The Lazarus Succession by Ken Fry – My Review!!

The Lazarus Succession – My Review!!

Lazarus Succession Cover

I love a good thriller with religious conspiracy connections. Ken Fry’s novel The Lazarus Succession fits the bill perfectly! Read on to discover my thoughts.

Synopsis (from the author): The Lazarus Succession takes readers to the ancient scene of Christ’s greatest miracle, to medieval Spain, and back to modern-day Europe. In typical Ken Fry style, nothing is as it seems and a surprise awaits at every turn of the page.

According to legend, Annas Zevi, an artist who witnessed the raising of Lazarus, was told by Christ to paint what he saw. Over the centuries, his completed works has vanished, along with every other painting depicting Lazarus’ resurrection. They were rumoured to be sacred icons with miraculous powers.

International Art Recovery Experts, Broderick Ladro and Ulla Stuart, are hired by a disgraced High Court judge, Sir Maxwell Throgmorton, to locate a long lost medieval painting by Spanish artist Francisco Cortez. Like Zevi, his work is said to be divinely inspired.

Throgmorton’s client, a wealthy Spanish Condesa, is terminally ill and the icon is her last hope. She will pay and do whatever it takes to find the missing work of Cortez.

Unbeknown to the Condesa, Throgmorton seeks to make a vast personal fortune from the discovery of the paintings, and use it to reclaim his place in society.

Ladro and Stuart learns of Throgmorton’s deceit and attempts to thwart his plans. As they delve deeper into the mystery of the missing Cortez painting, they discover a secret that changes their lives forever.

Just as it changed the lives of everyone it touched across the centuries. 

What I liked: This story drew me in immediately! The story started with a bang and kept up a great pace throughout. Brody and Ulla were great, Throgmorton was an excellent though odious player, and the Condesa was the perfect sympathetic character. Full of religious symbolism, action, and a mystical end, The Lazarus Succession was a fantastic read!

What I didn’t like: My only complaint was Throgmorton’s end. A little more mysticism would have played better to me given the way the story ended. I would say more, but then I’d have a spoiler and I don’t do that!

Overall impression: The Lazarus Succession was everything I wanted in a religious-themed thriller. Great characters, plenty of action, mystical happenings, and great pace made it a most enjoyable read! Well done Ken Fry!!

My rating: 5 Stars

When do you plan to read The Lazarus Succession? Soon, I hope! If you do read it, please consider leaving a review and let Ken Fry know your thoughts. I’m sure he will appreciate it. If you want to check out Ken Fry’s other books, you can find them on his Amazon Author page or his website. Visit and maybe buy a book or three!

If you want to comment on my review, leave a comment on the site, email me at bill@williamlstuart.com, of find me on the socials! I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest. Shares, likes, and feedback are always welcome and appreciated!

 

Wham! (Timewalker Book 1) by Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps – My Review!!

Wham! (Timewalker Book 1) – My Review!!

Wham! Cover

I read the Heart of the Staff series by Carol Marrs Phipps and Tom Phipps and enjoyed it tremendously. When the duo released Wham! (Timewallker Book 1), it went on my TBR immediately! Read on for my thoughts.

Synopsis (from the author): When the World Alliance seized power from all the governments of the world, they said it was for the greater good. They said it was necessary to unite all the nations of the globe under one banner in order to bring universal peace, equality and prosperity to the world.

To most families throughout the world, the rise of the Alliance and their grandiose promises meant little. They had long grown weary of the lies of the corrupt law-makers and heads of state and were far more concerned with their day-to-day struggles to survive.

The Greenwood family was no exception, and for a time life went on much as it had before the rise of the Alliance. In time, individual cultural and racial identity were outlawed. They said it was for the greater good. They said it was necessary to create a more harmonious, homogenous world community. The Greenwood family adapted.

But then they took away freedom. They made it mandatory for all households and public buildings to have skinwelers, crystal spying balls in every room, in order to watch the people’s every move. They said it was for the greater good. They said it was necessary for public safety and civil order. And the Greenwood family adapted.

