Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Duncan Whitehead - The Best Man: A Dark Comedy

22. The Best Man: A Dark Comedy by Duncan Whitehead (2015)
Length: 35 pages
Genre: Short Story
Started: 5 June 2017
Finished: 6 June 2017
Where did it come from? Many thanks to Duncan Whitehead as I downloaded a copy of this book for free from his website.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 25 April 2017
Why do I have it? I like short stories and have read and enjoyed several books by this author in the past.

Brad Chance is quite the catch, at least according to his sister Claire. Not only is he handsome, fit, charming, and hilariously funny; but he is also a plastic surgeon who specializes in the treatment of children with facial deformities. However, although Brad is a successful doctor, a philanthropist, and an all-around nice guy; he still hasn't found 'the one'. He's looking for the same type of love that his sister so obviously shares with her husband...and apparently not having much luck in finding it.

That is until he meets someone while escorting his ten-year-old nephew and two of the boy's young friends to a Broadway show. Jenny Blythe seems like she is the perfect woman for Brad, and he can't help but hope that he will get the chance to see her again sometime soon. Suddenly, his life seems to be looking up for Brad, and he couldn't possibly be any happier. Until a twist of fate changes everything, and Brad finds himself living every man's worst nightmare.

After returning from completing some charity work abroad, Brad is shocked to meet up with his college roommate and best friend. Mike Bayless may well be a playboy, a flagrant womanizer, and a staunch commitment-phobe; but he also has a very important question to ask Brad when he finally returns home. He really needs a best man, and Brad seems like the obvious choice for the position. However, when Brad knows everything about Mike - from his darkest secrets to his strangest foibles - at the end of the day, who will really be the best man?

With a plot twist so shocking that it will leave readers speechless - and a sucker punch ending that will ultimately set their minds reeling - Mr. Whitehead once again delivers the perfect balance of dark humor, irony and tragedy.

I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. I had no inkling how the story would develop and could not help but feel slightly sorry for the characters. I look forward to reading more from this author in the future and I would give this book an A!

A! - (90-95%)

May you read well and often

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Duncan Whitehead - You Say Tomato, I Say Tomato, She Says Murder: A Short But Sweet Mystery

21. You Say Tomato, I Say Tomato, She Says Murder: A Short But Sweet Mystery by Duncan Whitehead (2015)
Length: 16 pages
Genre: Short Story
Started/Finished: 3 June 2017
Where did it come from? Many thanks to Duncan Whitehead as I downloaded a copy of this book for free from his website.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 25 April 2017
Why do I have it? I like short stories and have read and enjoyed several books by this author in the past.

Dotty Wedgewood and Winnie Aiton have been close friends for years. They both have so much in common and enjoy each other's company immensely. When a shared love of gardening leads both women to enter the same competition, just how far will either of them go to win First Place? This mystery explores just how far someone can be pushed until they reach their breaking point.

Actually, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this story. It was an easy read for me and I must say that I wasn't really expecting the plot twist. I give this book a very strong A!

A! - (90-95%)

May you read well and often

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Reading Wrap-up For May at Emeraldfire's Bookmark


Hello everyone out there and I hope that you all had a terrific reading month for yourselves. I am known as Emeraldfire around the Internet and this is my new personal reading blog.

Anyway, I started out May with about two hundred unread books lying around the house and ended the month with...umm...uncountable amounts of books unread. All of the books that I acquired this month came from Amazon and an author.

