Book Review: Fantasy & Science Fiction

Book Review: The Crimson Deathbringer by Sean Robins (.99 from 6/12 – 6/16)

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Today, I’m sharing a book review and an alert: Sean Robin’s sci-fi thriller, The Crimson Deathbringer is only .99 as a Kindle download from 6/12 thru 6/16. Check it out @ Amazon where it was HOT NEW RELEASE earlier this month. I read the book last week and have posted my review below. Scroll down to see it… and you can check out the author’s website for more information on his books and news.

The Crimson DeathbringerThe Crimson Deathbringer by Sean Robins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Alien Invasion! Future Coming Faster Than We Think! Hold On To Your Senses! My experience in this realm consists of Star Trek and Star Wars, plus a handful of other books I’ve read in the sci-fi genre in the past year. It seems I might like this genre more than I thought… after a few excellent authors I’ve added to my list this year, I’m adding another one with Sean Robins, writer of The Crimson Deathbringer, published in 2019.

When I first read the title, a bloody crash came to mind. After starting the book, I thought… this doesn’t seem all that sci-fi. It’s more post-apocalyptic world settling, but then… all hell breaks loose. What I commend the author for most… is starting with great characters and a solid story. I was immediately pulled in by the first couple of characters we’re introduced to. And then, when the aliens invade, I felt even more connected with the story. There are two different alien races, and I had to choose which one I liked. Rather than provide more details on the actual plot, here’s what you need to know: Young love. Strong female fighters. Bonds of friendship. Trust in a species you haven’t ever encountered before. Cool technology with mind altering systems. Betrayal. Humor. Just the beginning of this series.

Interested? Sounds kinda intense, and it is… but don’t think there aren’t laugh out loud moments and some good old-fashioned romance. Robins includes tons of references that even a clueless guy like me picked up on. I knew several from Star Wars, Star Trek, and Game of Thrones. There were others I vaguely knew of, but it all made for a witty and clever approach to telling the story. Love blossomed between unlikely characters and world domination was a clear theme. Has it hit too close to home? Possibly, but only in the good ways.

I like Robins writing style. It’s easy to digest without the clunk of super-sci-fi stories that sometimes go over our heads. There is A LOT of all that futuristic stuff, but it’s described in a very understandable manner and it makes you kinda interested in exploring it more. Until, of course, death happens. No alien invasion can be successfully thwarted or pulled off without pain and loss. I’m happy to say that 1 of my 2 fave characters survives this international / foreign / outer galaxy war, but I did have to hold back a tear or two when some bad things happened. As an author, I know what it’s like to do that to someone you’ve created whom you love… which tells me I know Robins painfully made this decision, and probably because it was the right one.

We’re left with a bit of a “what could happen next” moment at the end, but I’m along for the ride. Looking forward to the sequel!

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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. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations but with a twist. There are four books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, and Mistaken Identity Crisis. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where 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 Keeper by Misty Mount

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The Keeper (The Underground Defenders Book 1)The Keeper by Misty Mount
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Keeper, published by Misty Mount in 2019, is the first book in her “Underground Defenders” series. I’ve read another book by Mount in the past, and I will be reading more in the future. I enjoy her slow-build, tension-filled climaxes and the depth of detail she goes into describing her characters and settings. With a focus more on the paranormal / other-worldly / ghostly genres, it’s not quite fantasy or science-fiction, but it’s definitely not total reality; I like that middle ground and would recommend this book for almost all reader types and ages, especially if you have a bit of an open mind.

At first, we get to know a young couple who have moved to the husband’s family’s home under interesting auspices. There are some financial and medical issues with the couple, but the husband’s grandmother has also taken ill. She raised her grandson (and his siblings) when their parents weren’t around. I say it that way purposely because all is not what it seems and I don’t want to spoil the book for you. That said, when the couple and their young daughter arrive, something is obviously amiss. Not only do we learn the wife has had a bit of a breakdown, we see her very ‘clingy’ focus on her daughter–fearful when others hold the infant, unable to leave the room without her, et al. Are there legitimate reasons, or has her breakdown not been fully uncovered and healed? Mount handles these questions well because I often couldn’t be sure where the exact problem stemmed from in the couple’s relationship. At times, it was his fault, yet at others, it was clearly hers. Excellent way to keep readers attuned to the story but excited to find out the conclusion.

