Night Side of Nature – James K. Pratt

Vampire stories are always fun, whether they are demonic goth or sparkly and shiny. We all love a good lord of the night tale. Teenage vamps are a popular theme that Pratt capitalized on with this novella.

This story had good bones and started out with a strong beginning. The main character seemed likeable enough, but I often found myself confused by the choices/conversations that occurred. I enjoyed the concept though and saw potential with the story line.

Unfortunately, there was a lack of character and plot development, leaving this story rather unrefined. I felt that information was largely dumped on the reader to progress the story quickly (rather too quickly), which ultimately just made the tale less enchanting.

While this story didn’t work for me, I am sure there are some young readers out there that would find it an enjoyable light snack.

You can find the story on Amazon for 99 cents in Kindle format or $9.69 in paperback.

Synopsis: Alexia Bathory befriends a mysterious girl at school who brings revelations of a family secret that spans centuries. The truth leaves Alexia with a stark choice of conscience, stay with her family and live a life of wealth and power or runaway and tear her family apart.

THE MAN BEHIND THE STORY:

Although my mother is English, and I was born in Scotland I’ve spent little time in the British Isles. I’ve lived much of my life in and around the Pacific be it Hawaii, Guam, Japan or the West Coast of the United States.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CONNECT WITH JAMES

Website

Goodreads

 

OWL Rating: For good bones and potential

*I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review

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Titan’s Wrath – Rhett C. Bruno

Enter a world full of complicated people. Leaders you love then despise, crippled corporate owned hit men that drown their sorrows in whiskey and self-loathing, scarred and abused freedom fighters who just want a taste of equality. This is the world of Titan, a space opera full of entanglement and imagination.

Bruno has once again created a wonderful addition to his Titanborn Universe. I feel confident when I say that Bruno’s storytelling continues to get better with each new tale he weaves. The level of character development was quite inspiring. I can’t often recall having read a story that created such well-rounded and complex personalities. Whether the scene revolved around Malcolm Graves, the grizzly “Collector,” whose one hand holds a gun and the other a glass of whiskey, or about Kale Trass, the rebellious freedom fighter who rotates a full 360 degrees in temperament, this story kept me engaged because of the master level characterization. It was quite remarkable. I think many authors could learn much from Bruno’s gift.

Bruno is evolving with every story I read and I find that it is becoming increasingly difficult to offer any constructive criticism. There is just nothing I feel he could have improved upon at this time or with this story.

I am just happy he was able to write it. Trass and Graves stories needed to be finished and this installment gives the readers the satisfaction of seeing those journeys through to the end.

If you are in the mood for a high tech ride full of heart pumping action, emotions that are as real as your own, failed fathers and sons, corrupted leaders, revengeful citizens, but at heart a story of redemption, then check out this series by Bruno. You will not be disappointed.

You can find the story on Amazon for $2.99 in Kindle or $21.33 in paperback.

Synopsis: Two men are caught on both sides of a violent, off-world rebellion in this standalone, Science Fiction epic set in Rhett C. Bruno’s bestselling Titanborn Universe.

After inciting rebellion against Earth throughout Titan’s off-world colonies, Kale Trass learns that leadership isn’t only about fighting. Keeping control of his people–even his own family–requires a different set of skills. Following a pivotal battle over Saturn, Kale travels deep into enemy territory under the guise of seeking peace, though peace is the last thing on his mind.

Malcolm Graves used to be an infamous Collector for a powerful Earther corporation–and then he nearly lost his life on Titan. Now he’s retired. But when Kale’s wake of destruction follows Malcolm to Mars and claims the life of a friend, it’s time for the ex-Collector to dust off his pulse-pistol and leap back into a fight he thought he’d left behind.

With the solar system divided, heroes are few and short-lived … but someone has to put the self-proclaimed King Trass of Titan in his place.

THE MAN BEHIND THE STORY

Rhett is a Sci-fi/Fantasy author currently living in Stamford, Connecticut. His published works include books in the Amazon Bestselling CIRCUIT SERIES (Published by Diversion Books) and TITANBORN SERIES (Random House Hydra). He is also one of the founders of the popular science fiction platform, Sci-Fi Bridge.

Rhett has been writing since he can remember, scribbling down what he thought were epic short stories when he was young to show to his friends and family. When he reached high school he decided to take that a step further and write his first novel. After the encouragement of his favorite English teacher, he decided to self-publish the “Isinda Trilogy” so that the people closest to him could enjoy his early work.

While studying architecture at Syracuse University, he continued to write as much as he could, but finding the time during the brutal curriculum proved difficult. It wasn’t until he was a senior that he decided to finally pursue his passion for Science Fiction. After rededicating himself to reading works of the Science Fiction authors he always loved, (Frank Herbert, Timothy Zahn, Heinlein, etc.) he began writing “The Circuit: Executor Rising”, the first part of a space opera series.

Since then he’s been hired by an Architecture firm in South Norwalk, CT. But that hasn’t stopped him from continuing to work on all of the countless stories bouncing around in his head. He’s also recently earned  a Certificate in Screenwriting from the New School in NYC, in the hopes of one day writing for TV or Video Games.

CONNECT WITH RHETT

Website

Twitter

Goodreads

 

OWL Rating:

*I received a free copy of the story in exchange for an honest review

Roc Writes – Where Writers Roc

I just wanted to take a moment to plug our new website RocWrites.com. We recently just launched it. The idea behind this site is to promote local Rochester writers of all shapes and sizes. We noticed a lack of publicity and information about our writing community and decided to give them all a voice. If you are a local writer, please add your name to our directory. Additionally, you can find our upcoming podcast show starting in March, where our focus will be all about our writing community. Tune in bi-monthly to hear us interview local writers and book people.

Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Video Game Review

I hope I am not alone when I confess that when I close my eyes at night it’s Geralt of Rivia that I dream of. While some ladies or gents may like to read romance to spice up their fantasies, I prefer to take Geralt to one of the local in-game brothels and let my imagination fly.

::smiles bashfully::

Regardless of how amazing Geralt is in my daydreams, the truth is this game is awesome. The story has always been amazing and it continues to be so. And the best part is the combat system is starting to catch up to the rest of the game.

The past two games I grumbled about the combat system. It was clunky and out of balance. This time around, I felt it was smoother and that CD PROJEKT RED finally is nailing it down.  It’s either that or I am just getting used to it.

If you are looking for an in-depth character and choice driven story, where you really feel connected to the story-line then this game will not disappoint.

I only have one beef with the designers. I would have liked to have had the chance to get to know Yennefer better before I had to make any regrettable decisions. Triss, I have known for 2 games, whereas Yennefer was new to me. I didn’t realize until it was too late that Yennefer was the girl for me. So choose wisely.

This game is not advised for children. There is sex, drugs and bloodshed on every doorstep. I can’t wait for the next one!

 

 

Learn More About the Creators and the Game:

CD Red Projekt

Steam

OWL Rating:

 

The Last Jedi: A Perspective from a Feminist, Rebel & Writer

This post first appeared on My Sheroes at KMRandallAuthor.com.

***Please note, if you have not seen The Last Jedi yet and are one of the few who have not already read about the whole movie in detailed analysis from the hundreds of articles written in the wake of its debut, then this may contain spoilers.

LeiaFreeWhen it comes to Star Wars, you have a wide fan base, from new generations of movie lovers to old. You have the fans who watched it as children with wide eyes filled with wonder and grew up loving movies. Now, as adults, these hardcore Star Wars fans have expectations that may never be satisfied. I am, of course, addressing the mixed reviews the latest installment, The Last Jedi, received from its rabid fans. No matter how well something is done, when you add to something so beloved as Star Wars many years later, the purists are going to take some issue with something in the universal rules or character development. I get it. I don’t agree with the negativity in this instance, but I get it.

Although I grew up watching the movies, and even remember seeing the Return of the Jedi in the movie theater when I was about four years old (Jabba the Hutt just stands out in my brain), I would not classify myself as a fanatic. I like the movies a lot. But I’m not the one who bought the tickets as soon as they went on sale or collect Star Wars Legos. That’s my husband, who is a Star Wars junkie. He’s not your average fan boy, his inner geek only shines in these moments. So perhaps that is why his love of Star Wars is still intact, and he thought the newest movie was awesome. But like many, his favorite so far of the new ones has been Rogue One. It’s gritty and dark. Blah, that was too sad for me, although inspiring. So on with my review of The Last Jedi.

What I Liked:

•As I’ve said in the past, Star Wars presents strong female characters. The strong character development of Leia was before her time, followed in more contemporary times by Jyn Erso and Rey. These woman have agency, they have character, and they are the heroes in the story. Leia as the resistance leader in The Last Jedi is emblematic of a time when women are rising and leading contemporary rebellions against an administration perceived by many to be deeply corrupt and unjust.

