A Short Poem

 

What darkness lurks in the hearts of men?

What evils do they do?

What do those who watch above

Think when they see you?

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Discussion: Michigan and Snow

I won’t lie – I like the snow.

As a resident of Michigan, snow is a common think. Our state is shaped like a mitten (well, the lower peninsula is) and that implies that tells me we are destined for snow.

I’ve always liked it. When we were younger, my brothers and I could play in it in our backyard and roll snowballs down the hill, etc. It was quick and easy.

This year, we are having a mild start to the winter. We had some snow in November that I got to play with my daughter (she’s almost three) and that was a lot of fun. It was fun enough that I wanted to go out and buy some Carhart snow pants so that I wouldn’t be wearing only my jeans. Which is a lot – I don’t generally buy spendy items like that.  But it was fun and my daughter enjoyed it tremendously. Part of it was her connection to Olaf from Frozen but that’s for another day.

The point being – I like snow and Michigan is, in general, a good place to get it.

This year, however, we have had a fairly mild winter. We had some snow in November and some cold temperatures so far and that is about it. According to the coming weather forecast (and this is Michigan so take it with a heavy grain of salt) we’re going to get some more 50 degree days in the next week or so.

Which is odd.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I understand why some folks are grateful for the changes this winter. For Michigan drivers, snow is an expectation. People that are commuting into or out of the state complain, but most of the native drivers don’t seem to have a significant issue with it. Sometimes that does mean waking up extra early to shovel my driveway, but we’ve survived worse circumstances.

The point being – snow is a fun and enjoyable thing for most of the Michiganders that I know. The Upper Peninsula folks are even more used to it than those of us in the Lower Peninsula – but then they have a higher snowfall rate than we do.

It can be a lot of fun. Snowballs, snowmen, and sledding down a hill. When we moved, one of the appeals was a big hill nearby for sledding – though I don’t know that I told my wife that one.

Then,  once you are thoroughly chilled and excited – taken care of all of your snow fun and enjoyment – you get to go inside and have a nice cup of hot tea or hot cocoa while you slide under a blanket to gradually warm up. It’s a great way to spend a day!

So, I wonder, how do most feel about snow and cold? The internet is a free place!

Book Review: Greek Key by K.B. Spangler

 

GK Cover

Buy it HERE from K.B.’S A Girl and Her Fed Store (I imagine she gets more for it here).

Buy it HERE on Amazon (Because sometimes it is simply easier)

So, I have talked about the A Girl and Her Fed universe before. If you read any of my reviews about the Rachel Peng books, then you will be running into some familiar faces here.

We have Speedy and Hope as the primary protagonists this time around. Rachel’s not the focus here and we are, instead, introduced to the universe through Hope’s eyes and seeing her try to solve a mystery that has a lot more to do with the origins of how OACET and the ghosts work in the A Girl and Her Fed universe.

I’m not spoiling much in this review, but if you haven’t read A Girl and Her Fed yet, you might want to back out and go read it before you read on because some of this will go into spoilage as to how the rules of the Universe there work.

SPOILER TAG

SPOILER TAG

SPOILER TAG

The main mystery revolves around an artifact, a piece of the Antikythera mechanism, that is commented on in both the comic and in the Peng novels. They have a piece of a machine that is out of place and out of time for the development of the period. Hope, Speedy, and the Ghost of Benjamin Franklin (I’m not sure if that’s a title or not…maybe I’ll tweet the author to ask) have been discussing the limits of how a ghost can work and how time flows in the A Girl And Her Fed (AGAHF for short) universe.

It boils down to this: ghosts can move backward and forward in time. However, this requires a great deal of power. A ghost gets its power from his/her effect on the world. Also, a ghosts power appears to be limited to the culture in which it was created. This means that most ghosts are quite limited in their power.  Benjamin Franklin’s ghost is very powerful in the United States (as are the other ghosts of the Founding Fathers. And Lincoln…oh dear lord, Lincoln). However, when Hope travels outside of the U.S., Franklin can’t follow / can’t manifest  (side-note: given his years in Europe, I wonder if he can manifest there as well…).

