THE iREAD REVIEW
In this first book of The Walking Gates series, a young man's journey to save his mother's life leads him to the center of a war and unleashes a power within him that could decide the fate of the entire world.
Determined to save the life of his wounded mother after an unexpected attack on their town's gates, Braxton Prinn embarks on a daring journey to seek the one elf who can help him. A dark evil is marching on the world, and Braxton, a man with no real aspirations, suddenly stands at the center of the battle, as he discovers a mystical, ancient power inside him that has everything to do with an approaching war. Not only must he learn to coexist with this power, he's faced with the task of discovering who he is and who he now wants to become.
A vividly built world enhances this fast-paced adventure, engulfing the reader in a fantastic reality. Tension never falters as each scene holds new dangers, unexpected challenges and gripping revelations. From the very beginning, the author masterfully builds momentum for the approaching war, while establishing an emotional tie to characters from each threatened nation. Although the main focus remains on Braxton, this turns the final battle into a profound exploration of its devastating effects and allows tragedy to transpire on a personal level.
Braxton must not only come to terms with the ancient and mysterious power inside him but must also travel a difficult journey of self-discovery. His determination to protect those he loves collides with the needs of a greater good, and he must make decisions that require sacrificing everything he holds dear while redefining who is. This personal journey is interwoven within the larger story of the battle, with the author managing to strike a balance between the two. Through all of this, he cleverly constructs layers of hidden secrets, allowing the threat of a darker evil to hover in the background. This makes Cathadeus the beginning of what promises to be an addictive and exciting series.
THE iREAD REVIEW
An enthralling story, ICE follows a former FBI agent who joins forces with a group of retired specialists who solve cold cases. As they search out clues from crimes in the past, dark secrets will finally be brought to light, thawing out cases that were once ice cold.
A dark shadow hangs over Chris Matheson’s head as he settles back into the small town he grew up in. The small town the recent widower brought his three girls to thinks he had something to do with the disappearance of Sandy Lipton. Matheson soon makes the acquaintance of a small group of retirees who pride themselves on thawing out cold cases. Disguised as a book club, the self-named Geezer Squad, whose number one rule is to never talk about the squad, boasts a broad set of skills, courtesy of its members, all former law enforcement agents. They welcome Chris, recently retired from the FBI, with open arms, working with him to close numerous cold cases—including, hopefully, Sandy's disappearance.
ICE will engross readers from beginning to end. The various mysteries are intricately woven together, leaving one guessing and turning pages to find the answers. Chris has a great, distinctive character arc. Readers will want to continue with the series just to find out more about Chris and his involvement with the Geezer Squad. While at times difficult to keep track of, the numerous colorful supporting characters, with compelling backstories and witty humor, added depth to the narrative. There is a nice romantic element that rounds out the story nicely.
With memorable characters and gripping suspense, ICE will leave readers eagerly awaiting the next installment.
THE iREAD REVIEW
Life Long is a fascinating book about a man with schizophrenia who is doing his best to survive in a world that does not understand him.
We meet Ray in court for traffic citations. The judge is lenient on him; a cop Ray meets later tells him it’s because his ex-con cousin Billy is under surveillance. Ray is the caretaker of a church where he has been hiding money for Billy; the police might therefore be watching him, too, according to the voices in Ray's head.
In a panic, Ray decides to take the money and run away from the cops, Billy, and the voices in his head. After suffering from a breakdown, Ray is prescribed Zyprexa to keep the voices away. Unfortunately, he only has a limited number of pills and what with being on the run, getting a refill is a challenge. He buses from Central California to Los Angeles onto Phoenix, then to Dallas and, finally, to Laredo. Along the way, he meets several people, some friendly while others, intent on getting his money, less so. But Ray's worst enemy is himself as he doesn't know who to trust.
