BOOK #19 (REVIEW): Guild by Terry W. Ervin II

You can’t hide in an RPG forever.
Eighteen years ago Tom, a barber college student, got trapped in the Monsters, Maces and Magic game world as Josiah the thief.
The first two adventures saw all of Tom’s party members, also trapped within the game world, perish within the fetid depths of the Dark Heart Swamp. His subsequent stint adventuring with NPCs proved short lived. He preferred survival.
Over time, Tom became Josiah, adopting a life blending in with the game world’s NPCs. He gave up advancing as a thief, trained as a lay healer, and works as a barber, cutting hair, pulling teeth, lancing boils and functioning as a low-level operative within the local thieves’ guild.
But life, even one lived as a faux NPC, can get interesting. Such happens when a young half-goblin thief named Gurk shows up in Josiah’s shop, looking for information.
Little did the pair know that the unobtrusive barber shop would become a focal point in a brewing guild war.

Praise for Monsters, Maces, and Magic
“Exciting and hilarious! It feels like a true game with friends.” Dueling Ogres Podcast

I received an Audible code via Audiobook Boom for an honest review. What follows is my opinion and mine alone. There was no compensation made for this review.

I love fantasy. Give me a five man band, a quest, and an elaborate world any day. Give me intrigue. Give me action. Give me D&D. Yeah, I play D&D, so what? (if you care, I prefer my fighters and barbarians. Usually humans and male. One day I’ll get to play a half-orc).

Anyways, when I see a fantasy audiobook about a person stuck in a RPG, I was won.

Guild is a short action packed story that feels like a single campaign day. It isn’t the first in the series but it can be used as a standalone. I was pulled into the world and could see the rules of the world unfold. Like the comment about this book just under the blurb, this really does feel like a game. A fun game that I am going to have to continue.

If you love fantasy and action, this is a fun quick read that keeps your attention. I was able to listen to it while working and it made the work day very enjoyable. I did have a few weird looks with my random giggling though. So, beware on that.

All in all, I’m going to be listening to the other two one day.

Final Rating: 4/5

Book #4: Releasing La Lechuza by A.K. Dickerson

Releasing La Lechuza
A.K. Dickerson

Are You Brave Enough To Explore Crystal Mountain?

Everyone in Escape had heard the legend of La Lechuza. The eerie cries at night, hikers that disappear with only bones found scattered along the base of the mountain. Tales of Spanish Conquistadors who chased the owl-witch into the cave systems of Crystal Mountain hundreds of years ago has been enough to keep citizens and visitors alike from setting foot on Crystal Mountain. No one has seen the owl-witch, but all have heard her terrifying cries at night. Theme park developer Cole Jackson is determined to put the legend of La Lechuza to rest once and for all by building an underground theme park inside of Crystal Mountain. When a team of university students is sent into Crystal Mountain Caves to determine suitability for the project, they encounter a beast their zoology classes never prepared them for. La Lechuza is real and she is angry, hungry, and ready to be released.

A.K. Dickerson’s Debut Horror Novella Releases in Just THREE DAYS!
Early Reviews Say This About Releasing La Lechuza:

” A fast paced horror story that doesn’t hold back on the gory details “

“The world building and flow of the plot worked seamlessly to create this story that pays out in the reader’s mind”

“This is a well written book. The characters and story drew me in and I had to continue reading. Although horror is not my normal choice for reading, this book handled all the elements well and I could not stop reading until I had finished the story.”

“Loved unique characters. It’s got everything good horror story needs evil witch blood, gore and murder. Great read”
#horror #fantasy #witches #gore #blood #murder #monsters #crazyink#urbanlegend #escapefromrealityseries

Preorder Now Available!
http://mybook.to/ReleasingLaLec

MY REVIEW

I received a copy from one of the authors for an honest review. What follows is my opinion and mine alone. There was no compensation for this review.

I jumped at this story solely on the fact that it was a horror novella. It didn’t hurt that the monster of the book was La Lechuza.

For those who do not know the story, La Lechuza is an urban legend. The legend goes is that a witch gave her soul to the devil. According to legend, people will see a half owl- half woman creature. This is Lechuza.

If this is a disturbing image, A.K. Dickerson, an author duo, prove to make the image even more disturbing with the deaths of the characters.

