Friday, October 26, 2012

72 - hours to Crack the Universe’s Code, Mark O'Brien

72 - hours to Crack the Universe’s Code by indie author Mark O'Brien is a novel of political intrigue, mathematics, passion and underlying it all, an imperative directive to humanity with dire galactic overtones. I first reviewed this book for a blog which deals with novels more in the area of political intrigue, thrillers and mysteries, but I always planned to review it here.

Somewhat like the Illuminati, the Mathematika is a mysterious Greek society founded long before Christianity. The reason for its existence is to bring mankind ‘that which they know but cannot understand’ and was created to ‘safeguard the truths until mankind was ready to understand them’.

Now the time has come, and the Mathematika is now ruled by the dark fanatic, Alexander Kepler – who believes ethical lines were drawn so you would know where to cross them. Yet, although he is extremely violent, murderous and obsessive, Kepler is a family man, and his relationship with his wife is one of the lighter parts of the tale. This most violent and evil of men is also a romantic, tender lover. However, the time has come for the world to know some basic truths about the Universe, and it is Kepler’s task to insure they are made public.

To this end, he kidnaps a renowned Muslim leader, Ibn Qurra. His henchmen also kidnap the renowned Rabbi Jacobi, and Father George Pappus, president of the Vatican Observatory Foundation - all three at 10:45 am on the same day.

Not all of Kepler’s heavies are 100% behind him, one is a traitor, and another considers him to be insane. All the heavies are individuals, which makes reading them enjoyable.

Ransoms are sent: a series of 3 mathematical equations which all must be solved one per day within 72 hours. If one equation is wrong, all three of the kidnapped men will die.

The protégé of George Pappus, Clancy Sylvester, astrophysicist and mathematician, is determined to get his mentor back. The author has researched all three of the religions represented by the three kidnapped leaders, and also the cultures they represent. The author also appears to have a firm grasp of mathematics, as I do NOT; but on the positive side he did not make me have to do the thinking so the math was fine. Clancy’s friend, Jules Hadamard (female, despite the name) who is a math genius explains it all. All of the characters are distinctly individual, and if some are over the top, well that is part of the fun.
While O'Brien goes a little heavy on the descriptions at times, over all this is a compelling read. There are moments of humor and also of pathos, and the action is non-stop. All in all, I found this to quite entertaining, and well written. This is a good read, and I do not hesitate to recommend it!


Friday, October 19, 2012

The Dream Merchant, book 3 – The Crack’d Shield by L.T. Suzuki in collaboration with Nia Suzuki-White

The Dream Merchant, book 3 – The Crack'd Shield is written by Canadian author L.T. Suzuki in collaboration with her daughter, Nia Suzuki-White. Lorna Suzuki is the author of the classic Imago series.

This laugh-a-minute farce continues the adventures of prickly, persnickety Princess Rose and her unwilling personal knight, Tag on their quest to retrieve, the Dreamstone which began in TheMagic Crystal.  When The Silver Sword, the second book in the series, ended Rose and Tag were trapped in the lair of a dragon, bickering as usual but were about to set out to rescue their old friend Cankles from the evil Sorcerer Dragonite.   Tag has sacrificed his most precious possession to save Rose.

Now, a cave-in has separated Rose and Tag, but their friends the elves, Denatheen, Ayden, Roen Aldus digging them out.  Dragonite has kidnapped Cankles, but he really wants Princess Rose, although they aren’t really sure why.  Soon, Silas Agincor, the Dream Merchant and Lord Rainus Silverthorn, leader of the elves rejoin them.

The adventures really heat up, and we learn a great deal of Cankles’s history, which is grim and sad; but also noble and brave. Also, we see that all is not exactly peachy-keen in the working relationship of Dragonite and his rebellious minion, the pooka (a sort of a fairy) Loken.  Somehow two evil geniuses in one lair just don’t get along as well as you would think they would, what with all the jockeying for position and one-upping that goes on. Their interactions are frequently hilarious; Loken is not a good and loyal minion at heart. However, Sorcerer Dragonite does possess something Loken wants badly enough to justify pretending to be the underling in this venture. And Dragonite, whose awesome army is composed of Mimes (!!!) is sadistic, where Loken does not enjoy being cruel but does it out of necessity.

The history between the evil Dragonite and Cankles looms large in this tale. Dragonite is responsible for Cankles’s amnesia.  He is also responsible for brutally torturing him a decade before. Now poor Cankles is once more his prisoner, and we discover what it is that really binds Loken to Dragonite.

Now things get really interesting, as if they weren’t already!

I love this whole series, and The Crack’d Shield is a fitting and satisfying conclusion to this 3-volume tale.  The characters are vivid, and colorful; their personalities are unique and distinctive.  I cared about Rose and Tag and absolutely cherished Cankles. I laughed and cried all the way through their adventures, and I love, loved, loved the ending.

All in all, the three volumes of the Dream Merchant Saga combine all the elements of epic high-fantasy with intense drama and hilarious dialogue, creating a real masterpiece. The Crack'd Shield is a breathtaking finish to a truly awesome tale!  I highly recommend purchasing all three volumes, because you will want to read them all.


Friday, October 12, 2012

Heart Search, Carlie M.A. Cullen

Heart Search is a first novel for UK author Carlie M.A. Cullen. This is most unashamedly a paranormal romance novel. I usually never read romance novels, but the plot, as depicted in the blurb for this book, intrigued me. I was most certainly NOT disappointed!

Two weeks before their wedding, Remy’s fiancé, Joshua, hurts her physically. Although he doesn’t know why, he is changing and not for the better. Joshua hates himself for what he’s done. As he changes, so do both his state of mind and his perceptions. He disappears a few days before the wedding.

After a brief descent into an emotional breakdown, Remy heeds advice from her identical twin, Becky, to fight for Joshua. She finds a diary which leads her to believe something strange happened to her fiancé and suspects it was something he had no say in. She resolves to find him, and sets off on a long, lonely journey around the country. As the days turn into weeks, then months, she has to fight through emotional turmoil and find an inner strength just to keep going. Strange things begin to happen to Remy and she questions her sanity.

Cullen takes you into the minds and the eyes of her characters. Her descriptions are thick with visuals and layered with emotion. Joshua is sexy and compelling even though he is not always likeable, but he is a vampire so there you go. His coven is the same way. Samir, his maker is loving and caring for his ‘children’ and they in turn adore him. As individuals they are inherently selfish and uncaring of anyone but their own society, and Cullen portrays this well.

This story is as much about Remy coming to terms with the way her life has been changed and learning who she is as much as it is her search for Joshua. It is also a story about Joshua learning how to live his new life, which is well drawn and drew me in.

She portrays Joshua’s society very clearly, introducing the various factions and power struggles well, and shows how Remy becomes a central element in the vampires’ internecine battles. The unforeseen changes which occur in Remy's life are also depicted well.

I admit I found the author's style of heavy descriptions a bit daunting at first, but I quickly got into the swing of things. I really enjoyed the story and cared about the characters; so much so I couldn't put the book down until I'd finished it. Cullen tells this story in two parallel threads, which I most definitely liked. You get a good view of both Joshua and Remy as they experience their lives through this crisis and other crises which loom.

I give it a solid four stars for an original plot, interesting characters and a unique delivery! The book is clearly a set up for a second book, which I am looking forward to and will definitely buy.  I recommend it for those who read and enjoy a good paranormal romance novel. Carlie M.A. Cullen is an author to watch!



Saturday, October 6, 2012

Moon Dance, J.R. Rain (Vampire for Hire series)


In ‘MoonDance’, book one of the ‘Vampire for Hire’ series, northwest author J. R. Rain has created an urban world visually parallel to ours which rocks, in my humble opinion.  This is complex a murder mystery with a paranormal twist.  In this tale, Vampires, were-wolves--they are not only possible, they affect the course of Samantha Moon's life.

Six years ago federal agent Samantha Moon was the perfect wife and mother, your typical soccer mom with the minivan and suburban home. Then the unthinkable happens, an attack which changes her life forever. And forever is a very long time for a vampire.

Now the world at large thinks Samantha has developed a rare skin disease, a disease which forces her to quit her day job and stay out of the light of the sun. Her husband, Danny Moon, can no longer deal with the emotional baggage that being married to a dead-woman who just can’t die brings up. He has become a stranger to her. She is in danger of losing her children to his disaffection, so vehemently against her has he become.
She can go out in the light of day as long as she takes appropriate measures, but it is difficult and dangerous for her to do so. Still, she does whatever she has to, to be there for her children and the husband who no longer wants her. Heart broken, and frustrated by her inability to change what happened to her through no fault of her own, she struggles to make lemonade from the lemons she’s been given.

Working the night shift as a private investigator, Samantha is hired by Kingsley Fulcrum to investigate the murder attempt on his life, a horrific scene captured on TV and seen around the country. As the case unfolds, Samantha discovers a deep attraction to Kingsley, who isn't exactly what he appears to be either. After all, there is a reason why he survived five shots to the head!

I love Samantha Moon!  She is not a weak, whining poor-me sort of a woman. Samantha is passionate and strong, and is determined to survive whatever life (or death) throws at her. Kingsley is dangerous, sexy and a bad-boy—just what I like in a mysterious client and possible lover.  Her husband, Danny Moon is a consummate jackass and has always been that, but when Samantha was still human he’d hidden it well. Now she is a creature of the night his true colors are showing, but she is still making excuses for him and trying desperately to make their marriage work, despite her attraction to Kingsley.

Samantha finds both allies and enemies everywhere. Some of her allies are surprising; a policeman who suspects her true nature but respects her as a detective and an honorable person; her former partner. Her enemies are more subtle—the arrival of a package with a medallion bearing the same symbol as that worn by her original attacker shocks her. She’d thought the attack was random but now, six years later she knows it was not.

There is a crisp rawness to Rain’s delivery.  Samantha is a keen detective and once she accepts a case, she follows it to the end, no matter what comes of it. Kingsley’s case is not simply the assassination attempt gone awry it appears to be on the surface; it is far-reaching and drags Samantha into even more danger than she is already in.  All the seemingly disparate threads of Kingsley and Samantha’s relationship, both business and personal, weave a tapestry that sizzles with sexual tension and urgent possibility, but it is not the central piece of this tale. 

I liked this novel so much, I bought the 6 book boxed set from Barnes&Noble for Nook for the highly affordable price of $9.99! The series gets better with each book, and I am completely hooked.

Not only that, but I can't wait to get my teeth into his Jim Knighthorse series!