Life Long is not only well-written, it is a character study into the life of a schizophrenic. It also offers insights into both the dangers of being an immigrant and the substandard conditions under which poor people are forced to travel the country. This story is many people's reality and is both heartbreaking—when the only man who helps Ray dies and he starts trusting the wrong people—and hopeful—when he finds someone who will help him all thanks to one good deed.
THE iREAD REVIEW
Author Tyfany Janee’s debut book, The Invitation, is a very unorthodox poetry anthology in which different subject matters including death, romance, and hope, expressing a variety of emotions, including angst towards lost love and the promise of success by embracing one’s self. Although some of the poems do rhyme, most are free-verse.
The writer divides her collection into subsections. “The Work of Art That Is Me” opens with a free-verse poetic foreword inviting the reader into her mind and ending with mourning of her grandmother. Other sections include “It’s complicated,” with its initial entry, “Center Stage,” describing her soulmate as a show she hopes won’t end. It ends in verses that are, as their subtitle indicates, “An Ode to Luther Vandross.”
While perusing the first few poems, readers will find the poet’s style inconsistent. The first poem of “Stay Away Break Free” is political, although she doesn’t take open shots at either side of the partisan spectrum; for example, one of the lines reads “black lives matter,” which is followed, though, with “all life matters.” She touches again on ethnic issues in the section “Where do I fit in?” with its sole elegy, “Young Black Boy,” addressed to African youth, telling them to embrace their heritage and aim high by doing things like entering the Ivy League. The most rhythmic piece in the author’s assemblage, “Beautiful Mistake,” is one of many odes to former love. The final poem in the concluding section, “For Yet I Live”, finishes things on a high note with the reminder that sunrises provide new days to embrace.
One can best describe The Invitation as experimental, given its variable structure and infrequent rhyming. The flagrant use of the F-word in “Rockstar,” for instance, seems somewhat out of place, given the otherwise family-friendly nature of the collection. The target audience seems to be African-American youths, given the niche subjects of some of the poems, and while those expecting a conventional poetry anthology will find disappointment, those interested in a daring one will enjoy its sundry yarns.
THE iREAD REVIEW
Beyond Love, the second story of the Beyond series by author D.D. Marx, finds Olivia and Finn trying to make their new relationship work despite numerous obstacles encountered.
Brought together by two of their deceased loved ones, the couple, now at the other end of a whirlwind romance, must find a way to merge their lives. When Finn gets in a life-changing accident and Olivia must reveal a painful secret, the two must work through these hurdles in order to find happiness. With the support of family and friends, will they find their way to happily ever after?
D.D. Marx has written a heart-wrenching follow-up story about two individuals who just can’t seem to catch a break when it comes to love. This sequel to Beyond Believing will have readers crossing their fingers for it to prevail. Olivia experiences more than her share of heart-stopping moments as she prepares to move across the country to be with Finn and faces various moral dilemmas, coming across as a very sympathetic character. The reader wants her to come to the right decision, while also not wanting her to experience any resulting negative fallout.
At times, it may seem like things come a little too easily to our protagonists, such as when Olivia effortlessly pulls together a fundraiser and has a roster of celebrities ready to help out, or when she is able to achieve her career dreams with very little personal struggle. However, the challenges they encounter, such as Finn finding himself at the heart of a terrorist attack, help balance that. And while Beyond Love could be enjoyed as a stand-alone novel, readers will appreciate the character development and story background provided in Beyond Believing.
Filled with mouth-watering food descriptions, heartwarming moments with friends, and enough romantic moments to satisfy even the most voracious romance reader, Beyond Love is a satisfying addition to the Beyond series, and one that will leave readers clamoring for the next release.
THE iREAD REVIEW
In this engaging story about believing in the unexplainable, Olivia finds a way to move on after the tragic death of a close friend.
Olivia is shattered when her best friend Dan dies unexpectedly in an accident. Struggling to put her life back together, she tries to find meaning in her career. Bereft when it implodes, she finds solace with cousin Garrett, who takes her in and offers her a place to heal. Scotland-born chef Finn has experienced more than his fair share of tragedy. Following the loss of his wife, he finds himself competing in a cooking show and living in the United States. When he unexpectedly meets Olivia, he discovers that his heart may not be off-limits forever.
