Archive | April, 2007

Inner Trappings by Barbara Williamson-Wood

24 Apr

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Monica Payton wants her own life back.

After enduring years of abuse from her husband Charlie, she divorces him and leaves town, everything she owns packed into her car. With a broken spirit, she drives not knowing where she is going. All Monica knows is that she must be free of Charlie if she is to truly live and have her own life.

She finds herself in the small picturesque town of  Pine Lake. There, she meets local police officer Ben Johnson. She immediately feels an attraction to the handsome gentleman and finds herself thinking of what it would be like to love and be loved in return. Their attraction blooms and it’s clear that what is between them is more than an attraction.

Monica wrestles with what she should tell Ben; how much of her past should she reveal? Ben knows that Monica ran from something horrible, a secret that she keeps inside herself. He wonders if she will ever trust him enough to tell him everything.

But someone is about to destroy their new found love. As a child, Charlie Payton watched his father kill his mother. That act shaped what Charlie was to become: an animal bent on getting whatever he wanted, by any means necessary.  

Charlie wants Monica for his own and nothing will stand in his way.  He will do whatever is necessary to find her and make her see that she belongs to him. Even if it means murder.

Monica will have to learn to trust Ben with all her heart and, more importantly, trust herself, if she has any hope of surviving. Otherwise, Charlie will find her. And when he does, he will kill her….

Inner Trappings is a total page turner. From the first page, you’re drawn into Monica’s world, into her struggle for survival. Into her sheer will to live. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started Inner Trappings but I was finished in two days and left wanting more.

Monica is an incredibly well defined character. You feel for her right away and you ache for her as you read about her struggle to trust and to love again. Ben is loveable as the hero and the romance that blooms between them is better than anything Nora Roberts could ever write.

The book just feels so real, so true. It’s as if Williamson-Wood has placed herself in Monica’s body to tell her story. There is such truth in her words, such beauty that you can’t help but keep reading late into the night.

This is more than a simple tale of a battered and abused wife. Inner Trappings is about the healing power of love, about survival, about redemption. Ultimately, Inner Trappings is about forgiveness and trying to find a place for yourself in the world.

I loved every blessed word and my only complaint is that I wish the book were longer. Monica’s journey ended too soon for me and I can only hope that Williamson-Wood is writing another novel starring Monica Payton.

Amazing characters like Monica rarely make appearances in literature anymore. So all I can say to you is this: read Inner Trappings. You will flat out love it.

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Choices Meant for Gods by Sandy Lender

24 Apr

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What would you do to save something you loved? What would you do if you were threatened? Would you cower? Or would you fight with everything you had, every ounce of strength and magic you possessed? Some of us aren’t even given that choice.

 

When Jamieson Drake, evil sorcerer, attacks the settlement of Treown, Amanda Chariss is left with no choice. To escape Drake and his army, she teleports herself and her mentor, the wizened old wizard Hrazon to the Taiman family home. There, they may find help and Chariss may find a cure for the magic that has infected her blood.

 

Chariss has the geasa, magic older than time, and she must use it if she and the people of Onweald are to stay alive. For Drake hunts her, wants her dead on his blade. Why is anyone’s guess, but Chariss is has an inkling. For years, Drake has hunted her with the sole purpose of killing her. Chariss suspects that Drake is hungry for her power. But, in reality, Drake is in love with her.

 

He has enlisted the help of a Dragon who now walks in the human form of Julette. Older than time itself, she uses Drake like a pawn. She has her own plans, her own agenda and knows that she must help Drake to get what she wants. Of course, the fact that she is a Goddess doesn’t hurt either.

 

Chariss must depend on all the help she can and her unsteady magic if they are to survive this first battle. She must be careful though, for she must make choices meant for Gods and one wrong move, one mistake, could lead all of them to death…

 

As a general rule, I don’t read high fantasy. The whole genre bores me; it’s grown stagnant with nothing new added to it. Each author that tries to write an engaging high fantasy tale fails to write anything new, anything fresh. Thankfully, Sandy Lender has changed all that. She has changed the very face of high fantasy itself.  

Choices Meant for Gods is without a doubt the freshest most engaging high fantasy novel to come out in years and breathes new life into a tired genre. The characters leap off the page and the plot is lightning quick and deftly written with many layers that tease the mind and imagination.  

What I love most about Choices Meant for Gods are the characters and how they interact with each other. She has thrown a new spin on what is good and what is bad and her characters are flawed and imperfect. They are people you grow to care for and, indeed, I didn’t want the novel to end; I couldn’t stand knowing that it would be some time before I saw them again.  

She has reworked the standard quest into something meaningful and engaging. She has mixed magic with romance, battles, sorcerers, danger, and suspense; there is everything here that makes up a good store. My meager review doesn’t even do justice to the plot. The pages flew by as I became ensnared under Lenders spell as she weaved her story. She writes with such assurance, such poise, that it is hard to believe that Choices Meant for Gods is her first novel.  

Choices Meant for Gods is not a mere novel; it is a gorgeous piece of written art. I can hardly wait for the second book! If you read only one good novel this year, no, this decade, read Choices Meant for Gods. I’m going to be reading it for a second time. But read it yourself, won’t you?  

It will leave you breathless. Make sure to visit the authors blog at: http://www.todaythedragonwins.blogspot.com/

The Search for the Million $$$ Ghost

18 Apr

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The Search for the Million $$$ Ghost  

By: Dorothy Thompson, Heidi AW Kaminski and Pamela Ryan-Lawniczak 

Mardis Gras Publishing, 2006 

Web Site: http://www.milliondollarghost.homestead.com/ 

Blog: http://thesearchforthemilliondollarghost.blogspot.com/ 

Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iOklaNgirZI 

Loneliness can drive a person to do lots of things. But it can also bring old memories to the surface. One of those you’ve loved, those you yearned for and those you love still… 

Reclusive billionaire Roger Hawthorne is a lonely man. Since the death of his young wife, Sarah Pemberton, in 1972, he has lived alone in the Hawthorne Estates in Hickory Heights North Carolina. For thirty years, he has grieved for his lost bride and for thirty years he has refused to move on, to let himself heal.  

After thirty years of grief, Roger decides to take matters into his own hands. Appearing on a television talk show, Roger makes a plea: He will offer one million dollars to the person who can give him undeniable proof that ghosts exist. What he doesn’t tell the television viewers is that he is hoping that he can finally contact Sarah, finally see her face again.  

Five women respond to Rogers’ plea: Shiloh Swallowtail, a psychic who lost her husband and feels lost on her new spiritual path. Ezra Anne Thornberry, a clairaudient who has visitations from a helpful ghost named Henri; Ezra is in desperate need of money to support her family. Brianna Campbell, just delving into the spiritual world, who misses her dead husband Rick. Pan Ryan, a psychic who feels as if life is moving around her too quickly. Peggy Maguire, a metaphysical Sunday school teacher, who is feeling smothered by her family while recovering from surgery. And Brooke Murphy, an herbal practitioner and Wiccan, who wants to find more time to devote to her photography.  

Each woman is looking for a change in her life and they’re hoping that this could be it, the change they were all wishing for. They should be careful what they wish for, however, as their wish is granted and will bring more change than any of them could have thought possible.  

Roger Hawthorne invites them to the Hawthorne Estates and sets a challenge: they must provide undeniable proof that ghosts exist within a week’s time or they go home empty handed. What none of them know is that the veil to the spirit world is thinner than they realize. Someone, or rather, something is waiting for them in Hickory Heights and will stop at nothing to get what it wants….

 I can’t stress enough how incredible The Search for the Million $$$ Ghost is. At first I was a little sceptical, as different writers have different writing styles and multi-author books are usually pretty choppy. I needn’t have worried. From page one, this book flows beautifully and you can’t tell where one author started and another author continued. The writing is flawless and the story pulls you in until it absorbs your entire world.  I loved the idea that, essentially, it was a book about spirituality and the existence of the spirit world.

Normally, messages thinly disguised as novels have little to no story and the characters are nothing but mouth pieces to preach at readers. Nothing could be farther from the truth where The Search for the Million $$$ Ghost is concerned. The story is the main focus and the authors use the story to examine the spirit world and their beliefs. A truly refreshing concept.  

The story, and its incredible characters, is the focus here. Each chapter gives us a deeper glimpse into one of the characters stories but all of the chapters flow together beautifully to tell us the complete story. Roving narrative has never been used more deftly and more enjoyably.  

Believe it or not, The Search for the Million $$$ Ghost is also a touching love story. It examines what one man will do to find the woman who still claims his heart. If that isn’t romance, I don’t know what is. The novel is also a study of human relationships and how strangers, connected by the internet, interact with each other one they come face to face.  It also helped me examine my own beliefs about the spirit world.

There is too much proof in this novel for a reader not to believe, for a reader not to know that there are spirits among us. It’s a rare novel that makes you think and examine your own introspective beliefs. I haven’t been this taken with a spiritual novel since Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist. Thankfully The Search for the Million $$$ Ghost is a million times better.    

This book has a lot on its plate: a ghost story, a love story, probing the consciousness of others, examining theories about the spirit world and the existence of ghosts, families and the ties that bond them, the strength of the human heart.

But, incredibly, the authors juggle all these elements with deft hands while still delivering an incredibly satisfying, immensely readable ghostly tale.   As soon as I had finished The Search for the Million $$$ Ghost, I started it all over again.

It’s a fast and easy read and beautifully written. Indulge yourself and get a copy of this book. It will entertain you, it may frighten you and it will certainly change the way you look at the world around you. I can’t tell you how good this book is. You’ll have to read it for yourself.  

James by L. Diane Wolfe

17 Apr

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James: Circle of Friends Book Three
By: L. Diane Wolfe

Author Site: http://www.thecircleoffriends.net/ 

Author Blog: http://circleoffriendsbooks.blogspot.com/

James is a young man who is lost within himself. Growing up with an abusive father, James doesn’t let too many people into his life. In order not to think about the past, he focuses on other things diligently: school, work. But, though lost, he longs of having someone love him; of giving someone his heart and receiving theirs in return.When his current girlfriend cheats on him, James despairs of ever finding someone who is honest, down to earth and caring. His friend Lori sets him up with a shy girl named Maria and the two hit it off instantly. Both being photographers, they find common ground and their relationship begins to blossom.

Other relationships not well, however. James father Ben informs him that if James does not come to collect his belongings, he will throw them out. James goes to collect his things, marvelling at his step mother’s willingness to stay with his abusive father.
Lynn has always loved James like her own son and has been a real mother to him. He can’t stand the idea of Ben hurting her.

James knows that if he didn’t have Maria’s love, life would be unbearable. Despite all the secrets of his past, Maria is a light in the darkness for him. James strives to do well for himself and Maria inspires him to do even better.

But when something life changing happens, will Maria and James survive? Will their relationship crumble around them or will they face their problems head on and come out stronger in the end?

My meagre plot summary doesn’t even come close to recounting the gripping plot of this amazing novel. While James is essentially the story of one young man, it is also a study of relationships: mother and son, father and son, boyfriend and girlfriend. It is a study of the depth of the human heart and the choices we make in our lives.

What makes this novel so incredible is its realism. Wolfe deftly manages to draw you into the story and makes you care for these characters. You ache for James and Maria. You want James’ father to love him. You will fall in love with these characters and never want the book to end. I guarantee it.

Also interwoven with the incredible story is an important message: Never give up on your dreams. Everyone holds the power to succeed at whatever they dream as long as they believe in themselves. Normally I find inspirational fiction to be preachy, but James is far from it. James is a life changing novel that will have you examining your life with new eyes and reaching out to those you love to let them know how much they mean to you.

Thankfully, the story continues in Mike: Circle of Friends Book Four. Though these novels are all part of a series, you can read them on your own. You will want to read the rest of them though, again and again. James is, by far, one of the best books I have ever read. It made me laugh; cry, cheer and the ending left me spellbound.

If you read this incredible novel, L. Diane Wolfe will become your new favourite author. Trust me on this. Become part of The Circle of Friends. You’ll never want to leave.

The Rock of Realm by Lea Schizas

15 Apr

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The Rock of Realm

By Lea Schizas

Star Publish Books, 2005

http://leaschizaseditor.tripod.com 

Life is exceedingly normal for fourteen year old Alex Stone. She has to clean up her dogs mess, get a ride to school from old Ms. Harris who shouldn’t be allowed on the road and babysit Ms. Harris’ grandchildren after school against her will. Life could not possibly be any worse. Could it?

As it turns out, it could. Alex, frustrated with her life and the boredom of it, wishes she were Queen in anEnchanted Forest. She dreams of wizards and knights in shining amour and wishes that she were something special. What Alex doesn’t realize however is that wishes have an annoying habit of being granted.

Walking through Greendale park with her best friend Sarah Breckninridge, Alex is hit on the head with a small, pink rock. It glitters in the moonlight and Alex is perturbed by it. Things get odder still when Sarah finds a small pouch near where Alex found the rock. The pouch is filled with a handful of glittering, gold dust.

 

Sarah tries to make fun of Alex’s wish for the fantastical, throwing dust around them like rain. Growing frustrated with her friend, Alex throws some of the gold dust in the air, reciting a passage she knows by heart:

“Glitter I toss, safely I will cross, into your realm it will lead, evil digress, the Queen I am to thee.” 

With these words, Alex has no idea that her life is about to change forever. A mysterious wind starts up and wails around them, the two girls hardly even able to see each other. When the wind clears, they are no longer in Greendale Park. Instead, they have entered the mysterious world of Rock Kingdom.

They come upon a talking tree who tells Alex that she must have the Rock of Realm in her hand and that only the enchanted ones can possess its magic. Alex, feeling a touch of fear at the words, doesn’t realize her life is about to change forever….

 

The Rock of Realm is, without a doubt, the most engaging fantasy I have read in years. I’ve long stayed away from the fantasy genre. Lately it seems to be cookie cutter books; the same story with different characters all going on the same kinds of quests. This is especially true of young adult fantasy. Since the dawn of the Age of Harry Potter, too many authors have tried to ride the coat tails of Harry’s successes.

 

I’m glad to say that The Rock of Realm rides no one’s coat tails and is just as engaging as and indeed fresher than the Harry Potter books. Perhaps it is the Harry Potter books that ride The Rock of Realms coat tails?

 

 

Right away, you know you are in for a treat. While this is the usual story of a girl in a strange world with magical powers, Schizas gives the old tale quite a few twists. Nothing is what it seems and just when you think you have the story figured out is when Schizas takes another incredible turn and twists the story into something new and incredible.

 

What I love about The Rock of Realm are the characters. Alex and Sarah are so real and so grounded that you could swear that you have known these two girls all of your life. Alex is a strong protagonist who confronts dangers and magic head on and Sarah is a worthy sidekick. Alex’s dog Butch (and Butch’s pet squirrel Pops) who both talk are excellent for comic relief and keep the story from becoming too dark.

 

By the end of the novel, you care for these characters, you ache for them, and you cheer for them. This book has everything you need for an excellent story: a battle of good versus evil, magic and strange worlds, darkness that creeps out of shadows, talking animals and, most importantly, the strength of the human heart. It would not be going to far to say that The Rock of Realm is a life changing book. This is how fantasy should be written.

 

If you haven’t read The Rock of Realm yet, I don’t know what you’re waiting for. The novel is a light, fun and enjoyable romp through an unknown land that will leave you spellbound. You will want to read The Rock of Realm first to yourself and then to your kids. And then once more, just for the sheer enjoyment of it.

 

A fantastic book and one that should be considered a classic. If you haven’t read it yet, why are you still reading my review? Read and enjoy, you won’t be sorry.