Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Review:The Awakened:Book One (Awaken His Eyes) By Jason Tesar

The Awakened:Book One (Awaken His Eyes) By Jason Tesar

I Liked this book I liked the style of writing And I found the story engaging.

There are some few annoying elements that have more to do with editing decisions and this it the way Jason decided to put things together so there is no changing that.

This novel contains One good solid story if you ignore the other two unfinished ones.

Personally I found the first chapter to be more equivalent to a prologue.

I found the next five chapter belonging to perhaps a preface.

Or maybe those two go the other way. Anyway there is a reason I say this and in part it is because the first 6 chapters of this book did not add anything to the book for me. In fact they were a distraction because I expected to get back to either one of these stories all the way through the last two thirds of the novel.

For me the real story began at chapter 7 and it's not a bad story. There are rough elements that honestly were not as rough as some recent novels I have read. Yes there is a rape yes there are slaves. I'm not sure what people want but when you tell a story these things do happen. I think it might be more objectionable when the child? in prison resort to eating raw flesh like savages and one even eventually bites another prisoner.

But, back to the story, or in this case the three threads that run for the last two thirds of the novel.

Maeryn is left without her husband,Adair, who has for all intent and purposes vanished. The readers knows a little bit about this but really not enough to help this part of the story. She is interrogated about his disappearance and since he is the governor of Bastul it should be a big deal though we are led to believe its not so big a deal and that he is easily replace and that his replacement is on its way and that Maeryn and her family will become the new governor's family. In this culture this is the common practice and it helps that Maeryn is considered attractive. Beautiful enough that her beauty seems to be one of the deciding factors in the replacements decision to take this position.

To me the first pages of the seventh chapter read well enough to be the beginning of this novel. This book has a lot of mystery and the mystery of her husbands disappearance works well without the five chapters about him and it was annoying to have him just vanish from the story.

Lemus,the socially acceptable replacement husband, is a tall thin imposing and very cruel man. He beats his slaves and eventually rapes his new wife. It is the beating of Maeryn's son, Kael's, friend Ajani -a child slave- that sets the wheels of this story into motion. Kael responds by defending his friend Ajani and attacks Lemus with a pitchfork. Lemus responds by placing the child (Kael) under arrest to be executed. Orudan Empire law forbids any attack on it soldiers, an offense punishable by death. All of this occurs in front of Maeryn who is powerless to intercede.

Maeryn become pregnant with child and since this is after the rape she passes it off as Lemus lest she lose another child to her new cruel husband.(She assumes that Kael is dead.)

Along with sending Kael to his death, Lemus removes Kael's long time tutor, Saba, from the household and threatens him with death if he or his soldiers ever see Saba again.(As far as I know he also assumes that his student Kael is dead.)

This starts the three threads of the story which follow the lives of Maeryn, Kael, and Saba.

In her desperation Maeryn becomes a spy for the Empire's enemies as she tries to secretly thwart Lemus.

Saba goes on a journey to discover his own past. ( He seems to have amnesia pertaining to his life before coming to Bastul.)

Kael- the primary figure here endures some hardship to later be pressed into service with some monks to become a religious warrior. He will have to do a lot of self examination while trying to discern the truth of the things that are happening around him. This novel seems to be mostly about Kael's journey interwoven with the parallel tales of the lives of those people who are alive and most important to him.

This is a good tale of mystery and betrayal and self discovery that starts at chapter 7.

What comes before that may have much to do with later novels and my only objection to them is that they don't really add much to this story and I would guess that they would fit nicely into whichever place might continue their stories and since the author seems to dwell a lot on the mysteries interwoven into this tale I think their absence here would just be a part of the intriguing mystery that could be woven in later when he finishes telling those two stories.

But that is just my opinion. Apparently a lot of people like this novel the way it is.

Although I didn't find it all that helpful to have them only say so in a single line or paragraph.
Some more full description of how and why they liked it would really go a long way.

I also found the forward and history and prophecy to be just a bit unnecessary to this story along with the maps and links to maps. Some people like those things though and I'm sure they had some bearing in helping the author's world building.

I found the story of Kael to be complete enough as it is in this book despite the cliffhanger-ish ending. Unfortunately when you take the incomplete nature of the first chapter's story which perhaps takes place in some alternate future. Add to that the incomplete story of Kael's father, which unfortunately had nothing that I felt greatly impacted the tone of the rest of the story it leaves the reader with three cliffhanger-ish things to deal with which may not be necessary. I'm assuming Kael's is a past history of an alternate universe though from the Forward it could be a dystopic future and that element again adds to confusion.

The prophecy and history seemed also superfluous to this story though again I am sure for the whole series they have some value.

I have not yet read the next two books but perhaps if they had been drawn into one book this novel might make more sense. I'll be a better judge of that when I read those.

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves fantasy and a bit of revisionist history or dystopia as it may be. I don't see much in the science fiction draw here because the bulk of the better part of this story reads like some far eastern monastic battle monk training and spiritual philosophy and it could take place in a wide range of historic settings almost up to the present time.

J.L. Dobias

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Review:Dark Chatter by Andrew Branch

Dark Chatter by Andrew Branch

(Within the Dark Chatter this is a memorable novel)

There was a lot to like about this novel.
It seems to be so much and yet it falls so short of what it could be.

Like expecting french-fries and getting fried potatoes.

The book takes off with a bang that's more of a false tap in that it entails the story of how our hero or anti-hero of the story is conceived. Which seems to be by some excess hand-waving rivaled only by the conception of Garp in John Irving's The World According to Garp.

Abe-IV- the father of whatever offspring may come; appears to be in no condition to father a child normally and will soon die. Abe's mother wishes a child heir and his-nurse-lover-whatever-must be wife,Helga,(I was admittedly confused) will have a separate child that she may raise more conventionally away from high society.

In this case the suspected way to acquisition of sperm leads to a supposed short term vault at the sperm bank where parties divvy up and bring in their personal incubators to accomplish the task of creating an heir for Sabrina and son for Helga and Abe.

Sabrina gets her next Abe-number five- who manages, in the offing to off himself in a most awful way. Apparently unable to stand the effort of finding a willing womb and waiting any longer for things to come about Sabrina must opt to steal-Peter-the child of Helga.(Steal by first stealing his affection.)

Fast-forward we find Quicklime (Peter James) at college-his alma mater- doing janitorial work on the grounds. And thus we are introduced into his life of free wheeling care free drugs and alcohol with his room mates and boarders Raymond and Billy.

Quicklime Calcium oxide (CaO), commonly known as quicklime or burnt lime.
Quicklime It is a white, caustic, alkaline crystalline solid at room temperature.

