Review: “Song Of The Shaman” By Annette Vendryes Leach

Via NetGalley, MindPress Media was kind enough to provide me with a copy of this book for the purpose of reading and reviewing it. While it was provided to me at no cost, I am under no obligation to give a positive review.

Sheri Lambert is a New York ad executive who was adopted as an infant following the death of her mother during childbirth. Being a strong single woman who just hasn’t found the right man yet, Sheri decides to become a single mother. Her son Zig soon becomes the center of her world, as you would expect.

But as Zig grows, more and more bizarre things happen. He seems to have an innate knowledge of Indian traditions of all sorts, his fascination coming through at home and at school, often at the most inopportune times. Even though Zig is an outstanding student, he is perceived by his private school administrators as being disruptive and likely ADHD.

Zig regularly demonstrates his knowledge of Indian culture, including music, art and even the language, speaking Spanish and a a native tongue fluently at age ten, even though he has been immersed in neither language. A mishap with a fellow student further focuses the attention on Zig and pressure on Sheri to set him right increases.

This story flips back and forth between modern New York, primarily 2006, and Panama and Costa Rica of 1899.  The nineteenth century story tells of Benjamin grandson of an awa, a native shaman, who falls in love with Louise while caring for her ailing sister Maud. The relationship develops and continues in secret, finally coming to light and causing the friction one would expect with a mixed race relationship at that time.

As the story develops, we learn more about Sheri, who she is, and where she came from. We also learn how the two stories eventually meet up at the end of the novel.

Ultimately, this is a past-lives story full of romantic love as well as unconditional love, namely that of a mother for her son. While the reader is privy to most of the details of the story and can see where it’s going, leading to some predictability, it’s not all tied up in a semi-neat bow until the very end, which is very nice. There are a couple questions left unanswered, but they aren’t gaping holes by any means.

I really enjoyed this story, as it was well-paced and well-written. I certainly hope this novel brings success for Leach and she produces other books in the future. I would definitely like to check them out.

Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)

Review: “Sorcerers Of The Nightwing: The Ravenscliff Series #1” By Geoffrey Huntington

I was provided a copy of this eBook by the marketing department at Diversion Books for the purpose of reading and reviewing it. They are re-releasing the first two books of this series at present and, this fall, will be releasing the third book in the series for the first time in English.

Devon March is the fourteen year old son of a single dad who has known from a young age that demons are indeed real. They are in his closet, they are under his bed, and on occasion, they pop out to try and disrupt his life. Devon’s father has always prepared him for the battles, telling Devon he’s stronger than any of them. This works for Devon.

Then, Devon’s father dies. Curiously, Devon’s custody is given to Amanda Muir Crandall, the mistress of Ravenscliff Manor, someone Devon never even knew he existed. The neighboring town is antagonistic toward the Muirs, given the family and manor has a long history of ghosts, trouble and unexplained behavior.

Into this mess Devon is thrown, upon which supernatural activity suddenly picks up in the area. Suddenly Devon must deal with a long-dead Muir trying to release demons upon the world, call Devon and his latent powers to the dark side, and generally serve a cold dish of revenge upon the remaining Muirs. Throw in that Devon suddenly has a budding romance with Cecily, who may or may not be related, and there are plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader interested.

Overall, I found this a very fascinating read. A true litmus test for me is when I have more than a single chapter to complete the book, and I forego sleep to do so. It’s meant to be a YA novel, and I think it’s pretty close to that. I was amused at the mix of “safe” cuss words while a few uncensored “B.S.” bombs were dropped.

My only beef with the book is that there are times throughout it when I speedbumped on a particular word or phrase. It could be the wrong word (“puss” instead of “pus”), a missing word or incomplete sentence, or some other anomaly that made me re-read a passage. It wasn’t enough to cause major problems, but considering the book was originally written in 2002, you would have hoped such errors would have been caught by now.

I will definitely be hunting down the second book in the series as well as the third, when it’s finally released in English by Diversion Books this fall.

Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)

Review: “Death Ain’t But A Word” By Zander Marks


I was sent this book by the author for the purposes of reading and reviewing it.

This book is the story of Wilkin Jones, a crackhead who doesn’t really act like a crackhead. He seems to be able to turn it down whenever he wants. He does odd jobs for extra cash. And oh yeah, he can see the dead. Chief among these is Humphrey, Wilkin’s best friend who was killed when he was seven years old. Things start to get interesting when Humphrey’s murderer shows up after 23 years, intent on destroying any evidence of Humphrey’s remains, which happen to be buried under a seedy motel. As Wilkin runs, Humphrey’s skull in tow, the story travels across several states before its paranormal conclusion.

All that said, I really like the story of Wilkin. I like the premise of the book and where Marks went with it. My biggest frustration was with writing style. Too many repetitive sentences starting with a pronoun (He, She, It, etc.) or a character’s name. I think some variety would have made it more fluid and less choppy.

I also had some issues with the portrayal of dream scenes, where dialog is all in italics, but with no differentiation between one character’s lines and another’s. None of them had quotation marks. I found myself reading and re-reading those sections for context.

The format and plot were a bit predictable, but overall I really like the story. I would definitely recommend it for people who like edgy fiction.

Rating: 4 Stars (out of 5)