The story is filled with an ensemble cast, each figure with their own motivations and struggles. The group come together to study the wildlife and plants of a mountainous cave. In the process, they get more than what they wanted.

As I was reading this novella, I felt a bit of a monster movie nostalgia. I am big on monster movies and the mix of gore horror with monster movie feel really grabbed me. Now, let me rephrase that, I don’t mean SyFy or Kaiju monster (though I love those), I mean there is a monster movie feel that is similar to the black and white movies. Not Dracula but not Them. Sort of in the middle. Whatever the case may be, I had that feel and it was great.

The story is gory but not enough to really deter you from the reading. If anything, it just enhances the feeling of fear. The story is simple but enjoyable and it doesn’t prevent you from forming a relationship with one of the characters. I personally liked Sofia and Roman the best.

All in all, I enjoyed the novella and will be reading more from the authors.

Final Rating: 3/5

Book #75: Dragon Wars: A Dragon Novella by Rich Scribes

Two realms collide in this epic introduction of Dragon Wars: A Dragon Novella. Bryce, has always believed to himself that he was just a typical teenage boy, until one day he is attacked in the school court yard and his attacker wants to kidnap him. Bryce’s world is turn upside down when he is told that he may be the key to opening up another world. A world that he didn’t knew existed…

Okay. Well, I bought this book a while back and had it on my kindle. Because of Book Battle, a Facebook group that is a competitive reading game, I read this book for an extra freebie point and to clean my brain.

That said, I honestly didn’t care for this book.

The pros: The book was a quick one. It didn’t take much brain power and the writing style itself wasn’t bad. It was a beginning to a series and for a first book, it could have been better, but I wouldn’t say it was horrible.

The cons: Unfortunately, there are quite a few of them, in my opinion. For one, there are a large number of characters whose first names start with the letter Z. It felt as if the author had looked in a baby name book and just picked out every Z name he could. Yes, the people with the Z names are special, but I feel that it would make more sense that another letter was used. Sure, a dragon person probably shouldn’t have the name Jason, but that doesn’t mean he needs to be a weird name like Zogarth. It’s just not believable if they are in our world.

Another part was the plot twist. It honestly didn’t feel believable either. It would make more sense if the character in question had a different type of relationship with the main character. It felt like a quick need to change up and isolate the main character. There are other ways to do it and this choice wasn’t my favorite.

Unfortunately, because of those cons, I was turned off by the book. Now, if it was just the Z names that were bothering me, that would be a different story. I think I could continue with the series.

Does this deter me from the author? Nah. I think I’d read more from him someday. He has the potential to do better and I do think it will happen. This book series though? I’m good.

Final Rating: 2/5

Book #70: Pork Pie Hat by Peter Straub

When a graduate student with a passion for jazz arrived in New York to discover that a legendary saxophonist he had assumed long dead is not only still alive but playing in an East Village club, he spends night after night in awe-struck attendance.

And when the legend grants him an interview on Halloween, he jumps at the opportunity. What unfolds is an endless night filled with an extraordinary story told by a dying master: a story centered upon the Halloween night of his eleventh year, a white woman screaming in a shanty town, a killer and an unidentified man fleeing with a strange bundle in his arms. 

I received Pork Pie Hat by Peter Straub from a Nocturnal Readers box. It is a short story about a man interviewing a Jazz musician and that musician’s hidden traumatic secret.

I honestly didn’t care for this novella. I haven’t read anything from Straub, but this novella wasn’t a good representation for me. The writing is very well done. The story is a quick one and the writing has a fluid quality that seems to illustrate how Hat performs with his saxophone.

Now, beside that, I didn’t feel any emotion towards Hat. This is a thinking book more than a feeling book. I prefer a mixture of the two, a balance if you will. I want to feel the dread and excitement. However, I found myself only thinking what exactly happened. What did I just read? What did Hat witness?

So, yeah, this book was not for me.

 

Book #90: Shadows and Gold by Elizabeth Hunter

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The first novella in the Elemental Legacy series:

SHADOWS AND GOLD

Failing grades. Misleading wind vampires. And a fortune in forgotten gold.
Traveling to the most remote region of China certainly wasn’t what Ben Vecchio had in mind for his summer vacation, but when Tenzin suggested a quick trip, he could hardly turn down a chance to keep her out of trouble and practice the Mandarin he still struggled with in class.

Of course, Tenzin might not have been clear about everything travel entailed.

Driving a truck full of rotting vegetables and twenty million in gold from Kashgar to Shanghai was only the start. If Ben can keep the treasure away from grasping immortals, the reward will be more than worth the effort. But when has travel with a five-thousand-year-old wind vampire ever been simple?

“What’s on the agenda for tonight?”
“I thought we’d go into Shanghai. Eat some fish. See the lights.”
“Okay.”
“Then maybe lure a traitor into the open before he steals my gold.”
Ben paused, thought, then gave her a nod. “Sure, sounds like fun.”

At least he was practicing his Chinese.

Right?

SHADOWS AND GOLD is a prequel novella in the Elemental Legacy series.

If you’ve read Elizabeth Hunter’s Elemental Mysteries, you would know who the main characters are in this new series. If you don’t know, the main characters are Ben and Tenzin. Ben is the adopted fake nephew to two vampires. In the Elemental Mysteries, he was a teenager, snarky and loveable. Tenzin happens to be a very ancient vampire despite the fact that she looks like a teenager. There are moments of complete innocence, deep thought, and a disturbing comical quality to her when it comes to mayhem and murder.

I love Tenzin. Love her. She is my favorite in the first series and despite her being a supporting character in that series, she truly said “give me my own books” to me. I’m glad she was loud to Elizabeth Hunter about that.

I also happen to love Ben. He and Tenzin feed off each other beautifully. In the novella, they aren’t quite sure what their relationship is. Tenzin seems to have adopted him as her human, but what that exactly means I don’t really know. For other vampires that could mean a number of things. For Tenzin? It’s just one huge question mark.

Ben’s confusion about their relationship is much easier to understand. He clearly has an attraction to her and wants something that may lean on the physical. However, he doesn’t want the life that comes with being immortal. He’s happy being a human fighting off the bloodsuckers.

The story is pretty cut and dry . . . go to China, get some buried treasure, and go home. Obviously, it isn’t that easy. Nothing ever is when Tenzin is concerned. That said, the story has a decent amount of action, a new viewpoint to vampire politics, and has a great comedic ending that had me laughing.

Elizabeth Hunter has said that this novella and the other two following it will give readers an idea what the Elemental Legacy series will be.  That means this series will be more like a paranormal Indiana Jones/Urban Fantasy. I’m beyond excited to see this series. I’m on the Benzin ship and am ready to sail.

Book #83: The Ghost Files 3.5 by Apryl Baker

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Tick tock…

Mary Cross has been forced to accept the world of the supernatural because of an experience that left her with the ability to hear—but not see—the supernatural. She survived three weeks of being kidnapped and tortured, and it has left her emotionally and physically scarred.

Across the street from her house, strange things are happening…

Mysterious noises haunt the residents, faucets turn on by themselves, and footsteps can be heard running up and down the stairs. It all centers around Noah, a two year old child. Babysitters have run screaming from the house.

Caleb Malone has been dumped into a teeming hornet’s nest…

He’s always been the good son, done everything asked of him, and even gave up graduate school to join the family business of hunting supernatural villains. He’s convinced himself he’s happy, that his duty to his gift should come before anything else.

Until he meets Mary Cross.

She gives him hope that things can be different, that he can be different.

Together, the two of them must solve the mystery of the two shadows stalking the child and save him from whatever has attached itself to him. Time is running out and to save Noah, forcing Mary to face her own demons.

But in doing so…has she put a target on her back?

This novella was enough to keep me in the world of The Ghost Files, but has done nothing to curb the appetite. Then again, I did quickly go to this one after book 3.

The writing is the same quick style that kept me going. Which is good because the main character is Mattie’s foster sister, Mary. Mary is the young woman Mattie and Dan saved back in book 1. Ever since those events, she has been experiencing the dead in her own unique way; through hearing them.

Mary is a strong and opinionated girl. She went straight for reading and researching about ghosts the moment she and Mattie started getting close. Instead of being completely off guard like Mattie, she seems to hold her own well.

