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Book Review: Mercer Street by John A. Heldt

February 3, 2016

I received this book for free from Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Mercer Street by John A. HeldtMercer Street by John A Heldt
Series: American Journey #2
Published by Self-Published on 21st October 2015
Pages: 431
Source: Author
Goodreads
four-stars
Weeks after her husband dies in the midst of an affair in 2016, Chicago writer Susan Peterson, 48, seeks solace on a California vacation with her mother Elizabeth and daughter Amanda. The novelist, however, finds more than she bargained for when she meets a professor who possesses the secret of time travel. Within days, the women travel to 1938 and Princeton, New Jersey. Elizabeth begins a friendship with her refugee parents and infant self, while Susan and Amanda fall for a widowed admiral and a German researcher with troubling ties. Filled with poignancy, heartbreak, and intrigue, MERCER STREET gives new meaning to courage, sacrifice, and commitment as it follows three strong-willed souls on the adventure of a lifetime.

The one thing I love with books by John A. Heldt is that I’m guaranteed to enjoy them. Mercer Street was absolutely no exception, and a stellar addition to the American Journey series. I loved how three generations of a family were sent time-travelling by the mysterious Geoffrey Bell in Mercer Street, and how Elizabeth’s past was woven into their new present in 1938. Reading about Princeton was great, and Heldt never fails to disappoint with his rich descriptions of the past. I love travelling back in time with these books, as I honestly feel like I’m right there with the characters in the past.

I enjoyed the romance in Mercer Street, as it really tied in well with the plot and added to the story, and I found myself desperately rooting for Amanda and Kurt’s relationship to make it through to the end of the book, even though it seemed, at times, that their differences were just too difficult to work through. I enjoyed Susan’s relationship with Jack as well, although it didn’t have the outcome I wanted it to, I understand and appreciate why Heldt chose to follow that path.

It’s so hard to talk about these books without giving something away, as they are full of little twists and turns that have a huge impact on the outcome, but don’t let my vagueness stop you from picking up these books, because John Heldt is definitely a master of his craft, and I would absolutely LOVE to see his works getting more recognition in the future.

All in all, I really enjoyed reading Mercer Street, and found it to be yet another fantastic addition to John A Heldt’s work,

Book Review: Savage Light by Janeal Falor

July 16, 2015

I received this book for free from Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Savage Light by Janeal FalorSavage Light by Janeal Falor
Published by Chardonian Press on 24th February 2015
Pages: 266
Source: Author
Goodreads
three-stars
Marsa has always struggled with the fact she goes unnoticed. Her best friend is the one chosen to rid the world of all evil; the man Marsa loves barely knows she exists; and her sole remaining family member dies at the hand of the last evil man in the world.

When all evil is finally defeated, Marsa thinks she'll at last have the life she wants, even if her mother isn't there to share it with. And maybe she'll discover the love of her life loves her back. Only a new quest is set before her and her friends. By the end of their journey, Marsa will question everything she knows. She'll have to redefine how she wants others to notice her, before their entire world is destroyed.

It’s no secret that I love Janeal Falor’s writing, so when I was given the opportunity to read Savage Light, I immediately jumped at it. Whilst I didn’t love it as much as I do the Mine series, I did find it incredibly compelling to read.

I have to admit, I didn’t find many of the characters very likeable, particularly Kaylyn and Jorrin. I honestly couldn’t understand why someone who Marsa was so close to would treat her so poorly. And what Kaylyn did to her at the end of the book was truly awful, as I was reading it all I could feel was rage bubbling up inside me. And if I dwell on it now, I still feel the same way! Jorrin wasn’t much better. If he’d been honest with Marsa in the first place about his feelings, I think I would have liked him much more! I did really like Tavo, he was so sweet to Marsa throughout the book, and constantly looked out for her. I just wish she had paid attention to him a lot sooner!

