Sunday, March 31, 2013

Almost There

This is just a quick post to let you all know why it's been so long since the blog has been updated with reviews, interviews, etc. I've been dedicating most of my time to writing my 15 to 20 page report for university, it is due on Wednesday and the blog will continue to be updated after that. Thank you so much for all of your patience!
Happy Easter!
Tuesday, March 26, 2013

General Update

Within the next week or so there will be some new faces helping out with the reviews. Which is amazing considering how backed up we are. I will be doing some random updates to the blog over the next little bit, such as adding the new reviewers to the "About Schwartz" page, which by the way will be changed to "About Us". I have some more books to add to the TBR list, I will also be showing which books are currently being read and reviewed. Making it easier for everyone to know what to expect.

With the new reviewers joining the site, I will be making some signatures for the reviewers to add to every post. That way you know who wrote what. We can continue to accept review requests so keep spreading our site around. We wouldn't be able to help as many authors as we are without the amazing readers spreading our link around. So thank you! Thank you for following the blog, and thank you for helping us get our name out there. It means a lot to me to be able to keep helping everyone that I can with reviews.

Keep your eyes open for the appearance of our new reviewers and be sure to give them all your love in the comments of their reviews.


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Psionic: Wild-Born (Book 1)




A supernatural adventure with giant hurdles to overcome, Adrian (the young main character) faces many emotions while trying to save his own way of life. This novel was very well written and was hard to put down. A FOUR STAR read for readers seeking an adventure through a world saturated with hidden supernaturals.

Adrian Howell is a 12 year old boy when his world is flipped upside down. He is captured and he loses his sister, after he witnesses the murder of his parents. His old games playing with his telekinesis are no longer games, and he is forced to grow up quickly in order to survive. He manages to escape his captor, but his life does not get easier for him afterwards. He is faced with challenge after challenge, overcoming each and everyone of them. While the book does not end with a hook, it is obvious that there is more to Adrian's story, some rocks left unturned and some adventures left unadventured.

I found that the main character was a little bit too young for me. I would have liked him to be slightly older, even 15 or 16 would have helped. As a reader, and a mother, it was hard reading an adventurous story about a parent-less 12-13 year old. I also felt that some of the less exciting parts in the novel, when Adrian gets comfortable or is waiting, lasted too long. I like action packed novels with something exciting within each chapter. I didn't mind too much, however, because the story being in Adrian's head allowed those moments for more emotions to be played in his head (guilt, worth, etc).

Overall, the novel was a great read. A few small issues that irked me slightly, but in the end I was unable to put the book down and I raced to the finish line. Finishing the book I was very satisfied with how it all went down and I look forward to reading the next book in this series. Great work Howell (I mean the author here, are you a telekinesis too? haha).
Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Remember When




Be warned: This book will steal away your productivity for the duration of the read. You will not get anything done, you will not pass go, and you had better be careful or you may not get your pay the week you decide to jump into Layla's world. This FIVE star read will not be easily put down.

This is the story of Layla's infatuation with Trip, the drop dead gorgeous (in my mind and Layla's) new boy in town. You follow Layla through her initial meeting, right through to her obsessive crush on Trip. As the reader, you are entirely at Layla's mercy, reading her every guilty thought. The story will put the reader in a little bit of an awkward position as you fall for Trip right along with Layla and find yourself rooting for the two of them to just connect and find the intimacy that you swear the both of them want. Why is that awkward? Oh I don't know, probably because they are teenagers! Ah well, they are fictional characters and I am not going to lie to you, I was cheering their sex life on. Praying that the two of them would just SAY SOMETHING to one another. It was this giant elephant on the corner of each page as I raced to the finish to find out whether or not they finally...well...you know...did it. :)

Now because I write a negative about each book I read (my reviews touch the good and the bad on each novel I review) I will point out a couple of typos and grammatical errors. However, within the entire novel I believe there were less than five mistakes. Therefore, the book did not lose a star over the tiny overlooked mistakes as they did not detract from the story whatsoever.

This book ate up the vast majority of my time, two evenings in a row. It made me laugh out loud (my children now think I'm nuts I'm sure as I read e-books on my iPhone) and I will admit that I almost shed a tear...almost. Ok, my eyes watered but that's my story and I'm sticking to it. This book had me cheering Layla on, I was upset with Lisa (Layla's best friend) when she didn't agree with me...I mean Layla. I was amazingly over joyed when Trip finally spoke up about what he had been feeling throughout the entire relationship. It played with my emotions, and let's face it...a book that can take you on an emotional roller coaster of a ride is a book worth reading.

This book comes highly recommended to any romance reader out there looking for a young adult novel.
Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Eden Plague


A brilliant tale full of adventure, suspense, and thrilling until the very last page. A FIVE star read for this tale of a plague that can cure the world. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and found it hard to put down, so I gobbled it up and ate every last word as I turned the pages faster and faster to find out how it would end. I was not disappointed in the least.

This novel follows Daniel's trials as he attempts to make a better tomorrow with a condition that he stumbles upon. An 'Eden Plague' that cures everything making humankind more virtuous and in the best shape of their lives. In a race against time, Daniel and his allies attempt to release the plague on mankind but face obstacles along the way, fighting against the agency. Does Daniel succeed? Does he infect all of the world? It is hard to tell by reading the first book in this series alone, but it is safe to say that the leaps made within these pages have given Daniel an amazing start.

There were a few grammatical errors within the novel, some typos, and some mistakes missed during the editing process. That being said, there really were not that many and the did not detract from the story at all. 

I would recommend this novel to any reader who enjoys adventure, thriller, suspense, fast-paced action novels. This book is a great book and the story I found was very unique. Amazing work VanDyke.
Sunday, March 10, 2013

What's up?

I have been rather busy lately with school assignments and exams, reading for reviews, and family life. But I have also been working on something else lately, a dream of mine actually. It will probably take awhile to get it out there, but I have no problem telling you what it is that I am currently working on for a little bit each day.

A book. The reviewer is writing a book. Which is amusing to think that someday I will be in the authors shoes, looking for pleasant reviews. Another thing that is crossing my mind is how I am often hard on the authors that I review for, pointing out mistakes and such. It will be interesting to see if I can see where they have gone wrong and right and learn from it and release an amazing book. I'm working on a YA Paranormal book. It won't be released for bare minimum, a year.

What is the point of this post you ask? Well, I figured I wouldn't be able to post a review for at least another few days yet and thought I'd share something to keep you all reading my posts. So I figured I would just update you on what I have been doing and what it is that is making it take me slightly longer to read a book. I am still spending more time reading then I am writing. But what is really holding back my progress is my school life (or lack there of).

Please feel free to comment on any of these posts. I love seeing your feedback. Now to end this post, I will leave you with the prologue of what I am currently writing. Post at yous again soon ;)


PROLOGUE:

My eyes whipped open and I blinked several times trying to make out my surroundings. After struggling for my eyes to adjust for a few moments I realized that they were not going to adjust. Where ever I was, it was dark. Really really dark. 

After failing to see something in the darkness that clung to me, I couldn't help but smell that I was somewhere damp. It smelled like the moist earth that you potted your spring flowers in. Without the fresh smell of the flowers.

My fear was so strong that it paralyzed me. I had to close my eyes again and try to slow my breathing. When I finally reopened them I tried to move my arms to try and figure out my surroundings by touch. That is when the real terror set in. I could feel the wood all around me, I was in a box. No, it was more like an old wooden coffin. 

I began to scream. I screamed so long and so loud that my voice got all raw and scratchy until eventually I couldn't scream anymore. The combination of the darkness, the moist earth, and the surrounding wooden coffin feel had my mind racing wildly. Did they bury me? How could they of not known that I was not yet dead? How did I get here? My mind was racing and I had to close my eyes tightly again to try and remember how I had gotten here in the first place. Slowly some memories came back. 

I was a freshman at college. I just started the year a week ago. I hadn't had time to explore campus yet. Then it all came flooding back. The party. The adorable guy that was sitting across the room looking all hot and bad ass. The kiss. The need for privacy. What happened when we were alone...
Thursday, March 7, 2013

Out of Nowhere




Matt is a bullied teenager in high school, or as most will call him, the underdog. Matt, the underdog, discovers that the outer space tales that his parents told him as a child were not tales but reality and Matt is called upon to help defeat the evil Vorlins to save humankind from destruction. A story that I have rated as FOUR STARS.

I found that when the book began that the bedtime stories were thrown in a bit too obviously. I would have liked a more subtle hint. Also, when everything began to get out of this world that Matt was a little too accepting. Wait...what? Oh, ok...I'm really from outer space...Ok, let's go check that out then shall we? He should have been a little bit more freaked out or something. After these few things that just didn't feel right, the rest of the novel was a lot more smooth. I enjoyed the story and the way it ended (with a hook by the way ;).

I found several typos and grammatical errors. At one point the wrong name was used. If you can read past all of this however, the story is great. I enjoyed it a lot and after the first few chapters it became a book that is hard to put down. It is definitely better suited for young adults or teenagers. I found it a little young for myself, but I don't take away stars for not being the target audience. The only reason it lost a star was the errors. The story was well thought of, the love triangle that forms around Matt would have normally irked me but it was done in a way that was much more unique and acceptable.

All in all, a good read with a target audience of younger readers. Thanks for the opportunity to review your work Krauter!
Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Kris Radcliffe Interview

Kris Austen Radcliffe:   As a child, Kris took down a pack of hungry wolves with only a hardcover copy of The Dragonriders of Pern and a sharpened toothbrush.  That fateful day set her on a path traversing many storytelling worlds—dabbles in film and comic books, time as a talent agent and a textbook photo coordinator, and a foray into nonfiction.  After co-authoring Mind Shapes: Understanding the Differences in Thinking and Communication, Kris returned to academia.  But she craved narrative and a richly-textured world of Fates, Shifters, Burners, and Dragons—and unexpected, true love.    Kris lives in Minnesota with her husband, two daughters, an Handsome Cat, and an entire menagerie of suburban wildlife bent on destroying her house.  That battered-but-true copy of “Dragonriders”?  She found it yesterday.  It’s time to pay a visit to the woodpeckers.

I recently had the pleasure of working with Kris Radcliffe through a reader to writer connection from goodreads. She was looking for reviews for her book (Games of Fate) and I offered to give it a go. If you have been following this blog then you saw my review. It is no secret that I am a fan of this author who I have only recently discovered and follow closely. So I did what any other reader with a blog would do. Ok, maybe not every other reader, but you get the point. I contacted Radcliffe again to request an interview and she agreed. Here’s how it went down.

Welcome to The Schwartz Reviews! I’m so happy that you have decided to grant me this interview and I am eager to learn more about you. As I have already said before, you’re definitely an author to keep an eye on. So, let’s jump in shall we?
Sure thing. J

When did you decide to become a writer?
A long time ago, when I was a little kid.  My family lived in this big old house.  The previous tenants had painted all the walls weird and funny colors, so the place sticks out in my mind.  At the time, I was seven years old or so and in the living room, watching television.  An episode of “Space 1999” came on.  It scared me half to death.  I remember my stomach knotting up because the monster was the grossest thing I’ve ever seen.  But I was also aware that it wasn’t with me in the big creaky house with the lime green walls.  It was on the television.I thought “That’s not real.  That’s a story.”  Someone made that.  And I knew what I wanted to do with my life.(Oh, please don’t look at the air dates when you google the show.  J)

Wow, so you knew you were going to be a writer from a very young age then. I promise, I will not google the show, however, I can’t say the same for our readers out there.
Where did you get the idea for “Games of Fate”?
That’s actually a tricky question for me to answer.  My subconscious knows exactly where it came from, but it doesn’t always want to share.  I’d say, though, that many of the elements in the story came from very different places.  The themes of coping with ADHD as a young woman and the anxiety that often come with it came from observing the life of someone dear to me.  The breeds in the series—The Fates, Burners, Shifters, and Dragons—took a little work.  I wanted to create something new and different and not rely on vampires and elves.

How long did it take you to write “Games of Fate” and where did you get the ideas for the characters?
I seem to be able to produce a novel in about 6-8 months.  I’m hoping to increase my output as I find my groove with this series.
As for the characters, as I said, Rysa is based on a real person.  Everyone else—Ladon, AnnaBelinda, Derek, the two dragons, the other Fates—they’re what makes the world of Fate ~ Fire ~ Shifter ~ Dragon what it is.  Finding them was part of my world building. 

Well that leads into the next question, what is your writing process?
Ah, the process.  I’m a layerer.  I cycle through scenes and sections adding and subtracting until its right.  I don’t rip apart my story when I do this.  It’s like sculpting:  Words need to be added here, taken away there, and I can see when I’ve got a shape correct.

Now the most important question (in my mind anyways haha). What can we expect from you in the future? Hopefully more from the Fate, Fire, Shifter, Dragon universe…right??
“Flux of Skin” (book #2) is in the sculpting process right now.  I also have two novellas in the Fate ~ Fire ~ Shifter ~ Dragon universe I’m working on, as well.  The first is called “Silence”.  It follows Gavin (Rysa’s friend from the beginning of “Games of Fate”) as he meets and falls in love with a young Shifter woman named Daisy.  The working title of the second is, well, “Second”.  It’s  set the night Vesuvius exploded and follows Ladon and a new character who will be very important in “Flux of Skin”.  JThere will likely be seven books with more novellas and short stories sprinkled in before this series is complete. 
I also have ideas for two other series.  Both are more science fiction than fantasy and romance.  There are also several standalone ideas bouncing around in my head.
Something else you’ll see soon:  Prints of my art photography and one-of-a-kind photos licensed as cover art. 

Oh I can’t wait for that. I will definitely be following closely to find out when they are released and where I can get my hands on some. Where do you get your inspiration for your work, or who/what inspires you most in your writing?
A lot of my motivation comes from my love of stories.  Some of it comes from what I see as a lack of a certain voices, such as Rysa’s. 

Since writing “Games of Fate”, has anything happened you were not expecting?
No writer expects good reviews.  We wish for them.  We hope for them.  I think I’ll always be surprised!

Well you have definitely earned the great reviews you are receiving, no doubt about that.
What do you do in your free time, besides writing?
I divide my time between my kids, writing, and photography.  When I do get a moment or two, I read or watch a genre show like “Doctor Who” and “Supernatural.”

Totally off topic, but as a fellow Supernatural fan, I must ask: Dean or Sam? Which one is your favourite?
Dean.  Very much Dean.  Except maybe this season.  I’ll be honest, I’m not fond of douchey Dean.  I’m hoping the writers will take care of that little problem.  (Can I say “douchey”?  I don’t want your readers to think I’m foul-mouthed.  J)


And finally, to begin to wrap things up and let you get back to writing (because I selfishly want to read more…now), where can your fans see the latest from you?
 I’m most active on Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/AuthorKrisAustenRadcliffe 
Here’s my web site:  http://www.sixtalonsign.com/ 
And my Amazon Author Page:  http://www.amazon.com/Kris-Austen-Radcliffe/e/B002BMGMFC/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1362022895&sr=1-2-ent 
What genre of books will you most likely stick to publishing?  Or do you see yourself publishing several types?
I’ve got enough fantasy and science fiction ideas to fill up the next ten years, at least.  Not all of them have strong romantic elements, like the Fate ~ Fire ~ Shifter ~ Dragon universe, but some do.  I suspect I’ll stick with my genres, at least for now.

Do you have any tips for writers who are out there who may be trying to publish their first book?
  Indie publish, even if you’re trying to get a contract.  It gives you a track record.  And always hire a copy editor.  Whatever you do, put in the effort to look professional.

Any parting words?

Thank you for having me!  If anyone has questions, leave a comment and I’d be happy to answer.  You can find me on Facebook, too.     

No problem! Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions. I hope you know that I will be first in line to review your next books as they get published. Keep writing and basking in the great reviews you are receiving, as I have stated before, you have earned them all.


Kris Austen Radcliffe's Bio:


As a child, Kris took down a pack of hungry wolves with only a hardcover copy of The Dragonriders of Pern and a sharpened toothbrush.  That fateful day set her on a path traversing many storytelling worlds—dabbles in film and comic books, time as a talent agent and a textbook photo coordinator, and a foray into nonfiction.  After co-authoring Mind Shapes: Understanding the Differences in Thinking and Communication, Kris returned to academia.  But she craved narrative and a richly-textured world of Fates, Shifters, Burners, and Dragons—and unexpected, true love. 

Kris lives in Minnesota with her husband, two daughters, an Handsome Cat, and an entire menagerie of suburban wildlife bent on destroying her house.  That battered-but-true copy of “Dragonriders”?  She found it yesterday.  It’s time to pay a visit to the woodpeckers.

Book Blurbs:


Book blurbs:
GAMES OF FATE SHORT FOR SMASHWORDS:
The Fate sees extinction.
The Dragon sees his one true love lost forever.
One sacrifices everything to stop a scorched future—no matter what wounds sear her mind.  The other wages war with monsters—both real and of his own making—to keep her safe.
The world will burn unless they stop the inevitable. Now they must choose. Who will survive? The Fate? Or the Dragon?


GAMES OF FATE LONG FOR AMAZON, PR:

Contains Adult Sexual Content and some violent imagery.
Rysa Torres misses information.  Loses concentration.  Her attention problems randomize her life but she pushes forward anyway, doing the best she can—until monsters activate a part of her she didn’t know she had. 
As visions of the future whip inside her head, Rysa realizes the truth:  She’s a Fate. 
And she will set fire to the world.
All her options explode.  Her family ripped away, what little control she had destroyed, Rysa is left with one choice:  Will she die to stop the coming flames, or will she allow the man and the dragon she loves to die in her place?

Games of Fate begins Fate ~ Fire ~ Shifter ~ Dragon, a new Urban Fantasy series with Strong Romantic Elements by Kris Austen Radcliffe.  Set in the open spaces of America, the series takes Rysa and Ladon—and Ladon’s companion beast, Dragon—through a landscape punctuated by unfamiliar creatures:  Fates with the ability to see past, present, and future.  Ghouls called Burners who devour with fire and acid.  Shifters who shape much more than their bodies.  And two dragons who speak with color and pattern.

It starts here, now, with one young woman’s fight against a burning future—and against the death of the man she loves. 

Also available:  Prolusio: Three Stories of Fates, Fire, Shifters and Dragons

PROLUSIO:
Contains some violent imagery.
Three short stories set in the Fate ~ Fire ~ Shifter ~ Dragon universe, Prolusio sets the stage for Games of Fate, also available now.
In Texas, a struggling rock star attempts a comeback.  Fire, though, has other ideas. 
In Wisconsin, Shifters do what they do best—anger a dragon. 
And in Minnesota, a mother struggles to free herself from the bonds of a fate she cannot escape.


Monday, March 4, 2013

Battlelord of Thalmandar




This was an epic journey of three main characters defeating an evil that was sprung upon them in heroic ways. I found that the story was well thought up but felt that the author rushed to tell it. It was very descriptive in parts and then no description was found on other parts where it would have worked well. This story had the potential to be an amazing tale or an amazing series for that matter but as the reader, it all felt too quick and rushed. For those reasons, I have rated this read as THREE STARS.

It begins with Beiorthil's quest for love. In order for him to wed the girl he loved he was set on a quest to become a great battlelord of Thalmandar. His close friend Alboron follows him on his journey and along the way they are joined by several other characters, including Ferien. The three characters are the main characters and throughout the story you read passages from their points of views. Each of these main characters have a well thought up past, and a destiny that they must face. Beiorthil becomes the battlelord of Thalmandar and thus begins the true quest of this book: war.

I found that the first couple of chapters were too thick with description making the story very hard to grasp for the reader. It was heavy with introductions of new characters, places, roles, and politics. All of which were extremely difficult to pronounce and keep track of. Other times throughout the story there was a complete lack of description. The main characters would travel a path for a week, but the story skipped that week and left out their trials of that week and any dialog of that week. The battle scenes required more description as well.

While the author had issues with the description in this book, the story was well thought up and was very interesting. I loved the trials faced, relationships bonded, and the battles won. The book left off as if there were going to be more tales to come of Beiorthil's quests and if that is true then I would be eager to continue reading, as long as the author takes more care with the descriptions. That being said, this book would be recommended to younger fantasy readers.
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