turning to Russia for his relationships.
Because this book is written in first person, we get to read Morgan's thoughts and criticisms of his friends as they give him this sound advice. He dismisses them, and I want to slap him upside the head. A good slap, a "Gibbs slap."
Despite his friends' protests, Mr. Stanfield returns home and finds that his Natasha has responded, but sadly, she has already found somebody. Through his devastation, he desperately searches for a second best, and finds Anastasia. He likes this girl, but not as much as Natasha. Enough to book a flight to Russia and meet her though.
I really don't want to give the entire book away, but let's just say that his time in Russia is one idiotic choice after another, and by the time I read 90% of the book, I was so done with Morgan. I mean, this idiot deserved everything that came his way. There is only so much naivety that I can take before it becomes too much.
Regardless, I continued reading. Like I said, Scozzari is a good writer.
The ending of this book saved it. I was prepared to drop this book's rating another half a star. I kept assuming that he was going to find love, and I couldn't think of any way that would happen without it being completely cheesy. I imagined he was going to find Natasha (he had already spotted her a couple times in the story) and it was going to be a happily ever after story. He didn't and it wasn't.
But the story didn't end on a sad note, nor did he find his true love. Rather, Morgan came away from everything a little wiser and a little smarter. He had some rough lessons, and he learned from them. I still didn't resonate with him, but I came away respecting him. And for that, I'm returning the half star, to give From Afar a full 5 stars.
My favorite part of the book is when Morgan sits with Dmitri, a professor of literature, and they discuss Pushkin's work. It's the point in the novel where Morgan really starts to reflect on his life and his place in the world. It's when he really starts to develop. I also felt that this is where Scozzari highlights the point of his story.
I have no doubt in my mind that Morgan will continue to make stupid decisions, but in the end, I think his trip to Russia was not the worst one he ever made. In fact, it may be one of the better ones. He may have not found what he was looking for, but he found what he needed....more
I will definitely read the rest of this series. I feared, at first, that I was getting into another vampire/werewolf story, but learned rather quicklyI will definitely read the rest of this series. I feared, at first, that I was getting into another vampire/werewolf story, but learned rather quickly that although these creatures are in the story, our protagonist is something different. When we are introduced to Roxanne, she is using a false name, hiding from a corrupt government agency, and on the run. Eventually, she finds help and learns more about her abilities. This is a fast pace novel that will have you on the edge of your seat. ...more
In The Legend of Solis, the story continues from The Nexus Mirror, but the protagonists shift. Not that we don't see some of our favorite characters fIn The Legend of Solis, the story continues from The Nexus Mirror, but the protagonists shift. Not that we don't see some of our favorite characters from The Nexus Mirror, it's just that the story doesn't focus on them. We're introduced to a new character, a very likeable character named Tobias Ford. This new character starts off as a soldier in the United States military, which has begun a campaign to hunt down the Enlai. As the story progresses, we find out that Tobias is a very powerful Enlai, and he switches sides.
I may not have enjoyed it as much if I hadn't read The Nexus Mirror, so I definitely recommend reading that first. I'm giving it 5 stars, as anyone who enjoys reading about superpowered beings will really enjoy this book.
We have here a story about a hidden race on Earth, known as the Enlai, and a human who sets out to stop a war between the different factions of this rWe have here a story about a hidden race on Earth, known as the Enlai, and a human who sets out to stop a war between the different factions of this race. Then we have a woman of the Reader Enlai group being manipulated by the villain after her sister is kidnapped. Finally, later in the book, we are introduced to the ruler of the Shadow Enlai, who ultimately became one of my favorite characters.
This book took me by surprise. What I mean by that is that after several chapters of slowly being introduced to the characters and the world that Michael Noah created, I found that I wasn’t that interested. First, because I am a Mortal Kombat player, the name Raiden immediately had me thinking of the game. As I read further and became introduced to the different races in the book, I felt more and more like I was reading a fanfiction story. The Shadow Clan, the Readers, the Shifters, the Burners, it all sounded like the clans in the game. There was even a dream sequence where Raiden found himself caught between two characters who reminded me strongly of Scorpion and Sub-Zero battling it out. However, I stuck to it, and I'm pleased I did.
Several chapters in (I want to say around the 40% mark on the Kindle), the depth of the characters really started to shine, and the action had purpose. I started to get sucked into the story. Raiden’s motivations became more sincere. Alia, the Reader, began to show more feeling and discovered some real challenges.
