Review: Silent Symmetry (The Embodied Trilogy #1) by J.B. Dutton

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Title: Silent Symmetry
Author: J.B. Dutton
Format: Paperback and eBook
Publisher: Self-Published
Pages: 194
ISBN: 978-1484067468
Source: Author
Genre: YA Sci-Fi / Fantasy
Series: The Embodied Trilogy
Best Read in Order: yes
Stars: 4
Purchase Now:  Amazon § Barnes&Noble

About the Book:

The Embodied glide through the busy streets of New York, uttering barely a sound. Their eerie beauty comes from their perfect symmetry. Are they flawless humans, the epitome of evolution? Are they a genetically modified super-race? Are they extra-terrestrials? Once prep school student Kari Marriner becomes aware of their existence, she is driven to seek out the answer and finds herself ensnared in a web that reaches further than she could possibly have imagined.

Kari’s earliest memory is her father’s death in a car crash back in small-town Wisconsin. Now, 12 years later, her mother has been hired by a pseudo-religious organization in Manhattan called the Temple of Truth (a.k.a. the ToT). At Chelsea Prep, Kari develops a crush on classmate Cruz. But when she realizes that Noon, another attractive guy at school, is involved with the ToT, her curiosity gets the better of her.

Kari stumbles upon a secret tunnel leading from her apartment to another in the building, where an ancient book holds images she can scarcely believe, and a cavernous room contains… something inexplicable. As Kari pieces together the incredible evidence, she discovers that the ToT is run by other-worldly beings called The Embodied who influence human behavior and have established a global long-term human breeding program. But why? And what is her role in all this?

Just as she starts wondering whether the love she feels for Cruz is genuine or if her emotions are being controlled by The Embodied, her mother is kidnapped and Kari has to figure out who is human, who is Embodied, and who she can count on to help rescue her mother.

Book Review:

Kari and her mother move to New York City for a new prestigious position, after leaving her small Wisconsin town and memories of her father’s accident there behind. For a teenaged protagonist, Kari was easy to relate to and care for: her sad past and her eagerness to find the new life, opportunities and possible love interests for her mother were endearing. As with many things, nothing is ever quite what it seems, and that also relates to the wonderful opportunities: scholarship to a prestigious high school, the beautiful people and the ease with which they seem to incorporate a major metropolis into their lives without great distress.

As Kari starts to feel seeds of unease, the questions start to arrive in a fast and furious manner: although the answers are far less apparent. Just what is the ToT and just how much influence it has on this world, and on the live of the people who work for them is a slow-developing reveal, mixed in this smoothly paced story that demands you read on.

I will be the first to admit that Kari is often far more mature in her approach, speech, thinking and behavior than one would expect, or want to see in a high school teen. However, when you take into account her life experience and her only child status, it did fit her well, even as it may be problematic for some readers. Aside from that and my wishing that there was more of an explanation and solidity built to give more substance to the characters of the Embodied, I did enjoy this read. I think that many YA fans would appreciate this story, and be ready to read the second book in the trilogy when it comes available.

I received an eBook from the author for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
About the Author:

After graduating from film school in London, I emigrated to Montreal in 1987, where I still live with my two young children and their even younger goldfish. I spent over a decade as a music TV director before moving into the advertising industry as an award-winning copywriter and translator. In parallel to my corporate work, I’ve written novels, short stories, blogs, screenplays and a stage play. I also write Young Adult and Children’s fiction under the name J.B. Dutton.

Website § @johnbdutton

The Wizard In Wonderland – Book 1 of Oz-Wonderland Series by Ron Glick

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Title: Wizard In Wonderland
Author:  Ron Glick
Format:  Paperback and eBook
Publisher:  Self
Pages:  190
ISBN:  978-1481888516
Source:  Author
Genre:  Fantasy, Classic Reimagined
Series:  Oz-Wonderland Series # 1
Best Read in Order:  N/A
Stars:  4
Purchase Now:  Paperback §  Kindle

About the Book:

Dorothy Gale has been to some strange lands, but none as unexpected as 19th century Oxford, England. Yet this is exactly where Dorothy meets Alice Liddell, a young woman with her own fanciful stories of a place called Wonderland. Alice finds herself pulled into Oz to face a new Wicked Witch, while Dorothy must follow the Wizard into a Wonderland civil war. Unknown to either girl though, plots have arisen against both faery lands, and they must uncover the hidden history shared between these lands if they are ever to set things right again.

Written with a faithful eye to the original Baum and Carrol classics, The Wizard In Wonderland reveals the secrets of Oz and Wonderland in a story that brings together both classic heroines in a new epic adventure.

Book Review:

What starts as a simple mash-up of the classics Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz quickly takes a tangential leap and mixes the heroines from each story into a new adventure, with one primary motivation: find the Wizard.

I will admit to being familiar with and a fan of Carroll’s Alice, and familiar with although less fan-girl of the Oz stories: that is a simple bad association with the flying monkeys in the movie and well, I’ve never quite recovered. But, as characters, both Dorothy and Alice are familiar and comforting, bringing memories of first encounters with fantastical dream-like tales.

Ron Glick does not fail to maintain that otherworldly aura and feel in this story: giving the characters a whole new perspective as they hit that “here I go again” moment. In fact, the incorporation of the feel originally crafted by authors long gone is apparent, even as Glick is managing to create new adventures and larger roles for characters previously relegated to minor places or cameos, at least in the first books in the original series.

With twists and turns, as they chase the wizard and struggle with the new challenges they face, the pages fly by, as the two stories parallel and synchronize, informing each other as they maintain their singular progress. Strangely enough, were I to hear the genesis of the idea, and that it would be told in concurrent parallel stories it sounds confusing: in the reality it was clearly flowing from chapter to chapter, each new twist informing the end and providing fans of either or both books with a new perspective on the old tale.

This was a clever, well-written and even courageously conceived idea that did not fail to achieve the lofty goals set at page one. With a nod to the original styles that is apparent in the author’s handling of the stories, this is more than a simple rework of classics, but a reinvention of the stories that are so familiar. Sure to be a hit with fans of either, this just may be the key to encouraging you to read the classics again, if only to see how clever Glick was in his reinvented tale. My one sticking point: an abrupt ending that does feel unsatisfying. Knowing this is the first in the series does mitigate that somewhat – but more resolution is called for.

I received an eBook from the author for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

About the Author:
Ron Glick (born January 20, 1969) is a community activist, and presently operates a nonprofit adult sobriety program, GameHearts (http://GameHearts.org). He was born in Plainville, KS. After living in various states, he currently lives in Kalispell, MT. He is unmarried, with ambitions to someday change that. His poetry has been published in several publications through the years, and he is presently working on the second novel of the Godslayer Cycle, Two, and recovering an older novel from the corrupt wastelands of data storage, Tarinel’s Song.

Website § @Ron_Glick

 

 

The Children’s Story: A Novel, Not for Children by Robert A Krueger ~Review

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Title: The Children’s Story: A Novel, Not for Children
Author:  Robert A. Krueger
Format:  Paperback and eBook
Publisher:  Self Published
Pages:  266
ISBN: 978-1475293982
Source: Author
Genre: Literary Fiction, Fantasy
Stars: 5
Purchase Now:  Amazon §  Barnes & Noble

About the Book:

One morning young teen sisters decide to go for a walk, not realizing that this outing will change them forever. They become trapped in a strange land where the outrageous and bizarre seem normal. They only wish to find their way home; but this journey, which is not of their choosing, has a different purpose or so it seems as they are forced on their way. The people and animals they meet are outlandish or eccentric or sometimes normal. Each has a lesson to teach or perhaps not. They are bombarded with sense and with nonsense that may or may not be nonsense. In their minds, they fight to remain children, but they are neither child nor adult. Deep inside the sisters progressively understand that there is a purpose to their journey and that it has to do with good and evil. But they are neither free from torment nor from the absurd. They must overcome the temptation of evil if, in fact, they can recognize it. Interwoven with the sisters’ story are other tales of good and of the arrogance and depravity of evil (as in the Holocaust). Allegorically, this is everyone’s journey and everyone’s story. A non-traditional novel for Adults and Young Adults.

Book Review: 

It is a rare occurrence for me when a book cover, or the strangeness of the cover, serves to perfectly illustrate the wonder that is contained within. This cover manages to hint that this is not a simple story that will follow the predestined path, and that is exactly what happens.

What starts as an ordinary summer day turns into a philosophical and fantastical journey as these two sisters, Molly and Baby Sister head out for a walk. It feels rather ordinary, until it doesn’t. Coming face to face with fantastical creatures with stories to share, the girls are treated to stories of good and evil, and confronted with the most important element in those stories: choice. The choice to follow or lead, obey or ignore and how those choices or lack of making one can forever change your personal destiny.

This was possibly the most cleverly conceived story about decisions and choice that I have ever read: providing several examples from simple to dramatic to illustrate the options. Feeling very much like a combination of Alice in Wonderland and some odd dream state, the writing is crisp, clear and easy to relate to. Molly and Baby Sister are easy to visualize and example many of the sibling relationships that can be found anywhere. While their story seems to be separate, by the end the two do mesh in, and the line between fantasy and reality have blurred leaving only the lessons clear and present.

Each new encounter creates a memorable character or set of characters: some absurd, others closer to the expected but all providing a twist that will delight. Krueger has crafted a story that will entertain and demand you read it more than once. A good choice for teen and older readers, there are lessons to be found in the pages of a very entertaining story.

I received a copy of the book from the author for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

About the Author:

My life can be divided into three parts: military, business, and writing. I am a retired Army officer. I served in Germany near the end of WWII. This was a trigger for my interest in good and evil. For the most part, my Army duties were in the national intelligence field, but sometimes combat intelligence as in Vietnam. After retiring from the military, I spent a number of years in the business world, primarily in forecasting, planning, operations, and consulting.

I have always been interested in writing. I’ve written a number of business articles and have two books published and a third ready for publication. My published books are: “Business Forecasting: A Practical, Comprehensive, Resource for Managers and Practitioners” and “The Children’s Story, A Novel Not for Children” (about good and evil), which I wrote over several years. My new book is titled: “Business and Sales Forecasting, A Practical, Comprehensive Course of Instruction.” Would you say I have an eclectic personality?

My novel is really different. It combines reality, fantasy and fable, and allegory and metaphor. To tell the truth, the novel seemed, at times, to be writing itself, including the symbolic stuff. Both good and evil come in many costumes, some recognizable and others not so easily seen. I’ve tried to capture this idea as well as others.

I also review books for Amazon, which I find interesting and worthwhile.

 

Review: Light & Dark: The Awakening of the Mageknight by Daniel M. Fife

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Title: Light & Dark: The Awakening of the Mageknight
Author: Daniel M. Fife
Format: Paperback and eBook
Publisher: Self-Published
Pages: 326
ISBN: 978-0985324704
Source: Author
Genre: Children’s Fantasy / Adventure 12 +
Stars: 4
Purchase Now:  Amazon  §  Smashwords § Barnes & Noble 

About the Book:

Danny Firoth is an average thirteen-year-old who finds himself at the beginning of his eighth-grade year, struggling with some of the more common concerns that plague a boy of his age: bullies, homework, and his mother. Sabrina Drake is the new girl. She is beautiful and spellbinding, but carries a fantastic secret.

Accepted into the White Rock Academy of Illumination, a school for young Squires destined to become Knights of the Light and battle the forces of the Dark with magical weapons called Bondeds, Danny joins his five closest friends in the training of their lives. Honed in the techniques of blade work by an Elvin swordmaster and educated by a colorful assortment of knightly instructors, Danny and his friends are placed on the path to becoming knighted members of the Light. However, the Dark may have other plans as they unveil a sinister plot in this fantastic tale of dragon-riding adventure, sword-wielding action, and coming-of-age drama.

Book Review:

So often, I will see reviews that will mention another title, intimating that this is the “same”, and diminishing the book being reviewed by insinuating it is an imitation. While there are obvious correlations to the set-up for the Harry Potter series here, the similarity ends quickly.
This is a uniquely styled blend of fantasy and reality, with characters who are very current and solidly developed, who just happen to be a part of a training programme that involves magic and spells.

Daniel Fife has managed to create a book that even reluctant readers can enjoy: there is enough of the fantastical to break up the mundanity of every eighth grade life, and the ultimate quest of good versus evil, as you are just learning what powers and skills you have makes for a gripping tale. Yes there are friends, and the friendships are tested, and the importance of trust and being there all create small lessons on the way. But mostly: this is a highly enjoyable read that holds your interest from page to page as you learn and discover this new world with Danny.

As the start of a new series – this one shows great promise: the pacing and world-building were well done and maintained after some early repetitive moments. I was fortunate to have received the newly-edited version: and what I had was a very clean, well-written story that managed to keep interest and flow after a bit of a slow start early on. As a debut novel, in a high-fantasy style written to appeal to (but never pander to) younger readers, it was an impressive work. And I am looking forward to book 2 in the Light & Dark Series.

I received an eBook copy from the author for purpose of honest review and inclusion in Children Read week. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

About the Author:

Daniel M. Fife was born in Indianapolis, Indiana on December 27, 1978. He began writing Light & Dark: The Awakening of the Mageknight during his years as a graduate student at Ball State University under the major of Counseling Psychology. What began as a simple hobby quickly turned into something more as he found a passion for writing. While carrying the schedule of a full-time student as well as working a part-time job, he devoted himself to write at least one page a day. After graduating in 2007, he received the opportunity to begin practicing psychology as a counselor at a local private practice the very same year. His devotion to writing did not waiver. Working a full time schedule and maintaining a full complement of clients, he maintained his dedication. A year or so later, he completed the rough draft of Light & Dark: The Awakening of the Mageknight and began the editing process, before finally publishing the final draft in 2012.

 

A Journey to the Four Kingdoms by Karl Hollenbach – with a discounted offer!

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Title: A Journey to the Four Kingdoms Continue reading