Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Review: Idi & the Talisman of Talia

Idi & the Talisman of Talia Idi & the Talisman of Talia by T.N. Traynor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

T. N. Traynor is the author of Idi and the Talisman of Talia, the second book in her Born to Be trilogy. The summary states that this leaves off exactly where Book 1, Idi and the Oracle's Quest left off. I went in at a disadvantage having not read the previous book and I felt clouded throughout the read because of that. The cover illustration and characterizations like "Goblin Fart Platoon" in the summary place this firmly in a children's story and obviously in the fantasy genre as well.

Had I read book one and already been immersed in this magical world and been introduced to these characters, I would have really enjoyed this. It is fast paced and fun with a surprising amount of depth to characters and the storyline that I didn't expect. Traynor is a talented writer and I can see this series easily becoming a favorite for kids and adults alike.

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Monday, March 26, 2018

Review: The Waste-Wise Kitchen Companion: Hundreds of Practical Tips for Repairing, Reusing, and Repurposing Food: How to Eat Better, Save Money, and Utilize Leftovers Creatively

The Waste-Wise Kitchen Companion: Hundreds of Practical Tips for Repairing, Reusing, and Repurposing Food: How to Eat Better, Save Money, and Utilize Leftovers Creatively The Waste-Wise Kitchen Companion: Hundreds of Practical Tips for Repairing, Reusing, and Repurposing Food: How to Eat Better, Save Money, and Utilize Leftovers Creatively by Jean B. MacLeod
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Waste-Wise Kitchen Companion: Hundreds of Practical Tips for Repairing, Reusing, and Repurposing Food: How to Eat Better, Save Money, and Utilize Leftovers Creatively. Whew, that was a mouthful! Two colons, that's a serious title that I feel could have ended with The Waste-Wise Kitchen but that's just me.

In a nutshell, this is part cookbook, part self-help, part gardening meets sustainability friendly living. Compiled into an easy to navigate, alphabetically ordered list, The Waste-Wise Kitchen will be handy for everyone from professional chefs to those who have trouble boiling water. A lot of it is common sense but clearly there is a need for reminders when you consider how wasteful our society has become. Here MacLeod gives many tips and kitchen hacks for running your kitchen more efficiently and wisely. It's not hard to come to the conclusion that if you can manage your kitchen in this manner then surely you can make the same strides in other areas of your life. Nice job!

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Review: The Zero Commandment

The Zero Commandment The Zero Commandment by Lawrence J. Epstein
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Zero Commandment is book three in the Charlie Singer and Katie Walker series by author Lawrence J. Epstein. I have not read books one and two but the write ups sound as promising as I found this to be. I love a good detective mystery and I love the 1940s era so this mash-up of the two had me excited from the get go. Solving crimes without the help of super computers and high tech gadgets is a nice change of pace in this genre.

The characters Charlie and Katie were a pleasant surprise to me. I enjoyed the rawness in each of them. I thought Epstein created personalities realistically and in a way that felt sincere. There were times that I loved each character and times when each made me want to scream in frustration. To this reader, that is a sign of well written characters and characters make or break a story. The Zero Commandment gets the #worthit hashtag for certain.

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Review: Afterlife Code

Afterlife Code Afterlife Code by J.M. Erickson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Afterlife Code is a short novella (69 pages) written by J. M. Erickson.The premise is that a brilliant scientist who struggles with autism has created a computer code for a brain implant that helps her lead a more normal life. What can't be portrayed with that simple write up is that this is roughly seventy pages of science fiction, time travel, horror that demands at least one re-read to truly get everything that happens in this story. In fact, I did read it twice and I know without a doubt that I've missed some things and I will be going back to figure it all out. That's the magic of this novella, you want (maybe even need) this to be a full length book and possibly even the beginning of a series. There are so many ways this can go and I find myself yearning for more.

Another aspect of Afterlife Code that I enjoyed was the autism avenue. I have almost no experience with autism except the general stereotypical knowledge, which is to say I know nothing, Jon Snow. It was interesting to have a character so accomplished to put forth the truth that autism isn't a handicap. I hope this kind of thinking is the trend in regards to autism.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Review: Samsara

Samsara Samsara by Lorraine Margaret
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Samsara by Lorraine Margaret is billed as a romance... I don't know what to think about this. I think the word would be brutal. This is too brutal a book to be a romance. Gang rape, revenge killing, and hatred are major themes throughout and it is difficult to build a romance around that. Margaret tried though, and she didn't fully fail. I think if a reader manages to not be triggered by severe sexual abuse descriptions or even simply grossed out by the summary, which includes a reference to the main character developing an obsession with the beauty of Ryan's penis and a reverence for his bodily fluids, the core of the relationship could work. It's not something I would ever try to pull off but kudos to her for attempting it.

Personally, I did not like Ailith. Ryan felt barren to me. I can see though where other readers could love both. I guess I just couldn't get around being put off by the summary, hard as I tried to do. The book is well written, almost no errors, and this author is clearly a talented one.

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Review: The Hanged Man: A Digby Rolf Mystery

The Hanged Man: A Digby Rolf Mystery The Hanged Man: A Digby Rolf Mystery by Raymond M Hall
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Raymond M. Hall is the author of The Hanged Man: A Digby Rolf Mystery, a title which leads me to believe this is one of a series. I am not sure if this is the first or tenth in the series because I can't find the others at all. It doesn't really matter but the search for that information took from my precious reading time.

