Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Pain’s Joke / Chuck Hunter


Reviewed by: Pete Barber

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Approximate word count: 30-35,000 words

Availability    
Kindle  US: YES  UK: YES  Nook: YES  Smashwords: YES  Paper: YES
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store

Author:

Chuck Hunter lives in Northeast Ohio with his two kids. When he's not writing, he enjoys hiking, fishing, backpacking, and tending to his Wabash Irises. Pain's Joke is his first book.

Description:

Jonas Pike, a twelve year old boy born with a facial disfigurement, struggles to find his place in the world.

Appraisal:

I had trouble staying engaged with this story. Jonas was a sympathetic character, but his stereotypical drunken loser of a step-father and his too-forgiving mother came across as rather two-dimensional to me. The story involves a disgraced preacher who acts as the catalyst that forces the resolution of the tale, but I found the ending odd, abrupt, and leaving too many unanswered questions.

Not for me, I’m sorry to say. 

Format/Typo Issues:

This is listed in YA categories on Amazon, but it does contain a rather graphic rape scene.

Rating: *** Three stars

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Shadows Call / Matt Hilton


Reviewed by: Keith Nixon

Genre: Paranormal / Horror / Crime

Approximate word count: 70-75,000 words

Availability    
Kindle  US: YES  UK: YES  Nook: NO  Smashwords: NO  Paper: NO
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store

Author:

Matt Hilton quit his job as a police officer to become a full time author. Prior to this Matt spent twenty years submitting manuscripts to agents until in 2008 he secured a five book deal for his Joe Hunter series. The first, Dead Men’s Dust, won a variety of awards and became a bestseller.

As well as the Hunter thrillers the author also writes stories with a paranormal angle. Originally from Scotland, Matt now lives in Carlisle.

You can learn more about the author at his website.

Description:

Jack Newman needs somewhere to live. He finds a house that’s large enough for his children to stay and, most importantly, is cheap. As an ex-teacher now working at a plumbing supplies business and paying maintenance to his ex-wife, money is in short supply.  But there’s something about the place that his friend, Sarah, doesn’t like. It feels oppressive. But Jack ignores her and takes the lease anyway.

Almost immediately Jack begins to experience events that are out of the ordinary - voices and a malevolent shadow that are all too familiar to him. Eventually Jack figures out the ghost that possesses the house is an ex-girlfriend who clearly wants to do him harm. As the strength of these occurrences grow they threaten Jack and Sarah’s very lives.

Appraisal:

Matt Hilton’s works are characterized by pace and tight narrative with a steadily increasing tension that bursts at the conclusion. The Shadows Call is no different. Although sitting firmly in the paranormal genre there is a thriller element that forms the basis for the story.

Hilton immediately throws the reader several intriguing bones on the opening pages, is there really a ghost in the house? Jack is a non-believer, whereas Sarah, a work colleague who he likes, has a distinct interest in the area. There are parallels to my own situation where I am a sceptic, but open minded to the idea, whereas my wife has experienced events.

Hilton handles this ying and yang skepticism / belief very well, gradually increasing Jack’s acceptance and tying it to past events. Nothing is quite as it seems and in the last quarter Hilton turns the whole story on its head. I read this book in two sittings in 24 hours, the second at 3.30am. Even as a non-believer I made sure the lights were on when I walked around my house…

FYI:

Mild horror and violence.

Format/Typo Issues:

None.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Monday, December 29, 2014

Poole's Paradise / John Vorhaus


Reviewed by: BigAl

Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Coming of Age

Approximate word count: 45-50,000 words

Availability    
Kindle  US: YES  UK: YES  Nook: NO  Smashwords: NO  Paper: YES
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store

Author:

John Vorhaus is the author of numerous novels and screenplays. In the non-fiction arena, he’s written several books on poker as well as a guide on writing comedy for television and film, The Comic Toolbox: How to be Funny Even If You’re Not, which is now in its fifth printing.

