Sunday, March 4, 2012

Shades of Night by R. G. Porter

Published synopsis:

A vampire who has sworn to keep humans safe.

A woman who holds a secret.

A conspiracy no one is aware of.

Nothing to lose but their world.

Krystoff has sworn to bring the vampire renegades to justice, no matter the cost. That is until he meets Alexandria and he begins to question what he knows.

Soon, Alexandra and Krystoff begin to uncover the plot the renegades have put into place and the consequences it will bring. Together they must unravel the clues of the past to stop the renegades before it is too late. If they don’t hurry, all of mankind could be lost.


Krystoff is a hunter of vampires. Not all vampires, only the renegades who are a threat to humankind. But his job is getting harder lately. Something is going on, there’s an evil lurking in the shadows, and he needs to figure out what it is before it’s too late for the human race.

Alexandra is tormented by dark creatures who want something from her and they will stop at nothing to get it. Even with her magical defenses firmly in place, she is finding it more and more difficult to keep herself safe. Until she meets Krystoff and she is inexplicably drawn to him despite the fact that he is one of the creatures she has been guarding herself against. When the two meet, their hearts collide but so do their stubborn, independent minds. If they are going to keep the world safe, they need to learn to work together first.

Shades of Night by R.G. Porter is a refreshing tale of old school vampires. In Krystoff and Alexandra’s world, vampires can shape shift, fly and even turn into mist when necessary. They are sexy and strong and know how to handle a sword. The Fae are magical, mystical beings who hold knowledge that must be kept secret at all costs. That means aligning themselves with certain vampires if necessary.

When I first began Shades of Night, I was instantly hooked. The story was exciting and the characters strong and powerful. I was sure that I was reading a five star book. As the book continued, I found that I was not able to hold that thought. There was a lull in the book when the dialogue seemed to become circular and the characters kept beating their heads against the same walls. In an effort to make Alexandra a strong, independent and powerful character, R. G. Porter sometimes made her seem unapproachable and even pigheaded when it came to Krystoff. His love and attraction took him over almost from the first moment, but there never seemed to be a strong connection between him and Alexandra. She never seemed to have the depth of emotion that he did. I never really felt that they were destined to be.

The ending of the book clinched my need to give the book a lower rating. The final climax was a bit anticlimactic. The characters seemed to be in little more peril than they had been in other confrontations. I read this expecting there to be more to it and then suddenly, I was on the last page without a clear picture of what exactly was accomplished and where the characters are left in regards to the dangers around them.

I believe that Shades of Night is a good start to what I hope is a series. The writing is gripping and for the most part flows naturally. The plot is designed to make a sequel a distinct possibility. I would be curious to read the next book to see if some of these issues are dealt with in a more concise way. I thank the author for a review copy and I give the book three and a half stars.

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Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Space Trucker's Dossiers by William D. Russell

Published synopsis:

It's the first week of summer break, and fifteen-year-old Mark McBrantly and his three friends are already in trouble. While breaking into an abandoned motel, they discover a box containing six mysterious files. Mark takes it upon himself to investigate the documents and soon learns that the world is a much different place than what he previously thought. A world where:

An alien takeover is thwarted by an insane, homeless man.

A dead detective's lingering spirit can only be set free by the person responsible for the death of his daughter.

The haunting of a house in an affluent suburb creates an incestuous relationship, and, a potential school shooter.

A suicide doctor discovers a direct pathway to heaven and hell without religion.

Chupacabras and Bigfoot are the work of alien fairies determined to protect the world's forests.

A supercentenarian with just one wish; to be able to die.

Though each attempt to understand the strange files feels like a step backwards for Mark, it is in reality, one step closer; one step closer to understanding the whole chaotic world and one step closer to the Space Truckers--a secret intergalactic organization with just two objectives: to maintain the delicate balance of the universe, and to recruit new blood. What Mark doesn’t know is; he’s being tried out for the position.


Mark McBrantly is a kid who is just floating along through life. He’s still friends with the kids he grew up with even though he doesn’t really enjoy their company as much as he used to, but it’s what he knows. He’s content to slide by, taking the easiest way out whenever possible. Setting goals and achieving them is not on his to do list.

Until a red box full of mysterious files falls into his hands. Files that don’t make sense. In his world of finite things, it’s not possible that there are aliens or ghosts or people who can live centuries as long as they wear a magic charm. But, maybe the world is bigger than he thought it was. Setting out to learn as much as he can about these strange individuals, Mark learns a lot about himself along the way. One of the things he learns is that he has a lot left to learn.

