Sunday, June 5, 2011

Angelfall by Susan Ee

Published synopsis:

It's been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back.

Anything, including making a deal with an enemy angel.

Raffe is a warrior who lies broken and wingless on the street. After eons of fighting his own battles, he finds himself being rescued from a desperate situation by a half-starved teenage girl.

Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they have only each other to rely on for survival. Together, they journey toward the angels' stronghold in San Francisco where she'll risk everything to rescue her sister and he'll put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for the chance to be made whole again.


Penryn is a seventeen year old girl who has found herself fighting to stay alive in an angel ravished world. As if that isn’t hard enough, she also has to look out for her schizophrenic mother and her paraplegic sister. Risking the night and what it may bring, the three make a dash for some type of safety away from the war torn, gang populated streets, but they don’t make it far. Penryn can’t save her sister from the angel who snatches her out of her wheelchair. Now, her only hope of finding her sister is to team up with Raffe, an angel whose comrades have left him wingless and dying in the street. As these reluctant companions journey together to San Francisco towards their separate goals, they find that the angels aren’t the only ones to fear.

Angelfall is a fast paced, post-apocalyptic story that sweeps you away into the lives of characters that are both sympathetic and likable even as the world goes crazy around them. Susan Ee does a great job portraying a world that is reduced to its most basic components. She shows us what happens in a world where there is nowhere safe to hide. Where cell phones, computers, televisions, and transportation are useless. A world where the humans who survive the battles with the angels have to then survive what has become of the world and its people.Prejudices must be let go because the world has been diminished to two sects - us and them, human and angel. There’s no room in the equation for anything else.But as in all wars, loyalty can become a gray area when the ones you love the most are involved.

Susan Ee swept me away into this world from the very beginning. Her writing style has the ability to hook you in and keep you glued to the book until the very end. The characters are vivid and her writing style is clean and concise. I enjoyed taking this journey into her dark world. There were just two things that kept me from giving this book an all out five stars. As I read, it was never really clear why the angels had attacked the world, nor what Raffe’s involvement had been. The other was a supernatural element at the end of the book that didn’t quite mesh with the rest of the story. This part was creative and unique, and it certainly made for an interesting ending, but nothing up to that point had given the impression that things like this were possible.

The ending of Angelfall isn’t neat and tidy. It will leave you wanting to pick up the sequel to find out what happens next with the characters; so I really hope one is coming. I will definitely be picking it up as soon as it comes out.

I give Angelfall 4 ½ stars.

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Saturday, June 4, 2011

Bob Wacszowski, Necromancer

Published synopsis:

Bob Wacszowski, Necromancer is the harrowing and hilarious tale of a regular guy who stumbles across an ancient tome of Atlantean necromancy and decides to make full use of his new powers for good, despite the world's increasingly negative reaction to his expanding army of skeletal minions. On his way home from being broken up with by his girlfriend Anna for the nth time, mild-mannered, unemployed janitor Bob Wacszowski stumbles into an underground chamber where he finds a huge leathery codex of ancient death magic. After he and his best friend Tony use it to animate and command a graveyard full of skeletons, Bob becomes determined to use the magic to make a living for himself, while also proving to Anna that he can be a force for good in the world. Unfortunately, Bob lives in the heartland of America, and despite his assurances of goodwill he finds much difficulty convincing his countrymen that he is not the Antichrist and that it is not the End Times. Bob Wacszowski, Necromancer tackles a range of topics from contemporary American politics and culture to religion and metaphysics, all with a modern comedic voice. Bob Wacszowski, Necromancer is to be the first in a series.


Bob Wacszoski is thirty-one and hasn’t managed to do much with his life so far, as his girlfriend points out when she breaks up with him. On his walk home from her apartment, he stumbles upon an ancient tome and is given the power to understand it from the demon who has been watching over it. Suddenly, he is Bob, the necromancer, and this just may be his chance to prove that he is more than an unemployed janitor.

Bob Wacszowski, Necromancer is a fun read that brings you on the journey of an average guy who suddenly finds himself not so average when he proves he can raise the dead; which, unfortunately, also makes him the target of mass hysteria and fear. To the reader, Bob comes off as a guy who just wants to have a chance to prove to his girlfriend that he can be who she needs him to be – a guy who is independent, strong, and capable of managing his own life. Bob passes the test as he grows into a self-confidant man but not without shaking his own values to the very core. And those of the rest of the human population.

