Posts Tagged Conspiracy

The Crystal Facade – Debra Martin & David Small

Storyline: Debra and David: double the authors, double the greatness. The Crystal Façade is book two (really, it could actually standalone) in a fantasy series that I can only hope continues until the end of time. Or at least until I can’t stands it no mo’!

The Crystal Façade picks up the story six months after the first adventures on Otharia and Earth. Dyla has been having increasingly disturbing visions of Sir Blackheart and know that until she goes back to Earth to finish the quest they started, these visions will never go away. The glamour has worn off Otharia for Cat and all she wants to do is to go back home to Earth and start living a normal life – teaching her students and archeology-ing – again.

Together Cat, Dyla and Éclair, the very powerful telepath, make the trip back to Earth. After they leave, the conspiracy doesn’t seem to stop weaving out of control. Darius must figure out who is trying to kill him and prevent an evil power from taking over Otharia.

Grammar/Spelling: I noticed some minor issues with punctuation and grammar. I also noticed an odd twist to an old saying (Perhaps it’s due to the differences between Earthlings and Otharians?): “She was a beautiful, headstrong, young woman who seemed to attract men to her like flies to the fire.” I have always heard it stated as, “like moths to the flame.” This phrasing did nothing to detract from the story at all – just something that I noticed and thought it was worth mentioning.

Character Development: The Crystal Façade is fairly well-written and developed. Even though it is book two, the characters were flushed out well enough that it was easy to follow the storyline. Of course, now I must read the FIRST book so that I can get the ENTIRE story. Geez! Thanks guys! Like I don’t have ENOUGH books to read! I kid, I kid!

Darius is the new lady-loving young Duke of Telkur (Well, he’s always loved ladies, so that part isn’t new, per se.) and he might have met his match with the beautiful, spit-fire Crystaline. He decides to prove his mettle by saving her from kidnappers. (At least attempting to!)

Éclair is the strongest telekinetic that has ever been born in Otharia and, because of that, he is also one of the youngest teachers at the Otharian Institute for Paranormal Studies. His techniques have been ill-received by the older teachers and staff, so his decision to take the trip back to Earth is met with very little resistance on their part.

Writing Style: The Crystal Façade is unique because it runs in parallel timelines on Earth and Otharia to keep the action moving along and the reader quite entranced.

The trip to Earth should have been an easy, in and out expedition, but of course, it’s not. Cat, Dyla and Éclair are being followed and harassed by Blackheart’s goons while searching for Merlin’s cave; while back on Otharia, we have kidnappings, coercions, secret societies and even a rebellion.

Nothing is ever simple, is it?

Continuity:  I noticed no issues with continuity.

Overall Rating: 4-

I really enjoyed Debra Martin and David Small’s fantasy collaboration, The Crystal Façade. I can promise I’ll be buying the first one – unless *ahem* for some other reason I get a copy – and will be able to highly review and recommend it as well!

The Crystal Façade is a distinctive and exciting journey into the fantasy genre and I can only hope that there are many more great trips to Otharia!

The story had some minor adult situations and language, so I would give it a PG-13 rating.

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Time In A Bottle – Christopher M. Divver

Storyline: Time In A Bottle written by Christopher M. Divver is not about genies, but it is pretty darned good as far as murder mysteries go. Mr. Divver’s story has all of the elements of a great crime mystery that goes all the way up to Washington D.C.!

Mark has fallen off the wagon again. Only this time, his girlfriend isn’t there to pull him out of the dark vat of that toxic drink again because it’s her sudden death that is the reason for his relapse. Only, Monica’s tragic death isn’t as simple as it first appears to be.

Her power-hungry half sister, Audra, comes back to town to help with the arrangements and with her arrival comes the resurgence of a terrible and haunting past that, even in death, Monica cannot escape from.

Grammar/Spelling: The Comma Queen strikes again! I noticed a deficiency of that little squiggle and think that another grammar check with Microsoft Word would fix these issues. I also noticed a few instances where the incorrect version of a word was used; for example: “shear” vs. “sheer”. Not a huge issue and one that’s easily fixed with another beta read.

Character Development: Mr. Divver’s characters are very well developed and Mark, in particular, has a depth to him that was surprising and wonderful.

At first it appears that Mark is just a self-pitying alcoholic without any real substance. Other than his incessant need for a drink or twelve, he has nothing to offer anyone or anything. But, as the story develops, the reader is able to truly see Mark for the man that he is and understand how his life has to come to the point that it has.

Even though we never truly meet Monica, per se, she is a prominent character throughout the story. Through a series of flashbacks, Monica is painted as scrappy, good-hearted woman who loved Mark and guided him back into the world of sobriety.

Writing Style: I was concerned that the entire novel would be a very dark, depressing drama about one man’s fight with the bottle. Though, as I kept reading, it became apparent that the alcoholism isn’t what the book was focused on, it was more about a man’s will to solve the mystery of his beloved’s death and do it while trying to overcome his addiction.

Time In A Bottle has enough detail to make it very believable and entertaining (even educational – I didn’t know you could pick a lock by “bumping” it!) without bogging the reader down with too many details! Fabuloso!

I loved the descriptions of Washington D.C. and, even though I’ve never been there, it seemed as if I was right there at the monuments with Mike, Audra’s boss and Frank, his best friend. I suppose one day I’ll actually go and take in the sights myself… Until then, I’ll just have to live vicariously through the eyes of my darling Indie Authors!

Continuity:  No issues with continuity. Everybody’s shirts stayed their proper colors and nobody drove away in a Mercedes only to arrive four blocks away in a helicopter.

Overall Rating: 4

Mr. Divver’s Time In A Bottle didn’t disappoint. (Even if there weren’t any genies or wishes granted.) As far as crime novels goes, this is a well written, interesting story with plenty of suspense and mystery to keep the reader engaged the entire time. Great job, Christopher!

I look forward to more books and hope you’ll allow me the pleasure of reviewing those as well! It definitely has the makings of a great movie too! (I never know if that’s a compliment or not…)

There are some adult situations and language, so this book isn’t for younger readers.

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The Crown Conspiracy – Michael Sullivan

Storyline: What a crowning achievement Michael J. Sullivan has created with The Crown Conspiracy. Michael J. Sullivan definitely has a conspiracy of greatness with The Crown Conspiracy. (I couldn’t decide which pun to go with… You may choose which one you like the best and go with it. I will allow this.)

Two thieves hired to steal a sword end up accused of murder in the highest order: regicide. Royce and Hadrian are caught up in a deep and terrible conspiracy that will set their kingdom on its ear and only their specific set of skills can help stop the treachery and save the would-be king, Aleric, from the conspiracy set against him.

Grammar/Spelling: I did not notice any issues with grammar or spelling.

Character Development: The characters were fairly well developed. Hadrian being the most interesting of all – has he always been a mercenary or is there more to his story? Mr. Sullivan sets up The Crown Conspiracy to be the first in a series of six novels and I can only imagine that as the reader gets more involved with the storyline, more of the mysterious Hadrian’s character will come to light.

Writing Style: This fantasy story is unique in that it doesn’t heavily rely on the typical aspects of fantasy epics. The Crown Conspiracy does have elements of magic, wizards and elves, but these are only minor facets to the overall mystery of the story. Mr. Sullivan’s fantasy realm is well thought out with a very believable history and play between the various kingdoms and characters. There was enough back story to help move the story along without bogging the reader down with too many details.

Continuity:  No issues with the continuity of the story.

Overall Rating: 3+

The Crown Conspiracy is a quick read with an intricate storyline that is as old as time: for some, power is an all consuming and dangerous desire. Michael J. Sullivan has done a wonderful job of weaving a fantasy tale that takes two anti-heroes and, in the end, forces them to become heroes.

Again, I anticipate that more of the Hadrian’s story will come to light as the remaining tales are read and I look forward to learning just how far the conspiracy goes.

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