Posts Tagged ‘4 Stars’

Description From Goodreads:

Months after moving to the mysterious city of Cognito, Silver is developing her gifts as a Mage, and learning how to live under new laws. Forced to give up her old life, she must now live in secret among the humans. She finally has hope of leading an ordinary life . . . until Logan Cross walks into it.

Their chance meeting leads her close to discovering the identity of the nameless Mage who once stole her light and discovered the unique power she possesses. That knowledge poses an unimaginable threat to Silver, fueling her search to find out who he is, before he finds her first.

Lives are at stake. Truths are revealed. And an unexpected passion ignites.

TWIST, by Dannika Dark

Available on Amazon

Review: **** 4 Stars

Dannika Dark does it again! TWIST was just as good as STERLING (Mageri Series: Book 1), with a new hero and love interest, ramped up action, and great plot advancement for the series arc.


Characters: ***** 5 Stars

Once again, I fell in love with Silver and her entourage of protectors, but the new addition of Logan Cross was brilliant. First of all, he’s a Breed called a Chitah, and as you can imagine, he has some Cheetah-like qualities, including faint spots on his skin, a highly developed sense of smell, and a hunting instinct. His introduction as Silver’s kidnapper and a killer of Mage made for an interesting dynamic in their relationship, but Silver’s reliance on him felt more organic than her introductions to the men in STERLING. Logan is a bit of a wild-man, clearly not as civilized as the Mage, having never been human. He lives by his own set of rules, but his word, once given, will not be broken.

I was also glad to be reintroduced to Sunny, Silver’s best friend from her human life, and Knox, Adam’s friend and former mercenary. Together they add a nice side-plot to the story, and help round out Silver’s network of friends and supporters.

Plot: **** 4 Stars

As with STERLING, I felt the plot was complex and interesting, keeping me on my toes. However, there were a couple of plot points that felt forced, as if the author had to get from A to C, but didn’t quite know how to do it. For example, Silver was left alone at Justus’ house without any kind of protection while he and Simon traipse off on secret business. Given that there’s still a bad guy out there after Silver, I wouldn’t have expected him to just leave her all alone, and sure enough, something bad happens, and we’re introduced to Logan.

Setting: *** 3 Stars

Cognito doesn’t feel real to me, perhaps because Silver doesn’t get to spend a whole lot of time outside of Justus’ home, but I wanted more from the city. If it’s a Breed city, it should somehow be different and unique to the human cities. I needed more description and more integration of the city into the action when Silver was out and about.

Romance: **** 4 Stars

I really loved the introduction of Logan Cross into Silver’s life. He was a fantastic counterpoint to the other men; he’s more dangerous, yet he is also more considerate (in his way). I love the tension and heat between them, particularly since Logan comes into the story as an adversary, not a friend, and Silver fights with herself as she’s drawn to him. That being said, I was sad that Adam gave up so easily, and Simon simply didn’t do anything but flirt and give way. I wanted more tension between the men as they vied for Silver’s affection.

Genre – Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance: ***** 5 Stars

This story has a bit of everything, and it was nicely done. There’s club-hopping, detective work, chase scenes, kidnapping, violence, and even some mild S&M. There’s not a lot of sex, but in my opinion, that really worked as the tension built and relationships changed. I enjoyed every minute!


Read Full Post »

*** BOOK GIVEAWAY ***   

Description From Goodreads:
Ezra Hawkins is going to change the world.

Although, honestly, there isn’t that much world left to change. After the Great War that nearly destroyed the Earth, mankind has been reduced to a single city: Sanctuary. Hidden from the ravages of the world, the last scions of humanity have eked out their existence through hard work and ingenuity, managing survival, maybe even a little happiness.

But Ezra Hawkins, last heir to the legacy of wormhole technology, will show them something that no human in over a thousand years has known: Hope.

This is a story of science against magic, of people who can bend the elements to their will and the shadowy forces that police them. And most of all, Wind-Scarred tells the tale of a young man desperate to learn the true nature of the past, and of a planet that has its own ideas about the future.

WIND-SCARRED, by Sky Corbelli
Available on Amazon

Review: **** 4 Stars
What a great start to a trilogy! I enjoyed Wind-Scarred immensely, though it did have a few hiccups, including a meandering plot and a romance that lacked finesse. But the overall story was good, the concept unique, and the characters incredibly well-developed. I’m looking forward to reading book 2, Water-Seer, now available on Amazon.

Characters: ***** 5 Stars
Ezra is brainy yet courageous, a scientist born into a family that controls the knowledge of wormhole technology. Swept into a secret society, Ezra handles himself with aplomb, but he’s still young, and a bit naive, especially in the ways of women. Galois “Gal” Doe arrives on scene as a party girl, but ultimately recruits Ezra to become an agent. She’s spunky and fun, and I wish we’d seen more of her throughout the story. The other characters, including Ezra’s “research team” each had their own personalities, which came through beautifully in the novel and added to the warmth and camaraderie in Ezra’s world.

Plot: *** 3 Stars
The author did a great job tying together science fiction and fantasy themes, creating a complex world with multiple moving parts, including layers of foreshadowing that carry through the entire novel and into book 2 (I hope, anyway!). Unfortunately, that’s also the story’s downfall, as the plot lacks focus. Some parts seemed to drag, while in others I wanted more detail. There were several sections that didn’t seem to be necessary to advance the story, leaving me feeling like I just had to get through them. However, the action, when it occurred, was well-drawn and kept me engaged, and the overall story was interesting and fun.

Setting: **** 4 Stars
I really liked the juxtaposition of the futuristic city with the rural anti-technology countryside. It made for a very unique story and helped pull through the dead periods of the plot.

Romance: ** 2 Stars
I loved the characters of Gal and Ezra, and they could have been a fun couple. Unfortunately, the romance was significantly under-developed. Gal and Ezra are thrown together, and for a very long time I thought that Gal was just toying with Ezra for some political, or even nefarious reason. She’s flirty and coy, but it felt, at best, like a surface infatuation, and the romance fell flat.

Genre – Futuristic Fantasy: ***** 5 Stars
WIND-SCARRED is a unique cross-genre novel that does a great job bringing together both science-fiction and fantasy themes. I loved the “elementals” and the conflict between the futuristic technology and the rural, almost medieval, outside world.

In honor of my return to the blog, I’ll be giving away one Kindle copy of Wind-Scarred.  To enter, leave a comment with your name and do one of the following by May 4, 2012:

  1. Sign up to follow Enter The Portal via email or your own WordPress blog (box at right).
  2. Follow Enter The Portal via Twitter (@entertheportal).

Make sure to indicate in the comment which way you’re following! One random winner will be selected from all entries and announced on the blog shortly after the comment deadline.

Read Full Post »

Description From Goodreads:
Audrey Callahan left behind her life in the Edge, and she’s determined to stay on the straight and narrow. But when her brother gets into hot water, the former thief takes on one last heist and finds herself matching wits with a jack of all trades…

Kaldar Mar-a gambler, lawyer, thief, and spy-expects his latest assignment tracking down a stolen item to be a piece of cake, until Audrey shows up. But when the item falls into the hands of a lethal criminal, Kaldar realizes that in order to finish the job, he’s going to need Audrey’s help…

FATE’S EDGE, by Ilona Andrews
Available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

This is the third book in the series:

Review: **** 4 Stars

FATE’S EDGE was exactly what I’ve come to expect from the author team of Ilona Andrews, a perfectly paced adventure with unique characters and a romance that leaves you breathless for more. I’ve read all three of the edge books at this point, and look forward to the continuation of the series. Each book is a stand-alone novel following one of the secondary characters from the other books. Ilona Andrews does a great job of weaving backstory where needed without ruining the other stories, meaning that you can actually read these out of order.

Characters: **** 4 Stars
Audrey and Kaldar are an unbeatable team. Both grifters with specialized skills, the duo quickly realizes that the attraction is more than professional. Audrey has brains and beauty, using both to her advantage to achieve her goals. It also doesn’t hurt that she has a magical ability to pick any lock ever designed. Kaldar has good looks and charm, plus an ability to change personalities at the drop of a hat. Magically, Fate shines on Kaldar and he will win just about any bet he makes. The secondary characters were the charming young brothers, George and Jack, from ON THE EDGE, showing how they’ve both grown up a bit since we last saw them. I particularly love Jack, the lynx changeling that has issues understanding the rest of humanity and controlling his temper.

Then there were the villains, which, unfortunately, lived up to my expectations of being rather one dimensional with no redeeming qualities. They’re simply evil monsters, with an outrageous lust for blood and lack of humanity. The Hand (the spy organization that they work for) trains them that way, but I’d like to see one of them surprise me by showing a little compassion, or something above a desire to maim and kill. However, they do each have their own motivations for their work, and skill sets that make them interesting within the story.

Plot: **** 4 Stars
Perfectly paced, the story kept my butt glued to the seat of my chair but still allowed for character development and a realistic romantic relationship. Without giving anything away, I loved that Audrey came the the rescue at the end, using her wit to outfox the enemy and win, although I would have liked the final climactic scene to have progressed from her perspective rather than Kaldar’s so that we could have gotten a better picture of what actually happened.

Setting: **** 4 Stars
I’ve knocked a star off on the setting not because of anything in particular that was bad, but because it was 100% expected as compared to the other novels in the series. The Edge is a deep dark wilderness, the Broken is our earth, and the Weird is a medieval magical realm. I would have liked a new climate or something completely out of expectation to create some interest in the setting.

Romance: ***** 5 Stars
Ilona Andrews excels at developing realistic romances that make sense to the story. Audrey and Kaldar are a wonderful match, but Audrey has reservations for good cause. As a result, they don’t jump into bed too quickly and the plot isn’t entirely centered around the sex scenes. Instead, Kaldar has to work to win Audrey’s acceptance, building to an intense moment together that had my heart pounding.

Genre – Contemporary Fantasy Romance: ***** 5 Stars
FATE’S EDGE has it all, an action packed story with a fantastic romance and well-developed characters. Ilona Andrews is a master of the genre. I highly recommend The Edge series and FATE’S EDGE in particular.

Read Full Post »

Description From Goodreads:

The Warden Threat is a lighthearted tale of looming war, subversion, and a terrible magical weapon.

Prince Donald, the idealistic third son of the king of Westgrove, believes he may be the only one able to protect his country from an invasion spearheaded by an ancient and massive stone warrior known as the Warden of Mystic Defiance. Donald, unfortunately, is woefully unprepared. His only real understanding of such things comes from his reading of adventure stories, which he soon realizes understate the realities and hardships of such quests. His guide, Kwestor, a competent but jaded ranger, feels seeking adventure is the same as asking for trouble. Donald finds both as well as an answer he never expected.

Available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Review: **** 4 Stars
THE WARDEN THREAT is a lighthearted epic fantasy parody with a science fiction twist that kept me engaged and entertained from page one.  The journey starts with Donald’s initial foray into the wider world to “find out about the commoners”, as ordered by his loving but overprotective mother, but proceeds through the country of Westgrove and into the border of neighboring nation Gotrox, home of the stoutfolk.  Despite the epic fantasy trappings, the story is humorous and fun, clearly not taking itself seriously as Donald struggles to define himself as a hero of the realm and stop an impending war with Gotrox.

Here are a few choice quotes from early in the book:

“Adventurers did not poop.  Well, they did, but they certainly never talked about it.”

“The gonds, the domesticated ones that could be ridden anyway, could, admittedly, travel long distances and carry a great deal of weight, but these assets paled when you considered their considerable lack of speed, an intellect approximately equal to that of overcooked asparagus, and their frequent flatulence.”

Characters: **** 4 Stars
Donald is idealistic, young, inexperienced, and naive, but he tries hard to do what is right and make a difference in his father’s kingdom.  He’s not a dumb or ignorant young man, he’s simply been sheltered from the real world for far too long.  Traveling with Kwestor, the unenthusiastic and pragmatic ranger, gives Donald a new perspective as he struggles to learn how to be a man.  Kwestor acts as Donald’s mentor and advisor, albeit in a somewhat closemouthed way, and tries to help Donald throughout his journey. It doesn’t take long in the story before they meet up with Muce, a sword for hire that’s a bit of a simpleton and obsessed with potatoes.  Muce provides the comic relief during their travels, but the author does a good job of reining him in when appropriate to keep the reader, and I suppose the other characters, from getting irritated with his long-winded anecdotes.

Plot: *** 3 Stars
Though humorous, the plot had a tendency to drag at times, slowing down the read. I wanted more action and danger, even silly danger, to keep the story moving. There was a lot of walking, and a lot of staying at inns, mixed in with a few abbreviated accidental fights and shenanigans. In addition, the ending was too abrupt for my taste. That being said, I enjoyed the story and the twists within the plot.  There are a couple of layers of intrigue, and a science fiction component that I’m sure will be explored in more detail in the second book, which kept me involved in the story.

Setting: **** 4 Stars
I imagined the world as a very rural earth, and pictured the gonds like the banthas from Star Wars. It was fun to combine both the science fiction and fantasy tropes in the story. The Westgrovian society was reasonably well developed, as was the cultural interaction with the Gotroxians. I look forward to spending more time in their culture in the next book.

Relationships: **** 4 Stars
By the end of the story, Kwestor shined as a mentor for Donald. He’s the young prince’s sounding board, and despite his constant pessimism, Kwestor seems to really care for his charge, wanting him to succeed despite his perception that no matter what he does, the prince will fail. Kwestor provides strong advice and lays the foundation for a positive message throughout the trilogy.

“When all is said and done, success or failure, how you see yourself is really all that matters.”

“When you are sure, absolutely sure, you have done everything you could and you still can’t succeed, you have to be willing to admit defeat and go on. Some battles you can win, some you can’t. That’s just how things are.”

Genre – Cross-genre Science Fiction and Epic Fantasy Parody: *** 3 Stars
I love a good cross-genre novel, but THE WARDEN THREAT needed a little more science fiction to bring it all together. I imagine this will become more pronounced in future installments, but this first book read almost entirely as an epic fantasy parody until the last few chapters, and the fantasy was slightly muddled by the humorous tone and slow pacing. I could have used a bit more action, a bit more intrigue, or at least a bit more magic to bring it further into epic fantasy.

Note: This review was made at the request of the author.  The only compensation received was a free copy of the book.

Read Full Post »

Description From Goodreads:

Zoë Merrick wakes up after she is murdered, and is surprised to find she is not only alive – but transformed. Even more unexplainable are the new abilities she has no control over.

It’s not until a handsome and arrogant man named Justus walks into her life that Zoë discovers she is no longer human, but like him – a Mage. Forced to trust him, she must come to terms with accepting her new life and identity.

When her immortal freedom is threatened by the one man who has a right to claim her, Zoë learns the price of freedom…and the value of loyalty.

STERLING, by Dannika Dark
Available on Amazon

Review: **** 4 Stars
The Goodreads description does not do this book justice!

Zoe Merrick is an average Jane. She lives with her cat, just got out of a bad relationship, and her best friend is gorgeous, leaving her feeling slightly less than perky. But on her way home from a girls night out, Zoe’s average life ends with a brutal attack and she’s thrust into a new and confusing existence.

It begins when she wakes up in a body bag covered in blood. Then she goes through physical changes: she grows taller, her eyes turn green, and her copper hair turns black and glossy. Luckily her rescuer, Adam, has a protective instinct and a strong stomach as he takes it all in stride and helps her without question…until Justus arrives and reveals the truth: Zoe has been transformed into a Mage, a Breed that can control energy and manipulate it based on individual gifts. Usually, a Mage is made by special selection and it is an honor to be chosen, but Zoe is unique in that she did not choose to be Mage. Her Creator attacked and left her for dead. Without a Creator, Zoe is left vulnerable to other Mage until she has enough power and control to protect herself. Justus takes her under his wing, becoming her Ghaurdian until her Creator comes to claim her, a Creator’s right by Mage law, and he can do whatever he wants with her.

I didn’t have high expectations for STERLING based on the original description, but I was pleasantly surprised and enjoyed every minute of it. I can’t wait for the sequel!

Characters: **** 4 Stars
The beginning of the novel was a little rough in the character development arena. After being attacked, Zoe is rescued by Adam, a handsome former soldier who watches over her while she sleeps and her body physically transforms. The problem I had was how quickly Adam takes it all in stride and Zoe feels comfortable around him. I’m sure, had it been me, I would have been terrified, not knowing how who this strange man was, whether he might be connected to the attack, or how I got to his apartment. Yet as soon as she’s fed they’re best friends. Similarly, when Justus arrives on scene, he’s antagonistic and angry, yet Zoe manages to trust him really quickly.

That being said, as the novel progressed, the characters really grew on me and I ended up loving them all. Zoe is strong and resilient, indomitable yet also vulnerable. Adam is protective and has a truly generous heart. Justus is also protective, but more chivalrous and old-fashioned. Simon, introduced later in the story, is sexy and funny, using his rockstar appearance to hide a kind soul. I did think it was a little much to have three protective men guarding over her (and no other women), but they all had distinct personalities and served different roles in Zoe’s new life.

