Books: The Cheapest Vacation You Can Buy

Destiny's KissFrom Goodreads: Destiny Walker is an exceptional student despite her youth, sullenness, and the werewolf baby she left on a stranger’s doorstep. Across the Atlantic, Kismet Baros was a rare mutt of a Magik—essentially immune to magic but nonetheless able to magically modify scents and heal herself—who was under the protection of the vampire court. Only Destiny and the judge who emancipated her know why Kismet no longer exists.

When powerful Magiks from Kismet’s past come into town to celebrate a classmate’s coming of age, Destiny must face her demons. She must decide what she is—person or property—and if she’ll sacrifice the few friends she has to save the many. If she doesn’t, she’ll be the next face to launch a thousand ships.


Destiny is a magik running from a very dark past; a past her own parents sold her into in order to protect themselves. Finally free, yet living in constant fear, it seems that Des’ luck is about to run out as her past begins to rear its ugly head, sending her life spiraling out of control once more. This entire plot line really sparked my interest, and I thoroughly enjoyed learning about Destiny.  She’s a strong character and I can’t image all she’s gone through in order to get to where she is today. Thankfully, it’s not graphic, but readers do learn fairly early on that slavery is an accepted practice among magiks and that the trade of young women is rampant in some circles. While it’s sickening to think about, Wolanski does an amazing job setting up the scene, showcasing the truths of human trafficking and slavery.  But like I said, graphics are not involved, making it a little easier to read, but it’s still harrowing.

Wolinski intertwines her story with both the present and past experiences of Destiny, focusing mainly on the present, but giving glimpses into her past and her choice to run when the coast finally cleared. I liked the back and forth narrative, though it was a bit jarring the first time it happened because of the name change, but it was still obvious who the story was about.

There are many magiks within this novel, from vampires and werewolves to gnomes and druids, the list is extensive.  Perhaps the most interesting but also jarring addition to this novel is that they all co-exist with humans–humans bending to magiks’ policies and customs, having special branches within their forces, such as the police, to deal with magiks, and to also honor their laws.  The fact that the humans just seem to roll over whenever a magik showed itself made me a little queasy, but at the same time, it makes sense.  If you can’t fight it, and you can’t beat it, the next best thing is to befriend it, right?  Even if you disagree with their values and practices?  Well, maybe not.

The one aspect of this novel I really struggle with, though, it was it was all a little too fast paced for me.  I actually feel weird saying that because I usually love fast-paced books, but in this case, it just was too much too fast.  So many characters are introduced to us right off the bat, and I never felt like I was able to wrap my head around it all.  Each group has its own powers, customs, laws, and traditions, and once politics came on the scene, I found myself quite lost.  The story itself made sense for the most part as it focused on Destiny, but whenever the politics came into play, I personally had a hard time following along.  I think a little less information overload would have helped me follow the storyline a little better, but overall, it was a good read. Three stars.

3 starsI was given this novel by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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12619949From Goodreads: When Jem and Oliver accidentally fall through a portal to another world just before their first year of high school, they quickly discover that all is not well here. The first person they meet, a creepy old man named Atychis, almost gets them killed by a ferocious, fire-breathing dragon. They’re only narrowly saved when Sierra, a shy farm girl from a nearby town, uses illegal magic to help them escape. Allowed to stay with her family while they try to figure out a way back home, Jem and Oliver begin to learn of magic and the Regime that is oppressing it.

It isn’t until the Regime kills a woman that the three kids realize they have to do something to stop the Regime from taking over completely. After being framed for a crime they didn’t commit and banished from the town, Jem, Oliver, and Sierra take off on an adventure across this strange world in an attempt to defeat the Regime. New creatures and new kinds of magic are around every corner, but so are dangers that could have them wishing they were back safe at home.

Through the Portal is the first book in a planned trilogy.


This novel’s premise of traveling through a portal through the bottom of a lake is absolutely ingenious.  It really impressed me because it’s such a unique idea that really worked well in this story.  I am always impressed by the imagination of others, mainly because I have none of my own, and after the fact I always wish I had thought of it myself.  In this case, Dennis has done a great job creating the backdrop for his novel and drawing the reader in.  As our heroes travel through the portal, they are taken to a very different world all together, one with magic, dragons, and an intense dictatorship intent on ruling their world.

While I really enjoyed the ingenuity of this novel, I didn’t necessarily connect with the characters as much as I’d have liked to, and I feel that is because they are a bit juvenile for me.  However, I believe that a MG and YA aged readers who enjoyed fantasy and sci-fi will really enjoy this novel as it’s a true escape from our own world.  Three stars.

3 stars

I received this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review.

2940011527999_p0_v1_s260x420From Goodreads: A rogue, a bard, and a paladin walk into a tavern …

This sounds like the start of a joke, but it’s actually the start of several pages full of them. This short story follows the exploits of a comically mismatched group of adventurers as they embark on a quest for The Dice, mythical objects with the power to change fate itself, and compete for the affections of a beautiful barmaid. From John Abramowitz, the author of Weaver, comes an irreverent homage to classic fantasy.


