A review of “CARNIVAL (The Spark Form Chronicles Book 2)” By Matt Doyle

Full Disclosure – I was provided with a copy of this book free from the Author in exchange for my honest review

 

The following review may not necessarily contain spoilers but could contain musings and other statements that may be considered spoileresque … consider yourself warned.

 

Carnival picks up almost immediately were WICK leaves off and continues to focus on Carnival and Emblem’s interest in her retrieval for further research. As we enter the second day of the Spark Forming World Championships the action again is depicted with all the vividness of attending a live event, complete with a few unexpected turns of events that leave the crowd, announcers and the reader reeling. For as much as certain angles end a few are left hanging and a few more are introduced that aren’t quite concluded at the end of Carnival. I did love the ending. I definitely left you on a warm and cozy footing in spite of everything else.

Overall, a fabulous follow up and an ending that left you wanting more. Highly recommend this series for many reasons and I hope that there are more to come.

****Spoileresque content below, you can stop reading here if you’re not interested in any of my further rants and musings*****

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I, for one am curious about the future of John and Carnival and Fahrn and Maria. What exactly was the operation that John had and how does it relate to Carnival and her wanting them to “die together”? I’m thinking from the nature of the scars and it being in the general area of his chest that this may have and something to do with his heart; but what? Are they sharing the organ now in a weird Sci Fi sort of way? (Could explain why he can no longer play live matches if they’re sharing the same heart the added stress of both of them on this organ would definitely cause major problems)

I had two possible theories playing out with regards to either John becoming a Spark Form (sort of like Meera/Laqueta) or that he already was one created by his Grandad but those ideas didn’t pan out so I’m still a bit in the dark as to what the whole big stipulation was in Carnival’s contract with Emblem.

Also, is Fahrn only being used as an elaborate pawn to sway public opinion for to Offlanders to increase a weird manipulated patriotism for induction into the military or was her recruitment in the Offland Civil Rights movement for a more noble purpose? I mean, the implications of Fahrn and the revelations Lana learned from Finn could easily fill another book as long as it doesn’t get to “Hunger Games-y” because I can also definitely see a potential there for that happening. Also will Maria ever come clean and tell Fahrn the truth about what actually happened to Meera? How could the truth affect Fahrn’s mindset and cooperation with the OCVM if she knew? Could it throw a major wrench into events or would she use the information as leverage for her benefit? The angle with the Djorkiev family could also play further into Fahrn’s story. It seems that Djorikev’s influence on the sport of Spark Forming and possible politics could make them the McMahon family 2916. I mean there’s a wrestling family that you either Love or Hate, but there’s always the one family dissenter (Dorian?) to throw some drama and excitement in the mix.

Does Connor Ford die as he intended – going out in a blaze of glory doing what he loved the most like Mickey Rourke’s character in the Wrestler or does Emblem get him treatment to prolong his life and his misery? I mean, it did appear that he was revived in Sean Carlston’s dressing room and was none too happy about it. What happened after that?

And while I’m on the wrestling references and being a lifelong wrestling fan I have a few more similarly themed thoughts that provided a few vivid images for the characters and a chuckle now and then. Okay so first, the obvious

Slade Fury – Loud, brash, hairy and jolly. Doesn’t win much but the fans love him… It’s Hacksaw Jim Duggan all the way.

Connor Ford – Veteran, Old School with a chip on his shoulder the size of Montana. Can’t stand the youth and the progression of the sport and just wants things to remain the same. Oh and let’s not forget the big furry ring entrance robe. Ric Flair anyone? Woooooo!

John Forrester and Carnival also tugged at something with me, particularly their entrances into the battle zone. Coming out as a team to flashing lights and music, dancing their way to their opponents without a care in the world. Okay yeah Carnival being a Lopine and a Spark Form shouldn’t be able to be equated to a wrestling personality right? Wrong – the more I read about her show gear and also picturing her in my mind I kept thinking that if she were human than she would look a ton like Taya Valkyrie which then of course would make her partner Johnny Mundo (John Morrison for those of you not acquainted with Lucha Underground or Lucha Libre in general)

 

****End Spoileresque content If you made it this far, thanks for reading! You must have liked this book as much as I did. If you haven’t yet read it, hopefully I’ve given you a little extra intrigue to pick them up.****

 

 

 

 

 

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A review of “WICK (The Spark Form Chronicles Book 1)” By Matt Doyle

Full Disclosure – I was provided with a copy of this book free from the Author in exchange for my honest review

I have attempted to write this review on several occasions now and I always find myself at a loss. I don’t want to give away too much of the story, but if I do one of my standard review formats, I’m afraid I wouldn’t do this story justice. There is so much to be taken from the less than 200 pages of text that I would be hard pressed to keep it all coherent. Following are a few random thoughts and observations that I had while reading WICK; hopefully they will suffice to give you insights to this great read.

 

The story is set in the year 2916 at a card playing competition. But not cards like Poker or Cribbage.. we’re talking more like Magic the Gathering or Pokémon on some serious steroids! One of the main characters John and his Spark Form, Carnival are defending champions and are at the two-day event to battle other spark formers from all over the galaxy for the title of champion. While Carnival is a Spark Form, she also possesses an element of human qualities and acts as an almost constant companion to John. The action of the tournament matches was presented in such vivid detail; everything from the costumes, to entrance themes and pyro and the announcers calling the events that it was very easy to visualize the spectacle of the tournament.  The promo pieces were also a nice touch, written in such detail and in a way that is not hard to visualize watching them on a large screen or in your home.

I loved the first person aspect of the dialogue as the story progressed by switching from character to character. From John and Carnival to Fahrn and Maria; Meera and Hong Chan to Lana and Finn then on to Connor and whomever he was harassing, each character had a distinct feel, personality and set of issues to explore. Seeing the story unfold through their eyes and their viewpoints added a unique element to the story that helped “non-tournament” plot pieces take a bit of prominence as the day wore on.

I was sad to see that for a story set 900 years in the future, where AI is a reality as is time travel and other technology we can only dream about now, that the human race is still being corrupted by such things as politics and bigotry and intolerance. While this is not necessarily a major theme to the story, the elements are there for the reader to ponder. It kind of makes you wonder if for as much as we advance as a race of people, will these things always be right around the corner to remind us that we are only human?

If you like video games, Cosplay, Anime or wrestling the action in this book will suck you in and the story will keep you reading. If these items are not you thing, give this book a shot anyway as the overall story is strong enough to hold the attention of even the most anti-gamer

To say that I devoured this book is an understatement and I have already gotten a fairly decent start on the second in the series “CARNIVAL”

A review of “Foreclosed: A Mitzy Neuhaus Mystery” by Traci Tyne Hilton

Part Cozy and part romance, but falls flat

 

Foreclosed is the first in the Mitzy Neuhaus Mystery series by Traci Tyne Hilton. Set in Portland, Mitzy Neuhaus is a hot shot realtor. With her high profile, unique look and regular spots on local radio, she is also quite the local celebrity. When a prominent Victorian mansion falls into foreclosure next door to one of her rental properties, Mitzy launches into action to recover the property and secure its future use as a residence. Little does she know, a local rival also has his eyes on the same property to renovate into a bed and breakfast for his sister. After a series of robberies, burglaries and personal attacks all seemingly related to the property, Mitzy realizes that there may be more to this charming Victorian mansion than just location and historical appeal.

 

As far as Cozy’s go, this has got to be the first one I have read without a body count. The campiness and antics that I have come to expect from this genre were present, although I felt that the fast pace of the story did not do it any favors. At one point I actually felt like there may have been too much going on to keep the story straight with a few events occurring with little to no explanation as to how it fit into the storyline.

First impression of the story was that it was cute, but cuteness aside, the overall story for me fell short. With this being the first in a series, however it is possible that a few unanswered questions may be addressed further in the later books. I, for one will most likely let those mysteries remain uncovered.

 

A Review of “Fates Past” by Jason Huebinger

Everyone Has Regrets

Skeletons in their closets.

What if you had to relive them? Face them head on, come to terms and make peace with these personal demons and regrets. Could you? Would you?

These are the situations that face boyfriend and girlfriend Carrie and Cameron. While on their way to New Orleans for a weekend getaway something strange occurs and the road they are on doesn’t appear to be the one they should be traveling. While unable to catch their bearings due to malfunctioning electronics and unaware to gauge the time as all clocks only show 00:00, Cameron and Carrie travel on this “road to nowhere” until they reach an inn. The kindly innkeeper provides them with a room for the evening and the strange occurrences continue. While Cameron continues to hear a growling that Carrie cannot; Carrie is plagued by an incessant high pitched beeping and the cry of a baby. The duo eventually become separated and are thrust into their own personal nightmare world of regrets, missed opportunities and bad choices as they attempt to fight their way back to each other.

 

At first I wasn’t really sure where this story was going with the paranormal road, visits from past indiscretions and replaying of mistakes in striking realism. Was this just a dream that one of the characters was having during the long ride between Texas and Louisiana or was it something more? There definitely was a paranormal aspect to it and also a dash of Twilight Zone and Stephen King. I finally caught on to Heubinger’s vision for this story about 75% in, and the realization blew my mind. After having read the story and having a few days to digest it, I can look back and see a double meaning in a few things and while intentional or not, to me it makes this story all the better. Because of this, I can definitely see myself slating this title for a reread in the future to see if I can pick up on any other subtle bits of foreshadowing that I missing during my initial read. The closing lines of the book gave me chills and brought a tear to my eye. I do believe that this may be the debut novel for Jason Heubinger and I definitely hope that there are others!

 

A review of “The Scattered and The Dead” (Book1.5) by Tim McBain and LT Vargus

 

Cabin Fever

The Scattered and The Dead Book 1.5 is the third book in the series by Tim McBain and LT Vargus. Continuing the story of the survivors of a series of apocalyptic events that wiped out over 99% of the population, this installment focuses mainly on a handful of survivors as they brave the first winter after the mass extinction events took place.

Ex- Televangelist Ray and Lorraine’s story continues in the form of letters written to each other while Ray is out attempting to locate and recruit survivors to their compound. There is also a “pre cataclysmic event” storyline set in Hialeah, Florida which focuses on nurse Marissa and her 8 year old son Tony (possibly the proverbial patient zero in this series) , who has fallen deathly ill and her rush to get him to the hospital before it’s too late.

The bulk of this book centers around Fiona and Doyle who are living in separate cabins in a remote area of West Virginia. With Autumn turning to Winter, Doyle, a widower who lives nearby, brings Fiona wood and other items to help the younger woman make it through the harsh winter months. As the days turn to weeks, a madness sets in that may quite possibly be the demise of the pair.

This was definitely a quick read but it was packed with action. With the focus centering mainly on Fiona and Doyle, I almost found the other storylines being interspersed as a distraction, but not really because they served to break the tension and build suspense for what was definitely the main storyline.  The desolation of being trapped in a cabin in the woods, snowed in with no one else to talk to or no other distractions from the events of the day can quite possibly serve to have a detrimental effect on a person. Fiona’s story illustrates that beautifully. Also with the interspersing of Ray and Lorraine into the mix there is an opening for this story to continue… and continue I am sure it will. It will be interesting to see how Fiona adapts in her new situation going forward after the events of her winter in exile.

A Review of “Invasion of Privacy” (Brody Taylor thrillers Book 2) by Ian Sutherland

 

Hackers, Serial Killers and Webcams

Invasion of Privacy resumes the story of white-hat hacker and penetration tester, Brody Taylor approximately 6 months after the end of Social Engineer. Brody has resumed his life online, with the occasional off line interaction, however they are few and far between. When he is solicited to pentest a fellow hacker’s less than legal voyeur site as part of a challenge, he reluctantly agrees. While not wanting to get dragged into a public challenge, his elite reputation is at stake and he is not willing to tarnish it. While perusing the site, he discovers that one of the subjects of the webcam video feeds was just found violently murdered. When a second body is found in a similar manner, Brody begins to wonder what is actually going on with “Secretly Watching You”. Could this be the method that a possible serial killer is selecting his victims?  After having socially engineered his way into the police investigation, Brody and DI Jenny Price team up in an effort to locate the killer before another victim meets a grisly end. Brody’s real life and online lives are set on a collision course that could very well be the end of life as he knows it.

This book immediately pulls you into the story and the action and suspense doesn’t let up for a second. Part police procedural and part cyber-thriller, Invasion of Privacy had me up at 3 a.m. sneaking in a few chapters because I wanted to know what happens next. Just when I thought I had it figured out some new piece of evidence turned up or something was said that had me rethinking my whole theory.  Parts of this book are definitely not for the faint of heart and the ending will have you screaming at your book, or kindle or computer or whatever you are reading this on.  If you want a gritty thriller that could very well play out in the real world, this book delivers!

 

A review of “Swift (Strangetown Magic Book 1)” by Al K Line

 

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.

Welcome to Strangetown

Things have been really crazy since the Rift… a magical explosion of sorts that tore through the town, leaving strange alien beings behind and scooping up unsuspecting Normal and Strange alike. After the Rift, the cops won’t even touch this place, so it’s up to Swift and the other Justices of the Queen Witch to keep the Strange in line. Strangetown definitely lives up to its name too with no end of Human and Alien. On a good day, you may see a few demons in the grocery aisle or even spot a Yeti or a Tree Sprite, but be warned – not all Strange are to be trusted.

This is Swift’s world; half a century and running and things definitely have been smoother.  After having narrowly escaped being pummeled by a troll riding elf (that vampire wasn’t so lucky) Swift is summoned to another job. There is a child killer on the loose and Swift must find him and deal with him.  Even the Strange have standards.

Sounds easy, right? Having set upon the task, Swift finds herself soon aiding the accused to prove his innocence and unravel the mystery behind the girl’s murder and the ever increasing gathering of elves at Ground Zero.

As far as first books in a series go, I liked this one but I must say that having come fresh off of the Dark Magic Enforcer series, I had a bit of difficulty getting into Swift and her world. While some of the concepts were similar there were also vast differences. I did love the idea of morphing, retro smack talking demons, and that shower scene was definitely something else! The additional dimension of the totally opposite but equally badass sister coming onto the scene also played nicely into the story. I think the main hindrance for me was while it moved fast it may have moved too fast, as it took a while for me to settle in and really start to enjoy the story. I’m hoping since this book sort of mainly revolved around a crisis waiting to happen that in book 2 we can slow down and take a leisurely tour of Strangetown. Something tells me though that if Strangetown is anything, it is not “leisurely” and while the pace may be less breakneck, there will still be plenty of fires for our Justice to put out.