Friday, July 26, 2013

Hired by a Demon, by Gypsy Madden

Hired by a Demon, the debut novel by indie author, Gypsy Madden, takes us into a paranormal reality, and entertains us well. Hired by a Demon is an action-packed adventure that bodes well for her future works. I found it to be  creative, ingenious, and a roller-coaster of adventure.

The Blurb:
Three years without a word from the magical half of the planet, and suddenly there was a demon in Vara’s bedroom. Samanith, the representative of the sinister Kendrick & Clarke Temp Agency, had come to offer her a simple baby-sitting position. What Sam neglected to mention was that the ‘baby’ was a headstrong teenage girl, heir to a fortune, the only daughter of the Agency’s most influential client, and she had been bitten by a werewolf.

Dogged by guilt over her father’s mysterious disappearance, which she suspects has been caused by the demons to keep her in line, Vara finds herself facing her brooding former boyfriend, currently working as the heiress’s bodyguard. He still harbors a grudge over their breakup and has resolved to make her job an unpleasant one.

Will Vara survive the rabid wolf instincts growing inside the teenage heiress who hungers for her magic? Or the lecherous tabloid reporter determined to turn the situation into a front page scandal? Or the pack of wolf hunters who want the heiress dead, and possibly Vara too, and all because she had been HIRED BY A DEMON.

My Review:
Vara’s charge is the daughter of an extremely wealthy, powerful man, Lord Stadler. The family is nobility, and don’t you forget it. Arrogance and privilege ooze from their pores.  Just keeping track of Laris is a trick—she does as she pleases, and those who wish to save her must somehow work around her willful misbehavior, or woe unto them.

Sam, of course, has an agenda of his own, and his meddling goes well beyond his messing with Vara’s life. But he’s a demon, so what do you expect?

The action is non-stop and the mood swings from dark to funny and back to dark, keeping the very original plot moving along. I enjoyed the attraction between Laris and Vara, and Laris and Austen, and Laris and Richard. In fact, the attraction between Laris and nearly everyone quite intense, and appears to be a fundamental part of her magic.

There are some quite hilarious moments. Can I just say that I LOVED the gargoyles?   But even with the humor, this book isn’t all fun and games by any means. There is a real, compelling dark tale here with a deep plot for the reader to sink into, and many tantalizing threads that finally come together in the end.  

I had a great time reading this book.  I highly recommend Hired by a Demon for a great weekend read!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Heart Search 2 - Found, by Carlie M.A.Cullen

This week we taking a little trip off the beaten path and this time we are stepping into the world of paranormal romance Heart Search 2 - Found, by indie author Carlie M.A. Cullen.

The Blurb:
One bite started it all . . .

Another mysterious disappearance sparks a frightening chain of events for Remy and her family. Events foretold come to pass, and more strange and alarming occurrences assail her life. Where can she turn?

Coven politics continue to threaten Joshua’s existence, but an even bigger menace looms.

And Remy’s life hangs in the balance – can Joshua save her?

Fate still toys with mortals and immortals alike, as hearts torn apart by darkness confront perils which could lead to their doom.

My Review:
I really enjoyed the first book in this series, and was not disappointed in this book. The story picks up where it left off in Heart Search 1- Lost, but you don’t have to have read the first book to follow the plot.

As in the first book of this series, Carlie M.A. 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 and is most definitely not a two-dimensional vampire, as the male leads in many paranormal romances can be.

Samir, Joshua's maker is loving and cares for his ‘children’ and they in turn adore him – but he has an agenda of his own and a side he carefully hides from the others, and this definitely emerges in this book. As individuals the vampires are inherently selfish and uncaring of anyone but their own society, and Cullen portrays this just as well in this book as she did in the first book. There is a great deal of turmoil in the coven, and there is intense jealousy lurking just under the surface.

Remy is deep and intense, and her best friend Jakki balances her well. Remy relies heavily on her for emotional support. All of the supporting characters have clearly defined personalities, making them interesting in their own right. The environments surrounding them are vivid and clearly drawn, and the two parallel stories intertwine well, making a good contrast.

The mood of this tale is dark and foreboding, yet there is occasional lightness as Remy strives for some sense of normalcy in the face of terrifying events that occur almost daily in her very unusual family.

The ending is satisfying, and while it leaves the door open for a third book, many threads are brought together, so I felt it ended well.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Kain (Sex, Drugs, and Cyberpunk),by Brie McGill

Once again we are daytripping (and I do mean tripping) into the realm of science fiction, this time a cyberpunk treat, Kain (Sex, Drugs, and Cyberpunk) by Canadian author Brie McGill.

The Blurb:
Counting days is irrelevant in the life of a well-to-do man, unless he counts the days passed in total service to the Empire. Salute. Submit. Shut up and scan the wrist. Therapists armed with batons and brass knuckles guide the derelict along a well-beaten path to Glory.

