Featured Indie Bookstore: Barefoot Cowgirls Books

Today, I would like to give a shout-out to an awesome bookstore.  Barefoot Cowgirl Books, owned by Ms. Annette Avery, Barefoot Cowgirl is a gem located in Flagstaff, Arizona.

Barefoot Cowgirls

Check out this gorgeous sales floor! (Image is from the store’s website. Copyright belongs to them).

Follow them on Facebook, and check out some local authors from Flagstaff and the Hopi and Navajo Nations.

Have you visited this bookstore? If so, please leave a comment telling everyone about your experience (trolling will not be tolerated).

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Blood Master by Kirsten Campbell

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10 points (Five Stars)

Rating: Recommended for 17+ for graphic violence, sexual references, and profanity.

I had read Blood Master previously and became enthralled with Griffin Storm’s character (for my review of Blood Master, click here). When I heard that Ms. Campbell was publishing the sequel, Blood Phase, I couldn’t wait to dig in. And I wasn’t disappointed!

Griffin, having earned the trust of Fortress authorities, is set to be released from The Brig, much to the delight of Tassta, his sweetheart. Although Griffin still has a lot to learn about balancing his newfound abilities against his inherent humanity, overall he does well and has enough control over his abilities to prevent caving in to his inner desires. As his and Tassta’s romance heats up, Griffin gets the horrifying news that the Guild Faction, specifically the Trips, have invaded Underground, and are holding the remaining children, Waylene, and Skylar hostage. The chain of events that follows may be too much for even a G.O.D. to take in, and all his training to control his potentially destructive powers may be undone. The only tempering force is his love for Tassta, her family, the children, and his friends in the Underground. Readers will be taken on a real emotional roller coaster as Griffin battles both the Guild Faction and the two halves of himself, at the same time. Again, I am truly in awe at Ms. Campbell’s character-developing abilities.

Absolutely loved it and cannot wait for the sequel. Well done again, Ms. Campbell.

The Running Game by L.E. Fitzpatrick

 

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(9.5 points, 4.5 stars)

Rating: 17 ages and up for violence, adult situations, drug abuse, profanity, and sexual innuendo. One attempted rape scene.

 

Imagine being part of an elite group of people with special powers. People comment that you have been appointed by God to serve in this capacity. Among other things, you can read people’s memories. Unfortunately, this also makes you dangerous to the criminal element and to various shady government agencies. In L.E. Fitzpatrick’s novel The Running Game,  Rachel Aaron, a physician in an outskirt of London called S’aven, is one of these so-called Reachers. Having been raised in a convent, Rachel has lived most of her life on the run from those who want to take her.

One of these criminals is Pinky Morris, a thug night club owner who is determined to chase down Rachel. It is never made quite clear what Pinky wants Rachel for. A couple of possible reasons include using her powers for his own gain or revenge (he seems to believe that Rachel’s sister Isobel killed Pinky’s brother). He contracts the Smith Brothers, John and Charlie. But Charlie is also a Reacher, and amongst themselves, the Reachers have an unbreakable, unspoken bond.

Although I thoroughly enjoyed this story, the number of subplots was a bit confusing, and the characters, although well-developed on their own, were a little difficult to keep up with. A subplot involving Charlie’s family was never resolved, which bothered me a little.  Readers will absolutely love the Smith brothers: the brooding Charlie and the gruff John who has a big heart. Readers will also get a kick out of Roxy.

One of my favorite parts of this book was the scene setting. Ms. Fitzpatrick does an excellent job of ironically depicting S’aven (short for Safe Haven) as an industrial wasteland overrun by criminal elements. Food and water rationing, substandard housing, mass unemployment–in one memorable scene, Fitzpatrick describes how workers clamor for the chance to work for a day in one of the many factories. Those who got work got paid but risked life and limb. Those that didn’t work were kept  out of the hazardous conditions but were often unable to buy food.–and corrupt police all come together to create a truly frightening scene.

Overall, I was very impressed with this book and will most definitely be reading the second in the Reachers series, Borders Lines.

The Little Sentinel of the Sierra Nevada by Paul Williams.

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Total: 13 (5+ stars)

Rating: Appropriate for ages 13+ for violence.

The five stars I give have four levels: (1) I can’t find any valid reason to deduct stars (2) It has flaws, but compensates for it in other areas (3) it’s an awesome, engaging book, although not especially memorable. The Little Sentinel of the Sierra Nevada by Paul Williams is one of the few I’ve reviewed that make the top tier: (4) Why isn’t this a Hollywood film? I don’t review very much historical fiction and did not expect to find a story, set during the Western Expansion, to be so compelling that I didn’t want to put it down.

Sarah Harlan, at thirteen, is mature and wise beyond her years, so much that even the adults in her life listen to and value her opinion. She sets off with her parents and younger sister, and later meets up with her aunt, uncle, and cousin. One of my favorite parts of this books was watching Sarah develop a close bond with her idealistic cousin Nathan, which will be lifelong. With a masterful articulation that few writers have achieved, Mr. Williams describes in vivid detail the landscape and the daily routine of the family as they trek westward. Along the way, Sarah and her family deal with shortages, hazardous climate and terrain, illness, and hostile natives. But they are strong; there is no doubt this family can survive all the perils of the journey. It is only when they run afoul of vicious bandits that their chance of survival is called into question.

There is more than enough action to keep the reader fully engaged to the end. Mr. Williams has mastered the art of narration; readers are given information exactly when they need it, no sooner and no later. The characterizations are equally flawless. The characters are presented as human, with everyone, including the bad guys, being presented as having both good and bad qualities. Finally, it is obvious that Mr. Williams put a lot of time and effort into research for this book. I recommend it 100%

There are a few editorial issues, but not enough to diminish the quality of this excellent book.

