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[Review] Spire City, Season One: Infected by Daniel Ausema

[Review] Spire City, Season One: Infected by Daniel Ausema published on

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Spire City, Season One: Infected
By Daniel Ausema

Over the years, I have read many books from various authors; and a variety of genres, but never in my 30+ years on this planet have I read a serialized novel before. I’ll admit it, at first, it threw me, and I thought this book just wasn’t for me. However, the way Daniel Ausema crafts his story made me want to continue reading this book, and I was rewarded with an intriguing tale.

Chels is our main character, she is an immigrant orphan girl whose only real family is a bunch of misfits that are brought together by the fact they have all been touched by a virus that turns a regular human into an actual animal. She lives in a world where the rich and the powerful do not care about the poor and the weak and this brings me to an interesting observation about this book. I cannot help, but feel that Daniel Ausema was making some sort of social commentary on our world and society within his fictional world as a lot of elements he touches upon are very relevant in modern society. However, throughout this book I was struggling to find a motive as to why anyone would (one) create such and virus and (two) infect a person with said virus. I felt this was a major flaw in this book; until I realized the antagonist doesn’t have a reason he just does it; because he can. Once, I realized this, it sent a chill down my spine. The antagonist, in my opinion, is clearly psychotic and has delusions of grandeur. A man with a plan is dangerous enough, but a man without one can be absolutely terrifying in my opinion. Once, this realization hit me it blew me away; and the plot just unfolded perfectly for that moment on. But the book doesn’t deviate from its core element that this book is a story about the have and have-not of society and what use is a good man or woman; if he or she is unwilling or powerless to do anything to change the environment around them.

Daniel Ausema has crafted a really interesting tale that is both amazing and terrifying all at once; I can’t help, but be excited by it. One of the really cool things in this book is the flying, and non-flying beetles that are used as modes of transport; they’re really cool, and I want to ride one! Our band of misfits all seemed like really interesting characters. But would have preferred if more time could have been spent on fleshing them out a slightly more. The upper-class characters aren’t written as evil mustache twirling villains; because they’re not. They simply don’t care enough to realize what one twisted individual is doing towards a class of people that the wider population simply doesn’t care enough about to notice their plight.

So, will you, like it? Perseverance is necessary for this book in my opinion; as it does take a while to grow accustomed to the style of the book if you haven’t read anything like this before. But; not only that it’s a slow burner, and I know some people will not like that. However, if you stick with it, then you’re left with a memorable story that will leave you, wanting more. I’m definitely going to recommend this one to my friends. If you enjoyed the book, as much as, I have you really want to read the follow-ups Season Two: Pursued and the upcoming Season Three: Unwoven.

Review: Dark Heart of Magic by Jennifer Estep

Review: Dark Heart of Magic by Jennifer Estep published on

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Review

Note that this is the second book in the Black Blade series. Check out more information on the first book, Cold Burn of Magic, at Goodreads.

Lila Merriweather is only weeks into her new job of being a bodyguard to Devon Sinclair a Bruiser to one of the most powerful families of Cloudburst Falls. Who is also next in line to be head of the Sinclair family. After her heroics in saving herself, Devon, and the Sinclair family head, she is a fully fledged member of the Sinclair family, although not by her own choice. In her new duties Lila must enter a contest called The Tournament Of Blades which is hugely popular with locals and tourist alike. But when someone sabotages the obstacle course event, it’s up to Lila to find out what exactly happened and whether it was an accident or something more sinister. Combining that with her hunt for a merciless troll killer and her secret mission from the head of the Sinclair family Lila’s plate is full. Can the former orphan turn thief turn bodyguard solve the case before tragedy strikes the competition or has Lila Merriweather bitten off more than she can chew?

I often try to shy away from comparing authors because it’s unfair to expect an author to meet your expectations because another author has set the bar high. But I can’t help, but compare Jennifer Estep to one of my favourite authors, and that is Jim Butcher. Although they both have their own unique ways of crafting their stories, it’s incredibly difficult not to see similarities between the two. And this is the biggest compliment I can pay Jennifer Estep. She’s head-to-head in awesomeness with one of my favourite authors. Now, I’m not arrogant enough to think my standards are the litmus test everyone should follow. But for me personally as a reader it makes me incredibly happy that I’ve found a new author that writes in a style and manner that I love. I found this book to be an easy read and although I recommend you do pick up book one in this series: Cold Burn of Magic, because it’s an outstanding book and you should read it. But it isn’t required for you to understand this book. Because Jennifer Estep does a great job of filling in the plot points from the first book and I feel comfortable in saying that if you don’t want to read the first one, then you will be okay to start with book two without it negatively affecting your enjoyment of this book.

