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.

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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!

The Forging by C.P. Bialois – My Review!!

The Forging (The Sword and the Flame Book 1) – My Review!

The Forging Cover

I wanted to read fantasy again, and I had my eye on this one for a while. Therefore, when I had a spot on the TBR, I added this one. Read on for my review!

Synopsis (from the author): In a world where magic and the sword rule and dragons are forgotten, a band of friends find each other but can they overcome their own fears and trials in time to fulfill their destiny? Their adventure begins in The Sword and the Flame: The Forging. Before a weapon can be used, it must be forged in the fires of life.

What I liked: The Forging is one of those fantasy books that makes you feel good! It has all the requisite elements – a quest, danger, sacrifice, peril, and the awakening of power. The characters, though, make this an enjoyable read for me. My favorite is Janessa, the Halfling. Her friend Viola, the apprentice Sorcerer, and Berek, a Barbarian add their own elements. The gargoyle Fech makes a great enforcer for Renard (the circus owner), and both of those are the evil in the story. All told, The Forging is a good read for all fantasy readers.

What I didn’t like: With all the characters (I didn’t mention Galin the Dwarf, Mern the Sorcerer, and a few others), following the story is a bit confusing. Other than that, no complaints from me!

Overall impression: The Forging is a fantasy book for all ages. Cool characters, an interesting quest, a magical barbarian, and lots of evil afoot make this a fun read. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys fantasy!

My rating: 5 Stars

Have you read The Forging (The Sword and the Flame Book 1)? What about any of C.P Bialois’ other books? If so, please consider leaving a review. Reviews let authors know what readers think about their work. And, if you want to know more about C. P. Bialois and his books, check out his Amazon Author page or his website. I know he will appreciate it!

Now that you’ve read my review, what do you think? Leave me a comment and let me know! If you want to connect on the socials, I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest. Please feel free to connect with me on any of them. I look forward to meeting new friends! And, if you don’t want to miss a post, subscribe to the blog.

 

Volcanoes – In Georgia?!?! Yes! Pigeon Mountain!!

 

Volcanoes – in Georgia???

Volcanoes

When you think of volcanoes in the US, where do you think of them? Hawaii is a good bet, since there are 3 active volcanoes in the state. Maunaloa last erupted in 1984, but Kilauea has been erupting continuously since 1983. In addition, Loihi is still underwater, but erupting.

How about Alaska? Lots of volcanic activity up there. Or maybe the Pacific Northwest? Mount St. Helen, Mount Shasta, Mount Rainier all come to mind. There are even a few in California that are monitored by the USGS. And, we all know about Yellowstone and the supervolcano lurking beneath the surface.

But, have you ever thought about volcanoes in Georgia? Believe it or not, Pigeon Mountain in Northwest Georgia is a dormant volcano that last erupted in 1857. Besides Pigeon Mountain itself, in the Pigeon Mountain Volcanic Range there are 5 extinct volcanoes and 1 collapsed caldera. As you can see, this isn’t an impressive volcano.

Located in Walker County Georgia near Lafayette, Pigeon Mountain features two caves. One of them, Ellison’s Cave is the 12th deepest cave in the US and reaches a depth of 1063 feet. According to Wikipedia, it a a technically difficult cave to explore and beginners are severely urged not to enter the cave.

Volcanoes Ellison's Cave

The second cave, Petty John’s Cave, is a wild cave – not commercialized. As Wikipedia tells us, this is a cave much more suited to beginners. Still the basics of caving (spelunking) should be observed.

Between the two caves, more than 20 miles of passages are mapped. It might be a cool trip for experienced cavers to experience. Since I’m not, I doubt I’ll be going in the caves.

So, what can you expect to find when exploring near dormant or extinct volcanoes? Well, for Pigeon Mountain, iron (usually in the form of hematite). No diamonds or any other precious gemstones are listed in the area, but the ghost town of Estelle is on Pigeon Mountain. Estelle was a gold mining town, so maybe there is a bit of gold left to find!

Much like the abundance of gemstones in the North Georgia Mountains, I had no idea volcanoes had ever played a part in Georgia’s history. I’ll keep researching and let you know what I discover. And who knows, maybe what I find will become part of my next book, just as gemstones played a major role in The Gemstone Chronicles!

What do you think? Did you know about the volcanoes that dot the North Georgia Mountains? Leave me a comment and let me know. And, so you don’t miss a post, subscribe to the blog. If you want to connect with me on the socials, I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest.

 

The Dark Levy by Alaric Longward – My Review!!

The Dark Levy by Alaric Longward – My Review!

