- See more at: http://myblogrtricks.blogspot.com/2014/07/how-to-show-post-title-before-blog.html#sthash.p9yUfIwF.dpuf

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Anywhere But Here: Emotionally Exhausting... and AWESOME.

I want to begin this review with a warning:

NEVER 
stay up a few hours
past your bedtime to read
a zombie story.
(especially a good one)
Never.

Well, ok. Maybe I'm overgeneralizing just a bit. This isn't the case with all zombie stories. This isn't even the case with most zombie stories... but it is definitely the case with this one.

image via https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1397651246l/21937282.jpg
Cover Art by Melchelle Designs.

Anywhere But Here, the first installment of the Starborn Ascension, is a post-apocalyptic thriller by Jason D. Morrow that will send your imagination soaring... or diving for cover.

Because, you know... zombies.

So what's it about?

Waverly was in the middle of a simple game of Go Fish when news of 'greyskins' was first reported. Media reports talked of people whose skin turned gray, and whose eyes turned black. Those people were seemingly unstoppable and attacking en masse, even though their bodies appeared to be dead.

That was three years ago. Now, people struggle in a world overrun by greyskins. Even worse, they have to be careful of each other. Trust doesn't run high in a devastated world. There are stories of a town called Crestwood, however, that allows travellers to settle within its walls. All a person needs to do is get there. Somehow.

I expected a run-of-the-mill zombie story, but that's not what I got. In fact, I got

Treasured Tome awarded!
Another Treasured Tome!!!

I know what you're thinking. 

"Already?"

I thought the same thing. Two Treasured Tomes in a row? No way!

But... yep. It happened. See, this was a spectacular work from the very beginning. Not only did the first few pages draw me in, but somewhere around 2/3 of the way through, I cried.

Not little, easy to ignore tears. Big ones. Huge ones that forced me to take a break because I couldn't read the blurred words in front of my eyes.

I was hooked, and good.

But then... then!

After the waterfall finally ended, I kept reading, puffy eyes and all. I read through dinner. I read through tooth-brushing. I then read long past my bedtime.

Big mistake.

Don't do that. I didn't sleep well at all, largely because my dreams were infested with zombies and vacant cities. And raiders.

Then, then next night, I had more nightmares. Everybody noticed the shadows under my eyes, and "...it was a good book" was the wrong response, triggering eyerolls, rather than commiseration.

The thing is, I don't have nightmares. My dreams are about eating a sandwich, typing on the laptop, tying my shoes. They're usually are usually quite boring, and even when they aren't, I find them more fascinating than anything else. Nightmares are rare.

Nightmares after reading a book? That just doesn't happen.

Although, I guess it does now, right?

See, but that's not everything. The worst part is that the ebook isn't. 
Even. 
Scary. 
Not really, anyway. I mean, yes there are zombies, and yes, people die. But super-creepy Steven King type stuff? There's none of that.

Rather, this book gets under your skin. It slowly takes over your subconscious, making sleep a distant memory. 

I haven't had a book do anything like this to my mind in a very long time. Morrow crafted a story that draws the reader in, causing them to beg for more... then releases the reader in an emotionally exhausted state.

Yet, all you can think about is going back for more.

Anywhere But Here can be found on Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords.

Read it.

But not right before bed. That's a really bad idea...



Friday, June 27, 2014

A Thief's World in First Person: Requiem

At last!!!

Yesterday I told everyone that follows Undiscovered Tomes's Facebook page that I was going to have a "special feature" related to the latest Treasured Tome posted onto the site. I'd have it here either sometime last night or today.

And it's finally here!

The latest Treasured Tome, Shadowcursed, wasn't just a fabulous, well-written, engaging novella. Nope. It's a companion piece.

A companion piece for what, you ask?

image via http://imagizer.imageshack.us/scaled/large/854/hyie.jpg


A game. Specifically, it's the companion to a first person game mod that focuses on the concept of a thief, rather than a fighter. That game mod is called Requiem, and can be played for free by using The Dark Mod.

What exactly is The Dark Mod, you ask? Well, to quote directly from the site,
"The Dark Mod is a FREE, first-person stealth game inspired by the original Thief series by Looking Glass Studios. In it you play a hooded figure slinking through the shadows of a gothic steampunk city, hunting priceless valuables while avoiding the swords and arrows of those hired to stop you.
The Dark Mod was originally released Oct. 17th, 2009. The standalone version, TDM 2.0, launched in Oct. 2013." (source)
Sounds pretty enticing, right?

