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  • Rebekah James 8:03 am on July 15, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Book review, Fantasy, , , , Romance   

    Advance Review – Riever’s Heart – Renee Wildes 

    Riever's heart - Renee WIldes

    As many of you know, I am not a huge romance reader, so it will probably surprise you that I’m going to say up front – I really liked this book. 4.5 of 5 stars liked it.  This will be available on Sept 27 from Samhain Press.  Or you can pre-order here

    Aryk is the leader of a clan facing a hard reality. The constant in fighting between the clans of Isadorijka causes endless, needless deaths, prevents his people from any real trade and ultimately keeps them living as barely more than barbarians do. To the outside world, they are nothing more than barbaric Rievers. Aryk is on a quest to unite the clans under one leader –himself – but to do that he has to not only overcome generations old traditions, but the army that a rival daq – clan chief- is building. Aryk knows that he cannot bring peace alone. In an attempt to prove to other nations that not all Isadorijkans are rievers, he forms new alliances, including the beautiful warrior Verdeen. She is conflicted – about her future, herself and most of all about the unexpected and intense attraction she feels for Aryk.

    Wildes has created a wonderful and complex world in this series, and knows her way around it well enough that even though I have read only one other book in the series, I never once felt like I needed a map to know what was going on. In fact, it stands alone quite nicely.  The story was told mostly from the point of view of Aryk, who didn’t know the back stories of any of the characters and so we are given just enough information to make this story work. Wildes did an excellent job of portraying the essence of the characters – We see a flash of the deep hatred Queen Dara has for rievers, the love that Cianan and Maleta share but since it is not relevant for Aryk to know the long back stories, we aren’t bogged down with them either. This story stands alone perfectly well. Wildes knows her characters well, and it is obvious that as each player steps on the stage, there is a fully formed personality behind it.  (and it inspires you to want to read the other books in the series, where they have more staring roles.

    The pace is fast, there is no filler here, and that includes the sex. This is a solidly built fantasy story, that could easily sit on the shelf with other fantasy series. There is of course a lot of sex because this is after all an erotic romance novel, but the sex is important to both plot and character building. The one thing I dislike that seems to be a recurring theme in many of the romance novels I have read – otherwise strong women who suddenly turn into raving sex kittens at the first sight of the Hero, and end up turning into jellyfish – is the very thing that Wildes has avoided. Verdeen, even in the midst of passion still has control of her senses and still makes smart decisions. She is conflicted, and second guesses herself, but it seems perfectly in keeping with her character. Verdeen is strong, but young even for an elf, and she notably grows throughout the book.  There is also a great deal of set up for future adventures, and at the end, I found myself already wishing for next book.

    4 out of 5 stars this time.

    • reneewildes1 7:53 pm on July 15, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks SO much for helping me get the word out about my new Guardians of Light book! I’m glad you enjoyed it, and hope it finds a warm place in many readers’ hearts!

  • Rebekah James 2:01 pm on July 14, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Book review, Donna Newton, , , , , ,   

    ROW80 Update for 7-14-11 A Crash course and a close scrape 

    This one is  yet another short update. I have been very quiet on the twitter/Facebook/blog front lately because I have been really busy this week, and  with limited time available, I would rather focus on the writing.  My close friends already understand this, and well, those who are going to ‘unfollow’ because I was quite for a few days, probably were going to eventually when I wasn’t entertaining enough anyway.

    On Monday, I was in a small accident. Someone stepped in front of me in a very narrow space and I jerked the wheel to miss him and ended up hitting a very sturdy metal gate instead.  Aside from a very ugly scratch on the paint, scaring me to death and finding out that my inhaler needs to be refilled, everything is fine. Of course there has been some time devoted to taking to the insurance company and so on. (and explaining it to my husband several dozen times who swears HE wouldn’t have scraped the truck) As I told him and the insurance company –  I’m human and the sight of a living being about to be mowed over by my vehicle scared me and I veered away to prevent it. The guy I missed didn’t even realize his near miss until someone started yelling at him for stepping in front of me. I’m OK with this outcome even if I do have to get the truck repaired.  For the record, it is one really sturdy gate that I hit- didn’t even scratch the paint let alone cause damage to it.

    On the plus side, I did get a lot of things done this week while I was in my busy mode.  First and foremost, the deadline I was working on is finished and I actually did submit the work I intended to submit. Yay me right?  Now to wait for the reply.

    Part of the experience of this was that I asked Donna Newton, whom I respect tremendously, to go over the story for  me before I submitted it and she was gracious enough to do it for me.  I was thrilled that she liked it, but even more so, it was really impressive to see the master at work.  A few sentences smoothed out, a couple of little details added, and suddenly my story went from pretty good to nearly shiny.  I am very pleased with the result, and it was like getting a crash course in setting the scene and knowing which details need to be included.