But then the state took their family farm and lands and moved them to Gollsport where they had built barracks for all the displaced citizens. They said it was for the greater good. They said the countryside had become contaminated by farm chemicals and the relocation was for their continued health and safety. Once again, the Greenwood family adapted.

But then they came in the night and took away seventeen year-old Tess Greenwood’s entire family. They said it was for the greater good. They said Tess would adapt and in time she would be far better for it.

But Tess cared not for the Alliance’s greater good. She did not adapt. She wanted her family back and vowed to do whatever she must in order to see them again. Little did she know, that to keep her vow, she would have to become a timewalker.

What I liked: Wham! Brought back great memories of The Heart of the Staff series by tying the old with the new. Though the books are nothing alike, the familiarity was a great bridge. I liked the dystopian feel to the world, and Tess was an easy character to like. Nia was a sympathetic character in impossible circumstances, but found friends, an unlikely ally, and an uneasy relationship with the potentate. Add to the mix Maxi the troll (and an amazing hairdresser), and the stage is set for an enjoyable tale.

What I didn’t like: Maybe it will come in future books, but I needed more background on how the world reached its current state. Additionally, the dialogue from Maxi was a bit hard to follow.

Overall impression: I liked Wham! the start to the Timewalker books! As mentioned above, I liked the bridge to The Heart of the Staff series, and the characters were excellent. As with The Heart of the Staff series, Wham! (Timewalker Book 1), this is a series fantasy readers will enjoy!

My rating: 4.5 Stars (rounded to 5 Stars) When do you plan to read Wham! (Timewalker Book 1)? Soon, I hope! When you do, please consider leaving a review and let Carol Marrs Phipps and Tom Phipps know what you think. While you’re at it, consider leaving reviews for The Heart of the Staff books! You can find all of them on their Amazon Author page or their website.

Thanks for reading my review. Leave me a comment and let me know what you think about it. If you’d rather, connect with me on the socials (Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest), or email me at bill@williamlstuart.com. I look forward to hearing from you.

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Sunstone: A Steampunk Reality by Holly Barbo – My Review!!

Sunstone: A Steampunk Reality – My Review!!

Sunstone CoverSteampunk – not my normal genre – is an interesting world to visit. When you can add elements of science fiction and fantasy into the mix, it becomes intriguing. Sunstone: A Steampunk Reality by Holly Barbo has all that and much more! Read on for my thoughts!

Synopsis (from the author): The steam-powered civilization of Myrn is a thriving adolescent culture. But the rapid industrial development has given rise to greed, and the triumvirate of government, banks and industry leaders has lost sight of those it is supposed to serve and protect.

When a mysterious incurable illness sweeps through the impoverished masses, increasing the suffering to breaking point, rebellion seems unavoidable. Society is on the brink of revolution, and the planet is marked for destruction.

M’nacht, his son Kes, and his team of researchers investigate a legend about three sacred fossils that could save the people and rebalance Myrn. However, they are not the only ones looking. Where they see salvation, others see power, wealth and control.

Will the gifts from the goddess Navora be found in time to save their world, or will the sacrifice of innocents be lost under the weight of human depravity and corruption?

What I liked: Holly Barbo’s steampunk world of Myrn was an intriguing construct. Part scifi and all steampunk, the blend of the two made for an interesting read. Kes and his father play their roles convincingly, and the greed and disregard for the populace portrayed by the elite fit into the narrative nicely. I liked the supporting characters Lastly, the fantasy elements of the sunstone and the connection with the goddess tied everything together.

What I didn’t like: The general population’s treatment at the hands of the bankers and corporations was a bit too cliché for me. Additionally, the reaction of the populace to their circumstances was predictable. I would like more description of the goddess and how the sunstone brings about change. Improvement in those areas would make the story more real.

Overall impression: Sunstone: A Steampunk Reality by Holly Barbo was an intriguing read. Cool steampunk gadgets, well-done characters, and a good storyline kept my attention throughout the book. All in all, a good read. I recommend this one to steampunk and fantasy readers!

My rating: 4 Stars

I hope you’ll check out Sunstone: A Steampunk Reality by Holly Barbo and consider leaving a review! And visit Holly Barbo’s Amazon Author page or her website to discover more of her books (and maybe buy a couple)! I know she will appreciate it!