The Dark Levy Cover

The Dark Levy by Alaric Longward caught my eye as a recommendation on my Amazon feed. It’s definitely dark fantasy, but with an intriguing twist that grabbed me immediately. Read on for more!

Synopsis (from the author): In this epic dark fantasy adventure story, Shannon and Dana visit their wise, old grandmother in Wales, and finally learn why their lives have been strangely tormented and cursed. There is a family secret, old as time itself, and that secret might kill them if they try to ignore their destiny. They also learn that there is a dangerous way to embrace that secret, because on that day, a harrowing creature of an alien world calls out for the few and the special, talented humans of the Tenth world. Our world.

Dana performs an irreversible murderous deed that opens the gate to the Jewel of the Nine, the world of Aldheim, and they meet the strange creature calling for them. In this world they find their true calling, their special talents, the truth of the gods and also a world of mystery, danger, and adversity. Shannon and Dana struggle with their previous relationship as one grows cruel and power-driven, while the other learns to value friendship. Much is demanded of Shannon, who struggles with her loyalties.

Despite the many dangers and their apparently hopeless situation in the brutal, mage-filled world of monsters and dragons, there is hope, for Shannon has special, coveted powers of healing, reserved for the chosen of the gods. If she perseveres, she can change the past and bring back even the gods.

But the price will be great.

What I liked: The Dark Levy is a great dark fantasy read! Shannon is the vulnerable yet strong and unlikely heroine. Dana repeatedly shows her dark side and is ruthless. The supporting cast plays the important background role, providing conflict and shifting loyalties to enhance the story. And the gorgons are great antagonists. Norse mythology elements add  an extra layer  to the tale. All in all, an excellent fantasy read!

What I didn’t like: My only complaints about the book are some parts seem repetitive and I found myself rushing through them.

Overall impression: Despite my criticism above, Alaric Longward’s The Dark Levy combines all the elements of a great dark fantasy book. Action, conflict, impossible choices, and fantastic villains blend together to take the reader on an epic journey. If you read fantasy, put this one on your TBR!

My rating: 5 Stars

Have you read The Dark Levy? What about any of Alaric Longward’s other books? Find out more about them on his Amazon Author page or his website. Visit, look around, and leave him a comment. Please consider leaving a review, too, since reviews let authors know what reader’s think of their work.

What did you think of my review? Love it? Hate it? Leave me a comment and let me know! And, so you don’t miss a review, subscribe to the blog. I’d love to connect with you on the socials, too! Find me on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest and say hi!

 

A Fine Line: The Beginning by J.C. Brennan – My Review!!

A Fine Line: The Beginning – My review!!

A Fine Line Cover

 

I was looking for something different to read and A Fine Line: The Beginning showed up in my recommendations. Not normally a fan of Civil War era novels, I wanted to read this one as the blurb and the cover intrigued me. Read on for my thoughts!

Synopsis (from the author): This historical fantasy will take you on mystical journey with William T. Healthaway and the Crew one you won’t soon forget. William T. Healthaway, a Union soldier, fights in the battle of Pickett’s Mill. The battle is brutal and treacherous. However, however, William will soon learn that surviving this battle is only the beginning of his adventure. He is about to be thrown him into a whirlwind of preternatural happenstance and danger he and the rest of the Crew could never have dreamed possible.
The war awaiting them after their homecoming is one which has been raging for centuries; a war that will lead them into a world they never dreamed might exist. Unknowingly, the family will be plunged into a world of mystery, encountering intrigue, deception, death, temptation, and powers not of their world. With every miraculous power revealed will come a sinister evil. William and his Crew will find themselves in a world which defies every reality.

What I liked: A Fine Line: The Beginning drew me in from the start. The battle scene, William’s injury, his vision of Caroline, and his rescue by Tyrone and Cecil, set the stage for the book. Add to it the powers Tyrone and Cecil possess, and the reunion of William’s war compatriots and all the elements are in place for this historical fantasy! The elements of good versus evil, temptation, redemption, and sacrifice all play important roles as the story unfolds. All told, a good read!

What I didn’t like: At times, the introduction of the characters’ powers seemed forced. In addition, for a historical fiction piece, much of the interaction among the characters was more modern than the time setting would dictate.

Overall Impression: A Fine Line: The Beginning was an intriguing and interesting read. Good characters, an ancient lineage, awakening powers, and the battle between good and evil kept my attention. I read this one quickly and look forward to reading the rest of the series.