While I love RPGs (role playing games), I'm not much for first person... mainly because I'm pretty bad at them. As in, I-don't-have-the-common-sense-to-remain-stealthed-when-necessary-and-I-can't-even-hit-a-stationary-target bad.

No, really. The last time I played a first person shooter was when I was in college, playing on a local area network (everyone was in the room with me), and the laughter over my mishaps was deafening.

Yep. They hide behind a huge block... I hide behind a broom. It's that bad...
Yep... I was that bad.

The last time I played a first person anything was when I played the original Doom. On a console.

Am I showing my gray hairs? I am? That's fine... just remember that I prefer for people to refer to them as my "frosted tresses of experiential knowledge."

I'm not a natural first person gamer. At all.

But that didn't matter. You see, once you download The Dark Mod, you have the option to go through a training mission. It didn't really make me any better at first person games (that'll never happen), but it was a lot of fun, and it did teach me the controls.

After your download of the Dark Mod is complete, you can click on 'download missions', and search for Requiem. Select, download, and install, and you're good to go!

You play from the perspective of Bolen (The same Bolen as from the novella). After discovering a note from Hakar, telling you about an exciting job, you head out to find him and start on your quest of thievery, attempting to avoid people at all costs.

Requiem is fluid, has a spectacular environment, and the controls are easy to master. The sounds are well done, also, and a player can easily take cues from the auditory environment, as well as the visual.

And the storyline? Yep. That's great, too.

It isn't the same storyline as the novella, of course, but more of a parallel world. Different mission, same thief.

Please understand, I'm not just gushing about it because the game designer is an author whose work I reviewed and loved. The thing is, it's not just me. Requiem won a thief mod contest sponsored by Square Enix. 

Wait. Let me say that again:

Square Enix!!!

Sorry about the overzealous excitement there. I read the article about Requiem in PC Gamer, and got a wee bit giddy about it. The thing is, I was nervous that maybe it wasn't as awesome as I thought it was. I'm not normally one for first person games, after all, so what do I know?

I was happy to see I wasn't alone.

Remember, this is a free download. It won't cost you anything except time, and once you start playing (especially when you have to pick locks. That's FUN!) you'll consider that time well spent.

Gelo Fleisher has instructions for downloading (both automatic and manual) on his post about Requiem's release, so head over and visit. 

image via http://media.moddb.com/images/mods/1/4/4000/requiem07.jpg
I mean, who wouldn't want the ability to walk
through beautiful scenarios like this?



Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Shadowcursed: Uncontrollable Empathy For an OBJECT!

You know what I really love?

I love when an author gives me the ability to feel intense empathy for an inanimate object. This doesn't happen often. I can feel an object is important. I can desire an object. But actively wanting to make an object happy?

Yeah... that's rare.

image via http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-dAEc83QBYRA/U6LJveteZII/AAAAAAAAAOI/UAnFdsc-Qz4/s1600/Shadowcursed.jpg
Cover art by Ioan Dumitrescu

I want to introduce you to Shadowcursed, by Gelo R. Fleisher, the fantasy novella that did exactly that.

So what's it about?

Bolen has been a thief for most of his life, and he's a good one. He's now 42 now, though, which is rather old for his field. Recognizing this, he doesn't want to just step into the sidelines. Rather, he wants to do something great - create a lasting memory to look back on. He accepts a job that requires him to gain access to the Mad Lord's vault and bring back a wealth of riches. Most thieves wouldn't stand a chance, and failure would mean death. Naturally, Bolen can't turn it down.

While inside the vault, Bolen discovers a unique statue...

Well, darn it. I left you with a cliffhanger. I'm so mean.

The thing is, that statue came alive for me. I kept inexplicably yearning for everything to turn out perfectly for the statue.  Not the characters. Not the city. 

The statue.

I use the word inexplicably, because it was obvious that my desire was futile and irrational... but the feeling was strong, anyway. I couldn't control it... and I didn't want to.

And that was exactly, I believe, what Fleisher wanted me to feel.

