Category Archives: Rating

Ashar’an Rising (Book 2 of the Nexus Wars Saga) by Robert Day

5 out of 5 Stars

Genre: Fantasy    Word Count:  186,000

Where to purchase:

Amazon US: $0.99      Amazon UK: £0.86       Barnes and Noble: $2.49

Smashwords:  $2.49       Sony:  $2.49

Description:

In this second book of the Nexus Wars Saga, the first being Demon Gates,  the scope of the story has been widened to not only include Valderion, but also the struggles of others whose lives are being affected by both the demon presence and the strategic maneuverings of the Ashar’an .

Excerpt:

Valderion barely registered his friends words as a multitude of thoughts and emotions ran through his mind.  Pain, Anger, Sorrow, Guilt, Regret, Shame.  He was reminded of the great weight he carried with him in the form of his quest, and wondered if the fulfillment of it was worth the losses, and how many would pay dearly for being associated with him, or what he was fighting  for.  He still did not have a firm idea of that, knowing it was something he was ‘born to do’, but still he did not have to like it. 

Review:

I cannot say enough good things about this book.  If I had to sum it up in one word, that word would be ‘Wow’.  Robert Day’s talent allows him to write scenes that are simply enthralling. Especially, the battle scenes.  Not only does he include blow-by-blows of the battles that make them very riveting, but he also emphasizes the emotion, and the tragedy that goes along with it.  The result is impressive, and sometimes heart-wrenching.

In addition to that his writing brings his characters alive.  There are so many fantasy novels where the secondary characters are passive or enigmatic, but Day gives all of his characters a personality and life of their own which adds to the depth and breadth of the saga.

If Day can keep this up the Nexus Wars Saga will be one of the best fantasy series ever written.

Content Rating: 

This book is very clean.

Formatting:

it’s nicely formatted, but does not contain a table of contents.

About the Author:

Robert Day was born in Newcastle, New South Wales. His family moved to the small town of Gloucester when he was 10. He was introduced to Fantasy books by a friend soon after, and from then on hardly a day seemed to go by when he was not lost in some fantasy land rather than doing homework or chores. Around age 15 he discovered Dungeons and Dragons thanks to his older brother Jamie, further fuelling his imagination.
It was during a time when he had seemed to have read most fantasy available to him that he thought “How hard can it be?”
The answer being, of course, “Very Hard!”
Twenty years later, after turning what was originally one enormous manuscript into 2 moderately huge ones, he brings you Demon Gates, book 1 of the Nexus Wars Saga. This, his debut Novel, is the beginning of what will eventually be a 5 – 7 book series.
Robert now resides on the Central Coast of NSW with his beautiful wife Kerri, 2 cats, and a border collie dog named Jasper.

If you would like to learn more about this author and his other works you can find his blog at http://robertdaybooks.blogspot.com/ or go to his website at http://www.robertdaybooks.com/

Fire in the Blood: Book One of Last Moon Rising Series by Dale Ibitz

4 out of 5 stars

Genre:  YA Fantasy     Word Count:  58,126

Where to Purchase:

Amazon:  $2.99       Barnes and Noble:  $2.99

Description:

It’s Haley’s seventeenth birthday, and in a blink of an eye her entire life changes.  She finds herself on a strange planet, inhabited by peoples with strange powers involved in a war that has the capability of annihilating all life, even on the planet Earth.  While Haley is completely in the dark as to what brought this war to be, who the players are, and what it will take to prevent it she plays a key role in deciding the fate of this world and her own. But being a heroine is not so easy, especially when everything and everyone is unknown to her, and she doesn’t know who to trust.

Excerpt:

I grabbed the bridle hanging on the stall door, and slid inside.  My fingers shook.  my knees shook.  Even my lips trembled as I talked out loud to calm myself.

“I can’t believe how easy it was to sneak down here, big guy.  I think I even managed to fool Tuggin  Big trick, you know, being that he’s a Menta and has all these goofy powers.  Kind of scary, actually.”