Let me try to break down the influx for you:

Changes to the TBR pile

Rereads
- The Ghostcrow: A Tale of Andor by M. K. Theodoratus

Read from my TBR pile (Yes! I am a reading machine :))
- Night For the Gargoyles by M. K. Theodoratus
- Hear That Damn Owl?: A Tale of Andor by M. K. Theodoratus
- Spell Breaker by Joni Parker

Added to my TBR pile (oh well, you win some and you lose some! :))
- Gossamer by Joni Parker
- Noticing Jamilla by M. K. Theodoratus
- Doom Comes For a Sold Soul by M. K. Theodoratus

Taken off my TBR pile and sent to a new home (Yay! Happy Dance! :))
- The Ghostcrow: A Tale of Andor by M. K. Theodoratus
- The Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club by Duncan Whitehead
- Night For the Gargoyles by M. K. Theodoratus
- Hear That Damn Owl?: A Tale of Andor by M. K. Theodoratus
- Spell Breaker by Joni Parker

Well, there it is...the breakdown! All in all, a very good reading month for me, considering. Here's a further breakdown:

Books Read: 4
Pages Read: 426
Grade Range: A+! to A!

So, there you go! The reading month that was May. I hope that you all had an equally good reading month; if not a little better. :) See you all next month! :)

May you read well and often

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Joni Parker - Spell Breaker

20. Spell Breaker by Joni Parker (2015)
The Chronicles of Eledon Series Book 1
Length: 345 pages 
Genre: Fantasy
Started: 1 May 2017
Finished: 31 May 2017
Where did it come from? Many thanks to Joni Parker and to Dorothy at Pump up Your Book for sending me a copy of this book to read. I also downloaded a second copy of this book for free from Amazon.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 19 July 2016 as a physical book; Since 7 October 2016 as an ebook.
Why do I have it? I like fantasy and have read and enjoyed several books by this author in the past.

After spending one thousand years stranded on Seaward Isle - exiled from their home world of Eledon, and trapped by a ring of relentless storms - the Elves have finally found a way to escape from the secluded island. Their escape is entirely due to the magical nature of a half-elfin sixteen-year-old girl. Lady Alexin Dumwalt - an orphaned half-elfin tracker and descendant of the Titans - has somehow managed to break through the ring of perpetually raging storms that surrounds the island. Despite her obvious delight at releasing the inhabitants of Seaward Isle - Alex is still reluctant to celebrate their freedom right away; as she can sense that whatever has imprisoned the inhabitants on the island, is determined to retaliate against them.

Nevertheless, Alex is absolutely delighted to have found an escape from Seaward Isle - for all those who want to leave, at least. Although, she herself has a certain amount of ambivalence towards the situation. Despite her personal misgivings, she joins the exodus of Elves, Dwarves, and mortals who stream through the entry point into the land of Eledon. According to the Elves - once they return home - a second entry point will be created to allow the mortals to go back to their own realms.

Although she was born and raised on Seaward Island, Alex has only recently connected with the elfin side of her family. With the recent discovery of an entry point between Seaward Isle and Eledon, Alex is faced with an extraordinarily difficult decision. Her grandmother Lestin - a Water Elf and a high-ranking member of the House of Oceanus - expects Alex to live with her in Eledon; forsaking her tracker's lifestyle, and fully accepting her new place within the House of Oceanus. However, Alex was born and raised as a mortal, so she is not quite sure how her arrival in Eledon will be received.

Apparently, the price that must be paid for success is terribly steep. Alex wasn't entirely certain how the Elves of Eledon would treat her, but she never believed they would actually attempt to ostracize her. Despite having elfin relatives, Alex still notices that her recent arrival to Eledon is met with equal parts suspicion and hostility. Yet, she will soon be faced with an extraordinary dilemma: either to stay with her family in Eledon or to strike out on her own into the mortal world.

It is her mixed blood - Elf and mortal - that forces Alex to make such a tough choice. She must make her choice soon; yet whatever she decides to do next can never be reversed. Apparently, the special entry point that was created for the mortals will only remain open for a short period of time. So, what will Alex do?

I must admit that reading this book took much longer than I expected. However, this was entirely due to my own leisurely pace of reading, and nothing else. I was delighted to be able to reacquaint myself with many of the same characters that I had met in The Seaward Isle Saga. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, and am looking forward to reading further books in the series. I give Spell Breaker by Joni Parker a definite A+!