It wasn't just the statue that produced such strong emotion, of course. I cared about every character I met. Well, except one... but he was a total scumbag, and only spoke about four or five lines, so I don't think he counts. Everyone else, though, regardless of their background, touched me in some way.

Oh, heck. 

Even the scumbag touched me. Not in a sweet, happy, I-love-this-guy-even-though-he's-a-callous-jerk way, of course, but in a I-hate-this-man-and-can't-believe-anyone-could-be-so-vile-I-want-to-throttle-him sort of way.

Yeah, the emotions were a bit thick...

And because of this intensity, because of the fact that my heart is still hammering as I examine these emotions, I've elected to proclaim this one

Awarded A Treasured Tome

A Treasured Tome!

Yep. It was that good.

I want to read even more. I yearn to go back into this world and see where else it leads me.

Shadowcursed includes a struggle between light and darkness that grips the reader, making them turn each page with abandon. This is not a novella that will allow you to easily take a break. Plan to read this one when you won't be interrupted for a while. Perhaps after everyone else has gone to sleep.

Why? Let me give you an example:

My Husband: 
"Rebecca?"

Me: 
"...."

Husband: 
"Umm, Rebecca?"

Me: 
"..."

Husband: 
(places his hand on my shoulder
"Hey, Rebecca..."

Me: 
(fangs break through my gums as my eyes turn solid black. Lightning crackles overhead.)
WHAT?!?!?!?!!? I'M BUSY!

Husband: 
"I um... I just wanted to be sure you saw the glass of water I placed beside you forty-five minutes ago. You haven't touched it yet."

So, yeah. I was kind of a wee bit focused on this novella.

I recommend that you read Shadowcursed. It's something I would easily choose to read again. Fleisher has a great talent for drawing a reader's emotions to the surface, making a person evaluate their own actions in life, just as the characters did.

I mean, seriously... how many people do you know that can cause you to feel empathy toward a statue?

Shadowcursed can be found on Kindle, Nook, Smashwords, and Scribd.








Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Wonderful, Strange World of Wednesdaymeter

Let's talk about something strange.

By strange, I mean an ebook that's outright weird and confusing.

Have I mentioned I love oddities?

After the author of this one contacted me, it took me about two seconds to decide I had to read it. It was obviously not your normal piece of fiction, it caused my brain to explode with question marks, and I instantly felt as though it was a piece of a puzzle that had to be solved.

What is this senseless babbling about, you ask?

image via http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/516ZmTyzzNL.jpg
Cover art by Tyler Edlin

I'm talking about Wednesdaymeter by Dean Carnby, an urban fantasy that will keep you on your toes.

So what's it about?

New Bensonville is a mundane city that thrives on conformist ideals. It's a place in which conformity is the primary focus, meant to keep citizens in check - and safe. Most people go through life in blissful ignorance, recognizing that they have everything that they need, and have no desire for more. Others, though, escape this tedious life through fruit use. Fruits and vegetables possess the ability to magically enhance the world for their users. In this altered reality, a person can move free from the restrictions of daily conformity and become capable of fantastic feats. One only needs to keep an eye out for the Polygons.

The Polygons are the hidden rulers of New Bensonville, and are responsible for the population's strict adherence to conformity, which keeps the city from dissolving into chaos. A group of people that call themselves Verdant Dawn, on the other hand, are wielding potatoes and carrots in their fight against the evil Polygons.

Pearson, on the other hand, is just some poor guy that finds himself stuck in the middle of this battle. He's nothing special - not a fruit user, not a strict conformist. He's just... Pearson. Boring, detail oriented, passive Pearson. 

But then he discovers that he has the ability to draw magical crosses using the colors that surround him, and borrows a friend's entire drawer of colorful panties in order to have a source to draw this power from (Hey! They're colorful, small, and easy to pack. Give the poor guy a break!). His world will never be the same...

See? I told you this book was odd!

To be honest, it took me a while to really understand what was happening in this story. The prologue was a crash test of sorts: It tested my ability to adapt to strange and unusual concepts. In my defense, I'm not used to talking about geometric shapes as though they are sentient. I'm not used to recognizing the evil inherent in an octagon... especially gray ones.

This isn't the easiest ebook to read, but it is a great one.

Wednesdaymeter is filled with philosophical undertones, examining the human mind and how it reacts to change. It also pays attention to how change affects society as a whole. In all seriousness, I highlighted several lines throughout the story, ensuring I'd remember them.

This ebook requires that you think. 

I mean... duh. All books do that. This one goes a step further than most, however. There are quite a few quotable lines in this story, which means it has quite a few ideas within that make you want to delve deeper.

Just like the characters do.

Carnby takes the reader on a mental roller coaster, forcing them to focus not only on the story, but also on their own mind. While the world is completely fictitious, you can't help but examine real-world dynamics and reasoning.

And yearn to ride a pineapple...

Or arm yourself with an eggplant.

This is not your standard, run-of-the-mill "popular" fiction. This goes into an entirely different category. It's entirely unique, and you won't find anything similar in a bookstore. At least, I never have.

In a word: fantastic.

Read it. It won't be like anything else you've ever acquired, and that's a good thing.

Wednesdaymeter can be found on Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords.


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Undiscovered Tomes is Now Using Goodreads!

Partial reviews will now be posted on Goodreads, as well!

(insert happy dance here)

Those of you that follow Undiscovered Tomes on Facebook already know this. If you haven't yet 'liked' Undiscovered Tomes, I want to take a moment to convince you to do so. Why?

Because followers on Facebook get a lot of information first, some of it exclusive to the Facebook page, such as information about what other works reviewed authors are releasing. This is mainly because I'm scatterbrained, and Facebook posts are quick and easy.

Plus!

I just really want you to. Interaction with everyone makes me happy, and a happy Rebecca reads much faster than a sad Rebecca does.

But I digress... I was supposed to be talking about Goodreads, not Facebook.

Oopsie!

A few authors have asked me about reviewing on Goodreads. My response was always similar:

"Uhhh... Well... Goodreads? I um... Well... 
I kinda sorta don't have a Goodreads account. Kinda."

That response got old. If people want it, after all, why am I not giving it to them?

So I'm learning the ins and outs of Goodreads, discovering just how little I know about it. It's a learning process that I plan to enjoy. My full reviews won't be located there, but I will be placing a much larger portion of each review onto Goodreads than I place onto the booksellers' sites.

It's going to take some time for me to get reviews of ebooks I've already done onto Goodreads, so please be patient. With the exception of 2, all of my current ratings are of non-indie books I've read in the past, in order to give people an idea what what I like.

Don't worry, though. The indie gems will get there!

The main point, though, is that we have a new place that I'll be placing everyone's reviews, which means increased exposure for all of our authors that have worked so hard to bring their stories to life.

Hooray!!!

Here's my new Goodreads url. Feel free to friend me so that I can figure out how this process - and everything else - works!


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Embracing James & the Dragon

Remember when I mentioned finding an author through a retweet of a retweet?

Well, I checked out the author that put out the first retweet soon after I placed How the Dragons Got Their Colors into my reading queue. And you know what?

I was very glad I did!

image via http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-QmKk9W5ey0s/U3bG-jLmXSI/AAAAAAAAGSk/tyFoDZ-g_w4/s1600/JamesAndTheDragon_CVR+by+Sarah.jpg

James & the Dragon is the first installment of the Farloft Chronicles, a fantasy chapter book by Theresa Snyder

So what's it about?

Farloft is a dragon - one of the last of the great creatures that once flew freely through the skies, aiding humans in need, and offering their guidance to those with the wisdom to listen... but things have changed. Farloft now hides himself from humans. Their fear and ignorance has caused them to hunt and kill dragons, believing them to be cruel and hateful beasts.

James is your average ten-year-old boy. That is, he would be, if it wasn't for a plague that swept through the land that killed about two thirds of his village... including his family. The villagers are desperate, not even having enough to feed their own families, due to the losses the plague has wrought, and no one is willing to take James into their home.

One day, Farloft discovers James after an accident comes close to taking the boy's life. Farloft knows a terrible blizzard is about to arrive in the region, and sees no choice but to take the boy into his cave in order to keep him safe until the storm passes.

Attention grabbing, right?

You can see why I downloaded this one. Well, you see part of the reason, that is. 

The other part is that Snyder has written quite a few ebooks of both the fantasy and sci fi persuasion, and a pretty hefty amount of them are not written for children. In truth, I was excited about all of them. They all seemed to be great examples of fluid storytelling. 

I chose this one because her twitter feed made it obvious that she had a great love of dragons, which meant her love for them would shine through in this ebook.

