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Showing posts from July, 2016

Book Review: Who Told You That You Were Naked?

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Who Told You That You Are Naked? Genesis 3:11: Live Without the Bondage of Sickness and Suffering by Guy Right
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Do you understand the nature of God? Do you think of Him as a cosmic killjoy, an enforcer, or not paying attention up there? Do you wish that God would save you from your circumstances but find yourself wondering if He even wants to?

Who Told You That You Are Naked? Takes Genesis 3:11 and explains why the question is both necessary and revealing (pun fully intended) of the true nature of God. In short chapters author Guy Right - ok honestly, this pen name annoys me, despite how much I liked the book - breaks down the context of the verse and shows the application in other Biblical stories, and more importantly, uses it to reveal how much God really does love you. Not you in the collective sense, although He certainly does, but you as an individual, in the circumstances you find yourself in right now. Each chapter contains Scripture references already …

Book Review: Soul Whisperer

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The Soul Whisperer: A Tale of Hidden Truths and Unspoken Possibilities by J.M. Harrison
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Alex and Sara need a change, so when Lucette, Alex's grandmother, suggests a vacation in the French provincial countryside - her treat - they readily agree to some time away from their recently hectic and tragic lives. What they don’t realize is an innocent suggestion to visit Jean-Michel, Lucette’s old friend and first love, will turn into a gateway to a destiny they never imagined.

Clearly channeling Dan Brown’s famous novels, Soul Whisperer takes the reader on a mythic historical scavenger hunt that has roots in the Gnostic doctrines. While the story was mildly interesting it was clearly a vehicle for the spiritual doctrine espoused by author J.M Harrison, and because of that at times it got a little preachy and the mechanisms used to explain the historical back story (trance, dream, etc.) felt a bit contrived. However, the historical interpretation was interesting, …

Book Review: Warrior Kids, A Tale of New Camelot

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Warrior Kids: A Tale of New Camelot by Michael J. Bowler
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Lance has a new mission, but no less vital than children’s rights. He’s now taking up his friend Itzali’s cause - climate change. After all, what’s the point of kids having rights when they don’t have a decent world to live in? But just like before, he’s making some powerful enemies and might bring about change, but at the cost of his own life.

Following up on his previous series, author Michael Bowler continues with the characters from his Knight Cycle books. Continuing with his mix of Arthurian values in modern society, and strange fascination with long, luscious locks, he sets youth as the real heroes against one of society’s biggest scientific issues, that of climate change. Like with the previous books, the results on adults are a bit far fetched, but nice to imagine. I love the emphasis on chivalry and camaraderie, and remember wishing as a kid that adults would take me more seriously (and the rev…

Book Review: In Black and White

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In Black & White by Catherine Lavender
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Micah is determined to discover her roots. She knows her white father abandoned her mother, leaving her to grow up as a biracial child in a black community. But when she discovers her father has died and left her a sizable estate, she’s determined to figure out what really happened. But will finding the key to her past seal her fate with her father’s racist relatives?

In Black and White is a fascinating look at how modern racial politics intertwine with the past and inform the present. I was genuinely engrossed in the story of Micah’s parents, Sydney and Loretta, and how it was acted out as a bestseller. The story speaks to the heart of what we see today in the struggle that just can’t quite resolve itself. The first half of the book was gripping; unfortunately in the second half I was distracted by a lot of tense hopping and minor grammatical errors. I think that if those were addressed this would be one of those pa…

Book Review: That Frigid, Fargin Witch

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That Frigid Fargin Witch by M.R. Mathias
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Vanx vows to vanquish that frigid, fargin’ Hoar Witch after what she has done to his friends with her mottled mutations. With the help of Chelda and new friend, Foxwise Posythorn, he seeks out an underworld way into her fortress. He never meant for Chelda to get stuck there, but she determines to help the Fae after what the witch did to their queen. Can she help them guard the Heart Tree against the witches strange creatures?

Again picking up immediately where the previous book left off, Vanx and his friends set off on the final leg of Vanx’s personal quest. I was relieved to discover that this book had a lot more action in it (and less journey) than the others, and even the dialogue seemed more on point. Vanx also had some personal decisions to ponder and play out, which helped the plot along better than the previous two books also. I was pleased to find that this book made me want to turn pages and see how the charact…

Book Review: Saint Elm's Deep

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Saint Elm's Deep by M.R. Mathias
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

With Gallarael saved - mostly, Vanx is free to pursue his personal quest, and heads North with Darbon, who is trying to get over his lost love. Finding a new band of merry men, Vanx strikes out to pursue the Hoar Witch, who is presumably his grandmother, if legends about his father are to believed. Naturally it’s a trip fraught with danger and mystery, and has become habit for Vanx, lots of loss. Can he find out his real claim to the Saint Elm name?

In book three of the Vanx Malic series he goes deeper into his roots, which has been a mystery for some time. Drawn by some unknown force he pursues a difficult course and again, risks life and limb for knowledge, his limbs and his companions. I felt like this story was not just an afterthought, or wrapping up a dying plot point, as it seemed with book 2, but I still was frustrated by some of the superficiality of the characters and the past pace of the plot. I’m hoping that we …

Book Review: Dragon Isle

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Dragon Isle by M.R. Mathias
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Vanx Malic has to go to Dragon Isle to save Gallarael, the daughter of his former lover. To do that he has to get the blood of the most vicious dragon there, the crimson fire breather Pyra. He has help, but knows it will likely come down to him. What he doesn’t realize is his goddess will give him his own calling that will lead him to adventures he never anticipated.

Dragon Isle picks up immediately where book 1 of the series left off, with what’s left of the group fighting to save Gallarael. While an interesting read, and I enjoyed the change in scenery, it felt very much like a bridge or filler book. It didn’t quite measure up to the first book, even though it clearly moved the story along, which I appreciated. I’m not sure why, but I wasn’t quite as invested in these characters like the Wardstone trilogy or even the first book of the Vanx Malic series. It was a quick read and enjoyable, just superficial comparatively.


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Book Review: Through the Wildwood

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Through the Wildwood by M.R. Mathias
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Vanx is pretty sure he can escape his shackles, but there is the matter of the pretty girl to save also. He can tell their party is about to be ambushed, and he feels compelled to save her, as he is quite certain she was sent to purchase his freedom by her mother, who was fond of Vanx warming her bed. But can he save her from the poison she encountered on her escape? And what of the strange wizard’s pack and the unnatural attraction to it the ogres seem to display? Will he ever work his way out of the Wildwood?

In The Legend of Vanx Malic Mathias follows up his hugely successful Wardstone Trilogy with a new hero, the half Zythian Vanx Malic. This is a shorter tome than the three Wardstone books, but no less entertaining or engaging. The fast paced book doesn’t have a whole lot of time for character development, but the potential is certainly there and the story well done enough to keep the reader guessing and looking for mor…

Book Review: Kings, Queens, Heroes and Fools

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Kings, Queens, Heroes, & Fools by M.R. Mathias
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hyden Hawk has been charged to find the Silver Skull of Zorellin, leaving his friend Mikahl to defend his new title as High King and reclaim Wildermont from the combined forces of Shaella and Ra’Gren, her reluctant ally. Due to Hyden she now has a new dragon and a new mission, to free her lover, Gerard, from the demonic realm he to which he was forced to retreat. But does Gerard retain any of his old self, or has he turned into the new king of hell? Can anyone fight against him once he’s freed?

Picking up right where The Sword and the Dragon leaves off, Kings, Queens, Heroes and Fools follows the story of Hyden Hawk and Mikahl in their new roles, while delving deep into the new political atmosphere created in the original book. As typical of Mathias, there are a lot of characters to follow and a lot of magic to help, but I found that it seemed much easier to follow the plot as there were two clear alignments b…

Book Review: The Wizard and the Warlord

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The Wizard and the Warlord by M.R. Mathias
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Mikahl and Hyden have no choice but to face the demon hellbeast that Hyden’s brother, Gerard, has become. Mikahl isn’t sure why Hyden insists on all the side quests, but he trusts Hyden’s instincts in these matters. He just hopes that Hyden can get back in time to join with him and all of Xwarda in one last stand against all of the demonkind loosed from the Nethers. If he can’t the age of men is surely over.

I thoroughly enjoyed the gripping conclusion to the Wardstone trilogy. I love that Mathias isn’t afraid to kill beloved or introduce new characters even in the final act of his beloved story, and honestly I love the story behind the story, of Mathias’ journey through prison to write this saga. I look forward to seeing the rest of the universe Mathias creates and hope that we learn some of the stories of those sidequests and minor characters, as well as the history of the realm. I think that this could develop into …

Book Review: Semmant

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Semmant by Vadim Babenko
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

He has done it. Bogden Bogdanov has created Semmant, a sentient entity living inside his computer. Semmant has made the global stock market his pawn, using it both to build Bogdanov’s wealth as well as express his own maturation. He has other vehicles of course - art, music, literature. But none so expressive as his trading. Unfortunately, his existence is linked irrevocably to Bogdanov, and his life is currently in turmoil due to his relationship with one Lidia Alveres. Semmant must watch, helplessly, as human emotion and cruelty takes root in his processors, and may destroy all that he has created.

Semmant explores the best and worst of humanity through the vehicle of an artificial life form struggling to find his place in this world. The story is narrated by Bogdanov and while he is not necessarily the most likable character, his voice is consistent and unwavering, much like the man himself. He presents as an arrogant scientist, but…

Book Review: Grump & Rose

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Grump & Rose by Aaron Burdett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Grump is a secondborn troll. He’s large, ugly and violent. But he’s not nearly violent enough for his clan, and when he starts keeping a pet, he stepped over the troll line. Rather than let them know he’s still alive after their latest attempt to beat the troll into him, he stays where he lands and learns how to garden from a strange old lady. That strange old lady tells him where his life is going, but he still didn’t expect to meet Rose. Can he care for her while still protecting her from that prophecy? Or is he doomed to always screw things up as a troll?

Grump and Rose is a fantasy tale that strangely mixes Tolkein with Shrek as the determined antihero reluctantly faces off against powers beyond his reach. I really enjoyed the obvious stereotype busting and bromance between Grump and Boil, and am interested to see how the two wizard camps decide to duel. I was a little put off by the inconsistent language, as it begins ver…

Book Review: The Worship of Walker Judson

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The Worship of Walker Judson by Janice Strubbe Wittenberg
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Walker Judson renamed himself and has begun to live his life according to his calling, as a healer. But parts of his old life still pull at him, and the town of Buena Vista, AZ, isn’t exactly welcoming of new age healers. But he knows he’s doing good, and has a protege in Lauren who can continue his work. Will he be able to overcome his past and press on through the present to fulfill his destiny? And can he control his power and use it only to heal, rather than to destroy, as it sometimes presses him to do?

Walker Judson is a fascinating character, and while the book tells a story, the story is really that of a faith healer and his personal demons, as well as through the eyes of one of his acolytes. I have always been fascinated by cults and cult leaders and wondered how people get sucked into him, so this was one of those books I just couldn’t put down. The strength of the character development and em…