Speaking of reviews, what did you think of this one? Leave me a comment and let me know. If you’d rather, email me at bill@williamlstuart.com or connect with me on the socials. I am Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest. Don’t be shy, say hello! I always looking to meet new friends. As always, shares and likes are greatly appreciated!

Thanks for visiting! See you soon.

The Star Realm by Julie Elizabeth Powell – My Review!!

The Star Realm – My Review!!

The Star Realm Cover

As a fantasy author, I’m constantly on the lookout for that genre. When Amazon recommended The Star Realm by Julie Elizabeth Powell, I gave it a shot. Read on for my review!

Synopsis (from the author): What would you do if you were called to another world…a world filled with seemingly impossible things?

Faced with this choice, Davie, Ben, Anne, Chrissie and Billy embark upon a mysterious quest, finding themselves transported to the spectacular and extraordinary world of Avalon, whereupon they are catapulted into one of the uncountable heptagonal pieces that make up the magical sphere of the Orb of Caprice…namely, the Star Realm question remains…will Time be on their side?

What I liked: The Star Realm has all the elements in place for a great story. 5 friends embarking on a great quest, danger lurking around every corner, help from unexpected places, and a satisfying conclusion made the book an enjoyable read. I liked the talking flowers and the various challenges the children accepted. The goblins were my favorite characters!

What I didn’t like: My dislikes included some of the dialogue, especially from Billy, which was difficult for me to follow. Billy’s constant food obsession irritated me. Lastly, I never really understood Ezrin’s reason for choosing the children for the quest.

Overall impression: I think this book would appeal to middle grade readers and maybe very young teens. The Star Realm has fun characters, touches on many of the issues in the world today, and enough action and adventure to hold the reader’s attention.

My rating: 3.5 Stars (rounded to 4 stars)

What do you think? Will you  read The Star Realm by Julie Elizabeth Powell? I think you should give it a chance. Visit Julie’s Amazon author page to see the rest of her books (and maybe buy 1 or 2)!

Do you like my reviews? If so (or if not), leave me a comment and let me know. If you would rather, send me an email at bill@williamlstuart.com. And, don’t forget to connect with me on the socials! I can be found on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest. If you don’t want to miss a post, subscribe to the blog! I enjoy meeting new friends!!

Gemstones and Wire-Wrapping – or What I’ve I Been Up To Lately!!!

I’ve been reading, doing a little writing (revisions on The Gemstone Chronicles and a new work-in-progress) and I haven’t done a post about gemstones in quite a while. So, I wanted to share some of what I’ve been up to with my gemstone collection (which keeps growing!). Because I have so many rocks now, I decided to take up wire-wrapping. Before I get to that, though, I wanted to share pictures of a few tumbled stones that I really like. I believe three of the rocks shown below are obsidian, but the fourth one is a smoky quartz. I would love to show you the light shining through it, but the picture just wouldn’t work.

Round Tumbled Obsidian Wire

Round Tumbled Obsidian

Rectangular Tumbled Obsidian Wire

Rectangular Tumbled Obsidian

Tumbled Obsidian and Smoky Quartz Wire

Tumbled Obsidian and Smoky Quartz

In the picture above, the smoky quartz is in the upper right and looks similar to the other stones. However, when the light shines on it, you can see through the stone.

Those are just a few of the stones from my tumblers (which run 24/7). Having all these tumbled stones led me to try my hand at wire-wrapping as I mentioned above. It’s a lot more difficult than I thought it would be and I watch a lot of videos about different types of wrapping. I try to keep mine fairly simple, since I am still learning. Below are a few examples of my efforts.

Onyx Gemstones Wire

Drilled and Wrapped Onyx

Quartz Pendant Gemstones Wire

Drilled and Wrapped Pencil Quartz Pendant

The quartz stone below were drilled using my Dremel drill press stand. It did a great job and made a clean smooth hole in the center of the stone. Perfect for wire wrapping! Here is a picture of my setup

Dremel Gemstones Wire

Dremel Drill press

Drilled and Wrapped Quartz Gemstones Wire

Center Drilled and Wrapped Quartz

Aventurine Gemstones Wire

Wrapped Aventurine

I know I have a lot of work to do and much more practice to go before the techniques are learned and the results acceptable, but I’m having fun!

