The Harvesting by Melanie Karsak

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Have you ever picked up a book thinking that is was one thing, only to discover that it was something better? The Harvesting is that book. It is balsamic reduction on ice cream. There is no logical reason why those two should go together, but they just do. And they are delicious. The Harvesting starts out as a typical zombie apocalypse yarn in much the same style as the Walking Dead, but very quickly, supernatural elements creeps in and gives the over all work a whole different flavor. The Harvesting is a beautiful blend of horror and supernatural fiction. Karsak did such a masterful job in the blending of the two genre that there is no sense that it is contrived at all. It made for a very compelling read which sucked me in, despite a few flaws.

One of the best things though about this book is it’s heroine. Layla is unapologetically a warrior spirit. The most refreshing thing about her, is that she doesn’t fit into the over done trope of the female fighter with the tragic past. Karsak has successfully moved beyond the age old idea that a woman warrior needs to have some sort of trauma as a trigger for her to take up the sword. Layla is a warrior, just because she is a warrior and nothing more. This makes her a delightful character with a strong voice which draws the reader in. Unfortunately, the rest of the inhabitants of this world fall a bit short.

The characters which inhabit the Hamletville are very well rooted in reality. This makes it very easy to believe that they are ordinary everyday people who have been tossed into an impossible and horrific situation. Every kind of person that one can find in a small town, even the kindly priest and the town gossip can be found there. While, they are all believable, most are so ordinary as to be bland. This is their downfall. There just isn’t any, even those who are instrumental to the movement of the plot line, that are truly memorial, or stood out in any way. Most simply became a mass of faceless people which Layla needed to save and protect.

Though, the most disappointing thing about this work, is the fact that the emotional content is flat. The reader should have been devastated right along with the heroine of the story, when the grandmother died and even more so when Layla discovers that the old lady knew what was coming. Furthermore, for a heavy angst story arc of a love triangle between Layla and two brothers, it just feels empty and contrived. There is no angst or anguish and everything is simply a matter of fact. Even at the ending when Ian become vampire destroys himself to save her. We should have been weeping at that point.

Over all, there are good point and bad points. I wasn’t my intention to focus on the negative, but they were there. It was a damn good read with a really good narration. It just wasn’t above average in any way. I would give it 3 stars out of 5.

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Chasing Fireflies, a Bit of Summertime Fun

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This review is a day late, but then I got the file very late on the night before it was supposed to come out. For that dear readers, you have my apologies. It was well worth the wait and I this anthology a lot. It is the perfect book to curl up with on those bright summer nights when the stars are peeking out and the mosquitoes are out to drink your blood.

Summertime it the season of romance after all and there isn’t anything better than a great romance. This book just happens to have nine, coming from a set of extremely talented indie authors. While I did like some stories more than others, all of them were good satisfying reads.

I particularly enjoyed The Doctor and the Demon, Scarborough Fair.  I liked these stories, not just because I do admittedly have a strong preference for fantasy and supernatural elements in the fiction I read, but also because they had strong characters. Both of these stories featured the kind of characters that like to do their own thing regardless of what their creators might want.

I also really liked A Summer Affair. I loved the over all,old harlequin romance feel of the story. Okay, I know that I really shouldn’t admit to liking Harlequin romance book in public, but they are a guilty pleasure. They are a lot like old friends. A Summer Affair has that feel to it and it also managed to break the mold when the heroine makes an unconventional choice at the end.

While I am here, I also want to make a special not on The Eye of the Storm. I am a bit biased when it comes to Diane Morrison’s work as we have been friends for quite along time and I am quite familiar with Shaundar and his host of brave companions. However, don’t let that keep you from reading it for yourself. It is an excellent romance and it touched on a lot of rather deep modern themes, and challenges one to look closer on how we think of things like race, duty, and matters of the heart.

Alien Hunters by Daniel Arenson

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One of the best things that I have discovered with owning an ereader, is the opportunity to experience a whole host of works by indie authors. In browsing the massive lists of for new reading material, I have discovered the rather clever marketing technique of posting select novels as free or for just a dollar or so, and every so often I find some true gems in the mix. As the saying goes, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” but in this modern age of kindle, Google books and my personal favorite, Kobo, I think that it would be better to say, “Don’t judge a book by its price tag.”
I down loaded Alien Hunters on a whim because I was looking for something  new to read. Because it was a free download, I really wasn’t expecting much from it. Cause hey it was free right? Then a couple of days later, I found myself downloading the other two novels in the trilogy. I was wonderfully surprised with just how much I loved the book. I even made it one of my go to reads for when everything is going wrong, because no matter how many times I read it, I always find something in Alien Hunters to make me smile.
Even now, I really want to see more adventures of Riff Starfire and his merry band of Hunters. I am quite sure that Twig has dropped her wrench into the pipes and that Romy has drank all of the fuel again.
But.. I digress.
All too often modern literature likes to take itself a little too seriously. We are told that great works are supposed to be dry and difficult to read. In short, most of the time, all of the fun has been sucked out of reading and that is a shame. It makes it all to easy to put the book down, and just watch some TV instead. The best thing about Alien Hunters, is that Daniel Arenson has put the fun back into reading. In fact, Alien Hunters doesn’t ever try to take itself seriously, or anything else for that matter.
So if you are looking for a serious novel full of serious reflections on the state of the world, Alien Hunters isn’t it. This is what makes the book great and so much fun to read. It is a wonderful romp through the cosmos with  a mismatch set of misfits on a quest to save a damsel in distress and perhaps save the known universe at the same time.
Alien Sky and Alien Shadows are also loads of fun to read, and I only hope that their adventures don’t stop there. It would be disappointing to have a universe without a dragon warship hunting aliens in it.