Book Review – Escape from Witchwood Hollow by Jordan Elizabeth

23351890Title: Escape from Witchwood Hollow

Author: Jordan Elizabeth

Genre: Teen & Young Adult

Series or Standalone: Standalone

Summary

Everyone in Arnn – a small farming town with more legends than residents – knows the story of Witchwood Hollow: if you venture into the whispering forest, the witch will trap your soul among the shadowed trees.

After losing her parents in a horrific terrorist attack on the Twin Towers, fifteen-year-old Honoria and her older brother escape New York City to Arnn. In the lure of that perpetual darkness, Honoria finds hope, when she should be afraid.

Perhaps the witch can reunite her with her lost parents. Awakening the witch, however, brings more than salvation from mourning, for Honoria discovers a past of missing children and broken promises.

To save the citizens of Arnn from becoming the witch’s next victims, she must find the truth behind the woman’s madness.

How deep into Witchwood Hollow does Honoria dare venture?

4 STARS

Review

I don’t typically read books in the teen/young adult genre, but I was approached by the author, Jordan Elizabeth, who offered me a free copy of the book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

From a presentation standpoint, the electronic version of this book is beautifully rendered. I typically read on the Kindle app on my Asus tablet. However, I was able to read this book with ease using the reader app that came with the Windows 10 upgrade.

The story itself moves at a suitable pace, switching seamlessly between past and present, subtly and effectively weaving together different lives and times in preparation for an ending that was both surprising and satisfying.

My issues with the story are twofold, though both are relatively minor. First, I thought that the character development, particularly in the case of Honoria, was lacking. In spite of the fact that she lost both of her parents, in spite of the fact that she is the new girl at school and in the small town of Arnn, she seems surprisingly well adjusted. She has some struggles, some internal and external strife, but I guess I expected more. I feel that some more internal struggle would have helped to address my second issue with the story, that of the story itself.

While I felt that the story moved at a suitable pace, I don’t feel there was enough conflict spread throughout the book. While I never minded coming back to the book for a quick five-minute read, or to delve more deeply for half an hour or more, I never had a problem putting the book down either. I never felt as though I had to get back to the book to see what was going to happen next.

In spite of the issues I had, I thought there was some very good writing throughout the book. Had there been some more character development along with some additional conflict, this would have been an excellent book.

Bottom line: Though character development and conflict, Escape From Witchwood Hollow is a solid book. I’d like to read more from Jordan Elizabeth.

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Book Review – Fall From Grace by J. Edward Ritchie

51xRW3hs0BL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Fall From Grace

Author: J. Edward Ritchie

Genre: thriller

Series or Standalone: Standalone

Summary

Heaven: a paradise of all that is pure in Creation. Led by brothers Michael and Satanail, the Angelic Host is a testament to cosmic harmony and love. When an unprecedented revelation threatens to uproot their peace, a schism splits the Host’s loyalties. Every angel has to make a choice: faith or freedom. Good or evil.

Salvation or damnation.

War consumes Heaven in the first and most destructive loss of life that Creation will ever know. As brother turns on brother, the fate of both Heaven and Earth rests in the hands of the Creator’s chosen son, Michael. How far will he go, what will he sacrifice in the name of their Father, to protect his family?

Witness the tragic downfall of a civilization as told from both sides of the bloody rebellion. More than myth, more than legend, Heaven’s war will forever stand as a harrowing warning that even the purest of souls can fall from grace.

5 STARS

Review

It was evident from the first page that J. Edward Ritchie is a very good writer. The prose contained in Fall From Grace is beautiful and ugly, serene and violent, divine and evil. Ritchie presents both sides of this powerful story – this epic battle of good and evil – in a manner that paints each side of the conflict sympathetically.

Brothers Michael and Satanail are the leaders of the Angelic Host until Satanail makes a discovery that causes him to defect, leading an uprising against Michael and the rest of the angels that stand for good. Filled with excellent character development, thrilling battle scenes, and poignant reflection by angels on both sides of the battle, Fall From Grace goes way beyond our traditional view of good and evil into those gray areas of morality, family loyalty, and the lengths others will go to in the name of their faith.

There were times when I was reading the book when I thought some scenes were a bit over the top, times when I thought that the author had taken an issue too far. Without fail, I was proven wrong, because what was written ended up becoming integral to the story. No wasted words here folks!

Bottom Line: First-time author J. Edward Ritchie hit a home run with this book! His exquisite prose lends an almost “classic literature” feel to this book. I am looking forward to more from Mr. Ritchie!

Book Review: Germ Warfare (of the Corporate Kind) by Noel Warnell

41xdnMqsw8L._SS300_Title: Germ Warfare (of the Corporate Kind)

Author: Noel Warnell

Genre: Humor/Self-Help

Series or Standalone: Standalone

Summary

This hilarious debut book is the result of 15 years ‘in the trenches’ research in workplace diseases and by reading it you’ll take a giant leap towards a happier and healthier place to work, for yourself and others as you: • become aware of the 25 disgusting diseases lurking in your office • discover how to quickly and easily identify symptoms • receive expert guidance on how to disrupt and destroy them.

4 STARS

Review

I read this book in less than an hour, and spent a good portion of the time chuckling to myself. You see, I work for a mental health provider. A few years ago, I left my job as director of one of the organization’s outpatient offices to write grants full-time. With the change in job came a change in the location of my office. I went from having my own office with a door that I could shut to working in a large suite of offices and cubicles. As it worked out, I ended up stuck in a cubicle. I went from working in an office filled with mostly social worker types to working in an office filled with all manner of administrative staff (IT, accounting, billing, human resources, etc.).

I wish I’d had a copy of Germ Warfare when I started my new job on cubicle island. It would have saved me a lot of frustration, and would perhaps have slowed the graying of my hair. I won’t run down the different types of corporate diseases, such as “Bitchy-witchy”, “Verbositoxis” or “Fluff,” but I will say that as I read the book and thought about my workplace, I could identify with many of them. Hell, I have symptoms of a couple of them myself. I highly recommend that you buy a copy and stow it in your desk. I recommend taking it with you for your 9am visit to stall #1 – you know, after the coffee and oatmeal kick into high gear.

Bottom line: This a quick and funny read that sheds a humorous light on the different types of people we encounter at work.

Reviewer’s Note: I received a free electronic copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Book Review – Tortured Dreams by Hadena James

imgresTitle: Tortured Dreams

Author: Hadena James

Genre: thriller

Series or Standalone: Book 1 in the Dreams & Reality Series

Summary

Aislinn Cain’s life is a horror story – A Serial Killer Thriller

When the US Marshals Serial Crimes Tracking Unit comes knocking at Aislinn Cain’s door, she is given a chance to use her past to save other people’s futures. She has survived attacks by two different serial killers and devoted her life to studying the darker side of human history.

A new killer is using medieval torture methods to slay his victims. She can give them a glimpse into his twisted world, but not without a cost. If she opens herself, she risks falling into the depths of her own darkness. Can she afford to help, knowing that the cost could be her own humanity?

Review

1 STARS

I was excited when I started this book, sure that it was going to be a top-notch thriller. How can you go wrong with a killer that uses medieval torture devices? What I got instead was a book filled with a lot dialogue, much of it meaningless, and very little in the way of action.

The main character, Aislinn Cain, is a shallow, unapologetic sociopath, and thus, very hard to like or even care about. I don’t feel like any of the characters in the book were particularly well-developed. Most, including Aislinn, felt like robots responding to stimuli, but unable to do much of anything else.

What action there was, although somewhat fantastical and hard to believe, did manage to move the story along, unlike the endless, meaningless banter between the various characters.

Bottom line: This book could have been cut by twenty-five to fifty percent and wouldn’t have lost anything except a lot of meaningless dialogue.

Book Review – Cold River Resurrection by Enes Smith

urlTitle: Cold River Resurrection

Author: Enes Smith

Genre: Thriller

Series or Standalone: The Cold River Series – Book 2

Summary

City girl Jennifer Kruger got more than she bargained for when she trespassed on the Cold River Indian Reservation, searching for Bigfoot. She became lost and stumbled upon grisly evidence of murder and mutilation. Rescued by Cold River Tribal Police Lieutenant “Smokey” Kukup, and caught up in a modern war, she seeks to stay alive as she finds herself attached to Smokey and his precocious nine-year-old daughter.

Cold River Resurrection is an action-filled thriller set on a modern day reservation.

3 STARS

Review

I judge a book by my eagerness to return to it, to get back to the action. This book kept me coming back often, and was firmly a four-star book…until the book’s climactic scene, when the realism that had been firmly established throughout the book was thrown out the window in favor of something out of left field – a convenient way to excise the main characters from a seemingly inescapable situation.

Despite my disappointment in the novel’s climax, I still enjoyed the book. The plot moved at a pace that kept me engaged and wanting more. Where else are you going to find a book with Sasquatch hunters, a drug cartel, and an Indiana reservation? It took a while, but the author did a convincing job of weaving all disparate plot lines together into a cohesive and (mostly) convincing story.

The author also developed interesting characters. “Smokey” Kukup is the strong, silent type – an American Indian man raising his nine-year-old daughter Laurel following the overdose death of his wife. He struggles with guilt over the death of his wife while wanting a better life for Laurel, who has unwavering love for and faith in her father.

And then there is Jennifer Kruger, a young woman lost in the woods while hunting for Sasquatch with her boyfriend. She is rescued by Smokey, and as the story progresses, they begin to develop feelings for one another. A little predictable? Absolutely, but the budding relationship develops at a believable pace rather than the two just hopping into the sack. And, it develops to the delight of Laurel, who feels an immediate bond with Jennifer, a feeling that is reciprocated by Jennifer.

Bottom line: Cold River Resurrection, despite a few flaws, is a good book and worth your time, especially if you enjoy books by the likes of Tony Hillerman. The information about American Indians and their beliefs adds a different dynamic to character and plot development.

Book Review – Harm None by M. R. Sellars

imgresTitle: Harm None

Author: M. R. Sellars

Genre: Thriller

Series or Standalone: The Rowan Gant Investigations – Book 1

Blurb

THE WITCH AND THE DEAD…

They say dead men tell no tales. I really wish that was true, because the dead tell me more than I ever wanted to know.

My name is Rowan Gant. I’m just an average guy…well, except for the fact that I’m a Witch. That last part is the reason I’m the go-to-guy for the local cops whenever a murder is a little beyond the pale and they need a consultant with knowledge of the Occult. I didn’t actually want the job, but apparently the job wanted me.

It all started when I was asked to decipher some symbols found at a crime scene. The police needed answers, and as it turns out so did I. You see, fate being what it is I had a personal connection to the victim when she was still among the living. It gets worse, though… The images in the crime scene photos gave me a sick feeling that the killer wasn’t finished. I could see—even feel—what was coming next, and it was not going to be good.

In fact, it was going to be downright evil…

4 STARS

Review

Rowan Gant is a different kind of crime fighter. Outwardly, he appears to be an everyday sort of guy. He’s married and he works with computers. However, he is also a Witch – a practicing Wiccan. When he is called upon to help the local police with a bizarre crime scene, he realizes that he knows the victim, who also happens to be Wiccan. What follows is a series of ritualistic killings that baffle the police and the FBI. To make matters worse, there aren’t many working on the case who take Rowan or his Wiccan beliefs seriously. He is mocked by police officers, and by the press.

The book moves at a pace that keeps the reader engaged and interested, and there didn’t seem to be any fluff. The author did a nice job of providing the reader with information about Wicca without sounding like a Wikipedia article.

Character development left a little to be desired. Rowan Gant seemed an infallible character – all-knowing, never wrong, and never possessing any self-doubt. Perhaps more is revealed in subsequent novels in the Rowan Gant series.

I also didn’t like the friction between the local cops and the FBI. This is not unique to Mr. Sellars. It’s a clichéd plot device that is overused by even the best of writers.

Finally, I found the dialogue attribution to be a distraction throughout the book.  Attributions such as “he intoned,” “he expressed,” and “she queried” drew my eye from the story, and broke my reading flow. I am a firm believer in “he said,” “she said,” etc.

Those things being said, I still found Harm None to be a very enjoyable book and will look for more from M. R. Sellars.

Blog Title: Book Review: Silent Screams by C. E. Lawrence

downloadTitle: Silent Screams

Author: C. E. Lawrence

Genre: Thriller

Series or Standalone: Book 1 of 3 in the Lee Campbell-profiler Series

Blurb

A Deranged Killer’s Twisted Urges –In the streets of New York City, the Slasher chooses his victim–and makes his move. As he wraps his fingers around the girl’s pretty throat, his power increases. As he carves into her skin, his words become flesh. As he arranges her lifeless body in a loving tableau, his fantasies demand new, more violent sacrifices. . .

A Profiler’s Cunning Plan –At first, NYPD detectives suspect a jealous boyfriend. But criminal profiler Lee Campbell senses something darker, even ritualistic, about the murder. More chilling, he’s convinced he’s witnessing the genesis of a full-blown serial killer. But time is running out. A new victim has been chosen. Campbell must search the most terrifying recesses of the human mind–and his own past–before the screaming starts again. . .

4 STARS

Review

Lee Campbell works for the NYPD as a criminal profiler. He’s also a guy with his own set of issues – a somewhat overbearing mother, and the unresolved disappearance of his sister.  What I like about Lee Campbell is that he’s not the stereotypical protagonist – perfect and stunningly handsome, without a care in the world other than solving the crime. He is flawed, and has some serious issues that he is dealing with – depression resulting from the disappearance of his sister.  Throughout the novel, it becomes obvious that he has accepted that she is dead, but that he still holds onto a thread of hope that she may still be found alive.  These competing emotions eat at him like a wasting disease.  Campbell also shows his vulnerability through his willingness to ask for help.  He regularly sees a therapist for his depression and unresolved issues regarding his missing sister, and he consults a former professor, who also happens to be his mentor, for help in solving the Slasher killings.

The story is a bit slow at times, but for the most part, it moves at a suitable pace.  The killer taunts Campbell and the police, providing them with a few red herrings as the killings continue.  The story culminates in an ending I saw coming only right before it happened.  I found that the killer’s reason for killing was a bit of a stretch, given what we learn throughout the novel, but this doesn’t detract from the surprise ending, which proved a satisfying way to wrap up the story.

Bottom line: C. E. Lawrence’s Silent Screams isn’t an edge-of-your-seat thriller, but it is a good book.  I enjoyed the time I spent reading it, and look forward to learning more about Lee Campbell in future books.