And I was right.

Farloft was not only believable, but also a character that could be identified with. Everyone has felt betrayed, forgotten, or just flat-out lonely at some point. We've also all felt the hope that this wouldn't last, that somebody would accept us for who we are.

James brought out similar feelings. He felt lost, alone, and unwanted, yet he also had a warm heart. 

Interestingly, it wasn't my intention to review James & the Dragon today. It had been in my queue for about a month, but I had a few more to read before starting this one.

But I was falling behind.

Last night, I realized that I wasn't going to finish my current ebook in time. Because of this, I moved Snyder's ebook up the line and resigned myself to staying up long past my normal bedtime. It was short, after all, and since it was a children's fantasy, I figured I could have it completed in an around two hours.

I finished it in less than one.

This isn't because it was an easy read. I mean, it was, but that's not why I was able to get through it so quickly. Rather, this ebook was filled with drama, action, and detail that allowed my eyes to race across each page while still reading each word. The world of Farloft came alive, and the characters' emotions rang true.

After a while, I began to realize that Snyder wrote an ebook that appealed to a wide age range, even though it was clearly written for children in the fifth grade (roughly). While the word choices were simple, they were also insightful and necessary.

It never felt like she was speaking down to her audience, nor did it feel like she was speaking above them. 

Rather, She masterfully weaved her words together in a manner that would attract more than just the age group she focused on. I loved it, feeling as though I was standing within the world of the Farloft Chronicles, and I believe my five year old daughter would be able to love it just as much.

That's a 30+ year age range, for those of you that are wondering. Wow!

There's just one more piece of awesomeness that I wanted to share with you:

Theresa Snyder participates in the Authorgraph program, which means that if you want to have an autographed copy of James & the Dragon, she'll be happy to oblige! Simply go to the Farloft's Rhetoric  page and find the Authorgraph box on her sidebar. Choose your book, and voila!

How awesome is that?!

James & the Dragon can be found on Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords, as well as Scribd.




Saturday, June 14, 2014

Firemancer is One Sizzling Hot Collection!

Hopefully, you aren't getting tired of the number of YA reviews I write...

Because I have another one for you!

This one is a box set. 3 different books within the Fated Saga.

image via http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-nk38AWPxVMY/Ux9KjXcNdyI/AAAAAAAABEI/Gi4g6U_AAUA/s1600/firemancer+3D+cover+final.jpg
The Firemancer collection is a YA fantasy written by Rachel Humphrey D'aigle.

So what's it about?

Thirteen year old Meghan and Colin Jacoby are twins raised by their Uncle Arnon, and the family has always travelled from one place to the next, never staying in one area for very long. This would have been a lonely life for most people, but the twins have a special talent that most people don't: the ability to communicate with each other with their thoughts. While this link often leads them to feel their own minds are crowded, with no real sense of privacy, it turns out to be a valuable asset when their lives are suddenly turned upside down after a magical attack on the current campground they're staying at. Propelled into a strange world in which magic is a basic fact of life, the twins find themselves unsure of who to trust, while at the same time struggling to understand magical abilities that have lain dormant within their own bodies throughout their lives.

Firemancer was a truly wonderful glimpse into the human mind.

This collection, written for a younger audience (I'd say ages 10-15), can easily be enjoyed by a wider age range. The basic feelings of love, loss, and self-discovery easily transcend age barriers.

At the same time, though, the manner in which the twins respond to problems is clearly appropriate for the age they've been given. I never doubted they were thirteen. The author never imposed a "more mature," adult problem-solving mentality on them, and I found this to be quite a relief. 

The result was two real characters with real problems.

D'aigle has a true understanding of human nature. Firemancer was rich with human complexity, and I felt for every single character, whether they were children or adults. Each one had a unique and appealing personality that she breathed a tremendous amount of life into.

Really, the only complaint I have about Firemancer had very little to do with the actual story: Something about the cover just wasn't right. I mean, the cover fit, but there was something "off" about it. I think that perhaps I felt that the cover didn't match the age group the Fated Saga was written for. 

Have I mentioned I'm overly picky?

Because this was truly an amazing piece of work. While researching the author, I discovered that there are more books within the Fated Saga that I look forward to reading.

And as much as I disagree with the cover choice for the age range, I have to admit to loving the art anyway. It truly is spectacular.

So give Firemancer a read. Since it's a YA collection written for a younger age range, it won't take very long at all, and when you finish you'll feel as though you've done something great for yourself.

Firemancer can be found on Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords.







Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A Vivid Walk Through the Dead of Night

A desperate struggle for survival
through the crime-ridden underbelly 
of the city.
Even if it only gains 
one
more
day...
of pain.

Today we have something particularly dark.

Dead of Night cover image via http://mrforbes.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/deadofnight-640.jpg
Cover Design by Mario S. Nevado
(Warning: Clicking on the link above ensures your eyes will be
pasted to your monitor until this brilliant video ends.)

Dead of Night, an urban fantasy, is the first installment of the Ghosts & Magic series, written by M.R. Forbes.

So what's it about?

Conor has a few more problems than the average person. You see, he's dying from cancer, and the treatments that keep him alive are dangerous and expensive... and illegal. In an effort to protect his loving family from the person he's had to become, he has left them and moved in with his new partner in crime, sending whatever money he can back to them so that they can be provided for. Oh, and... did I mention he's a necromancer, as well? In a world of magic, necromancers are considered a nasty blemish to be avoided and distrusted at all costs, causing him to hide this ability from his employers.

While completing his latest job, Conor stumbles onto another one - one that pays enough that he'd be able to pay for his treatments for a long while before having to worry about finding another job. Against his partner's better judgement, he accepts it, and soon becomes tangled within a political upheaval that threatens the ruling Houses, as well as civilization as a whole.

It's definitely worth checking out! 

My love of urban fantasy began with Charles De Lint, whose novels take up a rather large chunk of my home library. I've read several different urban fantasies since my infatuation with DeLint began, and I've found works that are both wonderful and awful, with many nestled within the space in between those two categories.

This one found itself on the 'wonderful' end of the scale.

Forbes has taken the science of polar reversal That's the idea that the North and South poles reverse over time... something that happened in the distant past, and slowly continues today. The best practical explanation I can give is to have you look at the difference between North and magnetic North on a compass. They're slightly different! He stretched the concept, manipulating it into the reason why magic suddenly appeared within the world of his book.

Sorry... the geology nerd in me uplifted to the surface, there. It's not my fault!

Ok, ok... I'll stop the puns...it can just be so tuff to stop, sometimes.

Ok, I'm done. For real, this time. ;-)

Anyway, in Dead of Night, Forbes took polar reversal, tweaked it, and produced a vivid environment in which technology and magic combine, giving us a realistic idea of what could happen if magic suddenly sprouted within our own reality. New viruses, fantastic and terrible creatures, power plays more devastating than anything we would see with science alone.

The world is incredibly dark, and life is tenuous. 

Trolls, elves, and goblins walk the streets alongside full humans. Werewolves are the products of a disease that transforms people into hairy, unthinking killing machines, rather than the pretty people we see on popular television. Many people escape this terrible reality by plugging into virtual MMORPGs as a way to relieve stress (Think World of Warcraft realistically surrounding you, rather than being on a computer screen).

The world that Forbes created was so intricate, so vivid, that I felt as though I was living in it. I could see the environment. I could smell the corpses. I heard the crackle of lightning. I was transfixed.

Unfortunately, there was one thing that kept me from awarding this brilliant work with Treasured Tome status: emotional disconnect.

There was one particular scene that was emotionally devastating to the protagonist. I should have been drowning in tears, or at least contemplating the idea of throwing my Nook through the window beside me. I should have been wallowing in sadness or rage. Maybe both. It was a pivotal scene. Conor was in tears.

So why wasn't I?

I'm actually not sure. I reread that portion, thinking that perhaps I was distracted, and just didn't realize it. It's possible, after all...

But that wasn't the case. I still felt distant. I wonder if, perhaps, the author emotionally disconnected himself while writing the scene? It was very intense, and there's the possibility that he didn't want to feel so vulnerable.

Or perhaps he altered this scene during editing? It's possible to "clean up" your writing so much that the emotion gets lost in the effort to fix grammatical errors.

I'm not sure. 

What I do know, however, is that aside from this feeling of emotional disconnect, the ebook was virtually flawless. It was vivid, high paced, and real. I would definitely recommend this, and I'll be keeping an eye out, waiting for the second installment to be published.

Dead of Night can be found on Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords, as well as Scribd, which is where I got it.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

My Daughter's New Favorite Book!

We're going into the field of children's books today. 

Don't worry - I kept to the fantasy theme.

While surfing through Twitter a while back, I found a tweet by an author that had retweeted a retweet of another author's tweet.

Is it just me, or is this feeling like a story about my cousin's aunt's mother's sister's husband?

image via http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51cPjvwG-KL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_.jpg

How the Dragons Got Their Colors is a children's picture book written by Cheryl Matthynssens.

So what's it about?

One day, a little gray dragon sat on a hilltop and took notice of all the brilliant colors around him. Sad that his scales were so drab compared to the rest of the world, he went to the Fairy Queen for help, and she provided him with the magic to change things for all of dragonkind.

I used a different review approach with this one: My daughter.

She loves magically themed stories, fits the target age group, and gives an honest opinion... sometimes too honest. And unlike with me, no amount of reasoning will get her to change how she feels about a book. The result is an ultra-honest account from an extraordinarily unbiased little girl. She couldn't care less about my opinion in this matter! It's all about her.

As it should be.

My daughter was drawn to the rainbow on the cover, then zeroed in on the contrast between it and the dragons. She wanted to know more, and when I told her she was looking at a book cover, she insisted on hearing the story.

Fine. I thought. I'll read her the sample. I had no intention of reviewing a children's book. Children's chapter books are fine, but I wasn't looking for something at a lower reading level than that. When I finished, though, she wanted more.

"But then what happened???"

I explained that it was only a sample, and I was really looking for something else. 

"But MooOOOooom! I want to read the whole thing!"

Now, how do you say no to that? Sure, I was looking for something entirely different, but when a child really wants you to read something to her, can you really just say, "I don't feel like it," and go back to what you were doing?

I can't.

So I got the ebook. Not only did we get through the entire thing with her sitting at rapt attention, but she wanted more.

"Another!"

I told her that I'd consider it, and the next day, she had me open my Kindle app so that she could read the ebook again.

And again.

She also wanted me to download Not an Egg, which is another of Matthyssens's books. I said no, telling her that she had to have patience. "Maybe later."

"How many stars would you give it?" I asked.

"Ten!" She replied. Then, "No... maybe twelve."

"You can only rate from one to five stars, sweetie."

"Ok, then five."

So... five it is. Judging by her overwhelming good response to it - she made me read it quite a few times - I've elected to give this one Treasured Tome status. It may not have been what I was looking for, but I can't argue with the fact that a child in the target age group is in love with it.

Awarded with Treasured Tome status!


I also have to admit that I enjoyed reading this one, finding the story to be a great teacher on the virtue of kindness. Being kind to others can be quite rewarding, as the little dragon shows us.

This book is definitely a Treasured Tome.

...just as it should be.

You can find How the Dragons Got Their Colors on Kindle, and at Barnes and Noble (sadly, no Nook format).






Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Virus: Episode 1 Infected Me With the Desire For More

You know what I think?

I think it's time for a little fun with science fiction.

Digital archives displayed through holographic projection.
Cybernetic implants.
Religious fanatics that believe the Apocalypse is coming.

I mean, how can we possibly resist that?

What? That's not enough?

Fine.

In that case, let's throw in a lethal disease that rewrites people's DNA, turning them into literal monsters.

Ha! Now I've got you...

cover image via jacvanwyk.com


I'd like to introduce you to Virus: Episode 1, a cyberpunk themed sci fi novella written by Jac Van Wyk.

I've been a fan of cyberpunk ever since I first picked up William Gibson's Neuromancer. It was love at first sight. Technology's firm hold on society, humans interfaced with machines... it's a geek girl's dream come true.

So, yeah. Cyberpunk is one of my favorite sub-genres... and I got a nice taste of it here!

So what's it about?

Xavier Segrave is a man down on his luck. He's a petty thief that steals for his own survival. Choosing the wrong mark one day, he finds himself severely beaten and near death. He wakes up on a table to discover that he suddenly has a new neural implant... that's keeping him alive. During his botched theft attempt he was infected with a lethal virus. His life is now set to end in less than a month. Unless!
Unless he can find out how the virus was manufactured so that his mysterious new benefactor can produce a cure in time...