I did find the lack of backstory slightly confusing, as it meant I didn’t really understand the motives behind the Zophas, but I know there’s another book in the series which may explain things a little better? I’m intrigued to see how things pan out for Marsa in the future, and to see how her character develops a bit further.

I found Savage Light to be a really quick read, and provided an interesting perspective on the fight between good and evil, and despite me not particularly liking the majority of the characters, I definitely am anticipating the next book!

Book Review: September Sky by John A. Heldt

April 27, 2015

I received this book for free from Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: September Sky by John A. HeldtSeptember Sky by John A Heldt
Series: American Journey #1
Published by Self-Published on 1st January 2015
Pages: 409
Source: Author
Goodreads
four-stars
When unemployed San Francisco reporter Chuck Townsend and his college-dropout son, Justin, take a cruise to Mexico in 2016, each hopes to rebuild a relationship after years of estrangement. But they find more than common ground aboard the ship. They meet a mysterious lecturer who touts the possibilities of time travel. Within days, Chuck and Justin find themselves in 1900, riding a train to Texas, intent on preventing a distant uncle from being hanged for a crime he did not commit. Their quick trip to Galveston, however, becomes long and complicated when they wrangle with business rivals and fall for two beautiful librarians on the eve of a hurricane that will destroy the city. Filled with humor, history, romance, and heartbreak, SEPTEMBER SKY follows two directionless souls on the adventure of a lifetime as they try to make peace with the past, find new purpose, and grapple with the knowledge of things to come.

There’s one thing I can quite confidently say about John Heldt: his books never disappoint me. September Sky introduces us to a whole new range of time-travellers, and took us on an unforgettable journey to 1900’s America.

I did wonder whether September Sky would hold my interest in the same way the Northwest Passage series did. On paper, the books sound so similar, but upon reading, this certainly isn’t the case. I loved how time travel was introduced in September Sky – it wasn’t accidentally stumbled upon, but explained and presented to Chuck and Justin by Professor Bell, who I reckon may play a larger role in future books. Maybe he’ll even have his own book? Who knows!

I didn’t expect to love 1900’s America, but I surprised myself by becoming so invested in Chuck and Justin’s travels, and the characters they swiftly became attached to. Of all the characters we were introduced to from the past, my favourite had to be little Anna, Emily’s sister who Justin immediately fell in love with, even if it did take Emily longer to warm to Justin! Their romance was so sweet, as was Chuck and Charlotte’s. It wasn’t the romances that really took me though, but the thought that a murder was going to take place, and Chuck’s determination to make sure that his long-distant relative wasn’t charged with the murder again. I honestly didn’t guess who the murderer was, and I was so, so shocked when the big reveal happened!

All in all, September Sky is an excellent opener to a brand new series by John A. Heldt, and I absolutely cannot wait to dive into the next book as soon as I possibly can.

Book Review: Darkness by Ciye Cho

April 20, 2015

I received this book for free from Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Darkness by Ciye ChoDarkness by Ciye Cho
Series: Florence Waverley #3
Published by Self-Published on 9th February 2015
Pages: 309
Source: Author
Goodreads
four-stars
A dire prophecy has emerged, and the mer believe that humans and merfolk are in grave danger. Terror is closing in, but only one person holds the key to stopping it: Florence Waverley. However, her mission to save two worlds will lead her far, far out into the Darkness--a shadow-realm full of monsters, magic, and wicked tides that could tear apart bodies.

With the help of her friends, Florry must uncover a secret about humans and mer. A long-lost secret that could change her life. And above all else, she must fight hard to light the darkness. Everything depends on her mission: her friends, her world, and the one she loves.

The past, present, and future are about to collide--but can she stay afloat? One way or another, nothing will be the same when she enters the Darkness...

Darkness is the third book in the Florence Waverley series

It feels like forever since I submerged myself in the world of Niemela and Florence Waverley. And, in a way, that’s true. It’s been three years since I read a book from this series, and normally that means I’d be lost over where I was with the story, but that wasn’t the case with Darkness. I started reading and slipped straight back into the world with no problems whatsoever.

Ciye Cho has managed to really flesh out Florence’s character in this book. She goes from being a girl fighting for respect in a land whose residents are wary of her kind to someone strong and willful, who isn’t afraid to fight for what she truly believes in, even if it kills her. I can’t even mention the main thing that happens to her in Darkness because it is a MASSIVE spoiler, but it’s so good and so fitting and I can’t wait to see how she adapts and develops in the rest of the series.

I went into Darkness expecting answers to questions I had from previous books, but unfortunately, that wasn’t to be! In fact, I think I’ve been left with more questions than what I started with, so hopefully I won’t have to wait three years for the next installment in this series to arrive!

Darkness was nothing short of an excellent read, and I highly recommend this series to people who are fans of both fantasy and mermaids. Definitely not one to be missed!

Book Review: Mine to Spell by Janeal Falor

November 10, 2014

I received this book for free from Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Mine to Spell by Janeal FalorMine to Spell by Janeal Falor
Series: Mine #2
Published by Chardonian Press on 5th May 2014
Pages: 338
Source: Author
Goodreads
five-stars
Cynthia has always hidden from her father’s hexes behind her older sister. When her family gains independence unheard of for women, she’s relieved that her days of harsh punishments are over. But as her seventeenth birthday approaches—the typical age to be sold to a new master—death threats endanger her sisters. She now faces two options: run or meet society’s expectations.

For once, Cynthia isn’t going to let her older sister shield her from the problem. She’s going to prove to herself, her sisters, and society that her family isn’t a threat to their traditions. She willingly chooses to be purchased by a new master. A bold step that takes her somewhere she never thought she would go and to a man she might possibly fall in love with. With his help, she may just find a way to save her sisters while discovering how to stand up for herself. If she lives long enough.

 

I absolutely loved You Are Mine, the first book in the Mine series, and that left me a little worried that I wouldn’t love Mine to Spell as much. I needn’t have worried, as I ended up loving Mine to Spell even more than its predecessor.

It was fantastic to be back in Chardonia, not because I love the place, but because it’s so fascinating to be there. I did have a few questions left from You Are Mine, and not all of these are answered in Mine to Spell which was kind of unfortunate, but at the same time, I wasn’t too fussed as the plot grabbed my attention straight from the first page, and I sped through the majority of the book in a single day.

Cynthia really came into her own in Mine to Spell, obviously, as this was her book, and I absolutely loved her character. She’s powerful and determined to show the world that Chardonian women should be a force to be reckoned with. Everything and nearly everyone was against her, yet she still managed to come out on top with her dignity intact. Her romance with Lukas wasn’t a huge part of the story – it added to the plot nicely without taking over and I loved that. The main focus was on Cynthia and her power, and the way she used that power in the Tournament. That being said, I adored Lukas and I’m desperate to see more of him! I think I loved him for that Zade and that’s saying something!

It has to be said that I love the way Falor portrays Serena, Cynthia and Katherine. They live in a world where women are subservient to men, yet she still writes them as being strong characters who refuse to back down and shy away despite the rules and regulations against them. I cannot wait to see what they do next as I have a feeling things are going to change if they have anything to do with it!

Everything about Mine to Spell was magical, from the first page to the very last. The Mine series is fast becoming one of my favourites, and now I have to endure the painful wait for the third book to be released.

