The Siren House by Andrew Post

The Siren House by Andrew Post
Publisher: Medallion Press
Genre: Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (460 pgs)
Rating: Best Book
Reviewed by Stargazer

Once upon a time, the world ended. Or maybe not. Cassetera Robuck, survivor of the apocalypse, must find a way to stop the Regolatore: a theocratic time-shifting cult bent on ridding hers, and every other parallel universe, from scratchers, those who use molecular reconstruction machines to “jazz” new, impossible life. Too bad her new friend Thadius Thumb, proprietor of the holo-vaudevillian theater the Siren House, happens to be the most famous—or is it infamous?—scratcher of them all.

As a kid, life for Cassetera Robuck was hard enough suffering from a nerve disorder that prevented use of her legs. Then, the apocalypse happened. To survive, Cassetera and her family made a new home on an abandoned oil rig on Lake Superior. There, she and her father discover a machine. One that can take things apart molecule-by-molecule and reassemble them. Ten years later and when her family is all but lost, Cassetera heads into an apocalypse-torn Duluth to seek out a man calling himself the Fabulous Thadius Thumb, the proprietor of a holo-cast variety show staged nightly at the Siren House. Thadius is not only a ringleader to the Thickskulled Thespians and their head writer, he is also a resistance leader. Against what? Those who caused the apocalypse, of course. The Regolatore, a universe-hopping terror cult that use machines all too similar to the one Cassetera and her dad found . . .

“You have to read this book!” A phrase I uttered even before finishing the book itself.

The Siren House is not what you might expect, it is a look at what could be, what was and what should be-all at the same time. Yet, the flow of the story is not nearly as confusing as it may sound. The whole premise of the story rests on the realization that there are multiple timelines, multiple variations of existence and multiple variations of ourselves across the infinite fields of time and space.

But, the plot does not get bogged down in the ridiculous complexity of the variables of time and space. In fact, the plot itself is told from the eyes and experiences of Cassetera Robuck. Well, one of the Cassetera Robucks, in one of the dimensions where the Regolatore have set up shop to keep the people of her dimension from advancing their technology and knowledge so much that they are a threat to other worlds and ultimately other dimensions in search of raw materials to create further enhanced technologies.

The story flows so well-from the deep descriptions to thorough and engrossing conversations that keep the reader directly involved with the story, so much that I had a hard time putting the book down because I felt almost as though I had left a part of myself in the story. Although I could not put the book down, I struggled because each page I completed reading would be one page closer to the end of the story. The story, with alternate dimensions, other realities and other timelines actually flowed together and did not become confusing. In fact, the author does an amazing job at creating such explanations that the reader will most likely come to wonder if this is truly a possibility to happen today.

The many different characters, from the workers at The Siren House to Cassetera and Thadius, histories and backstories were complete, full and made each character feel fully formed. The flow of conversations, the main plot and sub plots all flowed together. The entire story moved on its own time without being rushed or feeling like it was dragging. Overall, this was a fantastic and excellent jump at the reality that there are many more realities in an ever-present universe. Then, when the end did come, there was not the pain of separation-as the author did an amazing job of sorting out the details and not leaving the reader wanting more. The best part? It wasn’t set up for a series of sequels like so many stories are, although there are ways to make a spin off- this story is not set up as a pipe to any other story. Simply, this was just one amazing read.

Just like the beginning of the story where the chapter title is “The beginning is the end is the beginning” I reiterate, “You have to read this book!”

Lies, Love and Redemption by Kelli A Wilkins

Lies, Love and Redemption by Kelli A Wilkins
Publisher: Medallion Press
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (350 pgs)
Heat Level: Hot
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

Shot and left for dead, Sam Hixton stumbles into a general store on the Nebraska prairie and collapses into the arms of Cassie Wilcox.

Cassie’s world is turned upside down when the handsome stranger drops into her life. Sam is another complication she doesn’t need: her business is dying and her trouble with the townspeople is escalating. Yet she’s determined to keep the store open — no matter what the cost.

As Sam recovers from his injuries, he hides the truth about his identity and convinces Cassie to let him work in the store. He’s attracted to her and admires her independent nature but quickly realizes Cassie’s in way over her head. They fight their growing attraction, and Cassie questions whether she can trust her fragile heart to a mysterious stranger. Will he accept her once he knows about her troubled past?

Cassie resists Sam’s advances and represses her feelings until one fateful night when they give in to their fiery passion. Together, they work out a plan to save the store but find their efforts are thwarted—and their lives endangered—by the locals.

Sam’s secret returns to haunt him and pulls him away just when Cassie needs him the most. Will he regain her trust when she learns the truth? Cassie has everything invested in the store—can she save it and find true love with Sam before it’s too late?

From the first page I was hooked! The plot was clever, engaging, and I was full of anticipation for what would happen next since there were several twists and turns. The plot wasn’t totally predictable and was mostly believable. I experienced some pleasant surprises.

Sam Hixton, the hero, was shot and left for dead but managed to stumble into Cassie’s store with a “help me” and “hide this”. If there was a “Pause Life” button I’d have pushed it then. Thank goodness such a button doesn’t exist because at 40% through the book there was a scene that literally had me stumbling and muttering to myself in a not so pleasant way. Up to this scene the author did an excellent job drawing me into the story and making me feel involved with the small struggling town with the complex locals that resided there.

The synopsis actually refers to a fateful night when the hero and heroine gave in to their fiery passion. The placement and timing was farfetched and unbelievable. Seriously, Sam is irresistible but not that irresistible. There’s a sentence that said “it wasn’t the ideal time, but he wasn’t about to argue”. The only thing that was fateful that night was the fact they chose that moment to not be able to repress their feelings another moment longer. I know this is a romance, and their desire was inevitable, but come on. Right then?

Even though the story was able to draw me back in, it was never the same; it didn’t have the same gripping power over me as it had before that ‘fateful’ event. Just when I was able to put the scene out of my mind, the couple referred to it later in the story as if it was a personal inside joke between them. They admitted that they wished their first time together was a different place and time. I could only agree with their assessment.

Regardless, I was still hooked to find out how in the world was she going to save the store and how in the world their love for each other would endure through all the obstacles and complications. I really loved it when Sam stood up for Cassie to the locals. Each time he did I was cheering “Ha! Take that!” As much as Cassie was stubborn, she was smart enough to know when to bend and when to apologize when she went too far.

The author did a good job securing a happy ending for all involved leaving me feeling justified, vindicated, and with a sweet closure. It was a nicely wrapped happy ending. It was like eating a really delicious meal that left you with mild heartburn. You know you’d eat it again but next time you’d bring the antacids with you. 🙂

Personal Demons by Gregory Lamberson

Personal Demons by Gregory Lamberson
Publisher: Medallion Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (386 pgs)
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Ginger

Jake Helman, an elite member of the New York Special Homicide Task Force, faces what every cop dreads—an elusive serial killer. While investigating a series of bloodletting rituals executed by an ominous perpetrator know as the Cipher, Jake refuses to submit to a drug test and resigns from the police department. Tower International, a controversial genetic engineering company, employs him as their director of security.

While battling an addiction to cocaine, Jake enters his new high-pressure position in the private sector. What he encounters behind the closed doors of this sinister operation is beyond the realm of human imagination. Too horrible to contemplate, the experimentation is pure madness, the outcome of a hell where only pain and terror reside. Nicholas Tower is not the hero flaunted on the cover of Time magazine. Beneath the polished exterior of this frontiersman on the cutting edge of science is a corporate executive surrounded by the creations of his deranged mind.

As Jake delves deeper into the hidden sphere of this frightening laboratory, his discoveries elicit more than stereotypical condemnation for unethical practices performed for the good of mankind. Sequestered in rooms veiled in secrecy is the worst crime the world will ever see—the theft of the human soul.

Jake Helman is an officer on the New York Homicide Task Force and is on the hunt for a serial killer. Even though he is deep in the middle of the investigation of unsolved murders that doesn’t stop Jake’s cocaine addiction. In fact it seems to escalate it. Where is the old Nick?

The book started off grabbing my attention but as the story starts to unfold the plot gets so murky with too much going on it makes the story lose it’s momentum.

The suspense and action is consistent through out the book but with a story that has a compelling plot of soul stealing, witch-like-zombie bodies along the downtown side walk, a mysterious pharmaceutical genetic business owner, anti-cloning, Marc Gorman with his multiple identities there was just too much being touched on in this novel. I would have liked to know more about Jake and how he ended up on drugs, or more about Marc Gorman how he got started in bleeding souls. A few topics were touched on but there wasn’t an in depth story built to have the reader relate to or come to know a main character that will have a series of stories to follow after this book.

I wouldn’t classify this as a true horror. It just wasn’t scary to me; more along the lines of an intricate paranormal plot twist within a complex and fast paced novel. This is a good story but wasn’t presented in a masterful style that built a memorial main character and the plot structure wasn’t set to keep the story going because the climax touched on so many things.