•I absolutely fan-girled over the connection between Kylo Ren and Rey. Not in an, I’m totally shipping over them (that’s just too complex a relationship to root for), but the mystery and meaning behind that connection is fascinating. She’s the light in the force, he’s the dark in the force, and despite their mental connection being created by Snoke, they have chemistry and a desire to help the other one find the right side. I’m intrigued to see where their connection takes us in the next movie and whether Kylo Ren can be redeemed. Do they have a deeper connection than we even know yet? I find it thrilling.

•The dual perspectives I didn’t realize I was even watching until it was posed so eloquently in an article I read, was Poe Dameron’s and Admiral Holdo’s. Earlier in the movie, you see through Poe’s eyes, the man who wants to be a hero, who doesn’t run away but takes risks and sometimes without much thought uses violence to try and win the day, and as the audience, you root for him. But then the flip side is revealed when you see Admiral Holdo’s perspective and fully grasp the whole picture. I delight in such writing and the delayed awareness of how brilliant it was.

•Leia’s use of the force was one of my favorite parts. In canon, she’s always been force sensitive. In a dire moment when she’d die otherwise, she’s able to harness her sensitivity and use it to save herself. It’s truly an amazing send-off for the character and symbolic of the strength both Leia and Carrie Fisher have within.

ªAs my brother pointed out, Yoda was messing with Luke just like always. Once he drew this parallel for me, the scene with Luke and Yoda became that much more meaningful and funny. Now everyone, pause for a minute and watch this video:


 What I didn’t like:

•I admit, while I agree wholeheartedly that Rey’s parents being junkers allows her character to illustrate that greatness can come from humble beginnings is really relevant and awesome, I was a little disappointed at the revelation. I have come to embrace it more fully, but I think the hype for two years around who her parents were was the primary reason for this letdown.

•I don’t like when people I like die, so I was a bit peeved that Luke bit the dust in this movie. I get the whole, forging a path for the new generation and letting the old ways die, but come on.

If it it’s not obvious, I give this movie an A+. I think I’ve become a bigger Star Wars fan than I was ever before because I feel like it can be used to inspire those who have decided to become rebels in their own right, who are fighting for the light. I actually had written this review shortly after seeing it, but the page closed on me and I lost it all. So while that was a bummer and it’s taken me an extra week to re-write it, reading some of the smart analysis on the movie has clinched my love for it. Here’s a quote from an article written on Bitter Gertrude by Melissa Hillman that just makes the meaning behind the film that much deeper:

“The nearly all-white, overwhemingly male, privilege-based way of thinking that celebrates war culture and toxic masculinity and that created the First Order has to go, both in the larger world and as it’s internalized in our hearts and minds, and in its place will be something entirely new, created by diverse young people who are walking away from war culture, walking away from toxic masculinity, walking away from systems of privilege … The future is brown, and female, and brilliant, and fierce, does not give even one single fuck about the way things used to be.”

Wheel of Time Series Coming to a Station Near You!

This is old news…so I probably shouldn’t bring it up. But I just came across this information and just could not help myself! Apparently, Sony has picked up The Wheel of Time series to be made into a TV series, following on the coat tails of Games of Thrones. I just recently read the first book in the series, and while I have 13 more to go, I am truly ecstatic! I really hope that this comes to fruition and doesn’t plummet into the pit of Goonies 2, where we were promised another movie, and then nothing. And yet, they still keep saying it might come, but now who knows in what form, or when?

So let’s hope this really does get made, even if it stinks. I’m excited to see happens.

Read more here: Tor.comSyfy.com, Comingsoon.net.

 

Netflix is watching you…

I panicked when I saw this.  Is Netflix revealing my viewing habits to the world?!

I am one of their subscribers that has in fact watched their new Christmas love story called, A Christmas Prince.

I sighed a big PHEW when I read the rest of the article. I was safe, I’d only watched it once.

So, I’m not one of the crazy viewers Netflix is concerned about. Right?

It’s normal to watch one holiday special after another, isn’t it? As long as I keep watching a different one every night?

::stares off into space dreaming of the Hallmark Channel::

 

The Hematophages – Stephen Kozeniewski

I entered a world these past few days that I have not entered before. My experience with science fiction/horror for years was a child’s memory of “Hello my baby, hello my honey, hello my ragtime gal…” Enter center stage, a mini alien tearing open a guy’s stomach from Space Balls.

Yes, I honestly thought this was incredibly disturbing and horrific for years, until I actually saw the real thing. Once. And never again.

So, I was a bit shocked as I began reading this — not just because this is a genre I have worked very hard at pretending does not exist, but also because I felt I was reading something from a completely different author.