Because I need some thinner pieces (and you can’t count on finding those in a natural state), I’m going to start using my tile saw to slab some of my larger rocks. I’ll do a post on that soon. After cutting the slabs, I’ll use my templates to get rough shapes and then throw the stones in the tumbler to polish them and get them ready to  wire wrap. I won’t make perfect shapes, but that’s fine by me. I prefer a more organic look anyway!

So, there you have what I’ve been up to with my gemstones. Like them? Leave me a comment and let me know or drop me an email at bill@williamlstuart.com. And, if you don’t want to miss any of my posts, consider subscribing to the blog. Lastly, if you are on the socials and want to connect, find me on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest. I’m always looking to meet new friends!

 

The Threat Below (Brathius History Book 1) by Jason Latshaw – My Review!!!

The Threat Below (Brathius History Book 1) – My Review!!!

The Threat Below Cover

The Threat Below (Brathius History Book 1) was in my Kindle recommendations recently. The title intrigued me, and the blurb sounded good, so I decided to give it a shot. Read on for my thoughts!

Synopsis (from the author): Three hundred years ago, something arose and pushed humanity to the brink of extinction. Now, a small remnant – the descendants of the few survivors who were able to escape the massacre below – lives above the clouds, on the top of a mountain. But there’s been a change. Their water supply is being poisoned. Someone, or something down below is trying to kill them. Now an expedition, including seventeen year-old Icelyn Brathius, must descend and face the monsters that wiped out civilization centuries ago.

As Icelyn faces dangers in a world humans are not meant to survive, she learns that not everything is as it seems, uncovers an ancient revelation, and then faces a choice that may change the fate of everyone above and below the clouds.  Will Icelyn be strong enough to both survive and bear the terrible secret?

Join Icelyn Brathius as she leaves everything she has ever known to journey to the place no one was ever supposed to go.

What I liked: The Threat Below was a fresh take on dystopia. The premise of a handful of humans clinging to life at the top of a mountain, while the threat to their existence lurked just below the cloudline fascinated me. Add to it the rigid society existing among the humans, the clear class distinction inherent in their world, the background intrigue for power, and the stage is set for a great tale. Icelyn, with her conflicting feelings about two males and a predestined future, makes a compelling character. The two rivals for her attention become unwilling participants in her quest. But, I have to stop there as you’ll get no spoilers from me. Overall, a good read!

What I didn’t like: At times, the story was slow. Additionally, I didn’t understand why the water supply was sabotaged as it was. Other than that, good book.

Overall impression: The Threat Below (Brathius History #1) was a good read! Though slow in spots, the characters, action, and story kept me interested. I recommend this one to anyone who enjoys dystopia with a scientific twist!

My rating: 4.5 Stars (rounded to 5 Stars)

If you’ve read or plan to read The Threat Below by Jason Latshaw, please consider leaving a review. As an author, I know the value of reviews, and I’m sure Jason Latshaw would appreciate it!

If you want to connect with Jason, you can find him on his Amazon Author page. Stop by, check out The Threat Below and his other books, and say hi (and maybe leave that review we talked about)!

If you liked (or didn’t) my review, leave a comment and let me know. You can also drop me an email at bill@williamlstuart.com, or connect with me on the socials. Find me on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest, so don’t be shy, say hi!

 

Remnant by John S. Worth – My Review!!

Remnant – My Review!!

Remnant Cover

 

As my readers know, I occasionally like to step outside my favorite genres and read something different. This time, I picked up Remnant by John Stacy Worth. Remnant is a novel based on the Noah’s Ark story from the Bible. Read on for my thoughts!

Synopsis (from the author): For Noah’s sons completing the Ark has always been the first priority, yet they must also find wives. But where, when all the world is corrupt? There is Beth, their mother’s handmaiden, who longs for Japheth but catches Shem’s eye instead. There is also the slave girl, Shandai, nursed back from the brink of death and willing to seduce either one. Meanwhile for Ham there seems to be no one, and a life of inheriting only the scraps of his older brothers. Tension within the family and from without threatens to tear them apart, as Satan uses any means available to destroy God’s remnant; vengeful enemies, the demon spawn Nephilim, and if possible, even one another.