Maybe somewhere deep down, this story was inspired by Mortal Kombat, but if so, it took the story so much further than the hokey storyline of the aforementioned video game, and brought the characters to life. I commend Michael Noah for the depth of his characters, turning this action-packed book into more than just a cheesy action flick and into something with interesting hooks and lures.
I can’t wait to see what else the author creates in this interesting new world....more
The rocky relationship between an overbearing mother and her prodigal daughter becomes even more tumultuous when the mother, distraught over witnessinThe rocky relationship between an overbearing mother and her prodigal daughter becomes even more tumultuous when the mother, distraught over witnessing her husband's long, painful death, decides to satisfy her terminally ill aunt's last wish.
I really misjudged this novel when I started reading it. "This sounds rather bland," I thought. Well, I started getting into it pretty quickly, despite the slow start. Not that I thought the start was bad; it just didn't seem congruent with the genre I like to read.
By the time I got halfway through the book, I told myself, "This is actually pretty good, I'm going to give it a 4 star." As I neared the end, I figured the book could end in one of two different ways. One way, I decided that I would give Spring a 3.5 star. The other way I would go 5 stars all the way.
Looking at my rating, you can plainly see that J. J. Spring did not disappoint me. A perfect ending for a beautiful story wrought with difficult decisions. The challenges Laura Beckman faces are ones I hope I never have to face with my own children.
The story starts with Laura Beckman agonizing over the suffering of her dying husband in a hospital room. He lies there, unable to speak, and when he does communicate with her, it's to beg her to allow him to die, to stop the suffering. Needless to say, she stays with him as he slowly declines, kept alive by the doctors as long as possible.
Shortly after his death, her aunt Nora makes them promise to not let her suffer like that. So between herself and her aunt Gracie, they come up with a method for humanely allowing her aunt to commit suicide, but not before granting her one last adventure.
Laura and Gracie soon become the saviors to several terminally ill patients, starting a group they coin the chocolate shop.
I won a signed copy of this book, and I would recommend it to anyone really. Unless you're an ostrich. Don't read this book if you're an ostrich. ...more
This book is difficult for me to rate. I definitely enjoyed it at times, but then I found that I was exasperated by it at others. It's listed as a hisThis book is difficult for me to rate. I definitely enjoyed it at times, but then I found that I was exasperated by it at others. It's listed as a historical fiction and it definitely qualifies, but it is most certainly a romance novel as well.
I had no idea that I was reading a romance until toward the end, although the clues were there. Not that this is a huge issue, as I've read some romances before and they were perfectly fine reads. Just not my cup of tea.
But the real issue for me was this: When introduced to the protagonists, Blay and Tedder, I was struck by their incredibly unfortunate story of being sentenced and then sent to Van Diemen's Land to serve the rest of their lives, or so it seems. They're in chains, they're starving, they're struggling, they're being whipped, and they're just generally miserable. How will they escape this misery? I wondered excitedly.
In the most boring way ever. That's how. Shortly after they get off the ship, the story turned south for me. Don't get me wrong. I still enjoyed it. I kept reading. I wanted to know more. O'Connell did an excellent job. But! But a normalcy set in that rankled me.
Keep in mind that I don't want to give away spoilers. Throughout the latter half of the book, the characters would experience a conflict within their normal, boring lives, and it would be resolved within a few pages. No cliff hangers. Each chapter ended on a happy, "everything is going to be all right, and I'm sure glad I was arrested and sent here" note. It certainly became tedious.
UNTIL THE END! The book ends on a cliffhanger of sorts, just enough to drag you into the next book in the series. Will I read it? Maybe. A big maybe.
The character I'm most interested is William Blay, one of the children of the Blay who heads the story. I'm not going to say why, but he has a little adventure that intrigues me a lot.
Next, I want to say that Tedder's story of how he got arrested really resounded with me, and I was incredibly disappointed with the way the author handled him. The poor man got the short end of the stick.
All in all, it was an excellent read. It kept my attention despite the normalcy near the end, and I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the history of Australia and/or romance stories.
I'm giving it 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4. I was given this book for an honest review....more
These are the kind of stories I can jive with. A collection of strange tales that border believably. Nothing too out there, nothing that couldn't happThese are the kind of stories I can jive with. A collection of strange tales that border believably. Nothing too out there, nothing that couldn't happen, but most certainly quirky. Appel has a sense of humor that resonates with me. As my wife so aptly put it, "I could be friends with this guy."
