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

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Shayla Morgansen's Chosen Makes Magic Real!

Magic isn't a myth.

It isn't something that defies logic.

It's actually rather scientific.

At least, that's the impression this latest ebook gave me. Magic was logical, followed specific rules, and even seemed to fit within the laws of science.

In a word, refreshing.

image via http://covers.booktopia.com.au/500/9781742844657/chosen.jpg

Chosen is the first installment of the Elm Stone Saga, an urban fantasy series written by Shayla Morgansen.

So what's it about?

The White Elm Council has governed over those with magical powers for centuries. Their rule has been a peaceful one, leading its people toward the light side of magic, forbidding the practice of the dark. Now, they're taking it a step further. They've decided to open an academy to train young sorcerers and sorceresses to fulfill their magical potential. Those with the right qualifications will have the possibility of apprenticing with one of the councilmembers, meaning that one day, those individuals may become part of the White Elm Council, as well.

It's a great opportunity, and when the Council Scrier, Qasim, offers Aristea the chance to become an academy student, she wholeheartedly accepts. She has always dreamed of becoming a scrier, even though she has never once been able to scry... well, anything. 

Things don't go quite as she expects them to once she begins her studies, though. One night, she breaks magical law (unintentionally, of course), and considers herself lucky that all she got was three weeks of detention with the headmaster, a man with a dark and mysterious past. There's something familiar about him, though she's never before seen him...

In Morgansen's world, magic exists alongside modern technology. Only those with magical talent, however, know about it. They use their power for Good, rather than Evil.

Or, at least, most of them do.

A former member of the White Elm Council, Lisandro, has gone rogue and manipulated two other councilmembers into following him. His plan? To create a new governing structure with himself at the helm. Cruel and driven, Lisandro will do anything to make this happen. Murder is an acceptable option.

Naturally, Aristea finds herself caught up in this power struggle.

And her personality?

She's complex and real. She wants to do something. Something big. Something important. Yet... she doesn't believe in herself. Overcoming self-doubt is a theme throughout this novel, and Aristea's struggle is one that we've all faced at some point in our lives.

Morgansen makes us believe in Aristea. We believe in her magical potential, her intellectual potential, and especially, we believe in her heart. We know she'll be great. We know that her heart is always in the right place...

But she doesn't.

And that makes her real.

And while we're on the subject of reality...

Morgansen does a spectacular job of making magic itself appear real. It seems quite clear that she has a tremendous amount of scientific knowledge that she draws from to make this happen. Whether she has a background in science, or not, that I don't know.

But she clearly understands scientific processes and theories.

We see this in the instructors of the White Elm Academy. The reader is privy to bits and pieces of lecture that feel very much like real classroom lectures... though more interesting because, well... magic!

Morgansen explains simple concepts, such as the idea that magic cannot be created or destroyed. Merely borrowed, modified. Sound familiar?

Yep. Energy.

Throughout the ebook, in fact, she draws on science in order to create magic, lending it credibility. It was something I found exciting, as well as engaging. She spends a lot of time on theory, rather than trying to impress the reader with awesome spells.

Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of those... but they wouldn't have been nearly as impressive without the theoretical lectures and explanations of the processes involved.

They are what made the magic so true.

Those theories and processes made it feel as though the reader could perform magic... if only we had that talent.

This ebook was wonderfully engaging, and I highly recommend it. Morgansen has a great ability to bring fiction to life.

Chosen can be found on Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords, as well as Scribd.




Thursday, August 28, 2014

Stefan Bolz's The Fourth Sage Makes Us Ask "Why"

Is it science fiction? 

Or maybe fantasy? 

Perhaps it's a blend of both? 

Nope. Definitely sci-fi. Though it did seem like a genre blend for quite some time. After all, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

Ok, ok... that Arthur C. Clarke statement doesn't quite fit, but it's one of my favorites, so I'm using it anyway.

Why doesn't it fit? What in the world am I going on about now? Well... just keep reading!

image via http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-uSUCBBM4X-Y/U5uIpLK41NI/AAAAAAAAAbw/gazhWKbR3gY/s1600/Bolz_FOURTH_SAGE_AudioEdition.jpg
Cover design by Jason Gurley, who happens to be an author, as well!
The Fourth Sage is the first installment of the sci-fi Circularity Saga, written by Stefan Bolz, who, by the way, has a spectacular author page. So be sure to click on the link in that last sentence!

So what's it about?

In a world where every move a person makes is watched, every word is guarded, and every independent action is punished, Aries Egan is an anomaly. She has discovered how to steal one hour of freedom every night, evading the cameras that lurk everywhere.

But freedom comes with a price, and one mistake can mean re-education and pain, as Aries discovers. Forced to flee, knowing that her life as she knows it is gone, she finds herself on a quest to topple the Corporation and bring freedom to others, as well.

And did I mention that one of the main characters is a hawk?

That's right. A hawk. Bolz breaks free of the standard definition of sci-fi, giving personality and complex communication skills to a bird. An awesome bird, of course, but still a bird.

You see why I thought he blended genres with this ebook?

Turns out, there's a valid reason for this communication. It has nothing to do with technology, but rather with genetics. Still, he placed it in the realm of science, rather than magic.

So... dystopian sci-fi it is!

The environment Bolz created was absolutely stifling. This was a vast city in which the inhabitants have no free choice. There is the semblance of choice, but nothing more. People are reasonably content with that, though, because that's all they've really ever known.

Cameras are everywhere: hallways, bedrooms, common areas... everywhere. The Corporation is watching at all times. Anything construed as veering from the norm, even the smallest gesture, is flagged.

A red flag action is cause for immediate removal and imprisonment. Or death.

People are told the truth that the Corporation wants them to believe. If the Corporation says something is true, it is. Period. The Corporation's word is not to be questioned. Everything the corporation does is done for you.

Well, Aries does question it. And she suffers because of that.

But she's also set free, in a sense. Questioning the Corporation brings her one step closer to true knowledge. She constantly asks that one question that is always needed:

"Why?"

She becomes a leader. Others who have the ability to question what's around them recognize this, and soon she meets a ragtag group of gifted children who have the ability to help her fight the corporation.

The philosophies and creativity this ebook was filled with were absolutely amazing, and the situations were intense. There wasn't a single break for Aries, who was met with adversity at every turn.

And the technology?

Riveting. I could clearly see each drone, each android. The strange flow of electricity was beautiful. The strange readings on Aries' tablet as she sought answers to electrical problems? Fascinating.

There were a few things that didn't quite feel right to me, however.

I felt an emotional disconnect at a couple of points in which I should have felt like my heart was being crushed. Some of the characters' reactions to events didn't feel true. Rather, they felt controlled, reined in. This jarred me from the story on occasion.

But this wasn't common.

In fact, I felt a connection to a few of the characters, and when one of them appeared lost, it upset me. I love when I have those horrid feelings, as contradictory as that sounds!

So this ebook is definitely worth reading. Heck, it even has a well thought out (and rather cool) book trailer!



Awesome, right?

The Fourth Sage can only be found on Kindle.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

I Can't Wait for Book 2 of Joanne Armstrong's Unworthy Trilogy!

I'm so mad at today's author!

You know what she did?!

She made me wait.

I want to start the second book.
Right.
Now.

Aaarrrrggghhhh....
image via https://p.gr-assets.com/200x200/scale/books/1408016775/22915557.jpg


Unworthy is the first installment of a YA dystopian trilogy, written by Joanne Armstrong.

...and Armstrong is making us wait for the next one! NooOOOoo!!! 

Yes, I know I'm being dramatic. But... Oh, I want it now!

So what's it about?

After a devastating disease wiped most of the human population, people fought to survive in a chaotic and cruel world. The Polis was formed as an island nation, isolated from the rest of the world. Hubs were created that branched out from the main city, and people were raised to fear and hate physical weakness and follow the laws of the Polis to the letter. 

Arcadia has been raised by her grandfather in Sector Four. Found unworthy of life when she was born, she has spent her life shunned by her community. Her grandfather, though, is sure to remind her that she's just as worthy of life as everyone else, and capable of greatness. She always thought those were just the loving words of a devoted grandparent. But then, on one Festival Day, her entire world changes...

"Marked to die. Raised to survive."

It's very easy for me to make one huge decision about this ebook, without second thought. This amazing story is quite obviously...

Awarded Treasured Tome status!!!
A Treasured Tome!!!
That's right. It's that good. With every other book I've given Treasured Tome status to, I've carefully considered whether that was the right decision.

Not this one. 

The characters were real, dialogue was true, the world of the story breathed, and I went through a rather extreme emotional roller coaster ride. I was transported directly into the story, and took every altercation, every mishap, every joy, every experience personally.

Oh, yeah...

And my husband had to hear all about it. I called and woke up one of my sisters. I interrupted not one, but two friends at work, texting them about it. Heck, I even discussed this ebook with my dog (she's a very good listener).

I stayed up late to find out what happened to Arcadia, and woke up this morning while dreaming about it. And! I awakened not too long before writing this review, so the neighbors may end up having to hear about it, as well.

Seriously. This ebook consumed me.

And book 2 isn't out yet. I have to... Wait? What?!!?!

So cruel! There should be a law against writing something this fantastic, then making readers wait for the next installment.

Perhaps I should take up meditation while I do. It'll help teach me patience.

What makes this ebook so flipping amazing, you ask?

Armstrong made it personal. Arcadia doesn't go through a single emotion that a person wouldn't understand. She's thrown from one situation into the next, never getting a moment to consider the best response. The result is raw and true emotion, reactions that aren't always thought out very well, and, on occasion, a feeling of contrition.

And it all makes sense.

Never once did I question why she made the decisions she did, even when I didn't like them. I understood them perfectly. Her choices all made sense, which made them real.

She was stuck in the worst of situations, stuck within a community that had an authoritarian government filled with corruption. The truth was hidden from the masses, laws had to be strictly adhered to, and punishment for breaking even minor laws was terrifying.

Beatings administered by soldiers weren't questioned.

Yet people accepted that, making it all the more frustrating for Arcadia, and by extension, the reader. Arcadia's strong sense of morality, as well as her desire for a life without the stigma placed on her by the government of the Polis, cause the reader to flip pages without stopping to take even the smallest break.

And now we have to wait for book two.

Oh, cruel world!

You can find Unworthy on Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords.


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Steven Montano's City of Scars: a Vividly Dark Journey for the Reader

It's been a while since I've reviewed...

Something Dark.

Something that makes the heart bleed.

Something morbidly fascinating.

We all need something that shakes us to the core, that makes our blood run cold. At least once in a while, anyway. So when I opened this latest ebook, I was quite ready to go through the emotional turmoil a dark fantasy brings with it.

image via http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-C-kl6Ueb6HA/UbtQg2dOAvI/AAAAAAAAAEY/CDlgplK5-lU/s1600/city_of_scars.jpg

City of Scars is the first installment of The Skullborn Trilogy, a dark fantasy written by Steven Montano.

So what's it about?

Roughly thirty years ago, the brutal Blood Queen's reign over the world ended, and now the empires are trying to rebuild lands that have become virtual wastelands. It's a slow process, and cities are overrun with cartel turf wars and general lawlessness.

Fallen knight Azander Dane is no stranger to the criminal life, having taken his own fair share of mercenary jobs as he traveled from one city to the next. Unfortunately, he may have gotten in a little too deep after accepting a job from the Black Guild: Hunt down the bloodspeaker witch Ijanna and bring her back to the Iron Count.

In Ebonmark, the City of Scars, Dane finds himself at the center of a battle between cartels, cults, and the Jlantrian Empress herself, and sees no hope of coming out on top... or even alive. 

My description really doesn't do this ebook any justice.

This one is dark. I don't just mean a little dark. I mean oh-my-god-what-am-I-reading-I'm-going-to-give-myself-nightmares dark. My description doesn't make that very apparent.

But, come on. 

Think about it. You all know that I'm generally more of a unicorns and fairies person, mixed with a healthy amount of aliens and cybernetics for good measure. Dark fantasy isn't exactly my strong point when it comes to descriptions. I write holiday fantasy stories, after all!

Yet I really love reading the gritty, soul-wrenching stuff, as well, and there was plenty of that in this ebook!

The visuals in City of Scars were hypnotic. It's very easy to believe you're smelling the rot, agonizing over the injuries, seeing the blood mists (nasty stuff, blood mist!), and hearing the magically engineered machinery as it prepares to devastate everything in the vicinity.

Yeah. Definitely not a YA novel!

Montano paints a bleak picture of a world in ruin. It's a world in pain. The very fabric that all life spawns from is being depleted.

But Montano also gives us hope. He surrounds us with terrifying, even disgusting images, yes, and he paints a very dark and depraved picture of humanity...

But he also gives us reason to smile.

It doesn't happen often, but when it does we feel a desperate need to cling to those sudden moments of tenderness. Montano shows us that while it's rare, people can sometimes rise above the prejudices they've been raised with. He shows us that even such solid feelings as hatred and loathing are not absolute, and a single individual can reshape ideas that are deeply entrenched in us.

Montano shows us the beauty of humanity by revealing our ugliness.

That's flipping awesome!

I think this could very well have been a Treasured Tome. It had all the makings of one. Unfortunately, there was one flaw that jarred me out of the story repeatedly. It was the exact opposite of the problem I had with the last ebook reviewed:

Lack of italics.

I know, I know... I just complained about being driven nuts by their overuse. Why, then, would I be complaining about a lack of them here? That's an understandable question.

In this case, there were no italics at all, and they were needed to mark character thoughts and dream sequences. Without them, I sometimes had to do a double-take, re-reading sentences that seemed incongruent.

This was probably just a formatting error. 

I once sent an entire story to my editing team that lacked italics for this very reason, and it was horribly embarrassing. One million profuse apologies later, and I had the work formatted correctly, lesson learned. But I was lucky. I sent the exactly wrong format to them... any other file type, and I never would have discovered this error.

And that's most likely what happened here.

Because, quite frankly, Montano's writing is brilliant. Nobody would ever call it fluff. His world is complex and vivid, and even though he was heavier on narration than I typically like, it worked perfectly for him. If you like dark fantasy, you'll love City of Scars.

City of Scars can be found on Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords, as well as Scribd.


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Caitlin Sinead's Denali in Hiding is Going to Be a Blast!

Not too long ago, I had an author request that I review her book, and she sent me a link with the necessary information.

I looked over it, and within a few moments...

I just knew...
the answer was a big no.

But wait! This isn't a bad thing!

It's actually a really wonderful, 
amazingly fun, 
exciting thing!

See, I said no, but not because I wasn't interested. Rather, I said this because I saw something that needed to be shared, rather than simply reviewed.

What in the world am I babbling on about now?

I'm talking about a yet-to-be-published ebook that is soon to go live on Wattpad.

Denali in Hiding by Caitlin Sinead, coming August 27

What? She can move trucks with her mind?! Yes!!!

...

     ...

          ...Oh, come on. You all know that you've dreamed about doing that! Well, at least I have.

Denali in Hiding is a YA science fiction novel, and I'm pretty sure we'll find romance within, since the author, Caitlin Sinead, has 2 new adult books about to be published with Harlequin (Carina Press).

Don't worry - she's publishing Denali in Hiding independently. I'm not switching gears on you!

So what's it about?

Denali has telekinetic abilities, which caused her to be recruited by the American Psi Council. She lives on an island set apart from the rest of the country, along with other psis, where her abilities can be used without fear. 

But Denali has discovered that someone is planning to set off a bomb within the nation's capital, and knows she needs to stop it. The problem? Humans without psi abilities have a tendency to be suspicious of those they don't understand, and act on those fears. Her involvement, therefore, would not be looked upon favorably by the Council... or the general populace.

What will Denali do when she knows that either action or inaction would have severe consequences? We'll find that out in just a few days...

So why in the world would I choose not to review a book that I'm so interested in? 

Well, Sinead is releasing this in a manner that I've never experienced. You see, Denali tells this story through journal entries, starting on August 27th.

You see what I'm getting at here?

Sinead's releasing this ebook on the same dates as those within Denali's journal! Yep. This ebook is being released in real-time. We'll experience the story's events at the same time that she does. This will happen from August 27th through January 4th.

How awesome is that?!

So, yeah. I'm choosing not to review this one right now, because I want to experience it in real time. The way I see it, there's a special something about reading a book in the manner that the author intends it. Could I read it now? Sure.

But would it feel the same?

I don't think so.

And so I'm starting the story at the same time as everyone else. I want the full experience that Sinead intended. I do, however, plan on doing a review partway through, and that'll definitely be posted on Undiscovered Tomes.

And I want you reading it with me!

I've never actually spent any time on Wattpad (Bad Rebecca! No cookie!), nor have I ever read a book released in segments, and so I had a few questions. I'm sure some of you do, too, so I asked Caitlin Sinead to teach us a few things about the process.

Here are the main points that I think everyone should know. (FYI, I elected to directly quote her answer to the first question. Everything else is in my own voice.):

How often does Denali write in her journal?
"She does not write in it every day, and some days she writes in it more than once (especially in the first week). I think the longest period of time between entries is about 2 weeks, but for the most part she'll be "posting" every 3-5 days up until January 4."

