Pandora Syndrome by April Wahlin – My Review!!

Pandora Syndrome – My Review!!

Pandora Syndrome Cover

Pandora Syndrome: Stories of Ithiria popped up in my recommendations not too long ago. Though I’m not a vampire story fan, I read the blurb, and added it to my TBR list. Here are my thoughts.

Synopsis (from the author):

After being shot outside a club on her twenty-first birthday, Pandora Todd, aka Dora, finds herself in the bed of a handsome stranger with a pair of snake-like fangs. Now, instead of a hangover, Dora wakes with an intense hunger for blood and the strange ability to control all things dead, a distinctly un-vampire trait. Unfortunately, just when Dora grows accustomed to the vampire aspects of her eternal life, she finds herself targeted by a rival necromancer. Soon, Dora becomes wrapped up in a plot that will shape her past, present, and future.

What I liked:

First, I enjoyed this book! April Wahlin did a great job of taking vampires, werewolves, zombies, and other horror denizens and made them more human than monster. It was an interesting way to make the story different from others. Seen through the eyes of Dora, the story follows her transition from new adult to vampire – something she doesn’t particularly like to be. Pandora Syndrome also handles Dora’s relationships with other supernatural beings in a humorous and entertaining way. All told, a fun read!

What I didn’t like:

I only have two minor complaints about Pandora Syndrome. First, the story moved a little slowly in places. Second, the cliffhanger ending. I know, personal preferences, but that is why they are minor complaints.

Overall impression:

April Wahlin did a good job with her characters, the story, and building a supernatural world superimposed on Los Angeles. A few slow spots and the cliffhanger ending bothered me a little, but not enough to knock the rating. If you like supernatural stories, read this one!

My rating:

5 Stars

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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)

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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!

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Standing on a Whale by B. J. Tiernan – My Review!!

Standing on a Whale – My review!!

Standing on a Whale Cover

I’m not sure how I found Standing on a Whale by B. J.Tiernan, but after reading the blurb, it intrigued me enough to add it to my TBR list. Here are my thoughts!

Synopsis (from the author):

Recluse Lance Stavros is a successful doctor who runs his own practice, but on the inside, he’s basically high-functioning human wreckage. He was born into a loveless home that lacked the nurturing to help him develop an ability to cope with life’s challenges. Now Lance is forty-seven, and the only reason he’s survived the past four decades without taking his own life is cowardice.

As hopelessness overcomes him, and he’s finally finding the guts within to pull the trigger on his existence, a house call pulls him out of the deadly spiral. It will turn out to be the call of his lifetime.

Lance becomes a live-in medic for a controversial mystic and lecturer who irks the Greek government—and becomes an assassin’s target. Amid this new and curious world, and a reignited past romance, Lance battles his cowardice to investigate who is trying to kill his employer, and he’s about to uncover more than he bargained for.

What I liked:

Standing on a Whale was an interesting read. It was a curiously entertaining cross of philosophy, religion, and political commentary set against the backdrop of Lance Stavros’ personal crisis. Hadden, as the mystical philosopher, added a nice character. They mystery of who Hadden’s would be killer was, and the twists and turns surrounding it kept me guessing. Lastly, Lance’s budding romance with Kavita (and its many twists and turns) completed this enjoyable story.

What I didn’t like:

My only criticism of Standing on a Whale was that some of Hadden’s lectures had a preachy feel to them. Other than that, good stuff!

Overall impression:

I enjoyed Standing on a Whale by B. J. Tiernan. From Lance Stavros’ crisis through his transformation, the novel leads us down a twisty path to redemption. What more can you ask of a book?

My rating:

5 Stars

Connect with B. J. Tiernan:

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Setting the Record Straight by V. W. Shurtliff – My Review!!

Setting the Record Straight – My Review!!

Record

I found Setting The Record Straight by V. W. Shurtliff in my Goodreads recommendations. Intrigued by the blurb, I added it to my TBR list. Here are my thoughts.