Here is a brief excerpt:

“Thank you,” I opened, “for lending me your book.”

“You enjoyed the read?”

I considered this, wishing to choose my words carefully before my well-read elder cousin, and he allowed me time to find my answer. “No. I don’t believe it was a book meant to be enjoyed,” I said.

“They chide me for it,” he confessed. “Ma and Pa.”

“Why should they?” I asked “They are decent people. They have no love of slavery.”

“Ma abhors it,” he declared. “They both see it for what it is, but they still accept it. They see no purpose to my passion.”

“And what is that passion?” I asked.

He stopped to better study me, unsure whether I to sought to ridicule his stand, but my honestly soon allayed his concerns. “Slavery is an abomination,” he announced. “It’s my intention to take a hold on that institution and wrench it from the earth in which it grows.”

The strength and conviction of his words caught my . “How should you do this…?”

“Let me ask you a question first. What have you taken from the tale, Cousin Sarah?” Nathan asked.

I thought hard on this. “It has taught me that even one man alone can make a difference. It has taught me that no adversary is too mighty to be opposed.”

The Sentient Corruption by Ian Williams

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Total: 13 (5+ stars)

Rating: appropriate for readers 16 or older. Contains profanity, violence, and some adult situations.

The sign of an outstanding series: your readers get to the end and say “It’s over? Ah, man!” Over the course of reading Ian Williams’ Sentient series, I have become rather invested in the lives of Graham, Phoenix, Stephen, and even Isaac. The Sentient Corruption wraps up the series in the most fantastic, satisfying way. If you have read either of the first two books, I strongly urge you to read Corruption. 

Having been returned safely to his family, Graham awakes to find himself in a strange military command center, and is uncertain how he got there. He meets up with Captains Rigs and Gregson, who are preparing to wage war against Isaac and his army of evil Sentients. They will soon discover that they’ve vastly underestimated the enemy. Isaac’s vision of a superior society goes well beyond the force-field covering New Chemslford, and he has powerful allies. The fate of the entire world is in the hands of this small rag-tag crew of determined fighters.

The first chapters were a little hard to follow, but that’s mostly because technology and military terms fly over my head. But trust me on this: it is worth the wait, because when it picks up, it really picks up. And you will be hooked. Corruption has one of the best endings I have ever seen for a single book and an entire series. I can’t wait to see what Williams will write next. I am definitely a devoted fan of his work.

The Sentient Mimic by Ian Williams

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The Sentient Mimic by Ian Williams picks up where Book 1, The Sentient Collector, leaves off. Eighteen months after the catastrophic failure of the Simova company after a terrorist attack, the city of New Chelmsford is struggling to get back on its feet. Phoenix, who unknowingly had a hand in the plot and is wanted as a fugitive, has been hiding in her parents’ country home, along with Stephen and Graham’s family. When a mysterious individual, known only as Ninety-Three, comes to report that Graham is still alive, Phoenix takes a great risk and follows Ninety-Three into the ruined city to investigate.

The countdown to the ‘switchover’ sets the pace of the novel. This countdown alone creates suspense that will keep readers turning the pages. As Phoenix and Ninety-Three return to the Sanctuary to search for Graham, Detectives Conrad Robinson and Joe Willis investigate a string of gruesome murders that appear to be part of a cult ritual, and becomes suspicious when they are suddenly taken off the case. Operating separately but in eerie unison, Phoenix and Ninety-Three and the detectives will blow the cover off a massive conspiracy. The question is will either or both be able to act in time to avert another disaster.

While Mimic lacks some of the levity that readers of Collector will certainly find amusing, it more than makes up for it with the suspense, fast-paced action, and character development. The development of Phoenix as a character is perhaps the most marvelous aspect of this book. Readers watch as she goes from a petty thief concerned only with her own survival and that of her brothers to a revolutionary prepared to take on an enemy like none other. I look forward of seeing more of her in Book 3. Extra dimensions of Stephen’s character are also added, and I hope he gets a major role in Book 3.

Williams’ ability to set the scene and help the reader envision the events is outstanding, as usual. The ending will make readers want to jump directly into Book 3, The Sentient Corruption, which is precisely what I plan to do. Another masterpiece in this reviewer’s opinion. Excellent job, Mr. Williams.

The Exiled by Scott Borgman

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Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal Romance

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Rating: 9 (4.5 stars)

Give the devil his due. This is a recurring theme in Scott Borgman’s novel , The Exiled (The Exiled Trilogy Book 1). It begins with an all-too-familiar  scene: Lucifer wages war against God and is banished from Heaven, along with anyone who took his side. Mr. Borgman adds the unique twist that the angels who defended God from Lucifer were also exiled (hence the title) to a Home on Earth to live with humans. For reasons not quite clear, God had a key to Lucifer’s prison, which he hid within not only a human, but a nonbeliever. Celeste’s job is to protect David from being destroyed by Lucifer to get the key, even as it results in the deaths of other exiled angels, brings traitors out of the wood work, and results in a romantic attraction that the two seem unable to fight.

Exiled calls to mind a saying from Lost Paradise by John Milton: “the mind is its own place, and in it can create a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.” Borgman has suggested that God has been created by man and not the other way around. The mind will create gods and goddesses that will serve to explain the unexplainable, and over time as science became more advances, a single, all-power God sufficed. The unique philosophical point-of-view and the message of tolerance and unity were my favorite parts of this book.  Although the action falls short in some places and appears to be filled in with lovely description, there is enough to keep readers engaged. Celeste and the Olympian gods are awesomely developed,  but the other characters can stand to use a bit more development. David is likable but seems too passive.

Readers will LOVE the ending. There are no editorial issues that I saw. 4.5 stars. Well, done, Mr. Borgman.