We already know from AGAHF that Franklin can time travel. He did it to help Hope play the stock market so she didn’t have to focus on gaining money and could instead prepare for the coming of OACET and Sparky and a few other slightly more world shattering elements coming to the U.S. (and the world) than whether or not she could pay the bills.  Of course she originally thought he was a drug induced hallucination, but that would be getting off topic and into AGAHF rather than Greek Key.

Panel Post
I’ll just leave this here as an explanation Image is Copyright (C) K.B. Spangler

 

The point being, his power lets him jump forward in time and, unlike many ghosts, he can bring back elements of what he finds in the future. In the comic, he brings back a ring that is linked to OACET so she can call in help from Sparky whenever she needs it. This takes a tremendous amount of power and the ring is only a small thing.

The mechanism piece? It’s a bit bigger. Which means a lot more power would be needed. Not only that, but we’re looking at a time jump that would make Doc Brown jealous.

And without a DeLorean.

Or a Flux Capacitor.

This machine piece that they have found, however, appears to have come from someone a bit more…universal. Think mathematics. Like Universal mathematics.

It’s Archimedes. Yes, that Archimedes.

I told you it was Universal Mathematics.

This has everyone baffled and a bit worried as it was found in a stash that was being supervised by the main antagonist of AGAHF.

Hope, being one of the few who knows the ghost connection in OACET, decides to investigate and she takes along Mike. The pair are psychic and are able to use that ability to tap into the ghost spectrum – though neither is particularly good at it. You do what you can with what you have.

Then we run into an archaeologist, Atlas, (who’s probably not on the up-and-up) and his sister, Darling (who’s definitely not on the up-and-up) and they get involved in examining the mystery as well.

Helen of Troy also ends up entangled.

It’s…complicated.

The story is also a lot of fun. As a fan of AGAHF, I got a lot of satisfaction out of reading the story. Hope is a fun character and Speedy is a highlight as well. They play their typical roles, but those roles are written quite well.

Hope is a strong protagonist. It is immediately obvious that she is in charge of herself and her choices; there’s no damsel in distress here. No one is ‘letting’ her do the things that she does. She is doing them through her action and through her conscious choice. It’s a good message and one that shouldn’t have to be said, but I’m pointing it out because that message is often lost in other media and stories. Hope’s a character that is strong on her own and she happens to be female.

Speedy is still a hyper-intelligent Koala. I don’t really feel the need to elaborate there, but he is enjoyable. However, I’m a Speedy fan and I hear there are those that disagree with him. That’s your choice – I can assure you that he doesn’t care in the slightest.

The mystery of Archimedes’ machine is the central plot of the story and its practically a character in and of itself. The jumping and shifting of ideas and ‘OK, that didn’t work, next plan’ is a lot of fun.

For me this book had a lot to tell. It establishes quite a bit of the rules for the AGAHF universe. The world building is fascinating and I enjoyed those elements a lot.

My major complaint comes from only two elements. My first is Hope’s attraction to Atlas. It seems overplayed and not especially relevant to the plot. I get that it is part of the character of Hope to be easily distracted, but I just did not like the Atlas bit at all. It’s a personal element, but I feel it detracts from Hope’s character to have that be a focus of her distractions. The rest of her jumps, however, are hilarious and/or plot related and I enjoyed them, but the Atlas ones didn’t ping right for me. Maybe it’s my sense of humor.

Which brings me to Atlas himself. As a character and an antagonist (I won’t go far enough to call him a villain) he’s in the gray area. It could be argued that he’s not even really an antagonist so much as a stumbling point. He’s a pretty face and something for Hope to get distracted by given his amazing Mediterranean body and that’s pretty much it. There is some effort at characterization by having him have a rivalry with his sister, but it doesn’t come off as particularly effective. His reveal and subsequent plot related items come off as convenient and/or out of place when reading and that appeared to defeat the purpose of having him in play. He helps the plot along and gives Hope a few things to think about, but it doesn’t really bring out anything new or interesting in the characters and so he falls flat.

