Tag Archives: book review

review of It Lives in the Basement by Sahara Foley

It Lives In The Basement: A Creature Feature Horror Story by [Sahara Foley]

Overview.

I found this book to be unputdownable (Is that a word?) I finished it in two sessions.

Blurb

A missing couples report and a mutilated body.
Two years apart, same house.
Coincidence or something more sinister?

When Lt. Flynn lands a missing couples case, he finds no evidence of anything amiss. There are no signs of a struggle or foul play. The only clue lies in a dog-eared notebook, but is it true?

Two years later, a mutilated body is found in the same residence. Lt. Carter is assigned the case, and now, he’s faced with a life-altering decision. Can he afford to ignore the evidence that Sgt Alvarez reveals to him – the same evidence that led to his partner’s disappearance?

How many people will die before Carter brings the truth to light? Who will believe in the existence of a genetically manipulated monster?

Story

The story grips you from the beginning. How can a couple and their three cats disappear from a house locked from the inside? Where did the policeman investigating the case go to?

Ms Foley takes us on a roller-coaster ride. There is plenty of action, and we hardly have time to breath before the next action starts. An exciting story that I think would make an excellent film.

Characters

This is more of an action story than one of charavcter, although we get a clear picture of the character of John Carter and his brother-in-law, Mark, as well as Seargeant Pete Alvarez. But character development is not what this book is about.

Writing

Sadly, Ms Foley is not clear on the difference between ‘lie’ and ‘lay’. In most cases, she uses it wrongly.

Having said that, the rest of the writing is good, keeping us on the edge of our seats. Except for a few typos that have escaped the editing net, there is little to comlain about.

Her descriptions of the creature gives us a picture of this beast and its amazing strength. We feel the fear of Carter, Mark and Alvarez when confronted with it.

Conclusion

An excellent read. I give it 4 stars ****. I dropped one star, mainly because of the grammatical errors and typos.

Do you enjoy horror stories? Let me know in the comments box.

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Did you go to Book review school?

This post is most helpful for writers who are having trouble getting readers to review their books. (Like me!)

Cynthia Reyes has some excellent suggestions to encourage readers.

Did You Go to Book-Review School?

No?

I didn’t either.

Nor did being a journalist equip me to write book reviews.

So while I buy and read other authors’ books, until I published my own first book, I didn’t take the next step and review them.  I feared I wouldn’t sound wise enough, that my analysis would be inept. Perhaps that’s why I’ve been timid to ask readers to review my own books.

And therein lies the issue. Authors need reviews. But if we ourselves are too timid to review books and too timid to ask it of others, we have a problem.

Continue reading here.

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 *

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Review of Jhara, P.A.W.S book 6 by Debbie Manber Kuyper

Debbie Manber Kupfer announced the release of the latest episode of her P.A.W.S books on June 15th. I was delighted to receive a preview copy of this book, and am now posting a review here and on Goodreads. This, along with her other books, is a good read and will appeal both to teen and young adults, and adults who like the escapism of fantasy set in our real world.

Jhara (The P.A.W.S. Saga Book 6)

*****stars

Overview

This is a continuation of Ms Kuyper’s P.A.W.S. saga. It is, in fact, the 6th book. She has moved away from concentrating on Miri and the St Louis P.A.W.S., and this book is mainly set in New York, although it does have a substantial part in St Louis where Sandy, a weather mage, is situated.
I would class it as a Teen and Young Adult book, although many adults would enjoy reading it if they enjoy fantasy. It is a fantasy world that runs in our own, but that normal mortals know little or nothing about. Fairies abound, as do shapeshifters, werecreatures and animagi. And magic is real.

Blurb

Jenny has been painting fairies her whole life, but now a new fairy has emerged, one with wings of pure silver. She wishes she could share this new fairy with Jamie, but Jamie has disappeared and Jenny is worried.
Sandy is also worried. Her weather magic is out of control and she is taunted by a storm that whispers its name to her – Jhara.
Deep inside the bottle, the spirit of Jhara waits. She hates this form and detests her creator who has trapped her in there. It was not fair. You cannot create a storm and then trap it in a teacup. That worked only in idioms. And this was Jhara’s life.
The P.A.W.S. Saga continues with Jhara.

Characterisation.

The characters are well developed, with flaws and good points. Most want to do good, but their flaws let them down on occasion. Some are tied to the evil werewolf, Frederick, and in spite of their better efforts, end up doing bad things.

Writing.

There are a few typos that have got through the editing process, but that can happen to the best of writers and editors. The rest of the writing is good.
The descriptions of the places and the people bring them to life.
Ms Kuyper has a large cast of characters in this book that she handles well. Each has their own voice and are sufficiently different that we always know who is speaking. It must have been difficult dealing with so many.

Conclusion

A thoroughly enjoyable read. It adds to the on-going story of P.A.W.S., but it could be read on its own if you haven’t read the others.

Review of Dark Fire by c.j.sansom

Overview

This book is one of the books about the lawyer, Matthew Shardlake and is set at the time that Henry VIII wanted to divorce Anne of Cleves in order to marry Katherine Howard.

This is an exciting story and keeps you turning the pages. Just one more page. Oh, alright, just one more chapter. There are so many twists and turns in the plot that you simply must keep on reading?

Blurb

England, 1540: Matthew Shardlake, believing himself out of favour with Thomas Cromwell, is busy trying to maintain his legal practice and keep a low profile. But his involvement with a murder case, defending a girl accused of brutally murdering her young cousin, brings him once again into contact with the king’s chief minister – and a new assignment . . .

The secret of Greek Fire, the legendary substance with which the Byzantines destroyed the Arab navies, has been lost for centuries. Now an official of the Court of Augmentations has discovered the formula in the library of a dissolved London monastery. When Shardlake is sent to recover it, he finds the official and his alchemist brother horribly murdered – the formula has disappeared.

Now Shardlake must follow the trail of Greek Fire across Tudor London, while trying at the same time to prove his young client’s innocence. But very soon he discovers nothing is as it seems . . .

Story

Shardlake has, in the past, done work for Thomas Cromwell, and in this tale Cromwell sends for him to investigate the discovery of a mysterious substance, supposedly the mythical Greek Fire. Cromwell has promised a demonstration to the king, but unfortunately, the said Greek Fire has gone missing.

Things political are moving against Thomas Cromwell. The powerful Duke of Norfolk, Katherine Howard’s uncle, wishes a return to Rome, and his star is rising. This demonstration of Greek Fire (the Dark Fire of the title) would help Cromwell regain his position. But there are mysteries within mysteries here, and a time limit to find the stuff before the day of the demonstration.

At the same time as this, Shardlake has taken on the defence of Elizabeth, accused of murder, but whom Shardlake and her uncle believe to be innocent. Again, there is a time limit before her execution.

Characters

Matthew Sharadlake is afflicted with a twisted spine, and this causes him, not only physical problems, but he also meets with prejudices from people around him. However, in spite of this, he overcomes his physical problems, and does not let them cause him to become bitter.

He does have human flaws, though, which bring him to life as a real person, and we feel we can relate to him, and like him. His wit and intelligence get him through most things.

There are also other characters in the book who are also well-drawn. The man whom Cromwell sets to act as a help and protector of Shardlake, Jack Barak, is a complex character who is both educated and streetwise.

I cannot go through all the many characters we meet in these pages, but all are well-drawn and realistic.

Writing

The writing is excellent. I think I only discovered one typo and not grammatical errors in the whole book. Quite a breath of fresh air. Even in many traditionally published books I often find many typos, spelling mistakes and grammatical errors.

The research on the history of the time, and what life was like is exempliary. We can almost smell the rotting vegetables and other things in the streets and understand the horrors of Newgate prison. And the heat of the summer almost has us sweating along with Shardlake and Barak.

We feel along with Shardlake all his emotions and pains.

Conclusion

This is definitely a book to read if you enjoy mysteries set in past ages. I would recommend it to people who like mysteries wherever set, and also to people who enjoy books set in historical times. Perhaps not if your preference is for Historical Romance, though. Not much of that.

I’ve given it 5*

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Review of Glimpserama by Mortimer Roxburgh

Glimpserama by [Major Roxbrough]

**** stars

Overview

This is a book of short stories. They are all set in the same era, well into the future of the Solar System, when humanity has colonised Mars, and is mining the asteroids.
There are androids whose appearance makes it impossible to tell them apart from humans. They have even achieved the ability to feel some kind of emotions.
Mars is being slowly terraformed, and humans can stay outside for short periods, but humanity still has all the same foibles as we have now.
Some of the stories have the same characters appearing, but all are separate and complete.

Blurb

Glimpserama is a glimpse into one of mankinds possible futures. The first attempt is to begin colonizing the solar system and beyond. Although technology may have advanced, will Man have learned the improved ways of living along with such progress? Maybe not! We see that though Man has moved forward with technology, he is still the same marred creature he ever was, with very much the same old problems of morality and the simple ability to get along with his fellow man. Here are fifteen stories of the human condition in the thirty-third century.

Story

The stories in this book are excellent. They hold the attention throughout. I found I had to read to the end of each one.
They are very varied. From detective mysteries to explorations beyond the solar system, to wars, we find a great variety of tales.

Characterisation.

Being short stories, there is little time for the characters to develop, although it was fascinating to follow the increasing self-awareness and growing emotions in one of the androids.
The characters had human foibles (except for the androids, of course), and felt real.

Writing.

This is the weakest part of the book. There are a great many punctuation errors that I found somewhat disconcerting, especially when Roxburgh put some of the same person’s words on a different line after the dialogue tag.
He also puts the quotation marks before the comma, full stop, question mark, etc., and he does not seem to fully understand the use of apostrophes. S ometimes they are in the correct place, but other times they are scattered in plurals.
There are places where he puts commas instead of a full stop and question marks where it’s not a question.
He also has a habit of using obscure words, many of which I had to look up. Not helpful for a clear and enjoyable reading.
There are also some spelling mistakes (lead instead of led, dyeing instead of dying, for example.)and wrong word usage (like conceded instead of conceived, and peculiarly for particularly).

Conclusion

I do have to commend Roxburgh on his research, though. It is thorough and accurate as far as present day science is concerned. Who can say how accurate his foretelling might be?
All in all, in spite of the grammar errors, the stories are good, and so I decided to only remove 1 star from my review.

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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.

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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.

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.