That's the name of our anti-hero. The moniker he has taken for whatever reason. I'm not sure that we're ever really told why, but even so I'm not sure it would matter. This story reads much like all the brass in the house that might consume someones handiwork at keeping polished and yet serve only the purpose of attracting the eye to its glistening shine like sunlight coming over the horizon. There really seems no purpose.

In some ways Quicklime does seem caustic. Such as when he proposes to the driver of the car they bashed; that he'd become a raw vegan if she'd go out with him. It's this incident that leads him to his life as a porn screen play writer. Also it leads to his becoming a semi-Raw vegan.

Quicklime has a tattoo that he variously passes off as something other than what it is. When the reader is finally told what it is its not hard to understand that there's no confidence built into this story for the reader to rely on.

Value for value I went to the wiki-place to find the definition of the mans favorite drink. Caipirinha.

The word caipirinha is the diminutive version of the word caipira, which refers to someone from the countryside, being an almost exact equivalent of the American English hillbilly or the Lowland Scots teuchter. The word may be used as either a masculine or a feminine noun, but when referring to this drink it is only feminine (usage of diminutives is common in Brazil).

In the Brazilian vocabulary, the word caipirinha is mostly associated with the drink itself rather than the class of person.

I suppose it is appropriate that the character who might consider himself to be associated with both of those slurs of low life should have this as his favorite drink. It is helpful that the association of both this and the word lime in quick lime would lead to the revelatory method for cleaning the closed environment of the anti-heroes anti girlfriend. Though it's quite inventive to use a method for cleaning microwave ovens as a means to clean the grime off the domes I'm not sure how well that might work without thoroughly scrubbing everything before it has time to re-seat itself in all of its smear -ish dripping glory.

This whole story the novel is a long series of Analogs stuffed together side by side like rolls of socks or underwear in the dresser in some seeming order just waiting to be plucked out. It's like twisting a tale full of similes and metaphors with a few tongue and cheek mentions to further confound and befuddle the the reader. There are smatterings of pop references that will one day give the feel of some cockeyed inside joke when there are few people left to remember who's pop they reference.

At one point I began reading some of these out-loud to my wife who reads a lot of romance. She responded by reading portions of her current romance novel's analogs and the whole night digressed into a competition, which had us both rolling out of our lazy-boys. I have a lot more respect for those romance novel authors now.

I feel like having been exposed to the writing of someone who travel in a clique of writers who hold dear a certain number of inside jokes that they spread as if they are smatterings of autumn leaves that have been ripened beyond the smell of autumn and perhaps left at deaths door. They have a certain air about them.

There are three pornographic screenplays in this work. I'm sure in some way there could be said that they describe perhaps:
Where Quicklime came from (especially from his own perspective)
Where he was today (why relationships for him manage to suck)
Where things might end (almost with some inevitability.)

This makes these three eventful shorts integral to the plot beyond the fact that they are a main plot point to the entire novel. Which seemed too bad in the long run.

The blatant pornographic nature of the three shorts draws attention to the internal parts of this novel that border on pornography which has been gently imbedded into clever words. There is so much richness and depth to- not only what Andrew Branch has to say but how he says it that I feel its cheapened by the blatant attempt to shock the reader.

I would not recommend this to anyone- meaning that if they choose to read this then it has to be their choice. There is a lot here that might be enjoyed but the talent displayed has been disjointed like an over enthusiastic soccer players knees. And all of that effort to create some knee jerk reaction that may or may not serve a purpose.

I'm still not sure I got the point of the story and that might not be a bad thing.

For those who had to back track and re-read there is an easier way. Read through carefully; there are so many nuances and inferences within the writing its like every character is a palimpsest for the author to write their analog across so that both the face and the overlay come out in the readers mental-eye creating a blurred image that's often more descriptive than the original face might be.

J.L. Dobias

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Review:Peregrin by A.Sparrow.

Peregrin by A.Sparrow.

In this book Peregrin is a foreigner- stranger -traveler which in my dictionary is Peregrine. On the other hand Peregrin is Pippin from the LOTR. Since this is the second half of an epic adventure it all balances out.

I love everything about the two books Xenolith and Peregrin. I believe that most everywhere the first book is free though in some places you have to purchase the second for about a dollar. That's the e-books. They are well worth the price. If you like the fantasies like LOTR and love reading about great battles this is one fine book.

It's a diamond in the rough though, and I'll get to that, but first the praise.(Five stars for most everything)

Peregrin takes up after Xenolith with the story of Frank Bowen and his wife Liz who have been separated for twenty years by the most fantastic rift one could imagine.

The Xenolith rocks which seem to be much like fools gold hold the key to the power of the convergence that links Earth to Gi. For years their secret was guarded until Cuerti, Crasacs and Polu began invading from Venen. Before then there were many clans and cities and peoples who often fought amongst each other, until the invaders came and they had a common enemy.

This is the world that Liz stumbled into all those years ago and in twenty years she has changed and hardened while somehow in many ways remaining the same. Frank, her husband has tried to live without her but has not been able to move on and has lived the life of a ghost as he goes from one medical mission to another and always landing at Rio Frio where he lost Liz. On the last trip he's too close to one of the Convergences and Tezhey (a traveler who walks the convergences) takes him across to Gi where no one returns. Tezhey along with others like him help keep the secret and when the peregrin wander in they take them to places where they are away from the convergences so they can't get back.

Frank was given a chance to go back and declined being convinced that Liz was on this side somewhere. He finds her in her new life and he discovers how difficult it will be to get back into her life.

But theirs is not the only story.

Ara is a member of an elite force known as the Cadre that is supposed to work with people like Tezhay. While trailing through Earth on a supposed mission of peace she meets up with a band of fellow travelers led by Seor. Ara's leader Baren has told her that they are on a peaceful mission to parlay with the enemy. The problem is that the Venen are not suppose to know about Earth or the stones that drive the Convergence. And it looks as though Baren means to give the Venen a stone. Seor and her people convince Ara that something is amiss with the whole idea and things have gone poorly for everyone leaving some of the wounded on both side of Earth(Ur) and Gi.

This is where A. Sparrow begins to grow the character of Ara as a reluctant but possibly brilliant leader commander.

There are so many well developed characters in this novel each drawn with their strengths and weaknesses sometimes leading everyone into danger even death and other times coming out smelling like roses.

Rarely are there any punches pulled. The horror of war and peoples varied reactions are examined closely. Where characters like Miles and Frank have had such a hard time believing they have ended up where they are and in so causing their own problems; there are characters like Liz who have accepted it and grow to where they turn a blind eye to what is happening around them because they don't remember a day there wasn't conflict even when the Venen were not around.

There's never a dull moment and I think all fantasy science fiction adventure lovers will eat this one up.

I would be remiss though if I did not caution that there will be rough patches for some people.
There are many grammar issues with both books. A. Sparrow has become my second favorite author who is a powerful writer who could benefit from getting a couple extra set of eyes to look at the work.(I'm not offering to do that; I'm busy.)But, I'm sure some college student could even help here.

Many times in this book there are extra words that are redundancies. Sometimes there are missing words. In this novel I didn't notice any misspellings.

We can't catch all of these- I've seen traditionally published books with many such errors. But extra sets of eyes will help vanquish many of those I caught I this book.

So if those things bother you be prepared but please don't let that dissuade you from trying at least the first book Xenolith. I loved them both and I hope you will too.

J.L. Dobias

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Review:Xenolith (The Convergence) by A. Sparrow

Xenolith (The Convergence) by A. Sparrow

I loved this book. Of course one thing to love is that it's free. It really would be worth paying for.
(Has some issues but I wouldn't downgrade my stars for those. It has a lot going for it.)

This book reminded me -at the beginning- of Atlantida by Pierre Benoit and because of that it also parallels She By Henry Rider Haggard. These are two old classics that are written in the old high tradition of narrative. You don't see books like that that much today. There is an attention to detail of the worlds that the characters travel through in this book. Along with many instances of there being a desperate desolation in the interaction of character to environment.

The story starts with Frank being bound and gagged and blindfolded by mysterious band of people in Belize; where he's visiting the site of ancient ruins where his wife and a friend and their guide disappeared twenty years ago. This digresses into a flashback of the trip out and that back-flashes into the time of the actual events twenty years ago. Frank is a Doctor who seems to be some kind of mission Doctor who flits across the world in some of the most dangerous and impoverished zones around. His wife Liz is an absolute saint just for putting up with it all. Liz loves archeology. When the local pastor offers to take them out to see some ruins that have interesting aspects and have never been worked by other archeologist; she jumps at the chance. Unfortunately Frank has medical emergencies that day and can't go along. So, the boat man, the guide, the pastor and the wife head out. The boatman is the only who will return.

There's a second story being told parallel to this story about a group of somewhat primitive yet well organized individuals fighting a war that seems to be extending across what might be parallel universes. At the beginning it looks as though the group we follow might be the only ones who use the special stones that open the convergences. Part of what this narrative is taking place at this time that the enemy may be acquiring the ability to breach into the different worlds.

One of the many worlds is Ur or Earth, Franks home. And Frank might have been abducted by one of the first group, who are trying to guard their secret. Tezhay, the man who has taken Frank to a different world may be one known as a Traveler. Previously a special group known as the Philosophers had held the stones and kept the xenoliths secret. When war struck -in order to survive men like the Travelers were allowed to learn to go through the convergences into other worlds to escape elude and sometimes ambush the enemy. But, the enemy is still winning. Their world is dangerous, especially for someone like Frank who has a bad heart after all these years.

Frank at first doesn't believe that he's in a different world. Not until he experiences it first hand. After which, he starts to believe that his Liz might be alive and possibly somewhere on this world. This part is executed excellently as Frank vacillates from wanting to stay to wanting to escape back to Earth. It hardly looks like he will survive long if he stays.

Conversely the warriors from the war zone are trapped on Earth when the stone they need to use to leave is broken. Furthermore events evolve that present the possibility of the horror that someone has betrayed them and the enemy now has at least one of the stones to the convergence they are at.

This story has some awesomely good world building and is well paced while full of conflict and action. There's a lot of political intrigue and betrayal going on. And there's the lover's quest story that seems all to real and sometimes hopeless. I can't give A. Sparrow enough praise for this book.

That much said I do have some issues with the need for editing. This goes well beyond grammar and spelling. Those can easily be overlooked. There are some consistency issues of which I'll point out two. They create enough confusion to be frustrating.
"Flower mean they sell drink," said Tezhay. "You thirsty?"
"Sure," said Tezhay). "As long as it's clean and doesn't have any dead toads in it."
"No worry," said Tezhay. "Is just beer, from honey."
A. Sparrow. Xenolith (Kindle Locations 6442-6445). A. Sparrow.[/quote]

"Sure," said Tezhay (should be frank talking) . "As long as it's clean and doesn't have any dead toads in it."
I say this because Tezhay does not use contractions nor speak this clearly and it only makes sense if Frank said this.

[quote] Canu stepped over Vul as he squirmed among the tarps. "I'm going out to relieve Pari," said Canu. "Tell Aret I say hello.""
"Canu?" Vul bellowed, as if calling across a vast cavern. "What are you doing here?"
"Don't shout. You'll wake Vul. He's trying to sleep."
"But, " Vul popped up, eyes flashing open. "Where , where did she go?" He looked confused, and frantic.
A. Sparrow. Xenolith (Kindle Locations 6718-6722). A. Sparrow.[/quote]

This did not make sense Canu would not be telling Vul to be quiet so as not to wake himself. At least in this context I couldn't even make it into a sly jest.

I also have a minor quibble about the usage of some words.
It's not that I haven't seen these words used before-They in fact are perhaps poetic words and in that they would be delightful inclusions if the entire text had many more such gems. The fact that they show up once or twice -stranded alone- makes little sense.

That's not the issue though

One word in question is at end of chapter 53 susurrus (this is the correct spelling) the spelling is wrong in the text.

I have no idea if in some circles this word is used every day. I only know that it would be the one explanation as to why someone would use this word and not bother to check up on the spelling. This is the third novel I've read this year using this same word and the second novel to misspell it. The third book used a variation and actually spelled it correctly.

If I use a word like this- whether as a poetic note or perhaps a word that says something that I could only otherwise say in five words or more - I would still take the time to look it up. Especially if I had even the smallest suspicion I could be spelling it incorrectly. Even so usually another set of eyes will pick it up quickly.
I would also check the meaning and try to decide if I want my less learned readers to learn this word with the meaning I'm trying to convey. Often I even check to be sure I'm not using it as a colloquialism. Either way; while I'm there I make sure I get the spelling correct.

I do not have a fear of new words but its nice if the definition in the kindle would be at least helpful. And it would be much better if the word could be found by the kindle dictionary- which won't happen if it's misspelled. Causing the reader to try to guess the spelling of a word they are now forced to look up in the dictionary.

Anyone that like the classics and who like Fantasy and Science Fiction and adventure with lots of archery and sword battles will love this story. For some it may take a few pages to get into the story. The time it takes to build an idea of the conditions in Belize and the character's feelings about it all at the time consumes a large volume of the beginning.