Synopsis (from the author):

When I went to sleep, my life was normal. But when my dog woke me up the next morning, nothing was normal. I stood at the top of the stairs and my life fell apart. A dead man was in my living room. My parents were gone, my house was destroyed, and every police officer in the city was after me. But when I learned what was going on, that all seemed small. The world was at risk. A monster was taking over. And only I could stop him.

What I liked:

Setting The Record Straight has a lot of things to like. First, Elmo (the dog) was great. Tommy and his cohorts were good characters, and the there was plenty of action. The plot moved along nicely, and led us to a satisfying conclusion. I also liked the sacrifices needed to protect friends and family. Overall, a good read!

What I didn’t like:

Though I enjoyed the book, some of the dialogue needed improvement. In addition, the conclusion, though satisfying, left me wondering why the opposing forces just walked away after the resolution of the conflict.

Overall impression:

Setting The Record Straight was an entertaining read! Good characters, lots of action, and an awesome dog make it a fun and fast book. I recommend this one to anyone ages 10 and up who enjoy a bit of world-saving entertainment!

My rating:

4 Stars

Connect with V. W. Shurtliff:

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Halfway Unwrapped (Halfway Witchy Book 5) – My Review!!

Halfway Unwrapped – My Review!!

Halfway Unwrapped Cover

I love the Halfway Witchy series by Terry Maggert. I read the previous four books and happily added Halfway Unwrapped (Halfway Witchy Book 5) to my TBR list as soon as Terry Maggert released it. Here are my thoughts!

Synopsis (from the author):

Something stinks in Halfway, and it isn’t a rotting pumpkin.

As Halloween grows closer, monsters begin emerging from the ground. Their beastly purpose is unknown to Carlie, but not to a group of tourists who have come to Halfway for the holiday. The visiting women look innocent, but bad things are happening wherever they go and their trail leads back to the one place that Carlie never wanted to see again.

From the depths of a toxic spring danger will break free again, and this time, there’s more than just the town of Halfway at stake. For Carlie, Gran and Wulfric, the most important event in the history of their lives is just around the corner, but they don’t know it yet, and neither do the strangers who would tear Halfway apart in the name of black magic.

Some things won’t stay buried, but with her charms and a shovel, Carlie will bury the past once and for all.

What I liked:

Like the rest of the series, Halfway Unwrapped feels like a visit to an old friend. Carlie, Gran, Wulfric, and the rest of the recurring characters are warm and familiar and out to protect Halfway in their unseen ways. The adventure is good, the writing excellent, it has great pace. Overall, an entertaining read!

What I didn’t like:

Despite all the good things in Halfway Unwrapped, I had a few issues with the book. First, the story seemed a little disjointed to me and didn’t flow as well as the others in the series. Secondly, the threat to Halfway was odd and the connection between the mushroom men and the strangers didn’t make much sense to me. Lastly, the ending, though unexpected, felt rushed.

Overall impression:

All in all, I enjoyed Halfway Unwrapped (Halfway Witchy Book 5) by Terry Maggert. The familiar characters, good writing, and unexpected ending made it a fun read, though I didn’t like it as much as the previous books. If you’ve read the rest of the series, pick this one up. If you haven’t what are you waiting for?

My rating:

4 Stars

Connect with Terry Maggert:

Find Terry Maggert on his Amazon Author site or his website and discover not just his Halfway Witchy books but also his other novels. While you’re there, leave a review or a comment, and pick up a book or ten!

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Boston Metaphysical Society: A Storm of Secrets – My Review!!

Boston Metaphysical Society: A Storm of Secrets – My Review!!

Boston Metaphysical Society Cover

Steampunk is an interesting genre for me. Part science fiction and part Victorian era, it provides a great backdrop for Boston Metaphysical Society: A Storm of Secrets by Madeleine Holly-Rosing. Read on for my thoughts!

Synopsis (from the author):

Politics and power. Demons and spirits.

When ex-Pinkerton detective Samuel Hunter married Elizabeth Weldsmore, the heir to one of Boston’s Great Houses, he knew his life would change forever, but he never expected the return of Elizabeth’s psychic abilities.

