Bookreview: Firebound #fantasy #FlashbackFriday

This is a special post I do once a month to highlight a book I reviewed some time ago, but never actually featured on my blog. Because this is an author blog and not a book blog, I don’t always feature all the books I read. Like all good and dedicated fans of the written word, I do my part and leave reviews on Goodreads.com, Amazon.com, and sometimes other places, but don’t always bring attention to what I’m reading, unless you follow me on YouTube… hint, hint, wink wink 😉 In any case, please enjoy this review of a book I read at some point in my life.

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Today’s flashback review is a little special but mostly because today is International Authors Day. I’m featuring a review of a book from an author I really like.

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Goodreads

Title:  Firebound

Series: Spellbringers #2

Author: Tricia Drammeh

Genre: Urban Fantasy Romance, Paranormal

Pages: 285

Reading Level: Teen

Content: PG-13 (violence, sensuality, brief mild sexual content, dark and mature themes, adult situations, suspense)

In book one my heart went out to Bryce who seemed to be misunderstood, but in book 2 I really fell in love with Alisa. She’s the only character with no power of her own, yet she seems to be the strongest of them all. Depending on how you look at it, Alisa is the reason the Alexander family is as mighty as they are. In their society of magic and Spellbringers, their connection to this one human keeps them all from becoming monsters… I may be exaggerating a bit, but in any case, I really adore Alisa.

Rachel, on the other hand, is a character that despite her many many flaws, I can’t hate but don’t exactly love her. I feel for her in many ways, but she seems to be a bit self-destructive. Like all self-destructive people, she also hurts others as a result. The one thing she seems to have going for her is the fact that she is apparently the most powerful being on the planet though she hasn’t realized the extent of her powers. As destructive as she is, I still like her more than Jace.

It’s not that I don’t like Jace. I feel a bit indifferent about this character. I can see that he will continue to grow as the story develops, but for now, he’s a pretty face, decent brother, and good son.

The action of this book is much more involved, which I didn’t think was possible. Alisa and Bryce struggle to be close yet so far apart. After he speaks the claiming words to her, they crave each other but can’t share each other or live together. Alisa is forgetting what an independent person she used to be and Bryce is clinging to her affection so he won’t turn to the dark side. Yeah, whoa!

Rachel has the best of intentions trying to protect her brother but she has to know that going on dream dates with a demon isn’t going to end well. Plus, there’s more than one demon after her. When, Alisa, the only human in the bunch has to risk her life to save Rachel, things heat up in more ways than one. What a perfect end to this installment and a grand enticement for the next.

I think I enjoyed this one just as much as the first. Highly recommended again.

Read my review of Spellbound here.

I give this book a 5.

This review has been posted to GoodReads.

If you’d like to obtain a copy of this book, try this link: Amazon

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like it let me know and share it with others. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #thetoiboxofwords

The Cephalopod Coffeehouse #Review: Outliers of Speculative Fiction 2016 #specfic #book

The idea is simple: on the last Friday of each month, post about the best book you’ve finished over the past month while visiting other bloggers doing the same. In this way, we’ll all have the opportunity to share our thoughts with other enthusiastic readers. Please join us below.

Title: Outliers of Speculative Fiction 2016
Editor: L.A. Little
Author: Tim Jefferys, Various
Genre: Science Fiction, Anthology
Pages: 150
Reading Level: Adult
Content: R (adult situations and content, mature and dark themes, doom, and violence)

I was happy to see that another volume of this series was published. While it’s not as long as the first, it’s still top quality speculative fiction with lots of diversity.

Hell Is Other People: A.I. based on mood. Good.
The Death of Mohenjo Daro: cultural- epic battle of men, greed, and faith. Good
Myra’s Last Tango: end of the world and aliens with humor. Not bad.
Downriver at the End of the World: a sad, post-apocalyptic coming-of-age tale. Excellent.
A Speck in the Sky: dangerous power, sacrifice. Excellent.
The House on No Man’s Land: ghost story with a twist. Good.
Souls in Other Space: humorous, yet scary, space opera. Excellent.
Terrible Weight: sad and scary post-apocalyptic zombie-ish story. Excellent.
Existential Crisis: weird afterlife mingled with the living. Good.
A Packhorse for Your Silly Meme: A.I., evolution, an “infant savior”. Excellent.
Grand Ideas: not sure how to describe this one. Good.

