Archive | May 2013

Jack Templar and the Monster Hunter Academy

Jack Templar and the Monster Hunter Academy (Book 2) by Jeff Gunhus

Note:  This is the second book in the series.

Jack Templar is a monster hunter from a long line of monster hunters. Too bad he didn’t find out until the day before his fourteenth birthday, when all the monsters on the planet would be hunting him for their dinner. His job for the moment is to stay alive long enough to learn how to kill them.

Along to learn with him are his best friends T-Rex (nose-picker extraordinaire), Will (who wants to be a monster hunter himself). And Eva, instructor at the monster hunter academy who has brought them safely across the ocean to one of the last deeply hidden Monster Hunter Academies in the world. There, she has promised Jack that Master Aquinas will answer the questions he has about his past and about his father, who is being held hostage by an evil vampire.

Of course, once there, Jack’s hope of getting his questions answered are immediately dashed. He’s busy trying to handle one of the world’s worst bullies, Daniel, who is also an instructor at the Academy. Daniel also happens to have a “thing” for Eva.

With wolves at the Academy gates, and a gnawing desperation to get to his father, Jack feels that time is running out…

Jeff Gunhus originally started this series to compel his son to start reading, and it shows. This story is gripping on a number of levels. The very first sentence is designed to draw the reader’s interest. Even if the reader missed the first book in the series, it doesn’t really matter, the book has a recap of the first text and the action is such that there is little time for reflection of past events.

The characters leap off the page and grab the reader and draw him or her into the always dangerous, sometimes deadly adventures. This is a series that demands to be read.

 

What Happened in Witches Wood

What Happened in Witches Wood by Stephen Henning

NOTE: This is the second book in the CLASS HEROES series.

There were rumors about Witches Wood; there are ghosts lurking in its shadowy depths. Reports of sightings of these ghosts go back many centuries. It is just James and Samantha Blake’s luck that their grandparent’s house abutted the wood, but they are forbidden to enter it. Their grandfather told them it is dangerous but refused to explain further. Of course, sometimes the twins fail to follow the rules; this time they discover that perhaps the reason they were forbidden to venture into the wood is because their Aunt Katie died there. She also haunts the wood. What is even more eerie is that she looks almost exactly like Samantha.

James and Samantha Blake are spending the summer with their grandparents in the country due to circumstances that happened at the end of the school year. These events resulted in the Blake twins having what they called “super powers.” However, they are also stalked by a girl named Lolly who also seems to have powers. Their grandfather said he knew what was going on, but so far he hasn’t shared.

Could things get stranger? Oh, yes. Lolly’s father, the world famous Sir Michael Rosewood has taken an unhealthy interest in the twins. He is meeting secretly with their mum and granddad. What is going on?

Stephen Henning has once again created an adventure thrilling enough for all ages. Henning’s imagination is an object of rare and wonderful beauty. He crafts villains of profound evil and heroes both of epic proportions, willing to sacrifice all, as well as those who are heroic, yet all too human, wanting to do the right thing, but understanding that time is limited, and only so many can be saved.  

What Happened In Witches Wood is touching in its reality, while also amazing in its creativity. The super powers displayed by heroes and villains alike are super, indeed. Readers of all ages will be amazed and intrigued. The characters are captivating and appealing in their individuality. Some are lovely; others are annoying. Henning does an incredible job of making them all too human.

This series is a must read. Henning is one of those authors that should be added to every collectors’ shelves, such as King, Deaver, Patterson, Koontz, and others of their ilk.

Killing Nazis

Killing Nazis by Niko Kalpakis

Themis, a painter is angry with himself for being unable to paint the simple vision he wishes to paint. He wanders out to find food and discovers the Zulu man who owns the corner mini mart has been murdered in the street.

Themis spent weeks each summer with his grandmother who encouraged him to “protect his gift.” She told him that his gift would be there for him always, and urged him to place it above love, friendship, family, or other fleeting concerns. His gift would not betray him, she told him, but people always would.

Niko Kalpakis has an interesting idea in this short story. It is very rough and still needs editing, but the story itself is compelling enough it kept me reading, even though I am usually averse to reading unedited stories.

I know that I have been told to use my gift or it would disappear. It leads one to wonder just what “gift” people are referring to in those cases when all is not clearly specified. Kalpakis is an author with potential.

I read a completely unedited ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Camp Sunshine

Camp Sunshine by Ruth Francisco

Camp Sunshine begins with a submarine attacking an oil transport vessel in the Florida Keys during WWII.

The powers that be have decided that no camps exist that are adequate for much needed amphibious training. The site selected is near the submarine attack site. General Dahl assigned Col. Walter Southers to run the site. Officially, it is named Camp Gordon  Johnston; unofficially, Southers and his Post Executive Officer Occam Goodwin have dubbed it Camp Sunshine.