What I liked: Remnant is not your father’s Noah’s Ark story. The story follows Noah’s family as they struggle with the call to build the ark and uphold their beliefs in the face of constant temptation. Throw in a bit of violence, danger, kidnapping, murder, and plot twists and turns, and this is an excellent story! The overriding message of unshakable faith in the face of secular trials holds true to the Biblical message, yet Noah and his family are full of human faults. All in all, Remnant was a good read!

What I didn’t like: While I liked the way the characters filled in the tale, the story seemed to dwell on the negatives without acknowledging any of the goodness outside of Noah’s family.

Overall impression: Remnant by John Stacy Worth is an excellent telling of the Noah’s Ark story. It’s definitely not your run of the mill Bible story. This one has all the human faults and horrible actions that led to the flood. The characters fill the story and hold true to the original tale. If you like historical fiction with underlying Biblical themes, give this one a read!

My rating: 5 Stars

Have you read Remnant by John Stacy Worth? What about the other books in the series? If you have, or will, please consider leaving a review. Reviews help authors not just connect with readers, but also give them insights into what makes for an enjoyable story.

Did you enjoy my review? Was it helpful? Leave me a comment or shoot me an email at bill@williamlstuart.com and let me know. And, don’t miss a post (or a review). Subscribe to the blog! Lastly, connect with me on the socials. I can be found on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest, so let’s be friends!

The Crystal Crux by A. M. Werner – My Review!!

The Crystal Crux – The First Three Days – My review!!

Crystal Crux Cover

As most of you know, I not only write fantasy, but I read it, too. In fact, fantasy is my go to genre, and I’m always on the lookout for new fantasy books. I found this one and the blurb enticed me to read it. Here are my thoughts on The Crystal Crux – The First Three Days by A.M Werner!

Synopsis (from the author): Pero de Alava accepts a suicidal quest on Eagles Pass believing his sacrifice will save his people from the evil Fabbro family. Pero, however, underestimated the Fabbro’s ambition and civil war ensues. Friends are betraying friends.
This edition is an All-Ages friendly version of the original two books in The Crystal Crux series, Betrayal and Blue Grotto. The graphic sex and violence has been omitted without losing the essence of the tale.
The Crystal Crux series is an exciting ten day fantasy adventure in August 1198 AD. It is filled with knights, magic, sorcery and a dragon.

What I liked: The Crystal Crux was an interesting fantasy read. It has all the elements I expect in the genre: battles between good and evil, intrigue, a quest, betrayal, romance, and plenty of action and adventure. Sinibaldus is a perfectly evil character and the Fabbros are the epitome of the palace intrigue players in the 12th century. AM Werner did an excellent job of capturing the essence of the historical period. Overall, an entertaining and exciting tale!

What I didn’t like: The Crystal Crux did seem to be repetitive in places. Pero’s repeated recollections of his life events didn’t add to the story for me. In addition, despite cleaning up the story to make it acceptable to older YA readers, it isn’t appropriate for all ages.

Overall impression: The Crystal Crux – The First Three Days is a worthwhile read for fantasy readers. The characters are compelling, the quest is good, and the action and adventure top notch. I recommend this one for older teens and above who enjoy a good fantasy book!

My rating: 4 Stars

Are you a fantasy reader? Have you read The Crystal Crux – The First Three Days? How about any of A.M Werner’s books? If you have please consider leaving a review! If you want to connect with A.M. Werner, find his books on his website.

Like my review (or not), leave me a comment and let me know! Want to connect on the socials? Find me on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest. I enjoy meeting new friends!

Subnormal by Stuart Kenyon – My Review!!

Subnormal – My Review!!

Subnormal Cover

Subnormal by Stuart Kenyon showed up in my Amazon recommendations. I thought the blurb was interesting and picked it up. Read on for my review!

Synopsis (from the author): Imagine a utopia where every person has a purpose and not a single life is wasted.