I assumed the time period was early 1900's simply because of the method of execution being hanging and executions in Great Britain stopped in 1965 but I'm still not certain when this takes place. It bothers me. Also, I assumed Digby would be a police officer or private investigator but alas, he's a chaplain and I find Joe Schmo ameature sleuths unrealistic. Despite those details weighing down my opinion, The Hanged Man is rather good. I bought John's ghost appearing throughout more eagerly than I did the investigative skills of a prison chaplain.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Review: Startoucher

Startoucher Startoucher by C.J. Odle
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Startoucher is a novel on science fiction as well as fantasy lists and finds itself on one called... cyberpunk. Is that a designated genre now? I'm going to have to look that one up...

So Jake is a slick L.A. attorney who has no business in the Mojave Desert but that's exactly where he finds himself, drawn by his repressed psychic abilities. From there we find out that Earth and humanity as we know it is a big alien experiment and Judgment Day is coming. Now imagine that scenario as real life. Yeah, we're in trouble, yo! So we're all going to be cosmically adjudicated and that is one heck of a set up for a science fiction book, right? Abso-friggin-lutely!

Startoucher is unique in everything from alien technology to metaphysical origins. Characters are perfect right down to the alien beings. The only thing I found myself disappointed in was the ending. I know every author wants a lead in to another book which leads to a best selling series but perhaps not every story should go there. There is something to be said for stand alones.

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Review: The General Theory of Haunting

The General Theory of Haunting The General Theory of Haunting by Richard Easter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Richard Easter is the author of a book titled The General Theory of Haunting. This is one of three books Easter has written in his Snow Trilogy. Each book is independent of one another and the other two sound just as interesting as this one does. They are all on my To Read list now which, according to my calculations, I should get to in about 55 years.

Haunting is a ghost story for ghost fanatics. It has a great back story setting up the scene for the present day spine tingling. There is also a romantic feel to the story, something I found makes the whole thing more tragic and made for much more intense scares throughout. The creep factor is almost under the radar and I am impressed at how the author built that up. I was a bit surprised at how much I enjoyed this. It is perfect for a stormy evening, if you can handle it.

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Review: Plagued: Book One: The Girl Who Chased The Shadows

Plagued: Book One: The Girl Who Chased The Shadows Plagued: Book One: The Girl Who Chased The Shadows by Garrison Scott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Plagued: Book One: The Girl Who Chased the Shadows is a post-apocalyptic, fantasy novel with a dash of romance, science fiction, adventure, survival, zombies, and wicked humor written by Garrison Scott. It is difficult to really describe the book in too much detail because doing so would almost ruin the surprise as to what the reader actually gets as each aspect is revealed. Trust me, it's worth the suspense to find out on your own as you read.

Characters are always the make it or break it factor for me. In Plagued the characters kind of vary from fully fleshed out entities to thin charactacatures/stereotypical drones. Thankfully, the main as well as important supporting characters are more often the former of the two. The best plot can't override badly written characters. And speaking of plot, as I mentioned before, the variety of different aspects of life that come to play here really makes this book what it is. Were it simply a post-apocalyptic novel, there wouldn't be such a full story as we get with everything else that life has to throw here. Well done!

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Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Review: Closer to Paradise

Closer to Paradise Closer to Paradise by H Stinington
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Closer to Paradise is book one in the 3 volume (at present time) Dancing Romance series written by H. Stinington. Daniel and Isabella are twenty and eighteen year old professional dancers who have won many dance competitions together as a couple. Except they're not a couple, though they desperately want to be. After a fateful night stranded in the same hotel room, those feelings become impossible to ignore and they begin to try to find the way they hope exists to both continue pursuing the top tiers of the dancing world and be a couple in love. In a move far wiser than their ages normally permit, they make a decision to keep their feelings inside for the best of their careers but that's not the end of the story, is it?

This romance is definitely for the younger romance reader. Though their decisions, and to some extent even their dialogue, is more often what you might expect of a more mature character. The scenarios weren't over the top or too conveniently circumstantial, supporting characters were well written and the setting in the world of professional dance competitions was interesting.

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Review: Four Beauties and the Judge

Four Beauties and the Judge Four Beauties and the Judge by Haran Choi
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Four Beauties and the Judge is billed as a children's story, a label I remain unsure about. Haran Choi has penned a story of four beautiful (and rather narcissistic) young women who find themselves in the Underworld after falling for a trick scripted by Death. Their lives on Earth as servants to various Emperors in China are judged by a monkey judge named Hu to decide who among them would ascend to the Sky Lounge. What follows is a bizarre beauty pageant with a 'tribal council' feel to the outcome.

The moral of the story is inner beauty is more important than outer but the path to that is a troubled one. There was so much that went unexplained and I felt like if things shouldn't be named if not explained to some extent. There were many places in the book where quotation marks were backwards and oddly placed, missing spaces between words and large spaces between others. Perhaps that was due to formatting rather than author mistake but it irritated me either way.

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Review: On the lighter side of forever

On the lighter side of forever On the lighter side of forever by Everett Lavell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

On the Lighter Side of Forever is a conversational/monologue style self help book with both feet planted firmly in the humor genre. At only twenty-eight pages, it is a short read which I appreciate in books like this. Brevity helps grip a precise focus and here, I found it seemed to keep the tone light even when the topic could have easily gone darker. Speaking of topics, the range here is wide. From parenting to death, happiness to religion, free will to lying, it's all in there somewhere. And it's arranged in just about that order, which is to say no order. One idea leads into another and another and sometimes it felt like some topics were forgotten and left unfinished as the author took on a new brawl with an aspect of life. This is funny but not happy, in my opinion. The language is sarcastic and I usually love that but here it was such biting sarcasm, it came off as angry and jaded.

Best thing about this book? The dedication: “Dedicated to the most magnificent and entertaining person I have ever gotten the pleasure to know. This person, through all life’s trials and tribulations and all its rises and falls, has proven to be nothing less than God’s best work. So it gives me great pleasure to dedicate this book to myself.”

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