The Caretaker of Imagination

cv_the_caretaker_of_imaginationThe Caretaker of Imagination 

Z. R. Southcombe

John wants to run away from home and live great adventures, only he is forty-two. He decides to do it and soon meets a pirate and a story telling mouse named Edgar.

Edgar sends John on a quest to find the caretaker of imagination to learn why the stories are disappearing.

This easy read is an odd story, not quite children’s literature and not quite adult. It is a little like Roald Dahl, but with no children. I would really like to have seen a little more done with the plot to go with the intriguing tone of the book. While I enjoyed reading it, the ending left me asking “Is that it?”

I’m not sure who to recommend the book to, but if you like small oddities, this is your kind of book.

You can buy the book here.

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The Secrets of Yashire: Emerging from the Shadows

51tETb-IcKL._SL500_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-big,TopRight,35,-73_OU01_AA130_Diamante Lavendar

The Secret of Yashire: Emerging from the Shadows is in the ‘ordinary person gets transported to another world’ genre of fantasy. Brianna is a teen girl who knows that she is out of control, but struggles to know how to turn her life around. When she is hit by a car she is transported to Yashire, where she is told she will heal the land by healing herself. Her quest is to ready herself to find her soul mate by collecting the virtues needed for a good relationship.

Leaving aside the issues I have with the concept of a single soul mate who is the only person born to make us complete, the virtues she collects are indeed what are needed for a good relationship of any kind. I would also note the book highlights that relationships take work and don’t happen magically. So the message of the book is good and it is worth reading for that reason alone.

Like most books with a message, the story suffers. This is something I struggle with myself so I know how hard it is to put the theme on the back shelf and let the story develop naturally. In this case the explanation of the virtues takes precedence over any struggle to achieve them. Brianna wanders through the land and is simply handed the virtues without any test or trial to achieve them. The changes in her are not earned. I would really like to see more conflict (not violence but the need to make tough choices). The harder she works, the more believable the shift in her life will be.

So the bottom line is if you want really good advice about relationships, this is a good book to read. If you want a story you can’t put down, not so much. It is the beginning of a series, so perhaps later volumes will be a little stronger on the plot.

You can buy the book here.


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Rachel Pattinson 

Anais is a young woman living in the Imperial City on the cusp of her ‘Career Advice’ which will set the job she will do for the remainder of her life. Unfortunately she isn’t as brilliant as her friend Dalla and is assigned to work in the picochip factory instead of as an architect as she’d dreamed. Still, she accompanies Dalla to the Citivas building so her friend can see where she will be working. It doesn’t hurt that her boyfriend is a intern with security there. They get a quick tour and almost get into trouble. Anais decides to walk home as she decides how to tell her parents about her failure, and to dream a little about using pirated Scholarly Learning Programs to improve her fate.

She witnesses a murder, the second in just a few days, but the killer doesn’t attack her, falling over dead instead. She still comes to the notice of the police, especially Officer Nox who wants to pin the murder on her in spite of the evidence, fortunately Officer Hughes supports Anais and she is released. Events conspire to keep bringing her to Nox’s attention until he becomes obsessed with her. What is worse is that someone is targeting the city and somehow Anais is the person who must stop it.

I like the utopian/dystopian society of easy genetic modification and ID chips that allow for instant learning. Anais is believable as a young woman caught up by events. There are a few plot issues, such as old technology being the undetectable portal into new technology.  Anyone whose tried to work with old Windows software will roll their eyes at that. Officer Nox’s obsession isn’t well motivated,  and some other actions by main character are hard to believe. None of this takes away from an interesting and fun read.

I recommend Synthetica to readers who enjoy YA sci-fi or ones who would like a different slant on dystopian fiction.

You can buy the book here.

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A Slice of Quietude

51gFd-VbeOL._SX333_BO1,204,203,200_A Slice of Quietude

Sharon Cho

Kat is a Midnight Slicer, an assassin hired learn field fighting techniques.  In the midst of battle she surrenders to a scarred woman whom she hopes will be able to teach her more of the quietude Kat employs in her slicing. Surrender is unimaginable for a slicer, but she is drawn to this woman who moves like the wind in spite of her impossible number of scars.

The book is as much romance as it is action. Tristien, the scarred woman, along with her companions set out to the city where she was a healer and student before being abducted and tortured for three years. Secrets are revealed and we hear stories of gods and demi-gods along the way.

I enjoyed reading the book even with its leisurely pace. The characters are very well drawn and while there isn’t a great deal happening,  there is enough action to keep the story moving.

I recommend the book to those who don’t need constant action in their fantasy,  but enjoy revelation of character and relationships.

You can buy the book here.

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Dane Curse

CCocjoeWAAAV9zIDane Curse

Matt Abraham

Dane Curse is a Black Cape turned P. I. He gets a call from the Syndicate asking him to investigate a case that could set Gold Coast City on fire. The murder of Pinnacle, White Cape and leader of Team Supreme. This is noir detective story with super heroes and super villains. Dane is caught up in the case and finds quickly that not all the black capes hated Pinnacle and not all the white capes loved him. Everyone has an angle, and a lot of those angles involve Dane being dead.

I really enjoyed the book, there are a few superhero series out there, but this has to one of the best. A large part of that is the way even the toughest are made human in some way. They have vulnerabilities both physical and emotional. The plot has some great twists. I had a hard time putting this book down.

If you like old school noir detectives,  you’ll like this book. If you like super heroes and their culture you’ll love it. I highly recommend it.

You can buy the book here.

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Avanaux: A Hickory Lace Adventure

41NWDfZeMpL._AA324_PIkin4,BottomRight,-56,22_AA300_SH20_OU35_Avanaux: A Hickory Lace Adventure 

P. J. McDermott 

After being relegated to teaching following a disastrous mission,  Hickory Lace is offered another mission with the Alien Corps studying and assessing religious teachers of other species to try to find the Son of God. The mission is complicated by the presence of a rare element necessary for space travel. She puts her team together and heads off to Prosperine and the continent of Avanaux.

There are twists and turns aplenty on the way to a satisfying close. This is not preaching disguised as a novel, in spite of the religious premise, there is little talk about faith or religion except for its political aspects. McDermott avoids the trap of making the teacher in the book too closely modeled on Jesus either in his character or teachings.

If there is a weakness in the book, it is that the aliens aren’t truly alien. The people of Avanaux act and think like humans, and the humans have little trouble fitting in. There is one glaring plot hole, but describing it would involve spoilers. Fortunately it isn’t sufficient to spoil an otherwise good read.

I recommend Avanaux to sci-fi readers who like a good adventure.

You can buy the book here.

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The Burying Ground

cover58417-mediumThe Burying Ground

Jane Kellough 

Dundurn Press

Luke lewis is a physician in the small village of Yorkville in 1851. Someone is digging up bodies in the Stranger’s Burying Ground, but not taking the bodies. His father, Thaddeus is a Methodist minister and has solved this kind of puzzle before. When Morgan Spicer the keeper of the Burying Ground asks him to investigate,  Thaddeus takes it on, a little disappointed that Luke isn’t interested.

Luke is struggling to become part of the small practice in Yorkville, and appreciates when his father is able to stay in his rooms between circuits, but he has his own worries and secrets to keep, especially when he accidentally becomes involved with a past enemy and major figure in Toronto’s underworld.

The great thing about reading a book set in historic Toronto is the little tidbits that can be learned about the period. The drawback is that there are a lot of tidbits and hardly and opportunity passes without some explanation. While fascinating historically, it makes for frustrating reading of a mystery.

I would recommend the book for readers who don’t mind a larger than usual dash of history along with what is a clever mystery.

You can buy the book here.

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The Dark Realm

The dark realmThe Dark Realm

D. J.  Hoskins

Alex is a mediocre student who finds escape driving too fast on his motorcycle. He runs into the back of a truck, but instead of dying he wakes in the Dark Realm. After he finds his way out he discovers he is in an alternate United States where magic is what sets people apart, or more exactly, their ability to manipulate titus.

Alex wants to return to his dimension where his fiance is waiting, but he’s sent to a boarding school to learn what he can. Unfortunately Dark Realm is like so many other books set in schools for ‘special’ abilities.  The Alex struggles to fit in, some students help him, others want to destroy him. In this school, the teachers stay neutral and mostly ineffective. I had the feeling that I’d read the book before.

Some of the characters are well drawn, but we kept getting stopped to get brought up to date on backstory. The plot is straight forward.

What gives the book a little bit of an edge is the fight scenes where we are pulled into the action and get to see this world’s magic in action. I would recommend it for people who are going to read it for those action scenes, or who like the school genre enough to read one more book set in a magics school.

You can buy the book here.

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The Orb of Chaos: No Rest for the Wicked

51bGKm1aOML._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_The Orb of Chaos: No Rest for the Wicked

M. Ray Allen

Lucky Duck Publishing

Sol and Oather have plans to get rich exploring the ruins under their city. Everyone knows there is treasure to be found there, if you survive the monsters. They are joined by a noble friend of Sol’s.  In their explorations they rescue a wizard and an elf, but are trapped in a faraway land ruled by a cursed man named Nicholas. A young acolytes and a lady assassin are also trapped. The only way to escape is to kill Nicholas, only the curse he is under makes him unkillable.

I enjoyed reading this adventure, the characters are the usual motley group of quest books, but they have enough quirks to make them more than just the standard crew. I would like to see Sol’s character get a little more depth, but as this is the first in a series, there is time for that.

The book is complete on its own, which is a bonus in this age of cliffhanger endings,  but the foundations of future books are well laid. I like to see an author demonstrating their ability to write a solid ending before asking the reader to invest themselves in a long series.

This is a well crafted and fun read. I would recommend it to readers of adventure fantasy.

You can buy the book here.

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A Caller’s Journey

516CPVRu+QL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_A Caller’s Journey

M.H. Deven

Jess Finch is sent off to a boarding school called Prymont Academy. Just shy of her eighteenth birthday Jessica resents being placed in a new school away from all her friends. It doesn’t help that she quickly learns there is something off about the academy.

A Caller’s Journey is unfortunately an example of why indie authors should spend some money on good editing. It is riddled with errors, from double quotes in place of apostrophes,  to incorrect homonyms (where/were etc). But worse,  it struggles with characterization problems and plot issues. Jessica doesn’t make any real decisions, things happen to her and she reacts. The people who surround her are archetypes  with little to lift them into three dimensional characters.

It is a pity, as there is potential in the book. The magic system is interesting and with more development could form the basis of a strong plot. As it is now,  I cannot recommend A Caller’s Journey.

You can buy the book here.

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