eBook Review: The Path of Swords

The Path of Swords (The Song of Amhar #1)The Path of Swords (The Song of Amhar #1) by Martin Swinford

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Blurb: “Luan ap Garioch, second son of the house of Artran, this is the day of choosing. How do you choose?”

On the last day of the summer of his fourteenth year, Luan takes the first step on The Path of Swords. He has been told that the path will be hard. He knows that it will lead him into danger. The reality is beyond all his imagining. The Path of Swords is the first novella in the Song of Amhar fantasy series. Set in an alternate Iron Age where the world of the spirit is always close by, the series follows the adventures of Luan, a boy training to become one of the Klaideem, elite warriors who dedicate their life to the service of the kingdom.

My Review: I’ve been reading all sorts of books over the past year or so, and when I downloaded this one I thought it would be a good chance to revisit a fantasy story. I love fantasy. And this book didn’t disappoint me.

It was refreshing. The start of each chapter had a short ‘introduction’ in a different voice. It sounds weird and off putting, but it wasn’t. I’d like to elaborate, but I don’t want to give anything away. Anyway, after the short introduction (a paragraph or two, at most), we would return to the actual storyline and the voice of the main character. I liked the way the author accomplished this. It was well done.

The story itself felt ‘classic’, old world. Set totally in a fantasy world of the author’s making, I felt myself slip into the world and observing its ways and its people. The main character was young and learning about life, as we learned about him and his world. I believe this book to be a solid start for a series and I already have the second book loaded and ready to go.

Recommended.

eBook Review: A Once and Future Love

A Once and Future Love

A Once and Future Love by Anne Kelleher

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The blurb:

England, 2014. When Richard Lambert’s beloved wife dies, he thinks he will never find love again. Until, while exploring a medieval tower, he falls from the steps—and into another time…

England, 1214. When Richard wakes, he’s in the body of his ancestor, who is near death from battle. As his wife nurses him back to health, she finds he is not the cruel man she knew. And he discovers a second chance—with his one and only love…

My review

In all honesty, I didn’t expect much from this book. I purchased it from Bookbud for 99 cents. I had no expectations. The only reason I purchased it was because I felt like reading a book where someone from the here and now goes back in time.

All I can say is that I am glad I succumbed to my own wanting, and I am glad it was this book I decided on. Why? Because I thoroughly enjoyed it, that’s why.

From the start I found I liked the main character and was drawn into his story. When he went back in time, there was nothing about the situation that I couldn’t easily accept. And why not just accept the transition, we all know it’s not possible to really travel back in time. This is fantasy and it is a story, it’s not reality, and I for one am happy to accept whatever the author suggests on how it happened. This meant that I could relax and enjoy the journey. And I did.

And once back in the thirteenth century, I felt the author did a great job in showing how the character coped and adapted. I think about how I would react and believe it would be the most difficult thing to accept and blend in to.

Anyway, the book was well written. The characters likable, or not likeable, whichever the case may be. 😀 And, I felt a 21st century reader could get a decent glimpse of life in the 13th century.

I will be looking for other books written by this author. Recommended.

eBook Review: The Cat, The Mill and the Murder

The Cat, the Mill and the Murder (A Cats in Trouble Mystery, #5)The Cat, the Mill and the Murder by Leann Sweeney

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As is my way, I spotted this book in the local Salvo’s store. I don’t usually read cozy mysteries, but I liked the sound of this book so bought it. Besides, tastes change over the years and I recently find myself reading a number of books I never used to look at twice. Thing is, surprise, surprise, I’m enjoying them!

Blurb: When cat lover and quilter Jillian Hart volunteers to help a local animal shelter relocate a colony of feral cats living in an abandoned textile mill, she never expects to find a woman living there, too. Jeannie went missing from Mercy, South Carolina, a decade ago, after her own daughter’s disappearance.

Jeannie refuses to leave the mill or abandon Boots, her cat who died years ago. After all, she and Boots feel the need to protect the premises from “creepers” who come in the night. After Jeannie is hurt in an accident and is taken away, those who’ve come to town to help repurpose the mill uncover a terrible discovery… As the wheels start turning in Jillian’s mind, a mysterious new feline friend aids in her quest to unearth a long-kept and dark secret.

My Review: The Cat, The Mill and The Murder is a cosy mystery — a subgenre of crime fiction where sex and violence is downplayed and the crime is usually solved by a member of the public instead of police officers, detectives and the like.