    I also was asked to do a review for a book that will be released in September. That review will be posting on this site tomorrow, and I have been adding the review to my accounts everywhere else I can as well.  I cannot tell you how thrilled I was to be allowed to review Riever’s Heart, especially since Renee Wildes, the author, is not only a wonderful writer, but a wonderful person.

    Very proud of myself – I have managed to not only stay on track with my writing goals, but I am actually getting ahead of myself now, and have found a renewed enthusiast for my other work in progress.  The next few days will offer little in the way of writing time for me, but I am still confident I will make my daily goals.  I’m going to develop a little more backstory on my characters before going forward again.




    • Rebekah James 8:41 pm on July 14, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      In his defense, Hubby hasn’t yelled at me, he isn’t happy about it, but he isn’t mad at me either. 🙂

    • Maria Zannini 6:58 pm on July 14, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      The accident sounds scary. I can’t believe the guy wasn’t even aware he almost got hit.

      I’m glad at least you didn’t get hurt. You’re hubby should have congratulated you for saving that man’s life.

  • Rebekah James 4:00 pm on June 30, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Book review, Kop, , science fiction,   

    Kop – Warren Hammond 

    Normally when I write a review, I tell you what I liked about the book, the characters and anything else that stood out for me. I Jot down a few notes when I finish the book, and I will pick it up again and flip through my favorite passages as I write the review. I didn’t do that this time because the truth is, I didn’t like this book.  I know how much effort and stress goes into writing a book, so I wasn’t going to post a review at all, but someone pointed out that I currently have no negative reviews up and I need to be fair about what I liked or didn’t about my reviews. With apologies in advance, here goes.

    Kop is set on a planet that is roughly 10-year’s space travel away from Earth. The entire population of the planet lives in one of two cities, and the majority of them are refugees living in homeless tent camps because the original economy has collapsed. In this setting, a group of dirty cops is collaborating with the local mafia to have control of pretty much everything. The new mayor however has other ideas.

    There are a few problems with world consistency here. While I can accept that travel from earth to this planet would take 10 years, the author has also set the same 10-year communication delay. Ok, except that the bad guys (or perhaps, worse guys in this case since there are no clearly defined “good” guys) don’t seem to have the same delay issues. They seem to come, go, and communicate as they please. there are also inconsistencies in the level of technology available – for example, there is a character who has electric implants in her skin (very advanced) and yet we are also told that even basic computers aren’t available.

    Enter our main character, Juno, a crooked cop who is indistinguishable from a street thug, or any other mob enforcer. The problem  is that, while he is retiring from being a thug, it isn’t because of his hidden heart of gold, or anything else even vaguely noble. He has no tortured inner soul that longs to be free of this life of evil and thus redeem himself, and give us a something to sympathize with. He’s just getting old and worried he can’t keep up with the young guys who are beating him up now and spends a lot of time bemoaning the fact. When he isn’t extorting local barkeeps, he proves his manliness by pushing around and causing the death of, a disabled teen. Even in the flashbacks to his younger years, there isn’t anything likable about him. When his best friend decides to take over the city by being worse than the bad guys are, Juno hardly even stops to think before agreeing to go along with the plot. While character flaws make for interesting characters, Juno is so flawed he is indistinguishable from the villain, who in this case is the new mayor who wants to clean up the corrupt police department. It probably would have helped if we had seen something of the new mayor and the other supposed “bad guys”, but sadly we are only given a small glimpse that doesn’t really tell us why we are supposed to side with Juno. The only character growth  is when Juno decides to not cheat on his wife with his partner, Maggie who clearly isn’t even interested in him, and he realizes he is old enough to be her father. Yay, I think.

    There is a lot of action in the story, but not all of it actually serves to further the plot. Some scenes feel like they are there more for the sake of adding words than anything else. At first, I attributed this to my own dislike of overly violent and gory scenes, but as a few more of them piled in, it seemed to me that the gore did little to further the plot and many of the scenes left me confused and disgusted rather than intrigued or informed. In the end, I cared so little about Juno and his crew that I didn’t finish the last two chapters of the book and forgot that I didn’t finish. My husband recapped for me a couple of weeks later. My husband did like the book, and the next one. He can tell you about Juno’s revenge for being knocked out of his position of power but honestly, I needed something more than a corrupt cop angry at being caught to keep my interest in this book and really wasn’t concerned enough to pick up the next one.