On the whole, though, Greek Key is a strong novel with an interesting mystery. Hope, Mike, and Speedy make up for the lack of a traditional antagonist by fighting with the mystery surrounding the Archimedes device. The solution is a fascinating twist and turn as Spangler develops her world and reveals new and fascinating bits about how the world works in her universe of ghosts and government. For AGAHF fans, this will be a lot of fun. For inductees and those new to the universe, it will be an exciting adventure with a strong protagonist and companions that will lead you into a complex and fun world.

Characters: 4.0 / 5
Plot: 5 / 5
Action: 4 / 5
Value: 5 / 5
Writing: 5 / 5

Overall: 4.2 / 5

 

 

Life on Ramen

I have always been about creating. I love to write, to create adventures and characters with my friends through RPGs and LARPs, to produce plays and portrayals through acting on stage. All through my life I have created.

One such creation that I had was called Life on Ramen. It was a sprite comic that I produced while I was in college. Keep in mind – this was during the hay day of sprite comics. We had Bob and George on the one hand and 8-Bit Theater on the other. It was an awesome time. If you had MS Paint and a few sprite sheets, you could make a webcomic.

Mine was about myself and some of my friends and our various insanities. I called it ‘Life on Ramen’ because I was in college and that was pretty much my only non-campus sustenance. I found the comic very funny and I put a lot of work into updating it on GeoCities. You know, back when GeoCities existed.

It was the first piece of something I had created that I shared outside of my personal bubble. I put it up on the internet and I joined some webrings (does anyone remember those? 🙂 ) and I posted it for feedback and fun.

It was something I had never done before – exposed myself like that to a strange audience. I remember being a little scared of it, at least at first, but also excited. I had hoped that I would find some folks who liked it – there were certainly enough 8 and 16 bit Sprite comic lovers out there at the time.

There wasn’t a lot of original content to it, I will admit now. But as I gained new skills and software (thanks Ferris), it improved. I had some fun characters and some, in my opinion, funny humor. There were a lot of Nice Job Breaking It, Hero moments – which I still find funny.

Any how, I thought I would share this memory of my first time putting my work out for public critique and see if anyone else wanted to comment. What was your first time sharing something publicly like? What made it exciting or interesting to you?

Book Review: Red Hot Steele (Daggers and Steele Vol. 1)

 

Cover Steele

But the book on Amazon HERE!

Things here have been a little bit crazy as of late, so I haven’t had a lot of time to write.

I have, however, had a lot of time to read. So, I grabbed up my tablet and looked through for something fun but different. The cover for this one caught my eye and it was on a promotion for $0.00 so I downloaded it.

It’s a crack!

This is a detective story that is playing with all of the tropes of a detective story while throwing in elements of fantasy. Apparently there is a movement towards fantasy-crime novels (something I didn’t know) and this was my first full dip into it.

The plot is, pretty much, a standard NCIS, CSI, etc plot. Someone’s been murdered and Jake Daggers (our narrator) has to solve the mystery. Unfortunately (at least according to his perspective at first) he’s just had his long time partner replaced with a newbie fresh from the academy. To make matters worse, the newbie is a woman and an elf. So he has to deal with the newbie and a murder. Lots of fun.

The plot is pretty much straight out of those style outlines, but that’s to make room for the characterization. Daggers is clearly the focus and it shows. He has a fantastic characterization and reading him is just like reading the old detective serials that used to be on the radio. I can hear Howard Duff’s Sam Spade as I read the novel and it’s fantastic. Daggers is not a fantastic role-model – some of his views and perceptions are out of that same era and it makes for him to be very much a throw back of the era. This is particularly true regarding his partner, Steele. And while his view of Steele changes over the course of the story and becomes somewhat better, that doesn’t happen for women in general. It’s a part of the character and the setting, so it makes for good characterization. Daggers has faults – lots of them (women just being one), but he is overall a likable character with a strong voice.

Steele, his partner, does a fair job of standing up to him and its pretty obvious that the rest of his team (there are four total agents on Daggers’ task force) don’t share his archaic views. She even calls him out a few times but, unfortunately, they don’t stick. The rest of the team just let it pass, so it Daggers does come off as a bit of a bully that the reader is expected to excuse. For the most part, I am a forgiving reader and I am anticipating that this will change over the course of the series. It’s an easy place to have character growth and development and I cannot imagine that the author won’t take advantage of it.