Absent was the usual sarcastic humor that twists and spans throughout the story from Kozeniewski. Instead, this was dark. Not dark funny. Just dark, with a hearty side of tentacle porn. It brought images of HR Giger’s artwork to mind.

So, considering this is a genre that gives me nightmares, I will concede that it is quality work. It is dark, disturbing and carnal. I have to say I feel oddly closer to the writer, for no other reason than perhaps there was something raw about this story that I feel exposes a vulnerability? A kink? Or reminds me of someone from my past? I don’t know, maybe all three, but this was an excellent, gruesome creation. And even though I was uncomfortable for the duration, and I am sure that it will haunt me for longer than I care to admit, I accept that it is well-written and a welcome addition to its genre.

If you are in the mood for something tantalizingly inky and skin cripplingly sinister then you found your story. You can pick up a copy on Amazon for $2.99 in Kindle format and $15.99 in paperback.

Synopsis: Doctoral student Paige Ambroziak is a “station bunny” – she’s never set foot off the deep space outpost where she grew up. But when she’s offered a small fortune to join a clandestine salvage mission, she jumps at the chance to leave the cutthroat world of academia behind.

Paige is convinced she’s been enlisted to find the legendary Manifest Destiny, a long-lost colonization vessel from an era before the corporations ruled Earth and its colonies. Whatever she’s looking for, though, rests in the blood-like seas of a planet-sized organism called a fleshworld.

Dangers abound for Paige and her shipmates. Flying outside charted space means competing corporations can shoot them on sight rather than respect their salvage rights. The area is also crawling with pirates like the ghoulish skin-wrappers, known for murdering anyone they can’t extort.

But the greatest threat to Paige’s mission is the nauseating alien parasites which infest the fleshworld. These lamprey-like monstrosities are used to swimming freely in an ocean of blood, and will happily spill a new one from the veins of the outsiders who have tainted their home. In just a few short, bone-chilling hours Paige learns that there are no limits to the depravity and violence of the grotesque nightmares known as…THE HEMATOPHAGES.

OWL Rating:

 

THE MAN BEHIND THE STORY:

Stephen Kozeniewski lives in Pennsylvania, the birthplace of the modern zombie. During his time as a Field Artillery officer he served for three years in Oklahoma and one in Iraq, where, due to what he assumes was a clerical error, he was awarded the Bronze Star. He is also a classically trained linguist, which sounds much more impressive than saying his bachelor’s is in German.

CONNECT WITH STEPHEN

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*I received a free copy of each story in exchange for an honest review

Links – Lisa Becker

LinksCoverArtI am no stranger to Lisa Becker novels. She first came onto the chick-lit scene with Click, a fun love story told through email and text messages. It’s refreshing to read books in creative storytelling formats, and she has a flair for romance. She is also one the very first authors I reviewed for, so her books have a special place in my blogging heart. They’re usually witty and fast, quick reads. Links was no different.

Links follows Charlotte Windham, who was your typical geeky student under the radar of the popular, good looking jocks, in high school. As a teenager, she tutored Garrett and his twin brother. But it was cocky Garrett who she had a crush on, a crush she holds onto even 15 years later, well after college and her rise to success as a best-selling novelist (the writer’s dream, eh?)

When she runs into Garrett (hint, it’s called Links because he’s now a pro golfer), the sparks reignite, this time for Garrett as well. Charlotte’s friendship with Garrett’s sister, keeps them reconnected, and as you can imagine, the romance dance goes from there. But Charlotte, who is still holding onto insecurities left over from her school days, doesn’t trust Garrett’s past womanizing ways. And to find out more, you must read the book. But keep reading below for my analysis.

This book was fun. There were some errors throughout, but because it was an ARC edition, I will trust they were removed before publication. While I found the novel a bit formulaic, I honestly enjoyed the build-up of the romance between Charlotte and Garrett and stayed up way too late reading it. When you get a Lisa Becker novel you can always trust you’ll have a fun, romantic build up, a sassy best friend, and a good, entertaining time flying through it.

You can find it on Amazon in Kindle edition for $4.99 or in paperback for $10.99.

—Reviewed by Katrina, founder and sometimes book reviewer. (Sheilah does most of them.)