I enjoyed it all- it's well worth the read even having to get around a few rough spots.

J.L. Dobias

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Review:Zendyne by Han Li Thorn Aka Better Than Real by Huw Lyan Thomas

Zendyne by Han Li Thorn Aka Better Than Real by Huw Lyan Thomas

I'm not even certain where I acquired the original.

There were formatting problems and that might have been why I didn't get to it right away. That was in June of 2012. Here it is ten months later and I'm just getting to it. This time I started reading despite the formatting problems. I should have done that the first time around. The good news is that I believe those problems went away with the new edition Better Than Real by Huw Lyan Thomas

The plot relies on a theme that shows up often lately. The characters live in a digitized world where the person's DNA and memories can be stored easily making death only an issue if you can't afford the backups. I've seen this recently in a few novels -Charles Stoss Accelerando (Singularity) and Walter Jon Williams Implied Spaces(Singularity) Those both involved matrioshka computer arrays and lots of cyberspace inferences. The cyberspace of course covers just about anything by William Gibson.

There are no evident matrioshka computer arrays here, but there are plenty of the other elements. And the major AI character in those other two is the self aware cat where this one is a self aware android that happens to look female.

My first real love in the area of cyberspace is Philip K. Dick and I think that this novel by whatever name will smell the same.

This novel brings back to my mind the authenticity of the characters in most of the novels PK Dick wrote. I think that may be the idea that the characters stay as the focus no matter how interesting the technology gets. Sure there's some fun with the techno-speak of Charles Stross and there's always something stimulating with William Gibson's in-depth notion of how the digital world works or how the use of nano technology looks up close and personal in Walter Jon Williams. Sometimes these novels border on the dystopic myopia of the digital age gone wild. Zendyne- Better Than Real does not suffer from this shortsightedness that constantly make the characters second to the technology that drive them to the ultimate conclusion.

Make no mistake these things are all there and they try to manipulate the protagonists in the story.

If I have one quibble with these stories - it would be that while swapping around consciousness and bodies there is never any time dwelt upon the notion of a soul and what makes up a soul and whether it might be digitized. The bottom line is that even if you could back yourself up what guarantee is there that the soul the you that makes you you is still going to be there. In this novel it seems implied that if you have the same body - coded DNA- and the digitized memory that you have everything you need. Someone might lose only what they experienced the last few cycles since the last backup taken.

As we come come up into this story Li Jia Wei or Lee as he is known arrives at the scene of a crime- only for him its the scene of an incident that could make things bad for the company he works for. The crime is that in this world he and the company are going to try to cover it up by whatever means- which involves recruiting anyone at the scene who might let the story leak.

The Problem is that one of their pleasure android models has somehow gone haywire and killed a client. Not good PR to have that get out to other clients and potential clients. When Lee arrives he find Lilith of the Aphrodite 9400 series waiting. His job is simple; he uses his disruptor to disable her so the cleanup crew can clean the mess. Lilith pleads with him not to do that and in a very short conversation he discovers that she is somehow become self aware. This fascinates him, partially because he's the major designer of this model and he knows that it couldn't just become self aware on its own. He would like some answers both professionally and partly for his own self profit. This leads to his downloading the mind of the android prior to the shutdown. The android has already told him that when he shuts it down the self aware entity in her will be destroyed.

Down loading the mind, to preserve it and allow him to question it about who is responsible for its existence Lee returns to the office to find that someone has leaked the story and that his job and position with Zendyne has been cancels. What he is not aware of is that there is another organization which cleans things up in a much more terminal way and that he's become marked. Unsure what to do next he manages to purchase the previous model android with the notion that he can download the mind of Lilith and question her about her creators with a hope that Lee may profit from this.

Enter the Stranger- an operative for the Back Office whose job is to find the rogue AI and retrieve it and kill anyone who gets in the way. Even though in this world people can be brought back the Back Office has the power to subvert that if necessary. The Stranger is meant to act quickly enough that anyone brought back would have no memory of anything related to the AI.

This is when things get interesting.

We start to get an up close look at the high and low ends of the economic scale and how these have an affect on the whole system of extended life through digital reproduction. There are some interesting spots where the characters try to subvert the system because they realize that there is a potential for them to lose control of who they are by letting their backups fall into the wrong hands.

I loved this story-even with the older versions formatting issues. This book is for lovers of Science Fiction, Cyberspace cyberpunk, Robotics and mayhem, AI and self aware computers, and the future general of computers and the digital age in general.

It's well worth the price; with plenty of action, suspense and twists.

J.L. Dobias

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Review:The Ghost of Josiah Grimshaw (The Morgan Sisters)by Suzy Turner

The Ghost of Josiah Grimshaw (The Morgan Sisters)by Suzy Turner

I was not sure how much I would appreciate this one. I got acquainted by reading the story about Daisy Madigan. I really enjoyed Daisy's character and the story sort of reminded me of Ghost Whisperer and then there were elements that were like Scooby Do and the Scooby gang except that the entire Scooby gang might have Paranormal powers. I wasn't sure I'd like the Morgan Sister's since it was likely that Daisy wouldn't be a main character.

I've always been a fan of horror and paranormal films but my real love is Science Fiction. My daughter did manage to get me hooked on Buffy - probably revenge for my having hooked her on Science Fiction. I've in the past enjoyed Mary Shelly's Frankenstien, Bram Stokers Dracula and Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu's Camilla which might be considered darker than this novel. I've also been a fan of Thorne Smith whose Topper was pretty hilarious. I think that if you look at a lot of his work you can see his influence in the Paranormal literature of today. Anyway, The Ghost of Josiah Grimshaw carried on with the tone of Daisy's story so it was very entertaining.

I'm particularly intrigued by this notion of a tattoo that grows it self. With the inscription it seems to embody the whole of the classic eye symbol and a popular trend toward the winged eye. It's neat though, how it seems to have a life of it's own until it finally finds it resting spot on the body. Usually it seems to be in the same place. That it's a marker for the watchers- who may or may not by tradition be related to the Nephilim- is interesting. Considering the powers of these people it's interesting to connect them to the theory that the watcher angels are the ones who took the sons and daughters of man and had offspring.(The term Nephilim does not show up in this book and is not discussed as such.)

Another interesting concept in the story is the unreasonable fears that the sisters have. Emma's fear of water and Lana's fear of heights. Mostly interesting in that the power they acquire after the tattoo marks them is related to their old fear, which goes away. It's predictable that everyone with these tattoos has a prior unreasonable fear related to their skill. They all have one parent who was an angel who did not stay to raise them. And many are orphans raised by other people.

At the beginning Lana and Emma -orphans adopted by the Morgans- are thrust into the mystery of Josiah Grimshaw who nearly drowns along with a mysterious young stranger who also nearly drowns (the both eventually die from nearly drowning). Both men mistake Emma for someone named Emilia.

Both girls have reach the age of 16 and the tattoo shows up -days apart from each other coincidental to their true birthdays.

Through a friend of their parents they are introduced to Eleanor Hyden-Jones of the Fourth House of Praxos - a secret society of Angel offspring who work to fight for justice. Eleanor is a true fallen angel who choose to stay on earth with her mate. She's forever cursed to live her life half the day old and half the day young and has reduced powers.

There is a counter organization known as the Skulls who are evil offspring of Angels or Paranormal-s.

The girls will discover more about their past and parents and they will train to become proficient at their natural skills and at fighting evil. And their first assignment will be to help Josiah cross over. That means that they need to find out what is keeping him here- the problem is for some reason he's lost his memories.

Anyone who like mysteries suspense and thrilling horror and paranormal romance should love this book. The coming series promises to be very entertaining.

J.L. Dobias

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Review:The Lost Soul (The Raven Saga) by Suzy Turner

The Lost Soul (The Raven Saga)by Suzy Turner

Finally! The third and final installment of the Raven Saga.

Lilly is growing in power. December is discovering more of her abilities. Both seem to be falling in love. And there's a lost soul crying out for help.Lilly's father is still missing. Tiffanimelicomelea the displaced Faerie is lost from her faerie community while living with them in Powell River community. And it just might be that Powell River is sitting smack-dab in the center of all the answers.

This trilogy has delivered much more than lions and tigers and bears but sometimes it seems like it has a shred or two of oz built into it. Both the books and the movie. But there's so much more - pretty much any paranormal being you can imagine might show up here. The last of the story now is where most everything shall be uncovered and is by far no less than the rest of the series.

And, Yes. There shall be Nephilim. Somewhere in the reader's journey to the center of the earth to Argentumalea - the land of Tiffani's kingdom of Malean Faeries they must pass through the kingdom of the Nephilim. It's almost like the underworld - hell.

Nephilim- who have variously been defined as anything from fallen angels who mingled with the children of man to the offspring hybrid of such a union. Whatever they are they are giants-they are dangerous-they have been banished to the bowels of earth.

The people of Powell River are about to find out that some of them may have escaped. There might be some plan to let even more of them out of their prison.

Suzy Turners world is definitely taking a turn for the dark and its going to challenge the dynamic duo of Lilly and December and their league of friends. The council is going to have it's work cut out for them. And Powell River may never be the same.

If You enjoy Paranormal Romance if you love suspense and horror if you like Science Fiction and most of all if you have read the other two books -you will want to devour this one. Pick a time when you can quietly read the whole thing all at once.

Send for delivery- pizza or your favorite restaurant. Lots of coffee tea or soda and dig into the trenches and get this epic ending started.

J.L. Dobias

Monday, April 8, 2013

Review:G's Future (A Novella)by Don Viecelli

G's Future (A Novella)by Don Viecelli

I love this story, but at times it was a trying experience.

This book reminds me a lot of that movie Making Mr. Right. It stared John Malkovich and Ann Magnuson and was about an android made for the purpose of exploring space. It was also one of those movies that had a somewhat strong female character - though she still had some of those foibles that might brand her as a bit less than the quintessential future of woman.

This novel has those same elements. The android designed to go into space that is. Sorry no strong female roles. I call this a novel because it lists at 160 pages I don't have the word count but I think 160 is good for a novel.

This story starts out with and revolves around the character Timothy. Almost a leave it to beaver household. Tim is 12 so this is very much at the beginning a juvenile science fiction story. It could easily be a YA but what drags it down is the style the author took in writing. I've been blasted before about this but I will say it again. Sometimes when we concentrate really hard on making our science good enough to be the hard stuff; we forget to put effort into the difficulty of developing good narrative. The writing reads like it is intended for the 8 to 15 year bracket and maybe even a bit earlier. It took a long time and a lot of patience to get to the good stuff. Part of the trouble for me was that there were lots of scenes with many people but scant dialogue for quite a way through. This tends to lead to a lot of expository paragraphs. It did not destroy the story it just pushed it back a few grade levels for me. But that might be just me.

It's about the time we meet the android that the characters start to take on some life. Maybe this is planned- we could always hope that.

The story starts with the simple life of Timothy and his sister Kate his mother Susan his father Charles his best friend Johnny and Johnny's sister Amy (Timothy's crush). All getting ready for summer vacation, which this time includes an invitation from Timothy's grandfather Julian to spend two weeks helping with a science project. Timothy is not sure since he'd rather spend time with Amy er I mean Johnny.

Of course, when they go to visit Julian they meet G the android- the science project. Timothy is to be there for two weeks providing a sort of companionship to the Android in order to prepare it for the up coming Turing Test, which could net them one million dollars and public acclaim.

Now we have plenty of moral issues that arise with the danger of being exposed to people who might find the android threatening and we have a sort of I Robot thing starting here. Timothy proceeds to become really good friends with G and they get along famously and G just seems like a regular guy. Who doesn't have to eat or sleep and who has more knowledge than the average genius.

What doesn't seem to get covered is whether self awareness comes close to equating to sentience and perhaps that could be covered in another story.

There's lots of excitement and chances for G to prove himself and there is even another secret project going on, which seems predictable but in a way that doesn't really spoil the story. There is still the eventual training at NASA and lots of other good stuff ahead.

I really did enjoy the moral examination though I felt that because this seems more of a story about an idea and ideals and some of the moral ramifications that there was a bit less involvement of character development than what I like. But that's because I'm a fan of character driven stories.

This is really a good book for all ages. It maintains purity as a youthful juvenile fiction with enough elements for the YA and the adult crowd. It may be that not everyone will have the trouble I had getting through the first part, but if they do they only have to tough it out for a bit before it gets interesting.

What's really neat is there are so many interesting threads touched upon in this story that there's room for some really exciting ideas and fiction to come.

J.L. Dobias

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Review:Accelerando by Charles Stross

Accelerando by Charles Stross

The last thing this book needs is another review. It seems to run the whole gamut of stars in the system. It's that type of book that has a love hate relationship. There seem to be a lot of complaints about the overflow of cyber geek talk which doesn't surprise me. What did surprise me is that I went right through this book with only a couple pauses to look up words. It seems I cut right through the geek talk without flinching. Maybe I should say blissfully through. Since it might be argued that I was bliss-ed just enough to remain unaffected.

What some of the longest -geek-speak passages reminded me of was some stuff I'd recently tried to digest at the Depau science fiction studies site.:: http://www.depauw.edu/sfs/backissues/... ::this one in particular was what kept coming to mind every time we took a trip down through all the buzzwords and slang from every notion of cyber punk and the socioeconomic of the net. There were complaints that this is not how they will be talking in the distant future. Get real people if you can pick out the slang I will give you that but buzzwords are forever they just shift around in meaning through the years.

I suppose if you can read the articles for the science fiction studies without much pause then Accelerando shouldn't affect you. There is something to say about the characters being a bit distanced and dysfunctional enough that you don't seem to feel for them. I have a feeling that Charles Stross may have been going for that.

Another thing that Charles did was he put together a tough combination of things that would drive any writers forum crazy. Much of this book is written in first person and present tense. Other part seem to be third person- close- and present tense. These alone are not easy tasks to pull off. Then there are those long and greatly punctuated sentences that would grind on the nerves of the OCD driven punctuation people at a certain forum I will leave unnamed here.

Charles pulls this all off well. I would almost guess he might be thumbing his nose at these forums that are trying to spit out cookie cutter writers. All of them clones of the churlish administrator who is still learning to write. And this is where I can see that a few people might not like this book. Not because it is not written well or that it is full of geek-speak but because it doesn't conform to what the majority of books are that are spit out by the presses of the large publishing houses.

Sure there might be some Science in this story that is suspect. It is after all science fiction and the best of them that have started from the most solid what-if have all digressed a bit and wandered off the path. I again think that Charles has done well.

Of course there is the notion that these separate stories do not quite congeal together well even though they are about the members of the same dysfunctional family. To that I say we missed a larger point. These are not just the story of Manfred Macx and his wives and children and grandchildren. This is the story of the birth of an AI (catlike) and its growth into something that transcends its creator.

*Possible spoiler-------------------------------------------------
This is Aineko's story- Aineko is there all the way through the whole story. Right to the end. And I'll admit that its hard to empathize with Aineko but that might be because it's not really human.

J.L. Dobias

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Review:December Moon(The Raven Saga)book 2 by Suzy Turner

December Moon(The Raven Saga)book 2 by Suzy Turner

I had just finished Raven by Suzy Turner and knew that I'd have to eventually revisit the world of Lilly Taylor aka Lillian Tulugaq. A universe where all imagined fantasy characters might exist- and possibly do. We certainly meet quite a variety.

The next day after I completed Raven I came home and my wife Virginia mentioned being three quarters of the way through a really interesting book. Of course it was Raven and I knew right away that I'd have to get the other two book. I did that immediately.

Then the race was on.

Virginia loves romance novels I am more partial to Science Fiction though I've been known to read the occasional fantasy. So that was one reason I had picked up Raven which turned out to be a fantasy - paranormal romance novel. Sometimes we find something which crosses both our paths and this series is one of those. Being a slightly slower reader than Virginia I attempted to get that extra quarter of the novel lead on her. I knew it was fruitless but it was fun and though she finished the second book a bit sooner than I I think we both thoroughly enjoyed it.

December Moon starts out with the beginning of a reveal about its namesake. Up until now December has been Lilly's normal best friend whom she's had to hid her secrets from despite their closeness. Of Course in the world that Suzy Turner has made that's a condition that is about to change. In this universe the special people have to hide the secret from the normals to protect themselves and possibly even protect the normals.

Lilly is still trying to come to terms with her new life as a changeling or shape-changer. She's dealing with the loss of her boyfriend because of the necessity to keep secrets and other complications. She's still searching for her father who vanished last year. But, she does have her new-found family and she is in constant contact with her friend in England, December. She just has to angst about not being able to tell December anything about the truth of her family.

December has had a few strange things happen around her and is thinking she might be losing it a bit. She's just turning 15 and I'm not sure is that's a major mile-stone in England, but she's about to discover that her father has left her an inheritance and that she's now free to decide where she wants to live. She finds out the mother who abandoned her -didn't really abandon- and that she lives near Seattle Washington in the USA. And December and her faithful servant Monty are about to embark on an adventure to the Americas where she'll be a hop skip and jump from her best friend near Vancouver.

December is about to discover that she comes from a family of Witches. Her mother, grandmother and great-grand and so on have all been witches and December may likely end up being a powerful witch some day. But, she has to keep it a secret and that means she needs to keep it from her ordinary friend Lilly. This begins the narrative dance which Suzy is so good at. The reader gets a lot of reveals before the characters do so its fun to watch as they unnecessarily avoid issues because they think each other to be normal.

It's all about to change because a dangerous Vampire has been stalking the community that Lilly lives in and they have been calling in outside help. The witches of the Seattle are are about to be called in, which both thrills and mortifies December since her friend Lilly is there and she might be in danger and if she sees Lilly she won't be able to tell her the real reason she's there.

These books are all about the interconnection of this diverse group of paranormal people. The mess they get into while trying to blend in as normal and the dangers they face constantly when they have to face the evil half of their own people.

The excitement and tension and danger ramp up a bit more than the last book. There is still plenty of paranormal romance to go around with the cast of the original novel and a whole couple handful of new players.

This has a few threads carried over from the previous novel and some that will carry into the next. The story is well rounded and ends with the definite indication that there is at least one more book to follow.

Once again this is for lovers of Horror-Paranormal Romance and fantasy books.

Now quickly onto The Lost Soul -final novel of Raven Saga Trilogy. The race is not yet finished.

J.L. Dobias

Friday, April 5, 2013

Review:80AD level one The Jewel of Asgard by Aiki Flinthart

80AD level one The Jewel of Asgard by Aiki Flinthart

This novel reminded me of an MMORPG-oh wait-it really is an MMORPG. I think anyone hooked on those MMORPG's has often wondered what it would be like to be in the game-really in the game. If you're like me and you know that your avatars have all died at least 30 times or more then it's only a passing thought. One that you let go of really quickly.

Of course this one is a free one- in fact all five books are free- and that's all five levels. Of course we've all often thought about writing a book based on our favorite game and so here we have someone who has- well I think the game is made up- but it all works in the way expected. I'm a fan of Science Fiction but having delved into to MMORPG's I had to check these books out.

80AD is targeted to young adults but it's a pretty darn good story and its quite entertaining for all ages. There are two major characters Phoenix and Jade the to unsuspecting teens who will get trapped in the game. Phoenix builds his character out of his desire to escape from his stepfather's abrasive behavior. Phoenix needs something to take out his aggressions on so he creates a warrior. Jade doesn't fit in and has been hoping if she hides that the rest of here family her 6 older sisters will forget about her and leave her behind. When she gets that wish she finds herself with a free night and obtains permission to play the game on her father's computer. She is intelligent and knowledgeable about herbs and healing plants so of course she creates an Elvin halfbreed healer/magic Avatar.

The story starts with Long Baiyu - a prisoner below someones castle or keep- using magic as his last resort to possible escape.

The game; 80AD, is still in development so the two copies we know of are supposed to be standalone copies of a beta version. But, this story includes a bit of magic before the game starts. Phoenix's mother gives him her half of a yin yang charm necklaces that she and her late husband had. Phoenix's father died in a car accident and his half of the pair was lost. There is a reference to an old couple at the time of the accident.

Jade's family has recently moved into a house that has several places that seem almost like mystery hiding places and she's found a pouch containing a strange necklace with a charm. The house was previously owned by an old couple.

They are both playing the game the same night and although it is not set up to do the MMORPG they somehow connect to each other and lightning strikes and the find themselves trapped in the game.

Phoenix is excited that he's now this big burly warrior and inside a game that seems so real. Jade wants only to get out of the game, which is quickly becoming too frightening for her. That's not going to happen soon and they are about to find out that they need to at least finish this level and that the stakes are high.

Both characters are quite strong and they easily play off of each other since they are almost polar opposite from the start. They each have a slot in the game for one helper and that's how they acquire Brynn and Marcus, a thief and a Roman. Since in this game a Roman would be the enemy we can see where this is all going.

This unlikely quartet set out to acquire the Jewel of Asgard which is the quest of the first level. Jades hope is that when they finish this level they can return home.Phoenix is hoping for as much conflict as he can stand.

Soon the reality of not having bathrooms and showers and restaurants and refrigerators and soft comfortable beds all seem to wear on both Phoenix and Jade. Their helpers don't know of those things so they can't miss them. Add to that the conflict and the pain and trying to reconcile deaths in a game that now seems too real to ignore and things start to get old for them both.

The only thing keeping them going is that they are convinced that if they fail the quest that it will be the end- not just for the game but for the world they're trying to get back to. They don't even know if they have the requisite seven lives and are very much reluctant to give up even one.

The quartet are all very different and engaging characters and the story moves along quickly though for me that thought that this is a novel about a game keeps looming in the back of my mind. It takes an effort to keep the reading of the story on some serious level but Aiki does a fair job of keeping things real.

I loved this book and any gamer should enjoy it and its a good book for Fantasy lovers. There's five levels so there's five books and as far as I can tell they are all free, which is hard to understand considering how engaging the first one is but I'm not going to complain.

There's even a bit of history and mythology buried in the story.

Thanks, Aiki for the entertaining read with good clean fun and the requisite amount of violence; and if the other four books match the level of this one I'm sure I'll polish them all off in no time.

J.L. Dobias

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Review:The Raven Sage: Part 1 Raven by Suzy Turner

The Raven Sage: Part 1 Raven by Suzy Turner

This is one of those plots that sort of creeps along and holds you there for quite a while. Once you get to about 25% of the book it nails you. This does not have one of those page turner openings with the heart-pumping heart stopping hook. But Suzy Turner proves that you don't need that to make good stories work.

When we first meet Lilly Taylor- we don't know her name. In fact for all we know it might be eat- that's what her mother seems to say just as shes addressing her in the few times we witness any exchanges between them. I think this is to help jar the reader into understanding that Lilly's home life is nothing near normal. And, just when she thought things would continue in their horribly boring way her parents disappear. For Lilly this is equally as distressing as it should be for any young girl of thirteen years and yet it's somehow less so because she has a very strange relationship with her parents.

The one thing about Lilly is that she's always had this life and knows no other and she has had few friends up until December Moon, her newest classmate, shows up. Unfortunately due to circumstances Lilly will have to move away from December and from England to live with her grandfather in Canada until her parents are found.

Though the disappearance of her father and mother has some strangeness attached to it, Lilly doesn't know strange until she reaches Canada and her extended family in British Columbia near Vancouver. Lilly goes from a life of seeming imprisonment to a wide open wonderful colorful world that seems to have a magic to it that not only touches her heart but pulls her deep into it's mystique. What she doesn't realize is that she has a special connection.

Her grandfather Gabriel tries to slowly and carefully break some of the family secrets to her. Lilly is anxious and almost demands to know and soon she'll discover the deceptions that have been perpetrated on her and her world will be turned upside down. She's also destined to -at the age of fourteen- have her first true love.

Unfortunately the family secrets and new revelations about her life will begin to interfere with that part of her new-found happiness. It seems that Lillian's true surname is Tulugaq-not Taylor-and Tulugaq means Raven. Her family carry a gene for shape-shifting into Ravens. What's more her mother-that she grew up with-is not her mother at all. But the woman Vivian is a witch who has enchanted her father somehow and stolen both of them away from the family after her sister and mother died.(All of this occurred right after her birth.)

Lilly has the potential to shape-shift into one of two creatures. A raven or a cat (of some sort-usually determined by the persons character-I think). Lilly's true mother's family are cat shifters. Lilly is about to be be thrust into a secret world of vampires, werewolf, witches, shape-shifters and more.

You'll have to read to find out what Lilly might become.

Suzy Turner does an excellent job of creating her world where there is a special council of elders who make rules to govern all of these strange creatures. It turns out that more people than just Lilly have been victims of Vivian. And Lilly must come to terms with what she is so that she can begin to help in the search for her father who was being slowly brought to the brink of death by Vivian who uses certain special types of people to help extend her life ( at their expense).

This is a great story that proves once again that your hook can actually be your great ability to tell a great story and doesn't have to include a thrill ride introduction with several paced mind numbing thrills and terrors through out. There are plenty of conflicts and things to stimulate the readers imagination throughout this and Lilly is a truly engaging character from which we are introduced to the wonders of British Columbia and the rich world building of Suzy Turner.

This is definitely a great story for Young Adults and Mature Adults. I usually read science fiction but this fantasy with a small edge into the world of horror and the magical with potential for paranormal romance is quite a draw. It reads as though Lilly is growing up as the story begins to unfold and flower to maturity. I enjoyed it so much-when the last page arrived I was a bit heartbroken.

It's a good thing there are two more books. I got this one free as you may also be able to do and I'll definitely be purchasing the others.

J.L. Dobias

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Review:The Beginning Of The End:Book One by Michael Edward

The Beginning Of The End:Book One by Michael Edward

I strongly suggest first reading a bit about the author here and perhaps check the author information at Amazon.http://me-michaeledward.tumblr.com/stories :: That's just to prepare you for his style.

I liked the story. I love science fiction and it had some elements of that. It did have a bit of horror, which I'm not so much a fan of. Redeeming quality here being that the Draken Sword leaves a mark and drains life but doesn't make a mess.