Do we need to join Wattpad to read it?
Nope. You can read everything at this link: http://www.wattpad.com/62916097-denali-in-hiding
If we go through this route, we navigate through the tab located directly below the title to find the correct journal entry.

Then why would we even want a Wattpad account?
If we do join Wattpad, we can follow Caitlin Sinead, which means we'll get notifications every time a new post goes live, and we'll have the ability to go directly to that day's entry. A Wattpad account is FREE, so there's no need to worry about cost. Plus! We can comment on the story as it plays out, and she does try to respond to all comments.

Are you getting a Wattpad account, Rebecca?
Yeppers! In fact, I already did. You can find me under UndiscoveredTomes. We can totally follow the story together. I know, I know... I still have the stock photo there, have no bio. Don't worry - I'll change that. Eventually...

SooOOOOoo....

Head over to Wattpad on August 27th, and start reading Denali in Hiding!

Yep. I'm a wee bit excited... Join me in this real-time adventure!






Thursday, August 21, 2014

Brandi Leigh Hall's Tethered Gripped Me Tight!

I knew it. Knew it!!!

But I won't tell you a thing.

Why?

Because that would be Spoilers! And all of you know how much I hate those...

What am I babbling about now? Well, you'll just have to read this latest ebook to find out!

image via http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1381972906l/18627447.jpg

Tethered is the first installment of the urban fantasy BirthRight series, written by Brandi Leigh Hall.

So what's it about?

For the last six years, Chloe has been living with her aunt, and far from the majority of her family. After the sudden death of her parents, she needed to get away from everything - especially the mystical talent that caused her to see them as they died in a car crash when she was only thirteen years old. She's worked hard at putting her past behind her, attempting to keep her ability as a seer from coming to the surface.

But now her beloved grandfather is in the hospital, about to undergo a risky procedure. Chloe and her aunt race back to lend their support, and Chloe is forced to deal with the past, as well as the guilt she feels for abandoning her remaining family. As if that isn't enough, while in the hospital she meets what appears to be the perfect man, her powers as a seer grow even stronger, and it's revealed that she and the rest of her family are at the center of a prophecy.

Chloe can no longer hide from her unusual life, and that terrifies her.

While not a "thinking book," this was definitely a good one.

This is one of those ebooks that give the reader an easy escape from reality. Hall takes the reader by the hand, leading them from scene to scene with ease. The story is remarkably fluid, making it simple for a reader to jump into Chloe's world. Tethered is definitely light reading.

The characters are extraordinarily likeable. 

Each has his or her own unique personality, causing the reader to pick favorites. Of course, these favorites changed from one scene to another, in my case, but that only added to their believability. People do and say things we like and dislike, after all, and our feelings toward them often tend to be colored by those statements. They're changeable... and Hall did a great job of bringing this out in Tethered.

Dialogue wasn't perfect, of course. I did roll my eyes a few times when some of the snarky comments fell a little flat. But then... I do that in real life, as well, so this is hardly something to shake my head over. 

And then there was the idea of predestination.

I'm not big on fate, believing that being predestiny removes free will from the equation. If you're destined for something, after all, your personal choice is meaningless. Predestiny is a running theme throughout this ebook, which naturally makes me a bit edgy.

But Hall pulls it off.

There were times that I got annoyed, of course, with statements like, "It's destined, after all" causing me to gnash my teeth. It felt like a cop-out.

But!

If you were at the center of a prophecy, and if something foreseen occurred - whether you like it or not - might you not react in this manner, as well? Sure, it feels like simply succumbing to the inevitable, even giving up on the idea of your own free choice... but it's realistic. And really... I think I prefer this to the idea of fighting destiny and having it play out, anyway. I mean, we do see that quite a bit.

Instead, Chloe recognizes that the prophecy will occur. Rather than fighting it, she concentrates on making it work out in her favor. I kinda like that.

And!

Free will isn't removed from the equation, as I may have led you to believe with all of my ranting. Chloe's visions of the future, after all, are malleable: If you see the future, you can act to change it. Sure, the prophecy has been predestined, but the individual events leading to it? Those can be changed.

So my overly critical brain was soothed.

I even found my eyes tearing up at one point. Hall scored some major points with that one! Really, this ebook was fabulous. Unfortunately, I think the author needs to go through another round of proofreading. There were many flaws centered around the letter s, and many of those dealt with apostrophes, as well. There were also a few too many italicized words, which caused otherwise perfect dialogue to feel stilted.

(You see what I did there?)

Overall, though, with just a bit of cleanup, this work would be exceptional. Reading the author's comments, however, tells me that she already knows this could use a few minor changes. It also makes me think that she could very possibly roll out an update in the future that would fix every one of the technical issues mentioned.

So while the technical aspects aren't ideal, this ebook is definitely worth looking into. If you want some light reading with a strong romantic quality to it, pick up Tethered. It's definitely worth the read!

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






Tuesday, August 19, 2014

J.K. Walker's Sanguine Eyes was Action Packed!

This time I decided to read a book that was smack in the middle of a series.

Yeah, I know. Not recommended.

But I did it, anyway... and I enjoyed it.

So, there!

image via http://soireadthisbooktoday.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/sanguine-pic.jpg?w=900

Sanguine Eyes is the third installment of the paranormal Salt Lake After Dark series, written by J.K. Walker.

So what's it about?

She was supposed to be on a simple ride-along while interning with the Salt Lake City PD. And that's exactly what it was... until the detective Jazz was riding with stopped at a convenience store to deal with a robbery. Pumped up on some sort of new designer drug, the suspect landed the detective in the hospital... and Jazz only just made it out in one piece, as well.