Book Review: Bentwhistle the Dragon in a Chilling Revelation by Paul Cude

November 8, 2014

I received this book for free from Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Bentwhistle the Dragon in a Chilling Revelation by Paul CudeBentwhistle the Dragon in a Chilling Revelation by Paul Cude
Series: Bentwhistle #2
Published by Self-Published on 23rd February 2014
Pages: 636
Source: Author
Goodreads
four-stars
Following his harrowing and near death experience at the talons of the evil dragon Manson in 'A Threat From The Past', Peter Bentwhistle, the human shaped dragon and reluctant hero, finds himself on the slow path to recovery.
Helped by his dragon friends, Tank and Richie (both in their human forms), he finds solace in his new found friendship with the dragon king. But the three friends are soon unwittingly drawn into a deadly plot, when a straight forward meeting with the monarch sees them helping an injured dragon agent, straight back from his mission in Antarctica with news of a devastating encounter with another ancient race.
Blackmail, intrigue, forbidden love interests, a near fatal mantra gone wrong, a highly charged rugby match in which Tank takes a beating, combined with enough laminium ball action to please dragons the world over, stretch the bonds of the dragons' friendship like never before. New friends and ancient enemies clash as the planet braces itself for one of the most outrageous attacks it has ever seen. Lost secrets and untold lore come to light, while sinister forces attempt to steal much coveted magic.
Explosive exploits, interspersed with a chilly backdrop and unexpected danger at every turn, make for an action-packed, electrifying adventure.
'Snow way you'll wanna miss this!

 

It has taken me far too long to read and review Bentwhistle the Dragon in a Chilling Revelation, not because it’s a bad book, but it’s huge. Over 600 pages long huge. So I had to chip at it little by little until I was able to complete it.

It was lovely to be able to return back to Peter’s world and revisit both him and his friends Richie and Tank. There’s just something about Peter that really draws me to him, I think it’s his reluctance to be the hero and be in the spotlight. He’s not a fame hungry person, he just wants to live his day to day life and have done with it. His interactions with Janice were lovely to read too, I thought their scenes were really sweet.

I still love Tank, his character is one of my favourites from the series, I think it’s because of how down to earth and funny he is. I really liked Flash too, I found him to be an interesting character who helped liven up the scenes he was in. I can’t say I was a huge fan of Richie in this book, I understood why she acted the way she did, but I felt she took her anger out on Peter a little too much.

Cude’s writing is excellent, as I came to expect from the first book, but this book is definitely not for the faint hearted thanks to its mammoth size. It’s definitely worth making your way through though, even if progress is slow. The Bentwhistle books are always packed with adventure and intrigue, and well worth picking up if you’re a fantasy fan.

Book Review: Chase Tinker and the House of Destiny by Malia Ann Haberman

November 5, 2014

I received this book for free from Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Chase Tinker and the House of Destiny by Malia Ann HabermanChase Tinker and the House of Destiny by Malia Ann Haberman
Series: Chase Tinker #3
Published by Crossroad Press on 28th May 2014
Pages: 211
Source: Author
Goodreads
four-stars
In Chase Tinker's world, magic, lies and secrets can be a lethal combination…

For eight agonizing months Chase Tinker's guilt over the despicable act he committed on Halloween night has been eating away at his heart and mind. Chase's life gets even more complicated when secrets about the mysterious Relic in the attic are revealed, right before an unwelcome caller arrives on the day of Chase's fourteenth birthday!

Despite his problems, his biggest concern is that his family's Dark Enemy, the Marlowe Family, is becoming more powerful with each passing day, fueled by the energy they continue to pillage from the many magical beings of the world. If Chase and his family are ever going to win, they will need a whole lot of magical help; they must destroy the most evil threat the world has ever known!

 

The Chase Tinker books never fail to put a smile on my face when I read them, and Chase Tinker and the House of Destiny was no exception to that rule. This is a really fun middle grade series, and was a perfect read during the Halloween season.

Chase’s portrayal in this book was fantastic. It’s so realistic, he’s probably one of the best-written thirteen-year-old boys I’ve read about. He wants to be the hero, he tries so hard to do the right thing, but still falls short at times, and isn’t afraid of having the occasional hissy fit, particularly when things don’t go his way! I love his friendship with Persephone, although I felt for him at times, as not only is he struggling with his feelings for her, but also the jealousy that comes with her dating another guy. He really came into his own with this book, desperate to find a solution to beat the Marlowes without relying on anyone else’s help, and I really admired him for that.

I didn’t like Nori much in House of Destiny, I will admit. I found her quite rude and annoying at times, and wished she tried to see Chase’s point of view instead of just shooting whatever he said down in flames. She really got under my skin at points, which may have been the point, but still. She annoyed me a lot.

That being said, the ending for House of Destiny was ridiculously cliffhanger-y in all the best ways, and has left me desperately pining for that fourth book. I need to know what happens next. Need. To. Know.

Book Review: Bald New World by Peter Tieryas Liu

September 6, 2014

I received this book for free from Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Bald New World by Peter Tieryas LiuBald New World by Peter Tieryas Liu
Published by Perfect Edge Books on 30th May 2014
Pages: 214
Source: Author
Goodreads
four-stars
What if everyone in the world lost their hair?

Nick Guan and his friend Larry Chao are a pair of eccentric filmmakers who choose to explore the existential angst of their balding world through cinema. Larry is heir to one of the most lucrative wig companies in the world. Nick is a man who’s trying to make sense of the tatters of his American dream. Taking place throughout China and America, the pair set off on a series of misadventures involving North Korean spies, veterans of an African War, and digital cricket fighters. Their journey leads them to discover some of the darkest secrets behind wig-making and hair in a hairless world.

 

I am hideously behind in reading and reviewing this book, I know. Reading hasn’t really been a priority for me these past few months, but I opened this book up on my Kindle one lunchtime and here I am now writing my review. If you’re looking for a book that’s quirky, different and all kinds of bizarre, well, Bald New World is definitely for you.

Bald New World was incredibly easy for me to read and get lost in – the plot is totally different to what I’m used to, but I liked that. It made me want to read it, a feeling I hadn’t had in a long time. I found myself reading in every spare minute I had, and quickly devoured the book. I can’t really talk about the plot as it won’t make much sense to you unless you read it, but there was one scene involving the main character carrying a rock between his teeth that still makes my mouth physically hurt if I think about it now.

I loved Tieryas’ writing. I knew I would, I enjoyed it when I read Watering Heaven, so Bald New World was always going to be a winner for me. I’m kicking myself for not picking it up sooner because I honestly haven’t devoured a book in a long, long time.

Not the most descriptive review in the world, I know, but that’s partly because I can’t talk about the plot as it honestly won’t make much sense until you’re reading the book yourself, and also because my review writing skills are incredibly rusty at the moment. But if you’re looking for a totally unique book that’s a little bit out there, give this one a go. You never know, you might just find yourself hooked.

Book Review: The Mirror by John A. Heldt

April 14, 2014

I received this book for free from Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: The Mirror by John A. HeldtThe Mirror by John A Heldt
Series: Northwest Passage #5
Published by Self-Published on 1st March 2014
Pages: 384
Source: Author
Goodreads
five-stars
On September 11, 2020, Ginny and Katie Smith celebrate their nineteenth birthday at a country fair near Seattle. Ignoring the warnings of a fortune-teller, they enter a house of mirrors and exit in May 1964. Armed with the knowledge they need to return to their time, they try to make the most of what they believe will be a four-month vacation. But their sixties adventure becomes complicated when they meet a revered great-grandmother and fall in love with local boys. In THE MIRROR, the continuation of THE MINE and THE SHOW, the sisters find happiness and heartbreak as they confront unexpected challenges and gut-wrenching choices in the age of civil rights, the Beatles, and Vietnam.

I found myself starting The Mirror with both feelings of excitement and sadness. Excitement, as it was another book in the Northwest Passage series, a series I have loved since I started it two years ago, and sad as it was the last instalment of this fantastic series. I’ve always had a soft-spot for this series, so I knew that bidding it farewell would be difficult, but I knew that Heldt wouldn’t disappoint when it came to delivering a fantastic story for the series to bow out on.

The story focuses on the lives of Ginny and Katie Smith, twin daughters of Joel and Grace, the main characters of the first and third books in the series. I liked both of the girls, although I have to say that I prefered Katie over Ginny as I just found Katie a touch sweeter and a little less cruel than Ginny. They were both lovely girls though, and I loved how they found a way to get by in the sixties without making fools of themselves, by getting jobs and accommodation as soon as humanely possible, instead of leaving it all to the very last minute. All the characters in The Mirror were wonderful to read about, with the exception of Steve and his family – I could not warm to them whatsoever! It was great to be able to revisit Virginia too, as I loved her character in The Mine. That didn’t change in The Mirror, in fact, if its possible, I think I loved her character more!

I have come to appreciate the way that Heldt crafts wonderfully believable relationships in all his books, and The Mirror was certainly no exception. Mike and Katie’s relationship in particular was incredibly touching, they were both shy and almost determined to remain ‘just friends’, which was admirable but it was clear that they would definitely end up as much more than that. I loved the way Heldt tackled the sixties era realistically too. Things were very different in the sixties, especially where racial equality is concerned, and he weaved this into his story respectfully and thoughtfully.

The Mirror, much like The Fire, had an ending that certainly had my eyes misting up at various points! I almost didn’t want to write this review, as then it means that this series is over, at least for the moment. The Mirror did not disappoint me at all, not that I expected it to. John A Heldt has proved over these five novels that he is a master when it comes to crafting an excellent time-travel romance, and I cannot wait to see what he produces next.

Book Review: You Are Mine by Janeal Falor

April 7, 2014

I received this book for free from Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: You Are Mine by Janeal FalorYou Are Mine by Janeal Falor
Series: Mine #1
Published by Chardonian Press on 6th May 2013
Pages: 370
Source: Author
Goodreads
four-stars
Serena knows a few simple things. She will always be owned by a warlock. She will never have freedom. She will always do what her warlock wishes, regardless of how inane, frivolous, or cruel it is. And if she doesn’t follow the rules, she will be tarnished. Spelled to be bald, inked, and barren for the rest of her life—worth less than the shadow she casts.

Then her ownership is won by a barbarian from another country. With the uncertainty that comes from belonging to a new warlock, Serena questions if being tarnished is really worse than being owned by a barbarian, and tempts fate by breaking the rules. When he looks the other way instead of punishing her, she discovers a new world. The more she ventures into the forbidden, the more she learns of love and a freedom just out of reach. Serena longs for both. But in a society where women are only ever property, hoping for more could be deadly.

 

Wow! When I first picked You Are Mine up, I was so not expecting to be sucked so far into this story. I rarely read witch/warlock books, but this was definitely worth giving a go.

Serena. What can I say about her? She’s a fantastic character, and I loved that she didn’t just accept her fate and submit to being a warlock’s possession, even if it meant risking her life to do so. Her ‘disobedience’ was totally justified – she wanted to live a life that was hers and hers alone, and that was that. Falor portrayed her as an incredibly strong and selfless female character, much like the rest of the females in You Are Mine. I especially loved Katherine, a tarnished yet extremely talented seamstress who actually had a lot more background than I expected. Serena and Katherine formed a wonderful team, and I just loved everything about them. Literally everything.

Zade was just – ugh. There are no words to describe him. He fit Serena perfectly and I loved that he didn’t force her into doing anything she didn’t want to do. He managed to play a clever game against a group of men who disliked him immensely and Zade still came out on top. The chemistry between Zade and Serena was obvious, but I really liked how it started off slow and then built into something much stronger. Zade made me so happy that Serena wasn’t left with the awful Thomas – I hated his character from the start and was so happy that he got what he deserved.

I still have a lot of questions about Serena’s world, and I suspect they will be answered in the following books. There’s not a great deal of worldbuilding in You Are Mine, but the plot is so good, I didn’t mind that. I was literally sucked into the book and found it very difficult to stop reading once I had started – which was certainly problematic at times!

You Are Mine is an explosive and compelling start to a fantasy series I am now desperate to continue reading. I’ve said several times before that I’m picky with my fantasy, but You Are MIne was definitely a book that was perfect for me.