I slipped the bit into his mouth.  “That’s not so bad, is it?”  I looped the reins over my arm, and then flung the blanket and saddle onto his back.  “I mean, not that I’m scared of Tuggin.  He’s just scary-looking sometimes.  I mean, his looks aren’t scary . . . he’s stupid hot . . .but the way he looks at me scares me sometimes.”

Review:

Writing in first person can be both good and bad.  If you need to be in the know, then first person is not for you, but if you can really identify with the protagonist, then it’s actually a great way to make this type story credible because you experience and learn things as Haley experiences and learns them.   As that’s all you know you also get to experience the uncertainties and bewilderment that she experiences.  This makes the storyline of a young girl transported to a strange world of which she knows nothing about much more realistic.

The character Haley is very believable and quite likable.  She behaves as a seventeen year old girl who has been  transported to a strange world and has no idea what is going on and who is trying to assimilate everything being thrown at her should behave.  A young girl who only recently was concerned with her hair, clothes, BFF, and the cute guy at school now has to deal with matters of much greater import.  And  Ibitz portrays this juxtaposition very well in Haley’s character.  It will be interesting to see her evolve in the series.

Ibitz also does a good job a presenting a fantasy world.  Unlike some books of that genre which simply add some magic, horses, and inns and call it a fantasy, Ibitz does create another world which has another reason for being:  various peoples, politics, and power that makes that world run.

The only real problem that I had with this book was the interaction between Haley and Tuggin at the beginning of the book.  It took on a more sexual footing and read like a teenage sultry romance novel, add to this the fact that they have  a “kidnapee-kidnapper ” relationship makes it a twisted sultry romance.

Content Rating:

Other than the first part that I mentioned in the review, this book was very clean.

Formatting:

Does not contain a table of contents.  Other than that it is formatted quite nicely.

About the Author:

Dale Ibitz currently lives in New Hartford, CT with her husband, two kids, and assorted pets. In addition to the YA fantasy, Fire in the Blood, she has penned a mid-grade contemporary novel. She is working on 2 more projects (one of which is Book 2 of the Last Moon Rising series) which will be available in 2012. She’s a fan of hiking, reading, seriously good writing, and chocolate! Music is a strong motivator for her writing, and she tends toward alternative metal, such as Puddle of Mudd, Three Days Grace, and Breaking Benjamin.  http://www.wix.com/daleibitz/daleibitz and http://dalesplace-dale.blogspot.com/

Demon Gates (Book One in the Nexus War Saga) by Robert Day

4 out of 5 Stars

Genre:  Fantasy    Word Count:  150,000

Where to Purchase:

Amazon US:  $0.99      Amazon UK:  £0.69    Barnes and Noble:  $1.99

Smashwords:  $1.99     Sony:  $1.99

Description:

An old evil is arising, and the people of Kil’tar are ill-equipped to deal with it.  The ones who should have the knowledge and strength to deal it with it have forgotten and grown weak.  The unsuspecting who are forced to deal with it need to learn and train.  Yet all will need to fight.   Some will live.  Some will die.  This is a story of that time.

Excerpt:

With the evening  came the eventual rise of the brother moons, shedding their mystical luminescence over the land, turning the lifeless scene below into one of eeriness as the orange glow bathed the ruins.  Valdeiron dozed restlessly, waking as the waning moons were almost touching the grey outline of the dawn-filled horizon.  He could not remember how long he waited and watched; only that neither sight nor sound had he seen of Cash or Trolls.  Ruing the missed rendezvous, the shouldered his pack and rose, stretching against the light of the new day.  Turning his gaze again to the south, he pictured in his mind what roads lay beyond the horizon.