In The Space Trucker’s Dossiers, William D. Russell takes on a huge challenge. How to fit the mysteries of the universe into the head of a teenage boy. Or at least, the knowledge that the mysteries exist. Russell’s main character grows and matures dramatically as he faces the unknown and the challenges set before him. Though some of the story is a little rushed, such as the ease in which he gets people to share their stories, and then finds the necessary solutions quickly, this is still a book with a strong foundation. I do admit, it took me several chapters to really get into the book. Some of the secondary characters are abrasive and unsympathetic, such as his childhood friends. This doesn’t change throughout the book, but it does become apparent why they were created to be this way. Mark has to learn that what mattered in childhood doesn’t always stand the test of adulthood. Sometimes, to find our future, we have to let go of parts of our past – the parts that hold us back, keep us from discovering who we really are.

Throughout the book, Mark makes some choices that turn out well, and some that don’t. When trying to figure out what is right and what is wrong in the crazy new world he’s thrown into, he finds the line blurs pretty easily. But, each experience brings with it more proof that Mark has what it takes to help maintain balance in the universe. That’s why the Space Truckers want him. I thank the author for a review copy and I give the book 3 ½ stars.

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Friday, March 2, 2012

The Truth About Cats by Molly Brandenburg

Published synopsis:

Get ready, get set, MEOW! Are you ready for the truth? Can you even handle the TRUTH? For cat cartoon enthusiasts, the truth has arrived, in cartoonist Molly Brandenburg’s THE TRUTH ABOUT CATS. It’s the funny, furry, follow-up to Brandenburg’s first book of cat cartoons, EVERYDAY CAT EXCUSES, the hilarious exploration of the inner life of cats, published by Sterling Books in 2008. Brandenburg’s cartoons are also currently a regular feature of the political website THE TRUTH ABOUT CATS is a random series of cat cartoons that explores the major issues of the kitty universe, including theological concerns, sleeping in piles of other cats, and the real question of who exactly has first dibs on the kibble bowl. The book also introduces Frankie the cat, the loveably soulful cat with his eyes on a Hollywood career. In a series of lively line drawings, Frankie’s story is revealed, as this weight-challenged black and white cat finds his status on the home front threatened when a tabby kitten moves in and takes over his special place on the bed. Small issues, perhaps, to humankind, but to a feline, finding the right place on the owner’s bed is big time stuff, to be sure! THE TRUTH ABOUT CATS reveals all this and more. It’s sure to be the cat’s meow for cat lovers of every age...The truth is out there. And it’s sure to have a lot of fleas.


Molly Brandenburg’s The Truth About Cats is a cute, line illustrated look at the life of a cat. In this book, you can learn to read a cat’s expressions, figure out what your cat is thinking about you, and see how a cat can make a name for himself in Hollywood. And along the way, you will even find yourself laughing out loud here or there. This light-hearted book is a nice quick read on a rainy day with your cat curled up in your lap. I thank the author for a review copy and I give it three stars.

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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Visions by Sara Daniell

Published synopsis:

"Every guy I seem to date ends up resembling the reeking material that janitors and plumbers both deal with on a daily basis. You get my metaphor. In summary, it is safe to say that my dating life really, really sucks." --- Holly

It is Holly's first year in college and the most exciting thing in her life is her classes. She doesn't have any luck with dating and doesn't have many friends.

Her life is terribly boring until she receives a text message from a unknown person. Life as Holly knows it will forever change by responding to that one single text. She isn't too thrilled but will soon find herself falling in love with a complete stranger from another world.


Who is this strange guy that is texting Holly? And why is he standing outside her dorm room window? The answers to these questions send Holly on an adventure that will change her entire life.

Sure, Luke is hot, but he also seems crazy. He expects her to believe that he’s from another world and that both of their lives are now in danger because he fell in love with her without ever meeting her? Yes, he does.

Against her better judgment, Holly goes along for the ride and soon finds that Luke isn’t crazy or psychotic. He’s actually pretty lovable and she’s falling fast. But can she let go of everything else in her life to be with him?

Visions by Sara Daniell is an amazing story of magic and romance. The plot is original and a fresh new take on paranormal adventures. The characters are relatable and sympathetic; the reader feels their pain and their triumphs every step of the way. I found myself rooting for Luke and Holly’s love until the very end and I was sad when I reached that last page. Sara Daniell has created a world that I want to revisit soon. I am anxiously awaiting the next book in the trilogy. Visions is a five star book that shouldn’t be passed up.

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