Monday, December 23, 2013

Review - The Flight of the Griffin by C.M. Gray

The Kingdom is dying…

The Darkness is coming… the balance between Order and Chaos is rapidly shifting and the world is falling towards evil and horror, and all misery that Chaos will bring.

But there is hope…

Pardigan’s had enough, he’s only 12, but he’s breaking into the home of one of Freya's richest merchants... and he’s doing it tonight…

A burglary that will change their lives forever sets four friends upon a quest, a race against time, to locate three magical objects and complete an ancient and desperate spell.

Sailing their boat The Griffin, the crew are quickly pursued by The Hawk, an evil bounty hunter and master of dark sorcery, and Belial, King of Demons and champion of Chaos who seeks to rule the world of man… yet first he must capture the crew of The Griffin and end their quest…
It's been a while since I picked up a book like The Flight of the Griffin by C.M Gray. I've been reading mostly Amish Fiction lately so it was nice to jump back in to the world of fantasy.

The four friends in this story embark on a Quest that has fallen to them to complete thanks to the skilled thievery of one of their own. With the stolen loot comes a guide that can take the form of a cat, owl, panther, and girl. Mahra. It's her job, although she can't quite remember all of it, to ensure that specific tasks are carried out in a specific order in the hopes that the world will once more balance itself out and Chaos will no longer reign supreme. Their efforts are thwarted by the victim of their theft, his hired thug, and a demon with a hunger for human flesh.

I wish I had read this book when I was younger. Or rather, that it had been around to read. One of my favorite parts of the entire story was when Pardigan, Tarent, Quint, and Loras were transformed in to the version of themselves they it seems they were supposed to be all along. I mean, what young person wouldn't give their left arm to go from being just an ordinary, trouble making dreamer to a super human version of themselves with the ability to turn invisible, or perform outstanding magic, or disappear from one place and reappear in another. It's an amazing story simply for that part of the book. It gives voice to the wishes of countless people who secretly wish they could do the things these 4 do in this story.

I love the world that they live in, minus the bad things that are happening as a result of it being unbalanced. I loved the ugly Hidden and the entertaining Azif. Bartholomew was ridiculous but provided comic relief on more than one occasion. The descriptions of all of these people and the places they were going was such that I could imagine it all in my head as if it were right in front of me. There were also some awesome plot twists, especially toward the end, that made the story that much more... just... wonderful.

There wasn't really one character that I'd call my favorite, I don't think. Each one had something special about him (or her) and a purpose that made them all equally important and interesting to read about. I can tell you, though, that Hawk was definitely my least favorite. Why not the demon he summoned, you ask. Well, a demon is a demon and will act as demons do. It's in their nature. Hawk was the evil behind the demon and the reason for it's existence in the human world.

The fact that there were mysterious characters that appeared or awakened at certain points throughout the story was another of my favorite parts. Kind of reminds me of how, at the end of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Capt. Barbosa is hidden in the back room of Tia Dalma's hut, just waiting to be brought back in to the story.

The Flight of the Griffin was fantastic. It was a fun read and it kept me entertained. It's good for younger readers but can be enjoyed by older readers as well as everyone in between. And I would recommend it to anyone looking for a quick-ish adventurous fantasy novel that's action packed and magical.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Book Spotlight - The Flight of the Griffin by C.M. Gray

The Kingdom is dying…

The Darkness is coming… the balance between Order and Chaos is rapidly shifting and the world is falling towards evil and horror, and all misery that Chaos will bring.

But there is hope…

Pardigan’s had enough, he’s only 12, but he’s breaking into the home of one of Freya's richest merchants... and he’s doing it tonight…

A burglary that will change their lives forever sets four friends upon a quest, a race against time, to locate three magical objects and complete an ancient and desperate spell.

Sailing their boat The Griffin, the crew are quickly pursued by The Hawk, an evil bounty hunter and master of dark sorcery, and Belial, King of Demons and champion of Chaos who seeks to rule the world of man… yet first he must capture the crew of The Griffin and end their quest…
Purchase your copy at AMAZON US or AMAZON UK

Discuss this book in our PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads by clicking HERE.

About the Author:

Born in England, C.M. Gray spent most of his youth growing up in the Essex countryside. A beautiful part of England, close to the Suffolk border, but he was born with the need to expand his horizons, so as soon as he could get a passport at the age of just seventeen he packed a backpack and went exploring!

A slightly risky decision, and one his parents were not too taken with, yet a number of years later he is still traveling…. but with a slightly larger bag. Over the years, C.M.Gray has been lucky enough to live and travel in many many parts of the world, met some incredible people and experienced some amazing places. In fact, he has now lived for more years outside of England than he ever spent living there – It is, after all, a very big and exciting world!

During his journey he worked and trained as a carpenter and a house restorer… picked more types of fruit over the years than he knew existed - from grapes in France to avocados in Israel. After living in Israel for a year, he was lucky enough to be invited to travel with the Bedouin in the Sanai desert for several months and then moved on travelled around India and then called a Buddhist monastery in the Himalayan Mountains home. A short while later he had changed tact, bought a suit and did a stint as a stock broker in the clamor of central Hong Kong.

To celebrate the millennium he traveled back to Europe, then found and restored an old farmhouse in deep rural Burgundy, France… but then looked to the open road and spent an number of years in Amsterdam… but the winters were cold so he went south again in search of the sun.

Always vowing to return and sink some roots back in English soil... he hasn’t quite got there yet, but maybe someday, it seems there are just too many interesting places out there to see first! He does, however, live a little closer to England now, just outside of Barcelona in Northern Spain, in the middle of the forest with his dogs and two wonderful children, he claims the Pyrenean mountains and forests of northern Spain are a great place to write and let his mind do the traveling.

As you will have noticed, his writing is mostly fantasy and he says that many of his experiences in Asia, India, Africa and the Middle East come to life in his writing. He has seen and done some pretty strange things on his travels, and bumped into some amazing characters, so writing fantasy is almost like writing fact for him… you just wouldn’t believe it if he presented it as fact – there are people and things out there in this world of ours that would simply amaze you!

His latest book is the mystery/thriller The Flight of the Griffin.

To explore his life and writing more, please visit his webpage and blog at

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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Review - Run With the Wolves Volume One: The Pack by T c Tombs

It is the fifteenth century, and three kingdoms are caught up in the dire conflicts of their time. As the possibility of a peaceful resolution provides hope that a decade-long war will finally end, no one realizes that dark forces are waiting to invoke chaos as a full moon rises.

On a farm nestled beneath the Euralene Mountains along the western border of Medinia, young Willie works for the Smythes as a serf. One moonlit evening when the Smythes are gone to a neighbouring village, Willie hears the terrified cries of animals in the pastures. When he goes to investigate, he discovers that this wolf pack attack is like no other. Badly injured during the raid, he survives-but now he is afflicted by the full-moon madness that will soon transform him into one of the wolf creatures he dreads. With his life seemingly warped forever, Willie must face the prospect of a lifelong descent into horror.

In a time of witchcraft, superstitious folk lore, and fear-some creatures roaming the night, Willie struggles with an uncertain destiny and must seek help from the one man he holds most responsible for the dark fate that awaits him during the next full moon cycle.
I love reading historical fantasy novels. The Pack, volume one in the Run With the Wolves series by T c Tombs, is no exception.

Medinia and Skoland are always at odds it seems. However, the rulers of both lands have decided that it's time for peace, as they're draining their coffers of much needed funds. Talks of an arranged marriage between the daughter of the king in Medinia and the son of the king in Skoland are taking place as well.

Willie was given to the Smythes by the monks in the monastery and wants nothing more than to go along with his friend and his master when they leave one afternoon, but is left to care for the homestead and the animals, as is his job, with the promise of perhaps going to see the caravan when it arrives in the fall. He doesn't know that his life is going to change forever just a few hours after he's left on his own.

A pack of wolves, too big to be normal wolves, and what looks to be wolf-men descend on the farmland of Willie's master. In a fierce, but unfortunately predictable battle, Willie loses his 2 furry companions and his horse, as well as several of his masters herd. Most of all, Willie's blood is now poisoned with the same affliction that plagues the two dozen men and wolves that attacked him.

Varakov. A third kingdom situated in such a position that they control the mountain pass and therefore everything that moves in to the other two. It's well fortified and resplendent... and ruled by a king who is dark and cruel and seemingly the very definition of evil. He's not please that the neighboring kingdoms have thrown down their weapons, so to speak. A union between the two could very well mean the down fall of his own kingdom, and he refuses to let that happen.

This book started out with a bang. A sad one, as I hate to see animals die - it breaks my heart completely - but a bang none the less. It literally made my heart ache reading about the loyalty Willie's dogs showed their friend in their final moments. The fact that it was virtually at the beginning of the book just made it worse.

It slowed down quite a bit after the initial action. As a result, it was a tad tedious to read in some places. But, I've got to give the author credit. There was a LOT of world building to do.  You get a lot of the history of the countries and background on The Pack and the relationship between Woodrow and the other members (especially Brutus, who I like MUCH better when there isn't a full moon). It's very descriptive, perhaps unnecessarily so in some places. But the details make it easy to picture the setting of the story.

Woodrow was a quiet character. Someone who seemed to have begrudgingly taken his place at the helm of the pack. He was loyal even when loyalty wasn't earned nor deserved. And he was kind even when he didn't have to be.

Lord Victor absolutely disgusted me. He was foul and just absolutely horrible. If I had been watching this as a movie, I'm not sure I would have been able to keep from covering my eyes during parts of his "dinner party". I have a strong stomach for gore, but senseless torture much less so. Finding out what he was and how he was able to do the things he did just cemented my dislike for him in stone. For any of you who have read the Graceling Realm trilogy by Kristin Cashore, he reminded me of Leck. I hated Leck, too.

I would have to say that one of my favorite characters was Vinnie. Leader of the "gang" of Ohs, he seemed to be one of the most level headed in Varakov.While everyone around him was sucked in to the sickening debauchery and the violence of all that went on around him on a regular basis, he was still able to keep his wits about him. And he was still in his right mind to be bothered by much of what went on. He had a conscience.

All in all, not a bad story. I could have done with a LITTLE bit less description and a LITTLE bit more dialogue and action in the first half of the book, but I'd say it's definitely well done. And it's a story I'd recommend to any fantasy lover. Well, any fantasy lover probably over the age of 16 as there are some absolutely horrible scenes and lots of gore. Not sure younger fantasy fans would be good with that. It's also nice to read a new take on the werewolf. Don't get me wrong, I love love LOVE The Wolves of Mercy Falls series by Maggie Stiefvater, but I always love it when I get back to the root of the monster, ya know? When I get to read about them in a way they originally were, but with a new-ish twist. If that makes sense.

If it doesn't, you should still check out the book.

P.S. It also helped that for some reason when I was reading, the voice narrating the story for me in my head was Matt Smith. If you know who he is you get major points with me.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Review - Amanda Weds a Good Man by Naomi King

The Amish Community of Cedar Creek is celebrating a wedding! When Amanda Lambright, widowed with three daughters, marries Wyman Brubaker, a widower with five children, she envisions joining their two households into one big happy family. But it isn't quite that easy...

Amanda Lambright loves Wyman Brubaker, and after four years as a single mother, she is grateful for his support and for this new chance at happiness as his wife. She's confident that their children will get along just fine. But once Amanda's clan moves into Wyman's home, the tight quarters and Wyman's reluctance to make changes to accommodate Amanda cause friction. The older kids are squabbling. The little ones are frequently in tears. Tiny Alice Ann isn't speaking at all. Amanda and Wyman can't find any privacy. And Amanda wonders if she'll ever have a chance to pursue the pottery making that means so much to her.

Amanda believes that family lies at the center of any well-lived Amish life. Can she find the wisdom to guide the reluctant members of her new extended family toward the love that will bind them together?
Amanda Weds a Good Man is the third novel I've read by Naomi King (a.k.a. Charlotte Hubbard). And while this particular story goes on about families completely unfamiliar to me up to this point, there are some familiar faces that pop up every now and then which makes reading this feel like home. Do you know what I mean?

Amanda's husband has died. Wyman's wife has, unfortunately, passed as well. It seems that Amanda's family is doing what they can to move on while Wyman's is stuck in a sort of stasis. Wyman is suffering from survivor's guilt and doesn't even seem to realize it. But it's rubbing off on his children as well. When he weds Amanda and she and her children move in to his house it seems that there is little room for them there. The memory of his late wife takes up way too much room. That, and the chaos that seems to reign supreme in the household along with the outright hostility expressed toward Amanda and her children (and even Wyman) by the members of the community Wyman has brought them to, makes everyone absolutely miserable.

Wyman really has to search inside himself and see if what's happening in his house is what's meant to be happening. Sure, the Bishop has told him so, but is following the Bishop at the expense of his family's well-being really worth it? And is the Bishop even right in his instruction?

I can really relate to Amanda. I was married just a month ago and, while my children and I were familiar with the house we were moving in to after the wedding, it was still a lot to get used to. The memories of family members passed hangs in the air and, understandably, sometimes we are reluctant to move on but for the sake of sentimentality. No matter how much you love someone, and how much you want things to be perfect, there can (and will) still be issues at some point.

Poor Amanda. She moved away from the people she knew and loved in to an environment that was neither friendly nor welcoming. She tried. But I could literally feel her frustration and the tension between her and her new husband. She'd been so strong for such a long time and along with her nephew had been able to keep her family afloat. Wyman did not have to struggle as hard to provide for his family and I think, as a result, his children were not as close to him as Amanda's were to her.

He made me angry for much of the first half of the book. I felt bad for Amanda. I sympathized with her and could almost sense the dread building up in her heart at the thought that she'd be expected to submit to a man who didn't seem to have her best interests at heart, despite the fact that he did love her. Someone plants a bug in his ear, though, and gives him a lot to think about as far as the relationship between him and his new wife are concerned.

Now, the relationship between Abby and James... I adored them. The two of them were so completely head over heels for each other that I couldn't help but smile the entire time I read about them. James had such consideration for Abby and the way that she felt, the things that were important to her. And Abby was such an amazingly wonderful person to everyone she came in contact with. The two of them together were an absolutely fantastic pair.

Jerome, Amanda's nephew, was one of my favorites. He was the strong and (somewhat) silent type. He had Amanda's back and was definitely not going to sit idly by while he felt she was being slighted by her new family. He seemed like a happy go lucky guy, although I'm sure he's been through a lot in his life.

Last but not least, where would every great story be without a villain.

The Bishop of Clearwater and his nagging wife were definitely the bane of everyone's existence. They were hypocritical and rude and encouraged everyone to follow in their footsteps while claiming that those who didn't were placing other things at higher importance than their relationship with God, an attitude that had driven several families out of the district already. I could not STAND them and if they'd been real people and standing in front of me speaking to ME the way they spoke to Wyman and Amanda, I would probably have told them off. In the worst way. I honestly don't know how the Brubaker's managed to hold their tongues as well as they did.

The story was wonderful. I like books that make me FEEL things. And I could definitely feel for Amanda. All the hurt and anger and frustration... and on the flip side of the coin... love and adoration and wonderment. Fantastically written.

As with her other novels, I highly recommend this as a read to everyone. Not just those of you who enjoy Amish fiction, but anyone looking for a nice family/feel good read. Luckily, this is the first in the series. I can't wait to see more of what happens for the Brubaker clan.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Review - Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh

This is a book I wrote. Because I wrote it, I had to figure out what to put on the back cover to explain what it is. I tried to write a long, third-person summary that would imply how great the book is and also sound vaguely authoritative--like maybe someone who isn’t me wrote it--but I soon discovered that I’m not sneaky enough to pull it off convincingly. So I decided to just make a list of things that are in the book:

Stories about things that happened to me
Stories about things that happened to other people because of me
Eight billion dollars*
Stories about dogs
The secret to eternal happiness*

*These are lies. Perhaps I have underestimated my sneakiness!
I found Allie Brosh's blog, Hyperbole and a Half (book link HERE), over a year ago after she'd not written for quite some time. I went back through and read everything I could, though, because along with her funny drawings she writes incredibly well. I know some would look at her writing and compare it to a classic novel and disagree with me, but I've found I'm drawn to the books where I can imagine that's actually how the person speaks in real life.

She's also incredibly funny.

I loved the story of how she found Helper Dog and literally laughed until I cried looking at the illustrations of the first meeting between Helper Dog and Simple Dog. And the fact that she added actual screen shots at the end of her story with the goose just made the story itself that much more hilariously amazing.

I honestly don't know if there's been another book that's made me laugh that hard.

I finished the entire thing in one night which, considering it's made up mostly of simply (but creatively) drawn comics, wasn't hard. I needed to read it, too. I needed a pick me up. I'd been walking through the book store and I was kind of down that day, can't quite remember why, and as I was leaving I saw that book on the table in the center aisle. I grabbed it and walked right to the register with it. One of the best decisions I made that week.

There's really not much I can say in the way of a review. These are someone's personal life experiences, and how can you critique that? I enjoyed the way she told of her experiences. And I appreciate the fact that she could make me laugh. Also, that I could relate to her in some of her stories. Sometimes that's all I'm really looking for.

I'd recommend this for anyone looking for a funny story teller. There is some bad language so no one too young, but other than that, I don't think there'd be any reason you wouldn't love this book. Maybe it'll brighten your day the way it did mine.


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