Review:

Robert Day is a very talented author whose storytelling abilities are refreshing and, for the most part, unique.    There are some similar scenes between this novel and those in  Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series.   And while Day does a good job with the combat descriptions they all tend to end the same way which gets a little redundant  and predictable.  Which is sad because the rest of this book is anything but predictable as Day is a gutsy writer, like George R.R. Martin, in that he is not afraid to kill, or cast off secondary characters.  As a matter of fact, how Day has approached secondary characters in this book is one of the reasons that this book is so good.

Unlike many other novels where the secondary characters reason for being and their actions revolve around the protagonist, in Demon Gates Day has given each of the secondary characters their own stories.  Yes, they are introduced to the reader because they have some connection with the hero Valdeiron, but their fate is not necessarily tied up with his.  It’s more the case of events occurring on Kil’tar and each person has to deal with them the according to who they are and the circumstances in which they find themselves.   While the heroes interests and the secondary characters coincide they stay together, when they don’t they part.  A very rare thing in a novel which makes for a truly good book.   

Content Rating:

The book contains no swearing.  It does have some graphic combat scenes, and there is one disturbing sexual incident.

Formatting:

Weird formatting:  more like its typewritten, then the regular font we’re used to seeing on the Kindle.  It does not include a table of contents, but other than that it’s perfectly fine.

About the Author:

Robert Day was born in Newcastle, New South Wales. His family moved to the small town of Gloucester when he was 10. He was introduced to Fantasy books by a friend soon after, and from then on hardly a day seemed to go by when he was not lost in some fantasy land rather than doing homework or chores. Around age 15 he discovered Dungeons and Dragons thanks to his older brother Jamie, further fuelling his imagination.
It was during a time when he had seemed to have read most fantasy available to him that he thought “How hard can it be?”
The answer being, of course, “Very Hard!”
Twenty years later, after turning what was originally one enormous manuscript into 2 moderately huge ones, he brings you Demon Gates, book 1 of the Nexus Wars Saga. This, his debut Novel, is the beginning of what will eventually be a 5 – 7 book series.
Robert now resides on the Central Coast of NSW with his beautiful wife Kerri, 2 cats, and a border collie dog named Jasper.

If you would like to learn more about this author and his other works you can find his blog at http://robertdaybooks.blogspot.com/ or go to his website at http://www.robertdaybooks.com/

Chief Cook and Bottle Washer by Rita Hestand

3.5 out of 5 Stars

 Genre: Contemporary  Word Count:  86,000

Where to purchase:

Amazon: $2.99              Barnes and Noble:  Free (as of 06/20/2011)

Description:

Emma and her daughter Sammie Jo need a place to hide out.  Deke Travers needs a cook on his family’s ranch.  He also wants to find wives for his brothers in hopes that will settle them down.  Deke decides to kill two birds with one stone and hire Emma as the cook in hopes that she and his brother Clint will fall in love. 

Excerpt:

He liked the sound of her voice, and when she chuckled it tickled his toes.  A cowboys’ toes shouldn’t tickle, he warned himself and straightened the foolish grin on his face.

Review:

This is a standard romance novel, along the lines of the Harlequin Romance stories.  Girl’s in trouble.  Boy ends up saving her, and they fall in love.  And like the Harlequin Romances it’s a short, easy read. 

In the beginning the author seems to have a little trouble introducing new characters.  In addition, and this is only at the beginning of the book, the author tends to assume that the reader knows what she is talking about.  Making the start of the book a little confusing.  But once you get past that the rest of the book just flows.

 The best part of this book was the warmth of the Travers family, and how they welcomed Emma and Sammie Jo into their home.  I especially liked how the author  was able to portray the vulnerability of these cowboys to a baby.  They just melt.  It’s really a sweet romance story.

Content Rating:

This book is very clean.  No swearing, sex, or graphic violence.

Formatting:

The book does not include a table of contents.   There are some other minor design issues, but nothing that should interrupt the reading experience.

About the Author:

Rita Hestand is from Texas, she’s a widow, a mother, and a grandmother. She was an only child, and she traveled the U.S as a child extensively.