The book had eight short stories, including one called Einstein's Beach House, the namesake. Some of the stories were frightening in subtle ways, others were hilarious, and some made you think. I tend to like dark and gritty themes, and although not all the stories fit this description, I still loved them. However, The Rod of Asclepius certainly aligned with my tastes. It was like sipping that first bit of coffee in the morning. That sensation of, "Ah, so good." If coffee isn't your thing (you should get your head checked), think of it as getting your back massaged. That satisfying, relaxing feeling you . . . you get the point. I really like this story.
Go for it, take a plunge. The water's fine!...more
Wow! How do you rate this? How do you rate someone's life, their pain, their suffering, their fear? I didn't really want to, but I know how important Wow! How do you rate this? How do you rate someone's life, their pain, their suffering, their fear? I didn't really want to, but I know how important it is for an author.
If this were a work of fiction, my rating would be so different, or if I were to rate it on the writing alone. I disliked the poetry. Even the prose was written poetically, and I care little for that style of writing. However, I'm going to ignore that part of my brain for this review. It's trivial to the story being told in Storm Cloud Haze.
Storm Cloud Haze is a story of pain. It's a story of trauma. It's a story of acceptance. It's Alessandra's story. To say I found the story frightening is an understatement.
When I took Kenpo Noh Shin Do, it was to learn to defend ourselves, to end a fight quickly, and by whatever means necessary. But how? How do you win a fight when your opponent is your own body? The concept is terrifying, and Alessandra's experiences are chilling.
I can only commend Alessandra for her bravery, for seeking hope in a situation that seemed devoid of it.
I won this book in a contest. I could tell right off that it's not my typical read, but as a literature student, I learned not to turn down a book just because it's not in the genre that resonates with me.
This book contains a beautiful, haunting story of survival. I highly recommend it to anyone really. It's short and gives you something to think about.
Because of what this book is, because of what this book stands for, I can only leave it five stars. But again, how do you rate this?...more
The fact that I knew nothing about this story when I first started reading this book left me with a more favorable impression of it.
This book startedThe fact that I knew nothing about this story when I first started reading this book left me with a more favorable impression of it.
This book started as a typical fantasy trope: A young boy (Pug), is stuck in a mundane life, but training as a wizard. The book features elves and dwarves and orcs and conflict and blah . . . Same story I've heard and read (and played in Dungeons and Dragons) a thousand times. However, I kept reading at a friend's behest . . . ***spoiler, but not really because it's in the blurb*** . . .
Then the invasion from another planet happens. I remember sitting up in my seat, exclaiming "What the h***!" (my agent demands that I quell my public expletives). Anyway, from that point on, I found myself hooked to Pug's adventures and read the entire series. Had I even read the blurb , this book would not have had the impact on me that it did. I liked the book, but the surprise I experienced made the story memorable. Hence, I give this book four stars and highly recommend you read it....more
Having read this on the Kindle Paperwhite, I feel that my son and I missed out the opportunity to see the colors in this story (at least, I assume theHaving read this on the Kindle Paperwhite, I feel that my son and I missed out the opportunity to see the colors in this story (at least, I assume the book had colors). Otherwise, this was a nice children's book.
The color sight words in the book stood out, and I assume would have been the color that identified with the word if I had been reading it on a colorized device (e.g. the red truck, blue truck, yellow tractor, etc.). The story flowed well, and my son seemed excited by the outcome of each section, interrupting my reading when the yellow tractor showed up to save the day, to exclaim that he knew that tractor would do it.
I'm not sure this is one of those books my child will request again, like he does with Dr. Seuss books and nursery rhymes, but I think it would be a good addition to a school library, or a utility to teach colors (just not on the Paperwhite)....more
I like the writing, and I like the story. Neil Gaiman has a lot to offer when you get lost in this adventure. It's strange, witty, and fascinating. ThI like the writing, and I like the story. Neil Gaiman has a lot to offer when you get lost in this adventure. It's strange, witty, and fascinating. The only thing I have an issue with is the characters, even the main one. There's something just a little unbelievable about them, and not so much the fantasy element, but how they react to the trials in the story. That said, how much belief can one expect when thrown into some Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Other Stories type of bizarre.
As the main character, Richard is fine. He is well written. I personally think he's a twit, but that's simply because we have different personalities. Door, as a character is fun, but inconsistent. When we first meet her, I like the mystery and weirdness about her, but as we get further into the story, she loses some of her luster. I feel that many of the characters lose something toward the end, except Richard who seems to grow. Since the characters lose their shine, so does my rating lose a star. If I could, it would only be half a star. The book is still very enjoyable.
Definitely read this book. These days, I find that I can't finish a book if it doesn't pull me in. I simply don't have the time. This book, with it's strangeness, pulled me in, and I scavenged the time to read it. So I'm certain you'll like it....more