MY OWL RATING:

Surreal Owl Metallic on the Night 3dSurreal Owl Metallic on the Night 3dSurreal Owl Metallic on the Night 3dSurreal Owl Metallic on the Night 3d

SYNOPSIS

In high school, Charlotte Windham was a typical student going through an awkward phase — glasses and all. She harbored a crush on Garrett Stephens, the teen heartthrob everyone can’t help but fall for during that unfortunate ugly duckling phase of one’s teen years. Flash forward fifteen years later, and Charlotte and Garrett have a second chance encounter at a Los Angeles restaurant. However, this time around, Charlotte has leveled the playing field. She’s a bestselling novelist and no longer “Glasses,” the humiliating nickname Garrett called her in high school. In short, she’s a catch now and, thanks to corrective eye surgery, it’s not just her eyes that see better…so does her heart! Garrett hasn’t fared poorly either, transforming from teen heartbreaker to adult lothario. A now successful professional golfer, he’s recently suffered a major setback in the form of a possible career-ending injury. With the upper hand, can Charlotte forgive Garrett for his past ways, and for his more recent Don Juan lifestyle? Will she even want to? And, can Garrett change his ways for a second chance with Charlotte, who may just be the perfect fit for him?

THE WOMAN BEHIND THE BOOK
Lisa Becker is a romance writer whose previous novels include Click: An Online Love Story, Double Click and Right Click. The books, about a young woman's search for love online in Los Angeles, have been called, “a fast read that will keep you entertained,” “a fun, quick read for fans of Sex and the City,” and “hard to put down.” The first in the series w1486731as optioned for a major motion picture. Lisa’s writings about online dating have been featured in Cupid’s Pulse, GalTime.com, Single Edition, The Perfect Soulmate, Chick Lit Central and numerous other book blogs and websites. As Lisa’s grandmother used to say, “For every chair, there’s a rush.” Lisa is now happily married to a man she met online and lives in Manhattan Beach with him and their two daughters. So, if it happened for her, there’s hope for anyone!

 

 

 

Heartsridge Shifters: Austin (South-One Bears Book 1) – Olivia Arran

So…last night I didn’t feel like doing anything except lying on the couch and checking into a story. I have tons of books waiting to be read, but impulsively I clicked buy on this title. I have a bad thing for shapeshifters. And well, this was a book about hot shapeshifting men. It’s the inner beast thing, I think. You can guess at my mood last night.

I don’t read romance/erotica often, so I was not sure how to compare this story to others. It’s a simple read with much naughtiness. The buildup could have lasted longer and Arran’s use of sweetheart was a bit nauseating. But the naughty parts were executed well and overall I enjoyed the quick read that it was. It was an interesting set, with a shapeshifter community trying to co-exist among annoying and nosy humans.

I appreciated the age of the characters being in their 30’s. I could relate to that and the characters were likeable enough to allow me to cheer for their success.

If you are looking for a light and tantalizing read that might make you feel something down under, then I recommend this story. You can find it on Amazon for 99 cents in Kindle format or $9.99 in paperback.

Synopsis: It’s a new world. Shifters are no longer a secret and they’re ready to fight for their right to live free.

Everything is different.

Six years ago, the Registration Act forced shifters out into the open and the world changed. Towns were created to provide a safe haven for those shifters who chose to follow the law, and those who didn’t were declared rogue.

Heartsridge is one of the few shifter towns in existence, guarded and protected by special teams of bears and wolves. Their job: to protect the right for shifters to live and love, and for the space to run free as nature intended. Because not all humans found the truth easy to accept–that they’re no longer the dominant species. Tourism keeps the town thriving, humans able to visit and stay for a week, but then they have to leave.

It’s the law.

As the Alpha of Bear Team South-One, it’s Austin Ford’s job to secure the perimeter of the town from possible threats and make sure the visiting humans follow the rules. No exceptions, and that includes the beautiful, curvy human woman he finds trespassing in his forest. Defiant and frustratingly stubborn, everything about the gorgeous human calls to the bear inside him. Before he’s even had chance to snarl, she’s got the furry oaf of a bear wrapped around her little finger, leaving the man confused and trying to catch up. But he has his suspicions. He’s pretty sure he’s just met his fated mate.

Unlike the other tourists, Leona Kelly isn’t visiting Heartsridge to snag a shifter. She’s here to find her missing sister. A woman on a mission, she has no interest in shifters, no matter how devastatingly attractive they might be. Or he might be. Austin. The big, burly bear shifter who’d thrown her over his shoulder and hauled her out of the forest. He says he wants to help, but can she trust him? Then a shocking discovery changes everything. Leona no longer wants to leave, but she’s not allowed to stay. Austin is the only one she can turn to for help.

But why is he helping her? And what could he possibly want from a human who doesn’t belong in his world?

**This 53,000 word novel contains naughty language, fully realized love scenes, and big, burly bear shifters who only have eyes for their fated mates. HEA guaranteed.**

OWL Rating: