Book Review: Fantasy & Science Fiction

Book Review: Tales of the River Vine – The Boy Who Carried a Forest in His Pocket by Jean Lee

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Tales of the River Vine: The Boy Who Carried a Forest in His PocketTales of the River Vine: The Boy Who Carried a Forest in His Pocket by Jean Lee

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I stumbled across this author through her blog and enjoyed her writing and comments. When an opportunity to read a short story / prequel of her upcoming novel, I was interested in giving it a chance. I’m not normally a fantasy reader, so I wasn’t sure how it would end up. I can now say it went extremely well and based on the short story, I’m looking forward to reading the book in the coming months. It launches at the end of October 2018, but for now, I wanted to share my thoughts on the story about the boy who carried a forest in his pocket. HMMM… that sounds very cool!

The story itself is under 15 pages, but it’s a fantastic introduction to the type of book her full-length novel (See Below) will be when it’s released on Halloween 2018. And she’s giving away 1000 copies — how awesome is that? So… a small town… a religious woman… a kind woman on a farm with a few kids… which is the better mom? Their interaction and dialog is very telling. Then… the kids meet a stranger, and this stranger performs a magic trick. Add in a squirrel, some very unusual children, and a curious mind, then you’ve got quite the beginning to what seems to be a very well-thought out universe of characters and stories. I’m curious to read more beyond this one, and with a title about a forest in a pocket, how could it not be awesome. I can’t wait to see all the imagery and graphics that appear in my mind from the author’s creativity.

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Fallen Princeborn: Stolen. Coming Halloween 2018

In rural Wisconsin, an old stone wall is all that separates the world of magic from the world of man—a wall that keeps the shifters inside. When something gets out, people disappear. Completely.

Escaping from an abusive uncle, eighteen-year-old Charlotte is running away with her younger sister Anna. Together they board a bus. Little do they know that they’re bound for River Vine—a shrouded hinterland where dark magic devours and ancient shapeshifters feed, and where the seed of love sets root among the ashes of the dying.

Fallen Princeborn: Stolen is the first in a series of young-adult dark-fantasy novels by Jean Lee. Watch for book 2 in March 2019. Read Tales of the River Vine, a collection of FREE short stories based on the characters in the Fallen Princeborn omnibus.

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Links for Stories

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07HHCDJVW/

Nook: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/tales+of+the+river+vine/_/N-8qa?_requestid=2147697

Other outlets: https://www.books2read.com/b/mBPXQR

Channillo: https://channillo.com/series/middler-s-pride/

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Who is Jean Lee?

Jean Lee is a Wisconsin born and bred writer excited to share her young adult fiction with those who love to find other worlds hidden in the humdrum of everyday life. Lee’s short story collection Tales of the River Vine is currently available for free download on Amazon, Nook, and other markets. Her serialized fantasy Middler’s Pride is available via the Indie E-magazine Channillo. Lee’s first novel, Fallen Princeborn: Stolen, debuts Halloween 2018 from Aionios Books. She currently lives in the Madison area with her husband and three children.

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Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100012373211758

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jeanleesworld

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Jean-Lee/e/B07DPP2RV6/

Website: https://jeanleesworld.com/

Publisher Site: https://aioniosbooks.com/jean-lee

Instagram: @jeanleesworld

Email: jeanleesworld@gmail.com

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About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. The debut book, Academic Curveball, in my new mystery series, Braxton Campus Mysteries will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. I read, write, and blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge –and multiple Readathons. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

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Book Review: The Anchor is Key by Linda Anthony Hill

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I belong to a cozy mystery group which offered me the opportunity to read a copy of this book. Since I review all books I read, today’s latest review is for The Anchor is the Key by Linda Anthony Hill. The author is new to me, but she’s written several other books before publishing this one in 2017. It might be part of a new series, but so far this is the only one. I would be interested in reading more in the future.

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In this book, we spend a few weeks with Celeste, a psychic, whose business is suddenly beginning to expand with an influx of clients. She’s meeting spirits with trouble passing over to the next world and learning someone was either murdered or forced to commit suicide. As Celeste tries to clear a business and warehouse from both evil and good ghosts, she finds herself falling for a few new guys and meeting religious people who question what she’s doing. Little does she know, someone is orchestrating a lot more of her life from a hidden position. It’s curious why she can’t figure it out on her own, but we soon learn what’s been blocking her.

At first, I was concerned about the book. It was very simple and meandered all over the place. By about 20%, it started to gel… this is the life of a psychic. It’s how we should read and understand the book. I then began to really like the format and approach. There are a few areas that were too open-ended, and the book ended with a lot of questions and areas where we are left to wonder what actually happened. If there’s an upcoming sequel, I’m good with the way this one ended. If this is the end, I’m a little unsure why it didn’t wrap things up in a better manner. It felt rushed otherwise and somewhat incomplete.

That said, I came to like the author’s style and find myself on the edge of the couch wondering what each new spirit could contribute to the on-going mystery. I like the author’s setting and Celeste is quite a character. She’s too direct to be someone I’d like in real life, but as a primary character, I enjoyed her ability to get things accomplished.

I’m curious to see where this one goes. I’d give it 3.5 stars… possibly more depending on what happens in the next book, e.g. if it becomes a series with more answered questions. Kudos to the author for creating a very interesting narrative and cast of characters.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: Maledicus by Charles F. French

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History has tons of lecherous and caustic villains. Author Charles F. French re-introduced me to one in the debut novel, Maledicus: The Investigative Paranormal Society Book I, in his series ‘The Investigative Paranormal Society.’ Long ago under Roman Emperor Caligula served a man named Maledicus. Is he real or made-up? I’m not sure, but’s he scary and wicked, and I don’t ever want to meet him. Maledicus has tortured hundreds perhaps thousands, but when Caligula fears the man he once thought of as an ally, Maledicus is tricked into being killed. But he’s so horrific, the Underworld refuses to let him truly die and instead, he haunts people for thousands of years. Through an idol of sorts, his spirit is invoked and wrecks havoc on anyone nearby. Fast forward to current day and a young girl being tortured in her dreams… it wasn’t enough her entire family died under mysterious circumstances, now what’s she gonna do?

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French’s novel is a page-turner. He doesn’t just tell us the story of Maledicus. We learn the stories of several people impacted by him in the 19th and 20th centuries. We also get to know the three investigators who’ve formed a paranormal club near the end of their regular careers. We become invested in their characters, their pasts, and their suffering. We root for them to overcome what’s holding them back… and then we just want them to survive the ‘re-incarnated’ Maledicus. What a thriller! It’s a roller coaster of crazy drama across multiple historical periods. I’m certain at times we’re not really supposed to know the order in which things happened, too. But that’s okay… the plot and details are just great.

French has told a new type of scary story where sometimes we think things will turn out okay, then we’re slapped cold and quick. He’s highly imaginative and comes up with some great tortures (without being too graphically detailed). Characters are diverse and clear. Timelines are murky but that’s okay… it helps build the drama of ‘wait… what’s really going on here?’ so we can find some of the final surprises. I’ll leave it up to you to figure out what really happens in the last few chapters.

It’s the first in the series… I’m looking forward to more. Kudos to the author for writing us a chilling drama worthy of a few nail-biting moments.

 

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: The Bride of Glass by Candace Robinson

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Earlier this year, I read and adored Candace Robinson‘s first book in the Glass Vault series. When the author’s second book, The Bride of Glass, was published this summer, I had to jump on it. What imagination and creativity lurks in her mind!

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Combining fantasies and fairy tales, this series expands upon everything we thought we knew about the stories of yesteryear and injects them with a twisty punch. Perrie is stuck in Quinsey Wolfe’s crazy glass vault, but she’s no longer Perrie. He’s transformed his bride into something very different, yet memories surface and push her to figure out the truth. Vale keeps a strong hold on her, but her friends are very persistent. Will she be rescued? Will he go back to the underworld? What happens to their strange and addictive love?

What I loved the most about this book was learning the back stories of all the characters who’ve been previously turned into storybook characters… from Little Red Riding Hood to Jack the Ripper, we now understand how Vale transported them into his frozen world, and how they can be turned into glass. The most fantastic part is Vale’s history… who his parents are, what happened to him as a child, and what he really wants from life.

Robinson has built a stellar cast with strong appeal. We root for the bad guys to turn good, yet we dislike some of the things some must to do get there. The world is grey… not black and white. It’s a nice gut punch of passion and fear. To be in her mind while creating this would be quite comical and inspiring. It’s such an easy-reading style full of imagery and thought-provoking concepts. I definitely look forward to reading more from her… this was my third book and I’m sure they will continue to amaze and entertain me. Thanks for this great series… perhaps one day, there could be a third Quinsey Wolfe installment?

 

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: Heir of Ashes by Jina S. Bazzar

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After interacting with Jina S. Bazzar via her blog for over a year, I decided to read her short story, The Curse earlier this year. I enjoyed it a lot even though I’m not a heavy fantasy reader. I added the first book in her series, Heir of Ashes, to my summer reading queue and finished it last week. All I can say is her heroine, Roxanne Fosch, is quite a captivating bad ass!

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For starters, the book is about 9k Kindle lines which is somewhere around 700 pages if I did the math properly. It was a daunting task, but by the time I finished it, I couldn’t believe it had gone so quickly. That’s a good sign when an author who can truly immerse you in a fantasy world full of awesome scenery and characters. If I tried to count the number of fight scenes, I’d run out of hands and toes! But each one felt different… between the multiple groups or assassins trying to get hold of her and the people she was trying to track down, Roxanne had tons of challenges to deal with. Along the way, Bazzar weaves in some romance, mystery, advice, and charm. It hits a bunch of happy spots when I’m looking for a well-written, cross-genre-style novel.

One of the most remarkable items the book left me with was how in Roxanne’s journey across those few days/weeks when we caught a sneak peak into her life, very little changed — and I mean this in a good way. She set out to escape, which happens. She set out to get revenge, which happens. She set out to discover who she was, which happens. But in the end, she’s basically back to the beginning not really knowing who she is anymore, trapped by a new force, and ready for revenge on the true tormentors. Book 2 will definitely handle all that drama and more, I’m sure, but in the meantime… so many questions about the different species and creatures in this world are still teasing me. Are her parents really dead? Was the curse from the original short story/prequel truly fulfilled? Why is this all happening? When will we meet the queen and her sister? How can I make Logan real?

I find myself intrigued and excited to learn more. I’d give this story 4.5 stars (rounding up where appropriate) and congratulate the author and publishing team on a successful launch. I look forward to picking up the next book in the series when it’s ready for publication.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: The Night Circus by Erin Morgernstern

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Each month on my blog, This Is My Truth Now, followers choose a novel from my Book Bucket List that I have to read. For July, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern was selected as the winner, and although it was in a genre I don’t often read (fantasy), I really enjoyed it. There were many parts I would give all five stars to, but there were also several where I thought it was just ‘good’ and received three stars; in the end, it’s earned a combined 4 stars from this bookworm… and now I’ll explain why!

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One of the reasons I struggle with fantasy is the lack of understanding all the rules in a fictional setting that seemingly has no bounds. In a realistic book, I know that someone who truly dies won’t come back to life, people can’t just suddenly appear through magic, and spells can’t confuse me as to what is real and what isn’t. I’ve come to love those things in more lighthearted stories, but when I am entrapped n a very somber / serious / beautiful piece of fiction, not knowing the rules can sometimes induce a difficulty to fully connect with the story or characters… and in The Night Circus, there were moments where I found myself asking the questions “Why couldn’t you just cast this spell?” or “Why didn’t you change the game?” or “Wait, how exactly can you do X but you can’t do Y?”

When I do this, I’m pulled from the story and suddenly less interested or focused on the outcome. So… for fantasy to truly pull me in, there need to be ground rules established from the beginning so I have structure. I can’t help it, I’m a boundaries-type kinda guy for the most part. Since this happened a bit too often in The Night Circus, I found myself thinking the book was just average. The book also jumps time frames in no particular order, which I am usually fine with, but when I have to keep track of time lines and what magic is happening in which person’s life, I am either not smart enough or just not well read enough in this genre! HOWEVER… on the flip side, these not-so-amazing parts for me were more than counter-balanced with tons of POSITIVE and THRILLING aspects.

Wow, was this an ethereal and beautiful story. I lost track of all the similes, metaphors and analogies between the words on the page. It was lyrical and enchanting… from the circus itself to the competition to the love/romance and the death. I tore through the pages in certain sections because I just kept digesting its absolute brilliance and didn’t want to stop and think about it – just wanted to breathe it all in at once. I might be in love with Celia Bowen, the main character for most of the novel. What she goes through and how she turns everything into gold is just stunning. I’d forgotten what she even looked like as it was more just this concept of magic I attributed to her… she was a weaver, a spellbinding enchantress… and when she was pushed back down again, or lost Marco from time to time, I was devastated.

Morgenstern’s creation of a fantastic world is utterly gorgeous beyond words. From how the circus looks and appears to the creation of the clock that holds it all together. I found myself unable to put the book down several times — only if I truly had to stop for something important. I would read another Morgenstern again, and I can’t wait to see what else she has to offer. So thrilled with this choice, thank you everyone!

 

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: Nature of the Witch by Helen T. Norwood

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Plot almost always comes first for me when I choose a new book. I don’t often venture into the fantasy and/or science fiction genres, but occasionally the story just calls to me. When I read a description of Nature of the Witch by Helen T. Norwood, I was intrigued. I love a true battle between good and evil, especially when the lines between which is which (no pun intended) falls into a murky oblivion of where to place your trust. Norwood’s novel is a prime example of why it’s good to chance something new!

There are witches — sometimes they’re good, sometimes they’re not so good. They are protected by a secret society of strong men, the Gwithiaz — sometimes they’re good, sometimes they’re not. {Side note: the questions come up with the characters whether witches can be men and the protectors can be women — I do love a good analytical discussion!} But then there are the Creatures who hunt the witches. From the beginning, I know enough to be afraid from the earliest descriptions of the wrath that they bring to any encounter. But who sent them? And why do they hate the witches? Lots of questions… yet the physical battle between all involved is carefully avoided until the very end of this book.

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The story is told from the perspective of a new witch and a new Gwithiaz, each being taught by what are supposedly the last of each’s own kind. But everyone knows what we’re told in fairy tales and fables is never the final or complete story. And that’s certainly the case here… Norwood weaves a spiderweb of deceit and confusion all throughout the first 90% of the book. It’s unclear who is telling the truth, but it forcibly pulls you into the story on the edge of your seat siding with each of the groups. Beyond the primary story evolves a growing relationship between the two newly anointed souls responsible for carrying forth the destiny of the witches. It could be friendship, love or just a pure family connection. Both lost their parents at a young age and have been searching for that unconditional love to no avail.

Until now. Yet that’s where it all comes crashing together in the end. I hadn’t know this was going to be a series until I read the last chapter and thought… wait, I need more… and then I turned the page to find a note from the author who was working on Book 2. WOW, she got me! I’m very excited to see what happens in this series. Between the vibrant descriptions, fantastic world-building and complex sense of loyalties, it’s a drama to the fullest extent. It reminds me of tv shows I’ve watched like Grimm and Sleepy Hollow, not to mention countless short stories and books about witches and battles – I felt like it was Hansel & Gretel seeking out evil! {Reference to a movie in case you’re confused about what little children from a forest have to do with the Creatures!}

Kudos to Norwood for enticing a new fan of the fantasy world! I’m a sucker for anything with witches, but this took it to a whole new level!

 

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.