Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Audio Book Review: Stonewiser by Dora Machado

Winner of the 2009 Benjamin Franklin Award for best Debut Novel
Finalist for 2009 Foreword Book of the Year Award for SFF

Between truth and deception, between justice and abuse, a stonewiser stands alone with the stones. Or so begins the stonewiser's oath. But what happens when a rebellious stonewiser discovers that lies have tainted the stone tales?

In a world devastated by the rot's widespread destruction, only the tales preserved in the stones can uphold the truth and defend the Goodlands. In this world, stone truth is valued above anyone's word, and stonewisers are the only ones capable of retrieving the tales from the stones, the only link between past and present, order and chaos.

Sariah is the most gifted stonewiser of her generation, but her talent does not atone for her shortcomings. A survivor of the Guild's brutal training, she is curious, willful and disobedient. Yet not even Sariah is prepared for what she finds when she steals into the Guild's Sacred Vaults: A mayhem of lies and intrigues that shatters her world.

Hunted, persecuted, and betrayed, Sariah must make an unlikely alliance with Kael, a cynical rebel leader pledged to a mysterious quest of his own. The fate of their dying world depends on their courage to overcome centuries of hatred and distrust. But not even the grueling journey has prepared them for what they are about to discover. Because nothing is really as it seems, and the truth is more intricate and devastating than they ever suspected....

My thoughts:
The storyline is original and interesting.  The world has been created with great detail.  I admit that I was somewhat lost at the beginning of the story, wishing for more explanation about Stonewising.  It was a slow starter, but as the book progressed I found myself very interested.  My heart went out for Sariah.  The author has filled her story with a wide range of emotions and action.  I will be getting the next book in the series so I can see where the story goes next.
This review is of the audio book, so I want to include just a quick piece about the audio itself.  The reader of Stonewiser did a great job.  The reading was well paced and easy to listen to.  I listen to at least one audio book a week while I commute to and from work, so the reader is vital to the enjoyment of the book.

Book Spotlight: Blood and Fire (Talbot Trilogy #2) by Tori L. Ridgewood

Blood and Fire: Book Two of the Talbot Trilogy is a paranormal romance by Tori L. Ridgewood that was released February 2014.

Book Synopsis:

What chance does one witch have against five vampires? Alone, not much. But Rayvin’s allies are gathering…

The battle between good and evil supernatural forces heats up in the long, cold November nights of the former mining town. But how will Rayvin’s motley crew of spellcasters and shapeshifters cope when they discover the threat they face is even greater than they imagined?

Blood and Fire is available for sale on:

The Talbot Trilogy books:

0. Mist and Midnight (prequel)

1. Wind and Shadow

2. Blood and Fire

3. Crystal and Wand

Crouching to prod the fire, Grant thought over the options now open to him. It wasn't safe to go back to Talbot, at least not until he had gained a better understanding of what had happened to him. He needed more than a measure of control over this thing. Once he had that, he could go home and set things right. Destroy de Sade once and for all. After all, was that not the purpose of werewolves? To be an equal adversary for the undead?
The next question was not as simple. Just how did a werewolf train himself? Was it even possible for him to remain cognizant and in control when his body was no longer human?
A knot of sap crackled and snapped. He amused himself with the thought that the fire was speaking to him.
The thought that he was merely delusional, that being able to magically transform into a vicious four-footed animal was a hallucination, the product of slow starvation and exposure, nearly made him laugh aloud.
If a fire could speak, its language would be visual, he decided. He relaxed his eyes and let the glowing embers form shapes and letters.
The wind blew in from the open cabin door, swirling around him and carrying the clean scents of snow, damp wood and earth, mixed with the rank odour of animal carcass from his footprints in the snow…and something else. 
Grant held very still.
The something else was faint, but recognizable. Vaguely comforting. It made him think of an old wet dog. Or an old man who had not washed in a long time. Some combination of the two. 
A cluster of coals fell in a rush of sparks. The noise drew Grant’s attention, even as the strange smell made his nose twitch and his nostrils flare.
The collapsed, blackened piece of wood strongly resembled the face of a man with strong, mature features. It was broad in the forehead, with a long nose and wide, round eyes. A scattering of red embers looked like a bushy beard covering the mouth and jaw.
It couldn’t be possible during the day, but it seemed to Grant that he could hear the borealis sing.
Solomon. The name that belonged to this face. It was spelled out clearly for him, just for a moment, in the leaping flames.
A few more sticks collapsed, changing the image. An a-frame cabin on a lake. A short, blunt mountain nearby, and a small lake in the shape of a teardrop. The mountain had sheer sides.  Grant thought he recognized it, had even been rock climbing on it in his youth. Mount Cheminis, near Dark Lake.
Yes. Grant understood. He blinked, and the images were gone. Exhaling, he got to his feet and went to the door. The scent of wolf and man now seemed to clearly mark a trail through the trees, to the south-east.

Someone had sent him a message. His gut wanted to tell him that it was Rayvin, though logically that couldn’t be right. How the hell could she contact him from so far away? She’d done it before, sent him a mental plea for help, but she’d only been a few blocks away. And was it at all possible that she knew this character?

About the Author:
After her first heartbreak, Tori found solace in two things: reading romance novels and listening to an after-dark radio program called Lovers and Other Strangers. Throughout the summer and fall of 1990, the new kid in town found reading fiction and writing her own short stories gave her a much needed creative outlet. Determined to become a published author, Tori amassed stacks of notebooks and boxes of filed-away stories, most only half-finished before another idea would overtake her and demand to be written down. Then, while on parental leave with her second baby, one story formed and refused to be packed away. Between teaching full-time, parenting, and life in general, it would take almost seven years before the first novel in her first trilogy would be completed. In the process, Tori finally found her stride as a writer.

At present, on her off-time, Tori not only enjoys reading, but also listening to an eclectic mix of music as she walks the family dog (Skittles), attempts to turn her thumb green, or makes needlework gifts for her friends and family members. She loves to travel, collect and make miniature furniture, and a good cup of tea during a thunderstorm or a blizzard. Under it all, she is always intrigued by history, the supernatural, vampire and shapeshifter mythology, romance, and other dangers.

Tori is currently working on Crystal and Wand: Book Three of The Talbot Trilogy. She lives in Kirkland Lake, Ontario, Canada with her husband and two children. She is a full-time teacher at a local high school.

Author Links: