Good vs. Evil, Which Would You Choose?

God's EyeTitle: God’s Eye

Author: A.J. Scudiere

Genre: Fantasy/Thriller

Release Date: 10/01/2011

Content Rated: PG

Review By: Katy Sozaeva, obsessive bibliophile and editor extraordinaire, can also be found on Livejournal at Katy’s Babblings when she’s not busy spoiling her cats in Athens, GA

Synopsis: Katherine Geryon has everything a woman could want due to being born into a life of privelage, except maybe her sanity. When strange and unexplainable events start to occur around Katherine, she meets not one, but two, men that she soon finds are inextricably entangled in her affairs. As her life becomes stranger and her dreams more terrifying, she realizes neither man is what he seems and that she’s caught in something far beyond her own comprehension.

Blender Review: Katharine Geryon was born into wealth and position. Her father runs Geryon & Light, an investment company, which she will be expected to take over when he retires. Her mother ensured that Katharine knew all the proper social protocols and deportments for her station. Katharine has always done as expected, done as she has been asked, and just coasted along through life. All that is about to change with the appearance in her life of two men – Allistair and Zachary – dark and light – good and evil? Katharine is about to have her eyes opened …

“God’s Eye” is an amazing book – I truly wish I could tell you more about the story itself, but it is structured so that, if I were to give you any more information, I would inevitably spoil it for you. While the set-up is perfect for a paranormal romance, that is not what this is. Not to say there is no romance, but that’s not what the book is about – the book is about choices, understanding and learning to see what is around you by truly looking rather than just coasting. It is about Katharine finally growing up and learning to see the effect she truly has upon the world and to consciously choose to make things better. I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading – it’s well-written and brilliantly characterized. I’ve read all of AJ’s books and they just keep getting better – I’m anxiously awaiting her next novel, “Phoenix,” although there is no word as to when we can expect that one to be finished, since it appears to still be in the research stage.

“God’s Eye” is AJ’s third novel and is scheduled for release 10/1/11. Her previous books are “Resonance” and “Vengeance.” Follow the progress of AJ’s 4th book, “Phoenix,” at www.PhoenixTheBook.com Thanks to JKS Communications for the chance to preview this amazing book!

Literary Blender Rating: Love It!

2084: Pastor Preachers, Pastor Governers, and the Son of a Mason

Title: Rabbletown: Life in These United Christian States of Holy America

Author: Randy Attwood

Genre: Future History

Release Date: 07/19/2011

Content Rated: PG

Review By: Katy Sozaeva, obsessive bibliophile and editor extraordinaire, can also be found on Livejournal at Katy’s Babblings
when she’s not busy spoiling her cats in Athens, GA

Synopsis: The year is 2084 in the town of Topeka, Kansas. The Church of the Evangels run the country through the Pastor President, pastor governors and pastor legislators. They rule with a Bible in each fist. It’s a time when religion rules, society enters a new dark ages, but still operating are the computer-based social networking systems the Church of the Evangels use to spy on its members. Then, the son of a mason working, on the local Cathedral, reminds everyone what redemption is really about.

Blender Review: I expected a few things when I started reading this book. I expected to maybe be amused by a satirical take on the Fundamentalists that are doing their utmost to take over this country – sadly, the concept is difficult to make amusing, because the idea of Fundamentalists taking over this country and turning it into an Evangelical theocracy is absolutely terrifying to anyone who wants to live in love and Light. I expected to be outraged by the excesses of Fundamentalist leaders who grow fat and rich off the tithing of their flock, while the common people live in poverty and squalor. I expected to be terrified by the idea of an Evangelical theocracy in general. What I did not expect was to be profoundly moved. I did not expect the overwhelming desire to make this book required reading for everyone. I did not expect goose bumps or a profound feeling of “rightness” to come over me while I read this book. I did not expect to want to take to the streets to preach the word of Bobby – to propose that the world would be a better place if we all became … Bobbites.

You see, 12-year-old Bobby Crowley – the son of stone-mason Bob Crowley, who is working to build a cathedral in Topeka, KS that will be larger and more glorious than any other cathedral in the world – is special. He has an amazing memory for Bible verses, and a strangely wise way of saying just the right thing at just the right time. And he has been carefully watching the formation of a significant alignment of stars in the sky, including a new star that just appeared three months ago, which are coming into a cross-like shape. And on a Friday like any other Friday – a Stoning Friday that would see the stoning to death of a “heathen, a whore, a pair of adulterers and a pair of faggots” – Bobby takes his place among the great religious leaders of the world when he steps forward and speaks the words “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone” and in the process saves the life of a beatific young woman: he gains a following and begins performing miracles, and providing proverbs of hope, peace and love. Many people believe he is the second coming of Christ.

