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Utopia: Book #1: Secrets of Aurora (Sci-Fi Review)

Utopia is an action-packed tale of secrets, and preservation of the
human population when life surrounding Earth enters a new age.

Utopia, a Young Adult Science Fiction novel, by L. J. Higgins follows sixteen-year-old Aurora as she and a team of rebel outcasts seek to expose the truth regarding Earth’s destruction, prior to the creation of four floating cities in which Utopia is included.

The idea of having four floating cities had me in awe. Not since Laputa, Castle in the Sky (an animated film produced by Studio Ghibli) have I experienced such a wondrous world-building phenomena such as this. I have always dreamt of flying and getting to live within such a city, however, Utopia would not be my ideal home.

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Why?

Three words- The Elite Guard.

Many secrets are kept from Aurora on her perilous journey to uncover the truth. The Elite Guard (essentially the military forces around the four cities) seek to stop her from revealing the truth at every turn, even resorting to murder to fulfil their goals.

With her best friend Fletcher at her side, Aurora is eventually able to learn the truth, not just about the condition of Earth and what befell it, but about why she was hunted by The Elite Guard to begin with.

Find Out More at Goodreads.com

Aurora’s courage, bravery and resilience had me egging on the rebels from the very start. She bonds quickly with the rebel group and soon becomes like a member of their joint family. With that being said, Aurora’s relationship with Fletcher is a sweet and caring one with plenty of banter thrown into the mix. Fletcher is always there to protect Aurora throughout the novel, even if protecting her means defying his own family and risking his life. I loved everything about their friendship and eagerly await the sequel.

 

My rating? 5 stars.

Recommended for lovers of fantasy and dystopian novels.

 

 

 

 

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Ripper, by Hannah Howe (Mystery Review)


Ripper,
Book Four in The Sam Smith Mystery Series (Hannah Howe) sees our young female detective (Sam Smith) on the hunt for a brutal killer. Prostitutes are being picked off of the streets, only to meet their doom at the hands of someone the Cardiff authorities call The Cardiff Jack.

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As usual, I found nothing to fault with Hannah Howe’s work. Each Sam Smith novel hooks me from the start, drawing me deeper into Sam’s world. I now feel like I’ve known Sam all my life: her successes and failures are now my own. Her sense of spirit always works to lift my mood, as does Howe’s beautifully detailed work, in general.

Howe also has a particular gift for imagery and makes excellent use of the five main human senses, to give the reader the sensation that they are actually present in the events of her stories.

Check out Ripper on Goodreads.com
BUY a copy of Ripper from Amazon.com
Howe had me guessing the whole way through. I had no idea who our mysterious killer was and found myself shocked upon the discovery of the killer’s identity.

If you enjoy tales of love, loss, and deadly revenge, then I’d definitely recommend Ripper.

 

My rating? 5 stars.
Recommended For: Lovers of Thrillers, crime, and mystery novels.

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Words We Never Speak (Metaphysical Romance Review)

 

Set in Windham Springs, Words We Never Speak , by Scarlet Darkwood is a mysterious tale that follows Kit, conservation manager of her local Historical Society. A somewhat tortured soul, Kit is forced to make a stand when the building she loves and works in is threatened to be torn down.

Every page of this book made me feel something. At times I found myself in awe of just how realistic and complex and main characters felt. At others, I could feel Kit’s terror as the mysteries of this novel deepened.

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I enjoyed the supernatural elements involved. I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for anything related to supernatural phenomenon, although my moral compass didn’t know where to stand on the matter of Kit’s multiple love interests.

The fast pace of the book kept me intrigued, as did the clues that popped up gradually throughout. Each time something  new was found, terrifying Kit, the tension spiked, drawing me deeper into this fictional world.

Find It On Amazon, HERE:

The more intimate scenes were beautifully written and embraced the sensuality of mankind, rather than being overly graphic like most modern love scenes. Words We Never Speak is a thrilling tale of loss, love, and determination to save something dear to your heart, even in the face of near certain defeat.
Rated 5 stars.

Recommended for lovers of mystery, the
paranormal/supernatural, and metaphysical romance.

 

 

 

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An Unexpected Afterlife, by Dan Sofer:

Set in East Jerusalem, An Unexpected Afterlife follows the journey of Moshe Karlin, a forty year old husband and father, who awakens from the grave two years after unknowingly leaving the world of the living, to find that he has been replaced by supposed best friend, Avi.

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As we learn more about Moshe’s predicament, others in his situation begin to appear, none any the wiser to the cause of their resurrection. I found Moshe’s character to be kind and humble, a true gentleman seeking to do what is right by his fellow man.

Lots of differing viewpoints were shown in regards to the subject of resurrection: some individuals branded it as science fiction and shunned our main characters, while a few accepted their tales of woe and were willing to help them back onto their feet.

Loss, love, and betrayal are key themes that I was able to identify.

Find it on Goodreads, HERE:

The author’s style was poetic and gave the impression that every word was carefully chosen for maximum emotional impact. His words formed beautiful images within my mind, as well as some not so beautiful.

A tale of life, death, and true rebirth.

Rated 5 stars.
Recommended for lovers of the paranormal.

 

 

 

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The Butterfly Child, by Deborah Ann Gordon (Fantasy Review)

The Butterfly Child, by Deborah Ann Gordon is the thrilling sequel to Dark Matter, a gripping medieval style Fantasy-Romance.

Young Belinda begins her harrowing journey into motherhood when she conceives the prophesized Butterfly Child, for which this tale is named. It is said that a child born of a mortal mother and immortal father will lead the immortal people to a prosperous new world.

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My greatest love regarding this series come from Belinda’s own sense of strength and determination. She does what she thinks is right in any given situation, regardless of the viewpoints of others- even those closest to her. Although this trait could be considered bad in some individuals, Belinda is certain in her knowledge of right and wrong, desiring to protect not just her unborn child, but all people who hold goodness in their hearts.

I also loved the way in which the author built up their fictional world. Their use of imagery had me picturing gorgeous scenery that I could lose myself in.

Find it on Goodreads, HERE:

On the flip side, the start of this book had a lot of backstory crammed in, which I found slightly off-putting, but not enough to deter me from continuing with my reading. The author’s action packed and at times poetic style sent thousands of beautiful images and emotions through my mind.

If you’d like to read a fantasy tale of love, loss, power, and metamorphosis, then I would definitely recommend The Butterfly Child.

Rated 4 stars.

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Living the Good Death, by Scott Baron:

Scott Baron is a master storyteller.

Never a dull moment. He has re-kindled my love of literature.

Living the Good Death, by Scott Baron is a fantasy novel unlike any other. Imagine being Death, but having been robbed of your supernatural abilities. The girl who thinks she is death (AKA Dorothy) finds herself stranded in the world of the living with no power, money, and no way to return to the realm of the dead. There’s only one thing for it- she must die!

I found myself drawn in from the start with the idea of this young, waif like girl being Death, reaper of souls. I didn’t know how to feel at first: part of me wanted to laugh at the irony and another part felt terrified for this poor, lost girl. Without a real name for a good half of the book, our heroine was lent an air of mystery tat I found most intriguing.

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At first, our protagonist appeared rather rude and hasty in her interactions with others, but this soon calmed as she spent more time in the company of others. After several failed suicide attempts, young Death / Dorothy, or however you would like to refer to her, begins to form some unique human attachments. We see her blossom into a determined and somewhat unlikely hero as she helps to shape the world into a better place.

What I loved most about the book is the relationship that formed between Dorothy, Randy (an art dealer), and Curtis (an eccentric mental patient.)

 

Find it on Goodreads, HERE:

All three interacted like old friends and formed a bond stronger than most I’ve seen in real life. Their witty banter and acceptance of each-other uplifted me, restoring some of my faith in humanity.

The only thing I found myself disliking came in the form of Doctor Vaughan, lead psychiatrist at Camview Mental Hospital, where Dorothy first meets Curtis. Vaughan’s sadistic methods of discipline and ridiculous obsession with magic make him an interesting, yet despicable villain.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Living the Good Death. It was well written, with an elegant style that held my attention. The author articulates his thoughts well and surprises us on multiple occasions with bursts of action and suspense.

Best book I’ve read this season!
Easily 5 stars.

Recommended for lovers of young adult and fantasy books.

 

 

 

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Luminous Spirits, by Dusty Crabtree (5 Star Fantasy Review)

Don’t ever underestimate the shadows.’

Luminous Spirits follows on from Dusty Crabtree’s gripping fantasy novel, Shadow Eyes. In this equally thrilling sequel, we follow Iris, a young newbie light warrior, as she works to keep evil at bay. Just as all seems right with the world, a stunning new arrival makes Iris’ school life a living hell.

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The book opens with a lot of dark imagery that gives the reader a real sense of the danger to come. While there were a few characters I disliked (the scheming and manipulative type), I generally enjoyed this story as a whole. The gorgeous Patrick is just as mysterious in this book as he was in the first, his relationship with Iris slowly blossoming into something beautiful.

Dusty Crabtree portrays high school life and its related issues with the utmost accuracy. A winning sense of humour and cast of contrasting characters make these novels an absolute joy to read.

 

Find it on Goodreads:

With themes of good and evil, and past pain, Crabtree has created a world that will steal your heart, before filing it with every emotion imaginable. The abundance of action, in addition to Crabtree’s articulate and emotional style, provide a reading experience like no other.

Rated 5 stars.
Recommended for lovers of young adult and fantasy.

 

 

 

 

 

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Mated to the Werewolf King (Fantasy Review)


Mated to the Werewolf King, by Alena Des:

Witches, Werewolves, and Demons Galore!

Seventeen year old Belle thought she was a member of the pack, but being hunted by The Demon King sets her on a journey she never imagined. In what appears to be a unique adaptation of Beauty and the Beast, we follow Belle, a young hybrid, and Keith, the fierce King of the Werewolves.

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Although their relationship starts as one of sheer dislike, we see Keith begin to grow on Belle, as she in turn grows on him. I must admit, although I initially hated Keith’s character with his frustrating level of arrogance and stand-offish nature, I began to warm with him as Belle did. It’s like I was experiencing her changing emotional state for myself, her feelings influencing my impression of him.

The story is told through the eyes of three separate characters: Belle, Keith, and Tannon, a one-thousand year old warlock. We are shown the remarkable depth of each character’s thoughts, with each bringing a unique perspective to the story’s events. Belle and Keith proved to be the most stubborn characters I’ve ever met, but in an almost endearing way.

See my Review for Book #2, HERE:

Find it on Amazon, HERE:

The action hooked me from the start, with a plot that continued to draw me in. This was in addition to the many surprise twists I noticed dotted throughout as I followed Belle on a journey of self-discovery and love.

I love Alena Des’ style of writing and would recommend the sequel, The Warlock’s Nemesis.

Rated 5 stars.
Recommended for lovers of Fantasy.

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Esper Files 3: The Chimera Formula (Steampunk Fantasy Review)

Esper Files 3: The Chimera Formula, by Eagan Brass:

Eagan Brass has done it again.

 

From an author I have quickly come to adore, Eagan Brass presents his third book in the Esper Files series, The Chimera Formula. Set within the Victorian Age, this Steampunk Fantasy novel proved just as thrilling as the first two instalments. The author knows exactly how to deliver action in a way that had me glued to my seat.

When grotesque creatures begin to plague Victorian London, the general public are quick to blame the Esper community. It is up to Nathan and his fellow Espers to save the day and prove their innocence.

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As usual, you can expect an articulate, well thought out story that is jam-packed with action from start to finish. Eagan’s style is instantly distinguishable from that of other authors: it’s as if it possesses a type of logical reasoning that you can feel deep in your bones.

I found this particular instalment to be refreshingly modern with the inclusion of a lesbian relationship that develops between the plucky Freya and newcomer Reyna. Eagan shows a non-judgemental viewpoint on the matter of sexuality, pointing out that love comes in many forms.

Find it on Goodreads, HERE:
Get it on Amazon, HERE:

Another bond that I have always related strongly to is the one that has continued to strengthen between Nathan and young Freya. As orphans, both Espers prove to be extremely resilient to change and pain, in addition to being courageous and daring beyond measure. I love the witty banter that the pair share, a trademark personality trade of Nathan’s. Reading through such delightfully comic moments lights me up from within and never fails to put a smile on my face.

With themes of destruction, camaraderie, revenge, and love, I see The Chimera Formula as the best book in the series so far.

Easily rated 5 stars.

Recommended to lovers of Fantasy, Sci-fi, and Steampunk novels.

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Black & White (A 5 Star Sci-Fi Review)

Black and White, by Nick Wilford:

Two worlds- one pure, where even your tears vaporise before
they can drop, the other a filthy, disease-ridden wasteland.

Black and White is a Science Fiction novel set between two very different lands. On the one hand we have Whitopolis (Harmonia), pure white and sterile as its name suggests. On the other we have Loretania, where dirt and disease run ragged. These two lands instantly reminded me of our own world, with Whitopolis like our first world countries with decent healthcare and a wealth of opportunity, and Loretania mimicking the third world countries, where the death toll is high and life unfair. When a young, dirt-clad boy materializes in the centre of Whitopolis, the local government become enraged.

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I honestly loved the premise behind this book. The idea of a world without dirt or disease seems peculiar, yet is also as fascinating as it is troubling. I began to wonder how such a land as Whitopolis could function for so long in such an immaculate state.

Certain aspects of this sparkling white land intrigued me, such as their use of synthesized food and their lack of plant and animal life. The unique sport of Gravball was just another of many interesting concepts and had rules which were easy enough to follow.

Find it on Goodreads:

In addition to the features of Whitopolis’ culture, I myself myself particularly fond of main characters Wellesbury and Ezmerelda, two youths with curious and agile minds. Ezmerelda’s sense of humour stood out to me as a great coping mechanism against an otherwise apathetic society. Both her and Wellesbury’s determination made me proud to root for them from start to finish.

We see only a little of Loretania and in that brief time, I can safely say that I would never want to go there, let alone live there. Faeces and a severe lack of food were two of the biggest problems I observed. It makes me feel for those who are still suffering in a world such as ours. I find myself appreciating all the little things I take for granted, such as technology, a good education, close friends, and the support of a loving family.

The one dislike I had was of the corrupt government system, which draws a parallel to our own here in England. I can personally identify with Wellesbury’s feeling out of place within such a polished society. Black and White is a story I won’t soon forget. The words flowed beautifully, moving me in a way that had me questioning our modern way of life.

A brilliant read.

Rated 5 stars.
Recommended for lovers of Science Fiction and Fantasy.

 

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Sons of Trillion (EPIC Fantasy Review)

Sons of Trillion, by David. J. Khan:

Set in Talos, where the bearing of children is rare, new father Trillion is forced to make an impossible decision in order to save the life of his son, Caliga.

This novel intrigued me from the start with the idea of its three magical casting trees, in addition to the light well, which shows which tree an individual will come to harness magical power from in the future.

Trillion and son, Caliga are contrasting characters with opposite views of the world, its people, and the concept of justice. I liked Trillion for his bravery and dedication in raising a difficult child alone, but found Caliga to be more headstrong and rebellious. Caliga appears to act as the darkness to the light and innocence of young Valora, a girl whom Caliga swiftly develops an obsession for.

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Find Sons of Trillion on Amazon, HERE:

My favourite moment was the ending scene where Caliga must rescue Valora for a second time. An action packed sequence ensues, building up to the novel’s climax.My only dislikes were the consistent mixing of past and present tense, as well as the unfair way in which Caliga’s character was treated by the council, even as a child.

With key themes of loss, love, and betrayal, Sons of Trillion made for a good read, but could do with some minor alteration regarding the tenses used.

I would rate this book 4/5 stars.

A gripping novel fuelled by a clever magical system.
Recommended for lovers of Epic and General Fantasy.

 

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Solaris Seethes (Sci-Fi Review)

Solaris Seethes, by Janet McNulty:

 

Solaris Seethes by Janet McNulty is a Sci-Fi novel quite unlike any other I’ve read. When Rynah (a lab worker from the planet of Lanyr) is betrayed by one of her own kind, she is forced to flee her dying planet in a ship built by her grandfather. A character in itself, Solaris (name of the ship as well as its artificial intelligence counterpart) boasts a sassy attitude as they guide Rynah on a perilous journey to right things on her home world.

There is a lot of travelling between alien planets, with non-stop action that had me wondering if the heroes would survive their ordeals. I found this book to be incredibly enjoyable and was curious to explore Rynah’s perspective. From Rynah’s determination to restore her planet to its former glory, to the range of quirky personalities that Solaris allows to dwell within her, there is never a dull moment.

23754778.jpgMy greatest love for this story comes with Brie’s character, a timid human girl with a big heart. Although she starts off as a somewhat shy and clumsy individual, we see her develop dramatically over the course of the novel, becoming a strong fighter who manages to prove her own self-worth to leader Rynah, as well as to the other three individuals mentioned in an ancient prophecy.

Although I liked many things about this book, there were a few areas that I found lacking, such as the amount of description that was given in some scenes. At times it came across as info-dumping and did little to enhance my experience as a reader.

I also thought that the inclusion of illustrations was unnecessary and did nothing to improve the book’s layout or the reader experience.

Find it on Goodreads:

Some scenes were not realistic, for instance, the first scene where Rynah is fleeing her home planet. In a near-death situation, for some reason she focuses on the exterior of Solaris (the spaceship) instead of running for her life. Another such example comes when the four humans first appear inside of Solaris. In a situation like this, I would expect the characters to panic as they would have no idea of their location or of how they had gotten there, or to ask questions, but no. They appeared to be oddly unphased.

Solaris Seethes is a remarkable read that held my attention from start to end, with characters that I quickly came to adore.

I would rate this book as 4/5 stars and would recommend it to lovers of Science Fiction and Fantasy.