For more, visit the author’s website.

Description:

“WHEN YOU’RE ALEXANDER POOLE, EVERYONE’S YOUR TEACHER

A skeevy stereo salesman, master of the bait and switch.

A flaky folk singer and his dog that reads Tolkien.

A drug dealer loan shark with a passion for trees.

A ballsy townie chick who turns you on to Springsteen.

Your wiseass roommate whose favorite pastime is smoking your dope.

Your first college girlfriend who has sex with you to confirm that she’s gay.

Even your one true love.

Together they point you to paradise – Poole’s Paradise – but what will it cost to get in?”

Appraisal:

I’ve read a few books by John Vorhaus previously, but believe this is my first foray into his fiction. (The others were non-fiction, on poker and writing.) Even when writing with the primary purpose of informing, Vorhaus has a sense of humor that comes through. As you’d expect, when entertainment becomes one of the goals, the humor turns up a notch. That was true. As evidence I’ll point to the girlfriend who had sex with the protagonist to confirm that she was gay. While there is a lot of humor in the situations and the character’s reactions, Poole’s Paradise is not primarily a book of humor.

Alexander Poole, the protagonist, is a college student, learning about life (he believes everyone in the world is his teacher, if he can figure out what lesson he can learn from them). He always wants to do the right thing (what that is, may not always be apparent), and he’s honest to a fault. (His poor future wife better not ask if those pants make her butt look too big unless she’s willing to get an answer of yes.) It’s a fun and entertaining read. Who knows, maybe there is a life lesson or two that you can learn from Poole yourself.

FYI:

Some adult language and mild adult situations.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues.

Rating: **** Four Stars

Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Divide / Nathan Doneen


Reviewed by: BigAl

Genre: Travel Memoir

Approximate word count: 85-90,000 words

Availability    
Kindle  US: YES  UK: YES  Nook: NO  Smashwords: NO Paper: NO
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store

Author:

“Nathan Doneen grew up on a wheat farm in the Palouse Region of Eastern Washington. After graduating from Eastern Washington University with degrees in Biology and Environmental Science, Nathan rediscovered his passion for adventure and for writing. He is currently pursuing both...”

For more, visit Doneen’s website.

Description:

“How far would you go to answer a simple question?

After his final year at university, Nathan Doneen wasn't satisfied with the direction his life was heading. He had doubts … he had questions. In June of 2013, Nathan set out on his mountain bike to search for answers along the Great Divide, a 2700-mile route that traces the Continental Divide from Canada to Mexico… and he set out alone.

Thrown into the world of erratic weather, cramped bivy sacks, and overwhelming solitude, Nathan was continually forced from his comfort zone, putting his personal growth on steroids.

With both his future and past in mind, Nathan's revealing and honest account illustrates the challenges of the route—and life—and how it's possible to find the strength and courage to move past them.”

Appraisal:

The travel memoir or narrative has long been one of my favorite non-fiction genres. Part of that is the obvious. I love to travel and since being on the road all the time isn’t feasible, experiencing new places and things vicariously is an alternative. But it’s more than that. A good guidebook or the right internet site can take you to the same places. Besides that, the way you experience a place will be different than how anyone else does. (In fact, in some instances I’ll have been to some of the places myself and the vicarious experience is replaced by comparing notes, which was true for much of this book for me.)

Books like this, what I describe as a travel adventure or quest, with a specific, usually difficult goal involved (in this case, riding a bike on roads and trails that roughly follow the Continental Divide of North America from well into Canada to the Mexican border) are also entertaining and interesting to me for other reasons. Getting a feel for the logistics of such an undertaking satisfies the curiosity of my more analytical side as does the problem solving involved when unanticipated problems come up.

However, there is a third item that I find essential for a travel memoir if it is to hit the highest mark for me, putting the journey chronicled in the story into a bigger perspective. What did this experience teach the author about life, the world, and his or her place in it? It’s this area where The Divide excelled. In between the day to day adventure and problem solving, Doneen considers his life thus far and where he wants it to go from there, not unlike a coming-of-age adventure novel. But even better, it’s true.