When human experiment Lukian Valentin escapes the Empire to save his crumbling sanity--through a grimescape of fissured highways, collapsing factories, putrescent sewers--he realizes the fight isn’t only for his life, it’s for his mind. Torturous flashbacks from a murky past spur him on a quest for freedom, while the Empire’s elite retrievers remain at his heels, determined to bring him home for repair.

Lukian needs one doctor to remove the implanted chips from his body, and another to serve him a tall glass of answers. Lukian attempts a psychedelic salvage of his partitioned mind, gleaning fragments of the painful truth about his identity.

A scorching, clothes-ripping rendezvous with a mysterious woman offers Lukian a glimpse of his humanity, and respite from his nightmarish past. It also provides the Empire the perfect weakness to exploit for his recapture.

To rise to the challenge of protecting his new life, his freedom of thought, and his one shot at love, Lukian must reach deep into his mind to find his true identity. To defeat the Empire, he requires the deadly power of his former self--a power that threatens to consume him.

My Review:

Wow! Where to start? This book had me up to 2:00 a.m. on a Sunday night, making for a rather cranky Monday morning.

Lukian is a compelling, deep character. As what he believes he knows about the world begins to crumble around him, Lukian finds one really good friend, one person he can trust, Aidan. Underneath his veneer of compliance Aidan, just like Lukian, is a rebellious citizen, and Lukian is drawn to him against his better judgement.

The evil characters are not simply evil, they are depraved. Brigham is cold, intent on his own agenda, even to sacrificing his own family with little thought or compassion. Skirra is Cruella deVille on steroids. Krodha—what can you say about a sadistic mental health professional in love with his cattle-prod and endowed with the tender mercy and empathy of Heinrich Himmler?  The psychopaths are running the asylum!

There is a real atmosphere in this tale, and depth to both the characters and the two environments Lukian finds himself in.

Glorious Empire Daitya is a complete reflection of those who built her—cold, eternally dark and rigidly unforgiving, a teeming slum built on an arctic continent where the elusive sun rarely breaks through the smog.

Jambu is a tropical paradise, rather like a post-apocalyptic Jamaica, full of chaotic life and free spirits. Both countries on this world are vividly drawn without the author devolving into excessive detail.

There are ample quantities of intense sex, drugs and violence in this tale, balanced by an incredible plot and compelling characters that carry this book beyond sci-fi-erotica. Kain is a stellar example of the indie author breathing new life into the genre of science fiction. It is over the top, and wildly entertaining. There is a quality of plot and environment that reminds me of an immersive rpg. That sense of immersion is what I loved the most about this book—it was an rpg on my Kindle, with all the cutscenes and good parts and none of the grinding.

This is an adult novel, and it is not for every reader. This is a thinking person's sci-fi novel, deep, violent, erotic, and occasionally hilarious. All in all, Kain is a breath of fresh air in a genre that frequently takes itself too seriously.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Martin, by Andrew Weaver

Today I am reentering the realm if science fiction, with a book by an indie author. Martin, by Andrew Weaver. I am not sure what to think about this book, if you want the truth. There are many positive, wonderful points about it, and yet…but I believe any book that keeps you thinking is well worth reading and this book most definitely does that.

The Blurb:
This is a story told through the eyes of Martin a recently retired banker. Within weeks of returning to his home village he meets up with Alistair – an old school friend. Unsure how he will make use of his free time, Martin agrees to take up the intriguing offer from Alistair and get involved in his secret project.

Martin has never married, nor has he had any children. These are all facts and part of his life memories. At least, that’s what he thinks he remembers. However, since his involvement with Alistair’s project, Martins life changes forever – and continues to change in all manner of inexplicable ways. As the weeks go by, Martin comes to realise that he can no longer be sure of anything, anybody, or even his past life. Is he really losing his mind and going mad? Or are others now controlling his life and possibly manipulating his destiny?

My Review:
I loved the character of Martin. He is inquisitive and analytical, and yet he is a bit of a romantic. Martin is open to new experiences.  I enjoyed the science aspects of the dream project, and I like the way the author connected the world of dreams with interdimensional travel and the projection of the personality of the traveler into another similar but slightly different dimension. With all the recent scientific theories it seems to be a common theme in sci-fi tales nowadays, and I like the twist that Weaver gives this plot in that his subjects’ bodies remain but their consciousness travels. The interweaving of Martin’s dreams with his reality is quite well done.

All of the characters are clearly drawn, and the environment is logical and well-crafted. If I have any complaint it is that the editing was somewhat lacking, which interferes with the flow of the story at times. There are some places where an unbiased eye could have brought out the real potential for greatness this book has—but that is the curse of the indie author. None of the flaws were enough to make me stop reading it, and I enjoyed it.

I believe the fact that it doesn’t really have a satisfying end is a setup for another book. This may turn readers off; I admit I felt a bit let down by the non-ending.  Over all, I give this book four stars, and will definitely read the sequel when it is published.