What made her a writer was the fact that she was an only child growing up in a age when a kid had to use their imagination to entertain themselves.  She acted out her first books in the backyard all over the countryside.

Rita worked most of her adult life, but one job she’s especially proud of is as a day care provider in her home for twenty years. Helping to raise her own grandchildren to school age, it seemed only natural to enroll in the Institute of Children’s Literature, where she graduated in 1997. Rita writes children’s books, poetry and romance, along with plays and short stories. 

She’s a member of  Books We Love, WRW, and a firm believer that learning should never stop.  But above all, she believes that one should NEVER GIVE UP!

You can find out more about the author and her other titles at http://ritahestand.com/.

 

Torpedo Squadron 4: A Cockpit View of World War II by Gerald W. Thomas

Torpedo Squadron 4 Cover Image

4.5 out of 5 Stars

Genre: Military           Word count: Unknown

Where to Purchase:

 Amazon: $2.99         Lulu (ebook):  $2.99       Lulu (paperback):  $24.99

 

Description:

The author, Gerald Thomas, served in the US Navy Reserve as a pilot for Torpedo Squadron 4.  He gives a firsthand account, along with official reports of the various operations of which his squadron took part in both Europe, and Asia.  Including the invasion of Iowa Jima and Okinawa.

In addition, as a memorial to the men of Torpedo Squadron 4 Thomas includes his own experiences, along with others, as a pilot or crewman of a torpedo bomber plane.  Thomas gives us the entire gamut of what it was like to be a torpedo bomber pilot from that first desire to fly till the end of the war.

Excerpt:

The sudden loss of a cockpit hatch was demoralizing to our crew.  As the pieces of plexiglass flew by, our turret gunners, facing backwards in the dive, never knew if AA fire had killed the pilot or if the plane was out of control.  That few seconds of push-over, dive, and questionable pull-out seemed like an eternity to the crew.

“One time over Manila, I thought Scott, my pilot, had been hit.  I t seemed that he would never pull out — we just kept going down.  I thought he was dead, so I snapped on my parachute, kicked the hatch, but it wouldn’t open (I was too excited to pull the pin.)  About that time, Scott pulled out.”

Review:

Though this book is not without its faults: the transition from commentary to personal experience is not always smooth, and the images do not always match the subject at hand; the author, Thomas, more than accomplishes what he set out to do which was to make a “historical record” of Torpedo Squadron 4 as a “way to recall and acknowledge those who made the sacrifice.”  To that end he has included much, if not all, of the major action that the squadron saw; the tactical organization of each run; operational reports; extensive photos; and occasionally the  contrasting viewpoint of the enemy.

To complete the picture of what it was like to be a torpedo bomber pilot in WWII Thomas includes his own personal experiences.  These range from his first sight of an airplane when he was a young man, through flight school, serving as a pilot on an aircraft carrier, and home again.  It is these descriptions, and those of his fellow pilots and crewman, that enhances the rest of the text by giving a firsthand account of the operations.  As Thomas not only includes  the living conditions on board an aircraft carrier, problems taking off and landing,  the effect of weather conditions, problems with equipment, and morale issues it really brings home what these brave men had to endure to accomplish those missions.  It was a privilege to read it, and I’m thankful the Mr. Thomas took put in so much time and effort to leave this historical memorial.

Formatting (for Amazon Kindle only):

The ebook is formatted very nicely.  It contains hyperlinked footnotes and table of contents.  In addition, navigation points that allow you to move from chapter to chapter are included.  However, while there is an index it is not hyperlinked, and references the page numbers in the paper version, and not location numbers for the ebook version.