A+! - (96-100%)

May you read well and often

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

M. K. Theodoratus - Hear That Damn Owl?: A Tale of Andor

19. Hear That Damn Owl?: A Tale of Andor by M. K. Theodoratus (2014)
The Tales From the World of Andor Series Book 7
Length: 12 pages
Genre: Short Story
Started/Finished: 9 May 2017
Where did it come from? From Amazon
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 3 April 2015
Why do I have it? I like short stories and have read and enjoyed several books by this author in the past.

The residents of the world of Andor live in a parallel realm very much like our own. However, the major difference between our world and that of Andor - is that the curtain between the physical world and the supernatural one is much thinner than we would think. As a result of this, the residents of Andor are quicker than most people to ascribe a supernatural or magical motive to everything that happens.

Crayton is already in a foul mood as he travels along the back roads that lead to his hometown. His idiotic brother is lying comatose in the hospital after an horrendous car accident, and according to their mother the gravely injured man is apparently on his deathbed. Crayton is livid with this particular situation. After all, he's fairly certain that his brother was drunk at the time of his accident; so even if the fool is anywhere close to meeting his maker, he only has himself to blame - not Crayton.

Yet thanks to his meddlesome mother, Crayton is currently driving back to be by his brother's bedside. He is beyond furious with himself for his silent acquiescence to her demands, because he's answering the urgent maternal summons to see his brother under threat of immediate disinheritance. He's a grown man for heaven's sake; with a fast-paced career and his own life to live!

Actually to be perfectly honest, Crayton's not entirely sure why he came back here at all. He doesn't have the time to travel anywhere, let alone the patience to allow himself to be guilted into seeing his annoying family. In his mind, Crayton may need to play his role as a dutiful son and concerned brother for a while; but that certainly doesn't mean that he has to like it!

His dark mood plummets even further as he pulls into an old service station on the other side of the mountain - directly across from his home. Crayton immediately regrets having to stop there; even if it's just to get gas and some refreshments. From the lack of any modern amenities, to the incredibly superstitious locals; everything about the place just screams: 'Welcome to the Backend of Nowhere!'

To make matters even worse, Crayton begins to see a huge owl flying around the gas station; repeatedly divebombing vehicles around the parking area. While it is stunning to see such a massive creature flying around during daylight hours; Crayton finds the owl's constant screeching particularly unnerving. An elderly man - a down-on-his-luck decrepit storyteller - warns Crayton against crossing such an owl. Apparently, he knows from firsthand experience what a disgruntled owl is actually capable of doing; he has been the target of his own peculiar campaign of vengeance for most of his life.

However, as Crayton watches the giant bird carry out its deliberate campaign of harassment - taking an almost fiendish delight in targeting his own automobile; he can't help but become more and more enraged by the situation. When it seems as if he can no longer stand the creature's very presence, he takes matters into his own hands and does something incredibly drastic. After his initial actions have a small measure of success, Crayton is thoroughly relieved to see the last of the vengeful owl. He silently congratulates himself for handling the situation and dealing with the flying pest.

Surely, the folktales shouldn't be taken so seriously. After all, no one really believes them; they're only supposed to provide a dash of local flavor. However when strange things begin happening, Crayton can only hope that his imagination is playing tricks on him. Because if it isn't - and the folklore is actually true - Crayton isn't absolutely sure if he can escape the wrath of such a supremely determined owl.

Actually, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this story. It was a fast read, and I couldn't help but feel like the main character deserved to have his superiority complex knocked around a little bit. I look forward to reading more from this author in the future. I give this book an A!

A! - (90-95%)

May you read well and often

Sunday, May 7, 2017

M. K. Theodoratus - Night For the Gargoyles

18. Night For the Gargoyles by M. K. Theodoratus (2010) (Revised Author's Edition 2011)
The Tales From the World of Andor Series Book 1
Length: 12 pages
Genre: Short Story
Started: 6 May 2017
Finished: 7 May 2017
Where did it come from? From Amazon
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 3 April 2015
Why do I have it? I like short stories and have read and enjoyed The Ghostcrow: A Tale of Andor by this author in the past.