These things happen... but not to a werecat with supernatural strength and speed. Especially not to the werecat who's tasked with fixing problems for the Supernatural Council. Soon, Jazz learns of a drug called Sanguine that gives its user supernatural strength along with the standard high, a pack of werewolves set on invading her territory, and several missing vampires. All of this appears to be connected in some way...

I have to admit... it was the cover that drew me in.

Crazy, I know, but I have a thing for both pink hair and unusual eyes. Combine them into a single cover image, and... yeah. I'm totally sold.

Thankfully, this ebook was more than just a pretty cover.

Sanguine eyes had a fast-paced storyline, great dialogue, and quirky characters. It was easy to lose myself within the story, setting real-life on hold for a few minutes at a time. Or, at least it was easy after I got enough of the backstory to go with the flow.

Stepping into the middle of a series is rarely a good idea.

I missed a great deal of action that occurred in books one and two. So much so that I had to pace myself in the first few chapters in order to let myself become accustomed to the world, and to the events that I missed.

This is not something I would consider a flaw in the writing. 

Rather, this told me that a person who began the series from book one would be overjoyed to not have to go through several paragraphs of regurgitated story in each installment - something that always frustrates me, no matter how much I understand why a writer would do so.

You know... because of crazy people like me that start in the middle. Oops.

Starting in the middle of the series or not, however, one thing was abundantly clear. Jazz kicks some serious butt - and does it with style! Serious character development went into her personality, and I enjoyed every line of dialogue that she took part in. She was believable... and pretty awesome, too.

I loved her wit, as well as her tenacity.



Ok, so maybe she didn't say that... but I could sure imagine her doing so! Because that's the sort of character she is. No matter how difficult the situation she faces is, Jazz will jump right in and do what she feels is necessary.

And to add to the likeability of the character, many times her initial choice is not the best one. She sometimes has to step back and realize the someone else just may be seeing things a bit more clearly, no matter how much she may not like it.

While I may have struggled with the story at some points, due to breaking into the middle of this fast-paced series, rather than starting at the beginning, this was definitely an enjoyable ebook, and I consider it a very worthwhile read.

Sanguine Eyes can be found on Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords, as well as Scribd.



Saturday, August 16, 2014

Enjoying Tania Johansson's Riddle of Fate is Your Destiny!

One sweet and naive girl
+
One Angel running from judgement
=
One really big mess for the living and the dead!

image via http://static.wixstatic.com/media/16c783_e4956c16ea2e475da9040cb145dec335.jpg_srz_1760_2759_85_22_0.50_1.20_0.00_jpg_srz

Riddle of fate is a paranormal fantasy written by Tania Johansson.

So what's it about?

All Khaya wanted was to get through her work of foretelling future events at the Company every day, then go home to her loving boyfriend: a simple life. That shouldn't have been too much to ask. Unfortunately, one day she made the mistake of fixing a typewriter... without touching it. While some people have one ability beyond normal human ranges, nobody has had more than that in over sixty years... and the few that did have two abilities went insane soon after the second one made itself known.

Khaya is rushed to be tested, told by the Company that they want to help her, perhaps keep her from slipping into madness. But then she begins noticing a man that no one else seems to be able to see. Could she truly be going insane, or is there some other explanation? As Khaya puzzles through her situation, one thing becomes clear: there is much more going on than anyone has seen fit to tell her.

This was one fun ebook!

The story was well crafted, dialogue was true, and the subterfuge and manipulation within it brought an excited smile to my face on more than one occasion.

To be honest, at first I saw Khaya as some dopey girl that just sort of followed the action, doing as she was told. She was incredibly naive, she seemed to lack willpower, and I didn't see much in the way of redeeming qualities, beyond her kind heart.

But!

Then I realized that was exactly the point. Even other characters within the story noticed this flaw in her. In other words, throughout the book she had to grow a spine and learn to be a bit more careful about her choices.

And, boy, did she!

She not only gained a backbone, but became a strong, confident, lovable character. Khaya showed some definite growth, and I greatly appreciate that!

And then there was Derrin.

Derrin is a Collector. What's that? Basically, it's a grim reaper. He guides the souls of the dying into the great beyond. He kind of got into a wee bit of trouble one day long ago. See, instead of doing his job, he kinda sorta brought the person back to life.

Oopsie!

So, now he's on the run. By breaking this Collector law, he has forfeited his chance at salvation. And guess who the person whose soul he didn't collect was? Yep, you got it. Khaya. He's been watching over her ever since.

And it's a good thing, too, because she'll need him before this book is over! Heck, she's needed him from the very beginning. Naive, remember?

So, seriously, read this book. I'm having to practically gag myself to keep from telling you the whole thing! It's fast paced, the dialogue is perfect, and it'll keep you reading from beginning to end.

No boring slow bits.

Riddle of Fate can only be found on Kindle.


P.S. You can read chapter one here, if you need extra encouragement to read this beauty! ---> Of Past Things. Things Best Forgotten.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Robby Charters' Pepe Examines the Meaning of Truth

"the smell of solvent
sounds of youthful street wisdom
working kids live here"

As you can tell already, today's review covers an ebook that makes you step back and think about the world.

image via http://www.rabidreaderstoo.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/RC_Pepe.jpg

Pepe, by Robby Charters, is a stand-alone science fiction novel that takes place in the year 2020 in an alternate reality.

So what's it about?

Pepe is a young boy living in the dockyards, the lower class community in the Republic of Cardovia, where people struggle to simply survive day to day life. His primary focus in life is to care for his sister, Po. 

But when the small home they live in with their grandmother burns to the ground, Pepe and Po must take to the streets where their lives change dramatically. Pepe discovers that his very existence is a threat to national security, and the president of Cardovia will stop at nothing to remove him from the picture. 

Pepe wonders what it is that makes him, a boy from the slums, so dangerous to the leader of Cardovia. In the race to flee those that would eliminate him - and harm Po in the process - Pepe discovers more than he ever expected.

I've gotta tell you, this ebook was far more engrossing than I dreamed it would be!

The technology in Pepe is a bit more advanced than our current technology... but not by much... only a hair's breadth, actually. It's very believable that we could see these advances in the near future.

Magnetically controlled, "floating" train? Very believable. Neural interfaces that can 'read' a person's thoughts and convey them to others? Yep. Small, armored robots equipped with heavy weaponry? Heck, There are drones out there, already... right?

Every chapter begins with a haiku. 

This haiku foreshadows what will be found within that section of the book, and does it perfectly. I'm not one for verse, very often skipping right over it. I know, I know... people shouldn't do that. Verse is important, and the author worked hard on it, darn it!

I do it anyway.

In Pepe, though, I looked forward to each haiku. Every one of them was well written, meaningful, and thought-provoking. I mean... I even began this review with one of them (taken from Chapter 3). I enjoyed them that much.

And the theme!

Oh, gosh, the theme. I found myself swept away within the philosophies of this novel. Basically, it all comes down to one central concept: Only through Truth will you find freedom.

I know, I know... we've all heard that before. What makes it so special this time?

Well, we see this transformation in just about every character within the book. This is especially seen with Pepe, as the protagonist, but this change occurs in the most depraved, as well. We see that through recognizing the truth as it is, rather than how we think the truth is, we become more than who we were before. We're stronger. We're free.

And Charters does this without "preachiness."

I never once felt that he was bashing me over the head with the concept. Not once did I roll my eyes. It was all done through showing, rather than telling. I wanted to transform, to see things as they really are... just as Pepe did.

This is an ebook that I strongly recommend to those that enjoy a novel that makes you think, but also gives you a storyline that flows quickly and fluidly.

Pepe can be found on Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords, as well as on Scribd.





Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Cheryl S. Mackey's The Unknown Sun Shines with Promise

A broken girl.


A strange new world.



And a destiny.


It's time for another YA Fantasy review!


image via http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-pN8c1QS1_gc/U4cS2PfW24I/AAAAAAAAANo/COnLCGr9Jes/s1600/unknown+sun.jpg

The Unknown Sun is the first installment of The Destiny Series, a YA fantasy romance written by Cheryl S. Mackey.

So what's it about?

Moira fears becoming too close to anyone. Every person she's ever loved has died, and she feels cursed. It's a lonely life, but the pain of losing anyone would be far worse, so she goes through each day of her life trying not to be noticed.

All of that changes one day, though, when she's assaulted by a young man that seems to have something against her, personally. "Why you?!" he yells as he attacks her. Just as she begins to black out, she hears the voices of two people coming to her defense. 

And she awakens in an entirely different world. A world where people have dense, powerful wings and speak of a prophecy - one that Moira is at the center of.

Intriguing, huh?

When the author contacted me about the possibility of a review, I took one look at the cover and fell in love. The artwork gives us a sense of both fragility and power, and the design whispers a promise of secrets and mystery.

Yep. I loved the cover.

Mackey gave herself a tough job: She created a girl that was horribly, severely, emotionally broken... then set about the task of healing those wounds. Not only that, but Moira had the future of an entire world on her shoulders. Not an easy task.

How does a person emotionally recover from not one, but two near death experiences that took away the people they love most? And how does a person learn to love again without fearing another heartbreak?

In Moira's case, it took traveling all the way to another world in order to make this happen. Her companionship with Skylanders Airi and Bel gave her the strength necessary to transform herself. This friendship was strong, and romance blossomed between Moira and Bel.

Mackey did have a tendency to use a bit too much of the passive voice, and quite a few adverbs were sprinkled throughout the story. This caused it to lose energy at some points. At around 60% through the ebook, however, Mackey picks up the pace with stronger word choices. The energy picks up and The Unknown Sun becomes truly engrossing.

I was particularly interested in Airi. 

She wasn't the standard female friend. She was strong, determined, and she kicked some serious butt! Airi had what I would call the leadership within this group of friends. I found her to be quite an admirable character. I'd like to see more of her in a future ebook.

I was also fascinated with Mackey's decision to meld the world of the story in with our own world. How does she do that?

Historic Architecture.

Ancient history, to be specific. Our two worlds were connected by portals that have been locked for thousands of years. The Parthenon? That was built when the first humans came to our world from theirs. The Pyramids? Same thing. That's right - Earth isn't our original home.

While I'd like to see a future update of this title with stronger verb usage in place, The Unknown Sun is well worth the read... even without taking that step. Mackey's paints a beautiful world, and weaves our own planet into it, making it personal.

The Unknown Sun can only be found on Kindle, or as a  Barnes and Noble paperback (Only paperback).






Saturday, August 9, 2014

Rebecca Taylor's The Exquisite and Immaculate Grace of Carmen Espinoza is Breathtaking!

How many of you have read Dante's Inferno?

Today I have a modern work that draws from Alighieri's religious classic for you. We travel through a realm similar to that of the inferno, on a quest for truth and insight. It left me hungry for more by this talented and perceptive author!

image via http://a.wattpad.com/cover/11485309-256-k406023.jpg


The Exquisite and Immaculate Grace of Carmen Espinosa is a paranormal fantasy written by Rebecca Taylor.

So what's it about?

Carmen Espinoza is a foreign exchange student living with her host family in Oaxaca, Mexico. Carmen comes from a broken home: her brother died when he was still very young, her father left soon after, and her mother spends her time praying, reading from the bible, and making Carmen feel as though she's worthless and worse, a pariah. Carmen's senior year was supposed to be her chance to open up and be 'normal.' But during a Day of the Dead festival she sees her dead brother, so she follows him and ends up on a quest for truth... a quest in which her very soul is at stake.

So, I'm just going to say...

Wow!

Seriously. Wow. I loved everything about this one.

Carmen is a very well-rounded, believable character. More than that, though, her successes and failures feel personal. While I've never been one to hide from the contact of others, I got a glimpse into what that feels like: the yearning for basic human contact mixed with fear of the unknown, sprinkled with a healthy dose of distrust.

At first, this ebook felt extraordinarily black and white. The reader knows the truth, knows who the 'good' people in Carmen's life are, versus the 'bad.' Everything makes perfect sense. Carmen's perspective was a bit skewed, but the reader completely understood why. The truth was obvious.

Maybe. 

The farther you read into this, the more complex it becomes. You begin to see shades of gray that make you question what you think is correct. You begin to realize that there's something more to Carmen's life than you previously thought, and that discovery is exciting!

"Something's missing..." becomes the overall thought.

There's no frustration in this, though, because as you read you're completely dazzled by the richness of the Between. Images form in your mind that leave you spellbound. You're both awed and disgusted by the many events and spirits you come across.

Indeed, you find yourself questioning your own actions in life.

I'd tell you more, but doing so would mean nasty spoilers, and we know how much I hate those! What I will tell you, though, is that I was wholeheartedly impressed and enthralled.

This one gets added to the others that have reached

Treasured Tome status!
Treasured Tome Status!!!
I couldn't find a single flaw worth noting. The grammar, the environment, the characters, the story? All amazing. This ebook will stay with me for quite a while. It entertains, and to a large extent, it teaches.

This is not a title that you want to pass up.

The Exquisite and Immaculate Grace of Carmen Espinoza is only available on Kindle.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Explanation You've Been Waiting For!

A while back, I promised you an explanation.

Why did I go mostly silent on facebook and twitter? Why was I only reading books under 200 pages... many times under 100? Where in the heck are all of those Goodreads reviews that should be live? 

What in the world is going on???

Today I deliver on that promise. 

It wasn't laziness, nor was it procrastination. Rather, I was trying to juggle way too much during a short period of time... and I have to admit that I'm pretty proud of myself for managing not to turn into a quivering mass of stressed out, gelatinous ooze.

See, my husband managed to get a rather spectacular job... but he was expected to be there about 4 days after he got word of employment. That wouldn't have been a big deal, but we lived South of Minneapolis MN... and the job was 

In the Greater Seattle area!

Yikes!!!

This meant that after we loaded up a truck with as much as we could, I was tasked with staying behind to pack myself, my daughter, two scared and confused dogs, and everything that was left behind into an SUV, then head up to meet him.

We had too much left over to fit inside a vehicle, so people got a lot of free stuff that I placed onto the corner over a period of a few days. But I got it done, and it felt good to give things I loved to people who would use them. In the end, that's what really matters.

As I told you, the next step was to head up to Washington... but that didn't happen. I got word that my grandfather was in his final days. If I was lucky, I'd get there in time to say goodbye. I asked my mother to tell him to wait for me, and headed off the next day, destination: Northern Minnesota instead of Seattle, Washington.

He waited for me.

I was able to say goodbye before his soul drifted off, and I'll be eternally grateful for that. 

My grandpa, smiling as he so often did.
My grandpa: Judging by his features in this photo,
as opposed to others, I'd guess this was taken in the mid 1950s.

Much of who I am today came from my grandpa. 

He taught me patience. He taught me to accept people for who they are, rather than who I want them to be. He also taught me that anything is possible if you put your mind to it. He worked to see the good in everything and everyone.

Most importantly, though, he taught me all of these things without having to say them. He had the ability to teach through example. While I'm not sure if I succeed, I try very hard to do the same.

Without my grandfather's influence, Undiscovered Tomes would be a very different site... if it existed at all.

The day after the funeral, I drove for three days, until at last getting to my destination.

So how was the trip, you ask?

Well, my dogs hated the drive, which meant that any break we took lasted at least thirty minutes, since I had to coax my 90 pound dog back inside. Stress caused extra shedding, as well, so I was swimming in dog hair.

The scenery, though, was amazing!

Western North Dakota is actually quite beautiful. I had been led to believe that all of North Dakota was a barren wasteland. This is not true. Don't believe me? Drive off to Theodore Roosevelt National Park sometime. What should have been a simple 'potty break' turned into an hour long stop to gaze at the beauty!

Montana reminds me a lot of New Mexico. It's gorgeous but dry, mountainous, and has a lot of curse burrs that get stuck in your shoes. Curse burrs are prickly, thorny seeds that you can't remove without cursing loudly.  

(Yep. I totally stole that term from Piers Anthony, 
and have used it since about fifth grade. It's a perfect description.)

The thin Northern tip of Idaho was my favorite. There were tons of Runaway Truck ramps, and driving through those beautiful, curvy, and steep roads felt like being on a roller coaster ride. I was overcome with a mixture of terror and giddiness. And the water, greenery, and terrain? Exhilarating!

I found most of the drive through Washington to be terribly boring. There was nothing there, and it was flat! Thankfully, once I neared the Seattle area, that changed. It was green, hilly, wooded, and gorgeous.

So now I'm back!

I'm in a new home, surrounded by new and wonderful people, and I'm happy. I apologize for my near silence lately, but life took me on quite an adventure that I'm finally able to relax from.

And WOW!

That was one long explanation. Oopsie!



Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Thane by Travis Daniel Bow is a Gripping High Fantasy

The fight against good and evil

A kingdom in turmoil.

One small group created to set things right.

Yep!!! It's time for another fantasy.

image via https://d3myrwj42s63no.cloudfront.net/180/978/099/146/570/5/9780991465705.jpg

Thane, the first installment of the Everknot series, is a fantasy written by Travis Daniel Bow.

So what's it about?

