A review of “Charmed Vengeance” by Suzanne Lazear


A couple of weeks ago, I reviewed the first book in this series, “Innocent Darkness.” I liked that book so much I immediately bought the second, “Charmed Vengeance.”

This book is not as filled with action as the first, but I certainly do not object to that. The action sequences are good. The character development is on display here, with growth and revelations aplenty.

The High Queen of The Otherworld has set Steven a challenge. He spends much of the book working to accomplish this quest. His brother James is along to help him.

Noli is on something of a quest of her own, working with her brother the air pirate we only heard about in the first book.

My own favourite character, Kevighn, is also on a journey of sorts. His fascination with Noli continues.

If you’ve read any of my reviews anywhere, you’ll know I don’t discuss plot in any depth at all. I will continue that policy here.

This is a worthy second novel in this series. It’s lots of fun. As I said earlier, character development is a priority in this one. We learn more about the characters as they grow and mature.

The first half of the book, unfortunately is riddled with small errors. Missing words, mostly. For example, from page three: “It was difficult not to sigh, even though she was used such comments by now.” The second half is much cleaner.  Because I’m a copy-editor, these little errors strike me more than they might most people.

Did I enjoy the book? Oh my, yes. I’ve already ordered the third book.

The themes and the writing as well as the characters are well-worth your time – even if, like me, you read very little Young Adult material.

Review of “Innocent Darkness” by Suzanne Lazear


I read little Fantasy. I don’t read much Steampunk. I read so little Young Adult (hereafter YA) that you could just as easily say I read none.  So why am I reading and reviewing a YA Steampunk Fantasy novel? Funny you should ask, because that’s the most important bit of this blog post. I “met” the author, Suzanne Lazear, when she conducted a Twitter chat a couple of weeks ago. I had never heard of her or her books before that night. She was so forthcoming, entertaining, and interesting in the chat that I’d ordered the first book in “The Aether Chronicles” before the chat was finished. Ladies and gentlemen of the pen, this is how you gain fans. You engage them and show them that you know your stuff.

Okay, on to the review. As always, plot points will be mostly ignored. I’m never fond of reviews that give away the plot.

Magnolia “Noli” Braddock and her best friend Steven “V” Darrow live in an alternative world version of  Los Angeles in 1901. After an incident with a flying car she didn’t have permission – or the licence—to fly, Noli is sent away to a hellish boarding school. There she meets Charlotte and – be still, my bad-boy loving heart – Kevighn. a Huntsman sent by the High Queen of the Otherworld to bring back a mortal girl to sacrifice to the magic. Without that sacrifice,  the Otherworld will cease to exist.  And so will human creativity. High stakes indeed.

I have to say my favourite character is Kevighn. He could have been a straight-up villain, but in Ms. Lazear’s hands, he’s not.  He has depth and emotion and some sort of twisty backstory with V’s family that I hope will be explored in the rest of the series. I’ve already ordered the second book, “Charmed Vengeance.”

“Innocent Darkness”  is an exciting, sometimes funny, sometimes shiver-inducing novel. The characters have layers, faults, and strengths. The plot is entertaining. The writing itself (something I tend to notice more than some readers – and less than others, if I’m honest) is quite good. I enjoyed this book immensely.

A review of “Bob The Sequel (Bob The Zombie)” by Jaime Johnesee

This book is short – possibly a bit too short – and a boatload of fun.

If you haven’t read “Bob The Zombie,” you should. It’s not necessary to enjoy the sequel, but it’s certainly helpful. And fun.

Bob is a hapless young man who died in a tragic rose-trimming accident, was raised to zombie-hood by his grieving mother, who then couldn’t handle his actual zombie condition.

In the sequel, Bob has adjusted fairly well to his condition, and he’s found a horde (read: family and friends) to live with. We meet one of them, Face, and get to know him pretty well.

The plot (which, in keeping with my habit, I’ll not go into deeply) involves terrorists, double-crosses, supernatural politics, and intra-species relations.

Humour abounds. This book made me laugh out loud a half-dozen times and smile throughout.

Being the obsessive editor-type that I am, I cannot avoid remarking that there are a few (very few) rough patches. A couple of missing words. The occasional comma splice. The word “site” used when “sight” was intended. Did that dim my enjoyment? Nope.

One thing I would say is that the conclusion of the major plotline was a little . . . sketchy, maybe. I wanted a little more development of the big plot twist at the end.

I recommend this novella. Jaime Johnesee is a writer to keep your eye on.

Jaime has written three books so far in the Bob series:

Bob The Zombie

Bob The Sequel

Bob The Valentine

Review of “The Coming Storm” by Valerie Douglas

First off, I don’t read a lot of fantasy. This is a work of epic fantasy. Does that disqualify me as a reviewer? I don’t think so. You might disagree. I know good writing, good plotting, and good characters when I see them, no matter what genre the writer might be writing in.

Because these things sometimes appear to weigh in the review (though never for me, in my own opinion), I’d like to say that I was NOT given a copy of this book. I had a copy which I’d bought a couple of years ago. I’d started it but hadn’t finished.  Nobody owes me anything, and no one has asked me to give a good review, only an honest one.

Okay, now that all those housekeeping bits are out of the way, what did I think? I enjoyed “The Coming Storm” quite a lot. Valerie always creates great characters (yes, I’ve read a number of her other books). A strong female generally centres the book – and this one is no exception. Ailith, the Heir of Riverford, is a very strong character, indeed. She faces tragedy, adversity, and obstacles of all sorts, and she triumphs. She grows, changes, discovers talents she never dreamed she could possess.

I don’t usually discuss plots very much in reviews. Let’s say there is a lot of action in this book, battles against all sorts of fantastical beasts. There is a terrible threat from the past that reaches into the present, taking the very souls of those it touches.

The cast of characters includes Elves, Humans, Dwarves, and Wizards. Each of these races is clearly differentiated with characteristics, lore, philosophy that differ from the others’. 

There’s also some foreshadowing of events which will take place in the next book, “Convocation of Kings.”

Valerie often writes in third-person omniscient point-of-view. This means that the narration can dip from the perspective of one character to another quickly. I have to say I don’t care for this POV. Why? I find it distracting and impersonal. The reader never gets deeply into any one character’s perspective before being taken to another’s. (Again, this is my opinion. That’s what a review is: opinion.) “The Coming Storm” is written in third-person omniscient.

One other slight negative. I am a bit of a grammar obsessive. Comma splices (joining two sentences with a comma instead of dividing them with a period) bother me a great deal more than they might bother you. There are quite a few comma splices in this book.

Do I recommend “The Coming Storm” – especially for fans of epic fantasy? Oh, yes. There is a sweep and grandeur in this book. Passion. Adventure. Danger. Thrills. Loss and triumph. Any negative things I have to say are minor and matter mostly only to grammar nuts like me.

Now here’s a link to the e-book at Amazon: The Coming Storm Go pick up a copy. If you like epic fantasy, I think you’ll enjoy this one immensely.

A Review of “The Kick-Ass Writer”

Anyone who knows me at all knows of my love for the blog written by Chuck Wendig, Terrible Minds. He gives outstanding – though profane and sometimes (okay, often) vulgar – writing advice. I recommend that any writer who wants to improve step into the asbestos boots, slip on some high-stress sunglasses, and wade right in. You might get your tooties stepped on, but by George, you’ll learn something.

Chuck’s compiled a lot of his blog posts into books. I have them all in Kindle versions. His new one, however, “The Kick-Ass Writer: 1001 Ways to Write Great Fiction, Get Published, and Earn Your Audience,” I bought in paperback.  His other writing books were self-published; this one is published by Writer’s Digest Books. Result: the ebook version is closer in cost to the paperback version than I’d like. So I bought the paper version.

So what do I think about this book? Let me count all 1,001 ways I love it. Okay, no one has time for that. Smile  I’ll just summarise, shall I?

I loved this book. Much of it I had read on the Terrible Minds blog. It’s still good to have all in one place. The book is divided into three parts: Fundamentals, Craft, Publishing and Earning Your Audience.

Fundamental topics include “25 Things I Want to Say to So-Called ‘Aspiring’ Writers,” “25 Things You Should Know About Storytelling,” "and “25 Ways to Defeat Writer’s Block.”

Topics in the Craft include: “25 Things You Should Know About Plot,” “25 Things You Should Know About Narrative Structure,” “25 Things You Should Know About Character.” This section is probably my favourite. It’s chockfull of brilliance. Brilliance.

Finally, topics in Publishing/Earn Your Audience: “25 Things You Should Know About Self-Publishing,” “25 Things You Should Know About Getting Published,” “25 Ways to Earn Your Audience.”

You can read this book cover-to-cover. You can read only the bits that you need to read as you need them. You can read them randomly. It doesn’t matter. I cannot recommend the book highly enough.

Your ass will be kicked. Kicked right into high gear.

This is the link to the paperback edition. It’s also available as an ebook.

The Kick-Ass Writer: 1001 Ways to Write Great Fiction, Get Published, and Earn Your Audience

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