Category Archives: book reviews

Review of Beginning of a Hero by Charles Yallowitz 

OVERVIEW:

I got this as a bundle of 3 books, but I am going to review them separately as I read them.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Luke Callindor, even though he has a very Earth-like name for a half-elf!

It is filled with action and great characters. We have a mystery at the beginning. Luke is contracted to safeguard the heir to Serabia. There is only one problem. He doesn’t know who the heir is, for even whether he’s protecting a male or female. When Luke discovers who it is, he is plunged into further problems as he is pursued by a powerful lich and a demonic elf.

BLURB:

Every hero must take the first courageous step into adventure. For Luke Callindor, it’s more of a blind stumble.Depending more on bravery than common sense, Luke sets out to protect a royal heir who is attending the prestigious Hamilton Military Academy. With a demonic assassin in the shadows, the determined warrior will have to think on his feet to defend his charge. If only he waited long enough to find out which student is the hidden noble.With Luke’s dream on the horizon and a deadly enemy on his path, how will he transform from a reckless adventurer to a true hero of Windemere?

CHARACTERS:

Luke Callindor is the main character in this story. He is a forest ranger, tasked with keeping the forest in good health, but he is not the only one of interest.

There is a halfling called Nimby who is great fun. He’s a retired thief and helps Luke in his quest to find out whom he is supposed to be protecting.

Fritz, a gnome, is an illusionist and his illusions are a help in the story. His steed, bizarrely, is a sheep!

Luke, Nimby and Fritz are joined by a half-elf priest, Aedin who is invaluable when people get injured. As they do during the practice fights in the Acadamy.

My favourite character, though, is not humanoid, but a small dragon, a drite called Fizzle. Fizzle is a simple creature, but not without intelligence. He loves apples, especially when baked in a pie.

And there is Luke’s loyal companion, a dog called Stilletto.

As the main character, Luke develops from an inexperienced young fighter to one who learns that strength isn’t the only way to win fights.

All the characters are well-drawn, and have their own clear characteristics, as well as character flaws.

WRITING:

There are a few typos, and, in a couple of places a wrong word is used, but on the whole the writing is good.

Mr Yallowitz paints a clear picture of the world he has created. He shows us how the characters react to each other so we can easily picture the scene.

I enjoyed reading this book and will soon be starting on the second one.

I gave the book 4*

How I rank books.

In order to get a particular number of stars, it is not necessary to meet all the criteria. This is a guide only.

5* Exceptional. Wonderful story. Setting well drawn, and characters believable. Not perfect, but with flaws. Will keep you up all night. No typos or grammatical errors.

4* A thoroughly enjoyable read. Great and original story. Believable setting and characters. Very few grammatical errors or typos.

3* I enjoyed it. Good story. Characters need some development. Some typos or grammatical errors.

2* Not for me. Story not very strong. Unbelievable and flat characters. Setting not clearly defined. Many typos or grammatical errors.

1* I hated it. Story almost non-existent. Setting poor. Possibly couldn’t finish it.

Review of Kor’Thank, Barbarian Girl by Kent Wayne

OVERVIEW:

I enjoyed this ridiculous concept of a story. It was a fun romp through a mixture of scifi and fantasy.

BLURB

On a parallel Earth similar to ours, a barbarian king and an evil cheerleader switch bodies, threatening to destabilize the entire multiverse. That’s just the tip of the adolescent iceberg—in the race against time to set things right, teen genius Peter and master strategist Eun face off against a world-devouring monster.

Tons of profanity. Idiot demon-jocks. Copious psychedelics. An airborne kiss at three hundred miles per hour, dangling from the back of a mushroom-shaped mecha.

This is the high school experience you’ve always wanted. But more importantly, it’s the high school experience you so richly deserve.

STORY

Bodies switched between a barbarian leader on a parallel world and a cheerleader on Earth. Two teens who have the knowledge to switch them back. And a demi-god who appears as various things from a dog to a bicycle to a supercar to a…
The stability of the universe is at stake, and unless Peter and Eun can defeat an evil demi-god and an equally evil company, that’s the end of everything.
I don’t want to say more, except that I loved the velociraptor steeds of the barbarians. (except for a couple of occasions when Mr Wayne mentions them rearing. Since velociraptors are two-legged creatures, I found that I could not conceive of this idea,)

CHARACTERS

The characters are fun and varied. Eun is the strategist behind the operation, and Peter the scientist. I loved Kor’Thank, the barbarian leader, who found himself in the body of a teenage girl. His reaction to this was interesting. As was the reaction of Holly, the girl cheerleader who ended up in Kor’Thank’s body. But she became more nasty and evil.
The characters did change throughout the story, adapting to their circumstances—Kor’Thank for the better, and Holly for the worse. I don’t want to say more.

WRITING

The writing was good. Very few things that irritated me.

SUMMARY

I give the book 4*.
If you’ve read anything else by Mr Wayne, you will find this very different.
Although it is about teenagers, I would not recommend it for teens to read. There is much swearing and some sex.
It is a fun read.

If you would like to receive an exclusive, free short story by me, called The Haunted Table, simply click the link. This will take you to the page where you can download it.

Maria and Tom have bought an antique table for the old cottage they have bought. When they hear strange noises in the night that sound like crying, they worry their house is haunted, but the sounds seem to come from the table.

They set about trying to find what is causing the disturbances. The answer is stranger than either of them had thought.

(Clicking the link will add your email address to my email list, but don’t worry, you can unsubscribe immediately if you wish. Nor will you get any spam. I only send out an email each quarter, or if I have any exciting news–like a new release.)

Review of The Look of Love by Bella Andre

OVERVIEW:

I’m not a reader of romance as a general rule, and I don’t read erotic romance. Reading this book has made me realise why.

BLURB

After Chloe Peterson’s car skids off the road in the Napa Valley wine country, she’s ready to throw in the towel on a horrendous day. But when a gorgeous guy rescues her, though she’s immediately drawn to him, she knows better than to let her walls down with any man ever again.

Chase Sullivan is a successful photographer whose charm and charisma—along with his large and close-knit family—make him San Francisco’s most eligible bachelor. Intent on helping Chloe through this rough patch in her life, Chase soon realizes that she is not only lovely, inside and out, she’s also intelligent, talented, and extremely brave. He has never felt like this about anyone before, never knew love could be so powerful, or so true…until she came into his life.

Though Chloe tries to resist Chase, with every loving look he gives her—and every sinfully sweet caress—the attraction between them sparks and sizzles. But after everything she’s been through, can Chase convince Chloe that he will always be there for her…and that their love will last forever?

STORY

The story is weak and just an excuse for erotic scenes. I had trouble finishing it.

A troubled young woman meets a handsome man and tries to deny the obvious attraction between them. She is not ready for a new romance after her disastrous marriage. I don’t think that Ms Andre made enough of this. Chloe gave in far too quickly. Only a few days after her last traumatic encounter with her ex-husband she is in bed with a new man. Not very believable.

The story is told from the point of view of each of the main characters in in turn.

CHARACTERS

Chloe has problems. This makes her vulnerable. I did think that she got over them in rather quick time, though. Only a few days after meeting Chase she is admitting her attraction to him, sleeping with him, and falling in love. It all seemed a little too quick for someone so deeply wounded as Chloe is from her previous love encounter. (Or rather, not love from her spouse.)

Chase, is rather a cardboard cut out. He’s perfect. Good looking, clever, rich, talented. He is infinitely patient with Chloe, always putting her first, especially in sex, because he knows she’s been deeply hurt. In spite of wanting to have sex with her desperately, he manages to hold back.

Like I said. Too perfect.

WRITING

Sadly, I found the writing annoying. Ms Andre overuses the word ‘just’, as one example. She peppers it throughout the book, even more than once in one sentence on occasion. She also uses many other words that are not needed, and slow the action. (What action?)

Also, vague words, like ‘seemed’. Well is it or isn’t it?

She kept on telling us that Chloe was lovely, and that Chase had a beautiful body. We aren’t stupid, Ms Andre. We can remember that. We don’t need to keep being reminded.

I give this book 2*

Have you read this, or any other Bella Andre books? She’s apparently a Best Seller.

If you have, let us know what you thought of her books in the comments box.

A Review of Dyrwolf by Kat Kinney

OVERVIEW:

I don’t usually read books that mention werewolves (nor vampires, and definitely not zombies) I feel that they have had their time and are overdone. Having said that, I decided to take a risk and read Dyrwolf. Am I glad I did?

I would not so much call the wolf/humans in this story werewolves, more shapeshifters. Many of them can shift to their wolf personas and shapes regardless of the moon, but they do respond to it.

BLURB

Lea Wylder has spent so long hunting werewolves that now one is stalking her in her sleep. In the unforgiving forests of the north, shape-shifting wolves have enslaved the sole human city for hundreds of miles, driving survivors up into the mountains. When Lea tracks a shifter and finds him caught in a trap, she’s convinced he’s the white wolf from her dreams. Not that it matters. He’s one of them. And they’re at war.