This novel also tackles some gray areas that we don’t always like to think about.For instance, the idea that religion may not have all the answers and, maybe, the leaders of the largest religions in the world know that. Or even worse, they know the real answers but aren’t willing to share them with the people of the world for fear they will lose their power and privilege. This is not a new concept. Throughout history, there has been much debate about religious leaders using fear and ignorance to control their followers, but George Dalphin does a good job of bringing the idea back to the forefront in his novel. He also goes after the government and military that often has a shoot first, ask questions later mentality, regardless of the collateral damage.

I enjoyed Bob Wacszowski, Necromancer. It is written in a style that to me is reminiscent of A. Lee Martinez with maybe a little Christopher Moore thrown in.There were a few things that I had a hard time reconciling myself with, though.Bob seems almost too naïve about how the world is going to react to his ability to raise and control the dead. Most people could probably guess that it would be a largely negative reaction. They also may have tried to be a bit more discreet about it, or at least taken the reactions around them a bit more seriously. Bob spent a lot of time trying to ignore the world at large. Around the middle of the novel, I was also ready to take a little break from Bob and his friends as they meandered almost aimlessly for a while. The dialogue became a little repetitive during this time. I was glad when the novel got back on track towards the climax.

All in all, I thought this was a well thought out novel with parts that made me laugh out loud. I enjoyed the characters and I am curious to see where the next novel takes them. I give this novel 4 stars.

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Friday, June 3, 2011

Darwin's Children by Natasha Larry

Published synopsis:

Life can get pretty complicated for any seventeen-year-old girl, but for a home-schooled telepathic black girl trying to survive in a prestigious private school in small-town Jonesborough, Tennessee, it can be maddening – especially when her telepathic father keeps eavesdropping on her thoughts!

Jaycie Lerner’s family isn’t the usual mom-dad-kid setup. Jaycie’s mom’s MIA, but Allison, her personal live-in ‘trainer,’ is more than a mom, with her own special abilities, like being able to lift cars and run incredibly fast. And Jaycie’s godfather John is more than persuasive – he can literally convince anyone to do anything.

As far as the rest of the world’s concerned, Jaycie’s on the outside looking in. The townsfolk love Jaycie’s pediatrician father, but she doesn’t fit in with ‘normal’ kids, and she doesn’t really want to. Most of her free time is spent training to keep her telekinetic and telepathic powers under control. But there’s one thing she can’t control – and that’s her feelings, especially when her best friend Matt is nearby. If only he knew what she was truly capable of...

Everything seems to be status quo for Jaycie until she receives a cryptic message from a stranger and meets a very unusual girl new to Jonesborough. Then all hell breaks loose!


Jaycie Lerner is not your average teenager. To begin with, she has to constantly shield her mind from the onslaught of other’s thoughts, which is not easy to do when surrounded by teenagers who practically scream their heightened emotional thoughts at her. The result is that Jaycie often reacts inappropriately to social situations and is considered an outcast and a freak by her classmates. Her home life, though, is what keeps her sane. Her telepathic father helps her learn to keep shields in place in her mind and Allison and John help her learn control over her other abilities. Even if sometimes their lessons are a bit on the extreme side, the bond between these people not related by blood is stronger than most families who are.

Eventually, it is Jaycie’s turn to help another understand her superhuman abilities.A lost, broken girl, who Jaycie befriends at the request of a persuasive stranger, carries dark secrets inside of herself that are tearing her apart. With the help of Jaycie and her family, this girl learns that there is more to life than the memories of pure evil she holds inside of her. And sometimes, revenge is the only way to help along recovery.

The characters in Darwin’s Children are not only powerful, they also come across as people you would love to meet at the next neighborhood barbecue. Natasha Larry has done an excellent job of making the characters stand out from those in other books with their down home style and southern manners. But as secrets unfold and revenge becomes not a wish but a must, the strength the characters show prove that they are made of stronger stuff than most people. Not to mention, their powers are most enviable – superhuman strength, mind reading, telekinesis, the power to persuade anyone of anything, and the power to make evil doers feel the pain of their actions towards others. With all of these traits rolled into one book, this is a novel that lovers of paranormal and supernatural will love.

There were a couple of things that held me back, though, from giving this book a 5 star rating instead of a 4. A lot of information was thrown out over the course of the book and sometimes this distracted me from the main story line and made some of the passages move along slower than I would have liked. Not all of the information may have been necessary to the story line, such as Jaycie’s father and John going after a fire-starter in another state. The pace of the novel seemed to waver because of these extra details from fast-paced to meandering and as much as I enjoyed it, I couldn’t help but feel that some areas of the book could have moved along a little faster towards the final showdown. The other thing that held me back was the last few chapters of the book. Although they were well written and interesting, they were a little anticlimactic after the story had already reached a stunning climax. These chapters may have been better served as the beginning of the next book in the series.

Overall, I truly enjoyed Darwin’s Children and I am grateful that the author gave me a copy to review. It definitely makes my must read book list and if there is a sequel, I’ll be reading it! I give this book a strong four stars.

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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Mindbenders by Ted Krever

Published synopsis:

If you could hear the thoughts of every person for three blocks around-the regrets, rationalizations, commercial jingles, the lies that hide what they can't bear to think--how could you ever trust anyone? And if you could make them believe anything you wanted, how could you ever trust yourself?

Max Renn is a legend of the Soviet mind control program, a genetic experiment, the product of three generations of psychics bred by the state for their power. Before his first mission, the Soviet Union collapses and he disappears.

We meet him twenty years later in the Everglades, keeping as far from people as he can get, until his best friend-his only friend-is murdered and he is forced to assemble a team of people like him to fight the international conspiracy behind the murder.


Greg is a vet suffering from debilitating memory loss. The man who took it upon himself to help him through, possibly draw out the memories and his voice, is suddenly killed. Now, the only person left to trust is the man who tells Greg that he is a map of sorts. A map of the locations of the people who once served the government as mindbenders. A defunct program with a lot of loose ends.

Greg and Max follow a path that leads them to a disturbing reality. Someone wants to kill hope, the most important of all human emotions; the one that keeps people going in their day to day lives. Rounding up a small team of people who share their desire to set things right, they piece together the clues and ready themselves for the final showdown.

In Mindbenders, Ted Krever takes the reader on a fantastic journey of the mind.His characters unfold and expand, keeping the reader riveted, turning the page to see how they grow. His suggestions of what governments are willing to do to breed the best possible weapon are disturbing but yet - believable. The search for power, greed, and control is too much temptation, and when others who are like Max decide big business is more lucrative than helping governments succeed, the world is trouble.

Ted Krever had me hooked from page one. Throughout the book, the reactions, the feelings of the characters, all seemed real. I felt their discomfort, their reluctance, and I felt their minds growing and blossoming into the people they needed to become. Mr. Krever’s writing style is clean and concise, and his ability to describe what is happening keeps you in the moment, able to understand how the characters felt or reacted - “Well, I’m not comfortable running away without a good reason,” Fine answered, speaking slowly, biting each word off as if they came a la carte.

Mindbenders is an incredible read and I was recommending it to others before I even finished reading it. I loved the characters with their flaws and their quirks. I loved the action and the way the characters used their powers. The idea of people like this actually existing in our reality is disquieting, to say the least. Ted Krever’s world is a scary one, but one you shouldn’t miss reading about.

This book deserves every bit of the five stars I give it.

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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Tales of Aradia by L.A. Jones

Published Synopsis:

Unknown to the humans who hung innocent people at the Salem Witch Trials real witches of the hidden race were killed for fear of exposure or at least that's what all the vampires, werewolves, and other races thought. There was not one witch whom survived the genocide of the Salem Witch Trials. But one day a girl named Aradia moves to Salem, MA and all that changes.


Having exposed the Hidden beings – witches, vampires, weres, etc., to the human race, the witches were systematically killed until only one was left. Hidden in the folds of time, Aradia had no knowledge of where she came from or why she could do the things she could do. Strange behavior and the struggle to control her powers during her childhood made her a lonely, shy girl. A move to Salem, MA helps change that. Strange behavior seems to be the norm in Salem and Aradia finds that she has more in common with many of its residents than she originally thought.

In this first book of the series by LA Jones, Tales of Aradia was a story that held my attention throughout. Aradia goes from that shy, quiet girl to a self-assured young woman as the book progresses, and by the end, she is a force to be reckoned with. The supporting characters were unusual and interesting, if at times rather unlikable. As most of them were supposed to be Aradia’s enemies, that wasn’t surprising.

I believe Tales of Aradia has the potential to be a great book. The idea for the story line was well thought out and clever, but the presentation of it in this book left some room for improvement. Shifts in writing from different characters’ perspectives were at times confusing and hard to follow. Some unrealistic events even within a paranormal book occurred, such as a young girl being able to bring someone to the police station and put him in a cell overnight without an explanation of how. There were also jumps in time passed that were unexpected and affected the flow of the book. A few inconsistencies in facts were also present – for instance, a character is supposed to be in jail and on the next page he is out with no explanations of how he managed to escape. If the author has the inclination, some short, concise sentences could fix many of these issues. As a side note – there may be grammatical errors but because self-published authors usually do not have the benefit of professional editing, and conversion of files can affect text when sending electronic review copies, I do not include comments about editing in my reviews.

Overall, I give Tales of Aradia three stars because of its potential to become a great series.

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