What attracted me to this story is the ghost cat. I liked the sound of that and felt it would make for a different read (for me, at least). I enjoyed the interaction of the main character and the ghost cat. In fact, I enjoyed the main character’s interaction with all the other characters too. She seemed like a real, decent person; even with her quirks. Her obsession with her own cats was nice, they were her babies and I get the attachment there. I have a dog that I feel the same way about.

The plot was well crafted, in my opinion. I liked the way it came together in a natural way. All the players had good reasons for what they felt and what they did. The mystery was believable and the clues given out at just the right moments to keep the reader interested.

This is the first book I’ve read in the series, and the first book I’ve read by this author. I’d definitely read others.

Recommended.

eBook Review: The Woman in the Window

The Woman in the WindowThe Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My son and his fiance gave me an iTunes gift card for Christmas. They know I love reading and thought I’d be able to purchase books for myself, rather than try to decide what I might want to read. So far I’ve purchased two ebooks. The first one was The Last Hours by Minette Walters and the second was this one. Both have been five star reads, so I’m doing well (so far) with my selections.

Blurb: What did she see?

It’s been ten long months since Anna Fox last left her home. Ten months during which she has haunted the rooms of her old New York house like a ghost, lost in her memories, too terrified to step outside.

Anna’s lifeline to the real world is her window, where she sits day after day, watching her neighbours. When the Russells move in, Anna is instantly drawn to them. A picture-perfect family of three, they are an echo of the life that was once hers.

But one evening, a frenzied scream rips across the silence, and Anna witnesses something no one was supposed to see. Now she must do everything she can to uncover the truth about what really happened. But even if she does, will anyone believe her? And can she even trust herself?

My Review: The Woman in the Window was purchased on a whim. Something about the blurb intrigued me. I’d also read some reviews that made it look promising.

In all honesty, this book didn’t grab me from the first page. In fact, it felt difficult to read at first. First person. Fragmented sentences. I was confused about what was happening and put it aside before the end of the first chapter. A few days later I picked it up and tried again and this time, the storyline grabbed me. By the end of the second chapter I was hooked.

The writing style needs to be gotten used to, in my opinion. But once accepted, the flow becomes easy and the characters draw you in. It felt a little like I was reading someone else’s diary, when I knew I shouldn’t be. And the reading gave me an insight into things I shouldn’t know.

There were two sections of this book that affected me immensely. Without giving anything away, one made me want to know more, made me want to keep reading, devouring every word. I couldn’t get enough of the book. I thought about it when I put it down. I couldn’t wait to get back to it.

The other section stopped me in my tracks. It was like I’d been punched in the face. I had no choice but to put the book down at that moment and let the words swim around in my mind and settle down. I was so affected that I found myself looking for some one to tell the story to, just so I could talk about it. Then, after that, I raced back to the book to discover what the outcome would be.

I haven’t read a book that affected me like this for a very, very long time. I was sad when it finished. I actually put the book down twenty pages from the end, just so I could return to it the next day — simply because I didn’t want to reach the end that day. It sounds stupid when I type that, but it’s the truth.

The Woman in the Window is excellent. It teaches you things you didn’t know, it warns you of other things you should know and remember, and it feeds the curiosity (very slowly) which keeps you coming back for more.

I really enjoyed the storyline. I believed in the characters. And I would whole heartedly recommend this book to anyone. Highly recommended.

eBook Review: Summer of the Woods

Summer of the Woods (The Virginia Mysteries #1)Summer of the Woods by Steven K. Smith

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I saw this on Bookbub for free. The cover grabbed my attention, the blurb sealed the deal. This is the first book in a series called The Virginia Mysteries.

The blurb: When ten-year-old Derek and eight-year-old Sam move with their family to Virginia, they have no idea what adventures the summer will bring. As the brothers explore their creaky old house and the deep surrounding woods, they uncover a sixty-year-old mystery of a valuable coin collection stolen from the local museum. Join the boys as they spend their summer running from danger and searching the woods, secret caves, rushing waters, and hidden passageways for treasure and the rare 1877 Indian Head cent coin!

My review: As you can tell by the blurb, this is a story about children, written for children. I’m not a child but I enjoyed it nonetheless. Derek and Sam are likeable kids who have moved to a new area and go exploring and find themselves having an adventure. It’s a light, quick read. I felt the circumstances around the mystery came across as valid and the boys acted as most boys would.

I liked that they knew when they had done the wrong thing, and why. And the consequences of their actions were acknowledged by all and suitably dealt with. Young boys (and girls) will enjoy the adventure, will learn a bit about Virginian history and learn some lessons in life too (without even knowing they have been taught these lessons).

Recommended for young readers, or parents of young readers. Or, if you’re like me, older readers who just want a change of pace and a reminder of our younger days.

eBook Review: One’s Aspect to the Sun

One's Aspect to the SunOne’s Aspect to the Sun by Sherry D. Ramsey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book Description:

Captain Luta Paixon of the far trader Tane Ikai needs to know why she looks like a woman in her thirties–even though she’s actually eighty-four. She isn’t the only one desperate for that information.

The explanation might lie with her geneticist mother, who disappeared over sixty years ago, but even if her mother is still alive, it’s proving to be no small task to track her down in the vast, wormhole-ridden expanse of Nearspace. With the ruthless PrimeCorp bent on obtaining Luta’s DNA at any cost, her ninety-year-old husband asking for one last favor, and her estranged daughter locking horns with her at every turn, Luta’s search for answers will take her to the furthest reaches of space–and deep inside her own heart.

My Review:

There was a time when I read a lot of science fiction, but that was long ago. Like everyone, my tastes changed and I found myself favouring fantasy adventures over space travel. However, the thing about taste is that you can yearn for something you haven’t tasted for a while and I’ve found myself wanting to return to the undiscovered worlds of aliens, space ships and technology.

Amongst the stars is Nearspace, which has many planets across galaxies connected by wormholes. PrimeCorp is a company all about money and greed, but they’d like you to think their first thought each day is about you and your health. The two together make a good backdrop for Luta and her family secrets.

All families have secrets, but Luta’s are massive. She looks 30-something, but is actually 84. Her husband of over fifty decades is 90 and looks it. But the thing that causes the biggest problem within Luta’s family is that her children are starting to look older than her, which is difficult to explain. Hence, the secrets. And when Luta’s husband asks to die in space, instead of an old-people’s home, their daughter is NOT happy.

It took a while to set up the storylines, the world, the history and how they all fitted together. However, once that was done, I was totally absorbed and the book became a page-turner.

I particularly enjoyed the relationship between Luta, her husband and their daughter. I felt sorry for all of them. It wouldn’t be easy living their lives surrounded by secrets and missed opportunities. Maja, the daughter, was angry about so many things and I understood and accepted why. But like so many children (even adult children), she didn’t understand the choices her parents made. And, like so many parents, Luta and her husband never explained their decisions properly to their children, which never helps.

However, no matter what I felt in regards to the parent/child relationship, it was nothing when I thought about the relationship between Luta and her husband. To watch the person you love grow old. Knowing that person will soon die. Looking at yourself in the mirror and seeing a young face. It was heart wrenching. It actually made me feel choked up and incredibly sad for Luta … and her husband!

The story is very well written. It reminded me of a mystery set in space. I liked how the author allowed fragments of the whole picture to come through at just the right moments. They were like twists in a plot that would send the characters spiralling in other directions. The technical side of the story was totally convincing, I had no trouble believing any of it. However, what sold this story for me were the relationships; absolutely loved the interaction between the characters.

I recommend this book to anyone who loves science fiction.

Oh, and I believe the author has been contracted to write a sequel. I look forward to reading that one too.

eBook Review: James Potter and the Hall of Elders’ Crossing

James Potter and the Hall of Elders' Crossing (James Potter, #1)James Potter and the Hall of Elders’ Crossing by G. Norman Lippert

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I don’t usually read fan fiction, but I saw this ebook at the author’s website and felt impressed by the presentation (of the book and the website) and decided to give it a try. I had nothing to lose as the ebook is free (available in epub and mobi). In fact, there are actually three books to the series and all are given away for free.

I finished the book in early December 2012, but just haven’t had time to write a review until now.

Book Description

What’s it like to be the son of the most famous wizard of all time?

James Potter thinks he knows, but as he begins his own adventure at Hogwarts, he discovers just how much of a challenge it really is to live up to the legend of the great Harry Potter. As if it wasn’t enough dealing with the delegates from the American wizarding school and figuring out the mysteriously polite Slytherins, James and his new friends, Ralph and Zane, begin to uncover a secret plot that could pit the Muggle and the Magical worlds against each other in all-out war.

Now, with the help of Ted Lupin and his band of merry mischief makers (The Gremlins), James must race to stop a war that could change the world forever. His only hope is to learn the difference between being a hero and being the son of a hero.

Review

James Potter and the Hall of Elders’ Crossing is the first book of three. The books are based on J K Rowling’s books, characters and world, but they are not written by her. The author of this series is G. Norman Lippert.

It is James’ first year at Hogwarts and we get to meet several characters from the Harry Potter series – Longbottom, many of the professors, Hagrid, and Harry, to name a few. The book was written in the essence of the Rowling books, which I was thankful for. There were no jolting scenes that made me think “that’s no right”. In fact, for fan fiction, the book was very well written. I enjoyed it immensely.

All Potter books have the Quidditch scenes. Didn’t like them in the Rowling book; didn’t like them in this book either. Sorry, but quidditch is boring and I find myself skimming over the paragraphs hoping not to miss anything important, but really not interested in the actual sport part of it. I was pleased when James didn’t make the team because it meant less quidditch scenes.

James has two friends—Zane and Ralph. It took me a short while to get used to them. Yes, I saw James as being Harry but found it difficult to replace his two friends with Ron and Hermione. And that is a good thing, because as James is battling the “I’m the son of Harry Potter” thing, the reader is battling with “he’s not Harry Potter”, and meanwhile, the three new characters carry on with what they are doing and the reader soon lets Harry Potter go and starts finding out what James Potter is all about. The interesting thing that happened at the hat sorting was that the three friends were placed in different houses. It will be fun to see how that turns out.

Going back to the subject of Harry Potter, he makes several appearances. I think that was the hardest thing to cope with—Harry as an adult, as a parent. Especially as I think of him as a teenager. Thankfully, his scenes didn’t try to upstage James and there wasn’t a lot of focus on him. He was there to be a father or to do his job, but James was the main character. It was a bit awkward for me as a reader to accept that, but I believe the author did a good job of not delving too deeply into Harry’s adult character, so our memories of him are not tarnished in any way.

Another thing I liked about this book was the references made between the original books and this one. They served as well placed reminders of what happened then, and connected the two series. It was like reading about old friends and revisiting precious memories. The author of James Potter was smart in doing this, intentionally or not.

And, of course, the author introduces us to many new characters who will, no doubt, make the journey with us through the rest of the books. I look forward to learning more about them along the way.

The climax involved Merlin. However, something was lacking from this part of the book. I felt as if something magnificent was able to happen, but it didn’t, which was a bit disappointing. Perhaps there are other plans for Merlin, to be revealed in the next book. We will have to wait and see. If that’s the case, then that’s fine, but I felt his presence was not ‘qualified’ in this book.

This isn’t a perfect book, but few are. There are sections that are long winded, as there was in the J K Rowling books too. And there are scenes that didn’t seem to go anywhere. But, overall, I enjoyed the book a lot. I felt as if I was back in Hogwarts and that is not a bad feeling. In fact, it’s a great feeling. The author introduced us to new characters, but stayed true to what we came to love. I will certainly be reading James Potter and the Curse of the Gatekeeper.

eBook Review: The Invitation

The Books of Magic #1: The Invitation

The Books of Magic #1: The Invitation by Carla Jablonski

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This story was apparently a novelised version of a former comic written by Neil Gaiman. I’ve never read (or even heard of) the comic so whether it does it justice or not, I have no idea.

I’ve also read other reviews on this book, which say this book is very Harry Potterish. In my opinion, the two books are totally different. I never once thought of Harry Potter whilst reading this book. Yes, there’s a young, dark-haired boy in both books, but that’s were the resemblance ends.

But I did think of other books I’ve read: Alice in Wonderland, Wizard of Oz, The Time Machine, Howl’s Moving Castle, just to name a few. There are snippets in the story that reminded me of these other stories. Sometimes the reminder was quite strong, other times it was a familiarity tugging at my memory.

Overall, the book isn’t badly written. However, at times I wondered if it was in fact written for the younger audience as there’s lots of smoking in it, the odd sexual innuendo, and other situations that I wouldn’t want my young reader (if I had one) to be reading. I found myself asking if the original comic might have been written for an older audience, but haven’t bothered to research this thought (I just don’t have the time).

The storyline is about magic. If we believe in it, it will be around us. If we don’t believe it, we will live in a purely scientific world. Being a bit of a believer in all things mystical, I liked the idea of this. Believe and it will happen. I can see myself falling hook, line and sinker for this notion.

There was nothing wrong with the characters. The storyline is fast moving most of the time and something is always happening. No wonder the young boy in the story was exhausted! It kept my interest, but…

I don’t know what the ‘but’ is. Something wasn’t right. Maybe it was all the things I’ve already written about. Maybe it was something else. I really don’t know. I think I’d be willing to read the second book in the series to see where the story goes from here, to see if the missing ingredient is found. The plot has potential so I’m hoping the second book will delivery.