The Set Stealer by Jonathon McElhaney – My Review!!

The Set Stealer – My Review!!!

The Set Stealer Cover

It’s time to head back to the fantasy realm. This time it’s The Set Stealer by Jonathon McElhaney, a book from a fellow Georgia author and one that showed up in my Amazon recommendations. Read on for my thoughts!

Synopsis (from the author):

A Set is a gift. A power that one can bring from within themselves and manifest to change the physical world. Everyone has at least one, ranging from the mundane to the all powerful. That is, everyone except Kayla. But when her father is murdered in front of her, Kayla is sent on a collision course with destiny as she is forced on an adventure to discover not only who killed her father but who she is. Searching within herself, Kayla must find her own power – even without a Set to protect her – and save not only herself but the world she loves.

What I liked:

Overall, The Set Stealer was a good story. I liked Kayla’s character and her quest for knowledge. The pace of the story was good, and there was plenty of action with plenty of blood and violence to go along with it. The training sequences interested me, and the final battle added an interesting twist. If you enjoy dark fantasy, add this one to your TBR list.

What I didn’t like:

At times, especially in the battle scenes, the book seemed more like a superhero battle than a fantasy novel. I would have liked to have more information on exactly what a set is and why the sets manifest themselves so differently in each person. Lastly, The Set Stealer could have used another pass by the editor.

Overall impression:

I liked the book! Good characters, lots of action, intrigue, and Kayla’s quest made for an enjoyable read. On the downside, my biggest issue was the book could have used additional editing. However, if you like action filled fantasy, read this one.

My rating:

3.5 Stars (rounded to 4 stars)

Connect with Jonathon McElhaney:

Find Jonathon McElhaney on his Amazon Author Page or his website. Visit, look around, and maybe pick up a book for yourself! While you’re there, please consider leaving a comment or a review.

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Making History by Bruce Polky – My Review!!

Making History – My Review!!

Making History Cover

 

A friend recommended Making History by Bruce Polky and I added it to my TBR. Read on for my thoughts about this sci-fi novel. 

Synopsis (from the author):

One little decision can get you killed, or something worse.

Dav jumps from planet to planet in Safe Space selling computer hardware, whether people need it or not. His life starts to fall apart when his Personal Assistance Device crashes. Like every citizen of Safe Space, his PAD’s been his ID, wallet, phone, and more, from the time he was six years old. Without it he can’t travel, can’t work, can’t even buy lunch!

Under Government law, every citizen must carry their PAD at all times, and any modification is illegal. Leaving it unattended will set off alarms, even calling it bad names will get you fined, or result in a visit from the Protectors.

Marsy, a black-market tech, can fix his machine, but her work has attracted the worst possible attention. Marsy is dragged off by the Protectors, kicking and screaming till the last. Dav gets out, but the Protectors know who he is and that is not a good thing. His new PAD is much more than he expected. Through it, he gets a glimpse of what lies behind Safe Space and the rigid control of the Government. Everything he has always known about life is challenged. If the Protectors find him, they will remove him for what he has discovered. He must learn to work with the new capabilities of his upgraded PAD to survive, but this device plays by its own rules, and it could kill him even faster!

His only option is to hunt for Marsy. She can tell him what this damn thing is, and maybe together they can uncover what the Government is hiding.

Or maybe humanity’s whole future has already been decided.

What I liked:

First, I liked the story! A nice mix of science fiction and dystopia with a few little twists along the way kept my attention. Samuel (our resident computer inhabiting Dav’s PAD) was an entertaining character. Dav himself was a good character, too, though I liked Samuel better. Marsy and Garth added nice background, but the story revolved around Dav and Samuel. The discoveries Dav and Samuel made and government control of everything showed the dystopian side of the book. All told, a fun and entertaining novel!

What I didn’t like:

For me, the science fiction wasn’t futuristic enough. Yes, the PADs were cool, but from a technology perspective, not much different that tablets and phones available today. The space travel was cool, but the habitats, again were not so futuristic.

Overall impression:

Making History by Bruce Polky entertained me! Dav and Samuel’s adventures and the secrets they uncovered made for an interesting and thought provoking book. While it could have been heavier on the science fiction, the story kept me interested. If you enjoy sci-fi with a nice mix of dystopia, read this one!

My rating:

4 Stars

Connect with Bruce Polky:

Find Bruce and his book on his Amazon Author Page. While visiting, consider leaving a comment or a review and maybe pick up your own copy of Making History!

Connect with me:

Let’s meet on the socials and connect. I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Pinterest, and Tumblr. If you see me, say hi! Don’t want to miss a post? Subscribe to the blog!