Plot: **** 4 Stars
The pacing of STERLING was perfect, the plot complex enough to be interesting, and the world-building nicely done. I’ve knocked off a star because the beginning of the novel suffered from some abrupt time shifts that skipped too much potential character development. However, I could not have asked for a better ending! It was climactic and action packed, building the danger to a perfect pitch before resolving with a happy conclusion. The story was complete in itself, but the real “Big Bad” was left for Zoe to deal with in later installments. I only wish the second book in the series was already available!

Setting: ***** 5 Stars
I was able to visualize Zoe’s surroundings in almost every scene, but the description wasn’t overly heavy or obnoxious. I lost myself in her world, never skipping a paragraph to move onto the next bit of dialogue or action.

Romance: *** 3 Stars
With three male protectors, all of whom seem interested in her, it was hard to know who to root for, and apparently Zoe didn’t know either. Adam is fantastic in the beginning, and I was drawn to him, hoping that he would somehow manage to overcome the obstacle of her new abilities (unable to safely interact with him when she’s in a…ahem…high emotional state). But then Justus turns out to be a really great guy, just awkward and unsure of how to behave around Zoe, particularly since she’s his student. And Simon was a lot of fun, but I felt like he managed to wiggle his way into her life too quickly. There’s a lot of potential for a love…pyramid? square?…anyway, there’s a lot of potential with any of the three men, but nothing was accomplished and I felt like I was left hanging in the wind, waiting for one of them to make a move (one that wouldn’t involve anyone getting physically hurt, anyway).

Genre – Contemporary Fantasy: ***** 5 Stars
STERLING is a unique take on a current trend, and I loved it. The fact that Mage aren’t sorcerers and don’t perform magic, but manipulate energy was interesting and a fun twist (I haven’t seen too many elementals recently). Plus the modern day setting with some centuries-old protectors, with dark action and high stakes, made this a fantastically fun story. It was worth every penny, and then some!

(In fact, with a few revisions to the first few chapters, and a better description on Amazon, I would have gladly forked over a few extra dollars!)

Read Full Post »

Can interspecies diplomacy begin in the womb?

After seventy years on Tofarn, the human colonists and the native Tofa still know very little about each other. Misunderstanding breed conflict, and the conflicts are escalating. Scientist Mara Cadell’s radical proposal: that host mothers of either species carry fraternal twins, human and Tofa, in the hope that the bond between twins can bridge the gap between species. Mara lost her own twin, Levi, in utero, but she has secretly kept him alive in her mind as companion and collaborator.

Mara succeeds in obtaining governmental backing for her project – but both the human and Tofa establishments have their own agendas. Mara must shepherd the Twin-Bred through dangers she anticipated and others that even the canny Levi could not foresee. Will the Twin-Bred bring peace, war, or something else entirely?

TWIN BRED, by Karen A. Wyle
Available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords

I’m pleased to have the author, Karen A. Wyle, join me today for a quick interview!

1. First off, tell us a little about yourself. What’s your background? How did you become a writer? What are your interests outside of writing?

I was born a Connecticut Yankee, but moved to California at age 8. I then bounced back and forth between the coasts until I met my now-husband and moved with him to the Midwest. I now consider myself a Hoosier. I’m Jewish, the first generation of my family to be born in this country: my parents and their immediate families barely escaped Hitler’s Europe.

I don’t know when I first decided, or realized, that I was a writer. My childhood ambition was to be the youngest ever published novelist. While writing my first novel at age 10, I was mortified to learn that some British upstart had beaten me to the goal at age 9. I finished that novel nonetheless, attempted another at age 14, and then shifted to poetry. I made a few attempts at short stories in college, and then retired from creative writing until starting a family in my mid-
30’s inspired me to start writing picture book manuscripts. I produced two startlingly creative children, the elder of whom wrote her own first novel in 2009, at age 18, with the help of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I decided to try NaNo in 2010, completed a very rough draft of a science fiction novel (Twin-Bred ), and spent the next ten months editing it.

My other interests include politics, history, photography, and whatever my daughters are up to.

2. TWIN-BRED is such an interesting and unique concept…what was your inspiration?

I read an article online about interactions between twins in utero — synchronized movement, touching, even kissing. Either this article or a comment on the article mentioned the longterm effect of losing a twin in utero. As an avid science fiction reader, I tend to see the sci-fi potential in any event or discovery. I imagined a scientist seeking to overcome the comprehension gap between two intelligent species by way of the bond between twins. It would be natural for the
scientist who conceived this idea to be a twin; it would be intriguing if she were a twin survivor, and if she had somehow kept her lost twin alive as a companion, who could be a character in the story.

On a deeper level, I have always been fascinated by communication issues and the struggle to understand what is different.

3. Since the Tofa and humans have such trouble communicating, what happened when the humans first landed and how did the first integrated communities develop?

When the humans first landed, they attempted to communicate with the Tofa, and perhaps the Tofa attempted to communicate with them. The humans were left with the impression that they could settle in certain areas. Over time, humans moved close to some Tofa communities because the areas were in some way attractive or had needed resources, and the Tofa allowed it.

I don’t know the history of the more integrated communities, but it stands to reason that the less
xenophobic, more curious Tofa would have been the ones to experiment with living more or less
among humans.

4. The main character, Mara, lost her fraternal twin, Levi, in utero, and yet she’s managed to ‘keep him alive’ in her imagination. The two are such unique characters that it’s hard to believe they’re both really Mara. Is something more metaphysical going on there?

In part, Levi embodies aspects of Mara’s personality that she has not otherwise developed and rarely expresses. That is not necessarily all that’s going on. Mara and Levi shared the prenatal environment until shortly before Mara was born. Twin-Bred assumes that some measure of telepathy is possible, certainly for Tofa and for the occasional human as well. It is an open question whether some aspect of Mara’s and Levi’s prenatal experience allowed her to sense something of what kind of personality Levi would have had, and to use that knowledge in recreating him.

Whatever the origin of his character traits, he has a reality somewhat comparable to a multiple personality, although Mara’s relationship with him is not much like the relationships between a “core” personality and a multiple. Readers may disagree, but I personally do not see Levi as a ghost or anything of that kind.

5. Are more books planned to continue the story of the Twin-Bred? Any other unrelated
works to look forward to?

I plan on using NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) 2011 to get moving on a sequel to Twin-Bred. I’m not sure when I’ll be able to finish and edit it, however, because I have another rough draft, tentatively titled Reflections, waiting for my attention.

I wrote Reflections in August 2011, during “Camp Nano,” a somewhat stripped-down summer version of NaNoWriMo. It is, I guess, “general” fiction.  I have two teasers for Reflections:
–Death is what you make it.
–Will you need courage in Heaven?

In Reflections, the members of a family reunite in the afterlife, confront unfinished business, and resolve the mystery that tore the family apart. I have constructed an afterlife with features particularly suited to this purpose.

I also have a science fiction story about human cloning (tentative title: “The Baby”) in rough draft, and it may be the starting point for a collection of linked stories.

Review: **** 4 Stars: Unique and Thought Provoking Science Fiction
TWIN BRED is the fantastic debut novel by Karen A. Wyle, about the human colony on Tofarn as it struggles to interact with the native Tofa.  The two species can barely communicate, and fundamentally do not understand each other.  But Mara has a solution.

Mara is a scientist who lost her twin brother, Levi, in utero.  She always knew about him, and over the years, kept his memory by imagining him as he would have been.  As a result of this connection, Mara believes that communications between the species can be improved by implanting one human and one Tofa embryo into host mothers of both species, creating ‘twins’ designed to act as liaisons between communities.  It works.

The story follows Mara and the children as they grow and mature, facing challenges that none had anticipated.  Deep-seated prejudice on both sides threatens the project and the twin-bred’s lives.

Characters: *** 3 Stars
There were simply too many points of view in this novel.  Mara and Levi were great characters, both well-developed with distinct voices, and the two primary host mothers and their children are fantastic additions to the story, but at times I got lost in all of the voices and it could be difficult to remember all of the relationships involved.

Plot: **** 4 Stars
I loved the concept of TWIN BRED.  The plot was both imaginative and well-designed.  My only complaint really goes back to the characters, because I would have liked to have had longer sections from the main points of view, and could have done without some of the lesser points of view.  In addition, the beginning background could have been a little better interwoven with the overall story.

Setting: *** 3 Stars
I wanted more description.  The Tofa were described in detail, and certain of the surroundings were beautifully rendered, but overall I felt the setting wasn’t built into the story with enough frequency.  I kept imagining Earth, and would get shocked in a scene when things suddenly didn’t match up to my vision.

Relationships: **** 4 Stars
There wasn’t any romance built into the story, at least not in the traditional sense, so for this review I’m looking at the relationships between characters.  In particular, I thought the depth of emotion and familial love was fantastic between the twins and their families.  Mara and Levi were prominent in this, of course, but so were many of the twin-bred, particularly Judy and La-ren, and Jimmy and Peer-tek.

Genre – Science Fiction: **** 4 Stars
This was a great novel for a debut science fiction.  Karen A. Wyle thought outside the box and developed a fantastic story with fun characters.  I can’t wait to read the sequel!

Read Full Post »

Description From Goodreads:


Xylara is the Daughter of the Warrior King, Xyron. With her father dead and her incompetent half-brother on the throne, the kingdom is in danger of falling to the warring Firelanders.

Before she was old enough for a marriage-of-alliance, Xylara was trained as a healer. She can’t usurp her brother or negotiate a peace–but she can heal the brave ones injured in battle.

But not only her countrymen are wounded, and Xylara’s conscience won’t let Firelander warriors die when she can do something to save them. She learns their language and their customs and tries to make them as comfortable as possible, despite their prisoner-of-war status.

She never expects that these deeds, done in good faith, would lead to the handsome and mysterious Firelander Warlord demanding her in exchange for a cease-fire. Xylara knows must trade the life she has always known for the well-being of her people, and so she becomes…

The Warprize

Warprize, by Elizabeth Vaughan
Available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Review: **** 4 Stars
For me, WARPRIZE hit the spot, but it was not your typical epic fantasy or fantasy romance.  It reminded me a bit of the Daenerys Targaryen storyline in Game of Thrones (the sister who marries the warlord barbarian)…Xylara is given to Keir, the warlord barbarian, by her brother the king, and forced to live with him in his army camp.  But the similarity ends there.

Xylara believes she is a slave.  Keir demanded her as Warprize as part of a peace agreement with the Kingdom of Xy.  Despite her apparent captivity, Xylara begins to find a place in the army camp as a healer and even comes to appreciate the hard warlord that sleeps next to her and the ways of his people.  Meanwhile, Keir does everything he can to make Xylara feel welcome, while still maintaining his warrior pride.

Characters: *****5 Stars

I loved the characters in WARPRIZE.  Xylara is strong in her convictions, frequently standing up for what she believes in and facing down warriors twice her size and covered in weapons.  Yet she also maintains a certain vulnerability because of her lack of size and strength, and because her brother has emotionally wounded her by giving her away as a slave.  Similarly, Keir is a leader, strong and proud, but he seems to truly care for Xylara, who becomes his weakness.

The side characters were extremely well-drawn, rounding out a wonderful cast with Simus, the loud and humorous general; Gils, the wannabe apprentice healer; Joden, the Singer and storyteller who records the oral history of the clan; and Marcus, the always grumbling and grouchy manservant for Keir.

Plot: **** 4 Stars
The action was a little weak, the story mostly revolving around the relationships between the characters and the internal conflict.  However, that really didn’t bother me as the story was so strong in other areas, so I never really felt the lack.  If you like a character-driven novel, this would be a good pick.

Setting: ****4 Stars
The setting was beautifully developed.  I could almost taste the dust in the practice ring, or see the tents in the army camp, and there was a marked difference between the setting in the camp versus the setting in the city.  I became absorbed Xylara’s world, making the story flow around me as I read.

Romance: ***** 5 Stars
I really liked the level of romance in WARPRIZE.  The characters don’t just jump into bed right away…well, they sort of do since Keir installs Xylara in his tent and sleeps next to her, but they don’t do anything while they’re there for most of the story.  It gave them time to get to know each other and the author did a great job developing their relationship, including its flaws.

Genre – Fantasy: *** 3 Stars
This was not your typical modern fantasy novel.  There was no magic, no mystical creatures, no dwarves or elves or vampires.  In a way, it was more of an alternate world political intrigue and adventure story.  The focus of the plot was on the cultural conflict between these two very different peoples.  That being said, I think it’s a bit of a throwback to fantasy novels of the past.  The technology is medieval and life is a struggle for survival.  I thought it was refreshing to get away from the modern urban fantasy/paranormal romance for awhile.

Overall, I thought WARPRIZE was very well written and engaging.  I could hardly put it down and can’t wait to continue with the next installment.  I recommend this for people who are new to fantasy, enjoy strong characters and relationships, and/or don’t mind a slower-paced novel with a little less danger and physical excitement.

Read Full Post »