Friday, December 6, 2019

Review: Diamond of Aether by Scott L. Collins




Genre: Middle Grade/Epic Fantasy/Adventure/Coming of Age

Description:

“One more gem to complete the Scepter. One more battle, this time with everything at stake. A small band has rebelled against the evil king and fought to reunite the power of the Scepter of Harmony before confronting him in a fight to free the kingdom from his brutal rule.

Daniel, Aidan, and friends search out the Diamond of Aether, the last missing stone, before planning their assault on Argyle. How can one small group of teens hope to defeat the most ruthless king the land has ever known? How can they hope to launch an assault on a fortress guarded by everyone Argyle has called to defend him?

The time has come to put an end to the chase, one way or the other.”

Author:

 “Scott Collins was born and raised in Southern California but relocated to the Denver area following the birth of the first of his two sons. Days' End was his debut novel but has since switched to Middle Grade Fantasy so he can share his writing with his young boys. In addition to writing, he enjoys spending his free time (with two kids that's not much time) running and cycling.”

You may visit Mr. Collins’ Amazon Author page or follow him on Facebook.

Appraisal:

The quest of our small group of heroes is to restore the Scepter of Harmony to reestablish peace in the kingdom. Lilli can feel the last gem to recover is deep inside the White Mountain, but not how to get to it. Aidan’s dragon friend may be able to help, but even that plan is sketchy.

Even if they get the last gem, they have to build an army to storm Argyle’s castle. They have been lucky enough to make some allies during their quest. Surprisingly, they find some strong allies in the least likely creatures in one of the saddest moments. These men are able to help Daniel to hone and finalize their plans of attacking the castle.

Diamond of Aether is action packed and enthralling. War is a nasty business and there are losses. Storytelling is a great way to instill morals in our children as they grow. Our heroes learn some powerful lessons during this quest, and they take them all to heart. Scott Collins has done a wonderful job weaving together many fantastical beasts and elements in this epic fantasy series. I hope I’m not giving anything away when I say Aidan has a new awesome gift bestowed on him and there is a budding romance, which made me smile.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

Diamond of Aether is book five in the Scepter Series. This series builds on each other. I would recommend starting with book one, Scepter.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin

Approximate word count: 70-75,000 words

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Review: Wokeistan by Tony DiGerolamo and Christian Beranek



Genre: Political Satire

Description:

“President Trump has just been inaugurated for the second time. The students at Upstate College are not happy. Led by one charismatic person of color, of African, Indigenous, Pan Asian descent who is a differently-abled Muslim-Atheist, they obliterate the college experience forever.

Wokeistan is a satire: Politics, media, corporations, feminism and the relationships between men and women. In a world where anyone to the right of Fidel Castro is considered a fascist, one college professor will try to save his school.”

Author:

“Tony DiGerolamo is a New Jersey screenwriter, novelist, comic book writer, game designer and comedian. He is best known for his work on The Simpsons and Bart Simpson comic books. He has also been a joke writer for Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher, a scriptwriter for Space Ghost: Coast to Coast and a blogger for Comedy Central's Indecision website.”

“Christian Beranek writes books, shoots photography, records music and has talked about directing films one day.

Appraisal:

The premise of Wokeistan is simple. A subset of students at a college push back against social norms. Just like books in the dystopian genre, they take a political direction too far, down the slippery slope until things hit rock bottom. A place where, as the book’s description says, “anyone to the right of Fidel Castro is considered a facist.”

When I finished, I was left not knowing what to think. Part of me loved the book. Part of me felt something more akin to hate, definitely an emotion way to the other extreme of the spectrum. I wasn’t sure what point the authors hoped I’d take away was, if there was one. I didn’t know if I agreed with them or if they got it all wrong. Then I realized, if I didn’t know what they wanted me to think, that was actually a good thing.

I finally took a deep breath. Forced myself to chill. The only difference between this and the dystopian books that I can’t get enough of is that this story is happening too close to home, timewise. Maybe that’s why dystopian books work, giving us some distance from the story being presented. If Orwell’s 1984 had been published in 1982 instead of 1949, it might have caused readers to over react like I did.

So now I’ll remind myself of a few things. The first is that assuming a slippery slope works to make a point in a book, but assuming it is going to happen is a logical fallacy. The point being made, that some directions and changes that have happened and continue to happen in society can be positive, but taken to an extreme can be as bad as what the change is attempting to cure. In fact, that’s essentially what happened here. As with most conflicts, the right answer is usually closer to the middle than either extreme. Maybe I learned something from this book after all.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

Some adult language.

Format/Typo Issues:

A small number of proofing misses.

Rating: **** Four Stars

Reviewed by: BigAl

Approximate word count: 50-55,000 words

Monday, December 2, 2019

Review: Lost Witness by Rebecca Forster



Genre: Thriller

Description:

“It's two in the morning and an aging cargo ship lies off the Port of Los Angeles. Deep in the bowels of the vessel, an important man is dead and the woman who killed him is mortally wounded. On shore another man staggers out of the sea determined to save the woman before she dies or the ship sails. Exhausted and terrified, he goes to the only person he trusts to help, Josie Bates. He brings with him a history she can't ignore, a problem that seems insurmountable, and a plea she can't refuse. But Josie is up against international law, maritime justice, a Port Authority that doesn't want anything to get in the way of profit, the U.S. Coast Guard who dances to the tune of politics and a captain who swears the people in question were never on his ship. With the clock ticking, Josie becomes ever more desperate to prove the woman is real and get her safely ashore. What Josie doesn't know is that the sands of time that are running out may be her own.”

Author:

USA Today best-selling author Rebecca Forster’s twenty-something books mostly fit within the broad mystery genre, some in the legal thriller subgenre and others harder to classify. Forster is a two-time winner in the Books and Pals Readers’ Choice Awards, with Before Her Eyes topping the mystery category in 2013 and Eyewitness (book 5 of the Witness Series) getting the nod from our readers in 2014.

For more, visit Forster’s website.

Appraisal:

Fans of Rebecca Forster’s Witness series who feel like they’ve been left hanging for more than five years should be primed to jump all over this book. For those unfamiliar with the series, this can be read as a stand alone as the author includes enough back story to understand the most important parts of the past as they pertain to this latest installment.

In Dark Witness, the last installment of the Witness series, we left two of the main characters, Hannah Sheridan and Billy Zuni, in a strange place. Billy thought Hannah was dead while Hannah knew (or at least had convinced herself she knew) that Billy was alive, in spite of evidence that he wasn’t, but she would have had no idea how to find him if she was right. He could be almost anywhere in the world. 

Several years later we pick up their stories again. Here they’ll discover the other again, have their current worlds shaken up in the process, and have a current crisis to survive before they’ll have a chance to figure out where to go from there. This story has a lot of action, is full of unpredictability, and has a lot happen over a period of only three days. As with the rest of the series, it’s also a great read that kept me engaged and the pages turning.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

One minor use of adult language.

This is the eighth book in a series. Although there is a lot of history between the main characters that will improve the understanding and enjoyment in subtle ways for those who have read past books, this book can still be read as a stand alone.

Format/Typo Issues:

Read an advance reader copy prior to final proofreading and can’t judge the final product in this area.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: BigAl

Approximate word count: 90-95,000 words