  • Rebekah James 2:12 pm on June 22, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Book review, Charley Davidson Series, Darynda Jones, First Grave on the Right, , paranormal, , urban fantasy   

    First Grave on the Right – Darynda Jones 

    A woman’s work is never done – especially when that woman is a grim reaper – the Grim Reaper in fact. Turns out, the job is exhausting, but it does have its advantages, like solving crimes. When you can simply ask the dead who it was who killed them, it’s all fairly routine at this point for Charlotte “Charley” Davidson. So what happens when Charley runs into a someone who isn’t dead, but apparently isn’t really alive either? Who also happens to be really really hot? Well, even a Grim Reaper has problems.

    I have to say, I love this book. When it was first recommended to me, I was hesitant to go for yet another entry into the somewhat overpopulated hard-as-nails-private-detective-chick grouping, as much as I admire strong female characters, there seem to be a lot of female private detectives in the Urban Fantasy genre The first chapter lured me in however. Darynda Jones has created a character that has just the right amount of sarcastic attitude, enough internal conflict to propel an entire series, and of course, has managed to build a solid mystery. She even solved the end leaving room for the soon to be released Second Grave on the Left without leaving you on a cliffhanger.

    The pacing is very tight here with two separate and unrelated plots woven around one another skillfully. While they aren’t really related – neither one is relegated to subplot – those are present too and resolved neatly as well. Jones has a clear vision of who her characters are, and shares just enough of their back-stories that we want to know more about them, but again, we are spared a long, boring info dump. Our characters are very busy, no sitting around in introspection, and even when that is exactly what they are doing – the introspection is just as busy as the main storylines and ultimately very much a part of the plot. Information is given as needed. My only observation is that if anything, there are characters introduced who are parts of various storylines that we probably would have liked to know a little more about. Jones is writing with the premise that you will be intrigued enough that you will want to read the next book to find out what she left out this time. In this case at least, she is right.

    My Review this time -4 out of 5 stars

    • Cinette 10:37 pm on June 23, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      I haven’t heard of this one. It’s sounds awesome; I’ll have to check it out!

  • Rebekah James 8:00 am on June 1, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Book review, Jon F. Merz, Lawton Vampire Series, , The Invoker, , vampires,   

    The Invoker by Jon F. Merz 

    On a rainy autumn night in Boston, Lawton is sent to terminate a man whom he believes is a drug dealer. It is just another day in the life of a fixer – a guardian of the secret vampire society that lives within our own, and has its own rules and Council. As the man lays dying, Lawton realizes that there is something wrong with the entire situation and the man – who pleads with Lawton to protect his son – is not at all what he thought. Lawton soon finds himself caught up in a tangle that leads him on an around the world chase, and tied to a 10 year old boy with a remarkable talent.

    This is the second of Jon F. Merz’s Lawton series, and if you are looking for vampires that sparkle, chase after waitresses or mope about in old castles, this isn’t the book to read. (Though admittedly, there is a lot of sex appeal going on, even though in this particular story there is no romantic line.) As with the first book, there is little time spent developing the world, we are thrown right into the story from the first opening scene. However, Merz has clearly done his homework, and has built a fully formed and airtight world that he never strays from. We get enough explanation to know what is going on, but not enough that you lose the flow of what is happening. Actions first, explanations later – exactly what you would expect from someone like Lawson, a vampire who is part police officer, part hit man and all action hero. Merz has taken an otherwise questionable character and made him complex, sympathetic and dare I say it – human. Lawson has to take time to recover from injuries (granted not as long as a human would, but still) has weaknesses, gets confused and has moral dilemmas. We can relate to him.

    The pacing is very good on this novel – we are kept running right along with Lawson and his charge. There is of course the question of what a vampire action hero does with a 10-year-old boy in tow, so there are the curious choices of babysitters. Just at the point where I was starting to think, “How stupid are the bad guys they aren’t noticing the kid is with the sitter instead” Merz throws in a twist that sends the story off in a different direction. The writing is excellent and there are the continuations of subplots from the first book that clearly are going to be carrying over through the series. There is enough romantic interest thrown in to make Lawson complex, not enough to interfere with the story line, and even the “darlings,” characters that seem untouchable are not invincible or immune to being killed. The only complaint I have – out of the four Lawson novels I have read so far – the bad guy is always part of, or sanctioned in some way by the Council, and they are predictably pissed off at Lawson. While these are more thriller/suspense than mystery, it makes one wonder if the five or six people on the council were really so rotten, why haven’t the rest of the vampires booted them out by now? Even bad presidents are voted out eventually. It is strange that these Council members have been in place for several hundred years and no one has noticed them being evil until now.

    My review this time – 4 out of 5 stars

    The Invoker by Jon F. Merz

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