Review: The Portal Prophesies A Halloween Curse

A Halloween Curse is the second book in the Portal Prophecy series by C.A. King. This is a fantasy series for YA/NA readers.

This is an action packed story with decent pacing and interesting characters. The story is quite twisty and the characters are complex, even the bad guys.

There is a large cast of characters of varying magical abilities from a variety of worlds or dimensions. Sometimes it is hard to keep track of who they are and what they can do because you often go several chapters without hearing from someone.

The descriptions are good, and the imagery and detail is fantastic. The author has put a lot of thought into the double meanings and vague possibilities of all her prophesies, curses, and warnings.

I worry that some of her characters are becoming over-powered and that it may cause plot-failings later in the series but for now the team continues to grow in strength and numbers while the problems facing them grow in complexity. Also, there is tension between the members of the group and quite often the girls are frustrated by people not taking them seriously.

Over all I’m impressed with the series and the scope of this fictional world.

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.


Book Review: Ancient Origins

Ancient Origins is a paranormal novella by CJ Bolyne and is available from Amazon here:

I read this book with my book club and to be honest it wasn’t my favourite. Not my least favourite thus far, but definitely not in my top 3. There were some good things about the book, some redeeming qualities, and I will go over both what I liked, and what I didn’t.

The cover was eye-catching and the guy definitely appealed to me (I have a type and he fits it) so I was eager to read this book, even if the description on the back made me think “Oh, another vampire book”. I was more than willing to give this book a try.

I guess the first thing that I noticed was the length of the chapters, since I had to set the reading schedule for the group. Amazon lists the paperback as having 306 pages. There were 42 chapters plus a prologue and an epilogue. My own book, Nothing Everything Nothing, is about the same length in page count, give or take, and has 21 chapters and an epilogue and I had been aiming for short chapters since it was for teens. The last book we read was 322 pages and only had roughly 32 chapters. So I was curious about these short chapters and in reading found that some were numbered and some had both a number and a subtitle. Some chapter breaks were in odd places and it disrupted the flow of the narrative. The next thing I noted about the chapters was that in the paperback (I read it on my phone but 3 members in our group buy the paperback) the font for the chapter numbers, the chapter headings as it were, is HUGE and took up more than half the first page of each chapter.

Second thing I noticed was that the font was larger, probably a 14pt as opposed to an 11 or 12pt, and the line spacing was quite large. It looked more like an early chapter book for fourth graders or a large print edition for that special shelf at the back of the public library.

Those are both technical observations, however, and while they irked me as a fellow writer they do not, in anyway, affect the story or the quality of the writing.

As for the story itself, well, the first thing you get is a prologue and it wasn’t a scene it was a voice over from the main character. “You think you know what vampires are but the myths are wrong. I was surprised too. I’m going to tell you what happened to me” sort of thing – but a page or so of it. (My concept of how many pages things are is wonky because I read on my phone). Honestly, it sounded more like a back of book description or a voice over for a book or movie trailer. And it’s in first person.

You jump to another planet, as promised by the book’s actual description, where the male main character is found guilty of murder and sentenced to life on the back water penal colony of Earth. Pretty straight forward at this point and no real indications of their culture or abilities. This is all in third person.

On Earth you meet the female main character as a ten year old girl, again in first person. I found the beginning of her first chapter long and difficult to read. She starts out as a city girl, but one that climbed trees and fences and scared her mother all the time – but admits that she hated country living? Oh, she hated the isolation and misses her friends , there we go. When you figure out how and when she moved out of town the chapter rambles on and on about the house and the yard before finally getting to the point where she sees a shooting star and finds this scar in the earth where something landed on her acreage.

And then you jump ahead and the female narrator is twenty and the story actually picks up. Well, after a long, ‘here’s what happened in 10 years’ that includes some childhood memories that emphasize that she’s seen as a freak. After the typical ‘I never fit in’ stuff and the ‘apparently I’m a gifted student and get to go to a special school and graduate early’ stuff you get to one of the redeeming qualities: she’s studying archaeology.

Finally we seem to get to the start of the story in earnest. The female main character, and still first person narrator, and her three lovely, talented, intelligent friends are ready to look for jobs and start their lives, after a short backpacking trip around Europe where they just happen to bump into this gorgeous stranger with a foreign name.