Overall, I enjoyed this anthology and only wish there had been more of it. Recommended to adult (teens with parental approval) fans of science fiction, fantasy, paranormal, and horror.

I give this book a 5.

This review has been posted to GoodReads.

If you’d like to obtain a copy of this book, try this link: Amazon

Please stop by and see what others have read 😀

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like it let me know and share it with others. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #thetoiboxofwords

The Cephalopod Coffeehouse #Review: My Father Didn’t Kill Himself #YA #book

The idea is simple: on the last Friday of each month, post about the best book you’ve finished over the past month while visiting other bloggers doing the same. In this way, we’ll all have the opportunity to share our thoughts with other enthusiastic readers. Please join us below.

So, the end of April came way faster than I was prepared for. Today, I’m prepping for the RavenCon and am feeling a bit jittery. I feel bad about not putting forth my best effort with this review so let me be clear now, this is not the full and complete review. I will be more thorough at a later time and post my complete review on Goodreads and Amazon (if they let me). Since I’m pretty much a member of the author’s, Russell Nohelty, unofficial fan club, I get a lot of his content in bulk and at discounted prices. I support almost all his Kickstarters and thus, that’s how I acquire his content whether digital or print. In any case, I’ll provide a brief review of this ebook below.

Title: My Father Didn’t Kill Himself
Author: Russell Nohelty
Genre: YA, Contemporary Fiction
Pages: 305
Reading Level: Adult
Content: R (adult content and situations, mature themes, drug and alcohol use, language, sexuality)

So first, I have issues reading YA in general so that’s not a reflection of the author’s ability to tell a story. I had trouble relating to teens with I was one, so reading about them is always a little difficult for me. With that said, this is a very hard book to read. Some of the subject matter is just painful, in an emotional way, but it’s good. Sometimes you have to be uncomfortable to really experience something that sticks with you. Overall, this is a good book I’d recommend to a select few I feel would really connect with it and benefit from it.

I give this book a 4.

If you’d like to obtain a copy of this book, try this link: Amazon

Please stop by and see what others have read 😀

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like it let me know and share it with others. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #thetoiboxofwords

#IWSG April 2017: #B2BCyCon2017, Monsters in Our Wake, & a #giveaway

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Created and hosted by the Ninja himself, Alex J. Cavanaugh, the Insecure Writers Support Group posts the 1st Wednesday of every month. Click the image to learn more or sign up.

So, I have a lot to share this month. Gonna keep some stuff real short so I can spotlight an amazing interview. Please stick around to see it all. It would really mean a lot.

1) My Countdown to Con Season is coming to a close and the cons are on. Check out these two videos to see what I have to look forward to this weekend OR bookmark them to watch later.

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2) Monthly Question: Have you taken advantage of the annual A to Z Challenge?

No, no I haven’t. I’ve wanted to, but it just hasn’t happened yet.

3) So, I’ve been trying out new authors this year and it’s been paying off pretty well. Please enjoy this interview with J. H. Moncrieff, an author I’m sure to become a lifelong fan of. Be sure to check out the giveaway at the end of the interview.

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Where did the idea for Monsters in Our Wake come from?

This book was initially inspired by my anger at the irresponsibility of the oil industry and offshore drilling, but it got a lot more complex as it came together.

I can already tell that this is going to be a passionate interview. I’m so up for it.

How did the title of this book come about?

I normally struggle with titles, but this one just popped into my head while I was writing. I loved it, and it suits the book, so I went with it. Thankfully the publisher liked it as well.

What genre is this book and why did you choose to make it so?

I thought it was a straight-up horror tale, but some readers are also seeing elements of sci-fi and fantasy, which surprised me. As I was writing it for a horror press, choosing the genre was easy.

Many find that the line between horror and sci-fi is a very thin one; the Alien films are a prime example. Are you happy or worried about the effects sci-fi elements will have on your readers?

At this point, I’m not sure what to think. It may broaden my audience and attract some sci-fi fans, which would be great, as long as it doesn’t turn off those who think sci-fi is always about aliens, distance galaxies, and technology. Just like horror, sci-fi suffers from a lot of misconceptions.

What would you say is the overall message or the theme of this book?

If I had to pin it down, I’d say the overall theme of this book is the importance of respecting all living creatures and their environment, but it’s also about the importance of communication.

Misunderstandings and miscommunication are to blame for most of the conflict in Monsters in Our Wake.

I hear that. Empathy and better communication all around would make the world a much better place.

Tell me about the main storyline within this book.

The story centers around a family of ancient sea creatures whose lair is invaded by a crew of offshore-oil drillers. The creatures retaliate, damaging the drill ship and stranding the crew in the middle of the South Pacific. And then things really get crazy!

Whoa, I’m in! I mean, I was already, but that’s a great pitch. See my review here for more of my thoughts. Would you like to tell our viewers what kind of sea monster we’re dealing with (giant octopus, dino-relative, etc…) or should they just read the book?

It’s not really spelled out in the book, except for some elements of physical description, but the creatures are related to the famous Loch Ness monster, so I picture them as giant plesiosaurs—something we know once existed but thought was extinct.

Who is the protagonist of this story?

Nøkken and Flora are the protagonists. Nøkken is extremely intelligent, with an incredible amount of wisdom and insight, due to his advanced age. But he’s not as “above it all” as he would like to think.

Flora is a single mother who’s taken a job with an oil company to pay for karate lessons for her son. She quickly realizes she’s out of her depth when most of the all-male crew resents her presence and expertise. Her anxiety disorder only complicates matters.

Who is the antagonist of this story?

There are no clear good-or-bad guys in Monsters. Every character is flawed, with both positive and negative traits. Most of the crew view Nøkken and his family as the monsters, yet the humans are the ones who invaded the creatures’ home and who will destroy it without a second thought.

There is a certain crew member who has a great potential for violence, but the tendency to react with violence to those we don’t understand or identify with is the real antagonist in this story.

I love when a story doesn’t have a clear good or bad guy, it usually adds more depth when characters are portrayed with flaws. It humanizes them even when they are not human.

What is the major conflict in this story?

The crew on the drill ship just wants to do their job and return home; the creatures are driven to protect their own home, the ocean.

That’s the major conflict, but there’s quite a bit of internal conflict between the crew members and also within Nøkken’s family. Picture Lord of the Flies on the open ocean with sea monsters.

I like that description. It really does give you an idea of what to expect without giving too much away. Do you think readers will find themselves sympathizing with both sides of this conflict?

Yes, most definitely. Even characters you may start out hating often have redeemed themselves by the end.

Where and when is this story taking place?

Monsters in Our Wake is contemporary and set in the remote South Pacific.

Tell me about the experience of writing this book; how long did it take.

While I had a lot of leeway when writing about Nøkken and his family, the oil industry was a different story. I had to do a lot of research, and I had a great source who works in the industry. In the end, I had to make the ship in Monsters a prototype, because nothing that exists right now fit my plot the way I needed it to.

It took about a year before I was happy enough with Monsters to submit it to the publisher.

I don’t think the average reader realizes how much research can go into one story. I think it’s a mark of a good writer.

Who is your favorite character in this book?

Nøkken is by far my favourite character and the most fun to write. Since he has a unique perspective, I suspect readers will love him as well. So far, reviewers have mentioned that being able to see the story from the creature’s point of view is one of the things they liked most about the book.

Are there elements of your personality or life experiences in this book?

This book was originally inspired by my anger at Big Oil and its destruction of the environment. I’m extremely passionate about the natural world and the ocean, so that informed a lot of the creatures’ rage about what is happening to them.

But a lot of people depend on oil companies for their livelihood, and that is addressed in the story as well. Once I began writing, I realized it was a lot more complicated than, “Oil bad; environmental protection good.” We definitely need to strike a much better balance than we’re currently doing, though.

I agree, all too often I feel that we as people place limitations on ourselves that come back to haunt us. We never should have become so dependent on fossil fuels that our world is suffering from it. We should have been researching and implementing alternative fuel sources from the start, not just because it’s good for the environment, but because it would be one less thing for people to fight and kill over… I’m off my soap box now.

What is one thing from this book you wish was real or could happen to you?

I would love to see a sea creature one day. Visiting Loch Ness and seeing Nessie has been my dream since I was a child.

That would be really cool! I have a thing for dragons and have always thought of Nessie as a type of water dragon.

What is something you wish wasn’t real and hope doesn’t happen to you?

Ha! Pretty much everything in this book. I wish people respected our oceans more. I wish there was a less destructive way to harness natural resources—or that someone would come up with a better alternative.

I also felt for Flora and her struggles to fit into a man’s world and overcome her anxiety attacks. While I’ve never experienced that exact scenario, I think almost everyone has felt like a “fish out of water” at some point, and it’s not an enjoyable experience.

Anxiety attacks are often overlooked because not that many people have them. While I wouldn’t wish them on anyone, I sometimes wonder if people did experience just one, if they would continue to be so dismissive about them… Darn it. No more soap box from me. I promise.

Let’s say your book is being turned into a feature-length film; quick-cast the main two characters and pick a theme song or score.

Julianna Margulies would make a great Flora. And I’d love Morgan Freeman to do the voice of Nøkken.

As for theme song, something orchestral and powerful? I’m sure James Horner would do it justice.

That sounds like a movie I’d be glad to see.

Do you have any special plans for this book in the near or far future?

I’ve already had a few people, including a director, tell me it would make an amazing film. So while I can’t plan for that and the budget would have to be huge to pull it off, I can always dream.

If anyone knows J.J. Abrams, please feel free to send him a copy.

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To obtain your copy of Monsters in Our Wake, please visit this link: AMAZON

Sign up for the J.H. Moncrieff newsletter for a chance to WIN 1 of 2 ebooks of Monsters in Our Wake.

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Are you doing or have you done the A to Z?
Think you might check out B2BCyCon?
Isn’t J.H. great? And how about Monsters in Our Wake?

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After hanging out with Alex, be sure to stop by and visit this month’s co-hosts:
Christopher D. Votey,
Madeline Mora-Summonte,
Fundy Blue, and
Chrys Fey!!

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Click here to visit other IWSG blogs and sites to receive and share more inspiration and support. (This month, I’m #69).

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like it let me know and share it with others. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #thetoiboxofwords

The Cephalopod Coffeehouse #Review: Monsters In Our Wake #horror #ebook

The idea is simple: on the last Friday of each month, post about the best book you’ve finished over the past month while visiting other bloggers doing the same. In this way, we’ll all have the opportunity to share our thoughts with other enthusiastic readers. Please join us below.

Title: Monsters In Our Wake: A Deep Sea Thriller
Author: J.H. Moncrieff
Genre: Horror, Science Fiction Thriller
Pages: 190
Reading Level: Adult
Content: R (language, gore, suspense, dark theme, mature and adult situations, violence)

This book caught me off guard and I’m glad. I was expecting a great monster story but got something else entirely. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of the classic monster elements are there, but the differences make all the difference.

The story is about a strange connection between an ancient sea creature and a marine geologist. As a single mother, Flora takes a job on an oil rig purely for the money, but between her anxiety and the machismo on the ship, it doesn’t take long to wonder if it’s worth it.

Then there’s Nokken and his dysfunctional (sea creature) family. A bit of sport with an oil rig, something that looks like a toy to him, starts the drama that unfolds. Nokken is somehow torn between sticking to his nature and having compassion for the creatures that could destroy his home.

Being familiar with the reputation of Moncrieff, I was expecting an intense horror story to boggle the mind. That’s what I got, but I felt like the story was more of a science fiction thriller, which make sense because thriller is in the title. Because the story is told from the perspective of both the humans and the sea creatures, there’s an element of terror missing, but it’s still scary.

Right from the start, the creatures are humanized to the reader and the story plays out like a crime drama or thriller from then on. The story becomes a mental battle for the sea creature (Nokken), who has the upper hand in all aspects, to decide what is the right thing to do. All the while, back on the ship, the real monsters begin to show themselves as survival takes a back seat to individual self-preservation. And none of the humans come off looking very good, even Flora.

While she’s the best of humanity on the ship, some of her actions or lack there of, don’t make her the fittest in terms of survival. I wanted to like her more, but I didn’t. There were other characters with likable traits and some who did heroic things, but I didn’t really ‘like’ any of them. Of course, I sympathized with Flora and wanted her to make it out alive more than anyone else; I just don’t know why I didn’t like her more. I can relate to her, though, in one respect. Anxiety is crippling in a way no one can understand unless they’ve experienced it.

Overall, I’d recommend this to horror and sci-fi fans, and to anyone who appreciates a good monster story or one with a twist. Not suitable for pre-teens and young children.

I give this book a 4.

If you’d like to obtain a copy of this book, try this link: Amazon

Please stop by and see what others have read 😀

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like it let me know and share it with others. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #thetoiboxofwords