But as Lea pulls back the bowstring, Henrik shifts to human and begs her not to shoot. By name. But how could he possibly know her?

In twenty years, the wolves have never crossed the river over to their side. Injured and unable to walk, Henrik needs Lea’s help to get back home. If he could be turned against the pack, it could change the course of the war. But first there’s the small problem of returning him to the wolves—without getting caught.

STORY

This is an excellent story that kept me gripped and wanting to know what happens next. The heroine, a sixteen year old human girl called Lea, needs to find a way to return a seriously injured shape-shifting wolf back to his home.

Of course, Henrick, as the dyrwolf is called, is an enemy, and Lea should have killed him, but he resembles the wolf she has seen in her dreams, and she cannot bring herself to do so.

It is a dangerous trip, where they meet near death on several occasions, not to mention their fraught relationship as enemies.

There are twists in the story as Lea discovers more about herself and the history of the people and their enemies, the dyrwolves.

There are humerous moments, too, as well as danger and anxiety.

CHARACTERS

Ms Kinney has drawn some very likeable characters in this book—and also some very unlikeable ones.

Lea is a girl with many problems—a mother who committed suicide, debilitating migraines, and she is considered strange by the villagers and has only one real friend.

Her friend is a young man called Salem. He feels protective towards Lea and turns up to help her when she goes out to perform a rite in which she has to burn the fields of grain of the enemy.

Henrick is most likeable. He is in many ways very innocent. The relationship between him and Lea is believable and their confusion about it is very real.

WRITING

This is a well-written book. Ms Kinney’s descriptions are wonderful and I loved reading them. They set the scene beautifully.

Lea’s referring to Henrick as a dandelion puff (referencing his white fur when in wolf form) is wonderful.

The descriptions of Lea’s problems with her migraines (that she doesn’t know what they are) are most believable and I could almost feel her pain.

The surprises in the story are also introduced at just the right places.

If I have to make an adverse criticism, I would say that there are a few unnecessary words. Mainly prepositions, like someone looking up at the stars. We know the stars are up! But that would be nit-picking. I found no typos or other grammatical errors, which is a refreshing change.

This is well worth a read. I gave it 5*

I have pre-ordered the second book, and am looking forward to receiving it.

review 0f airwoman by zara quentin

Some time ago I bought a boxed set called Magik. It contains books by several authors.
Although I’ve only recently begun to read the boxed set, I have read

Airwoman by Zara Quentin.


Here’s my review. (The picture is a combination of a couple of pictures from Pixabay and has no real relevance to the book. I just thought it would be nice to have a picture!)

Overview.

This is the story of Jade, a young woman who wants to become a Traveller and visit the many other worlds in the Dragonverse.

I found it gripping and wanted to keep on reading and turning the pages to find out what happens next and how Jade manages to escape the many dangers she faces , and the betrayals that beset her.

Story

Jade is the heir to her father’s company, one of the biggest on Teraqa. Her ambition, however, is far from living on the planet of her birth and running the company. She wants to travel the Dragonverse as a Traveller.

These men and women form an elite force whose job it is to keep all the worlds safe from the monsters that roam between the worlds. Jade’s parents have kept her from doing her duty and serving the mandatory time in the Force. Due to the influence of her father and his brother, they managed to avoid this.

Jade is not happy with this situation, but when her father dies under suspicious circumstances, and her friend, Axel, disappears, suspicion falls on him. This causes Jade some confusion, but also an opportunity to join the force and leave Teraqa on duty.

But it does not work out as happily as she imagined.

The story kept me guessing until the end.

Characters

The characters of this story belong to a race of winged and tailed humanoids. I found this idea novel and enjoyed flying around with them.

Jade is a well-rounded character. She has her flaws and doubts and makes mistakes that cause great problems for herself and others, which makes her seem real. I liked her a lot.

The other characters were all distinct, and with their own voices, including the characters from another world.

Writing

Zara Quentin’s writing is excellent. She kept the pace of the story moving, but there were just enough pauses in the action so as not to leave the reader breathless.

Her descriptions of the surroundings were clear, and I could visualise them as if I had been there myself.

I went through a gamut of emotions with Jade, Such was Ms Quentin’s powers of describing those emotions they seem real.

There were minimal typos and no grammatical errors.

Conclusion

An excellent read for anyone who enjoys both scifi and fantasy. People who enjoy a mystery would enjoy it, too if they can get past the fantasy elements. I am now looking forward to buying and reading the next in this series.

I have no hesitation in giving it FIVE STARS *

Please leave any comments in the comments box. I like to hear what you think of my posts.

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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.

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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.