FYI:

Adult language.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Little Mouse / Judi Moore


Reviewed by: BigAl

Genre: Historical Fiction

Approximate word count: 35-40,000 words

Availability    
Kindle  US: YES  UK: YES  Nook: NO  Smashwords: NO  Paper: YES
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store

Author:

A native of the UK, Judi Moore is a retired creative writing teacher. She has one other book, Is death really necessary? For more, visit Moore’s blog.

Description:

“After Kristallnacht in 1938 Doktor Theodore Goldstein, his wife Lisl, and their small son Theo, flee from Berlin, across the North Sea to Edinburgh. There, for more than ten years, they build a new life – a good life. But then a friend from the old days arrives, and they find themselves once again facing ruin and terror.”

Appraisal:

Little Mouse is an interesting, thought-provoking read. The perspective of a Jewish family experiencing the horror of the rise of Nazi Germany, trying to make sense of what was happening and how to react, drew me in quickly. What they did and the sacrifices they made to survive by fleeing the country make up the first part of the book and setup the overall premise.

However, once they escape and have begun to rebuild their life in Scotland, the war ends, and something happens that once again puts all they have built at risk. What they decide to do and how they accomplish it is the meat of the story. The decision of what to do was predictable, if not clichéd. However, I did find the moral dilemmas they faced in coming to their decision thought provoking and was pulling for them to succeed.

FYI:

Uses UK word usage and spelling conventions.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues

Rating: **** Four Stars

Friday, December 26, 2014

Reprise Review: A Whisper to a Scream / Karen Wojcik Berner


Reviewed by: BigAl

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Approximate word count: 70-75,000 words

Availability
Kindle US:
YES UK: YES Nook: YES Smashwords: YES Paper: YES
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store

Author:

An award winning magazine writer and editor, A Whisper to a Scream is Karen Wojcik Berner’s first novel. This is the initial book of a planned series, with each focusing on one or two members of the book club formed in this book. Berner also has a blog called Bibliophilic Blather, which features flash fiction (either her own or a guest’s) each Friday. Another frequent feature is Editing for Grammarphobes, short grammar, language, and editing tips that are beneficial for everyone, whether they think they are a writer or not. For more, visit the author’s website.


Description:

Annie Jacobs has looked forward to motherhood since cuddling her Baby Tenderlove as a five year old. Now a successful thirty-seven year-old PR executive, her life is one of tests and scheduled attempts at making a baby while her rapidly ticking biological clock winds down.

Across town is Sarah Anderson, a mother of two. Her days consist of cleaning the house, cooking, and child-rearing duties while her husband works late. Can’t she ever get any time for herself?

Appraisal:

For some reason my brain wants to start this review with a clich√©. Maybe something about greener grass, walking in shoes that aren’t yours, or even proper caution when making wishes. All might apply to the two protagonists in A Whisper to a Scream. Each wishes for a life more like what the other has.

Despite their differences, Annie and Sarah were both characters I liked, which I think is important in a story like this. I wanted both to find a way to get their wish. I think that’s normal, to hope a friend, even a fictional friend, will realize a dream or meet a goal. One of the best ways to illustrate something is to use contrast or comparison – that opinion accounts for my tendency to overuse such words as but, however, and yet. As the story switches between the two characters, Berner shows us the contrast between Annie’s life and Sarah’s. Both are busy, yet fulfilling, although in different ways. Each wants something closer to what the other has, but has obstacles that are not entirely within their ability to overcome. Will they get what they want? I’m not telling.

After finishing A Whisper to a Scream, different readers will probably come away with different messages. It might be one of appreciating the positives of your personal situation. It could be one of balance in life. Or you may come up with something on your own. Whatever your takeaway, I think you’ll find immersing yourself in the lives of Annie and Sarah is an experience worth having.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues.