As Goodwin and Southers wait for their jeep to be hauled from the mud during a preliminary site visit to the camp, two soldiers run from the woods asking their superior officers to view what has been found. A family of squatters was murdered at a small shack hidden in the forest: a man, woman, and infant. In addition to each person being shot, the site had also been bombed, as if to obliterate the entire place from existence.

As Goodwin attempts to investigate, a flare is shot, signaling more practice bombing is to begin. Since the family wasn’t a white family, Southers and Georgia Senator Peppers insist upon a complete cover-up, against Goodwin’s objections.

Once the camp is finished, Vivian, the postmaster’s daughter, moves 50 miles from her primary home in Capital City, to the newly created Camp Sunshine. In the city, she had a nice two story house; here, she lives in a shack on the beach so her father can run the post office. Fifty miles seemed such a short trip, but it was such a tremendously long journey for her entire family.

Camp Sunshine is an achingly beautiful portrait of a time held suspended by war in the 1940s. In an era when so much was changing in our own country, our men (some just children) were training and dying for the war. Others gave up their homes, their pots and pans, and so much more for the war.

Camp Sunshine is a look at a time many have either forgotten or have never known. It is poetically written by an author with a grace and style with words that is found only rarely.

This book has stayed with me for weeks. It has awakened a need in me to ask questions that should have been asked a decade ago. Ruth Francisco has the ability to awaken the urge within the reader to reconnect with others. This is a rare and wonderful gift and this book is a true work of art.

The Plunge

The Plunge by Sindhu S.

Anjali, a woman nearing thirty, has decided she is in love with Siddharth, a happily married man. Anjali is a reporter with the India Independent. Siddharth is over the Sunday desk in the Delhi office of the paper. When the earthquake hit Katch, he assigned her to write a human-interest piece on the survivors.

She didn’t really even know him. She had heard his voice and communicated mostly by email. She had seen him only once – then only briefly, when he’d visited her office, yet somehow, she managed to fall wholly in love with him.

When Anjali plans to meet with Siddharth at last, her nervousness is palpable; she has never really been in love before. She has always carefully protected herself and even guarded against lust, but somehow Siddharth’s flirty emails have awakened something in her. She believes this man cares for her as a person; she believes he sees her as someone of worth, not just a female to be used for sex and discarded.

Her friends have all tried to warn her to stay away from Siddharth, but she is drawn to this man, her love.

The Plunge is a heartbreaking glimpse of the life of a single woman in India who grew up having never been kissed – by anyone. This book illuminates breathtaking images of the country and devastating portraits of the decisions we often make.

Sindhu S. has a rare talent for drawing the reader in so deeply, the reader begins to live and breathe the lives of the main characters. The emotional ups and downs are stunning. This should definitely be an addition to your personal library. And keep an eye open for future works of this author.  

A Class Apart

A Class Apart by Stephen Henning

Samantha and James Blake, twins, and 28 other students are returning from a school field trip when a bomb detonates inside a wrecked car left on the road. Many students are killed; several are injured.

A girl on a nearby rooftop pauses to film the debacle and listen to the screams. She pauses to send a photo on her cell phone, make a call and then tumbles from rooftop to ground like a gymnast and disappears.

Both twins survive; as they begin to heal, they begin to feel a bit strange…and they begin to manifest some changes. The others begin to change too…and beware those who come into contact with them.

Stephen Henning knows how to write an adventure! This book grabs the reader by the throat and doesn’t let go until way past the very last page. The characters are interesting, the story is fascinating, and the bad guys are annoying and properly evil. Though the bad guys aren’t always bad, some are worse than evil, some are confused, and some remain to be seen.

Henning has an extremely hot hit series on his hands. Hang on tight, buckle up, and get in this ride, folks!!

Edenwitch – Part Three

Edenwitch – Part Three – The Guardians by Sam Haddack

The back story of the Dark Lord, Lucef, is told. When he belonged to the Reiynoken, the original winged Guardians, he stole from the Source. So Lucef Falcomye, the evil guardian who stole and murdered, lost his wings and was banished.

Arturus went searching for his grandfather beneath the city, within the caverns, where the Source waters continued to run cold and pure. His search then led him even further through the river under Eden.

Julius Ramano, a youngling Reiynoken left the labyrinths to live. Unlike his brethren, he is young, and wants to live. He followed a horrid stench for miles and miles until he discovered evil witches, Regina and Claire. As usual, they were plotting how to secure Sophia to present to their Dark Lord.

This book introduces several new subplots and story directions. The book would have been better if some of the story lines had been better developed and others introduced at another point, perhaps, This book seemed a bit busy, with so much being introduced all at once, but nothing being done. Also, the tones of some of the characters shift in mid-book; that can be a bit disconcerting. However, if all the plot lines pan out, the next book should be rather interesting.