Riven (My Myth #1) by Jane Alvey Harris – My Review!!

Riven – My Review!!

Riven (My Myth #1) by Jane Alvey Harris showed up in my Goodreads recommendations. Intrigued by both the cover and the blurb, I added it to my TBR list. Read on for my thoughts!

Synopsis (from the author):

Which reality would you choose? Seventeen year-old Emily’s dad is in prison for securities fraud and her mom’s strung-out on pain meds, leaving Emily to parent herself and her younger brothers and sister. She’s got things mostly under control until a couple weeks before Dad’s release, when voices start whispering in her head, and Gabe, the hot lifeguard at the pool, notices the strange brands engraved on her arm…the ones she’s trying desperately to hide. Emily doesn’t know how the symbols got there or what they mean. They appeared overnight and now they’re infected and bleeding. She’s pretty sure she’s losing her mind. Stress, insomnia, and her wounded egos drive Emily to self-medicate, which has to be why the nightmares from her childhood have resurfaced, why they’re commandeering her conscious even when she’s awake. It has to be why the fairytale creatures she created as a little girl insist they need her help. Triggered by the return of her childhood abuser and unable to cope with reality, Emily slips completely inside her elaborate fantasy world. She’s powerful in the First Realm, maybe even more powerful than her attacker. It would be so easy to stay there, to lose herself in enchantment…to lose herself in love. But something sinister lurks in the forest shadows. Emily soon discovers her demons have followed her inside her fairytale. They’re hunting her. With the help of the Fae, she frantically searches for the weapons she needs to defeat her greatest fears and escape back to reality before the man who tortured her can prey on her younger brothers and sister, too. Time is running out…

*Non-Explicit Trigger Warning: This book deals with the issues of child molestation and child abuse. 

What I liked:

Riven had many of the elements of classic fantasy. From the Fae, the First Realm, and the dragonflies in the real world, to the runes cut into her arm, the intrigue and magic made the story seem real. Emily’s substance abuse and her mother’s illness provided the perfect reasons to slip between worlds. The abuse noted at the end of the synopsis, though horrible and uncomfortable, wasn’t explicit and didn’t overtly dominate the story. Emily’s escape mechanism from the trauma did dominate the story and, by using fantasy elements to depict her protection, Jane Alvey Harris did an exceptional job handling the topic.

What I didn’t like:

At times, the story was difficult to follow, especially when Emily interacted with her siblings. It was sometimes unclear whether she imagined everything or if her siblings also saw what she saw. Gabe’s insistence to be included in Emily’s life (despite the fact it was explained late in the book) was a bit odd for me.

Overall impression:

Excellent characters, a good story, and memorable fantasy elements made Riven (My Myth #1) a book to read. Certainly not for early YA, this one is geared more toward older teens. The book handles a difficult subject well, but with the fantasy elements dominating the story, it is a good read. Fantasy fans should read it!

My rating:

4 Stars

Connect with Jane Alvey Harris: 

Find out more about the author on her Amazon Author page and her website. While you’re there, please consider leaving a review or a comment!

Connect with me:

Find me on the socials and let’s connect! I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest and I look forward to meeting new friends!

 

An AWOL Stardrives: Fleet of Man by Merv Miller – My Review!!

An AWOL Stardrives: Fleet of Man – My Review!!

Stardrives

As many of my readers know, I spent time in the US Navy running nuclear power plants. I’m also a member of a Facebook group for people who graduated from Naval Nuclear Power School. In that group, I saw a discussion of An AWOL Stardrives: Fleet of Man by Mervin Miller. Mervin Miller is a former Navy Nuke, too, so I decided to check out the book. Read on for my thoughts!

Synopsis (from the author): The Fleet of Man departed Earth a long, long time in the past. The location of Earth has been lost for nearly as long. Through a series of incidents a single man has stumbled upon clues to the location of this fabled world and begins a quest to find the lost Man Home. His actions trigger consequences beyond his understanding or control.

What I liked: I enjoyed the book! The hero, a NewMan, is a Stardrives, meaning he is responsible for the engine on the starship. He gets transferred to another post and discovers a path to the long-lost ManHome. From there, the story gets interesting, especially when he finds a woman. But, no spoilers from me. An AWOL Stardrives: Fleet of Man has cool technology, an intriguing quest, and pretty memorable characters. All told, a good sci-fi read!

What I didn’t like: I’ll do my best to avoid spoilers, but a couple of things took me out of the story. First, if there weren’t women, where did the NewMan originate? Secondly, where did the OldMen come from? A few plot holes also detracted from the story, but I can’t tell them without spoilers.

Overall impression: Mervin Miller’s An AWOL Stardrives: Fleet of Man is worth a look. If you enjoy sci-fi and a different take on space travel and adventures, this is a book for you.

My rating: 4 Stars

Connect with Mervin Miller: Find Mervin Miller and his books on his Amazon Author Page and his Goodreads page. While you’re there, please consider leaving a comment or a review and let him know your thoughts on his book. Maybe pick up the next books in the series, too!

Connect with me: Find me on the socials and let’s connect! I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest. Stop by and say hi! As always, shares and comments are greatly appreciated!

The Sapphire of Poseidon by Scott L Collins – My Review!!

The Sapphire of Poseidon – My Review!!

The Sapphire of Poseidon Cover

I read and reviewed the first three books of the Scepter Series by Scott L Collins. When he released The Sapphire of Poseidon (Scepter #4) it immediately went on the TBR list. I’ve finally got to it and I’m glad I did! Read on for my review!

Synopsis (from the author):

With the Emerald and Ruby now reunited with the Scepter of Harmony, the rebellious group of children intent on overthrowing the malevolent King Argyle must face a new challenge: recovering the Sapphire of Poseidon. In order for the full power of the Scepter to be restored, the jewel must be inserted back into the staff.

With Argyle now at war with Queen Kyrie, and his ships scouting the lake to locate her, as well as the realm of the Merfolk, the small band of insurgents must find a way to cross the Great Lake while avoiding not only Argyle’s fleet, but the kraken he’s released in an attempt to draw the Queen of the Lake into battle.

Time is running short as Argyle is sure to figure out their plans for bringing together all the pieces of the Scepter. Once he does, it’ll be a race to recover the remaining gems, and if Argyle finds one first, the fight, and the kingdom, will be lost forever.

What I liked:

As with the other books in the series, following the cast of characters on their adventures is like renewing old friendships. Daniel and his friends travel to recover the Sapphire of Poseidon. Along the way, they make new friends and reunite with old companions. The story is excellent, King Argyle continues to be sufficiently evil, and our heroes’ abilities continue to grow. All in all, The Sapphire of Poseidon is a wonderful addition to the series!

What I didn’t like:

Other than a couple of slow spots, there really wasn’t much to dislike about this one!

Overall impression:

The Sapphire of Poseidon (Scepter #4) is an excellent book! With familiar characters, plenty of action, budding romance, and the evil King Argyle, it kept me entertained! I recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good YA fantasy adventure!

My rating:

5 Stars

Connect with the author:

Find Scott L Collins on his Amazon Author page and his website. Discover more about the author and his books and consider leaving a review for The Sapphire of Poseidon (or any of his other books)! I know he’d appreciate it!

Connect with me:

Please leave a comment if you liked (or didn’t like) my review. Connect with me on social media on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest. You can also drop me an email at bill@williamlstuart.com. I enjoy connecting with new friends. I look forward to meeting you!

The Weight of Shadows (Shadow Series #1) by Karl Holton – My Review!!

The Weight of Shadows – My Review!!

Weight of Shadows Cover

I don’t know the algorithm Amazon uses to send recommendations and sometimes it’s hit or miss. When I received the recommendation for The Weight of Shadows (Shadow Series #1) by Karl Holton, I was surprised. Normally not a reader of crime fiction (though I have read a few), I decided to give this one a shot. Good call!

Synopsis (from the author):

When you have spent your life in the shadows, what would you do at the dying of the light?

Three years ago the best murder detective in London is blamed for the death of his colleague and kicked out of the Met.
A man with secrets buried in the past and present returns to London, the city that started the mysterious career which made him a billionaire.
The two need each other.
But they have no idea how much.

What I liked:

I enjoy stories that twist and turn and keep you guessing. The Weight of Shadows had plenty of that and more! The protagonist, Danny Benedict, is a complicated man with a world-weary air about him. His colleagues make for a nice backdrop for the tale, and the millionaire who seeks Benedict’s help adds a good mysterious element to the book. Overall, an entertaining read with nice pace.

What I didn’t like:

In spite of how much I enjoyed the book, I had a couple of issues. First, the investigation into the mobsters and the millionaire’s needs made it a bit difficult to keep up with events. Secondly, the opening encounter implied to me that Benedict would die (he obviously did). How he survived was never explained.

Overall impression:

The Weight of Shadows (Shadow Series #1) by Karl Holton is a good read. Plenty of action, a realistic plot, and intriguing characters add up to a book I enjoyed. I recommend this one to any fans of crime thrillers!

My rating:

4 Stars

Connect with the author:

Find more about Karl Holton on his Amazon Author Page or his website. While you’re there, please consider leaving a review!

Connect with me:

Find me on the socials on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest. I enjoy meeting new friends so say hi, drop me an email at bill@williamlstuart.com, or leave me a comment! Thanks for visiting!

History’s Prisoners by James Garmisch – My Review!!

History’s Prisoners (Invasion #1) – My Review!


History's Prisoners Cover

Dystopia and science fiction often go well together and History’s Prisoners (Invasion #1) by James Garmisch is no exception. This one came to me from an Amazon recommendation and I’m glad it did!

Synopsis (from the author):

Moments before his execution, Huan is given a clear choice: infiltrate the Global Resistance—or die, and never see his children again.

The Alliance is collapsing, and Huan, a former economist for the worldwide government, knows how it was engineered. History has been reset, the children of dissidents re-educated, and the family unit abolished. The facade of utopia is evaporating.

Meanwhile, beyond the city walls, the separated lands are shifting from despair to chaos. Smoldering discontent is about to explode. Huan is neither a soldier nor a spy, but he will have to become both—and quickly—if he is to survive and to save the family that does not know him.

What I liked:

History’s Prisoners grabbed my attention from the start. The encounter between Doon and Reanna, followed by the battle, sets the stage for this sci-fi dystopian book. Well-written, plenty of action, behind the scenes political maneuvering, and a hint of romance, makes this a good read. And I can’t forget to mention Sasha and his memorable character! 

What I didn’t like:

For me, the details of the world, though entertaining, slowed the story. In addition, many parts were too predictable.

Overall impression:

History’s Prisoners (Invasion #1) was a good dystopian sci-fi novel. Well-written, memorable characters, and an eerie parallel to current events (on both sides of the political aisle and society in general), the book entertained me, but kept me wondering at the same time.

My rating:

4 Stars

Connect with the Author: 

Find out more about James Garmisch and his books on his Amazon Author Page or his website. While you are at it, please consider leaving a review to let him know your thoughts on his book!

Connect with me: 

I appreciate you taking time to read this review! Please leave me a comment or connect with me on social media. I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest. I enjoy meeting new friends, so say hi on the socials or drop me an email at bill@williamlstuart.com!

Quartz, Topaz, Emerald, and Fairy Crosses!!

Quartz, Topaz, Emerald, and Fairy Crosses!!

I went rock hunting with my brother and niece recently. We found lots of great rocks and I thought I’d share a few of them. First is a nice piece of quartz (I like to call them pencil quartz but this would be a BIG pencil!). The rusty color is internal to the rock, which is pretty cool! I think I’ll try to polish it a bit, but don’t really plan on changing it much. I like the way it looks!

Quartz

 

The second find of the day was a great piece of topaz. The topaz we find is usually clear or maybe has just a touch of blue in it. As you may have read in previous gemstone posts, topaz’s blue color can come from heat and exposure to radiation. North Georgia ‘s mountains have a lot of granite (which may contain trace radioactive elements). I think I’ll play around with a smaller piece of topaz and a butane torch to see if I can get color enhancement. If so, maybe I’ll try it on this piece. At 168.4 carats, I don’t want to damage it.

 

The last find I want to share is this great piece of moonstone (I think). I love the orange colors and I believe it will make a great cabochon. I’ll cut a slab or two off it and see if I can get it to shine. I’ll post pictures and let you know how it works out.

In addition to the ones I found, I ordered a bag of chiastolite fairy crosses and staurolite fairy crosses (these came from Fannin County Georgia). If you recall from The Gemstone Chronicles Book One: The Carnelian, the elf Findecano was trapped in a chiastolite fairy cross, so I had to get me at least one. And Aidan found a bunch of staurolite fairy crosses before Maggie found Findecano’s prison. Given how important fairy crosses are to the books, I just had to have some.

Quartz

The last picture I wanted to share with you is this emerald. I found this one a while back and want to take it to my friend for him to examine and cut for me. This one is about 16 carats, but it has a great green color and I hope he’ll be able to create a beautiful stone from it!

I’ll be heading out for another rock hunting excursion soon. If I find some noteworthy specimens, I’ll be sure to post pictures. In the meantime, check out the blog for other gemstone posts and subscribe so you don’t miss any updates. Connect with me on social media, too! I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest! I look forward to meeting new friends!!

The Ghost Chronicles by Marlo Berliner – My Review!!!

The Ghost Chronicles – My Review!!!

Ghost

 

 

Although paranormal books are not usually high on my list, Amazon recommended The Ghost Chronicles by Marlo Berliner. I’m glad Amazon did! Read on for my thoughts.

Synopsis (from the author): Can Michael get to heaven before the devil gets him first, and if it means leaving Sarah is he sure he still wants to go?

Michael Andrews had everything – a loving family, a great girlfriend and a promising basketball career. That was before the accident that took his life. Now, he’s a ghost, wandering among the living, struggling to understand why he’s stuck. All he wants is to move on.

That is until he meets Sarah, an attractive young girl who died just as tragically as he did. The only trouble is falling in love and binding oneself to another soul is forbidden, for it may keep one or both of the souls bound to earth for longer than they should be.

To make matters worse, there’s also a danger in going too far with Sarah, because the “joining” of two souls in the afterlife is also strictly forbidden and they don’t know what will happen if they do go that far. Each time they touch they can feel the boundaries of their energies slipping perilously into one another.

Things get even more complicated as Michael learns he’s being pursued. Demons are after him because he’s a marked soul, a soul the devil wants very badly for some unknown reason.

So, maybe falling in love in the afterlife isn’t such a good idea.

Inspired by the legend of a haunting at the Angel of the Sea bed and breakfast in Cape May, NJ.

What I liked: The Ghost Chronicles was an interesting book. Paranormal to be sure, the novel deals with the death of Michael, his inability to move on from a limbo-like state, and his budding romance with Sara (another ghost who can’t move on). Michael’s character and his struggles drew me in and the mystery around Tom and his frequent disappearances added a nice element to the story. Michael’s family’s grief and the impact of his death seemed real. Michael and Sara’s relationship was a nice romantic addition. Overall, an excellent read!

What I didn’t like: Despite everything I liked, The Ghost Chronicles dragged for me in places, especially when Michael visited his home after his death and his repeated encounters with the demons trying to capture him. I thought there could have been fewer demon battles.

Overall impression: The Ghost Chronicles by Marlo Berliner was an excellent read! Well-written, filled with characters easy to relate to, nice bits of romance, plenty of action, and enough mystery and intrigue to keep me turning the pages. I recommend the book to anyone who enjoys paranormal romances!

My rating: 5 Stars

Connect with the author:

Is The Ghost Chronicles on your TBR list? If so, please consider leaving a review. If not, why are you waiting? Please don’t forget to stop by Marlo Berliner’s Amazon Author page and website to find out more about her and her books!

Connect with me:

If you have time, leave me a comment on this review. If you don’t have time for that, email me at bill@williamlstuart.com or connect with me on the socials. I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest. I’d love to know what you think about my reviews!

Finding the Fountain of Youth by C. A. King – My Review!!

Finding the Fountain of Youth – My Review!!

Fountain

 

 

Another recommendation from Amazon in this week’s review. Today, it’s the fantasy novel Finding the Fountain of Youth (Shattering Effects of Time Book 1) by C. A. King.

Synopsis (from the author): The Shinning boys have always followed the straight and narrow path through life – never deviating from the course for the greater good, but never fully applying their abilities to fight for it either. That all changed the day their younger sister became the victim.
The problem: the villain they have to face to save her is time itself.
The only possible solution: a handful of myths about artifacts believed to have the ability to reverse the grip of time.
Their one lead sets them on a quest to find an ancient civilization of Mermaids to unlock the secrets of the Fountain of Youth. What they discover along the way is more than they could have ever anticipated. The three boys will come face-to-face with their own demons as they are forced to make a choice. What price are they willing to pay to save their sister?

What I liked: Finding the Fountain of Youth had many of the elements I like in a story, good characters, an epic quest, a villain or two, and intrigue. Jessie and Nadine provide the romantic element, the professor is both unlikable and mysterious, and the search for the mermaids to save the brothers’ sister is a good quest. The book had plenty of action and I particularly enjoyed the voyage to recover the treasure chest. Overall, a fun read!

What I didn’t like: Despite all the good things listed above, the story dragged in spots. Additionally, a better explanation of the brother’s magic would have improved the story for me.

Overall impression: Finding the Fountain of Youth (Shattering the Effects of Time Book 1) by C. A. King was an enjoyable book. A good story, nice elements of romance, mythology, and fantasy, along with lots of action kept me entertained. I would recommend this one to fantasy readers everywhere.

My rating: 4 Stars

Connect with the author:

Have you found Finding the Fountain of Youth by C. A. King? What about her other books? If you have (or plan to), please consider leaving a review! Don’t forget to visit C. A. King’s Amazon Author page and her website to discover more about the author.

Connect with me:

While you’re at it, consider leaving a comment about this review, drop me an email at bill@williamlstuart.com, or connect with me on the socials! I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest. I look forward to meeting new friends!