Not only do they have to keep it a secret, but Elizabeth must learn quickly how to master them. For a psychic in a Great House is a political liability which her father, Jonathan Weldsmore, knows only too well.

As the Great Houses jockey for power, the three of them must contend with treachery, subterfuge, and potentially a new demonic threat, in this political and supernatural thriller set in an alternate-history Boston of 1890.

What I liked:

I really liked the story. Samuel and Elizabeth are a great couple and the secrets they keep are fodder for the story. The paranormal aspects of Elizabeth’s gift move the tale along, and Samuel’s clashes with her over her secrets add intrigue. In addition, Jonathan’s interaction with the Great Houses and all the machinations surrounding them, plus his attempts to control Samuel and Elizabeth gives the story a lot of depth. Overall, a most enjoyable read!

What I didn’t like:

Despite all the good things in Boston Metaphysical Society: A Storm of Secrets, there was a lot of description of the clothing and the steam-powered vehicles. While I understand the clothing and the mechanized aspects of steampunk are important to the theme, there was too much of it in the story for me.

Overall impression:

Boston Metaphysical Society: A Storm of Secrets was a good book! Good characters, lots of action, paranormal gifts, Great House intrigue, and a sacrifice at the end all add up to a steampunk novel that I enjoyed. I recommend it to all steampunk fans and to anyone who might be interested in the genre!

My rating:

5 Stars

Connect with Madeleine Holly-Rosing: Did you know Madeleine Holly-Rosing writes graphic novels? Well, if you visit her website or her Amazon Author page, you can find them and more. While you’re there, please consider leaving a review or a comment!

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2121: Twilight’s Last Gleaming by Karl J. Morgan – My Review!!

2121: Twilight’s Last Gleaming – My Review!!

Occasionally, I like to read a bit of dystopia. Because of this, Amazon sends me recommendations in the genre. My latest dystopian recommendation was 2121: Twilight’s Last Gleaming (Revolution Book 1) by Karl J. Morgan. Here are my thoughts.

Synopsis (from the author):

Is America’s future in the hands of a fourteen year-old boy? Jack Kennedy is growing up in a nation destroyed by a corrupt, uncaring government. While the elites live in splendor in their domed city centers, the masses live in squalor and poverty. Farmers struggle to survive in walled villages to protect themselves from the terrorists and gangbangers who ravage the countryside. The elderly are banished as there is no will or money to support them. The promise of our country has become a dystopian nightmare where life is hard and hope is an illusion.

Until now, Jack’s life has been good. When his best friend ventures to the nearby Ottumwa Free City to look for his former coworkers, Jack hitches a ride and discovers our president’s horrific secret. The truth is revealed in the slaughterhouse, and their lives will never been the same again.
In this fast-paced action thriller, Jack and his friends and family must fight the most violent and terrifying forces of man and nature to stay alive. If they succeed, perhaps there is hope for all of us; if not, we are doomed and America will be forever lost.

What I liked:

Karl J. Morgan did a good job of blending hopelessness and hopefulness into a thrilling book. Jack Kennedy and his girlfriend Alexis are teens forced to fight for their lives and perhaps for a better future. The horrors they and the rest of the US face make for some creepy moments, and the picture painted in 2121: Twilight’s Last Gleaming is grim to say the least. Abe, a former Marine, was my favorite character, though Jack and Alexis are good, too. Overall, I enjoyed the book.

What I didn’t like:

I thought a few of the battle scenes were overdone. In addition, some of Abe’s skills were over the top. Lastly, the teens’ parents seemed more disconnected than I thought they should be.

Overall impression:

2121: Twilight’s Last Gleaming (Revolution Book 1) has plenty of action, good characters, and moves quickly. The battle scenes provided an excellent picture of the state of the United States in the dystopian setting. I have to warn that there is strong language throughout, so this one is for older teens and above. If you like dystopian novels with an underlying current of hope, read this one!

My rating:

4 Stars

Connect with Karl J. Morgan:

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Lethal Cargo (Nikolai Volkov Book 3) by Julia Gousseva – My Review!!

Lethal Cargo – My Review!!

Lethal Cargo Cover

I’m not sure how Lethal Cargo: Russian Historical Thriller (Nikolai Volkov Book 3) by Julia Gousseva showed up in my Amazon recommendations. I love thrillers, but haven’t been reading many lately. Regardless, I checked it out and added it to the TBR List. Read on for my review!

Synopsis (from the author):

Nikolai Volkov is a combat veteran of the Chechen war with a passion for finding truth and doing the right thing.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, Nikolai embarked on a career of a bodyguard and soon became the best in the prestigious Centurion Personal Protection Agency in Moscow. He excels at protecting his clients and preventing crimes. But this time, his case is personal. His brother calls Nikolai with an urgent plea for help, and Nikolai heads to a small town in Crimea.

The town is quiet and picturesque, but dark forces are at work behind the scenes. Murders, illegal smuggling, and suspicious arrests challenge Nikolai’s detective skills and put his life in danger.

What I liked:

Lethal Cargo had all the elements I like in a thriller. Sinister figures, shadowy conspiracy, action, intrigue, and really cool characters. Nikolai played the good guy perfectly, and the story, driven by his actions, moved along nicely. Entertaining plot twists and a satisfying end made it a fun read.

What I didn’t like:

To be honest, there wasn’t much to dislike about Lethal Cargo.

Overall impression:

Lethal Cargo: Russian Historical Thriller (Nikolai Volkov Book 3) by Julia Gousseva was a great read. The story moved at a nice pace. With realistic and believable characters and gritty action, the book was a quick read and an entertaining novel. If you like thrillers, try this one!

My rating:

5 Stars

Connect with Julia Gousseva:

Find out more about Julia Gousseva on her Amazon Author page or her website. While you’re visiting, consider leaving a comment or a review!

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The Spatial Shard: Prelude to the Edgeworld Series – My Review!!

The Spatial Shard – My Review!!

 

Spatial Shard Cover

Goodreads gave me this recommendation. I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical when I first saw it, but decided to give The Spatial Shard: Prelude to the Edgeworld Series by G. Russell Gaynor a try. Guess what? I liked it!

Synopsis (from the author):

You’re on your board. And whether you are a Barney or a Marley, the wave is coming…

That used to be Genie’s mantra. Little did she know that the wave would literally take her out of this world. Now, faced with a new life, unbelievable dimensions and unexpected dangers, she’s got to pull off the ride of her life, or wipe out.

The prelude to the EdgeWorld series serves as an introduction both to the new world Genie finds and the plight that has found her.

An American teenager living in Bolivia with her father and younger brother, Genie was trying her best to take care of her family in the wake of her mother’s death. But that was before she crashed headfirst into the curious stranger and her whole world turned upside down. Now new possibilities, good and bad, await her at every turn, but she cannot allow concerns of the outcome affect how she rides – surf’s up!

What I liked:

First, I liked the concept of The Spatial Shard! A teenager who receives the Shard and plunges into a wondrous world. A world filled with danger, magic, and powerful beings bent on her safety or death. Good characters (especially Genie’s brother and her best friend Sharon), mysterious events, plenty of actions, excellent world-building, and lots of sci-fi and technology made the book a good read!

What I didn’t like:

Despite its good points, The Spatial Shard was difficult to follow at times. Ever shifting scenes and seemingly unconnected events, while an ambitious effort, took away from the basic plot.

Overall impression:

Taken as a whole, The Spatial Shard: Prelude to the Edgeworld Series was a good read. Great sci-fi elements, cool technology, and tons of action made it a fun read. A little overreaching, in my opinion, but still a book I recommend to any sci-fi reader!

My rating:

4 Stars

Connect with the G. Russell Gaynor:

Find G. Russell Gaynor on his Amazon Author page or his website. Discover more about the author and his books and maybe pick up a couple. Don’t forget to leave a review, too.

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