Category Archives: book reviews

review of cotula by debbie manber kuyper

Overview.

This book continues the saga of P.A.W.S. begun in the book of that name.
Rifka, a young Jewish girl has disappeared from her home in Safed, in Israel. She remembers nothing of her life before except what the man she is with has told her. He says she is his wife, although little more than a child.
The story is about how Rifka is saved from the man, who is the werewolf, Frederick, with the help of the mysterious stomes known as Cotula.
It ranges from Israel to London, and ends up in St Louis and New York via the mysterious shadow land of Umbrae.

Blurb

Follow the Cotula. The stone will show you the way.

Rifka is lost, far away from home, kidnapped by an insidious werewolf.
Far off in Manus Wu, a plan is set in place. An Old One sends colutae out into the world. These stones when brought together have the power to release Rifka. Yet does she truly want to go home?
Meet an empathic goat, a family of otters, a girl who loves to draw fairies, and a dragon in this new installment of the P.A.W.S. Saga.

Story

The story moves with a good pace. We are carried along with the characters through their various adventures in trying to defeat the werewolf, Frederick.

I enjoyed the tale as it continued with the people we had met in the earlier books and more are introduced, but the author manages to keep them clear in our minds.

Characters

The large number of characters is difficult for an author to manage. However, they all seem to be realistic, and have human failings and strengths. They have doubts and query themselves, and some have to fight against their own nature, as in the werewolves who do not want to feast on human flesh.

Writing

On the whole, the writing is good, but, like the other books in this series, some errors have slipped through the editing process. Ms Kuyper gives acknowledgement to her editor, but I think said editor has done a less than perfect job. I noted well over 100 errors and word repetitions in the book.

Conclusion

This is more of a YA book, I would say, although it can be enjoyed by adults, too, I am an adult, and I enjoyed it!
The drawback with offering it to a youngster would be the errors in the book.
I have given it 4*. It would have got 5 if there were fewer typos etc.

Please leave your comments in the comments box below. I would love to hear from you, especially if you have read any of Debbie Manber Kuyper’s books.

If you would like to receive updates on my writing, and notifications of special offers, sign up for my quarterly newsletter by clicking the JOIN button in the sidebar.

I promise I won’t spam you. I hate spam as much as anyone. Nor will your email address be shared with anyone else. Privacy is important, I know.

review of argentum by Debbie Manber Kupfer

Argentum (The P.A.W.S.Saga Book 2) by [Kupfer, Debbie Manber]


**** stars

Overview

This is the second book in Debbi Manber Kuyper’s P.A.W.S. Saga, and it begins where book 1 finished. It is a tale of shapeshifters, werewolves and animagi.
P.A.W.S. is the place where these beings live. There are many such places all over the world.
Werewolves are humans that have been infected with lycanthropy, and are forced to become wolves at the full moon. Animagi can change their shape at will into an animal, while shapshifters require a charm passed down through families, and originally made by Merlin himself.
In this second book, we take up the story where the eveil werewolf, Alistair, has been destroyed.
Or has he?

Blurb


Argentum is the thread that binds all magic …
The silver of Miri’s cat charm passed on through the generations.
The silver of Jessamyn’s scepter, the source of her illusions.
The silver of Quentin’s scrying bowl, forged by Merlin.
All intertwine in Argentum.

With Alistair gone a measure of peace returns to P.A.W.S., but Miri is tormented by nightmares. The silver charm that had recently hung around Alistair’s neck is now in Miri’s possession and seems to have taken on a life of its own. And then it mysteriously disappears.
Jessamyn seeks help from Quentin, who claims to have repented his past association with Alistair, but can he be trusted?
And what of Jenna? The young girl rescued from Alistair’s pack house holds a terrible secret. One that could determine the future of P.A.W.S.

Story


I found the story to be as immersing as the first book. Miri’s growing romance with the shapeshifter, Danny, whose alterego is a large maine coon cat, plays a big part in the story.
There is also a mystery about how her friend Josh’s mother has a photograph that looks like one she has of her grandmother when she was young.
The story, I found captivating, and wanted to know more about the whereabouts of Miri’s second charm that had belonged to her grandfather, and who took it. Was the dead Alistair influencing events? And how could this be?