The writing is a engrossing thriller that shows the imagination and darkness of the author. This wasn’t a five star horror for me but the action and suspense are factors that kept me reading.

Black Creek by Gregory Lamberson

Black Creek by Gregory Lamberson
Publisher: Medallion Press
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery, Horror
Length: Full Length (432 pgs)
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Ginger

In 1979, the US government relocated more than eight hundred families from Love Canal, New York, after decades of toxic contamination. Not all of the residents left: some remained in their homes on the outskirts of the disaster area. Others went underground. Hiding. Changing. Breeding.

Almost four decades later, Love Canal has been renamed Black Creek Village and restored for inhabitation. The residents there and on neighboring Cayuga Island remember the tragedy of Love Canal but have no knowledge of the monsters living below the surface. When the worst snowstorm in forty years isolates all of western New York, the forgotten inhabitants of Love Canal emerge from hiding to reclaim what once belonged to them.

And they are hungry.

This is a book that I thoroughly enjoyed. The description of the neighborhood and characters were so real it is easy to picture the scenes as they are playing out. The plot is one that could be related to true life events. This is an extremely well-written novel which will tug at the conscience of readers as it takes a hard look at the environmental damage of poorly dispose chemical waste. While reading I couldn’t help but think of the water problems that are affecting Flint, Michigan now.

I like how the author set up the plot that parallels to a normal day’s setting; the characters going about their daily routine set the events in motion and helped the events play out as a movie script. The fear of bad weather and how the news casters were broadcasting the threat of bad weather was played out with details that made the threat seem real. The suspense and circumstances of the storm was enjoyable and had me on the edge of my seat and not wanting to put the book down. I like the quick scene changes because it made the book move even faster and I didn’t have to wait long to catch the events for the characters next few moments.

The author’s grim and brooding novel explores the lives of the people of Niagara Falls during a storm as creatures use this time to hunt prey. The characters were true to life. They were funny and the setting for them is real. Poor Paul Goodman, he was the father of the neighborhood being set out to help and look out for all in the neighborhood. A few times I felt sorry for him and if something did happen to him how would his wife feel? They were a close and caring neighborhood that looked out for each other.

Though I enjoyed the story I was left with a question of why the monster kept some humans alive and why others were killed quickly. Their animalistic instincts and traits were those of hunters. I also wondered why at this particular time during the snow storm did they choose to come out and hunt. Either way, the monster were scary to me with their human like characteristics and features and how they moved about the city.

I enjoyed the author’s writing style so much that I will look to see what other books he has published. The writing was clear, descriptive and easy to picture the characters and the scenes. The strong characters made the storyline that much more interesting and there is always something different happening that had me at the edge of my seat.

This is a highly recommended read for those that enjoy a well written suspense that has lively characters, and a great plot.

Dangerous Indenture by Kelli A. Wilkins

Dangerous Indenture

Dangerous Indenture by Kelli A. Wilkins
Publisher: Medallion Press
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (345 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Camellia

Eager to escape her past in Ireland, Shauna Farrow signs on to become an indentured servant to Joshua Stewart, a wealthy man in Pennsylvania Colony.

But a life of servitude quickly turns to drudgery, and her hopes for starting over and creating a better life for herself are waning—until she meets her master’s roguish son, Ashton.

Shauna fights her growing attraction to Ashton, torn between propriety and acting on her emotions. But amidst their flirting, something dark stirs. Shauna soon discovers why no other servants will work for the strange Stewart family.

Stewart House has an unsavory reputation: a previous servant died there under mysterious circumstances. When another servant goes missing in the middle of the night, Shauna is convinced that a member of the family is responsible.

When Shauna’s investigation leads her too close to the truth, it’s up to Ashton to save her before time runs out.

Dangerous Indenture is a heartbreaking story for most of the novel. It tells of how cruelly Shauna Farrow, an indentured servant, is treated. I wanted to shout at her: RUN, GIRL, RUN!

The vindictiveness of a man, who Shauna thought loved her, closed all respectable avenues of employment for her in Ireland. She comes to America as a five-year indentured servant and ends up in a house with dark secrets and three really messed up people.

These three people seem to be without a smidgen of human kindness. Joshua, her master, overworks her, hits her, and threatens to sell her. While Colin, Joshua’s heir who stinks and looks like a rat, harasses her, threatens sexual attack, and plots against her when she defies him. Colin’s pitiful wife Minerva is unpredictable and hates Shauna.

Ashton, Joshua’s bastard son, comes home in disgrace. He is upset about how Shauna is treated. However, he is so out of favor, his protests go unheeded for the most part. He and Shauna pretty much save each other as their attraction to each other grows.