Britain has become a hive-like world, with even the weakest and most vulnerable playing their part in the nation’s transformation. Crime is low, employment high.

But all is not quite as it seems. Though the revolution was quiet and bloodless, countless lives have been torn apart before our very eyes. Whilst the silent majority are mysteriously duped into collaboration, dissenters are ignored or punished. Democracy, civil liberties and equality are replaced by corruption, discrimination and segregation.

Paul, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, knows slavery in the Zone is intrinsically unnatural. His first personal rebellion at Industrial Zone Four is crushed and he is forced to suffer alone for years in silence. Until his younger brother, Tommy, is also declared “subnormal” and sent to the Zone following an accident.

Allied with a handful of fellow Zoners and free-thinkers from the outside world, the brothers defy the powers-that-be. Can they beat the odds and restore to the British people a freedom few can remember?

What I liked: Subnormal presented a dystopian UK, where the government systematically and silently subjugates the populace. Those whom they can’t control or who have issues (as defined by the government) are deemed subnormal and placed in work zones. The Zoners face horrible treatment, and brutal control. Against all that, our heroes, all of whom are considered subnormal, band together and strike out against the oppression. Will they succeed? No spoilers from me! Paul and his brother are great characters, and Paul’s Asperger’s is key to the story. The other characters, including a former soldier, a scientist, and a single mom trying to regain her son, are well-developed, and each has an important role in the story. All told, a scary but entertaining read.

What I didn’t like: The ease with which the government subjugated the entire populace was difficult for me to accept. In addition, the evil government was too stereotypical, and the actions taken by the Zoners were too easy in a police state.

Overall impression: Subnormal by Stuart Kenyon was a gritty, disturbing look at a dystopian UK. Filled with both good and evil, the story moves quickly. If you enjoy dystopia, give this one a read!

My rating: 4 Stars

Have you read Subnormal? What about the other books by Stuart Kenyon? If so, please consider leaving a review where you purchased the book(s). And connect with Stuart Kenyon through his website.

Did you enjoy my review? Please leave me a comment and let me know. I’d love to connect with you on the socials, too. Find me on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest. I look forward to getting to know new friends!

The Dragon Dreamer by J S Burke – My Review!!

The Dragon Dreamer – My Review!!

The Dragon Dreamer Cover

I enjoy reading authors from Georgia and added The Dragon Dreamer by J S Burke to my TBR not long ago. Read on to discover my thoughts!

Synopsis (from the author): The Dragon Dreamer is a fast-paced adventure with flying dragons, an undersea world, and an unlikely friendship. It’s a science fantasy layered for readers age 9 to 99.

Arak is a misfit dragon called “Dreamer”. Determined to prove himself he leaves on a dangerous quest, is caught in a fierce sea-storm, and crashes on ice. Wounded and alone he faces death. Then a fearless undersea shape-shifter named Scree heals him and an unlikely friendship begins. When an undersea volcano erupts it triggers a towering tsunami and a deadly chain of events. Can Arak use his unique talents to save the dragons?

What I liked: The Dragon Dreamer was a fun read, and I learned quite a bit about octopi, squids, and, of course, dragons. I enjoyed the way J S Burke mingled fantasy, science, and science fiction into the story. Arak, our dragon hero, persevered through bullying and teasing. Scree, the octopus, was a bold adventurer, and together they bring their respective cultures together to help one another and improve life for both. Lots to learn here!

What I didn’t like: To be honest, I really didn’t find anything to dislike in this book.

Overall impression: The Dragon Dreamer by J S Burke was a good read. Written for ages 9-99, the story is easy to follow, deals with issues many young people encounter, and showed that a positive attitude can go a long way to making life better. Well done J S Burke!

My rating: 5 Stars

Have you read The Dragon Dreamer? If you have (or will), please consider leaving a review. Just a few words to let J S Burke know your thoughts on the book. In addition, please stop by her Amazon Author page or website and connect with her. I know she will appreciate it!

If you liked my review (or even if you didn’t), leave me a comment and let me know or email me at bill@williamlstuart.com Connect with me on the socials, too! I can be found on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest. If you don’t want to miss a post, subscribe to the blog!