As is obvious by my description, this novella is filled with high energy. While you could put it down and take a break, the chances of that are pretty slim. I read the entire novella in a single sitting.

Van Wyk has a talent for high pacing. 

He doesn't mince words, providing only the reader with just enough information to paint a full picture that drives the reader to continue at all costs. While this would feel exhausting in a longer work, the technique is exactly what is needed for a novella.

Even the end was written in this action-packed manner (Don't worry... no spoilers here). It ended on an especially exciting note, leaving me hungry for more...

Which was unfortunate, because episode 2 isn't complete. When I checked Van Wyk's progress via his webpage, he'd only finished about 78% of it.

Not fair!!!

I'm forced to wait. Kinda like I'm forced to wait for the second season of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

NoOOooo!!! I can't wait that long!


Because that's exactly the feeling I had. Van Wyk's choice of calling this 'episode1' rather than 'part 1' or 'chapter 1' was well thought out.

For the most part, this novella was amazing. The only thing that held me back from giving it Treasured Tome status was that there were a few places in which the dialogue felt stilted, which took away from the overall intensity.

This was very rare, however, and so I still consider this one of the most entertaining titles I've reviewed. Read it, and you'll understand why I say this.

Virus: Episode 1 can only be found on Kindle.





Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Legend of Manfin: Evolutionary Complexity Abounds!

I stared at the author's name, question marks hovering above my head.

"La Roche... Who is Laura Wright LaRoche, and why is her name so familiar to me?"

Then, I opened up my blog dashboard and 

BAM!

It hit me.

She did the cover design for the first ebook I reviewed on Undiscovered Tomes. How awesome is that?! It truly is a small world. As you can imagine, while I was already interested in reading this one, I was even more intrigued upon making that discovery. 

Tiny coincidences like this make the pleasure centers in my brain light up. Bright flashing neon colors.

image via https://p.gr-assets.com/540x540/fit/hostedimages/1384018245/6747890.jpg

 The Journey is the first book within the Legend of Manfin series, by Laura Wright LaRoche.


So what's it about?

Manfin are believed to be a myth, something that is only talked about by drunken sailors and crazy old men living along the shorelines. Ashaw, however, knows differently. He saw one when he was a young boy, and he's determined to find their society. Now a man, Ashaw hires a captain and his sons to take him on his quest for discovery. When they find the Manfin, they're introduced to a world both beautiful and harsh.

I found that The Journey came from a unique perspective. We've all read mermaid stories, and while each one holds something special within its pages, this particular ebook took the mermaid legend a bit farther.

How so?

Imagine a race of people that is a cross between mermaids and humans. A sort of evolutionary link that bridges the two. Rather than magically forming in some great mist of sparkles, the Manfin's tails never disappear from their bodies. Instead, they roll up and away from the legs, still attached to the Manfin's body at the base of the spine.

Pretty cool, huh?

LaRoche has created an entire evolutionary background that makes sense. Indeed, her ideas about the creation of mermaids, Manfin, and humanity were so well thought out that I was tempted to call this science fiction, rather than fantasy.

This novel told the tale of not only Ashaw and his crew, but several other people, as well. The royal family of the Manfin, a loner inventor, and even an old man waiting for his wife to return after 20 years had places within this story. We glimpsed their pain and joy, we saw the harshness of the world the Manfin lived in, and we were involved in betrayals and acts of courage throughout the book.

...And there are complex interactions with other sea life, as well!

Dolphins!
Sharks! 
Porpoises!

While I think that the author had a bad habit of telling us about what would happen in the future, rather than allowing the reader to discover these events by surprise, the world was so well researched that I didn't mind this nearly as much as I normally would.

I also had a problem with some of the choices made by the characters that I feel people accustomed to a harsh physical environment wouldn't have made. It's clear, though, that the Manfin are an evolutionary link between man and mermaid, one step below humans, so perhaps I shouldn't judge their choices on the same level that I would judge human choices in a similar situation.

Regardless, the evolutionary and biological complexity of the Manfin was so intricate that I'm willing to look beyond these flaws. LaRoche has the talent to create a superior background for an entire race of intelligent beings, and that's nothing to take lightly. 

I'd love to see what other fantastic creatures she could produce!

The Legend of Manfin, Book 1: The Journey can be found on Kindle, Nook, Smashwords, and Scribd.