I had problems following the book in parts. The story is set during the events of book 3 and does follow that one alright, but for some reason I did feel a bit out of place. Aside from that, the story wasn’t bad. It was action filled, had a very bad guy, and there was some nice tension between Mary and Caleb.

The plus side is that there is a hint of something more to deal with the two of them. I wonder if it will bleed through more into the main series.

Book #57: Angels in Steam by Lexi Ostrow

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Layel has been the stoic leader of the Pure Angels since before he can remember. His life has been a series of temptations, all of which he’d barely maintained his wings over. Joining forces with the Alliance of Silver and Steam had only continued to push and test him.

Nathaniel’s wings are turning black.He’d murdered an innocent human that had happened upon him during a rainstorm. In his horror at what he’d done, he’d turned himself into the Alliance, with a death wish.

When Layel is brought in to help a falling Angel remain Pure, he isn’t ready for Nathaniel. Helping an Angel rise is nearly impossible, but they’re attraction to each other might make the journey even harder.

 I received a copy of this book from the author for an honest review.

Angels in Steam is a novella that continues the world of the Alliance of Silver and Steam series. It is a paranormal erotic steampunk fiction that features a M/M coupling. This isn’t the first M/M erotic fiction that Ostrow has written and I doubt it will be the last. For an LGBTQ novella, it fits beautifully in her world of demons and people.

I actually liked this novella better than Ostrow’s first M/M work. There was more going on with the characters. It would be easier to read some of her other work about this world first though. Layel, the Pure Angel who started the Alliance, is one of the main characters. His reticence about finding love is more explained in the prequel book, Rise of Silver and Steam, and it would be helpful understanding the character better if you read that book first.

The other character, Nathaniel, had enough going on in the novella to have an emotional attatchment for me as a reader. I would have liked more about him, but I found what was given to be adequate enough.

The writing is well done and put me back into the world easily. The sex scenes were steamy and it did leave me wanting more. All in all, I found this story to be a good addition to the series and I am still looking forward to more LGBTQ characters in Ostrow’s erotic fiction.

Book #39 of 2016: Moving In by Ron Ripley

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“Iron…and…salt,” whispers the old man. The dead old man. “Hurry or it will be too late…”
To escape the stress of living in the city and the anxiety of his high pressure job, Brian Roy moves his family to the country. His wife loves the easy living, but Brian hates it…especially when weird things start happening in the house. When he discovers a dead body in the woods and a burial ground in his basement, Brian could never imagine the shocking history of the house or its former occupants that comes to light.

As his life starts to unravel, Brian isn’t so sure living in the country is going to be the oasis of peace he and his wife expected. Lately, his home has become a haunting den of hell.

Get your copy of MOVING IN today and enjoy the thrill of a story too chillingly delicious to miss!

I found Moving In in a recommended list on Amazon and decided to have an actual book form of it to read. Sure, the ebook was less expensive, but I’m the kind of person who needs to read a book in hardcopy sometimes. I’ve been reading more from my Kindle lately, but nothing compares to an actual book.

That said, this book was a huge quickie.  The chapters are short and to the point with a dash of something that may freak you out. The writing is easy to get into and I actually enjoyed the book. I would have liked more, but for a novella and the first in a series of novellas, it was fun.

Moving In is your typical ghost story. Think New England, a house with a lot of land, and a unsuspecting couple with reasons for moving in. It has all of the elements for an American Gothic horror. Sure, I would have liked more of the history of the spirits, but that’s a personal thing. I could see this book becoming one of the better SyFy original movies (there aren’t many of those).

Each chapter is titled with the characters you would meet and what they are doing at that moment. I didn’t really need the chapter titles and found them a bit distracting. The characters reacted the way I would have in their situation, but I didn’t have a big grasp at who they were as people. Again, the book makes me think of a good SyFy original film.

In all, the book hasn’t deterred me from the series of novellas. Sure, I wasn’t scared, but I did like the elements the author introduced and the continuation of the characters in future spiritual situations. In fact, I have the second and third book on the way. They might be read and reviewed fairly soon.