Fifteen years ago, the kingdom of Botan was conquered by the Huctans. The capital city was razed, and the ground salted. Today, citizens of the once proud nation live in fear of Huctan soldiers, cruel warriors that treat the Botani people with scorn. 

Timothy and Robert were raised together as brothers, but when Timothy was sent to apprentice with the fletcher they saw quite a bit less of each other. When the town of Watchton has its Spring Jubilee, the boys go, and happily spend the day together. But immediately after they leave, they're kidnapped by Huctans who are intent on breaking their spirits in order to make them into perfect soldiers, and their lives change drastically and forever.

There was one aspect of this novel that surprised me: No magic.

I'm used to fantasy being filled with swords and sorcery, and while the swords were definitely present, there were no strange creatures, wands, or psychic phenomena. Zero.

But it still kinda qualifies. Why?

Because it's set in a fictitious, medieval world in which kingdoms rule and cultures are vastly different from our own.

Bow crafted a very detailed society in which structure is rigid. Each chapter opens up the world to the reader until any action taken that goes against that society's norm is immediately noted, causing interest levels to increase.

The world of the novel is in turmoil. Citizens of the conquered land of Botan are treated poorly, which naturally means that rebel groups are bound to pop up against the Huctan conquerors. 

That leads us to the Band.

The Band trains people in the skills of the Thanes, the elite warriors that once defended the kingdom of Botan. When Botan fell, a small group of Thanes survived, and over time they began training youth so that they may use their skills for the good of fallen Botan.

It's a good thing they did, too! 

After Timothy and Robert were kidnapped from Watchton and subjected to the Huctan soldiers' brainwashing techniques, A young woman trained as a thane broke them out of confinement and introduced them to the Band, where they trained under the Thanes.

While I may have been a wee bit miffed that I didn't get the high magic that I was hoping for, I have to admit that after a few chapters I stopped grumbling about it. The writing is solid and filled with intrigue. 

If you're looking for a good solid indie novel that can take you away from the stresses of the real world, you'll love this one. There may not be magic, but there is enough action and deceit to keep you happily turning the pages. 

Thane can be found on Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords, as well as Scribd.


*quick note: It appears that the genre has been updated to Adventure, which I completely agree with. My original discovery of this title had it listed as high fantasy.


Saturday, August 2, 2014

Nikolai Bird's Cthulhu - Something in the Mud Was a Slimey, Lovecraftian Joy!

Every now and then, something happens that disrupts the normal flow of events.

Take today's short story review, for example. After discovering an ebook that looked pleasing, my eyes wandered over to another title written by the same author: a very short story (I'm guessing under 18,000 words) with a Lovecraftian theme.

I can't say no to that. Indeed, when it comes to Lovecraft, I have zero self-control. I've read most of H.P. Lovecraft's short stories, I played the Mythos card game, and I even took part in a few Cthulhu based roleplaying game scenarios.

I couldn't resist.

I had to know if this author could do any justice to the world of Lovecraft... so this short story went from 'last ebook on the list' to 'currently reading' in about 3 seconds. This won't happen often. Normally I have better self-control.

But when the Great Old Ones have a hand in things, sometimes I lose it. Just a little.

image via http://a5.mzstatic.com/us/r30/Publication6/v4/b4/99/d5/b499d5a2-d298-37a6-d945-aaa5f345119c/9781311003768.225x225-75.jpg

Cthulhu: Something in the Mud is a lovecraftian themed horror short story written by Nikolai Bird.

So what's it about?

Four years after the signing of the Armistice that ended WWI, Jack receives a letter from his former Odd Jobs commander, inviting Jack to his summer home for the weekend. Jack gladly accepts and drives to West Wittering, feeling that this little getaway is exactly what he needs. When he arrives, however, he discovers that his former Odd Jobs experience is the only thing that stands between the commander and a powerful evil that no one should ever be exposed to.

Part of me felt that I shouldn't read this. 

A diehard fan of H.P. Lovecraft, I could very easily hold any deviation from from his style against the author. Another part of me, though, was excited. Of course Bird's writing would be very different, but could he pull it off?

Yes, he could. And he did.

Bird stuck to the most important points: vivid imagery, layout of character backgrounds, and a great show of normalcy brought into upheaval. He even placed the story within the proper historical timeline.

But he also made it his own, which is difficult to do when working within the world parameters of an author that has fanatically adoring fans. He deviated from Lovecraft's techniques by showing a bit more than one would normally see in the Cthulhu mythos.

Part of the horror within lovecraftian stories comes from what isn't said. Normally, a deviation like this would cause me to scoff and walk away with my nose in the air.

Fanatical fan, remember?

(I totally wore a Cthulhu for President button during two different election years. Maybe this next election he'll get the winning vote...)

Bird, though, made this work. I didn't feel the need to walk away, ashamed that someone could change Lovecraft's format in this manner. Rather, my eyes stayed on the pages, soaking up each and every word. His style, though different, was effective.

The only problem I had with the story, as strange as this sounds, is that Cthulhu was named twice. In the lovecraftian mythos, even saying the name of a Great Old One has severe consequences. Saying it once, therefore, would have been sufficient - and nerve-wracking. Twice, though, made it feel a little less taboo. Not as important.

But that's just me.

And really, a less avid Lovecraft devotee may not even notice it. Indeed, people who aren't well read in the Cthulhu mythos may actually need that extra reminder of the severity of the situation. I read this story from a vastly different viewpoint than most people, and I recognize that.

One thing is certain: Something in the Mud impressed someone who is hard to satisfy when dealing with the Cthulhu mythos.

That speaks volumes.

Naturally, I'm excited to read the much longer ebook by the same author that I have placed in my reading queue. If his Lovecraft based writing won me over, I can't wait to see what he does with dark fantasy!

Cthulhu: Something in the Mud can be found on Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords, as well as on Scribd, where my eye was drawn to it.