Monthly Archives: June 2016

In Shining Armor by E.L. Phillips

In Shining Armor

In Shining Armor by E.L. Phillips

Published by: Bold Strokes Books on June 1, 2016
Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)

Krish Nayar is not one who is into roughing it. Which is why he wasn’t keen on the suggestion of camping near Cardiff to end out his vacation in the United Kingdom. But his friends thought it was a good idea, and he went along with it. Though it doesn’t seem like a good idea after he trips in the woods, lost in fog, with no one around to help him.

Krish is surprised when a knight in shining armor–literally–rides up on a horse to come to his aid. Although he’s in pain, Krish finds the man’s commitment to being in character amusing. He assumes this knight, Bleddyn, is an actor in a local renaissance faire. But when Bleddyn brings Krish back to the castle where he lives for medical attention, Krish begins to wonder just how much of this is an act. He might have actually somehow stumbled into the seventeenth century.

Despite his surroundings, Krish can’t deny his attraction to his savior. And he’s more than a little surprised when he gets a hint that Bleddyn might feel the same way. But if Krish acts on it, it could spell trouble. His kind of love wasn’t exactly accepted in the 1600s. And he’ll only be there until he finds his way back home, right?

Faced with circumstances beyond his imagination, Krish must decide to follow his head or his heart.

This book has a few things going for it that always tend to interest me. I’m a sucker for some good historical romance. And when you throw in a time travel twist, you’ve certainly got me interested. When an author can put them together into a compelling story–then we’re talking a must read. And this fits that bill.

There’s a powerful magic influencing the events in this story. And it’s a magic that comes off the page and into the reader’s imagination. I recommend this for anyone who is a fan of any of this story’s subgenres.

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]

After the End by Damien Angelica Walters

After the End by Damien Angelica Walters

Published by: Daily Science Fiction on June 10, 2016
Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)

What would it be like to be a child in the aftermath of an epidemic that wipes out most of the population? For something so devastating to happen while you’re still in your formative years? It seems like it would be a tough way to learn about the ways of the world. And learning the hard lessons about humanity can make one grow up way too fast.

But one can’t change their circumstances. All we can ever do is try our best to live within them, make the most of what we have. And at some point, we all have to leave childhood behind…

This was an interesting and sobering first-person account of what it means to be a young girl in what followed after a deadly epidemic that wiped out most of the population. And it was not one of those stories of an epic journey and fight to survive. It was the reality of living without having access to everything you need. It showed that the struggle doesn’t always lend itself to glamorous action shots that can be filmed for the big screen. And that makes it an incredibly powerful short story.

Love Unmasked by Dale Cameron Lowry

Love Unmasked

Love Unmasked by Dale Cameron Lowry

Published by: Dreamspinner Press on June 1, 2016
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Aaron Loreto is a shifter, but he’s not one that’s well-known or often appreciated. In a world where shifters are known to humans, raccoon shifters aren’t exactly considered highbrow. And Aaron’s other self has proven to be too much for past boyfriends.

When Aaron meets Philip MacRory, he’s drawn to the man immediately. There’s something about Philip that makes Aaron think he can let his guard down. But past experience still makes him wary of divulging his secret.

But as they spend more time together, Aaron learns he may not be the only one with a secret…

Is it okay to call a story adorable and fun? Because that’s exactly what I have to say about this story. It’s a unique shifter story–how often does one see a raccoon shifter?–and the characters are great. This is definitely one of my personal favorites of this year’s Daily Dose series from Dreamspinner Press. I definitely suggest giving it a read.

Perfect State by Brandon Sanderson

Perfect State

Perfect State by Brandon Sanderson

Published by: Dragonsteel Entertainment on March 31, 2015
Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)

In a futuristic world, where everything is different, God-Emperor Kairominas still faces some of the simple problems of today. The powers that be have required that he go on a date. And even the God-Emperor must listen.

In Kai’s world, the liveborn (humans) don’t have physical bodies. Instead, their brains are connected to a system that allows them to live for centuries in a virtual world. And each person’s virtual world is uniquely suited to allow them to achieve their highest potential.

Although they mostly interact with the creations of their virtual worlds, their lives aren’t necessarily solitary. They can interact with liveborn in neighboring states. And there are even borderlands that can be crossed into and claimed. It’s in one of these that Kai met his rival. And his rival is not letting up, continuing to try to invade Kai’s lands.

So the request for Kai to meet with a potentially compatible woman–more liveborns have to come from somewhere–is a welcome distraction. But in what is supposed to be neutral territory, can Kai expect to be safe? After all, he doesn’t know this woman at all. And he might end up more vulnerable to threats from outside forces.

I enjoyed the brief journey into this world. As a novella, this certainly isn’t an epic science fiction story. But it’s paced so well that it tells a rich and complete story without needing hundreds of pages to do so. It’s easy to connect with the characters. And the writing certainly helps readers easily immerse themselves in the story.

I won’t go into too much detail because it’s always hard to avoid spoilers in reviewing shorter works. But I will say that there are some unexpected twists that I didn’t see coming. Excellent storytelling!

The Bridge by Rachel Lou

The Bridge

The Bridge by Rachel Lou

Published by: Harmony Ink Press on June 2, 2016
Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)

Everett Hallman is a witch, working with his grandfather to investigate the paranormal and help lost souls cross over to the other side. When a mysterious feeling leads him to a local martial arts studio, he’s surprised at the amount of power he finds there. It’s a place worth investigating. But the source of the power remains unknown to him.

In another surprising twist, Everett learns he is a Bridge Master. Bridge Masters are special witches tasked with guarding the bridges between worlds. They also are the only witches who can freely cross the bridges and enter the spirit world. As a young witch who is still coming into his power, it’s just a bit overwhelming.

And he’s still trying to figure out what’s going on at the martial arts studio. And what exactly is going on with his new friend he met there. Especially since Everett wouldn’t mind at all if he became more than just a friend…

Throw some well-written young adult urban fantasy at me and I’m happy. And this book is exactly that. It’s a unique world and story, and I found myself drawn in quite quickly. And there were a few twists that I absolutely did not see coming.

Everett goes through quite a journey in the short span of this book. So many things around him are changing. And he is learning new things about himself. Despite this personal growth and challenge, he holds strong to his purpose, even when it might put him in danger.

I’m not sure if the author has any plans for more, but I wouldn’t mind reading another book or two set in this world.

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]

The Lines of Beauty by Jake Stark

The Lines of Beauty

The Lines of Beauty by Jake Stark

Published by: Jake Stark on March 11, 2016
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Danny Spark lives an ultimate playboy lifestyle: sex, drugs, and only the smallest amount of responsibility. And even when things start to catch up with him, he tries to shrug it all off. Everything will always work out in the end, right?

But then he meets Hugo, a young man he’s hired to manage the bar at the new club he’s running. There’s something about Hugo that intrigues Danny, and it hearkens him back to an evening he spent with an old friend years ago. Used to simply pursuing whatever pleasures he desires, Danny thinks he might throw caution to the wind and pursue Hugo. But everything around him is spinning fast, and it’s not going to stop just because Danny wants to have some fun.

Hugo is also far more complicated than he seems. He’s not a pleasure-seeking playboy like Danny, and he wants more out of life. He looks before he leaps, and the two may not have as much in common as Danny hopes. And he’s less than interested in becoming tangled up in the mess Danny has created for himself.

But Danny’s never quite felt like this before. He can’t shake Hugo. And will that be enough for him to leave his past behind and become a new–and more responsible–man?

The author has done a great job of presenting Danny to readers here. It’s very clear that he is a pleasure-seeker, more interested in fun than consequences. The narration style itself adds to this sentiment, complete with throwing in brand names and an almost stream-of-consciousness feel at times. Danny certainly doesn’t evoke any sympathy, and I’m not sure he’s supposed to. While he may think his life is glamorous, he soon learns it’s not everything he thought it was cracked up to be.

But the book isn’t preachy. It doesn’t have those overtones. But it tells an interesting and unique sort of story I don’t think I’ve seen anywhere else.

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.]