Rating: ***** Five stars

Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Box / Leonard Little


Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin

Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Short Story

Approximate word count: 3-4,000 words

Availability    
Kindle  US: YES  UK: YES  Nook: YES  Smashwords: YES  Paper: NO
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store

Author:

“Imagination and fantasy came early to Leonard as he sat at his grandfather's knees and listened to the wonderful tales of rabbits and a family of berries. Both his grandfathers were great storytellers, his grandmother wrote a book of poems and his father published a book based on the Bible. To this great tradition, Leonard is happy to add his own stories.”

Description:

 “Her mother at death's door, Tiffani's grandfather lets her open a Christmas present, hoping to cheer the young girl up. She opens a magician’s box with hidden messages of love and treasure.

The Box is heartwarming tale of a gift that's been passed down through four generations, each adding their own letter of love before giving it to their child.

Tiffani finds the last letter her mom may ever write.”

Appraisal:

The Box is an emotional tale of love, hope, truth, and tradition surrounding a small family who is in desperate need of a miracle. Several days after Christmas has passed Tiffani’s mother is still in the hospital needing an experimental surgery, which could hopefully save her life. The presents lie forgotten under the tree while Amos, Tiffani’s grandfather, and Tiffani stand vigil at her mother’s bedside. Faced with impossible odds, Amos tries to lift his granddaughter’s spirits by opening presents under the tree after an especially hard day. When the present Tiffani chose to open was the puzzle box that had been passed down through the family. Amos takes the opportunity to tell her the story of the special box’s origin as she reads the letters secreted away inside.

The Box is a short story that is sure to tug on your heartstrings as Tiffani seeks to solve the clues to discover the secret hidden inside this special box. This heartwarming story could be read any time of the year.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues.

Rating: **** Four stars

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Land's End to John O'Groats - Cycling the Google Route / Royston Wood


Reviewed by: BigAl

Genre: Travel Memoir

Approximate word count: 50-55,000 words

Availability    
Kindle  US: YES  UK: YES  Nook: NO  Smashwords: NO Paper: YES
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store

Author:

The author of several children’s books, Wood also has a guide book to help cyclists interested in repeating his ride from the bottom of England to the top of Scotland. This book is a travel memoir, chronicling his adventure on that same ride.

Description:

“Smashed from his bicycle by an articulated truck Royston Wood found himself unable to complete a long planned for 875 mile cycling event. Battling the demons of failure he devised a plan to ride a similar distance across the UK from Land’s End to John O’Groats. With only a few days to plan the whole trip he delegated the routing to Google Maps. Cycle routing was brand new and in beta testing: what could go wrong…”

Appraisal:

I’ve always enjoyed reading travel memoirs like this, where the traveler has a goal. This makes the story more than just the author’s reaction to the world around them and how they fit in it, but also involves the logistics of meeting their goal and ideally some self evaluation as to why they are driven to do this. Wood has all of this with a touch of self-depreciating humor to spice things up. Here’s an example of what I mean:

After a final re-pack to find my wallet, which was on my desk, I wheeled my bike out to reception where a crowd of colleagues had gathered to wave me off. I thanked them both and pedalled away to the railway station wondering whether the other forty people in the building would even notice I wasn’t there over the next week.

Although not a guidebook for someone with a goal of making this same trip from the bottom of England to the top of Scotland (the author has one of those available, too), you’ll find a lot of details about the route Wood took on his ride. For some readers, possibly too much, although I found it helped reinforce the story of the logistics involved in planning and executing the ride. For those like me who enjoy this kind of true story (even though there is no way I’d ever try to duplicate it), this is a decent read.

FYI:

Uses UK spelling and slang.

Format/Typo Issues:

A small number of typos. There were also several words that were hyphenated for no apparent reason. (Presumably a remnant of formatting for a print version. These should not be in the Kindle version, but were.)