As the tale unfolds, we meet the mystery guest that the grandmother says has been helping her recover before her grandson returned. Even the live-in staff and visiting nurse are aware of this supposed other person. Is she real or a ghost? Just when you get to know her, the main story completely pauses and switches to the past where we learn about a nearby neighbor who also seems to know the same house guest. We learn all the history leading up to the current time, including some connections with the young couple’s grandmother and extended family. Some shocking stuff regarding healing and medicinal treatments swing to the forefront, but very powerful relationships unfold at the same time. Mount is great at taking readers into a moment of eerie and confusing situations, letting us decide for ourselves what’s real and what’s imaginary. Great stuff!

For me, this is a non-typical read, but it’s very easy to digest and connect with, so I find myself quite intrigued to learn more about the hospital, the house guest, and the missing and yet-to-be-revealed parts of this larger plot. What I can say without any spoilers… the book ends with a resolution to the main story. We know what’s going on with the grandmother and young couple. We understand who the house guest is and what’s truly going on in her own world. But… we get a sort of open-ended cliffhanger about what will happen next. Just because you know the answer to your question doesn’t mean you know how it’ll turn out… that’s the way to end a story and make your reader wait for the next one. This reader is looking forward to book two… and I hope we get it before year-end.

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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. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations but with a twist. There are four books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, and Mistaken Identity Crisis. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where 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: By Chance by E. Denise Billups

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By ChanceBy Chance by E. Denise Billups
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

By Chance, written by E. Denise Billups, focuses on three women who have a shared, unknown connection in the beginning of this supernatural story. Although they start out as colleagues working on a TV home remodeling show that gives a house away each year to one lucky entrant, they become friends over time and support one another through multiple difficult, personal situations. They also have varying degrees of paranormal abilities, enabling them to predict what might happen and to recall memories from long ago. When they each receive a peculiar gift one holiday morning, they turn to each other to protect themselves from a harmful entity seeking vengeance.

Enter Tom and his family. He appears to be a man suffering from something awful that occurred in the past. He previously won the home giveaway contest, but after time, things went awry. We never quite know what happened, but he wants to punish the show for its lies and the unfairness it’s caused in his life. He makes a difficult decision to leave his family in order to travel around the country to get revenge against the show, stalking and hunting down the three women (and a few others) who were part of his downfall.

Told from different perspectives, we learn the history leading up to Tom’s anger through the eyes of different situations and characters. At the same time, we watch the women try to discover who is out to get them, as Tom’s notes and presents are purposefully confusing. The women are also unable to clearly see Tom’s identity, and nothing indicates he is past winner, at least in the beginning. As the events unfold, and Tom unravels, he makes mistakes which lead to someone figuring out his identity. But then, they can’t actually find him. They just foresee the final encounter, which doesn’t bode well for their futures. What can the trio do to stop him?

While the supernatural abilities are important to the story, they aren’t what made this such a great read for me. Billups created memorable characters with painful history and wonderful, outgoing personalities. I believed the kindred spirit and friendship among the three primary women, and they kept my attention throughout the tale. The concept of the story was intriguing–a home giveaway contest gone wrong. Or did it? There is a heightened psychological aspect to this story because at times, we are unsure who might be involved in the entire situation. It creates good suspense and makes for a very easy read.

This isn’t a whodunit tale, nor is it focused on what actually went wrong with the house that was given away. It’s more a story of perspective and overcoming challenges. The main plot takes place over about a year, and the subplots are plenty–we see all the new relationships and events in the women’s lives while the stalking continues to occur. Sometimes it’s the things you don’t know that will haunt you in the end.

Tom suffers through a lot, but we won’t find out all the details until much further in the book than you’d expect. I turned the pages quickly on a flight halfway across the country, and before long, it’d ended. Pacing and timing were strong, and I found myself invested in the outcome. The ending was a nice surprise, and I realized how much I enjoy Billups’ writing style. A definite recommend from me for fans of something that blends a few genres and turns out a solid story.

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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. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations but with a twist. There are four books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, and Mistaken Identity Crisis. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where 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: Marika by Mari Collier

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Marika (The Chronicles Of Tonath Book 3)Marika by Mari Collier
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Marika is the 3rd book in the ‘Chronicles of Tonath’ series written by Mari Collier. While you don’t need to read them in order, it’s probably a good idea to give it a try if you can. I chose to read this one first (the latest) because I liked the plot line and wanted to sample something by the author. I can easily say that Collier is a wonderful writer, and I will continue to read more from her.

The people of Tonath have been through a tremendous amount. Some of them, like Marika, have secrets that have yet to be discovered, even by the secret keeper themselves! The book kicks off with Marika as a young girl at religious / spiritual services with her mother and several brothers in an institution. She has a weird out-of-body experience where a voice speaks to her and warns her that someone is in danger. Marika tries to tell the person, but her mother prevents her from speaking the truth and chalks it up to a young girl’s imagination. We soon learn Marika’s mother wants the property her daughter inherited from her recently deceased father. We’re unsure if her mother is good or bad, but we continue to see the relationship spin and evolve for the next 10+ years as Marika grows up and must wait until her 18th birthday to formally decide what to do with the land.

Meanwhile, as Marika tries to understand these strange powers building inside her mind, someone from the past visits her and provides a quest that she is destined to follow. Marika wants to be informed about her life, the truth, and her planet’s history before she listens to her mother to sell the property and get married. Two suitors are interested, but Marika won’t commit. Then she decides to follow the quest that someone puts before her… revealing Marika’s true lineage and purpose in the world. What must this amazing young woman do to accept the truth and protect those around her?

Collier takes her readers on a wild science fiction and fantasy ride through life on another planet. We know a little bit about Tonath, but not everything (perhaps it’s covered in earlier books), so we’re learning a lot as we go on this journey. Marika’s gift and responsibilities run deep. Will she be able to contain them? Once she makes a decision about whom to marry, and how to deal with her mother’s relentless grip on things, Marika’s mind and world open up to the past. She discovers what happened years ago, what she needs to do, how to stay alive for longer than most, and how to fall in love the right way. She learns to trust and become part of the solution rather than just another cog in the system that does little to help the world around her.

Collier has created a believable world with lots of emotional situations for her characters. While everything feels human, there is another layer to the complexity of Marika’s past and her powers, so as readers… we’re always wondering what else might happen. She’s suffered a lot, and when she meets people like the teacher / professor and some of the brothers in the institution, it’s clear to tell she is special – but we also know some do not want her to survive.

I’m always impressed by writers in this genre when they create the unimaginable for me. I live with walls and structure, yet on another planet, so much can happen. It’s intriguing to discover how authors like Collier can dream up such fantastic worlds we’ve never been in but make them feel so real. Kudos for a well-written story that just happens to have a basis in science fiction and reality. While that’s an important component, what readers will enjoy most here is the maturation process of a young girl who yearns to find the truth about her father, the past, and her purpose. She’s a role model for many, and I look forward to seeing more of her in future books perhaps.

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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. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations but with a twist. There are four books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, and Mistaken Identity Crisis. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where 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 Doom by Jina S. Bazzar

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Heir of Doom (The Roxanne Fosch Files, #2)Heir of Doom by Jina S. Bazzar


Heir of Doom is the second book in Jina S. Bazzar’s trilogy, The Roxanne Fosch Files, and falls in the suspenseful fantasy genre. I’ve previously read the first book, Heir of Ashes, and a prequel short story, The Curse, before reading this one. They are best read in order so you get the full picture of everything going on in this extraordinary world. I buddy read this one over four days with my friend, Misty, and enjoyed it very much.

Roxanne is half human. She was given up at birth due to several reasons we learned about in a previous book, but ultimately, she’s been held captive for ~20 years. She escaped from someone’s clutches only to be kidnapped again and tortured many times. Now, she’s out on her own after the last book, and is trying to find out the truth about her past. In this book, she wants to help a missing girl who’s being raised by the same woman who raised Roxanne, except this little girl is indeed the adoptive mother’s child. Unfortunately, the child is afraid of someone and wants Roxanne’s support. Just when Roxanne thinks she can help her, the girl goes missing, and the hunt begins. Who took her? What’s the reasoning? And will Roxanne save the day?

That’s only a piece of the story. Author Bazzar takes us on a journey and race to get to the bottom of the kidnapping, only along the path, Roxanne learns way more than she expected. Who should she trust? The evil guy everyone warns her about? The adoptive mother who acts weird now? The guy she had a crush on who seems to be with someone new? A few other folks coming into and out of her life at warp speed? By the end, we learn the truth about Roxanne’s parents, and it’s a shocker. We thought we knew the whole story, but we did not!

The first half of the book was a slow burn to catch us up on history, get to know the new characters, and set the tone for why it’s so important for Roxanne to be involved in this chase. The second half was an intense ride full of deadly battles, astronomical pain and loss, and a discovery of whom you should trust. Author Bazzar really makes us fall hard for the heroine. We forgive her curt and pushy attitude. We understand why she needs to get to the truth. We love her for trying to save someone else. And we want to help her get free from the ties that bind her for what could be most of her life.

Her fighting instructor is harsh! Her friends can be loving and mean at the same time. Her enemies stop at nothing to kill her. Where will we go in the third book? I can’t wait to find out. I so enjoyed this buddy read with Misty, I’m sure we’ll take on the third book together again next year!

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Check out Misty’s review to see what she thought of our buddy read.

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. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations but with a twist. There are four books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, and Mistaken Identity Crisis. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where 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 Cracked Altar by Timothy J. R. Rains

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The Cracked AltarThe Cracked Altar by Timothy J. R. Rains
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Cracked Altar, a fantasy novel by Timothy J. R. Rains, first interested me because of its intriguing title. Would it have a religious theme? What dastardly action would happen, as when something says cracked, it usually has a clever twist. As soon as I dove in, Hinkle’s near-capture captivated me. I’m not typically a reader in this genre, but the more I sample some works, I find myself becoming a fan.

Hinkle’s family tree is complex. We immediately learn that her mother is gone. She’s been living with a grandmother in a world where her family has suffered. There’s an uncle who’s a mystery and aunt who’s either a pious nun or a nefarious witch. Which will it be? Hinkle is rescued by her own special brand of knight, and her grandmother engineers a solution that will benefit them all in the future. It’s a powerful scene and sets a fantastic tone for the book. We follow Hinkle’s path with her new protector only to learn nothing we’ve thought true is indeed accurate. In this world, what’s gray is more important than what’s black and white.

Rains builds a fascinating and well-developed world where the rich are rich, and the poor are poor. Part-fairy tale and part mystical quest, the novel will engage your visual senses as each scene and action are vividly described. The battle scenes were strong but not over-the-top. The secrets were revealed at timely moments. And the clues were in abundance. The story is gripping, and I’m hopeful there will be a sequel. Kudos to the author for gaining a new fan in the fantasy genre.

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Book Review: Endgame by Patrick Hodges

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Endgame (Wielders of Arantha, #3)

Endgame by Patrick Hodges

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Endgame is the third book in the Wielders of Arantha trilogy written by Patrick Hodges. I read the first two book in late 2018 and had to finish the conclusion while every little detail was fresh in my mind, as these books pack in a tremendous amount of story, characters, and settings. Each is a fantastic component, but when woven together, the series is a definite stand-out with the makings of potential major fandom. And that comes from a non-frequent fantasy reader who’s mostly familiar with works like Star Wars and Lord of the Rings — I got the same feels reading Hodges’ work as I did the others!

Think of it as a cosmic chess game. Two unknown players (until the end, of course) battling for control over millennia, tossing curveballs and misery at one another, until the game concludes. But it’s much more than that… Hodges has created a bevy of memorable characters and intense passions for survival that will keep you glued to the book for hours at end. While the focus is on epic battles to conquer other lands or obtain your freedom, within each major conflict exists the fundamental emotions and goals we all experience in life — love, pain, embarrassment, lust, anger, revenge, friendship, shock, judgment…

At times, I wasn’t sure who would end up winning the war. It could be the good or the bad guys. Then again, I had moments where I was no longer sure which side was good or bad. There is a middle ground where Hodges forces readers to question our loyalty and our connection to certain characters. People make mistakes, can they be forgiven? Others betray you for a necessary reason, can it be forgotten? Power is thrust upon those not ready, should they be punished for inexperience or immaturity? Mothers are forced to abandon, but what if they had the best interests at heart? These are only the basic level of questions readers will evaluate while reading this trilogy. It gets deeper from there.

As a conclusion, it’s strong. There were a few characters I wish had different endings, but that’s only because I feel different things than other readers will. The entire story is wrapped up, but it is not perfect and happy. Just like life. There are losses in war. The bad guys / girls sometimes win a few battles. People will die. Sin will persist. Hodges covers all the remnants of a long-lasting war that will never be forgotten. I found happy endings for some couples and families, but it was a wonderful balance of humility, acceptance, and tolerance.

If you’re a fantasy fan, you’ll undoubtedly enjoy this trilogy. While you could just read this last book, as Hodges does an excellent job of briefly summarizing pertinent history, you’d lose out on all the beautiful emotions and relationships that lead us to this final epic ending. It’s a quick read despite being either ~400 or ~500 pages for each book, which makes it highly worth it, and then even a little sad when it ends! With over 20 key characters, all easily identifiable and visualized, I couldn’t possibly describe everyone here… but I’ll definitely share my favorite: Maeve is a the strongest, the type of person you’d want to be on your side in any battle. She has the nurturing and loving side to make her appeal even more, but it’s her honesty that is the best.

Definitely give this one a chance if you love complex and multi-generational tales that have surprise connections between characters and history you learn as the story unfolds. Congrats on a superb finish, Hodges!



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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.