Caught in his wake are a prostitute, his teacher (himself gay and who has been forcing himself up the weaker boys in his classes), the young woman who had been accused of being a whore and set to be stoned, a seller of banned books, a Catholic friar and many more; they go into Rabbletown, the slums of Topeka, where Bobby spreads the true way – the way of peace, love, acceptance and kindness, rather than the hate and manipulations used by those in power. And in a world where the leaders all revere and emulate the practices and beliefs of that disgusting scumbag Fred Phelps, those sorts of teachings are threatening to the power structure. Bobby and all who believe in him and his miracles are declared anathema and the Inquisition is sent after them.

This book does two things: it exposes the horror of a theocratic, fascist Evangelical Fundamentalist power structure, and it provides hope for redemption for anyone who chooses to live a truly good life, and follow the basic teachings that so many modern-day dogmatics seem to forget are the only two rules laid down by Christ – you know, the one Christians are supposed to emulate? Yeshua Christos told his followers to follow two simple rules: 1) love each other and treat others like you would like them to treat you; 2) love the Higher Power of Creation, in whatever form you choose to comprehend It. It doesn’t matter what religion, creed, belief structure or lack thereof you choose to affiliate yourself with, these simple rules are common across almost every single one, and are the only rules that are really necessary to create a world in which everyone would like to live. This book – reading this book – will cause a profound shift in perception and I believe, honestly, that the world would be a better place if everyone followed the example set by Bobby. We all need to become Bobbites. Read this book and see if you don’t find these truths to be as profound as I did.

Literary Blender Rating: Love It!

Castles, Adventure and Demons Loving Angels

Title: The Unborn

Author: Suzanne Thomas

Genre: Historical Fantasy

Release Date: 07/20/2011

Content Rated: R

Purchase:  Smashwords

Review By: Allorah

Synopsis: After guarding the fortress that protects his family’s land for hundreds of years, unborn demon Herald is summoned by his father Stefan to abandon his post to stand watch over an angel his father has captured in a quartz crystal. A strange turn of events leads Herald to fall in love with the angel, challenge his father’s rule, and fend off demon hunters.

Blender Review: The Unborn is a historical fantasy that will take your mind back to a time even before the medieval era. The story is told mainly from the point of view of Herald, and unborn demon who falls in love with his polar opposite, an angel, that his father is holding captive in a quartz rock. Herald names the Angel Acarna and is determined to be with her, even if that means he has to wait to see her once every one hundred years. Herald must find a way to break Acarna free of her cage whilst not letting his homeland be destroyed by her release. The story takes the reader through the couples’ meeting, courtship, and all of the problems that come with an Angel and Demon being united.

The Unborn has an intricate plot that requires full attention, lest you get lost. The book is broken down into three parts. The plot is semi-developed and the book seemed more like three editions of a series rather than one story with a consistent flow. The author also skips vast amounts of time throughout the books and the course of one-hundred years is left without explanation. I would have enjoyed reading this more if each of the parts of the story were elaborated on and made into editions of a series.The authors’ use of visual adjectives and descriptions are superb; making the reader able to picture what places, people and events should look like if the book were a movie.

The character development was, again, semi-complete. The reader will get to know the personal details of the characters but not as much of their background. The under development of the characters’ backgrounds leads the reader to question the motives behind the characters’ actions and thoughts at times.

Overall The Unborn could be an epic tale if it were elaborated upon and made into a series. If you like the historical fiction genre, you will enjoy the story and characters alike.

Literary Blender Rating:  Like It!

Waking Hours: Thought Provoking and a Good Start to a New Trilogy

Title: Waking Hours

Author: Lis Wiehl w/ Pete Nelson

Genre: Religious Paranormal/Murder Mystery/Suspense

Release Date: 10/04/2011

Content Rated: R

Review By: Allorah

Synopsis: A gruesome murder occurs in the wealthy, and rather creepy, town of East Salem, NY. Former local homecoming king and queen, Danielle “Dani” Harris and Tommy Gunderson, turned forensic psychologist and retired NFL star, team up to solve the case and explain why the unexplained keeps happening in their town.

Blender Review: Waking Hours is the first in a new East Salem Trilogy series by best-selling author Lis Wiehl. The characters of the story are written and developed in a thorough and well-rounded context. Lis also does a great job of changing the narration point of view from Dani to Tommy and back again. This novel is interwoven with several plots that include a gruesome murder, paranormal activity with heavy religious references and even a little romance.

The author’s portrayal of how a murder case is solves between a group of individuals including lawyers, doctors and police gives the reader a lot of opportunity to let their mind wander on open-ended questions that sometimes get answered and are sometimes left for interpretation. Though there is a lot of religious content throughout the book it is also written equally as scientific, giving the reader things to ponder in the age-old debate: science, religion or both? This novel also has its share of good humor and I laughed out loud on more than one occasion.

I felt this was a great start to a trilogy but was not without its share of needed polishing. The plots are loosely interwoven and cause confusion throughout its reading. The book is set in Salem, NY but the paranormal plot lines give reference to the Salem witch trials. I understand that witches were persecuted in both Salem, NY and Salem, MA but if the setting is meant to enhance the paranormal aspect of the book then why not choose Salem, MA as it is more famous for paranormal activity than Salem, NY. I would have also like to see the paranormal events better explained all the way through the book and not just completely unraveled between a few chapters.

I also felt the author’s references to the Pagan religion and magic were not accurate.The book suggests that the Pagan religious God’s were turned away from by their followers’ because among their pantheon’s there were specific God’s who only brought evil upon the world. The book also suggests the practice of black magic. In my studies neither of these is accurate. In truth, Pagan’s believed that their God’s were both good and evil and that the devil, as a single evil entity, did not exist. The same is true concerning black magic. Those who are practitioners of magic will tell you that magic is neither black nor white and is both all in one. These religions believe more in the nature of duality rather than good vs. evil.

Waking Hours is a good start to the new series that will reveal more and get better with each edition.

Literary Blender Rating:

Bloodlines

Title:  Bloodlines

Author: Richelle Mead

Genre: Fantasy/Urban Fantasy Fiction

Release Date: 08/23/2011

Content Rated: PG

Synopsis: Sydney and the Alchemists must save the moroi vampire race from a civil war by hiding the moroi queen’s sister, Jill, in a human private boarding school.

Review By: Allorah

Blender Review: Richelle Mead is back again with another best seller. Bloodlines is the sequel to the international best-selling series, Vampire Academy.  In Bloodlines our narrator is no longer Rose, the tough and reckless,  female dhampir (half human and half vampire) guardian. Bloodlines is told by the narration of Sydney, the fragile yet extremely intelligent female human Alchemist. Although I loved Vampire Academy, I was more a fan of the supporting cast of characters rather than Rose herself because throughout the VA series the narration, and the character of Rose, was often indecisive and vapid not allowing the story to flow as much as I would have liked. Narration from Sydney is a breath of fresh air comparatively speaking. Sydney is developed as decisive, intelligent, well-spoken and keeps the story flowing from chapter to chapter. One thing that can be said for the format of this series, as well as the VA series, is that Richelle Mead knows how to keep you reading. The book has several plot lines that are only partially revealed or not revealed at all until the middle or end of the book.

Bloodlines centers around Sydney and the world of the Alchemists. Alchemists are members of the human race charged, by family lineage, with preventing the strigoi and moroi vampire races from having their existence becoming known to the human race. Sydney is torn from her bed in the middle of the night and chosen, reluctantly, by her father and other Alchemists for a top-secret mission. Now that eighteen year old Vasillisa Dragomir holds the throne, the entire Moroi race is about to erupt in civil war between those that support her reign and those that do not. The young Moroi queen is guarded by a small dhampir army, thus making her sister Jill a much easier target. Jill is sought after by Lisa’s adversaries because, until Lisa is able to change the Moroi law, she needs at least one family member to keep her place on the throne of the Moroi world and Jill is the only family she has. Sydney’s task is to keep Jill and her royal entourage from becoming known to humans at Jill’s new hideout: a human boarding school. Along with Sydney and Jill, Eddie and Adrian also come back for starring male roles in this series. Adrian and Eddie both get developed into much more rounded characters and you start to understand them both more than you did in the VA series. We also get to meet new characters in Bloodlines and the awards for best new villain and best new hero goes to Keith and Micah respectively. You will hate Keith right from the start. I’m guessing that was the intent in which he was written. He is a complete slime-ball from beginning to end but beautifully developed as a villain. Micah gets the award for best addition to the good guys. He will remind everyone of a VA character that has long since passed away and you should be able to pick up on the innuendo almost immediately. For those that are fans of the original VA cast of characters have no fear, we get to see some of them make appearances in Bloodlines, although some are extremely brief. Rose, Dimitri and Abe Mazur all make guest appearances in this book of the new series.

Bloodlines is filled with witty and humorous content that will have you laughing out loud and surprises that will leave you wanting more. This is an easy read for 8th grade and up. This book does contain some violence and adult language. Richelle Mead has hit another home run with this follow-up series to Vampire Academy. This is a MUST read for fans of the VA series! The second book of the series, The Golden Lily, is due for release in the spring of 2012.

Literary Blender Rating: