The Beast of Talesend

The Beast of Talesend  by  Kyle Robert Shultz  description:

Private eye Nick Beasley lives in a world where fairy tales ended a long time ago – where zeppelins now soar the skies instead of dragons, and where the first automobiles have taken the place of flying carpets. He’s made a name for himself across the Afterlands by debunking fake magicians and exposing fraudulent monsters. This is the modern age, after all. Magic and monsters are long gone.

At least, that’s what Nick believes. Until he gets magically transformed into a monster, that is.

The only person who may be able to help Nick is Lady Cordelia Beaumont, one of the last enchantresses in the Afterlands. But in order for her to cure him, they’ll have to retrieve a powerful artifact from a ruthless crime lord – who is also Cordelia’s father.

The fate of the Afterlands lies in the hands of a runaway enchantress and a monstrous ex-detective. What could possibly go wrong?

BOOK 1: The Beast of Talesend  4 STARS

This is like a hard boiled detective got tossed into the darkest and bloodest of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales, then made it darker and more horrifying, and then someone decided it should be a comedy. Surprisingly it works. Honestly the twists Shultz has taken on the fairy tales was rather surprising and far different than anything I’ve read before, and I’ve read my fair share of retellings. I would love it if he would go back and write books on the stories they talk about in here as their history. Because while this is obviously a Beauty and the Beast retelling, since it’s a land of fairy tales, they’re all mixed in in varying ways, and the truth about Snow White honestly made a lot more sense than a lot of the other reasons for why the step mom would want her heart. Like I said, it’s dark, but the humor brought to it by the characters going through this, and Nick and Cordelia’s banter help really lighten it over all, even while they’re fighting evil and saving the world from darkness and destruction. Though it did start out a bit overly goofy in the beginning, once you really get into it, the tale does find a good balance and you get taken on quite an adventure. I even rather enjoyed Crispin’s involvement, as Nick’s little brother, there’s a lot going on there that I’d love to see developed and to find out more about their past. But it was the last line of this book that sealed the deal on me snatching up the next as soon as I can. I don’t want to spoil it, but I liked how Shultz got there and then left you hanging with that OMG moment. There’s just so many ways this series can go from here, and I look forward to the journey ahead.

Prison Planet Barbarian

Prison Planet Barbarian   description:

Being kidnapped by aliens is one thing. Being kidnapped by aliens and then sent to a prison planet is something infinitely worse.

Here in Haven’s prison system, I’m stranded among strangers, enemies, and the most ruthless criminals in the galaxy. There’s no safety for a human woman here, especially not one branded as a murderer. I’m doomed to a fate worse than death.

Then…he decides I should be his. His name’s Jutari. He’s seven feet tall, blue, and horned. He’s an assassin and one of the most dangerous prisoners here. He’s like no one I’ve ever met before…and he might be my only chance.

This story stands completely alone and is only marginally connected to the Ice Planet Barbarians series. You do not need to read those books in order to follow this one.

Prison Planet Barbarian  3 STARS

This book is definitely separate from the Ice Planet Barbarians series. However, if you are reading the series I wouldn’t check this out until you’ve read Barbarian’s Lady, because you do get a mention of Chloe and her connection to the women there. This was a fun look into the rest of the galaxy, seeing more species and how things are ran, and their view on humans and knowledge of them. I really enjoyed this book, and having read Dixon’s other series, it was fun seeing the connections of the different aliens and the galaxy out there, and it’d be great to see how far she can take all of this. I just didn’t like that for once we could see a relationship form between a messakh and a human outside of the influence of a khui, or even the tribe that survives off such pairings, and actually see how they might come together, but instead we get Jutari being influenced by a primal urge. There is no real relationship other than Jutari wanting Chloe, and deciding she is his, and Chloe needing him for protection. Even within the Ice Planet series you’d get more development between the couples that show why they’re a good match, and this just felt too rushed through.

Fire in His Kiss

BOOK 1: Fire in His Blood  by  Ruby Dixon

Fire in His Kiss   description:

Bloodlust and insanity rule my existence. As a fierce drakoni warrior, this strange new world I find myself in eats at my mind until there is nothing left. There is no light or clarity…until she arrives. I save her life, plucking her from the sky.

From that point on, she is mine.

But the human I have chosen for my mate – Sasha – is fragile and wounded. She does not trust me and fears my presence. I will not give up, though. I will do anything to give her my fires and bond us both in body and spirit. How can I convince her that I want nothing more than her happiness if she will not let me touch her?

How does a dragon woo a human?

BOOK 2: Fire in His Kiss  5 STARS

Wow. I’m surprised we got to learn so much about the dragons and their home world so early on, but it does open the doors to the potential of this series. I think that’s what so great about it, is that there’s so much Dixon can do with it, so many places it can go. With Dahk we get a better look into what’s going on with the dragons, but I also loved Sasha and how much she struggled with it all. Having been abused in the After, and then being taken away by the humans’ greatest enemy, she definitely isn’t someone ready to jump into a relationship. She’s just trying to survive, and poor Dahk is so confused over how to woo a woman, and why Sasha reacts the way she does. Mostly though, it’s that Dixon doesn’t wash over the bad. Even as Sasha may know Dahk cares for her, he’s still part of the reason her whole life is destroyed, and yet he’s also a victim of his own insanity, and so there’s this constant struggle for both sides to understand the other. Then with the addition of Emma, who gets to be a part of dealing with them and trying to understand, while of course not being one with a dragon, really helped flesh out the story. The last book we didn’t really get much with Amy or Sasha, so I’m glad we had Emma to give another point of view in this. Altogether it was even better than the first, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

The Vrai Domicile

BOOK 1: The Sixth Domicile by Courtney Ruggles

The Vrai Domicile  description:

Q437B was ready to die for the Second Revolution. Then she entered the Muertre…
Q and B expected death when the Elders ordered their execution. What they discover instead changes everything they thought they knew about their world. Saved by the mercy of the Elders, they awaken in the Vrai Domicile, a mysterious place hidden below the Sixth Domicile housing hundreds of former rebels.

Except these rebels have been brainwashed, conditioned to be blind followers.

Q quickly learns of the Elders’ new plan for her – she is to become their warrior, to reunite the Vrai and Sixth Domiciles with purity, love, and unwavering faith. But to Q, she’ll be undoing everything she and the rebels fought for.

Now Q and B must fight to survive once more, forced to forge new alliances with strangers who promise nothing is as it seems. But surviving comes with a choice – follow the Elders and quash the Revolution, or defy them and free the people, putting B’s and Grandmother’s lives at risk.

In a place where the fire of rebellion is extinguished at every turn, can Q continue to be the spark that fuels the Revolution?

BOOK 2: The Vrai Domicile  2 STARS

Honestly I think Ruggles should consider just writing erotica. She puts more effort into the love story and sex scenes than any other part of this story. The problem with that is that you’re left with this revolution you came here to read about that’s barely developed, and a “hero” that just comes across as an idiot. I understand wanting your characters to be human. Wanting them to make mistakes and not have all the answers. I don’t understand how Q doesn’t realize that B isn’t  talking master plans or shouting DOWN WITH THE DOMICILE with every breath because they’re in a place where they’re being watched and it’ll just get them killed. You know considering that’s why she’s going along with the Elder’s plan after witnessing them beat her grandmother. She has no clue, no plans, and apparently an inability to pick up on hints, but she’s supposed to be the savior. B could be the hero, but Q just makes me want to punch her in the face for being so dumb. And overall the plot was ludicrous.

The Winner

The Winner  by  David Baldacci  description:

THE DREAM

She is twenty, beautiful, dirt-poor, and hoping for a better life for her infant daughter when LuAnn Tyler is offered the gift of a lifetime, a $100 million lottery jackpot. All she has to do is change her identity and leave the U.S. forever.

THE KILLER

It’s an offer she dares to refuse…until violence forces her hand and thrusts her into a harrowing game of high-stakes, big-money subterfuge. It’s a price she won’t fully pay…until she does the unthinkable and breaks the promise that made her rich.

THE WINNER

For if LuAnn Tyler comes home, she will be pitted against the deadliest contestant of all: the chameleon-like financial mastermind who changed her life. And who can take it away at will…

the-winnerThe Winner   3 STARS

This book took me forever to get through. While it was good, it just wasn’t so to the point I couldn’t wait to know what would happen next. You want to know the answers, but it also feels like it takes a bit too long to get the answers. More so, I really loved the Will Robie books, and Baldacci’s style of writing which feels so factual and to the point worked great with them. With him attempting to put a bit of a love story in here, and dealing with their growing emotions, made it not the best style. It’s like he had all the right parts but just couldn’t get them to flow together in a way that made LuAnn’s and Riggs’ feelings come across as realistic. I think that’s the one thing that should’ve had more of a build and less rushed. Plus the whole psychic bit that got thrown in for no reason, and how Jackson knew everything about LuAnn except the fact that she had no SSN, and so many other things that felt like they were holes in the story that I don’t want to mention for fear of spoiling it if you do wish to read this. There are good things. The plot was definitely different, and LuAnn was someone you could relate to, and her predicament is one that was understandable and tragic. You can’t help but feel sympathy for her throughout all of this. Charlie, Riggs, and even Jackson are well developed characters, but there was just something lacking in the end.

Jack Winnick has been INTERVIEWED!!!

headshots-0051. What’s your name? Where can we find you? Blog? Twitter? Facebook?

Jack Winnick. I can be found on my Facebook page or at jackwinnick.com.

  1. Other than writing, what is your favorite hobby or thing you enjoy for fun?I’m an avid reader and probably read four to five hours a day, everything from the news to classics to modern fiction. Actually, everything but “romance” novels. I also watch lots of movies, mostly foreign films. They tend to be more interesting, less predictable, and more insightful than the Hollywood stuff. I like to work out and play tennis (though not well). Fortunately, here in southern California, we can be outside almost every day.
  1. How long have you been writing? What genres have you written? They don’t have to be published.I started writing technical articles and books as an engineer and college professor. I had also been steadily writing Op-eds for magazines and newspapers about important technical matters, like nuclear weapons, energy, and the environment, where I found that the journalists typically had no expertise on technical issues. But then, ten years ago, I decided to try my hand at writing fiction based on the Middle East situation, since this is the topic I most like to read about.
  1. What has been the greatest influence to your writing? Other authors, life experiences, etc…I most enjoyed reading realistic spy stories, like the work of Graham Greene and the early books of John Le Carre’. I decided to write something I thought I would enjoy reading.
  1. Are you currently writing anything now? If so tell us about it? If not make something up…I quit writing technical articles and books and now focus almost entirely on fiction. I’m currently working on the next episode of Lara and Uri in their fight against international terror. I do, however, still write the occasional editorial about the Middle East situation.
  1. How do you typically begin your projects? Do you create outlines and character profiles or jump in DIFC-BookCover5.5x8.5_BW_300-f3head first with the initial idea? And do you focus on just one at a time?That’s a tough question. Yes, I focus on one idea for a book at a time. It takes me a very long time to complete a novel, usually three years. I do start with an idea and the characters and flesh it out as I go. I do try to stick with an outline, but I find I often stray off as more interesting situations arise as the characters interact. The book then tends to “write itself.”
  1. What aspect of your writing do you consider your strength? Your weakness?My strength lies in my technical and political knowledge. I write what I know about. And if I don’t have complete knowledge of the subject, I do research. This is what happens when you’re a professor, especially in a technical field. You want to be accurate. That’s why it takes me so long to write a novel.
  1. After publishing, the next trouble facing writers is marketing. What do you typically do when marketing your novel? Do you have tips you’d like to share?It’s a tough world out there for writers. If you have a friend who works for a publishing house or knows a good agent, you have an enormous head start. My advice is to find an agent before you even think about writing.
  1. What advice would you give a writer who is starting out?Write something small first, something you are really an expert on or comfortable writing about—hopefully both. Then try your hand at selling it yourself. Finally, try a marketing agency.

Jack Winnick received his M.S. and PhD. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Oklahoma and has held several prestigious positions in the field, including working as an expert consultant at the NASA Johnson Space Center and as a Professor of Chemical Engineering at several universities. He has also been a Middle East scholar for over forty years, traveling to the area for the State Department for the purpose of technology transfer to the Arab nations, and cooperation between Israel and Egypt. A strong advocate for the State of Israel, Winnick holds memberships in AIPAC, Zionists of America and American Friends of Magen David Adom.

For more information, please visit http://www.jackwinnick.com and connect with Winnick through Facebook.

Devil in False Colors is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Fire in His Blood: A Post-Apocalyptic Dragon Romance

Fire in His Blood  by  Ruby Dixon  description:

Years ago, the skies ripped open and the world was destroyed in fire and ash. Dragons – once creatures of legend – are the enemy. Vicious and unpredictable, they rule the skies of the ruined cities, forcing humanity to huddle behind barricades for safety.
Claudia’s a survivor. She scrapes by as best as she can in a hard, dangerous world. When she runs afoul of the law, she’s left as bait in dragon territory. She only has one chance to survive – to somehow ‘tame’ a dragon and get it to obey her.
Except the dragon that finds her is as wild and brutal as any other…and he’s not interested in obeying.

What he is interested in is a mate.

fire-in-his-bloodBOOK 1: Fire in His Blood   4 STARS

Dixon, of course, doesn’t write a simple erotica, but instead gives us a world that is both our own and yet vastly different. A world that remembers how it once was and the day it all changed, and Claudia is a woman placed in an impossible position and struggles with the consequences. Learning of the horrors the dragons have reeked it seems illogical for a human to ever care for one, but Dixon does a wonderful job of making them both the enemy and a victim just as much as the humans they’ve harmed. It adds depth to the story, and gives the reader so much to discover that you can’t help but want to know what happens next. The best is how Claudia is so real in her emotions. She’s had a hard life and she’s learned how to survive and care for her sister, but she isn’t the unwavering badass that so many authors want to make women into. Instead she’s afraid when she’s facing certain death, and she does wish someone would take care of her so she can relax and not have to worry constantly. While she’s a fighter she’s also human, and that makes me love her all the more. I hope this series continues on until we’ve learned all we can of these dragons and what’s left of the earth they’ve created. I also look forward to seeing how the other love stories work themselves out.

Spy Glass

BOOK 1: Storm Glass  by  Maria V. Snyder

BOOK 2: Sea Glass

Spy Glass  description:

Opal Cowan had been willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to save her friends and rid the world of blood magic. Though she survives, she is forever changed…

Opal Cowan has lost her powers. More than that, she is now immune to magic. Opal is an outsider looking in, spying through the glass on those with the powers she once had, powers that make a difference to the world and were her whole world…

Until spying through the glass becomes her new power. Suddenly, the beautiful pieces she makes fl ash in the presence of magic. And then she discovers that someone has stolen some of her blood and that finding it might let her regain her powers. Or learn if she’s lost them forever…

spy-glassBOOK 3: Spy Glass   5 STARS

There are two things I love about Snyder’s books. How it shows characters overcoming the most horrible of abuses, and coming out of it stronger than ever. First Yelena, and now Opal, show that if you keep fighting, and find those people you can trust in and holding onto them, you can survive whatever the world throws at you. More so, I like that she shows that any who truly seek redemption can find it, one way or another, which is shown in Devlen. I’ve read several reviews that don’t like the relationship that forms between Opal and Devlen, but I understand it. I see it as someone finally getting sober after having done things while in the midst of addiction that no sane person would do, but once sobering up are ashamed of their actions. It was more than just being free of his magic,  because Ulrick who went through similar circumstances shows no ability to take responsibility for his own actions. But you can see how Devlen is one of the few who can understand what Opal is going through, and he tries to help her in the way he was trained to be a Story Weaver. While I’m glad that the characters from the Study series continue to be a big part, I also love how Snyder does mainly focus on the new friends and enemies Opal has gained in her own journeys, and ties up the full arc of the story that we’ve been following through this trilogy. I’m just so happy that she continued to write more in this world with the continuance of the Study series, can’t wait to see what happens next.

Alien Former continued…

Book 1: Alien Former  by  Ashley L. Hunt

Alien Former Collection description:

Joanna Angeles is ready for anything. She has been dispatched to a frozen planet at the back end of nowhere, accompanied only by an advanced Artificial Intelligence known as Barbas. Her mission: to transform an unliveable frozen wasteland into a home for over a hundred-thousand colonists within ten years. Unbeknownst to her, the brutal glacier world is not as lifeless as she thought. When her planetfall is mistaken for the coming of a deity by a local ranger, Volistad, Joanna finds herself embroiled in an ancient war.

Can Joanna and Volistad find common ground, despite their vast differences?
Can they forge a connection to unite their two peoples? Or will the ice-bound world of Chalice claim them all?

Join Joanna & Bardas in their mission to survive to this exotic and new harsh planet…

alien-formerBOOK 1-5: Alien Former   4 STARS

So I bought the complete collection, which is supposed to be books 1-5, and as you can see I already read book 1 and wrote a review for it, but this collection just has it as one whole book, nothing separating out the different stories that can be bought, which makes me think it was previously just chopped up and never meant to really be 5 separate books. I hate it when authors do that, but since it is being sold all together for just 99cents, I’m not going to dock it for having done such. Just give you a heads up, you might as well just go for the complete collection.

Continuing from the first review I did of just book 1, this does continue to develop the characters very well. I feel like I finally got a good picture of Joanna, and really like her character and who she becomes. Understanding the gods that are trapped beneath the surface, and the history of what they were and how they came to be there, was actually a really interesting look at human nature, and a great sci-fi tell all around. Volistad and his people dealing with the upheaval of their beliefs was really well done, and helped show how hard people want to cling to their faith but also the power they may have built upon it. Honestly, even though it’s marked as sci-fi romance, the romance part doesn’t overshadow the plot, and anyone who likes alien adventures would enjoy this. My main problem with the book is it really needs better editing. I almost knocked it down to 3 STARS because of it, but the rest of it was so good I didn’t want to do such. But there are a lot of typos, as well as repetitiveness, which is  a pet peeve of mine. Like yes we get that Barbas’ presence feels like someone reading over your shoulder, and other such description that she got stuck on and felt the need to repeat over and over.

 

Alien Former

Alien Former  by  Ashley L. Hunt   description:

Joanna Angeles is ready for anything. Sent to Chalice, an alien world, with state-of-the-art equipment and a ten-year time limit, she is determined to change the harsh environment of her new world into a welcoming home for the hundred-thousand colonists that are depending on her. How will she survive the most brutal environment she has ever faced? Can her Artificial Intelligence companion, Barbas, truly be the perfect lover? Can she succeed in her mission when her new home seems to be determined to kill her?
Join Joanna & Barbas in their mission to survive to this exotic and new harsh planet…
Readers should be 18 and over due to mature situations and language.

alien-formerBOOK 1: Alien Former   4 STARS

This book was like an futuristic astronaut got dropped into a Beowulf epic. Joanna is being sent by the Pan-American government to get a new planet ready for more people to come live on. She’s got all this advanced technology, the best of which is Barbas, an AI who’ll have you questioning what it means to exist. Plus the relationship between Joanna and Barbas is kind of wonderful in how they become best friends and are struggling together to survive on this harsh world. Yet, instead of her landing amongst a super advanced alien race or barbarians, they land in a world where the aliens are basically at the stage of vikings, and hold that warrior ideology, which is enhanced by their own magic and mythos. And magic is the best way you can explain it when you have groups of people who can create storms or bring a person back from the dead with shaman talismans. Instead of the sci-fi and fantasy worlds clashing, they’re just woven wonderfully together. In an infinite universe with worlds evolving in different ways, magic should be a possibility. My main complaint is that while I love Joanna, and you do feel for her, it feels like there’s not enough explanation about the Earth she is leaving behind, and even when it comes to describing her, you only get the barest image. Which is strange considering Hunt does a great job of building Chalice/Ravanur, letting you know exactly what the people look like. Which is nothing like the cover, cause they’re all white and wear leathers from what they’ve killed and armor, so really don’t get the cover. Also they’re stories of how life came to be on their world, their beliefs of why it’s frozen there, and the scary hints that it may not all be stories, was all very in depth. In the end it had me snatching up the next book as quick as I could.