The sex scenes that satisfy physical needs and desires as well as the fight scenes are clear, straight-forward and some are rather graphic. As an incurable romantic, I longed for more love and less hurt. As Ashton gains control of habits he’d fallen into, love seems more evident and I did get the promise of a happy-ever-after that I look for. As a bonus, it seems like there’s one repentant antagonist.

Dangerous Indenture is written in a manner that makes it smooth reading even when the action is rough and scary. While I will probably not read it again, it did hold my attention and I would not have dreamed of not finishing it.

Fabrick by Andrew Post

Fabrick by Andrew Post
Publisher: Medallion Press
Genre: Action/Adventure, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery, YA
Length: Full Length (604 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Aloe

Clyde has worked for Mr. Wilkshire for a very long time. Life is comfortable in his keeper’s chateau—until Mr. Wilkshire is attacked. Clyde goes into hiding and emerges to find his only friend dead.

Brokenhearted and clueless how to bring Mr. Wilkshire’s killer to justice, Clyde accepts the help of a unique group of friends, including Flam the Mouflon treasure hunter and Nevele the royal stitcher. Throughout their adventure, Clyde learns he isn’t alone in this world with his magical ability: there are others like him called fabrick weavers, and for all it is both a special gift and a curse. His gift is to ease the conscience of anyone who makes a confession to him, but the curse is that the person’s luck will be reduced in proportion to the severity of the offense.

Having left his pampered life behind to set things right, Clyde joins his new friends traveling into the razed city of Geyser, into the labyrinthine world beneath, and to the palace beyond. Along the way, the group deals with an unrelenting maniac pursuer, a corrupt king, a band of pirates, a small army of guardsmen, and just a few million dog-sized bugs—all while hopefully managing to avoid jinxing their own members.

Yeah, no problem.

Clyde is an interesting creation. He needs no food or sleep, he can’t love anyone or he forgets them, and he’s spent his life hidden away. He can listen to your troubles and make you feel better, but he also gives you bad luck. He has no idea why would anyone sweep into the yard and kill the man who was raising him. And why did he need to hide away for three weeks?

This is a unique story, I’m impressed. I read a lot of fantasy/science fiction books and some plots seem to dribble together. This one stands alone and stands proud. Mr. Post has created a world that is different but his characters are the ones that are unique. You need to open your mind wide to get into this story and really appreciate it.

Pirates and their associates are the ones who have killed his master. He’s never been outside the walls of their compound, so how’s he going to survive? He finds some hope when he finds this Mouflon pilfering anything of value in the house and around the property. He’s huge, has horns, and also has a big appetite. By accident, he agrees to help Clyde, and then he’s stuck. He has to honor his word.

As they travel across the destroyed world, they meet other interesting creatures: Mice that can become one entity and travel as person, and a stitcher who can weave her own being into tools like twine or rope to help with Clyde’s quest. All Clyde wants to do is find the man who killed his master, but that changes as he travels.

This story is well written, full of tension, and full of friendship built from nothing but strangers working together. Mr. Post has created a good team. This imagined world has a lot of depth, a lot of danger, and death is common. It makes a great adventure. The part that really pleases me, as a reader, is that there has to be a sequel. Too many questions are still unanswered. And there’s another character in the shadows that must be going to run across Clyde sooner or later. I’m more than willing to go on another wild ride with Clyde!

I really enjoyed this read. Why not share this unique world with your young adult reader? (I won’t tell if you read it, too.)

The Beasts of Upton Puddle by Simon West Bulford

The Beasts of Upton Puddle by Simon West Bulford
Publisher: Medallion Press
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, YA
Length: Full Length (487 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 12+
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Reviewed by Stephantois

Cloaked behind centuries of mystical power, an ancient race of dragons plots to destroy the human race. Twelve-year-old Joe Copper doesn’t know it yet, but he’s been chosen as mankind’s secret ambassador. And only he can stop the invasion.

A fantastic new world opens up to Joe when the eccentric Mrs. Merrynether introduces him to a remarkable veterinary practice. It’s a hidden refuge for a menagerie of creatures that should only exist in dreams and legend. But his journey of discovery turns sour when disaster strikes and Mrs. Merrynether vanishes. Plunged into his role too early, Joe must find a way to fulfill his destiny and rescue his mentor. It’s a good thing he’s about to get some help.

Joining him in his quest are Lilly, the surly alcoholic cluricaun; Danariel, the seraph who lives in a lightbulb; Flarp, the giant flying eyeball who can’t control his excitement; Kiyoshi, the narcoleptic kappa with an extraordinary vocabulary; Snappel, the fiery wyvern plagued by hiccups; and Cornelius, the poisoned manticore.