They are all sent on a dig to Romania by a secretive company where they are to examine a secret room found in Vlad’s castle. Now we get a hint that things are going to get intense and possibly violent. Oh, and cue the handsome stranger’s return as it turns out he’s the convicted criminal from chapter 1.

Okay, I’m getting way too detailed here. Look, once you get to this point you’re finally past all the introductions. Okay, except for the standard “so you’re a vampire? what about sunlight? what about garlic? how do I kill  you?” conversation. I guess I was being detailed because it bothered me that it took this long to get to the actual “hey, something’s happening” of the book, and in such a short book.

The rest of the book is about the twisty plans of this person and that person and the lies and the double crossing and the pretend double crossing or is it real? Who do they trust? What’s going on? This was actually very well written and I honestly believed a few of those lies.

Oh, and the female main character can shoot – believable if she grew up in the country. I can shoot, though not well because of my eyes. My children will learn when they’re old enough. But this woman is a great shot, and even that is believable, until they are moving at supernatural speeds and she’s still hitting targets.

EDIT – The epilogue was not at the end of the book but on conferring with the author this is apparently a layout error, so, the editor’s fault, not the author’s.

Obviously this book didn’t strike the right chord with me. However, if you enjoy vampires and new spins on vampires and you don’t mind a quick, short, easy read with the occasional stiff or cheesy dialogue and the odd cliche then give this book a try and tell me what you thought of it. Different books for different readers, right?

Oh, and there’s a cameo by a notorious historic figure. You can’t miss him.

I gave this book 3 out of 5 stars. I’m curious to know what you think of it.



World of Azglen Book Review

World of Azglen is the first book in the Full Moon Series written by Patricia Mattern and JC Estall. Here is the book’s description from Amazon.

Charley Rabbit is a mentally disabled young man who lives quietly with his widowed mother Mitzi in the American Midwest-but not for long! Charley develops a rapid intellectual growth spurt after being bitten by a vampire. Fressenda and her fraternal twin brothers Cass (Castor) and Lux (Pollux) take an interest in Charley and Mitzi and become part of their extended family, but Mitzi is wary and senses that the changes in Charley may be part of something mysterious,dark and sinister. In the meantime she is offered something she didn’t believe was possible-a clandestine relationship with a younger , and incidentally immortal, male.

The ensuing connection that Charley and his mom develop with V-net vampires (,a brilliantly organized organization that has piggybacked on the existing infrastructure in the U.S), an ancient family history and a dangerous and wily adversary, the Vampire Lord Adrastos puts both their lives and their new relationships at risk and takes them to some of the most remote locales on the planet.

I found this to be a very quick read and overall the book felt like an extended introduction to characters, politics, and the vampire rules/powers of this author’s unique universe. As this is book one in a series that’s understandable. There were some twists I really enjoyed – like how flying was possible by impractical because of modern technology, the portal system, and Charley’s “rapid intellectual growth spurt”. I also enjoyed the main cast of characters: Mitzi, Charley, Fress, Cass, and Lux. I think my favourite though was the minor character, Byron.

The main struggle that is supposed to drive this book is hinted at in the brilliantly written prologue but I found the execution of the build-up and climax to be weak. No, that’s being too harsh. Let me explain a little.

When Mitzi undergoes her traumatic experience she reacts in unexpected ways and the author only suggests that “Mitzi felt that she had been hypnotized somehow, maybe” (to paraphrase). I was really hoping for more on this, a detail about how she had been drugged by the wet nurse, or how Adrastos hypnotizes her, or something.

I was VERY impressed with the outcome of the fight scene, even if the action felt a little choppy. The way Charley wins is unique and a wonderful twist. This is a traditional underdog learns to fight too quickly and too well sort of story – Charley struggles, a lot, in this fight and I liked that since he was the newer vampire and the weaker fighter.

While Byron was my favourite, the other men are hot and sexy and come across as genuine. I found the other back-up characters hard to distinguish (but I did read this novel with a head cold) but the main cast was fully realized and easy to tell apart.

The numbers don’t lie and based on the Full Moon Series’ fan base and status on Amazon’s sell lists Patricia Mattern has hit on a success with this series. She’s producing something that a lot of people like. So I will highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a light, quick, paranormal romance.

Look her up on Facebook and Amazon. There are a lot of books in this series and I’m looking forward to reading and reviewing all of them.