Tag Archive: ebook

the forgotten queenThe Forgotten Queen by D.L. Bogdan

Published January 29th, 2013 by Kensington

Cover image and synopsis provided by the publisher.


Buy this book at: Amazon / B&N / Book Depository / Books A Million


Rating 2 star



From her earliest days, Margaret Tudor knows she will not have the luxury of choosing a husband. As daughter of Henry VII, her duty is to gain alliances for England. Barely out of girlhood, Margaret is married by proxy to James IV and travels to Edinburgh to become Queen of Scotland.

Despite her doubts, Margaret falls under the spell of her adopted home. But she has rivals. While Jamie is an affectionate husband, he is not a faithful one. And providing an heir cannot guarantee Margaret’s safety when Jamie leads an invading army against her own brother, Henry VIII. In the wake of tragic loss she falls prey to the attentions of the ambitious Earl of Angus—a move that brings Scotland to the brink of anarchy. Beset by betrayal, secret alliances, and the vagaries of her own heart, Margaret has one overriding ambition—to preserve the crown of Scotland for her son, no matter what the cost.

Exquisitely detailed and poignant, The Forgotten Queen vividly depicts the life and loves of an extraordinary woman who helped shape the fate of two kingdoms—and in time, became the means of uniting them.




**Warning: Mild spoilers ahead!**

Something is wrong with me, or at least wrong with the books I’ve been reading lately.  My past 3 or 4 books were 2 stars, I need to stop that trend!  Unfortunately, this book is not going to be the one to end the streak.  I wanted it to be, so desperately.  The cover is amazing, I am so in love with that dress that I wanted to read the book simply for that.  The synopsis also grabbed my attention.  Everyone has read books about the infamous Tudors.  Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, Princess Catherine, all of these are names that most people would recognize.  Margaret is the oft overlooked Tudor that I can’t recall having too many books written about her.  In retrospect, there seems to be a very good reason for that.

Initially, I thought that I would quite like Margaret.  She was spunky and fiery, with a bit of an attitude on her too.  Her journey to the altar (by proxy) at the age of 13 to the King of Scotland, who was 20 years her senior, was a sweet introduction to the story and her character.  I liked that she understood her role in a royal family of being a queen and producing a royal family, while trying to bring two kingdoms together.  She was being proactive and determined to do her part for both England and Scotland.  I also enjoyed seeing her struggles to acclimate to a new country and discovering exactly what being a queen entailed.  Unfortunately, Margaret went from spunky and intelligent to selfish and narcissistic in a hurry. I found myself furious with her so many times that I stopped counting.  EVERYTHING was about her!  And when things stopped revolving around her for half a second she threw a fit and did something stupid, like firing a cannon at her husband.  She humiliated herself often but then got angry at every perceived slight that “shamed” her, no honey you are doing a wonderful job of that yourself.

I am not done unloading about Margaret here, she was also a horrible narrator because it was alllllll about the Margaret show.  Her child dies, it’s shoved aside when she gets a new dress and is so excited about it.  Her favorite servant dies and she is stunned that the woman had family and other interests besides hearing her self-indulgent rants all the time.  Her husband lies to her, deceives her, cheats on her, steals from her, and abandons her.  Yet she lets him take her son (the crowned king!) for a visit.  And then is absolutely shocked that he won’t give him back!  What the holy mother of God did you think would happen?!  He’s scum and has always had aspirations to control the king so you just hand the king over!?  Her late husband tells her, you must remain unmarried or they will challenge you for the crown.  She remarries and then is stunned when they challenge her for the crown!! AAAAHHHH!!  I can’t talk about Margaret anymore or I’m going to have a rage induced stroke.

Jamie was the complete opposite in terms of character, I really liked him a lot.  He was kind, considerate, intelligent, and looked to the future in a way befitting of a king.  I thought that this was the character I’d hate, marrying a 13-year-old and bringing her to Scotland at 14.  But I didn’t.  He recognized that she was just a girl and probably had no idea what being a wife and queen meant and was patient with her missteps.  It didn’t take me long to figure out that Jamie genuinely and honestly loved Margaret even if he was far from the perfect husband.  He did everything he could to make her happy but it didn’t end up working because she still nagged at him about everything.  I felt sorry for him by the end simply for having to deal with her.

The plot also presented me a lot of trouble, mainly because I wasn’t sure that there was one.  It was over 300 pages of a narcissistic rant that was all about Margaret.  That got boring really quick.  There was almost no mention of the intrigue of the time, nations in turmoil, her brother’s court in shambles, Scotland under siege from within, nothing of any import for the time at all.  All about Margaret and what made Margaret happy or unhappy.  I also pray that the formatting was fixed for the final copy because the ARC was practically unreadable.  In one sentence, a son was alive and well and being christened.  Literally in the next sentence, with no segue, the same son is dead and they are at his funeral.  I have zero idea how much time passed in between the two events.  Topics were mentioned and changed at will and with no explanation, segue, or even a paragraph break to tell me what was going on.  At one point, two whole years passed from the time we ended one paragraph to when we started the next.  It was so confusing.  I hope this was only a problem with the ARC because if the final copy is like that, God help anyone who reads it.

I cannot recommend this book.  It nearly killed me just to finish it and I considered putting it down and giving up more than a dozen times.  Unless you are a massive fan of the author then I fear your reading experience will echo mine.

Thank you Kensington for providing me an ARC of this book via NetGalley.  It was provided in exchange for an honest review.



Review: Red Island by Lorne Oliver

Red IslandRed Island by Lorne Oliver

Published May 23rd, 2012 by the author

Synopsis and cover image from the Goodreads book page

Buy this book at Smashwords / B&N / Amazon


Was it the nightmare that woke him or the late night phone ringing that brought on the dream? Sgt. Reid of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police brought his family to Prince Edward Island, “The Gentle Island,” to get away from crime and homicides. He had to get away from the nightmares and concentrate on his family. PEI is a lovely place to live. The sound of the ocean crashing against sandy beaches, sand dunes covered in tufts of dancing green grass…

…And then there was the young woman hanging from a tree. It wasn’t a gentle island any more.

Rating (out of 5): 3 star


***WARNING: This review may contain spoilers, stop reading now if you wish to remain unspoiled.***

This book is a hard one for me to put my finger on and say I liked it or I didn’t like it.  In the end, I really liked some of it and I really didn’t like some of it.  I liked the story, it was decent and well constructed.  I really disliked Sgt. Reid, he annoyed me on nearly every page.  And I absolutely loved Ben the serial killer, he was the shining star of this entire book!

Let’s begin with the story.  Like I said, it was decent and well constructed.  Sgt. Reid is still recovering from an emotional case involving young girls being murdered and brings his family to Prince Edward Island, where things like that just don’t happen.  But no sooner does he get there then that kind of thing starts to happen.  Bodies of young women are turning up, proudly displayed in public, and Reid must face everything all over again.  I thought that things progressed at a fairly good pace as far as the progression of the killings went.  It was logical and made a lot of sense.  All that was good.  But I really didn’t like the police work in this.  I give the author big props for doing so much research into police procedure and keeping it so real to life.  However, there is a big reason that TV shows and movies make police work so fantastical…it makes it interesting.  Reading scene after scene of the police scratching their heads and going “I dunno what to do?  What should we do?  Wait for another killing?  Go talk to more people?  I dunno.”, might be true to life but it’s also not very interesting.  I was sitting there screaming, “SHE SAID HE WAS A PHOTOGRAPHER!!!  YOU ALREADY TALKED TO HIM AND HE TOLD YOU THAT!!!  WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU!!!??”  Maybe it was because Reid was too focused on his partner’s ass..ets, but more on that in a minute.  I was mildly perturbed about knowing the name and identity of the serial killer right off the bat, but since his scenes were so good I stopped caring at all.

Now let’s talk about Reid, and yes I have to call him Reid because we never learn his first name.  At first that was kind of amusing as people guessed and never got told, but it got old fast.  And when it was used as a cliffhanger at the end, I was just over it.  The woman says, “Do me a favor, tell me your first name.”, end of book.  I didn’t care anymore at that point, it wasn’t amusing anymore, so I didn’t mind that I don’t know his name.  I also firmly believe that Reid has a medical condition.  This man has the most tingly, twitchy groin that I have ever heard of.  Sees the dead mangled body of a girl, he thinks about her nice body and tingly groin!  Sees his partner walking around, twitchy groin!  Looks at pictures of the murdered girls before they died, tingly groin!!  Looks at a butterfly, twitchy groin!  About the only time there is no tingly, twitchy groin is when he’s with his wife.  I think he should see a doctor, he has a serious problem.  I also think Reid couldn’t solve the murders faster because his every single thought is about cheating on his wife.  The wife who is at home, calling to make sure he was safe and had dinner while you working his case, that controlling dirtbag!  She didn’t do a single thing except love him and support him and he’s thinking about screwing around on her constantly.  Even at crime scenes and during interviews.  No wonder you couldn’t find the killer bud, you were too busy thinking about your twitchy groin than the case.  Needless to say, I despised Reid very much.

So far all of this is mixed, liked some and hated some, but then we get to Ben the serial killer.  If this book had been Ben only, it would have been five stars all the way.  I loved watching him as a young boy killing small animals, to progressing and refining his skills as a rapist and then finally as a killer.  The look into this psychopath’s mind was fascinating and I loved every page of it. I never did quite figure out why Ben decided to taunt Reid which ultimately got him caught though.  Until then, the cops had figured out nothing and were waiting for him to tell them how to catch him.  If he hadn’t done that he could have gone on forever because they cops had nothing that he didn’t hand them.  I think this was supposed to be part of Ben’s de-evolution and descent into madness.  But it didn’t feel totally genuine to me.  He’d been completely stable until that point and then just jumped off the deep end.  I still liked it, but it felt rushed.  At the end of this book I have to take what I hated and take what I loved and I come away with one conclusion:  It was good and I would choose to read it again if given the chance, but I probably won’t reread it now that I have already done so once.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest and thoughtful review.  Thanks to the author for providing this book!

SnowblindSnowblind by Michael McBride

Published November 27th, 2012 by Delirium Books

Cover and synopsis provided by the publisher.

Buy this book at: DarkFuse / Amazon


They come at night.


A stranger staggers out of the wilderness under the cover of a blizzard and stumbles into a diner full of people. He collapses in the entryway, unzips his jacket, and allows the object hidden inside to fall out. Screaming commences.


Four old college buddies embark upon their annual elk hunting trip into the Rocky Mountains. This promises to be their last, for the passage of time is as merciless and unpredictable as the Colorado weather. And they’re not alone.


There are other hunters in the mountains, stalking game of a different breed. They know exactly what they’re doing, because they’ve been hunting in these woods for a long, long time. And no one ever survives to betray their existence.

Rating (out of 5): 4 star


This is a short story (only 69 pages on my e-reader, I know it made me giggle too) but it is a creepy one in that short amount of time.  I had never read anything by this author prior to this story but I must say that I am going to check out his other work now.  The basic premise is that four long time friends go out elk hunting once a year to bond, get drunk, and just have a good time.  This year, however, they run into the middle of a blizzard.  They retreat to the safety of an abandoned cabin for shelter when one of them is gravely injured but soon find that they are not the only ones doing some hunting, but now they are the prey.

The aura of this book is super creepy.  I could feel the tension from the very first page when we have a man who is halfway dead stagger into a diner and throw open his coat and everyone starts screaming.  I admit that I had a moment where I giggled inappropriately imagining him as a flasher, but that passed quickly into uneasiness and major creep factor.  Right away I sensed that this mystery man was one of the four friends but I was anxious to find out which one, and what he had in his coat.  He referred to it as “proof”.  I spent the whole story contemplating what kind of proof and proof of what exactly.

One of the more remarkable things about this story is that I was terrified of this monster, whatever it was, that was stalking these men but didn’t actually see it for the majority.  Not until the very end did we actually see the monster.  Most of the time whatever was hunting them was hiding in the shadows and using the blizzard as cover.  This made it  incredibly scary and every time one of the men turned a corner I wanted to shout, “No!  What if it’s hiding around the corner!!”

I was highly anticipating the ending of the story and that is where it falls off the five star train for me and runs to the four star track.  I don’t want to spoil it for anyone but I will say that it was one of those moments where I celebrated and then sat there and thought “Wait, what?!  What just happened?!”  It was jarring, which is a good thing.  But it also didn’t make much logical sense to me.  I think anyone with an ounce of common sense would not have done that.  Unless of course they did it on purpose.  Actually, now that I think about it that would make it ultra sinister.  Hmmm, I am not sure if it was a flop ending or magnificently creepy. Maybe you should read this and decide for yourself.

I received an ARC copy of this story from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  No compensation or promises were made.  Thank you Delirium Books for this great read!

Other Systems by Elizabeth Guizzetti

Other Systems by Elizabeth Guizzetti

Published by 48Fourteen on April 1st, 2012

Synopsis and cover image from the Goodreads book page

Buy this ebook at: B&N / Amazon


Ten large ships race toward Earth, broadcasting in every language: “Brothers and sisters, we come in peace and in need. We have found our way home.” The fear of a coming invasion begins the worldwide riots of 3062.

Yet, not all Earthlings fear attack. The newcomers, long lost descendants of Earth, speak of a paradise ninety-four light years away. Kipos is a land of plenty where there has never been hunger, murder, or war. However, they need more healthy young immigrants for the colony to thrive.

Many accept their offer to be tested. After assessment, Abby Boyd Lei is among the chosen. She leaves the protection of her family with dreams of higher education, a good job, and a kind-hearted spouse.

Will Kipos be everything she imagined? Abby is about to discover the cost of utopia.

Rating (out of 5):

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author free of charge in exchange for an honest, thoughtful review.  No other compensation or promise of a positive review was given.

Review: Don’t let a three star rating fool you, I enjoyed this book a lot.  The story was good, the characters were solid, the structuring was all good.  Unfortunately, the book had some issues that I couldn’t quite get past and this effected the overall rating that I gave it.  So let’s go through this point by point.

When I look back on the synopsis of this book in hindsight, it confuses me a little.  Yes, this book was about Abby and her journey to Kipos and a new life in this “utopia” she was presented.  The synopsis would have you believe that this was the whole of the story.  But in reality this discovery and journey was really only about 1/3 of the book.  The rest hardly touched on this at all and so the synopsis didn’t apply that much to the majority of the book.  The story I got was good, but it was far different than the story I expected.  What I got was a story of perseverance, daring, courage, and having the strength to make something better out of your circumstances.  This was a great story and I wish it was closer to what I had been pitched!

Now, the rest of this may be a bit spoiler heavy, so consider yourself warned. There was an event that takes place on Kipos that was supposed to be heavily emotional and increase my empathy for Abby.  Mostly it horrified me, but then confused me.  So basically Abby is raped in order to have her conceive a child.  Now, this is awful and horrifying.  But Abby’s reaction to this event really puzzled me.  She displayed no knowledge or understanding of her body or sex at all.  When her hymen is perforated, she thinks they are performing surgery on her.  She seems to have no idea what’s going on with her body or how sex functions.  But then later she starts having sexual fantasies about her guards and masturbating.  Um, that doesn’t really make sense to me.  Yes, I realize some girls become sexually promiscuous after a rape to take their power back, but she had never masturbated before and didn’t seem to understand sex at all so this move was confusing.  She also shows extreme naivety about her pregnancy, such as thinking that she is going to be raising this baby and allowed to be a mother to it.  Also, she doesn’t seem to have any ambivalence about the baby which is very common for babies conceived through rape.
Alright, enough about that, let’s move on to the next part.  I really loved Abby’s interaction with the crew of the Revelation.  I loved that she found her place and discovered something that she really enjoyed doing.  The characters were excellent and their interactions made me really interested to see what would happen.  The only thing that bothered me about this whole section was Abby.  She never thought to talk to anyone about anything before she came to a conclusion about their behavior and instead just decided that her conclusion was right and acted accordingly.  This alienated her from her companions and served to alienate me from them as well.

My last tiny little gripes, I promise.  Some of the more scientific aspects of this book confused the hell out of me.  I consider myself to be reasonably intelligent, but 2 relative weeks, 3 relative months, tachyon engine this, it just made my eyes cross.  The only way I knew how much time had passed is by looking at the dates at the beginning of the chapters.  Otherwise, I was clueless.  Also the ending of the book was rather anti-climactic.  The author built up some amazing tension in the plot for many chapters, and then when we got to that moment it was just…..over.  There was minimal drama and it was resolved within a few pages.  That was a bit disappointing.  But the ending after that was excellent and well planned out.  Abby may not have found her utopia on Kipos, but she did find it by the end of the book.  Overall I enjoyed this book a lot but there were a handful of things that prevented me from truly loving it as much as I could have.  But it is a fun read and I would encourage anyone who’s a fan of the sci-fi genre to read it, and new fans to the genre should give it a try.



Room by Emma Donoghue

Room by Emma Donoghue

Published September 13th, 2010 by Little, Brown and Company

Synopsis and picture from the Goodreads book page

You can buy this book at B&N / Amazon


To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it’s where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.

Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it’s not enough…not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son’s bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.

Told entirely in the language of the energetic, pragmatic five-year-old Jack, ROOM is a celebration of resilience and the limitless bond between parent and child, a brilliantly executed novel about what it means to journey from one world to another.

Rating (out of 5):


Before starting this book, I was not exactly sure what to expect.  I had heard so many things about it and all of them seemed to be good, which seemed very unlikely to me that I had heard nothing but praise about this book.  When it became a monthly read for an online book group, I knew it was time for me to give it a try.  This story was entrancing and yet dark at the same time.  This isn’t some fluffy, happy, cutesy story but it is very deep and emotional.

This story is told through the five year old eyes of Jack.  I think he was the right narrator for a few different reasons but it also presented a challenge.  How do you accurately describe some of the horrific things that happen in this book if your narrator is a mere 5 years old and may not understand it?  It’s a dilemma and there were times that I felt the author struggled with her narrator, but it also made the story better.  In my opinion, having a child be the narrator for the story made the subject matter easier to get through.  As an adult reading his descriptions you knew what was going on, but it was less gritty and thrown in your face and so it made it easier to deal with.  A story about a woman who was kidnapped and held captive as a sexual slave for nearly a decade and who gave birth in this room to her kidnapper’s child is really tough and emotional to read about.  Having it filtered through the eyes of a child lessens the horror a little bit, which allows you to see the story as a whole.

I had two issues with this book, one of them is small and one is rather big.  The small irritation is that sometimes Jack talked like a adult, or made observations that no five year old child would ever really care about.  For example, when Jack makes an observation about how people in the world are always busy and never have time for anything and so stressed.  A kindergarten age child doesn’t look around and think about other people’s stress.  It was moments like that when I felt that the author struggled having a child narrator who couldn’t realistically portray what she wanted to portray in certain instances.

The bigger irritation was how the adults insisted on treating Jack after they were rescued from Room.  Even his Ma kept treating him as if he should have been acting and responding differently.  When he said he wanted to go back to Room his Ma would get angry with him.  I understand that for her it was a prison cell and a torture room, but for Jack it was the ONLY life and existence he ever knew.  It was never a negative place, it was home.  It’s only natural for him to want to go back.  And the other adults did it too.  When Jack took something from a store and tried to leave with it, they were angry with him.  He’s a child for God’s sake!  And a child who has no experience at all in functioning in the outside world!  It made me angry and it made me dislike most of the adults in the book.

The ending of this book, however, washed away any irritation I had with the book.  They get to put their experience to rest and that part brought me to tears.  The moment that Jack stands in the door and says, this isn’t Room anymore, my heart broke and I knew that I loved this book.  It’s very rare that a book brings tears to my eyes, but this one did.  It wasn’t perfect, I mentioned my problems with the book, but it did touch my heart.

The Twenty by Claudia Carozza

The Twenty by Claudia Carozza

Published June 6th, 2012.  Self published by the author through CreateSpace.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.  No other compensation or monetary exchange was made.

Photo and synopsis from the Goodreads book page.

Buy this book at B&N / Amazon


Imagine living in a time when infertility runs rampant and babies are no longer being born. The world is crumbling around you as people start talking about the end. This is the world Hazel DeSales grew up in. After her mother dies from a mysterious cancer, Hazel finds herself taking care of her younger sister Netty and alcoholic father.

It’s not until twenty women, known as the Elect, become pregnant all across the Barronlands when things start looking up. Hazel and Netty apply for jobs working as domestics in the Antioch Center where the Elect will be taken care of and protected. Hazel feels change in the air and her outlook for the future starts to improve.

But she soon learns that change is not without consequence. Rumors are brewing about a government cover up and Hazel finds herself in the wrong place at the wrong time. So begins the unraveling of secrets that uncover things from her past and, threatening her future. Hazel is determined to seek the truth and promises herself to do whatever it takes to succeed.



This book was very enjoyable for me.  I was prepared to spend a lot of time hearing about Hazel and I found her to be a rather interesting character, so this wasn’t a problem for me at all.  Hazel lives in a world where the human race is going to be extinct soon, it’s just thought to be a fact.  Babies are not being born, women are not getting pregnant, and the cancer epidemic that wiped out much of the population seems to blame.  First, let me talk about Hazel and her family a little bit.  Hazel is very codependent.  Normally this is something that bothers me in a character but for her it makes complete sense.  Her mother died of cancer and her father is drinking himself to death in her absence, leaving Hazel to essentially become the woman of the house and handle all the responsibilities.  So in this way it makes sense that she is codependent, she has been forced into an adult role long before she was ready for it.

The premise of this book is that seemingly out of nowhere 20 women have become pregnant.  Since these women are the hope for all of the human race, they are going to be taken to the most secure facility around to be catered to until they give birth.  I suppose I can understand this mentality but it was a pretty big giveaway that this was going to be linked to the government somehow once they start segregating these women from the rest of society.  I was a little disappointed that we didn’t see more of these women.  Mostly we see then during the limited time that Hazel spends with them, mainly while they are eating, bathing, or going to the doctor.  I didn’t necessarily dislike this, but these women are the key to the survival of human beings so I was hoping they’d be a bigger focus.

I was absolutely thrilled to see that we avoided any insta-love in this book!  I can’t stand insta-love in stories because it isn’t real and it isn’t love.  But we didn’t have this in this book and I appreciated it.  I really liked Shane.  Granted, he came off a bit stalkerish to begin with but that quickly went away and I thought he was a very good match for Hazel.  They got along well and seemed comfortable with each other and things were moving along at a natural pace.  But then Hazel gets her job with the Elect and Shane neglects to write or make any kind of contact with her at all.  Rather than have Hazel shrug her shoulders and think, well it was a budding relationship anyway, and move on she broods.  I honestly couldn’t understand why she was thinking about him so much.  They only knew each other for a few weeks I believe, so what’s the big deal?  This is when I began to suspect that a love triangle was brewing.  Insert sigh here.  Then she meets Luca.  Luca is an awesome guy. He’s smart, protective, and sweet.  But he’s protective in a chivalrous way, not a jerk way.  I was practically shouting at my book for Hazel to fall for him..and she does.  They take their relationship nice and slow and it forms very natural and sweetly and I LOVED it!  Then at the end I was confused again when she starts freaking out about seeing Shane again.  I thought we were in love with Luca, so why are we still moaning about Shane?  Consider me scratching my head on that one.

I also liked the idea of people “disappearing” if they ask too many questions or find out too much information.  I was interested to see where this went and I wasn’t disappointed.  Overall this book was probably 3.5 stars for plot alone, but with my added enjoyment of the book it bumps it up into 4 stars.

Collapse by Richard Stephenson

Collapse by Richard Stephenson

Published July 5th, 2012 by Stephenson & Powers Publishing House

Picture and synopsis from the Goodreads book page

Author’s Website: http://rastephensonauthor.blogspot.com/

Book can be purchased at: Amazon (I also found a listing at B&N, put it was just for the paperback and at like $40.00 so I decided not to list it here)

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  No compensation or promise of good review was promised in exchange or the book.


America is falling, ready to join the Roman Empire as a distant memory in the annals of history. The year is 2027. Tired and desperate, the American people are deep in the middle of The Second Great Depression. The Florida coastline is in ruins from the most powerful hurricane on record; a second just like it is bearing down on the state of Texas. For the first time in history, the Middle East has united as one and amassed the most formidable army the world has seen since the Third Reich. A hidden army of terrorists is on American soil. This is the story of three men: Howard Beck, the world’s richest man, also diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. Richard Dupree, ex-Navy SEAL turned escaped convict. Maxwell Harris, a crippled, burned out Chief of Police of a small Texas town. At first they must fight for their own survival against impossible odds. Finally, the three men must band together to save their beloved country from collapse.


I was not really sure what I would end up rating this from the beginning until the very end, I still am not entirely sure that’s the right rating.  This one was difficult for me since I honestly did enjoy the book very much.  But even though I enjoyed it, I didn’t (and still don’t) feel it was as good as my usual 4 or 5 star book.  So this is somewhere between a 3 and 3.5 star book.

Collapse is a story about the demise of the United States.  Debt is ever mounting, the country is in a never-ending war with the Empire of Iran, a hurricane has devastated Florida and killed millions, wildfires rage across much of California, and that’s just the beginning.  The novel follows several characters on their individual journeys through the tumult all over the country.  There is Richard DuPree, a former Navy SEAL who is currently imprisoned for murder in California.  There is Malcom Powers the current President of the United States. Maxwell Harris is the Chief of Police in a small town in Texas who has spent most of his career crippled and addicted to painkillers.  And finally we have Howard Beck, the wealthiest man in the world and creator of the world’s very first true artificial intelligence program. The story is told alternately from all of their points of view as events unfold until finally the circumstances bring all of the together.

I really enjoyed all of the individual characters.  We didn’t see Malcolm Powers as much as I might have liked, but he was a good character when we got him.  Max Harris was my least favorite of the characters and I can’t really say why.  There was nothing wrong with the character, I just found him boring. Richard was fascinating, I looked forward to every single one of his chapters so that we could learn more of his story.  My favorite character however was Howard Beck.  He was funny, witty, and really just took the story to another level.  His interactions with his AI program (Hal) were priceless and Hal became a character in his own right as a result.
The plot of the novel was also very good.  Everything that happens in the book was something that you can read safely because it seems like it would be so far away if it ever happened.  But at the same time, looking around this country, you could see the possibility for all of it to actually happen.  To me, that is what makes a good dystopian novel. A plot that seems far away but entirely plausible given the current state of events in the world.  I really loved seeing the individual plots moving forward and wondering how it would all come together and bring these people into the same sphere of reality.

So all of these things sound really excellent right?  What could possibly be giving this a 3 star rating?  Well, here it is.  There was a lot of jumping around in this novel, both in timeline and narrators.  While I liked the narrators, we jumped around in the plot timeline so much that it made me feel like I was reading through 6 months worth of plot even though it all takes place in a few days.  Because we jump around narrators so often, a lot of things get repeated.  I think I heard about the impending hurricane in Texas probably 6 times before it actually happened and about 8 times after.  Every time we switched narrators, we got told a lot of the same things that we’d just been told by the last one.  This got a bit tedious and made it harder to engage with the plot.  It also got predictable and tiresome to have EVERY chapter end in a cliffhanger.  I spent a lot of time wondering what the cliffhanger for that chapter would be rather than focusing on the plot, not a good thing.  I think the right editor could tighten up the storytelling a bit and really make this sing even more than it does right now.

The final shining star for this novel is the ending.  While we had cliffhangers through the entire book, I didn’t feel like we ended on that big of cliffhanger.  Maybe a little one, but nothing major.  If the story was over and no other story was forthcoming I would have been completely satisfied with the ending.  With another story coming, it intrigued me enough to make me want to know.  It was the perfect way to end this book and I loved it.

Red Leaves and the Living Token by Benjamin David Burrell

Published April 5th, 2012 by the author

Cover and synopsis from the Goodreads book page

This book can be purchased at: B&N and Amazon  (Please note: On B&N and Amazon this book is available in three parts, the ebook I am reviewing is all 3 parts)

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review and participation in this blog tour.  No other compensation was received other than the book and a positive review was not promised.

Synopsis: Doctors tell Raj that his son Emret won’t survive his illness. As Raj struggles to prepare himself and Emret for the inevitable, he’s confronted by Moslin, his son’s nurse, who’s been filling Emret’s head with fairytales about heroic quests and powerful disease curing miracles. Emret now thinks that all he has to do is find the mythical Red Tree from the nurse’s stories, and he’ll live.

In an attempt to protect his son from further emotional damage, Raj asks Moslin to stay away from Emret. He returns hours later to find them both missing.

He searches the fairytales for clues to where they may have gone and stumbles upon stories that, strangely, he already knows. He saw them in a vision just before his son disappeared.

Rating (out of 5):


Review:  The description of this book says everything that you need to know as a reader.  I couldn’t possibly add to it, so I won’t try.  Emret is a sick little boy and most likely going to die.  In a desperate attempt to get a miracle, he goes on the run with his nurse and without his father’s knowledge.  Raj is frantic to find his son missing and follows them but finds himself on a much more complicated journey than he first expected.  I really enjoyed this book, it intrigued me and kept me entertained at every page.  With that said, I must point out a few things that prevented this from being a five-star review.

There is some editing issues with this book.  As far as I am aware, I received a final copy of this book, but it could use another read through from an editing perspective.  There is nothing too egregious but the minor problems were so frequent that I have to comment on it.  For example, on nearly every page I could find things such as: “I’m am” or sentences that seemed to be missing words or had a plural form of the word when the sentence called for singular.  Ultimately, the editing issues weren’t bad enough to affect my enjoyment of the story but it was impossible not to notice.

My only other complaint would be that I felt as if not very much was explained to me.  It wasn’t explained very well what the Token is, or why it’s important.  You get a vague sense of why it matters, but the full story is a mystery.  It’s also not clear exactly why everyone wants the Token, other than to find the Red…but we don’t really know why they are all that vital either.  What does Emret’s illness mean?  What is “losing his binding”?  What’s a binding, why does it get lost?  I don’t know any of those things either, and I wanted to.  I still enjoyed the story immensely, but I would have preferred getting a more complete history and explanation of a few things.

But enough with the minor issues this book had, because the rest was simply fabulous.  I loved the story!  Emret was such a great character and was very relatable and likeable.  He believes in miracles and is determined to find his miracle.  No matter how many times he ended up being disappointed and Moslin lost faith, he never did.  I liked that about him and I found myself rooting for him to find his cure because he worked more than hard enough to get it.  Raj was also a really likeable characters.  He’s not a perfect man but he’s trying to be the best father he can be for his son and protect him from some of the more unpleasant realities of his situation.  But when it all comes down to it, he will cross nations to find and protect his son, and he does just that.  His journey isn’t perfect.  He makes a lot of wrong decisions that ultimately make it harder for him, but he never gives up.  I get so used to reading characters that are perfect in every way that I found Raj to be very refreshing.  He’s not a perfect guy, but he tries his damnedest to make it right anyway.  Great, great cast of characters.

The imagery in the plot is also fantastic.  Some authors have a hard time conveying action scenes, because these scenes rely so heavily on what is happening and not what is being said.  But Ben Burrell does this in a very vivid and engrossing manner.  Every aspect of the scenes was something I could see playing out in my head because it was described that well.  I couldn’t have been happier with this since I love reading a book that I can see in my head.  To me, that is the mark of a good storyteller.   I find it interesting that this author got his start in script writing, since I have found that script writers often have a hard time making the transition to full length fiction. Nothing could be further from the case for this book.  This holds true for the different races that are present in the book.  Each is different and you can tell has their own motivation, but all of them seem to center around finding this Token.

I highly recommend this book.  It’s a quick, fun, interesting read that will have you fervently turning the pages until the very end.  And even after it’s over, you’ll find yourself thinking about the story a few days later and wondering what happens next.  Hopefully you won’t have to wait very long…I hear there are at least a few other books planned as follow-ups to this one.  I know that I will be reading it, because I want to know what happens next.  And I want to know if the beings mentioned at the temple are humans, I really just have to know.

Also, if you haven’t already checked out the other stops on this blog tour, so give them a look.  I read each and every one, and all participants have done a fantastic job with a great book.

Same old, same old…

It’s been quite awhile since I actually had the time or inclination to post on here.  It’s strange but I seem to completely forget I have this place until I look at my history and think, oh yeah I do have that blog I should really update it.  I have basically been working myself into oblivion lately.  The day job has been pushing me ever further into a nervous breakdown with constant overtime and hundreds of new expectations every day.  But until the writing can pay the bills, we have to do what we have to do right?

I have been considering something as far as my novels go, publishing it myself as an ebook.  Ebooks are exploding in popularity as the paper book market continues to shrink by the month.  But publishing yourself as an ebook takes out the publishing game that is almost impossible to win and gains you an audience without investing thousands of dollars like typical self-publishing schemes.  I have not decided on this yet, but just know that it is in my mind and being considered.  If that would be something you’d be interested in me doing, let me know cause I want to know if there’s an interest out there for me to go that route. 

I also have decided to invest more time in my freelance writing on Helium.  So I will post some updated links here, please give them a click cause it helps me make money and you may just discover something interesting too.

Ever wonder what the most common STDs are in women?  Find out here.

Learn the best ways to grow oregano, dill, and peas for all levels of gardening skill.

Should Happy Meals be blamed for rising obesity levels in children?  Find out what I think, with just a little bit of added sarcasm.

And the newest edition, discover some of the most rare breeds of cat in the world!

I hope you enjoy the latest batch of my freelance work, and I promise to update these links more often now that I am writing more.