A review of “Contamination (The Commorancy Book 2)” by Al K. Line

Originally posted to Amazon and Goodreads March 2016

The war for the survival of Man begins!

Contamination picks up where Orientation leaves off. Varik and his cult of Eventuals are making their way by sea to the Commorancy in an attempt to breach the walls, kill Marcus and destroy the Commorancy forever. With his father in tow, Varik hopes to use the elder’s awoken powers to harness the remaining inhabitants of the settlement and destroy the Commorancy and Marcus from the inside out.  As Marcus (1) continues to lead the guests of the Rooms through the Commorancy and out to the mainland to escape the onslaught Marcus (2) is left behind to deal with the hordes of Lethargic and the invading Eventuals in an attempt to save his home. What ensues can only be described as an all-out war.

While some questions from Orientation are answered, there are just as many that are raised as the Guests set out on their journey away from the only home many of them have known for centuries.  As the book progresses we learn just how vast and well-fortified Marcus’ masterpiece really is, but we also learn the terrible secret of how it was constructed. On a personal note, since I am a huge “Titanic” buff, I particularly liked the nod to the White Star line in the “See the Sea” chapter.

Kirstie and Letje’s histories are explored a little more in depth and for those familiar with the later “Arcene” series, we see the initial introduction of a couple of key characters here as well. There is one “reveal” in particular that was particularly shocking. The fact several other books are grounded and based in this particular world, for me, adds an additional depth of this series that I doubt I would have picked up on had I read them sooner.

True to the style of Orientation, Contamination also ends with a bit of a shocker that will have you clamoring to read the next book in the series – Evacuation.

 

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A review of “Black Spark (Dark Magic Enforcer Book 1)” by Al K. Line

Initially posted March 2016 and to Amazon and Goodreads April 2016

 

Full disclosure – I received a free copy of this book from the author as part of his “A-Team” in exchange for an honest review.

Even the best mess up once in a while

 

Faz Pound; “Black Spark” to those who love him and hate him, is a Dark Magic Enforcer. For those who are part of the Hidden world of magic, he is one of many who keep both human and non-human magic users in line so the magic stays hidden to the regular world and their existence is not exposed. He’s good at what he does… probably the best… but he just screwed up.

After coming to his senses in a city park with no recollection of how he got there and no memory of who or what he is, Faz realizes that he has just used dark magic to kill the local Chessmaster. The very secret he is charged with protecting and preserving, he has just exposed. Now the race is on to undo what he has done to save his skin and the entire Hidden world.

But how do you do that? Can you really “un-kill” someone?

With the help of his Vampire friend/girlfriend, a wily Necromancer and an unwilling and unsavory “babysitter” in tow… just to keep him in line, Faz sets out to find out what happened to him and reverse his mistake.

This story starts fast and doesn’t slow down and as far as mythical creatures go, there are plenty. Vampires, Zombies, Succubi, Fae, Trolls, Dwarves… the only thing that was missing were Werewolves and Dragons, although I don’t doubt we may see them soon.

I love the concept of each area of the world having their own conclave of sorts of ultimate magical beings basically acting as the governing bodies of the hidden and the “enforcers” as the police network to track and apprehend those who abuse or otherwise misuse their power.   While the concept of the magical world existing in tandem with the non-magical world and the latter completely unaware of the former is not a new concept, this book definitely explores it in a way that is less innocent and has more substance.

All in all, a great read. Looking forward to the next in the series!

 

 

 

A review of “ Z-Minus 4” by Perrin Briar

Originally posted to Amazon and Goodreads – March 2016

Eight of the longest hours…

Full disclosure – I received a free copy of this book from the author as part of his launch team in exchange for an honest review.

While listed as 4th in the Z-Minus series this is actually the first book in a three book series and not related to the previous books.

Z-Minus 4 is the story of a special ops team freshly back from Africa where they have spent the last several weeks dealing with an Ebola outbreak in a remote village. One by one, all of the team members are called suddenly back from leave for a training exercise centering on biological warfare is part of the simulation. Being chosen specifically for their experience with Ebola, the team must locate and extract the virus and get back out all in 8 hours. Their opponents in this exercise will be additional special ops teams and others whose sole objective is to thwart the completion of the mission.

Sounds simple for a seasoned special ops team, right?

Once the exercise is underway, it becomes clear that those pretending to be afflicted with the virus as part of the simulation may not be acting after all. The team finds themselves in the middle of a full-fledged zombie outbreak and now they must fight their way out or die trying.

Overall I felt this was a really strong start to this series. The individual back stories and the Africa flashbacks built into the plotline added a depth to the characters and allowed the reader get inside their heads.  The ending left enough unanswered questions to set up the next installment. This wasn’t a very long book, but sometimes good things come in small packages.

A review of “Casting Shadows Everywhere” by Tim McBain and LT Vargus

Originally posted to Amazon and GoodReads March 2016

Brilliantly written and insanely thought provoking

When Jake was 9, he witnessed his then 17-year-old cousin Nick attack and choke out another kid who was bullying him.  Several years later, with no father figure to help him through his teenage years, Jake turns to Nick again in an effort to learn how to survive high school life. What he ends up learning is how to enter a life of crime one “lesson” at a time.  What he discovers about his cousin along the way takes him down a path he never expected.

Written in a style reminiscent of a personal journal or diary, Casting Shadows Everywhere is brilliant. The scenes and situations are narrated from the perspective of a teenage boy and is very effective. From hanging out with the girl he has a crush on to musings about an AP Psychology class the story is engaging and thought provoking. I loved the left brain/right brain parts as it shows us that while he may be still a “kid”, Jake is very smart.

Once I started this book, I found it difficult to put down and I think this may have been the fastest I have ever read through any book. Getting inside Jake’s psyche through his journal entries and experiencing the impossible situation he finds himself in though his eyes really helped me feel for him. A well-deserved 5 stars and definitely a book I can see a second read down the line.

A review of “Orientation (A Dystopian Fantasy) (The Commorancy Book 1)” by Al K. Line

Originally posted to GoodReads and Amazon  March 2016

As its name suggests “Orientation” is just that. This is the first of 5 books in the Commorancy series by Al. K. Line which presents the world in the grips of a disease called “The Lethargy”, where those afflicted just give up and waste away until they finally pass on, trapped in a waking coma of sorts.

Not everyone succumbs the Lethargy however those who remain unscathed are deemed “Whole” and those who succeed in harnessing an inner potential to become more than the Whole are termed “Awoken”. Once Awoken, you can stop the aging process, see into the Noise (where all things are), enter and manipulate the minds of other persons and animals and many other things.

“Orientation” centers around Marcus, the Awoken founder, creator and Leader of the Commorancy, a sanctuary hoping to preserve humanity currently on the brink of extinction. While the Commorancy is a vast structure consisting of many Rooms, there is only room for 7 “guests” at a time. Having passed a series of tests and riddles in order to obtain an invitation from Marcus himself, each Guest may remain for as sort or long a time as they require, as long as they follow the Rules that have been set forth.

The most recent guest to arrive, Letje, a 15-year-old girl with her pet tortoise in tow, seems to have her Orientation interrupted at every turn. In addition to Marcus and the Commorancy, we find out that there is another Awoken sect called The Eventuals led by Varik whose goal is the total extinction of humanity. As the attempts from the cult to infiltrate and bring down Marcus and his life’s work intensify, Marcus is forced to break one of his cardinal rules in an attempt to stop them. He must disturb his guests and organize a defense in an effort to stop this most recent and significant threat.

Having read a few other books by Al that come after this series it must be noted that the idea of the Commorancy, The Lethargy, Awoken and The Eventuals are not confined to this series alone and have also appeared in at least two others that I am aware of. That being said, it was really nice to go into the back story of the mythical Marcus and see the “man behind the mask.” There is a scene in the “Room for Evening Drinking” that really served to get inside the man and show that for all of the amazing things he has done, he is only human… even if he is hundreds of years old. The back stories of the 7 other guests, how they came to be at the Commorancy and their reaction upon being brought out of their rooms, were also enlightening.

Varik, as an antagonist and leader of the Eventuals seems to embody just exactly what can go wrong when religion is perversed to the point of blasphemy. The cult of the Eventuals, his blind following flock and lengths they will go to in an effort to bring about the extinction of what remains of humanity is chilling.