What could possibly go wrong?

Action, adventure, a hero and a bad guy, just about everything that you hope to find in a young adult novel, and that’s exactly what you’ll find in The Beasts of Upton Puddle.

One thing I liked about this story was Joe seemed like your average boy. He’s being bullied, his life seems perfectly normal, but then his given this huge task of saving mankind. The author did a great job not making him too perfect because at times you wonder if he can pull off what seems the impossible.

The secondary characters are great too and I really like the somewhat eccentric Mrs. Merrynether. However, what really won me over was the wonderful creatures the author had created and his description of them. They seemed to come to life off the page.

The dialogue is natural sounding too, and despite this being 487 pages long, the pacing is somewhat fast due to the non-stop action of the plot.

If you’re looking for something a little different to read for yourself, or if your offspring enjoys fantasy novels, this might be a good pick for you or them.

The Viking’s Witch by Kelli A. Wilkins

The Viking’s Witch by Kelli A. Wilkins
Publisher: Medallion Press
Genre: Historical, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (273 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Poinsettia

Scotland, 803 A.D.

About to be burned at the stake by her fellow villagers, Odaria does what any betrayed witch facing certain death would do. She calls down a curse. Within seconds, rampaging Norsemen raid the village, capturing everyone except her.

But her reprieve is short-lived, and Odaria lands in the clutches of the Norse leader Rothgar. Can she remain true to herself and fight her growing attraction to this domineering man, or will she fall under his influence and be used for his ambitions?

After Rothgar witnesses Odaria’s powers firsthand, he strikes a bargain with her. The raven-haired beauty will use her magical abilities to help him with his quest in exchange for safe passage off the isle. But can this cunning woman be trusted, or is she using him to exact vengeance on her village?

Together they must fight bloodthirsty villagers, battle a mutinous band of Norsemen, find a missing Norse ship, and learn to trust each other . . . before time is up.

Can Odaria really trust a Viking?

Odaria has never been able to trust a single soul on her small isle. Though she lives as an outcast, her life is relatively peaceful until the village leader, Brennan decides the village needs to be “cleansed” of Odaria’s witchcraft by burning her alive. When Odaria calls down a curse on the village, she didn’t expect a band of Norsemen to come charging out of the shadows, but will the brutal raiders be her savior or her downfall?

Odaria is a very brave and strong woman. She has lived her entire life on the isle where she was. Since her mother’s death, she has been alone in the world, with the other villagers only coming to her in secret when they need her magic to help them. With the way Odaria is treated by the others, I couldn’t believe she had never attempted to leave the isle. However, Odaria is far too stubborn to admit defeat, even when it becomes clear she’s in grave danger.

When Rothgar enters Odaria’s life, she feels an immediate connection to him. The attraction is mutual, and it isn’t long before the sparks start to fly. However, Odaria and Rothgar are both very strong willed, and are constantly bickering and butting heads. Despite their intense fights, Odaria and Rothgar also share some moments where they both open up about some very personal and private details of their lives. Their vulnerability is quite touching.

Ms. Wilkins also did an excellent job of building the sexual tension between Odaria and Rothgar. Though they were certainly attracted to each other physically from the moment they met, they weren’t able to act on it right away. I found the interruptions to their romantic interludes very amusing at times. Consequently, Odaria and Rothgar were able to form a strong emotional attachment. When Odaria and Rothgar were finally able to act on their feelings for each other, the timing felt perfect.

I do have to say that the conflict between Odaria and Rothgar at the climax of the book didn’t feel entirely genuine. I can’t say much without spoiling the plot. However, I will say that Odaria is led to believe something terrible about Rothgar. I find it very hard to believe that Odaria would lose faith in Rothgar so quickly after they had shared some very intense, personal, and private moments.

Still, Ms. Wilkins did a great job of depicting the brutality of the time period. Both the Vikings and the Picts had very cruel ways of dealing with enemies that made me shudder, and I am very grateful that I have never witnessed such violence first hand. I do wish there had been a bit more depth to Brennan, the main villain in the story. Brennan simply comes across as an evil man misusing religion for his own purposes. I can’t help but wonder about the deeper motives behind his actions and what drove him down the path he was on in the first place.

Overall, I enjoyed reading The Viking’s Witch. Odaria and Rothgar are entertaining characters and their romance is beautifully written. Fans of spicy historical romance should certainly give The Viking’s Witch a try.