The residents of the world of Andor live in a parallel realm very much like our own. However, the major difference between our world and that of Andor - is that the curtain between the physical world and the supernatural one is much thinner than we would think. As a result of this, the residents of Andor are quicker than most people to ascribe a supernatural or magical motive to everything that happens.

In the city of Trebridge, St. Edmund's Church has been sheltering parishioners for as long as most people can remember. The church has also provided a daylight sanctuary for the embattled guardians of the boundaries between the realms. Within the hallowed foundations of this church, humans have found all manner of peace, solace, and sanctuary - yet they have absolutely no idea of the true purpose of St. Edmund's.

Only the four gargoyles who guard the portal to the demonic realm of Gehennathh - Gillen, his scheming second-in-command Orvil, Treasa, and Frens - realize that St. Edmund's has provided so much more than just spiritual support to troubled souls through the years. The church has also been something of a sacred barrier against the malevolent forces that have always sought to escape from Gehennethh. This is why Gillen is so disturbed to learn of the imminent demolition of this sacred ground.

Demons and imps have attempted to prey upon the citizens of Trebridge for centuries, yet the foundations of St. Edmund's have provided divine protection against such demonic intrusion for generations. Gillen is loathe to acknowledge that he and his three fellow gargoyles are severely outnumbered; however this is exactly the type of situation in which they will soon find themselves. These humans just don't realize how much danger they will create for themselves if they demolish St. Edmund's to make way for a series of highrise condominiums.

So Gillen turns to his angelic commanders for guidance. Just as the angels continue to counsel the gargoyle to have patience with Orvil, they have promised to send reinforcements to guard against the subtle disintegration of the spiritual barrier over the portal leading to Gehennathh. While Gillen certainly welcomes his commanders' advice, the leading gargoyle still remains highly suspicious of Orvil's true loyalties. He needs to know that he can trust his fellow gargoyle to have his back during this coming battle.

With malevolent forces set to overwhelm Trebridge much sooner than anticipated, Gillen remains hopeful that the promised reinforcements will arrive as soon as possible. However, will that be soon enough to be of any help? Only Heaven knows...

Despite having this book on my TBR pile for just over two years, I have only just managed to read it now. I was completely drawn into the story immediately and found myself connecting with many of the characters. The author's note at the end of the story says that this is actually a vignette from a full-length novel: There be Demons.

Although the book seems to have been stalled in its publication, I would certainly have loved to read a full-length novel by this author. I definitely look forward to reading more from this author in the future. I would give this story a very strong A!

A! - (90-95%)

May you read well and often

Thursday, May 4, 2017

M. K. Theodoratus - The Ghostcrow: A Tale of Andor

Reread. The Ghostcrow: A Tale of Andor by M. K. Theodoratus (2014)
The Tales From the World of Andor Series Book 5
Length: 57 pages 
Genre: Short Story
Originally Read: 17 May 2015
Reread Finished: 4 May 2017
Where did it come from? Originally I received a copy of this book from Dorothy from Pump up Your Book in March of 2015. I acquired this book again as a birthday gift to myself in June of 2016.

So back in March of 2015 - March 25th, to be exact - I received a copy of this book from Dorothy from Pump up Your Book. I had initially signed up to be part of a virtual publicity blog tour for this book in May of 2015. It only took me one day in May of 2015 to read this book - from May 16th, to May 17th, 2015! While I did already have two of Ms. Theodoratus' short stories on my TBR pile, this was the first book that I have actually read by this author.

Although I deleted the first copy of the book right after I read it, I had always wanted to be able to reread the story again at some point. When I received an Amazon gift card for my birthday in June of 2016, I decided to purchase several ebooks for myself that I had enjoyed. I purchased five ebooks to read on June 22nd, 2016 and finally reread this particular book over two days in May of 2017 - from May 2nd, to May 4th, 2017! After I had read this book, I immediately went to Amazon and downloaded another three books by Ms. Theodoratus to read for free. 

May you read well and often