The ending is a definite “WTF” moment and will definitely leave you wanting to plunge right into “Contamination” to continue this story.

A review of  “Acid Reflux – A Diet & Lifestyle Guide for Reflux & Heartburn Relief” by Jake Hargis

Originally posted to Amazon and Goodreads March 9 2016

 

A quick read that is a must for reflux sufferers.

This is a very short book that details the differences between Heartburn, Reflux and GERD and the various ways of controlling and possibly curing this annoying condition.

As one who suffers from reflux so severely that there have been many nights that I have had to sleep sitting up, I was eager to delve in and see if there were any ideas that I have not already tried.

I really liked how the text is laid out, and while I can tell that the author has studied this and other health related topics quite extensively the information is presented in such a way that is not jargon to the everyday person. Reading the chapter on defining reflux was helpful to understand where the problem lies and how it begins. This truly is educational text only as it didn’t appear that the author was advocating for any one treatment over the other, but rather laying out all the facts and options for the reader to equip themselves to make an informed decision that is best for them.

I can see myself referring to this text often in the future, as it a wealth of tips, tricks, exercises and information.  I would also be interested in checking some of his other books on similar health topics.

 A review of “I Am Jack” – installment 1 by Michael Bray

Posted exclusively to Jennlyreads – March 2016

 

I Am Jack is the newest novel by horror/thriller author Michael Bray. Released free in serialized format to members of his mailing list, I received the opening installment yesterday evening and had it read in fairly short order.

While not a ‘factual account’ of the White Chapel Murders or the Ripper, it is a tale of fiction based on fact which allows the author more room for artistic license. Also, in the true form of the time period and subject matter, this is not a book that should be read by those who are easily offended.

The first installment sets the groundwork of the story, where we find Jack – now using the pseudonym Edward Miller calling upon an author currently in the process of writing about the White Chapel Murders with a request to tell his story. After an initial refusal, the author agrees upon learning Miller’s true identity. Jack’s story begins at the pivot point of his life and we learn of the chain of events that turned a happy boy into one of the most brutal serial killers of all time. These events also served as a bit of foreshadowing into the mind of the Ripper with regard to how and why he chose his victims.

I got a little bit of an “Interview with the Vampire” vibe in the opening installment but I’m fairly certain that all similarities will end there. The story told thus far was shocking and at times heart wrenching but also left me feeling for our young victim turned monster.

A great start – eagerly awaiting more. 🙂

A review of “The Inconvenient Corpse: A Grace Cassidy Mystery” by Jackie King

Originally posted to  Goodreads – September 2015

A very cute mystery. I guess this is what they call the “cozy” niche? Love how Grace takes the lemons handed to her and makes the best of her situation, carving out a new niche for herself and even solving a murder.

Things I didn’t like.

People’s names kept changing.. sometimes within the same sentence. Gustav would be spelled Gustov on the very next line and vice versa. Blenkensop v. Blankensop for another and one time Grace actually morphed into “Gage”.

Theodora and Pansy make the book! Those two are hilarious IMO.

A quick, even funny read.

 

A review of “Heart Collector” by Jacques Vandroux, Wendeline A. Hardenberg (Translator)

Originally posted to Goodreads – January 2015

I picked this up as part of the Kindle First free pre release program for January

The story is basically a police procedural set in France. The book is translated from French to English which would account for the anomalies in figures of speech and idioms.

The story focuses an a police Captain and a young man who are trying to track down and stop a serial killer before he strikes again. It took me longer than normal to read through this, but that by no means meant that I lost interest.

If I could get my hands on other translated books by this author I may look into them. Not a bad read at all.

A review of “Time Voyage (Return to Titanic #1)” by Steve Brezenoff

Originally posted to Goodreads- February 2015

A quick easy read – series of four books. My 8 year old and I tore through them on a weekend.

There was one photo that was slightly factually incorrect, but I’ll overlook it. Although Titanic had 4 funnels only 3 were operational, so the photo where it shows all 4 funnels with smoke coming out of them is not accurate.

Nitpicky really, I know 🙂