Book reviews

Review of Child of a Hidden Sea by A. M. Dellamonica

Child of a Hidden Sea by A.M. Dellamonica

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The important things first: in my not-so humble opinion, A. M. Dellamonica is a writer of top-notch fiction, a wonderful world-builder, and a joy to read. I first came across a work of hers on, and then I hunted down everything I could find so I could read it all.

This book took me longer than usual to get around to reviewing. For months now I’ve enthusiastically recommended it to all and sundry but never got around doing the formal write-up. Too many things I pointed out as positives in conversations looked oddly like negatives when I wrote them down.

In the interests of getting this posted before Book 2 comes out, I’m going to skip the overview and plot synopsis parts that give me so much trouble and go straight with my books-are-food analogy: This is a delicious ratatouille. Or maybe a casserole. It’s an entree that gets better when allowed to stew for a while in memory, and also one that improves on revisiting. Basically it’s a pot full of delights. It has a little of a lot of familiar elements, not a lot of any of them, and all of them are easily identifiable but combine in scrumptious sometimes unexpected ways.

This book has plenty of reviews online to tell you more about the plot and details. I’ll put in this much: it’s a portal fantasy with unconventional protagonists and a setting real enough that the antagonists aren’t always evil. The cultures and characters are far different and far more complicated than they appear on first introduction, and the reader learns about them as the main character does, through her eyes as she is dropped into the unknown.

That’s a rich, immersive style I enjoy, revealing a setting that goes all the way to the bottom of the bowl. I recommend grabbing a metaphorical spoon and digging in. That way you’ll be hungry again just in time for the next installment.

View all my reviews


Guest post! Jophiel: Path of Angels

Give a warm welcome to Patricia Lynne, celebrating the release of the latest book in her Path of Angels series!
Rest your eyes on the gorgeous cover for a moment (no, not literally, ewwww) Now, read the blurb and the other tantalizing, enticing and intriguing info you’ll want to know. Keep scrolling for the author bio and links for contacting, following and all the good stuff.

They must fight to stay on the path.
Joe embraces his duty without fear or hesitation, always ready for the next battle. But the path has never been easy. With Michael’s return, they uncover a truth more dangerous than they ever imagined. Their enemy plans to unleash the devil himself, Lucifer. Help comes in the form of an unlikely alley: a member of the fallen.
Mariangela is trying to make amends by protecting the child she is carrying. After blindly following Lucifer in the rebellion, her misguided allegiance came with a price: banishment from heaven. Now, as she strives for forgiveness in the human world, she must fight to prevent Uriel, a fallen archangel, from using her child to free evil from Hell.
The path becomes a battleground, one which may already be lost.

And because reasons-not-to has been a theme in my life recently, here are 5 reasons not to read Jophiel presented by the character himself, plus a short interview.

Hello, Jophiel here. Reading is such a pain, isn’t it? You have to sit for hours on end, your butt goes numb, and you’re forced to use your brain. Ain’t no one got time for that. Fear not, I’m here to help. These excuses are fool proof! You’re welcome.
#5: You’ve been working hard all day and your brain needs a break. Reading won’t do that, but a mindless game like Tetris will.
#4: It’s late at night, so you can’t read then. Reading in the dark is bad for your eyes. Better to put it off until tomorrow. Or next week.
#3: My book is the third in the series. Naturally, if you haven’t read Michael and Zadekiel, you can’t read this one. You will have zero idea what’s going on.
#2: There’s a door in your house that won’t stay open. Or you need to weigh something down. The only thing you have is this book. You have no choice but to not read.
And the #1 reason for not reading this book: The series will become a blockbuster movie. So there’s really no point when one blessed day you’ll be graced with my handsome face on the silver screen.
That’s all fascinating, but let’s get to the real goodness. Tell us a bit about yourself and what makes you tick.
Joe: Hi, my name is Joe and I’m an alcoholic. KIDDING! I shouldn’t joke about that. Especially for Zade’s sake. *Joe flops down on a couch, kicking his leg up on the coffee table* I’m the oldest of us four. The comedian. Don’t listen to Gabe. Nothing diffuses tension better than a joke. I do have a serious side to me. What we do is dangerous and one misstep could get us killed. I won’t risk my brothers.
Do you have any hobbies, favorite TV shows, books? Anything you fangirl/boy over?
Joe: Call of Duty, but I don’t get to play it much. I guess I’m living in a video game in a way now. Not sure that’s better. Video games aren’t as life threatening. Unless you count, spending way too much time sitting and playing instead of moving.
What is one thing from your past you’re most proud of?
Joe: Jumping off the church in my hometown and trying to fly. None of my brothers wanted to. They were content to stay on the ground. Come on, you have to be daring and willing to bust your leg.
And to wrap up, let’s play favorites:
Pepsi or Coke?
Joe: Whatever one wants to sponsor me. *grins*
Pie or Cake?
Joe: What about Pie with cake filling? You feeling me?
White or dark chocolate?
Joe: I’ll take both. Why discriminate? *winks*
Playstation 4 or Xbox 1or WiiU?
Joe: Xbox 1 baby!
Paperback book or ebook?
Joe: Reading? Ugh.
Summer or winter?
Joe: Actually, I prefer fall. Not too hot, not too cold. Plus, there’s Halloween and I firmly believe you are never to big to play dress up. Especially when free candy is involved.
Puppies or kittens?
Joe: Kittens all the way.
Vampires or werewolves?

Joe: Witches. They are much hotter than a corpse or fur ball.

About the Author:
Patricia Josephine never set out to become a writer. In fact, she never considered it an option during high school and college. She was all about art. On a whim, she wrote down a story bouncing in her head. That was the start of it and she hasn’t regretted a moment. She writes young adult under the name Patricia Lynne.
Patricia lives with her husband in Michigan, hopes one day to have what will resemble a small petting zoo, has a fondness for dying her hair the colors of the rainbow, and an obsession with Doctor Who.
Book reviews

Review: Dry Land by Jennifer Anne Seidler



I give Dry Land three stars and change, and it gets a solid “I liked it.”

If you’re a fan of classic-style hard science fiction, circa early Asimov and peak Arthur C. Clarke, this is a tale you should grab and enjoy at your first opportunity.

Your purchase gets you not only the title novella itself but also a short piece that explores some of the secondary themes in the main work. It’s a decent story on its own right, but as a glimpse into the creative process, it’s even more intriguing. I’m a person who listens to director commentary on movies and watches all the deleted scenes, so having a behind-the-scenes extra on a written story appealed in the same way. It was a delightful addition, like a light dessert after a tasty meal.

Speaking of food analogies, this one is a nice, tasty casserole, rich with flavors and textures. Some of the ingredients aren’t to my taste, but they’re well-mixed and topped with a crunchy crust. There’s even a touch of  spice. As I said, it’s a very classic presentation, but there are romance elements–deftly handled and realistically described ones–that far exceed what I remember anyone in the old school putting to page. I enjoyed the addition.

I’m a demanding reader. If an item is offered for sale, I expect it to meet professional standards in its overall presentation, writing quality, editing, and formatting. Dry Land met all those standards with flying colors, and that’s no small accomplishment for a self-published work. At no point did grammar gaffes, typos, or awkward prose yank me out of of the story, and that’s rare indeed.

I can’t say those errors were absent entirely, and the prose could use polish, but the words didn’t make me roll my eyes too often, and I never laughed at a phrase that wasn’t meant to be funny. And when it comes to errors, well. I finished a traditionally-published, professionally-edited bestselling novel today that had 3 major gaffes in the first chapter. Nuff said.

I wait before reviewing, because a story that doesn’t stick in my memory is not as good as one that does. The main character and the plot twists of Dry Land stuck with me. I was thinking about them well after I finished reading, and that’s a telling sign of quality.

This is a space story more than a sweeping science-fiction one — not that there isn’t science, there is, but the life sciences get only a nod while the wonders of near-space get pompoms and a fanfare. The astronomical descriptions and the fundamental physics necessary for the plot are offered with the passion of a true believer in humanity’s future in the heavens. The depth of research informs the plot rather than overwhelming it; a hard balance to achieve, but the author does an excellent job.

It’s hard scifi, in that the plot progression takes precedence over character development, but the broad sketches of character traits skated the edge of stereotype, for the most part. The protagonist’s emotional struggles are realistic, and interpersonal conflicts arise organically from the personalities of the characters.

There’s not much I can say about the plot without spoiling the read. The story is delightfully twisty, and getting into specifics would spoil the reveals. The plot elements are also where my main dissatisfactions lie. Call it a disagreement on premises. I feel that the existence of some elements render the likelihood of other events flatly unrealistic. The main foundation of the whole story rests on a base that shook my suspension of disbelief the way an earthquake rolls skyscrapers.

That said, it’s no more absurd than many a movie premise I’ve enjoyed even while scoffing at its impossibility, so I set aside my objection and enjoyed the ride all the way to a beautifully constructed finale.

As a wrap, I’ll acknowledge that I was offered a free copy for review, but after I finished, I purchased a copy of my own. I’m a cheapskate. Voting with my wallet is the second-highest praise I can offer an author Recommending the book to others is the highest level. I’ve done both with this one. Bookmark this author’s Amazon page. You do not want to miss her next one.

Link to purchase your own copy of this gem: Dry Land


Book reviews

Review: Ash to Embers by C. V. Larkin


You Haven’t Read This Yet. You Should.

If I wanted to write a review series that focused on ebooks by indie authors, that’s what I would call it.

Since that’s exactly what I’m doing, consider the title chosen, and here’s the first installment.

Ash to Embers by C.V. Larkin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

If you like your urban fantasy on the gritty side, if you want plotting that pulls no punches, characters who refuse to let their damages hold them back, and a storyline that sprints from crisis to crisis with barely a break, (I do! I do!) then grab this title as fast as you can.

The author drops you right into the middle of Tian & Sio’s lives and lets you pick up the pieces of the story as you ride along from adventure to fight to confrontation. The fancy reviewers call that ‘in media res.’ I call it a rocking good time. I wouldn’t recommend this as a first introduction to the world of modern Fae stories, because none of the mythological terminology or personalities are given much background, but as long as the reader has a passing familiarity with folklore and the idea of the Seelie & Unseelie courts, the action will carry the day.

And oh, is there action! Thumping fights, steamy sex (I would put this at a firmly adult rating, pun intentional, oh, my yes…) long-running conspiracies and hidden pasts that come to light. You’ll get all that and more. Tian and Sio are complicated people, and their friends & allies are fully-realized people with their own problems and motives. There’s plenty of room for more stories in this world, and I’m looking forward to the next.

Nitpicky details paragraph: it’s not a polished gem of editorial perfection, although it gets close. Admirably close. The premise was on the murky side due to the total lack of exposition. There’s a gray area between building mystery and reader confusion, and plot revelations were heavily weighted to the end of the story. The use of of slang description in narrative sometimes went from entertaining to jarring, for me, especially when a paragraph would use two synonyms for face and never say face, f’rex. Sometimes it’s cool when a character has to “wrap his brain around” something, but sometimes the extravagance would jar me out of my immersion in the world.

There. That’s my due diligence on critical elements. Now, proceed straight to the “buy” button on Amazon, click, and enjoy the heck out of this dark, brutal, bloody, sexy delightful read.

View all my reviews