The book also had a lot of photos from Wood’s trip. (These were black and white on a Kindle. They might display as color on color capable readers and tablet computers.)  However, in one section of the copy I received, some of these pictures were missing, instead showing an icon that I interpreted as a missing picture or an issue in displaying it.


Rating: **** Four Stars

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Reprise Review: Fusion / Imogen Rose



Reviewed by: Fredlet

Genre: YA/Paranormal

Approximate word count: 75-80,000 words

Availability    
Kindle  US: YES  UK: YES  Nook: YES  Smashwords: NO  Paper: YES
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store

Author:

“Globetrotter Imogen Rose is Swedish by birth, went to college in London (where she received a PhD in immunology), and is now a Jersey girl. After her eight-year-old daughter insisted she write down her stories, Rose wrote the first of her Portal Chronicles series and decided to let it out into the world. The response was so positive that she’s continued with the series, and started two other series.”

For more, visit Rose’s website.

Description:
“This is the final book of the Portal Chronicles series. That, apparently, brings a conclusion to the time-and-dimension-hopping adventures of the two Arizonas,  Arizona Stevens and her alter ego in another dimension, Arizona Darley.”

Appraisal:

Since I became an avid reader at age 10, I have been a binge reader, and lover of series. Every free minute, weekends, and vacation time was devoted to reading as many books as I could fit in. This continued through my 38 years of teaching and first year and a half of retirementDuring the summer of 2010, I discovered the Portal Chronicles by Imogen Rose. I ripped through the first two books, and fell in love with the story and characters. I’ve always been intrigued with time travel stories, but had not read much YA or paranormal fiction.  I eagerly awaited the next two books in the series and ripped through those as well. Finally, in March of 2013, the last in this adored series was released while I was on vacation, and I had the same plan to read quickly to the end. That did not happen.

I read the prologue to Fusion and found myself stopping to think back on all of the characters…what they had gone through, how they had grown and changed, and what was going to happen to them in this final book. These characters had been living vividly in my brain for so long; they seemed real to me. I wanted to know the outcome, but was reluctant to reach the end and let them go. So, I stopped reading until I got home. Then, I read the first chapter and put it down again…contented to wait for more. I continued reading this way, until I finally finished the book two months later. I felt the way Lauren, Ms Rose’s daughter, must have felt when she was waiting for the next installment of the story to be written for her. This is not to say that I won’t be prone to binge reading anymore, but I am glad to discover that reading can be just as satisfying done slowly over time.

I was disappointed that I did not finish the book in time to review it for the blog tour stop at Books & Pals; Al and ?wazithinkin’s reviews were an awesome double shot! It was a fitting and satisfying ending to this series, leaving the door open to some characters crossing over into one of Ms Rose’s other series. I fell in love with Rupert, so I am hoping he is one to show up again. When I found out that there was going to be a supermoon June 23rd, it reminded me of the beautiful cover for Fusion, and prompted me to ask about a third review for the book to be posted. So, here it is; a review for a super series on the date of the supermoon. Thank you Ms Rose for leading me to a new way of reading, introducing me to such well developed, intriguing characters, exposing me to exciting paranormal events, and leaving me with the wish that I could find them all again.

FYI:

Each of the books in this series relies on information from the previous book, so to experience the full enjoyment of the characters and understand the plot details, I recommend reading the books in order.
There is a small amount of adult language included.

Format/Typo Issues:

None found.


Rating: ***** Five Stars

Monday, December 22, 2014

The Story of Christmas Time / Leonard Little


Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin

Genre: Fantasy/ Short Story/ Christmas

Approximate word count: 3-4,000 words

Availability    
Kindle  US: YES  UK: YES  Nook: YES  Smashwords: YES  Paper: NO
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store

Author:

“Imagination and fantasy came early to Leonard as he sat at his grandfather's knees and listened to the wonderful tales of rabbits and a family of berries. Both his grandfathers were great storytellers, his grandmother wrote a book of poems and his father published a book based on the Bible. To this great tradition, Leonard is happy to add his own stories.”