Book #18 of 2016: When Mary Met the Colonel by Victoria Kincaid

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Without the beauty and wit of the older Bennet sisters or the liveliness of the younger, Mary is the Bennet sister most often overlooked. She has resigned herself to a life of loneliness, alleviated only by music and the occasional book of military history.
Colonel Fitzwilliam finds himself envying his friends who are marrying wonderful women while he only attracts empty-headed flirts. He longs for a caring, well-informed woman who will see the man beneath the uniform.
A chance meeting in Longbourn’s garden during Darcy and Elizabeth’s wedding breakfast kindles an attraction between Mary and the Colonel. However, the Colonel cannot act on these feelings since he must wed an heiress. He returns to war, although Mary finds she cannot easily forget him.
Is happily ever after possible after Mary meets the Colonel?

When Mary Met the Colonel is a novella set after the events of Pride and Prejudice. From the title, I’m sure you can figure out that it is about Mary Bennet and Colonel Fitzwilliam. I love Jane Austen. I don’t care for sequels written about her classics, but there are a few that I at least try to read (A Death Comes to Pemberley is one. BBC miniseries was better).  What intrigued me more about this one is that it is about Mary, a character the reader doesn’t really know too much aside from her constant pianoforte playing and sermon quoting.

Kincaid’s version of Mary was interesting. She is the wallflower of the family. No one knows that she hides books that aren’t ladylike within her sermon books. She may quote the sermons, but she is actually very smart. Not witty or sweet like Jane and Elizabeth, but she does show that she stands on her own. Mary is very much like a typical middle child.

Now, I won’t go in depth with the story because it is very short; roughly seventy-eight pages. The writing was similar to Jane Austen, but different. It wasn’t someone trying to fit with the style. This book is written by a fan for fans with the idea of a little cared for character needing her happily ever after. I was able to finish the book in one night and I did enjoy it. I might have wanted it longer, but I did like it.

Book #8 of 2016: Justine’s Blood by M. Kirin

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DON’T LISTEN TO HER
Anabel has found a friend in the most unlikely of places: a mental hospital. Justine is seventeen, a year older than Anabel, but they share the same demons. They help each other, and for a while, Anabel thinks that her life is moving forward.
But there is more to Justine than meets the eye. The bandages that cover her limbs hide wounds that bleed without reason, and rumors about her origin spread like wildfire. People speak of a possible connection between Justine and the infamous Golden-Hour killer.
And then, a detective arrives, meaning to take Justine away.
Anabel doesn’t want to believe the rumors, or lose her only friend, but— something changes. Anabel’s doubts and fears take on a new voice, one that comes from the shadows. It warns her about a great trial that is coming… and the horrible poison Justine carries in her veins.
THEY’RE COMING FOR YOU

I had heard of M. Kirin through his tumblr blog. It has amazing writing prompts and his videos show how interesting he is as a writer. Because of that, I decided to take a gander at his own work. I thought Justine’s Blood would be a good start.

Justine’s Blood is actually hard for me to pinpoint. I’m not sure if I would label the book as horror, but there is a feeling of that in the writing style. The book is a paranormal suspense, but the answers only led to more questions. This isn’t a bad thing since there are other books planned out, but it’s a bit depressing because the other books aren’t out yet for me to get a good grasp at everything.

I found the character dynamics interesting and a bit confusing. I have a strong friendship with someone and even had a crush on her at one point (I’ll admit that). So, I could see how Anabel and Justine are very close. However, I have a feeling their friendship borders on love or obsession. I’m not sure I can trust Justine and I don’t know whether or not Anabel has the right frame of mind to be so trusting in Justine.

The book is short and quick to read. The characters are slightly bizarre and I’m not sure how I feel about them. The experience of the book is very much the same as what I would think a facility for mental health would be like. Which isn’t surprising since that is the setting.

I would like to know more as to why Anabel was there. We see why Justine ended up in the facility, but we only get hints at Anabel. There isn’t a right off the bat bad guy and the book feels more psychological than clear cut. It is a book to experience, but I’m not sure if it’s one to buy without having the others available first.

For now, I would label this as an experience and odd, but it doesn’t deter me from the author or furthering the story. There is something dark and imaginative in M. Kirin’s writing. It’s intriguing and thoughtful. I’ll just wait for other books of the Golden Hour series before I pass complete judgement on what I’ve read.