But back to the team. The team is interesting, though most of our experience is with Daggers and Steele (imagine that!). Steele gets some screen time and it becomes clear that she’s not going to take Daggers lying down – yet she sometimes lets things slide that make this inconsistent. It’s a significant flaw, and, again, I’m assuming the author is going to fix it eventually.

The answer to the puzzle becomes a bit obvious as the novel gets close to then end, but its still a good solution and fun to reach. The ‘getting there is half the fun’ trope really holds sway through the novel, and the novel is a lot of fun to read.

Despite the flaws of the story, this is a fun book to pick up and read if you enjoy shows like NCIS or Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. For the price of free, you really have no excuse not to.

Characters: 4.5 / 5
Plot: 3.5 / 5
Action: 4 / 5
Value: 5 / 5
Writing: 4 / 5

Overall: 4.2 / 5

 

 

 

White Tower

Click HERE to buy The White Tower from Amazon.com!

I bought the paperback version of this novel from a local vendor (sorry Amazon. I love my little stores too) and finally had a chance to sit down and read it. On the whole, this is a good story with a lot of fun elements to it.

The story opens in a classic fantasy opening with Damion being tasked by his father with a quest that, at 11 years old, he doesn’t really understand. However, that there is terror and Dad involved, he commits to the promise of delivering ‘The Key’ to the White Tower.

Jump forward and Damion is now a young man working on a farm when his promise to his father comes back to his mind, setting him off on a quest to finish what it was he was supposed to have done more than a decade ago. Unfortunately, things don’t go especially smoothly as a number of complications arise. For one thing, the farmer’s daughter has a son who decides to follow Damion. For another, he has absolutely no idea where the White Tower is. Add on to that a rather sinister figure hunting for him and a little bit of young adult attraction and you have all of the elements of an excellent story popping up.

Damion is an interesting and fairly well developed character, especially for a premier novel. Some of the ‘first’ books that I read on my Kindle forget that ‘first’ is often ‘last’ and will forget to have an identifiable protagonist. Not so in The White Tower. Damion is a pretty well rounded character who reminds me, more than anything else, of Peter Parker – he is determined but flawed with a great deal of heart and concern for others. He’s not an excellent swordsman or a lone-wolf adventurer; he is an every man with the flaws that entails. And those flaws do actually matter – the cost him opportunities and respect in many cases when he meets someone with a greater skill set than his own. Damion recognizes that and works with what he has. His determination to ‘always keep his promises’ is noble, but also comes in to conflict with the story as well and creates for some good character dynamics.

The secondary cast, on the other hand, is a bit less rounded. The Princess and her bodyguard are memorable, but not as well developed as our protagonist. She reminds me far too much of Princess Leia in ‘A New Hope’ when Luke and Han show up and she doesn’t really move on from that state very well. There are some moments of character development, but they feel a bit forced to me. Our main antagonist (I won’t spoil the book with specific names here because it is somewhat important to the plot) is similarly evil. How do we know he is evil? Well, he uses mind control and crushes windpipes right at the get go and only gets worse from there. So, he is easily identifiable as evil and we know not to like him.

The world, on the other hand, is very well developed. It appears to be a sort of post apocalypse world. There are instances of the old world occasionally – broken down roads, some bits and pieces of electricity, even a minor villain named Holland – to hint at the fact that *something* happened in the past that resulted in the downfall of humanity that has left us in a sort of lurch. There are hints and some good revelations in the story (again, I try not to do plot spoilers in reviews) but that really only deals with the layout. The culture and societies all have unique elements and interact believably. There is a lot of the depth to this world and I look forward to reading the sequel.

Given the ending, I am assuming a sequel at least.

On the whole, this was a fun read. I strongly encourage readers to pick up a copy of ‘The White Tower’ for an excellent Holiday read. 🙂

Characters – 3.5/5
Plot: 4/5
Action: 4/5
Value: 4/5
Writing: 4/5
Total Rating: 3.95/5

What Will You Write #2 – Precipice (Entry)

This is part of the ‘What Will You Write’ activity found here. The prompt for this one is in italics below, while my own addition is after it in plain text. I really enjoyed the last one, and this one is a lot of fun for me to.

Here we go! 🙂

Ferd opened his eyes, his head throbbing. Scrambling up to his feet, he remembered the rock slide. That was no accident, he thought. Someone tried to kill us. Us. Where is Cassia? He couldn’t see through the dust, but she had to be there.

“Cassia!” he shouted.

“Ferd?” The faint voice came from the direction of the cliff. “Ferd! I can’t get up!”

Ferd edged his way to the precipice and looked down. Through the dust, he saw Cassia. She held onto a branch over the chasm. He reached for her, but she was too far away.

“Is that you?!” Cassia called again. “FERD!”

This shouldn’t be a problem for her, Ferd thought as he scanned the ledge he was on for anything he could use to help Cassia. Why isn’t she simply using her powers? The few stones that lay scattered around him would be useless in helping her.

“I’m up here, Cassia!” He shouted down to her.

“FERD!” Cassia shouted again, “FERD! I can’t see! Where are you?!” there was sobbing to her voice. “Why won’t you respond?”

“I’m above you, Cassia!” Ferd shouted again. “Don’t you hear me?”

“She can’t hear you, Guardian.” The dust that continued to fall around him formed swirled on to the ledge next to him, quickly forming a creature of stone and flakes. It stood on four legs constructed of dirt and stone. Harsh spikes of mud and pebbles sprouted from its back. The face was vaguely canine with two opals for eyes and rows of hard stone for teeth. “I’ll let her sound reach you, but I’m stopping yours from reaching her. It’s remarkable how well dust can absorb sound.”

Ferd glared at the creature. The Cryx were known for two things: their ability to control the earth and their malevolence. The pebbled face shifted into a vicious grin, “You’ve failed and she will die.”

“You’re blocking her power somehow, aren’t you?” Ferd reached to his hip for his sword only to find it missing. It must have fallen out when they had tumbled from above. “Let her go.”

“Oh, it’s not my power,” the Cryx’s voice was a gravelly, grating sound. “She’s just…afraid.”

“Of falling? She can’t be. She knows her power can save her easily.” Flight was one of the first powers that a Wordsmith mastered. “You lie!”

“And you assume.” The creature roared. “Your arrogance is HER undoing! Watch!” The creature raised one of its paws and slammed it in to the ledge that it and Ferd stood upon. Below, a tunnel opened in the cloud of dust to show the branch that Cassia held wobbled as the tree it was attached to began to pull loose of the earth that held it. Cassia screamed as the dust cloud resumed its natural shape, obscuring the roots and a clear view of the Wordsmith.

Fear twisted Ferd’s stomach,“You monster!” he lunged for the creature. The dust and stone separated and he tumbled through harmlessly. “Stop this game!”

“Return what you stole!” the beast growled back. “Or watch your Wordsmith die!”

Fury mixed with confusion as Ferd regained his feet, “I don’t know what you are talking about!” he found his voice even as his eyes searched the ground for a weapon.

“Return them to me or I will recover them from your broken corpse.” Stone re-arranged themselves, making the beast’s fangs elongate out of the constructed muzzle, “Or the corpse of your Wordsmith!”

“FERD!”

The desperation in her voice called to him. He had no idea what the Cryx was talking about – they hadn’t taken anything from the mountain. The beast was clearly mad. His inaction was going to lead to her death – something he would not be party to.

And so he took action.

A few steps helped him forward, past the Cryx and to the edge. He pushed against the ground and launched himself down, tucking his arms to his sides, he began to freefall toward the dust cloud containing Cassia. The wind whipped around him as he sped toward her – if she could not hear him, then she would see him descend.

He realized his mistake only moments before reaching her. The cloud of dust was of Cryx origin which meant that the beast still had control. An immense pain tore at him as the dust ripped at his flesh, tore through his tunic. A sharp stake of earth stabbed in to his side as he exited the cloud above Cassia. The Cryx wasn’t going to let him escape.

Drops of his blood fell on her golden curls as he fell past her. He saw her emerald eyes widen in surprise and fear. “FERD!”

He rolled in the air so that he was facing Cassia in his descent, his arms spreading as if he would embrace her one final time. He would not see his end coming, only the new beginning he had desired for so long painted against a blue sky and the golden light bouncing off the mountain. If he was going to die, at least the Wordsmith would have a chance at living.

The pain in his side became more intense as the stake drove itself further in to him. The light above him colored itself with that pain, and then darkness as he lost consciousness.

What Will You Write Challenge #1 – Neptune

For details on the contest, see here. The prompt provided comes from this post. I thought I’d give it a shot.

Here we go – the prompt is in italics:

Conrad opened his eyes to a view of a massive blue globe. He jerked back and twisted around in the microgravity. He touched something solid in front of him. A window.

He pushed against the window and turned around. Conrad scanned the small room, no larger than a public bathroom stall, and empty except for an EV spacesuit and door. He studied the view through the window. Neptune, he thought. How did I get here?
“You were brought here to facilitate understanding,” A sultry voice filled the air around him. “This habitat should be suitable to our needs.”

Conrad liked the emphasis the voice placed on needs – but who was speaking?

“I am Translocation Initiation Neurointerface Automaton. You, handsome, may call me Tina.”

“Neuro-wha?” Conrad questioned. As nice as it was to be called handsome, the familiarity, and mind reading, was a bit disconcerting . “There’s nothing like that…”

“On earth,” the voice corrected soothingly. “I know. But this isn’t Earth.”
“How do you speak English then?”

“I don’t. I’m speaking my native tongue. I’m very talented with it,” the voice replied,”I’ve just put the ability to translate it in to your mind.”

“Huh?”

“I’ve almost got my interface ready. Then there won’t be any barriers between us.”
The emphasis on barrier removal gave Conrad more images to go with the voice, “Not that I don’t appreciate the offer, Tina, but I’m a little confused. How did I get to…Neptune. And what’s with all the compliments? And the suit.”

“Translocation. A simple procedure your people haven’t figured out yet,” Tina replied. “The compliments are here to help you relax. And the suit? Well, that’s for protection.”

“Protection? From what?”

“Every girl should have protection when she meets a guy. Speaking of, my interface is ready. The question is – are you?” The challenge in that tone helped Conrad recognize what he was ready for. “One moment.”

Conrad watched in astonishment as the window began to peel itself away, a layer of the thick glass melting in to a pool on the floor. As he continued to watch, the glass began to re-shape itself. In less than five minutes a beautiful woman crafted of crystal was standing before him. He watched, stunned, as the glass took on the colors of the planet – a shifting sea of blues with lighter highlights. The occasional trace of white accented her, emphasizing her eyes and shapely form, “Does this please you?” the voice that had filled his mind now spoke from the construct.

Conrad could not deny how beautiful the woman looked. Her colors made her exotic and her shape made her desirable, yet he could not entirely admit to it being pleasant, “You’re made of glass…I can’t touch you.”

“Touch me, Conrad. I insist.” Tina held out an arm.

Conrad touched it and was shocked to discover that, despite the appearance of glass, Tina felt as if she were made of flesh. She was warm and soft to his touch. She leaned over and whispered in to his ear, “I’m real everywhere.

Conrad didn’t need to hear that twice. Tina’s lips were real, her legs were real, her warmth was real, her promises of pleasure were real. It did not take them long, and the suit went unused. In the end, though, as they lay on the floor, Conrad finally gathered enough of his wits to probe with questions rather than other bits of him, “What was that about?”

“Protection,” Tina replied, “Now that I have a sample of human DNA, my people can be immune to your diseases and poisons. We don’t really want to die to bacterium and other microorganisms.”

“YWait…what? You’re coming to our planet? What are you doing, invading?” None of the movies he had watched mentioned beautiful crystal women taking over.

“Peacekeeping, actually,” Tina continued, her voice still causing all kinds of stirring in Conrad. “We’re making sure that you’ll be safe and so will we. We’re very protective of our possessions.” Tina smiled, “You’ll be my favorite. You’re very good at pleasing me. Would you like to go for a walk now?” The crystal clear woman stood up and gestured to the EV suit, “I’ve got something your familiar with for now. Until we can adopt something better for you.”

Conrad peered at the suit and considered his options. Given what Tina had been capable of so far, being with her didn’t seem so bad. He smiled, “All right. Give me a few minutes.” Then a thought occurred to him, “Say, Tina? What about those that don’t want to be peacekept?”

“Oh, they will, Conrad. We can be very persuasive.” Tina’s hips wiggled as she came to stand next to him, “Very.”

A Practice Solicit for My Book

A century has passed since the War of the Three Kingdoms was fought. A century since the arcane and the divine crossed blade leaving the world in the hands of the Gods. Born at the end of the conflict, Alista Traakard has been lead to ancient, arcane secrets by her Goddess. Standing against the changes to her church, Alista flees with only her sword and a tome.

Hard work and smart business are the trademarks of the Carlyle family and separate them from the other noble houses of Darien. As eldest son, Deacon Carlyle stands to inherit his father’s business empire. Princess Serena, however, appears to have other plans for the kingdom – plans which don’t include the Carlyles.

Vicor Traven is more like his elven bodyguard than any half-orc should be. His desire to see the world conflicts with the rigid structure and discipline his father, and people, demand. Trusting to fate, he and his bodyguard have escaped Vicor’s rigid life to experience more of the world than Traven’s father would ever allow.

When the three come together in one of Darien’s seaports, it appears to be coincidence, but is it? Or is someone seeking to alter the balance of the world as it stands and cause the pendulum to swing freely once more? “

Book Review – Veiled Eyes

Lake People

Click HERE to buy Veiled Eyes (Lake People) from Amazon.com

Veiled eyes is a peculiar book. It’s not quite 100% romance, it’s not quite 100% mystery, it’s not quite 100% paranormal. It’s an odd mix of conventions that, often, pays off.

The story revolves around Anna St. Thais – an orphan who knew little of her father or her mother. She was, instead, raised in an orphanage of her namesake. When a trucker kidnaps her to rape and murder her, Anna is rather surprised to hear voices in her head – voices which respond and manage to rescue her. It turns out that Anna, and her lineage, are telepathic and she managed to communicate with a small, hidden community of similarly powered individuals that live in the South. From there, Anna learns to be a part of the community while still trying to understand the people she shares blood with as well as answer some nagging questions about her abilities – and her past.

Anna is an interesting narrator and protagonist. The author does an excellent job working her out to be both realistic and interesting. She is fun to experience the world through as well as to delve in to in depth. Anna’s innate sense of curiosity is accented by her doggedness to answer the questions that she develops about the community.

The author’s true love, however, is with the Cajun culture and the land of the south. You are literally swimming in it throughout the novel and it quickly becomes evident that the author is an expert – either through life experience or extensive research. She clearly loves the culture and land of the south and it shows in her exploration of it through Anna’s eyes. She even makes Anna an outsider to start with so that you get that feeling of what it might be like to be exposed to such a diverse place through the eyes of a similar outsider. I have no idea how a reader from the south might react to the descriptions and ideals explored in this novel, but, as a Michigander, I enjoyed it immensely when I could understand.

That being said, sometimes the descriptions of the local flavor are too extensive or mired in their imagery, making it hard for a non-native to track precisely what the author is going for. This does not happen often, but it happens often enough so as to detract from the reading experience.

The only major obstacle that I experienced in reading the book is the pacing. Things move quickly, which in a thriller or a mystery can be a good thing. Unfortunately, this backfired at the climax of the story – we got to the Climax and it appeared as though the individual responsible for the crimes Anna is pursuing came out of nowhere. There were a few hints, but not a lot of development on that end of the mystery part of the novel which made it feel a bit rushed and a bit too extended.

On the whole, veiled eyes is a lot of fun to read and worth it’s current price point (free) up to the ‘discount’ kindle rate of $2.99.

Writing: 4/5
Characterization: 4/5
Plot: 3/5
Flow: 3/5
Value: 3/5 (At Free)
Total rating: 3.6/5