As Olivia and Finn become close, they discover that there is more to their meeting than simple chance. In fact, the two people they loved the most may be conspiring to bring them together, and it is up to them to follow the signs they are sending as well as their own hearts.
Feisty and principled Olivia and sexy and ambitious Finn are easy to root for. Both have experienced tragedy in their young lives but strive to make the best out of their current situation. The reader can’t help but want the best for them both, especially if that means them ending up together. The rapid development in Beyond Believing will leave readers eagerly turning pages in order to find out what happens next while its supernatural aspect offers a fresh perspective on the typical love story.
D.D. Marx has written a story that will appeal to readers who not only believe in love but that there is more to the universe that can simply be seen. A tale of romance that defies the usual parameters, Beyond Believing is a story that will leave the reader eager to pick up the next book in the series.
THE iREAD REVIEW
In a heartrending tale of hardship and small triumphs, a spirited Greek boy living on an island in eastern Aegean searches for love, belonging, and his destiny.
In hopes of securing a better life, Yanni's mother has left him with his caring grandparents until she returns from a job she has taken overseas. Months turn into years as the stumbling blocks of illness, relative relations, and tribulations at school feed his yearning to see her again. With World War II and the German occupation, life on the island turns into a silent battle for survival against constant terror and starvation, but Yanni endures. When he finds himself leaving his homeland to be reunited with his mother, he hopes to finally find the life he's always dreamed of.
Christopher Stratakis creates a beautifully written coming-of-age story placed during a turbulent, historical time in the rich and lively country of Greece. The book is broken down into four main sections, each beginning with an older Yanni sharing a few gentle thoughts as he reflects back on pivotal moments of his life. Like an artistically placed collage, events from his past are picked out and strung together to form a seamless composition of heartfelt struggles, desires, dreams, and disappointments.
Although many of his experiences are based in a harsh reality evoking raw emotions, others expose the gentler sides of life that mold a young boy's personality and expectations. Each scene is depicted with vivid descriptions, revealing Yanni’s vibrant yet provincial island life while remembering to paint the world through his point of view. The reader is immersed into the emotions which shape and drive Yanni through his life and bring him to the realization that destiny isn't something achieved in a single moment but rather through an entire lifetime.
THE iREAD REVIEW
An entertaining look into what just about every girl dreams of and what happens when it actually happens. Set in Beverly Hills, If This Was a Movie creates a modern-day Cinderella tale in which she must learn to live in the spotlight if she wants to keep her Prince Charming.
Seventeen-year-old Nora Novak is trying to start over. After her father died of cancer, her stepmother Cecilia pulled out an updated will that left everything to her. When Cecilia begins to verbally and physically abuse Nora, she packs up what little of her life is left in Texas to live with her Aunt Jen in Beverly Hills. At a farmer’s market, Nora’s ‘Keep Austin Weird’ T-shirt catches the eye of Eli Evans. The two soon begin dating, but she quickly learns that nothing is how it seems; Eli Evans is also known as Elijah Rosseau, an up-and-coming movie star. Once the media gets wind of this new relationship, Nora is forced into the spotlight and her evil stepmother wants to join her in it.
In Nora, Ginna Moran has built a perfect character for every young girl who has imagined dating someone famous. Extremely grounded and realistic, Nora is very easy to relate to, what with her not-so-perfect past and the way she handles herself in her friendships and relationship. Readers will enjoy that Nora is able to be true to herself throughout her journey and will cheer when she finds a perfect balance.
Nora and Eli’s relationship provides a good look into the perks and the not-so-great aspects of fame. The decisions she makes while dating him are carefully thought out and show a maturity that is inspiring. Along with enjoying a perfectly sweet romance with plenty of adorable and spicy moments, Nora also deals with troubled friendships and an even more troubled step-mother with diligence, care, and grace. Readers also get an inside look into high school and social events in Beverly Hills.
If This Was a Movie is a fast-paced, exciting, drama-filled and swoon-worthy series starter perfect for young adult and new adult audiences alike that gives readers a taste of celebrity romance under the glare of the paparazzi’s bulb.
THE iREAD REVIEW
Anthony Provati has the smoldering good looks and wandering eye of a man luckier than he is—now all he needs to do is uncover ISIL’s plot, recover priceless paintings, and convince the Red Mafia not to murder him.
He’s really done it this time. Playing the baby grand in the corner of a seedy neighborhood bar in Manhattan, Provati catches the eye of Sophia, the sensual girlfriend of famed Russian mobster Gorgon Malakhov. The trouble starts there, and Provati’s efforts to disentangle himself from the gangster’s black list will force him to begin touring the underbelly of a global crime ring. When it’s discovered that Malakhov may be selling strontium-90, material used in building dirty bombs, Provati finds himself twisted up in an escapade that will take him from hot pursuit to chilled fear, and from Malta to Istanbul, Alexandria to Naples and beyond, where every step will bring him closer to Malakhov’s potential buyers: ISIL.
Giordano’s writing wraps readers in a web of love and lust, gun fights and murder. Painting various storylines with a skillful brush and adroitly bringing them together, Giordano makes his readers care deeply, carefully coloring in the background for why his characters behave the way they do, making them unapologetically human and deliciously multi-faceted. Providing a deeper, intelligent look into the relationship between religions and cultures that at first glance seem at odds, Appointment with ISIL dips into current affairs while adding a dollop of old-world charm.
A sexy, all-in-one-breath read, this is a story for those eager to strap on their boots and immerse themselves in a whirlwind adventure that will take them from espresso in New York with the Italian Mafia to walking the Old City of Jerusalem with the chief of Israel’s security service.
THE iREAD REVIEW
In Annechino's gripping biographical novel, a young army recruit fights to survive on the battlefield and on the run behind enemy lines in war-ravaged Italy.
In 1942, 18-year-old Angelo DiMarco enlists in the military partly out of patriotism and partly to provoke emotion from his distant father. After distinguishing himself at training camp, he is disappointed to be assigned a non-combat commission in England. Determined to see action, he petitions for a transfer and is ultimately assigned to the 1st Ranger Battalion stationed in Italy, under German invasion as the two countries’ alliance crumbles. After sustaining heavy losses, the overmatched Rangers are forced to surrender, and survivors are boarded on trains bound for German work camps. Determined to avoid this fate, Angelo plans his escape with three fellow Rangers.
Much of the story’s tension and suspense derive from skillful plotting. The novel opens in February 1944 on the German prison train, then travels back to 1942, when Angelo enlists, and follows his experiences chronologically to meet the fateful decision on the train, roughly midway through the book. The second half builds suspense around Angelo’s predicament as an escaped American soldier in enemy-occupied territory. The precariousness of his relationships with locals and the uncertainty of whom to trust evoke W. Stanley Moss’ Ill Met By Moonlight.
Annechino’s poetic descriptions of Italy’s beautiful landscape and architecture play counterpoint to unflinching depictions of devastation and gore. The juxtapositions, reminiscent of Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms, subtly and effectively signify Angelo’s emotional transformation from naive recruit to battle-scarred soldier fighting not only for his physical survival but also to sustain his capacity for empathy both for his “brothers” and enemy soldiers. While the bonds that develop among Rangers are compelling and powerful, they don’t romanticize the steep cost of war. Instead, they become another means through which Angelo meditates on what it means to be a man.
Nuanced and eloquently written, More Than a Soldier adds to the body of WWII literature an extraordinary story of survival and a deeply affecting portrait of a soldier’s coming-of-age.
The iRead Review
We provide professional reviews for Indie and small press published authors.