Description:

“When Nicholas Claus asks Christmas, (Christy) the youngest daughter of Mother Nature and Father Time, to marry him. Christy's spoiled older sister, Mary, gets jealous and tricks Christmas into changing herself into a tree. Father Time’s magic had ended two days earlier on the first day of winter, so Nicholas only has until New Year’s Day to find a way to change Christy back or she'll have to remain a tree forever.

The Story of Christmas Time is a new twist on the old story of Santa Claus and the Spirit of Christmas.”

Appraisal:

Christmas Time is the youngest daughter of Father Time and Mother Nature. Christy loved the forest and all living things. Mary Time loved things that sparkled like diamonds and stars. The sibling rivalry takes a bit of a wicked turn when Mary wants Nicholas for herself since she saw him first. When Nicholas asks Christy for her hand in marriage and gives her a diamond ring Mary flips out. She tricks Christy into changing into her tree form knowing full well she will remain a tree forever. When Nicholas rejects Mary’s affections, Mary is so distraught she climbs Christy’s branches and turns herself into a star at the top of the tree because she does truly love her sister. Father Time is helpless, he can’t change his daughters back into their human forms. He gives Nicholas his magic staff and sends him off on a quest to find Mother Nature, in hopes that she might be able to help.

Nicholas used steadfast determination to find Mother Nature facing impossible odds while crossing frozen tundra. With the help of Father Time’s magical staff and Mother Nature’s magic in all things nature has to offer, they formulate a plan to save Mary and Christy. Nicholas is now on a quest around the globe to find and gather magic wherever he can to weave that magic into Christy’s evergreen branches in hope that he can save his true love and her sister.

This was a unique Christmas story that does indeed put “a new twist on the old story of Santa Claus and the Spirit of Christmas.” I think it was rather ingenious how Mr. Little spun this story using traditional Christmas icons and ideology into his own myth.

Format/Typo Issues:

I noticed no significant issues.

Rating: **** Four Stars

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Reprise Review: Schrodinger’s Telephone / Marion Stein


Reviewed by: BigAl

Genre: Speculative Fiction

Approximate word count: 25-30,000 words

Availability    
Kindle  US: YES  UK: YES  Nook: NO  Smashwords: NO  Paper: NO
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store

Author:

A native New Yorker, Marion Stein has two Masters Degrees, one in creative writing and the other in social work. She moved around the US and Mexico before returning to New York in September 2001. In addition to this novella, she has a novel, Loisaida, and another novella, The Death Trip, available.

For more, visit Stein’s blog.

Description:

“Lizzie Greene seems to have it all -- a great husband, a job she loves, a baby on the way, even a rent-stabilized two bedroom apartment on New York's Upper West Side. Then a random decision leads to a senseless act of violence, and it all disappears.

But what if things had been different? What if things are different? Could someone be both dead and not dead at the same time? Is it insanity to believe in mysteries that go beyond human understanding, in the evidence of things not seen?

Lizzie's sister, her best friend, and many others think she's lost her senses, but maybe she's gotten a glimpse of something most of us never get to see.

Schrodinger's Telephone is more for fans of The Twilight Zone than of Twilight.”

Appraisal:

Speculative fiction is an umbrella that encompasses many subgenres: Science Fiction, Fantasy, dystopian, Horror, and Supernatural Fiction are just some. However, some speculative fiction doesn’t neatly fit into any of the subgenres, and Schrodinger’s Telephone is one of those. A case could be made that it is Supernatural Fiction, but that presupposes one specific interpretation of what happens to the protagonist, Lizzie, when there is at least one other possibility, that Lizzie is insane.

Regardless of what we call it or how we categorize it, Schrodinger’s Telephone is a quick and engrossing read that will exercise your mind. How would you react if someone you knew insisted that something impossible had happened? 
What if that someone was you?

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues

Rating: ***** Five stars

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Light Who Shines / Lilo Abernathy


Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin

Genre: Urban Fantasy/ Paranormal Romance

Approximate word count: 130-135,000 words

Availability    
Kindle  US: YES  UK: YES  Nook: NO  Smashwords: NO  Paper: YES
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store

Author:

Lilo Abernathy lives “amidst the Smoky Mountains and can sometimes see the shadows of clouds lying on the mountains from my front porch.” The Light Who Shines is her debut novel. You can learn more about her by checking out her website and blog.

Description:

“When Supernatural Investigation Bureau agent Bluebell Kildare (a.k.a. Blue) arrives at the scene of the crime, it's obvious the grotesquely damaged body of the deceased teenage boy was caused by far more than a simple hit and run. Using her innate sixth sense, Blue uncovers a powerful magical artifact nearby. She soon discovers it acts as a key to an ancient Grimoire that was instrumental in the creation of the Vampire breed and still holds the power to unravel the boundaries between Earth and the Plane of Fire.

Blue and her clever wolf Varg follow a trail that starts at the Cock and Bull Tap and leads all through the town of Crimson Hollow. Between being sidelined by a stalker who sticks to the shadows and chasing a suspect who vanishes in thin air, the case is getting complicated. If that isn't enough, Dark Vampire activity hits a record high, and hate crimes are increasing. However, it's Blue's growing feelings for Jack Tanner, her magnetic Daylight Vampire boss, that just might undo her.

While Blue searches for clues to nail the perpetrator, it seems someone else is conducting a search of their own. Who will find whom first?

Danger lurks in every corner, and Blue needs all her focus in this increasingly dangerous game or she risks ending up the next victim.”

Appraisal:

I have mixed feelings about this urban fantasy. While I liked the overall story, I wasn’t a big fan of the style in which it was told. And that was the key problem. The story was being told to the reader instead of being shown. This style made it hard to identify with the characters because it all seemed impersonal. This story is mainly told through Blue’s eyes as she investigates the death of a gifted teenager who had been held hostage and tortured. With Blue’s Gift of empathy she is a valuable asset to Supernatural Investigation Bureau, but she puts herself at risk in an effort to prove her worth to her team. As Blue’s past is unveiled, to both herself and us, it becomes clear that there is more going on than the story at hand.

It is important to note under the chapter headings the POV (point of view) changes are announced along with the date. Some days were several chapters long. I found it hard to follow the dates or day changes. Occasionally the POV changed to Jack’s point-of-view, which helped clarify why he responded to Blue the way he did at times. Jack is not only Blue’s boss, he is her guardian (which is unbeknownst to Blue) and he is unsure how much of the prophecy surrounding the Grimoire he should share with Blue. He also feels like he doesn’t deserve Blue’s affections, despite his overwhelming desire for her, because his soul is tainted with Lilith’s dark mark.

I really liked Ms. Abernathy’s inclusion of Varg, the mysterious wolf that appears when Blue is attacked in the alley. I am a bit partial to wolves and am anxious to learn more of his story. He turned out to be an excellent guardian for Blue. However, I was puzzled when Varg ran to greet the chief of police in the park. It was completely out of character for the wolf and this action was used to force the plot along a certain path of the author’s choosing and didn’t ring true. I had this reaction with a couple other spots in the story concerning Blue’s actions as well.


Bottom line, I think this series has promise. I would like to see the author improve the flow of the story and remain true to her characters personalities by allowing them to lead the story. I felt like the supporting characters were strong and well developed. Maud was a hoot, everyone needs a friend like her, and Alexis was an interesting friend to have around. She was a good emotional support system for Blue to have. I think both friends will play vital roles in the future of this series. 

FYI:

The Light Who Shines is the first book in the Bluebell Kildare Series.

It contains explicit sex, foul adult language, and graphic violence.

Format/Typo Issues:

I found no significant issues with proofing or formatting.

Rating: *** Three stars