My rating:  4 Stars

Have you read A Fine Line: The Beginning? What about any of J.C. Brennan’s other books? If you have (or will), please consider leaving a review. And, if you have a moment, stop by her Amazon author page or website and discover more about this talented writer! i now she will appreciate it.

Like (or dislike) my review? Please let me a comment and let me know. If you want to connect on the socials, find me on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest. You can email me at bill@williamlstuart.com, too!

 

Wire-Wrapping – My First Attempt (Not My Last)!

Readers of my books (The Gemstone Chronicles) and this blog know I love gemstones! I try to go gemstone hunting about once per month, and my two rock tumblers run continuously turning out polished stones by the 3 lbs. barrel full . In fact, I have gotten quite a nice collection of tumbled stones (as evidenced below)!

Wire-Wrapping Tumbled Stones

So, what to do with all these gorgeous stones? I pondered the question for a short time, and then decided I would try my hand at wire-wrapping them. And, since I received a Dremel and a Dremel workstation as gifts, and had a set of diamond drill to use in the tools, I could drill holes in them, too! In addition, my lovely and adorable bride (Lana) gave me the tools from her experiment in beading a few years ago, and I had everything I needed to give wire-wrapping a shot. Here is my drilling station. The plastic container holds water (keeps the rock and drill bit cool) and a piece of rubber (so I don’t drill through the plastic). Pretty cool!

Wire-Wrapping Dremel Workstation

How did my experiment work? Well, I drilled holes in an amethyst and a piece of jasper I had tumbled and decided to give the jasper a try. Below is what the jasper looked liked after drilling.

Wire-wrapping Jasper

 

Now for the drilled and wrapped piece!

Wire-wrapping wrapped jasper

I like the way it turned out and I think it will make a great pendant. I still have to do the amethyst and drill more stones, but I think this will be a great way to use the tumbled stones I keep producing. Who knows? Maybe I’ll open an Etsy store in the future!

That’s my first wire-wrapping effort. I know it isn’t great, but I will keep practicing until I get better. What do you think? Is this a good use for my tumbled stones? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Do you wire-wrap? Any tricks or tips you want to share? You can let me know in a comment, email me at bill@williamlstuart.com or connect with me on the socials and tell me there. I can be found on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest, so  look me up and say hi! I can use all the wire-wrapping help I can get!

The Calling (Gateway Book 1) By Louise G. White – My Review!!

The Calling (Gateway Book 1) – My Review!!

The Calling Cover

The Calling (Gateway Book 1) by Louise G. White caught my eye while browsing suggestions from Amazon. The blurb sounded good, so I decided to give it a read. Below are my thoughts!

Synopsis (from the author): On the run and hiding from ‘the suits’, Carolyn’s life is far from straightforward. After her mother and brother go missing in a most extraordinary way, (through a hole to another world which appears in the kitchen wall!), she is determined to track them down and bring them home. But life is never that easy! Rescued and protected by a group of unusual and likeminded ‘people’, Carolyn hones her magic and fighting skills. Whilst answering a ‘call’ to retrieve a human from another world she’s faced with a quick decision and ends up bringing a demon back with her. Little did she know what effect this demon would have on her.

What I liked: Carolyn is a great character. Spunky, resourceful, and coming into her power, she answers the calling lethally. Once she meets Note, things get really interesting. The story moves along at a good pace, and the scrapes Carolyn and Note add a nice backdrop for their burgeoning romance. Ethan carries a torch for Carolyn (while trying to be the cool demon hunter) and Sean (the brooding mysterious one) add a depth to the character list. All this while Carolyn tries to figure out how to get her Mother and brother back from the otherworld. All in all, The Calling is good stuff!

What I didn’t like: The first part of the book was confusing. Carolyn is dodging government agencies, answering calls, and killing demons, but it isn’t clear why. It frustrated me as a reader! I also thought the repeated sexual near misses between Note and Carolyn became too repetitive and detracted from the story.

Overall impression: Once I understood what Carolyn was and why she was doing what she did, I liked The Calling. Carolyn’s character was easy to identify with, Note was a cool demon snake guy, and Sean was an excellent mystery. Despite the issues I listed above, I enjoyed the book and put the next two on my TBR list!

My rating: 4 Stars

Have you read The Calling? What about Louise G. White’s other books? If not, why not check them out and give them a try? And, while you are at it, stop by Louise G. White’s Amazon Author Page or her website and say hi! If you read any of her books, please consider leaving a review. I know she will appreciate it!

How did you like this review? Leave me a comment and let me know. Connect with me on the socials on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest. If you prefer, email me at bill@williamlstuart.com. If you don’t want to miss a post, subscribe to the blog. I look forward to hearing from you!