Serenity, Craig A Hart

Serenity, Craig A Hart

Serenity: A Shelby Alexander thriller

It’s been a long time since Shelby Alexander was a prize fighter. In the years since, he’s drifted back to small-town America: the small town of Serenity, to be exact. Divorced from his wife, he enjoys the local pub, the fishing, and the peace of the woods—not to mention the occasional shootouts with the local drug dealers. The Ellis family has been the lynch-pin for trouble in the area since the trouble was running alcohol around the Prohibition, and now they’re facing competition, and they’re desperate. It’s not a good combination, any way you look at it.

Craig A. Hart’s Serenity is a solid action thriller, set in backwoods Michigan where the brutality spatters across pristine wilderness. Shelby makes a credible, relatable anti-hero; aging and trying to ignore it, with trouble with the law in his past and a drinking problem in the present that he doesn’t try very hard to hide. Shelby isn’t the only character worth talking about—the secondary characters are convincing, fun, and detailed. The action is largely credible, and the plot is well-paced, with the insertion of a classic twist to clinch the storyline. The writing was also refreshingly well-edited, making the book a pleasure to read. This story will definitely make fans of classic action very happy—I recommend it.

Equilibrium, Darcy Lennox

Equilibrium, Darcy Lennox

Equilibrium: the First Signal

The general concept for Equilibrium: The First Signal is a promising take on the urban fantasy classic of a magical society living hidden beside, or in this case, above, London; think Harry Potter meets the Marvel comics.

Unfortunately, the book itself failed to live up to the premise. The start of the book jumps around to introduce all the major players, giving it a rather choppy start. In addition, the technical aspect of the writing makes this a difficult read to remain absorbed in. From multiple grammar and spelling errors on literally every page to similes scattered through the story that are frankly unfortunate, the writing got in the way of the story in almost every way possible.

The characters were slightly stronger than the general writing, with possibly the most convincing aspect of the book lying in the back story, but the interactions between characters were lacking that crucial draw for me. It felt as if they would frankly all have benefited from some more work and a lot more depth. Add to that the unfortunate simile syndrome undermining the exchanges and I found that they failed to achieve the effect that was probably originally intended.

Overall, this was the second book all year I thought seriously about not finishing. I try really, really hard not to DNF books, but this one skirted very close. When something makes me wince on every page I turn, admitted editorial nut that I am, it makes it impossible for me to enjoy a read.

Reviewed for Knockin’ Books

Progenitor: Cold Blood Rising, Philip Terenson

Progenitor: Cold Blood Rising, Philip Terenson

Progenitor: Forget what you think you know. There is only one conspiracy. (Cold Blood Rising Book 1)

Philip Terenson’s Progenitor: Cold Blood Rising begins with a landmine explosion in Africa, killing a group of British Army personnel, but inexplicably failing to kill the embedded journalist in the Land Rover with them. Cameron Grant wakes up six years later in a London hospital, a medical miracle that no one can quite explain, and finds out in short order that he is not alone in his own head. Cameron tries to convince himself that his invisible reptilian visitor is a result of massive cranial trauma, but even his storytelling abilities prove not to be up to the task, and he’s forced to provisionally accept that just possibly, when the meteor crashed to Earth sixty-five million years ago, not all the dinosaurs were eradicated. Some of them were missed.

Progenitor: Cold Blood Rising offers an original revision to the Theory of Evolution, weaving together heresy, high finance, alien conspiracy, and action in an eclectic mix of themes. Philip Terenson proves himself capable of audacious feats of imagination, linked with an ability to pull on the single plausible thread of each piece to create a convincing alternate-world scenario. With action ranging from the plains of the United States to the back alleys of Paris and the catacombs of the Vatican, I found this book an intriguing read, leavened with ingenuous explanations for aspects of human society guaranteed to garner at least a grin. If you like gritty action and a touch of cynicism with your science-fiction, Terenson is definitely an author to pick up.

Reviewed for Readers’ Favorite.

Wayfarer’s Highway, Peter Petrack

Wayfarer’s Highway, Peter Petrack

Wayfarer’s Highway

Orson Gregory was just expelled from high school for allegedly attacking a prominent businessman. In small-town America, this makes him locally infamous.  His parents are forced to sell their farm – and the crumbling factory built on its outskirts – to get the charges dropped. However, just because Orson doesn’t believe his life can get weirder, doesn’t mean that life shares his opinion. When he takes a final walk through the ruined factory, he makes a discovery that will change his life forever. Whether or not he will survive it is anyone’s guess…

Wayfarer’s Highway is one of those stories that neatly straddles the normal and the impossible, couching the world of the supernatural in a seamless setting of the utterly mundane.  Peter Petrack’s writing offers the reader the possibility that there may be more to life than they think, and that anyone may become a hero, no matter how unlikely.  While the story plays heavily to finding the one key ally in an unexpected place to save our protagonist’s life and keep the quest going, the book is well-paced and imaginative, dealing with a threat that no one takes seriously until everyone’s way of life is threatened. Definitely a well-timed and thought-provoking read, this is a book I’d recommend to any readers of fantasy out there.

Wayfarer's Highway cover

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Asper Blood of of Evil, Rhonda Smiley

Asper Blood of of Evil, Rhonda Smiley

Asper: Blood of Evil

Milla is one of the last of her kind, a sorceress. Hunted by the soldiers of the evil queen of Asper, she lives with her father, guarding some of the last fragments of magical knowledge. However, when the queen’s soldiers finally find their tiny shack, Milla’s father is killed, and Milla, fleeing, is thrown through a magical portal to Earth. Raving about magic, dragons, and evil queens, Milla is hospitalised for her own good. Her only ally on Earth is a teenager named Parker, on the rebound from a messy breakup and looking for something – or someone – to believe in.

Asper: Blood of Evil is a young adult romance fantasy, set in a reality where the world of Asper has been sundered from Earth and exists as layers of dimensions linked by invisible gates known as Shifts. Author Rhonda Smiley has created an imaginative setting for this book, one which plays neatly into the storyline, and the pacing is well handled, keeping the plot moving along. I did find that, in places, the heroic feats of the teenaged protagonists strained my credulity somewhat, but overall the evil queen, the scorned childhood love, and the snarky Squeed sidekick made an entertaining set of characters. This is a light, pleasant read that younger readers are sure to enjoy.

Asper Blood of Evil cover

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