About the Author:

Gerald W. Thomas

Gerald W. Thomas was born at home in Small, Idaho, in 1919. He grew up on a ranch during the Great Depression. His rural school went only to the 10th grade, so his Mother took his brother and him to California to finish High School and attend Junior College. He graduated from the University of Idaho  just in time to volunteer for Navy service following Pearl Harbor. After  training, he was assigned as a pilot to Torpedo Squadron VT-4.  Following World War II, he earned a Ph.D in Range Management, and after  stints as professor at Texas A&M University and Dean of Agriculture at Texas Tech University, he became president of New Mexico State University. He retired after serving as president for 14 years.

Thomas was awarded 3 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 2 Air Medals, and 2 Presidential Citations for his combat actions in WWII. He retired from the Navy Reserve with the rank of Lieutenant Commander.He is the author of numerous books, including “A Winding Road To The Land Of Enchantment” and “The Academic Ecosystem.”

While Thomas does not maintain a personal webpage he has set up a site at http://airgroup4.com/index.htm that contains articles by members of Air Group 4 of which Torpedo Squadron 4 was a part.  Having this site available has been instrumental in helping family members learn the circumstances surrounding their loved ones MIA or KIA status.  

You can download a sample of Torpedo Squadron 4 at the following address:

Epub: http://doc45.com/sample-chapter/Torpedo_Squadron_Four-A_Cockpit_View_of_World_War_II-Sample.epub
 
Mobi: http://doc45.com/sample-chapter/Torpedo_Squadron_Four-A_Cockpit_View_of_World_War_II-Sample.mobi

Bubba and the Dead Woman by C.L. Bevill

4.5 out of 5 Stars

 Genre: Mystery              Word Count: 80,000

Where to Purchase:

Amazon:  Free (as of 05/30/2011)          Barnes and Noble:  Free (as of 05/30/2011)          Smashwords:  Free (as of 05/30/2011)

Description:

This is not your normal fast-paced murder mystery.  It’s a small town, southern whodunit.  Whodunit is the question everyone asks when Bubba comes home to find his ex-fiancée murdered in his front yard.  Of course, they don’t ask the question very long as Bubba is the only one with a motive.  So it’s up to Bubba to solve the mystery which he has a hard time doing as he IS the only one with a motive. But Bubba has the inside scoop and knows he didn’t do it, so attempt to solve it he does. Amidst the gossip, falling in love, being hauled into jail, and dealing with various intruders on the Snoddy property where Bubba lives with his eccentric mother.

Excerpt:

Two curious customers later, Willodean was staring at the cameras and rubbing her jaw in an agitated manner.  “I’m going to get fired,” Willodean muttered.  “I’m going to get fired and have to move back to Dallas and into my parent’s house.  Dad’s going to say, ‘I told you not to move down to bumpkinville, honey.’ Mom’s going to make so many chocolate chip cookies that my ass will explode. 

Review:

I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  Bevill’s writing shows shades of Janet Evanovich for setting up off-the-wall situations and dialog.  She does a wonderful job developing a screwball  cast of characters, but not so wacky that they lose their charm or become inane.  The only drawback to this book is that the explanation of how the dead woman ended up in Bubba’s yard was a little far-fetched, but although a mite unbelievable Bevill does tie up all the loose ends rather nicely.

Content Rating: 

This book is actually very clean.  No swearing, sex, or graphic violence. 

Formatting (for the Amazon Kindle only):

There are a few minor issues with the formatting in this book.  It does not contain  a table of contents: hyperlinked or otherwise. Occasionally a blank page appears between chapters and the chapter headings could have been formatted a little more attractively.

About the Author:

C.L. Bevill has lived in Texas, Virginia, Arizona, and Oregon.  She once was in the US Army and a graphic illustrator.  She holds degrees in social-psychology and counseling.  She is  the author of Bubba and the Dead Woman, Bubba and the 12 Deadly Days of Christmas, Bayou Moon, and Shadow People, among others.  Presently she lives with her husband and her daughter and continues to constantly write.

If you would like to learn more about the author her webpage is at http://www.clbevill.com/ or follow her blog at  http://carwoo.blogspot.com/.