This is an interesting novellete set up to follow that of the Canterbury Tales, except this is much shorter, easier to read, and full of laughs. Told from different perspectives, we follow the Rogue, Bard, Paladin, and Barmaid as they embark on a journey to find The Dice, and we learn just how incompetent many of them are.  And, not everyone is who they seem to be, adding depth and mystery to the tales as they unfold.

It’s definitely worth the read–short and to the point, this 27 pager (plus or minus) is intriguing and full of wit. My only complaint: it ends too soon.  Four stars.

4 stars

I received this novellete from the author in exchange for an honest review.

18054394From Goodreads: Space is not as endless as Humans thought. In fact, for our kind it all ends at Pluto where the elements of the Greater Drahgosian Empire keep watch to ensure no one leaves the reservation. We are free to explore our own system, to expand and colonize, but to look out beyond our system is forbidden.

Iago has a plan, and if it works he just might be the first human to walk under an alien star. All he needs is a hairless dog, a vindictive Commander, and a Drahgosian starship capable of breaching the vast distance between star systems. Picking up a beautiful alien female like Eema would just be bonus points.

But there is more going on with the reservation than Iago realizes, and his dream may very well be the death of all humanity.


Those who really like Star Trek and other space intense movies/novels should definitely pick up The Starrunner.  Set in the distant future, this novel begins with the revelation that extraterrestrials have indeed made contact with earth, only to set a rule in place: do not explore outside earth’s solar system.  But why?  Iago, our main character, has spent many years wondering what exists beyond the solar boarders, and in his attempt to see more of the universe,  our story takes off.

Iago is somewhat of a trickster, intent on sticking it to the higher ups from the very beginning of this novel.  And, as the commanders and higher ups don’t take jokes and such very well, Iago soon finds himself in a predicament that could end with his death.  Always resourceful, though, he is able to use his circumstances to his advantage, breaking out of the confines and, indeed, seeing more of the universe, but at what cost?

As this novel unfolds, readers are introduced to many different alien species, many of which have very human characteristics in either looks or actions.  One in particular, Eema, a beautiful alien woman, is not what she seems upon first meeting, and I loved her kick-butt presence, illegal antics and all.  Although she is far from what Iago expected in his cross-universal search, they become companions more out of desperation than true friendship, and watching them banter and learn to work together was a lot of fun, as was learning the reason for the Drahgosian rule against human exploration of the universe.

Overall, I really liked the characterization, especially of Eema and Iago, and the story itself was very good, but it seemed to jump from scene to scene a little less fluidly that I would have liked.  There were times that I would have loved more intricate information about an alien people, or a circumstance Iago and Eema found themselves in, only to be whisked ahead a few months instead, which left me with a few questions here and there, but nothing too vast.  This is a very intriguing novel, and though I’m not really a space or scifi fan myself, as I said before, those who really enjoy Star Trek and other space movies and novels should definitely pick this up, because I think they’ll love it.  Three stars.

3 stars

I received this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review.


18043896From Goodreads: Nidad Reik, the last mundane king of Verneece has fallen to the treachery of the sorcerers who once served him. Now the usurpers have gathered from the four corners of the kingdom to divide the spoils of victory. Among those in attendance are the Puppeteer and his ward, the Fortune Teller; the Sword Prince and his latest trollop; the Lady of Perfumes and her guards and lovers; finally, there is the fearsome Stonegrinder, master of earth and stone. The night is filled with feasting, entertainment .and gaming. In the wee hours of a long, winter night there is also murder.

The survivors look upon each other with suspicion of treachery. Who committed the murders and why? Or is there an outside agency moving against them to lay claim to their victory?


“Set in the Blackstone universe, the history of Verneece before the coming of Queen Spiral is revealed” in this novella by Jason Beineke, a prequel to the Blackstone series.  This imaginative fantasy series expounds on sorcery and world dominance, but for those of you who haven’t yet read the masterful Blackstone novels, then I highly suggest you begin with this novella, especially if you’re intrigued by world building, sorcery, and fantasy—this series is not one to be missed!

Complete with engaging characters able to bend the elements and wills of others, readers are introduced to a band of strong and able sorcerers come to divide the spoils of the conquered Verneece.  Although a tad vulgar and disturbing in places—drinking wine from a skull makes me shudder—this novella truly sets the scene for the murders and betrayal that takes place between the pages, and continues throughout the series, as the gifted magicians begin to suspect and fight amongst themselves.  Showing the vast corruption that pervaded the land prior to the seizing of power by Queen Spiral, a vicious queen readers will get to know in more depth in Drawing the Circle, this novella gives readers a taste of what is to come with its imaginative world, deceptive characters, and jarring situations.  It’s a great read that I enjoyed very much, though I do wish it was longer.  However, a longer read would defeat the purpose, as this novella is meant to whet the appetite for more, and that is exactly what it does.  Had the characters been a little more pleasant, I do believe their plight and overall fate would have left me feeling bereft.  As it is, however, these vile characters gain no sympathy from me.  Three stars.

3 stars

et cetera
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