This book has plenty of action. Which I love. Jennifer Estep puts just enough detail in describing the action that it allows the reader to really get a clear picture of the fights in your imagination. The characters and world within this book are incredibly rich as well. Although the main characters are Lila and Devon the supporting character are just as interesting as our main protagonists. Jennifer Estep does an amazing job in bringing them alive and you cannot help, but care for the protagonists and there’s nothing better than having antagonists that you can truly despise. However, saying that I did find the plot slightly predictable in places and I did predict the person behind the murders and sabotage pretty early on in this novel. Which disappointed me a little. The magic system set up in this book and its predecessor kind of reminds me a little of The Codex Alera book series. However, while the latter are spirits of sorts and the former are not the same principle and rules apply here. Each person is individual and therefore each person has individual skill sets. The magic here is divided into three categories Strength, Spirit and Sense. Our protagonist Lila skills are Soul Sight which basically allows her to see look into the eyes of another, be it human or monster and feel their emotions or see their final moments before they expire. Her other skill which she keeps mostly a secret from people is something called Transference. This skill is basically she gains a bit of her opponents’ power for a short period of time. The reason she keeps this a secret because people would kill her for that rare gift. Certain individuals within this world steal magic from another by bleeding them with a special blade. Combining all these elements leads the reader on an exciting adventure full of mystery, love, drama, and action. All things I and many others look for when picking up a book.

So will you like it? If you love urban fantasy and enjoy the works of Jim Butcher, Kevin Hearne, and Patricia Briggs, then I think you will really enjoy this book and Jennifer Estep other books. Although this doesn’t bring anything new to the genre you shouldn’t let that stop you from reading what is a great novel from a great writer. I would highly recommend you read this book and read the first novel in this series as well. I cannot wait to read more of Jennifer Estep’s work.

available from Amazon on 10/27/2015.

About the Author

New York Times bestselling author Jen­nifer Estep is constantly prowling the streets of her imagination in search of her next fantasy idea. Jennifer is the author of the Black Blade and Mythos Academy young adult urban fantasy series for Kensington. She writes the Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series for Pocket Books and is also the author of the Bigtime paranormal romance series.

Jennifer is a member of Romance Writers of America, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and other writing groups. Jennifer’s books have been featured in Cosmopolitan, Entertainment Weekly, Southern Living, and a variety of other publications.

Author Links

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Review: Big Data Is Watching You! by Bruce Hartman

Review: Big Data Is Watching You! by Bruce Hartman published on

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Big Data Is Watching You! Set sometime in the distant future, Earth has been patented and now is called Goozle Earth. Life spans have increased and the only law that is recognized is the terms of service. Our protagonist for this kooky adventure is Smith. Smith is a self-confessed moron that works for Celebrity Solutions as a Level 5 publicist. His world is turned upside down when he meets Julia, who lives outside of the system and informs Smith that his freedom and happiness is a lie and that he and everyone else living within Goozle Earth is living in a dystopian society. But the only problem with that is Smith isn’t sure what that exactly means.

This has been a hard review for me to write. Not because I didn’t enjoy the book because I did mostly. I just didn’t know how to approach the main criticism I had with this book without being too harsh on the author of this book. After all comedy is subjective, what I find unfunny others might find funny, but the truth is from my perspective the comedy in this book just doesn’t work at all or is it because in my opinion this feels more like a serious science fiction novel that’s masquerading as a comedy? I’m unsure how to answer that question. Even after finishing this novel I can’t answer that question. It’s been bugging me and it’s still bugging now. However, for this reviewer sanity, I have to deem this as the weakest link in this otherwise good novel.

The story, however, is a good one for the most part it’s about corporations and their policies buying influence with people in power. How social media has overtaken our everyday life after all we spend an average of nine hours a day (8 hours and 41 minutes to be exact) looking at our phones, checking out our social media accounts. Also, how our obsessions with celebrities verges on deity worship. All interesting threads to follow for this novel and Bruce Hartman does a good job interweaving them together into a coherent story. The building of this world is very detailed and quite interesting as well. Bruce Hartman feeds us snippets of this throughout the novel and details how our world turned into their world. If we could forget the comedy aspect for just a second, then Bruce Hartman would have a good novel in his hands. I would even say this a very interesting social commentary about our generation. But I can’t forget that a major element of this novel (the comedy) just doesn’t work and as much as I would love to sweep that under the carpet I can’t. Which upsets me because this book is a good read. However, even the strongest element of the book (the story) falls apart near the end of the novel. Which I can’t really go into unfortunately without divulging major spoilers.

So will you like it? This is a tough one like I’ve said comedy is subjective you may love the comedy in this novel. If you do, then you’re probably going to take away a lot from this novel. However, if like me, you don’t, then your only hope is that you enjoy the story which for the first three quarters is a pretty strong story, but it’s let down by the final act. So will you like it? I feel this book will divide opinion. This maybe a good book to pick up at the Library if you see it on the shelves, but I couldn’t recommend you parting with your money for it.

About the Author

1672631Bruce Hartman has worked as a pianist, music teacher, bookseller and attorney and has been writing fiction for many years. His first novel, PERFECTLY HEALTHY MAN DROPS DEAD, won the Salvo Press Mystery Novel Award and was published by Salvo Press in 2008. His second book, THE RULES OF DREAMING, was published by Swallow Tail Press in May 2013. Kirkus Reviews selected THE RULES OF DREAMING as one of its “Top 100 Indie Books of 2013.” Another mystery, THE MUSE OF VIOLENCE, was released in October 2013.

Bruce Hartman’s first non-mystery novel was published in April 2015. A BUTTERFLY IN PHILADELPHIA is a satirical comic novel and at the same time a coming of age story, though not YA fiction (because of some of the themes). Readers’ Favorite Book Reviews gave the book Five Stars and called it “one of the strange, comic masterpieces that you’re quite lucky to run across once in a very great while.”

Continuing in the humorous vein, a new novel, BIG DATA IS WATCHING YOU, is scheduled for release in early November. Subtitled “A comic dystopia,” this book explores and satirizes the impact of Big Data and the “Internet of Things” in a slightly futuristic world. To quote Groucho Marx: “Humor is reason gone mad.”

THE PHILOSOPHICAL DETECTIVE, subtitled “The True Story of An Imaginary Gentleman,” was published in 2014. It explores the boundary between literary fiction and the mystery genre – and as always in Hartman’s fiction, between fiction and reality. If you’re not sure whether you’d like it, try downloading a free ebook on Amazon and Kobo entitled MURDER CONSIDERED AS ONE OF THE FINE ARTS, a self-contained short story which forms the first part of The Philosophical Detective.

Bruce Hartman lives with his wife in Philadelphia.

Author’s Links

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Review: Paired Pursuit by Clare Murray

Review: Paired Pursuit by Clare Murray published on

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The year is 2053. The Earth was devastated by an alien invasion. That happened eleven years ago. The remaining civilisation on Earth have devolved into a land with fewer laws and even fewer morals. Mari is an orphan who is fleeing a man who wants her to enter a loveless marriage. She is a young woman without any dowry, which means she’s unworthy of most male suitors, which means her choices are very limited. Because in this society, the male gains all of the woman’s wealth and the land her father owns upon marriage, and Mari has neither land nor money. Her only hope for financial security for herself is for her to travel to Scar City to find an artefact that was left behind by her father–the artefact that he recovered from an alien race known only as ‘The Barks.’ The only problem with this plan, besides not knowing what the artefact actually looks like and its location, is that two twins who only go by the names of Finn and Garath, (who also happen to be genetically modified Super Soldiers), are after the same artefact as well.

This is a fun and fast novel to read. I found it hard to put down. The characters are rich, and Clare Murray really lays down a good backstory for Mari within the first chapter that really makes you root for her as the main protagonist. The sex scenes are described in a lot of juicy details, which this reviewer appreciates and loves, but these scenes never venture into the obscene, which I also appreciate. However, I do question whether a virgin, which Mari is, would be so eager to take part in a threesome during her first sexual encounter? You might say I’m nitpicking, but I did find it a little unrealistic for my taste. Finn and Garath aren’t your usual romantic protagonists either. They do dominate Mari during the sex scenes and also in other parts of the book, but not in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable, nor do you feel that they’re exploiting her with what they’re doing and it’s clear to see they both care for her greatly. Clare Murray makes you feel their inner strength and the telepathic bond these two brothers share intensifies their bond with Mari and with each other. Which makes you as the reader grow more attached to these characters.

You might think this novel is a bit sexist and it is in parts. But Clare Murray doesn’t shy away from this subject. She acknowledges it within the first few chapters of the story, but it doesn’t become such an issue that it takes you out of the story at any point. In fact, it adds an extra layer of drama that makes you hope Mari is successful in her quest to find the artefacts.

The World building elements of this book are great. You really feel like this fictional world is alive and teeming with possibilities. That can only be a good thing since this is the first book in the series, and I honestly cannot wait to read more. However, I wish this book had a little more action than it does. As we draw closer to the end of the story, the action does intensify, but I kind of wish we had a little more action throughout the story. Don’t get me wrong, the story and sex scenes will make this an excellent experience for any reader who picks this up, but as someone who loves films like Aliens I can’t help, but want a little more action throughout this novel. The Barks are the antagonists of this novel and pose a clear and present danger, but I only believe that because the characters tell me so. I don’t actually feel the tension I should be feeling with them as they draw ever nearer to Scar City. In fact, I feel the city is more of a danger to the characters than the alien race hell bent on destroying them. Is this a shortcoming of the novel? Maybe, but I’m willing to forgive this because the dialogue, the relationships that develop over the course of this novel make this an incredible read. The book even makes you laugh on occasion. This novel truly has a bit of everything in it.

So, will you like it as much as I’ve liked it? Well, that depends: do you like a Romantic Science Fiction novel with the emphasis on romance? To put it bluntly, if you’re looking for a new hard sci-fi novel series, then this book isn’t for you. However, if you’re looking for a fun read with a ton of descriptive sex scenes, then this book is most definitely for you. The world and characters Clare Murray has crafted are well worth you parting with your hard earned money. I know I’ll be picking up this novel when it hits the stores, even though I have a review copy on my Kindle. Unfortunately, now comes the hard part. Waiting for Murray to write and release book two in this series. I cannot wait to re-enter this world and reacquaint myself with these excellent characters.

Paired Pursuit by Clare Murray is set to be released by Samhain Publishing on the 1st of December 2015.

It can be pre-ordered on Amazon now.

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