Sunday, May 17, 2015

M. K. Theodoratus - The Ghostcrow: A Tale of Andor

22. The Ghostcrow: A Tale of Andor by M. K. Theodoratus (2014)
The Tales From the World of Andor Series Book 4
Length: 57 pages
Genre: Short Story
Started: 16 May 2015
Finished: 17 May 2015
Where did it come from? Many thanks to Dorothy from Pump up Your Book for sending me a copy of this book to read.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 25 March 2015
Why do I have it? I like short stories and M. K. Theodoratus is a new author for me.

Thirteen-year-old Delores 'Dumdie' Swartz feels like an outsider within her own family. She's the baby of the family, and is truly getting tired of being treated like one by everyone around her. She hates the nickname that her older sisters have burdened her with since childhood; she hates the fact that both sisters take an almost diabolical glee in teasing and humiliating her at every turn. And if that wasn't the worst part of her life to begin with, Dumdie also has to contend with her ability to see ghosts; an ability she has had since early childhood.

Even though she's been able to see ghosts since she was four-years-old, Dumdie is still not entirely comfortable with her so-called gift. Her fear that she will somehow walk through a pile of sticky ghost guts - and come away with them smeared all over her - causes Dumdie to cringe every time she encounters a spirit. Her desire for a normal life leads Dumdie to avoid the spirits as much as she possibly can; yet all her attempts at avoidance don't turn out quite the way she planned.

Dumdie's life is extremely lonely - her sisters alternately mock her strange behavior and studiously ignore her at school. Her parents are clueless, and she has absolutely no friends; she is a social pariah at school: basically a zero on the popularity scale, but a one hundred on the weirdness scale. The only solace she finds is working in the garden she and her family shares with her elderly neighbor, Mr. Carson.

However, Dumdie's solace is badly shaken when a couple of teenagers from her high school begin stealing pumpkins from Mr. Carson's garden. During one such theft, Mr. Carson is badly injured and later dies. From there, Dumdie's life takes a dark turn. She begins to understand that there are much stranger and darker things to be frightened of than ghosts.

The two teenage vandals who stole the pumpkins begin stalking Dumdie when they discover that she witnessed their confrontation with Mr. Carson in his garden. Dumdie may be frightened out of her skull by the football jocks who taunt her, but it's the evilness that lurks within someone specific that truly terrifies her. She senses something malevolent dwelling within Kyle - one of boys who raided the pumpkin patch - an entity that becomes more and more pronounced as Kyle stalks her. The more Kyle threatens Dumdie and tries to bully her into silence, the clearer she perceives the entity possessing him.

An unlikely group of girls befriends Dumdie after she helps them with their costumes for a production at the annual Pumpkin Festival. Although none of the girls know precisely what is going on with Dumdie, she finally finds the support and friendship she so desperately wants. Dumdie's fears eventually explode during the festival, when the demonic force currently possessing Kyle decides that it wants to possess Dumdie instead.

This is the first of M. K. Theodoratus' novellas that I have ever read and I must say that I really enjoyed it. I love reading stories about normal people who are dealing with seriously abnormal situations. While the setting seemed to be a typical suburban area anywhere in America to me, reading the background of this series, I have learned that this is actually an entirely different world called Andor. This is a world where demons and other supernatural and paranormal activity exists, and seeks to disrupt the peaceful existence of humanity as often as possible.

I really felt for Dumdie, and hoped she would be able to overcome her various fears and phobias in some way. I would give this book an A! and I already have two other novellas from this series on my TBR pile. I look forward to reading them both sometime soon.

A! - (90-95%)

May you read well and often

Monday, May 11, 2015

Stephen C. Merlino - The Jack of Souls

21. The Jack of Souls by Stephen C. Merlino (2014)
The Unseen Moon Trilogy Book 1
Length: 343 pages 
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Started: 28 April 2015
Finished: 11 May 2015
Where did it come from? Many thanks to Stephen C. Merlino and to Dorothy from Pump up Your Book for sending me a copy of this book to read.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 6 March 2015 as an ebook; Since 10 March 2015 as a physical book.
Why do I have it? I like historical fantasy and Stephen C. Merlino is a new author for me.

For most of his nineteen years, Harric Dimoore has lived under the shadow of a curse - and the identity of the curse weaver is his very own mother. According to her premonitions, Harric's mother - a banished member of the Queen's Court, and a sorceress driven to the brink of insanity by her visions - was convinced that the Queen's demise would most certainly come at the hands of her own son. To protect the Queen, his mother cursed Harric to die on his nineteenth birthday.

As his nineteenth birthday approaches, Harric is determined to do everything in his power to break the curse his mother has put on his fate. Even in death, the mad sorceress still haunts Harric, and nightmares from the spirit world stalk him and tear at his sanity; his mother's sorcery eats at Harric's soul. Raised to be of service to the Queen, his courtly education was interrupted by his mother's frequent bouts of insanity.

To save himself, Harric has become an outcast rogue - a cunning trickster, honor-bound to defend the innocent and help the downtrodden in a way his mother never could. Yet to survive, Harric will need more than his usual bag of tricks. He'll need help - and a lot of it - but on the kingdom's lawless frontier, his only allies are other outcasts.

One of these outcasts is Caris - a mysterious runaway with an almost crippling fear of humans, yet a young woman who also has a remarkable affinity for horses. The timidly quiet horse-whisperer has dreams of becoming the Queen's first female knight. Another one of Harric's allies is Sir Willard - a knight errant: an ex-immortal, ex-champion of the Queen, now addicted to pain-killing herbs and banished from the court. With their help, Harric just might manage to keep his curse at bay. But for how long?

But Harric's companions both bring perils and secrets of their own: Caris bears the scars of a troubled past that still haunts her; Willard is still at war with the Old Ones, an insane order of immortal knights  who once enslaved the kingdom. Now, the Old Ones have returned to murder Willard and seize the throne from his queen. Willard is on the run from his pursuers, and in the midst of one final, desperately personal quest to save his queen.

Together, Harric and his companions must overcome fanatical armies, murderous sorcerers, and powerful supernatural foes. Alone, Harric must face the temptation to use a forbidden magic that could break his curse forever, but cost him the only woman he's ever loved. This is the beginning of a triumphant epic fantasy - a tale of magic, mischief, and miscreants. 

I have always loved reading epic fantasies and this book was no different. The story and plot was well-written and exciting, and I was drawn quickly into the story right from the beginning. The characters were sympathetically drawn and well-developed. In my opinion, this was a fantastic beginning to an unusual series, and I'm absolutely caught up in the story and really want to know how the series continues. I give The Jack of Souls by Stephen C. Merlino an A! and am looking forward to reading the next book in the series: The Knave of Souls.

A! - (90-95%)

May you read well and often

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Corinne O'Flynn - Half Moon Girls

20. Half Moon Girls by Corinne O'Flynn (2015)
Kindle Worlds Novella: The Lei Crime Series Book 3
Length: 75 pages 
Genre: Short Story 
Started: 6 May 2015
Finished: 9 May 2015
Where did it come from? From Amazon
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 12 April 2015
Why do I have it? I like short stories and Corinne O'Flynn is a new author for me.

In her time with the South Hilo Police Department in Hawaii, Detective Leilani Texeira has seen any and all manner of evil crimes perpetrated against the innocent. Despite Hawaii having a justified reputation with the tourists for being an idyllic island paradise, Lei often finds herself astounded that even paradise can hide such a dark side. As a matter of fact, Lei's present case is turning out to be just that sort of inexplicable crime.

Lei is called in to investigate a murder on Kaua'i. The body of a young woman - wrapped tightly in a net, and with an unusual tattoo on her ankle - has been discovered washed ashore on the beach. As soon as Lei sees the victim's body for herself, she is immediately struck by one thing: the dead young woman looks eerily similar to herself. Also, upon further inspection, Lei notices that what she originally thought was a tattoo, seems to be more of a burn.

As she battles the traumatic memories that surface within her at seeing the victim's likeness, a friend calls; worried that her daughter hasn't come home yet. Lei soon discovers that the dead girl and the missing girl were friends and that they were last seen together at a party the previous day. Will Lei ultimately conquer her personal demons and capture a ruthless killer in time to rescue the captive?

I must say that I really enjoyed reading this book. In my opinion, this was a well-developed, dramatic plot that held my attention throughout the story. This is the first book that I have had the pleasure of reading by Corinne O'Flynn, but it will most definitely not be the last. I give this book an A+! and I am certainly going to put some more of Corinne O'Flynn's work on my Wish List.

A+! - (96-100%)

May you read well and often

Friday, May 1, 2015

Reading Wrap-up For April at Emeraldfire's Bookmark

Hello everyone out there and I hope that you all had a terrific reading month for yourselves. I am known as Emeraldfire around the Internet and this is my new personal reading blog.

Anyway, I started out April with about two hundred unread books lying around the house and ended the month with...umm...uncountable amounts of books unread. All of the books that I acquired this month came from authors, Amazon and Bookmooch.

Let me try to break down the influx for you:

Changes to the TBR pile

Read from my TBR pile (Yes! I am a reading machine :))
- Water so Deep by Nichole Giles
- The Shell Keeper by Christine Nolfi
- Blood Mission by Joni Parker
- Never Again by Julie C. Gilbert
- Stonehill Downs: A Novel by Sarah Remy

Added to my TBR pile (oh well, you win some and you lose some! :))
- A Snake in Paradise by Eden Baylee
- Half Moon Girls by Corinne O'Flynn
- Mindsharing: The Art of Crowdsourcing Everything by Lior Zoref 
- Bunnicula: A Rabbit-Tale of Mystery by James and Deborah Howe
- Growl by Ashley Fontainne
- Hidden Poppies by M. L. Doyle
- Narvla's Celtic New Year by Therese Gilardi
- The Celery Stalks at Midnight by James Howe

Taken off my TBR pile and sent to a new home (Yay! Happy Dance! :))
- Water so Deep by Nichole Giles
- The Shell Keeper by Christine Nolfi
- Blood Mission by Joni Parker
- The Swan Thieves: A Novel by Elizabeth Kostova
- Never Again by Julie C. Gilbert

Well, there it is...the breakdown! All in all, a very good reading month for me, considering. Here's a further breakdown:

Books Read: 5
Pages Read: 1,078
Grade Range: A+! to A!

So, there you go! The reading month that was April. I hope that you all had an equally good reading month; if not a little better. :) See you all next month! :)

May you read well and often

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Sarah Remy - Stonehill Downs: A Novel

19. Stonehill Downs: A Novel by Sarah Remy (2014)
The Avani and Malachi Series Book 1
Length: 387 pages
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Started: 14 March 2015
Finished: 30 April 2015
Where did it come from? Many thanks to Dorothy at Pump up Your Book for sending me a copy of this book to read.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 12 March 2015
Why do I have it? I like historical fantasy and Sarah Remy is a new author for me.

Malachi is the King's Lord Vocent - a magus with the ability to communicate with the dead, and who relies on the assistance of the souls of the dearly departed to help him keep his kingdom safe. He is the last of his kind - highly regarded yet secretly feared by many - in his office as Royal Coroner. When he's sent to investigate a series of brutal murders in the isolated village of Stonehill Downs, he uncovers some dangerous and deadly sorcery and unleashes a killer who strikes close to home - much too close to home.

Avani is a newcomer to the Downs - one of the few survivors from the Sunken Islands - a victim of an horrifying natural disaster that swept her island home beneath the sea. Four years later, Avani is still considered an outsider living on the Downs - liked by almost everyone, yet she still values her solitude. She has innate and ancient magics of her own, and when she discovers the mutilated bodies of the first victims, she fears that the darkness which claimed them will return sometime soon. Avani's fear forces her to make an uneasy alliance with Malachi, reluctantly accompanying the eminent magus to somewhere far from home.

But Mal is distracted by the mysterious death of his mentor. Despite being present at his bedside, Mal still has his own troubling suspicions over how the the old man died. He is also haunted by his memories of the past - holding secrets within his heart that are best kept buried in his past. And Avani discovers several disturbing truths about the magus through her visions. She could free Malachi, yet first they must work together to save the kingdom from the lethal horrors that have arisen.

I really liked this story; it was a dark, action-oriented fantastic plot that I absolutely loved. Despite this being a very dark fantasy, there was still an inherently realistic element to the story that I enjoyed. Malachi and Avani are relatively similar characters, each wounded and flawed in their own ways, and unwillingly tossed together to save a kingdom that is not really their own. I give this book an A! and am eagerly awaiting the next book in the series; I want to know where the story goes from here.

A! - (90-95%)

May you read well and often

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Julie C. Gilbert - Never Again

18. Never Again by Julie C. Gilbert (2015)
Kindle Worlds Novella: The Lei Crime/Defining Moments Series Book 1
Length: 83 pages
Genre: Short Story
Started: 18 April 2015
Finished: 21 April 2015
Where did it come from? From Amazon
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 12 April 2015
Why do I have it? I like short stories and Julie C. Gilbert is a new author for me.

College junior Alana Adams would never have believed that one breakup could cause such problems; yet for her ex-boyfriend Nathan their breakup was just the beginning. It all begins when Alana catches him passionately kissing another woman after she comes home from her class. After she unleashes an angry and emotional tirade against Nate and his bleach bottle blonde bimbo, Alana promptly dumps Nathan and turns to her best friend, Michael, for advice and emotional support.

Nathan is initially shell-shocked and utterly dumbfounded by what he sees as Alana's obvious overreaction to the situation. At first, he apologizes and showers Alana with gifts in an effort to win her back. Then, as time passes, Nate convinces himself that although Alana may have had a legitimate reason for her initial treatment of him, her continued avoidance of him is becoming entirely unacceptable. Nate tries his best to get her to see reason - he tries to convince Alana that they truly belong together; that they are ultimately meant to be - yet she still insists on being stubborn.

When all his subsequent efforts to win her back fail - and as Alana's rejection further sinks in - Nate concludes that the only real obstacle to their relationship seems to be Michael. Apparently, if they are to have any hope of a lasting relationship and a bright future together as a couple, Alana needed to forget about her best friend. Eventually, Nathan comes to the sobering realization that there is only one viable solution to their problem: kill Michael Stevens.

This is the first book by Julie C. Gilbert that I've ever read. In my opinion, this was a really thought-provoking, totally believable story. The plot was realistic and well-developed, filled with a poignancy that touched me. While the scenario described in the story has never actually happened to me - and I hope that it never does - this story still resonated with me.

The characters were well-developed and reacted plausibly within the story; and I truly felt that I could relate to them. Overall, I really enjoyed reading Never Again, and look forward to reading more from this author in the future. I give this book an A+!

A+! - (96-100%)

May you read well and often

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Joni Parker - Blood Mission

17. Blood Mission by Joni Parker (2013)
The Seaward Isle Saga Book 3
Length: 301 pages
Genre: Fantasy
Started:  26 March 2015
Finished: 14 April 2015
Where did it come from? I originally downloaded a copy of this book for free from Amazon, although many thanks to Dorothy at Pump up Your Book and Joni Parker for sending me a copy of this book to read as well.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 2 November 2014 as an ebook; Since 11 February 2015 as a physical book.
Why do I have it? I like fantasy and I have read and enjoyed several books by this author in the past.

Lady Alexin - the orphaned half-elfin teenager and descendant of the Titans - wants to meet the Water Elves who are in her family. In order to meet her Elfin grandmother, she must make a formal request of Prince Darin, the current leader of the Water Elves and Alex's cousin. However, when Alex accidentally overhears a potential assassination plot against two of the most prominent Elves on Seaward Isle - Prince Darin of the Water Elves and Lord Odin of the Tree Elves - Alex is determined to raise the alarm as quickly as possible.

When she arrives just in time to halt the attempted assassination of both of them, Alex's original plans are temporarily delayed. Prince Darin and Lord Odin charge Alex - a young female tracker, with an incredibly dangerous yet intensely personal Blood Mission. Alex must hunt down and kill two people: the would-be assassin, as well as a former apprentice healer to Lord Odin, the rogue Elf Mellen. Mellen may be the most lethal foe Alex has ever faced; and as the main conspirator in the assassination plot, he has definitely proven himself to be a wily, yet patient opponent.

Yet Alex must complete her mission, or perish in the attempt. In this conclusion to the extraordinary fantasy trilogy, The Seaward Isle Saga, Blood Mission places the fates of kings and the safety of the inhabitants of Seaward Isle in the hands of a fifteen-year-old half-elfin warrior. Will Alex survive her mission long enough to discover her true destiny? When it seems like everyone wants her dead - or alternatively, wants to marry her - can Alex actually outwit her enemies and eventually defeat them?

I absolutely loved this entire trilogy, from start to finish. Blood Mission started off dynamically and the drama continued strongly throughout the entire story. The plot held my attention until the very end and I actually felt sad to be leaving these characters behind. I give Blood Mission by Joni Parker a definite A! and I look forward to reading more from this author in the future.

A! - (90-95%)

May you read well and often