Characterisation.


The characters in the book are realistic. They all have their good and bad points, just like real people. Perhaps they did not develop as much as they could have, but then there are 5 books to get through. Perhaps they will be changed by the end of the 5th book.

Writing.


This is the weakest part of the book. While the style is easy to read, I found a number of grammar mistakes that should really have been discovered and corrected in the editing stage.

Conclusion


All in all, in spite of the grammar errors, the story is good, and so I decided to only remove 1 star from my review.

A Review of Rags of Time by Michael Ward.

Overview

This historical mystery is set in the turbulent times just before the English Civil War.
Michael Ward has plunged us into a violent and unpredictable world where King Charles I is pitted against Parliament. The king wants money to pursue a war with Scotland over what the Protestant Scots see as an attempt to re-establish Catholicism. Many English also think the king is going too far with his ‘reforms’ of the Church and accuse him of being overly influenced by his queen and her mother, both Catholics.
Pamphlets against the king abound, and violence can flare up anywhere at any time.
Michael Ward takes us into this hot-bed and makes it real. His discussion of the politics of the time fits in beautifully with the plot, and doesn’t seem like a history lesson, even though I have come away with a clearer picture of the times.

Plot

Thomas Tallant is the son of a spice merchant based in London. He has just returned from a trip to India when he is asked for his expertise with falcons, which he has gained on his travels.
An illustrious wool merchant has died in mysterious circumstances and falcon feathers have been found nearby. Soon, though, Thomas finds himself accused of the murder.
He must try to prove his innocence through many turns of the plot to the twist at the end.

Characterisation

The author has created varied and believable characters, from the somewhat naïve Tomas to the intelligent, pipe-smoking Elizabeth. He also brings in a few real historical characters, which adds interest.
Each character has his or her own voice as well as strengths and flaws.

Writing

There are a few slips in the writing—few typos and the odd grammar error. The version I read, an e-book, had some formatting errors as well. In one or two places a sentence broke off in the middle and a line space appeared before the sentence continued.
A bit

Like this.
But such was the excitement of the plot that it didn’t bother me.

Conclusion

In spite of those errors, mentioned above, this was a thoroughly engrossing book. I liked the characters I was supposed to like, and despised those I wasn’t supposed to like.
I found it to be an unputdownable (is that a word?) book that I would recommend to anyone who enjoys historical mysteries. I have given it 5 stars.

If you enjoyed this review, please leave a comment in the comments box.

A 5 star review of Vengeance of a Slave

As you might know from my previous posts, Vengeance of a Slave was released on Boxing Day. I have already received a 5 star review.

It has reached the following positions on Amazon.com: #6182 in Action & Adventure Fiction #1481 in British & Irish Historical Literature #6419 in Adventure Stories & Action

Here is the review by Randall Krzak.

Vengeance of a Slave by V.M. Sang is a riveting story set during the period when Rome controlled Britannia. Follow the trials and tribulations of Adelbhert after he and his sister are taken by the Romans from their mother. They eventually end up as slaves in what is modern-day London. Adelbhert performs a nightly ritual to remind himself of the suffering he and his sister have endured, beginning with the crucifixion of their father. He vows to escape and punish those who have wronged him.

V.M. has created a moving story which will keep you turning the pages to find out how Adelbhert and his sister handle their new life. Experience their sorrow, anguish, and finally hope as they adapt to their changing situation. This is the first novel I’ve red of V.M.’s and it certainly won’t be the last! Well done and highly recommended!

And here’s another one I received when I had self-published it, before Next Chapter agreed to publish it under their Legionary imprint.

Review by Ashok.

Vengeance of a Slave (A family through the Ages) by V.M. Sang is about the horrifying experience of siblings Adelbhert and his sister Avelina, his sister, who witness Roman soldiers crucify their father and other men from their village. These small children are snatched from their mother by the Romans to be sold as slaves. Bought by a rich merchant, they are taken to a distant island Brittania where they are treated as pets. When they grow bigger, plans are made to sell them as house slave and courtesan.
Adelbehrt’s experiences have embittered him and he dreams and plans to extract revenge from the Romans, and he plans to escape with his sister. How they escape, the dangers they face, the stratagems they use to stay hidden, the helpful and cruel people they encounter, their adventures… These make up the remaining plot.

A great narration of a novel idea with good word pictures which drew me into that period, I found the overall narration and language to be gripping. But for some errors I found, I would have said it is five star material.

These typos have now been sorted, of course,

And it has also received another 5 stars without a review attached!

Review of Write it Right by Mary Deal *****

Mary Deal has produced a book that every aspiring author, and even those with experience, should read.


She deals with every aspect of writing, from the beginning, when the book is just the germ of an idea, to the end, when the book is published and the dreaded marketing begins.


If you have no other book on writing, this should be the one you buy. It should be required reading for every author.

The book is easy to read, with no complicated explanations. She talks about the importance of editing and getting your manuscript the best it can be. She mentions how you can improve your plot, and how important characters are in getting the poblic to read and enjoy. Then she goes into the best ways of formatting your book for publishing, and the importance of the cover art.


There is little or nothing she doesn’t cover in this amazing book. If you are a writer, or an aspiring one, buy this book now.

I give it 5 stars.

A Review of Two Heads, Two Spikes by Jason Paul Rice

Overview.

My first impression of this book is that the author thought ‘I can write something like that’, when he read, or saw, GeorgeR.R.Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire, on TV as A Game of Thrones.
The book is wide-ranging and has a vast cast. Sadly, though Jason Paul Rice is not GeorgeR.R.Martin.
Here are some similarities.
 There are many warring families.
 Mr Rice is not averse to killing his characters.
 There is a ‘good’ family, the Colberts, just as Mr Martin has a ‘good’ family in the Starks.
 The Colberts’ have a son who has a handicap, but is very clever. The Starks have a clever son who is handicapped.

Plot.

The plot is complex, and parts don’t seem to fit in easily. I admit that I did not manage to finish the book for reasons I will come to later. Perhaps it all fits together later on. I did manage to plough through two thirds of it.

Characters.

On the whole, the characters seemed a bit flat. Either good or bad. There is little that helps us see what got them to be as unpleasant as they are.
One of the most difficult things I found was the naming of the characters. The members of the ruling family of Donegal (and why use the name of a province of Ireland in a fantasy setting?) all have names beginning with Alli-. For example, there is Alli-Stanley, the king, and Alli-ster, his son. We meet Alli-Steven. And it’s not only the men, but also the royal women.
One of the golden rules of writing fiction, and I try to obey it in my own writing, is to name your characters in such a way that they are not easily confused. Even to not having the same initial letter.

Writing.
I have to admit that part of the reason I gave up on this book is the writing. It is poor, to say the least. It is a self-published book, and I got the impression that Mr Rice wrote the book and then when he wrote The End, he set about publishing it.
There appears to have been little or no editing. Typos abound, and wrongly used words, too. He gives one character gold armour! not a good idea for something to protect. Gold is a soft, easily malleable metal. Research needs to be done on things like that. There are other little things of a similar nature, too.
One of the things that is very confusing is that Mr Rice does not seem to know that, in writing dialogue, you start a new paragraph for each new speaker. He has two speakers in the same paragraph and this makes for a confusing read. This alone would have made me give up.
These things would have been sorted if the author had employed an editor, or even beta readers. He could also have joined an on-line critique group or found a group of writers near him.

The book is the first of a series, but I won’t be reading the rest.

I give this book 2 stars **

Review of Silent Payback , by Jaye Marie.

A serial killer roams the streets of Brighton, hunting for his next victim.
When the case lands on detective David Mallory’s desk, will his personal demon prevent him from bringing this vicious monster to justice?
As the body count rises, Mallory finds himself sinking under the weight of his heavy secret – one that could jeopardise his job and his reputation.
With the pressure building, can the troubled detective reconcile his issues and solve the case before more women die?

Overview.
This is an excellent story that kept me reading, wanting to know what happens next.

Plot.
The plot deals with two detectives trying to solve a series of murders in Brighton, England. But this is not all. Both David and Anna have their own individual problems to solve, and what these are remain a mystery until around half-way through the book. From then on, we follow them in their attempts to resolve both their individual personal problems and find the murderer.
The plot moves at a good pace, keeping the reader’s interest throughout.

Characters.
The main characters of David and Anna are drawn well. They are likeable, but with believable flaws. They develop nicely throughout the book.

Writing.
Sadly, this is where the book falls down. There are numerous editing errors in the text. Although this sometimes makes me not want to finish a book, the story here is strong enough that my desire to know what happens overcame my irritation at the mistakes. There are also a few plot holes. As a result of this, I have only given it 4 stars.

Review of Off Centre in the Attic by Mary Deal

 

I gave this book 5 stars on Amazon.

 

This is a book of short stories and flash fiction. The tales vary in length some of which are only a sentence or two,

The common thing about them is that they are all about some quirky character or event. Some of the characters you would love to meet, and others not so much.

A few of the stories I thought could be worked into complete novels. They left the reader thinking about what happened to the people in the tale. Others are complete in themselves.

I particularly liked the characters in the trailer home. That one could be made into a novel. Then there is the one about the goats. What did happen to them?

Some of the stories are sad and some happy, but all are fascinating reading. Mary Deal is an excellent judge of character, and has obviously spent much time watching people and learning from her observations.

The writing is good. Just a couple of places where she uses ‘lay’ instead of ‘lie’, but this is not enough to detract from the rest of the writing. She builds the characters well and the reader empathises with them.

A good read. As a book of short stories, it can be read in bits, or one after the other. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in people, and in quirky tales.

Review of Relissarium Wars, Part 1 by Andrew C. Broderick

 

I’ve just finished reading Book 1 of The Relissarium Wars and found it an excellent read.

It is, in fact, more of a novella than a book, but it is the first part of a series, and so is probably simply an introduction.

The characters are introduced in this book, along with the main storyline, which will, I presume, continue through the other books to come.


Theo is a farmer on the moon of Reliss, but is persuaded by his brother to pick up a package for him on his regular trip to the market. Little does Theo realise that this simple favour will land him into something much bigger and more dangerous than he thought. He is in over his head, but has to take part in a rebellion as there is no way out for him to get back home. Especially as his moon home has been annihilated, and so, with a price on his head, he has no choice but to help the Carbonari.

The book is well written. I was delighted not to come across typos and grammatical errors! There is plenty of action and the characters are believable, if not much development, but this may come in later books. This is after all a very short book taking place in a very short time. Hardly enough time for anyone’s character to develop.

I would recommend this book to any scifi fan and fans of action adventure.

A Review of Dangerous Alliance by Randall Krzak

I have just finished reading the book below. Thoroughly enjoyable. Read my review below.

 

Dangerous Alliance by Randall Krzak
Dangerous Alliance
by

Randall Krzak (Goodreads Author)

The story is set in present day North Korea, Somalia and London. It tells of how an alliance is made between North Korea and Somali pirates. Of course, everyone cheats everyone else, and to add to the intrigue, the Somali pirates kidnap an important personage who is working in a refugee camp.
An undercover group, working for MI6 (or is it 5, I forget) is sent to both rescue the prisoner and to capture the pirates.
Of course, there is the North Korean ambassador, being forced, under threat, to bring about the trade between his country and the pirates.
Randall Krzak is an accomplished writer, and tells the story with authority. He brings the places and characters to life. His prose is excellent.
There is a twist at the end, when some of the relationships of the people are brought to light.
The story is full of action, and keeps you turning the page.
An brilliant read. I have no problem with giving it 5 stars.
Please feel free to leave a comment.