The story starts-possibly somewhere far in the future. Heather has no memory and someone is trying to help her as she struggles. The help is in the form of Mind Traveling to the past. We're not told how this is done.

She Mind Travels to Seaborn where it gets a little disorienting as we get acquainted with somewhere close to a dozen people and then quickly Mind Travel through Dasha. Dasha has learned Mind travel from Ikron, a being who seems to be in her mind or something, and now we learn that it's accomplished using another person, Perry's, memories.

This takes us way into the past to visit the birth of Dasha's Grandfather, Jason Writer. There's a bit of a scary scene where it almost sounds like his mother thinks she's giving birth to the anti-christ. As it turns out she and another person die that night and she has left instruction for her son. For some reason Jason's dad waits until he's eighteen before giving him these.(and never reads it himself.) The same night 5 dark energy forces have been brought to Earth, these seem to be Ethin's warriors or some such.

We leap forward again to Jason as a teenager.

It takes a while to build up some steam from here. We have to get acquainted with everyone. Mostly because a lot of people will die. This is one of those slaughter fest type stories, which is where the horror part of the story is.

There's a back story-or another story within the story within the story that talks about another world or universe where Ethin was a great warrior who was defeated by an army of people in some sort of betrayal. Feeling a need for revenge Ethin has a plan that involves coming into our world and preparing his new army. There's some sort of restriction to what he can do here and there is a time limit so things start to move quickly as our heroes try to stop him. In this first time limit segment Ethan is limited to the specific area with a specific body count to generate the next phase. Jason is integral to the task of stopping Ethin.

There were rough spots here for me because there was a lot of jumping around from person to person. The point of view seemed to go beyond being in Perry's memories. This seems to be so that we get to know someone up until they are ended. And that's a bit of an oddity in this book- the word kill seems to have been replaced with end. I've no idea why- maybe this is something to do with this genre.

Of course there are several books to this so not everything gets resolves, but its filled with some interesting ideas and strange world building.

It doesn't always command my attention though I will want to finish the saga-it might take me a while to get to it.

But, part of that is because I have a lot of unread stuff in my kindle.

J.L. Dobias

Monday, April 1, 2013

Review:Weeping for Raven by Mel Kinder

Weeping for Raven by Mel Kinder

This book is a real surprise.

I've been avoiding this one hoping Mel would put it on sale or maybe offer it free. Not that it's all that expensive; it's just a bit more than I pay for new author e-books. Plus I wasn't absolutely certain about the genre. And, I have all these other books here in my kindle that I haven't read yet.

After reading a number of reviews- they all are pretty favorable- some are rather short and not real helpful- but the ones that took time to demonstrate they read the book left some great impressions to entice me.

I wasn't disappointed.

We start out with a bit of mystery with someone in a garden of flowers and trees who is wondering how they got there. The last they knew they were asleep in bed. So this could be a dream or she could be sleepwalking. The dream theory is enhanced by the fact that her hair is the wrong color.

Then we move to a normal setting and for a while it's a question of; is this just another teen angst story. It takes only a few pages to get past and thankfully the author gets us into the real story.

There is a great need for background though, I think. That's my theory. Gwen Penn lives with her grandparents. She's getting ready to chose a college. She's limiting herself because she is certain her grandparents need her near. During the admission process she meets Mick whose nickname is Mimic-because of a stutter problem. Gwen feels a slight connection to Mimic but because she has kept to herself recently she tries to keep it out of her mind. She is affected enough to design her class schedule around his.

Gwen's mother has been institutionalized because she's not all there. This is something we learn as things go. I must confess I honestly can't remember what happened with her father if it was mentioned. I'll have to read this again soon. She has lost her best friend, Baylee in an accident. All of this is important because Gwen's about to question her sanity soon. And, I can't help but wonder about what might really be afflicting her mother.

This ordinary life is created to contrast the world where the story will really take place. Rook Dresden- through a twist of fate- will happen across a young woman collapsed in a garden. This is Gwen who will find that she's not only in someone else body but she's in some rather strange world.

Rook has a lot of strange similarities in his life. He's lost his mother in an accident and his sister Raven is in a coma and his father is institutionalized because he blames himself for his wife's and daughter's condition.

Despite herself Gwen has an immediate and intense connection to Rook; her initial thoughts are [quote]...cute is trouble. Cute got people into trouble. Partly to blame for over occupancy at the animal shelters. It weakened good judgement. [/quote]In this world Gwens senses seem to be heightened and with the relentless nature of Rook; she won't be able to rely on her good judgement.

While trying to pretend nothing is wrong with her Gwen slowly learns that this world is very different from hers. People are nocturnal. Cars don't have wheels because they fly. There are no restaurants and no banks. They don't eat but feed off the energy of a dark sun. They have magical abilities. And, partially because of the heightened sense, Gwen thinks its a paradise.

Strangely one constant in both worlds is her cat-the one in the new world looks just like her's - it has a different name while her's was called Whinny this one is Chester. This is something she finds out at the same time as she finds out that its Alex Murdock whose body she inhabits.

This story is like sliders with a quantum leap twist.

This is when things get really interesting-like that old curse.

Cat, a friend of Alexa's, shows up to inform Gwen that she knows about her and that Alexa had been experimenting with a drug to induce a condition they refer to as a Wardlow. Wardlows are a supposed epidemic that wipes away a persons soul replacing it with a beast. Alexa was trying to prove that that theory was wrong by inducing the condition. The big problem is that Cat was supposed to have been there to prevent Gwen from interfacing with anyone. Gwen was never meant to meet Rook. And there are people who hunt Wardlows -the hunters from the world of the unseen- and beings who detect them, the TAS the all seeing. When the all seeing find a wardlow they send the hunters to hunt them and because there is no cure for their condition they are executed.

Okay, so I might be going too far here and I don't mean to spoil things so I better stop. There are still a lot of layers to this story I haven't touched anyway.

Gwen who has otherwise isolated herself from friendship is the type of person who can't easily lie to others and now she finds herself in a position where she needs to lie to keep alive. Just when she thought she could make friends she finds that she can't trust anyone. And, she has no idea what Alexa might be doing with her own real life back in her world.

This is an exciting almost paranormal romance blended with science fiction and some elements of fantasy with the potential to throw in a bit of horror. Even Gwen thinks jokingly over the curiosity of what genre she would be; when Rook compares her to an interesting book. She wonders if it would be Horror? or Science Fiction.

No mater what of the many genre above if you like any of those you'll love this. And even though it promises to be a serial of some sort the ending is satisfying enough to make you yearn for the next book.

J.L. Dobias