2017 in Review: Everything That’s Available on Kindle Unlimited!

 

Happy New Year, everyone! We’re so thankful to be heading into our fifth year of working with independent writers. Last year, we reviewed over 250 titles, all of them self-published, and we’re truly excited for everything coming up in 2018. (Including the Red City Review Book Awards! More info on that coming soon.) 

Being part of a community of readers, we figured that a good number of you might have received a new Kindle over the holidays. Did you know that all Kindle devices come with a free month of Kindle Unlimited? That means you can read every single one of the books below for free, just by signing up. Click on the title to read our review, and click on the cover to head over to the Amazon e-book page!

Continue reading “2017 in Review: Everything That’s Available on Kindle Unlimited!”

Like This? Try That!

Sometimes finding a book to read can seem especially daunting. After all, there’s so much great stuff out there noawadays – how do you decide which route to take? In the interest of making our readers’ lives a little easier, we’re recommending five great books that are perfect for fans of the movies you see below. This batch features middle grade and young adult titles, but we’ll be doing similar posts with different genres in the future, so stay tuned!

 

Moana fans will love The Kingdom of Oceana by Mitchell Charles, which has a similar island atmosphere as the movie. The two main characters are Nahoa and Ailani, two princes in line for the throne of Oceana!

 

 

Coriander Jones Saves the World by Kim English is perfect for readers who devoured the Percy Jackson series. Summer camp? Check. Adolescent angst? Check. Immortal creatures of untold evil? Check.

 

 

Much of the appeal of How to Train Your Dragon comes from the different varieties of dragons you encounter during the film. The Dragon of the Month Club by Iain Reading casts a similar spell, introducing readers to zany dragons of all types. 

 

 

Sure, both The Fifth Wave and The Fourth Piece have numbers in their titles, but beyond that, these stories are riveting near-future tales in which aliens wreak havoc on our species. There’s also telepathy and a Gothic-style war.

 

 

Envenom might not be the battle royale bloodbath that is The Hunger Games, but it definitely has its own edginess. Set in a similar dystopian America, this novel follows a character named Kelvin who finds himself falling for a forbidden love.

 

 

BONUS: It’s our turn to suggest a movie! If you liked That Truthful Place by Patty Lesser, then we think you will want to see Chaos Walking, based on the series of books by Patrick Ness. While the film doesn’t come out until 2019, we are genuinely pumped to see how the book looks once it hits the big screen!

 

 

Five Star Friday: Hungry Like the Wolf

Halloween weekend is upon us, so we thought we’d share three highly rated ~spooky~ reads from Red City Review. Today’s titles all feature everyone’s favorite furry menace: werewolves. What’s awesome about werewolves is that authors can use them as either hero or villain – whichever their stories call for. The complexity of pack behavior and “lone wolves” lends itself to any number of narratives, but we often see a common thread of “finding one’s true self” wherever werewolves come into play. The three titles below each give the loup-garou different treatment, so there’s a story here for everyone whether you’re looking for romance, thrilling fantasy, or something a bit more difficult to define.

 

Silenced by Darcie Peck

rsz_1fivestars

silencedLeah was raised in darkness and isolation, removed from society and forcibly stripped of her ability to speak aloud. She has suffered through abuse both mentally and physically, only to escape captivity and then be struck by a Range Rover. Flashes of light speckle Leah’s unconscious mind, opening it to streaks of a world alien to her. Electric vibrations and shocks reverberate through her very core as the driver of the car rushes the two of them to his pack’s doctor. Devin, Alpha of the local werewolf pack, who’s accidental wreck with this girl opens his inner wolf’s eyes to a similar electrifying current which is known to the werewolf kind as finding one’s soul ‘mate.’ The two discover a kindred spirits within each other following the days and weeks of her hospital stay. Leah’s life of abuse and torture has been forgotten by a case of amnesia. Devin now attempts to reintroduce her to “normal” werewolf life, only to find, Leah’s forgotten past, is not so distant after all.

Darcie Peck puts Silenced of the Bound Trilogy – Book One, at the top of personal genre favorites. So often werewolf story lines become muddled, broken, and strung out. Silenced is not that. The point of view shifts used to change perspective is brilliant, opening a new method of reading that can encourage other writers to do so in a similar fashion. Silenced is hands down a great read, five stars does not do it its due justice. With non-stop action, suspenseful drama and a love story that will forever get your inner wolf snuggling, Silenced will touch the inner wolf in all of us.

To purchase a copy of the book, click here to find it on Amazon.

 

Bottomless Dreams by Ryan Power

fivestars

Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 10.36.44 AMBottomless Dreams by Ryan Power is a collection of 25 short stories that, quite frankly, can’t be summarized in one paragraph. Not only are there 25 plot lines, 25 settings, and 25 casts of characters, but there are also scores of psychological themes and dozens of metaphysical quandaries set across several, often concurrent, genres. In other words, there’s a lot going on in this collection, and it’s pretty awesome. Bottomless Dreams tells very real tales alongside the fantastic, carrying readers around the globe and across the universe, through the past, present, and future, to explore the inward and outward bounds of the human condition. As per the stories themselves, they speak of surfers, old men, and coming-of-age children, as well as of beasts, werewolves, witches, and others. But what the stories speak of is not nearly as remarkable as what they speak to, which makes Bottomless Dreams, at the bottom line, a prime example of literary fiction. Isolation. Fear. Pride. Conviction. That’s what these stories are about, and then some. Power presents a buffet of themes and topics, dishing on everything from parenthood, masculinity, and absurd rites of passage, to the sanctity of life, enlightenment, and familiar questions about life, death, and religion. Plus, there’s a little sex, drugs, and jazz tossed into the mix, and the pages are scattered with original artwork—25 title pages for each of the 25 stories, as illustrated by interior artist Court Dheensaw.

All told, Bottomless Dreams by Ryan Power is a one-of-a-kind, somewhat strange experience. Many of the stories deal with “messed up” things, but do so in a way that’s insightful and illuminating. Power’s writing is also rather exceptional, full of powerful words, phrases, and devices that effectively communicate his messages and fuel further thinking. That said, however, be aware, Bottomless Dreams is not, by any means, a poolside novel. It’s neither a quick read nor a light read—but, it’s definitely a good read, and it comes highly recommended.

To purchase a copy of the book, click here to find it on Amazon.

 

Storm Wolf by Stephen Morris

5redstars

storm“‘I remember the celebrations when we were given our freedom in 1816, a year after I killed the great wolf and skinned it,’ Edvin told his grandson. ‘Don’t let the wolf skin make you a serf again, bound to it rather than the land. It should serve you, not you serve it.’” Remembering his dream, Alexei knows that he disobeyed his grandfather’s warnings about how to use the wolf skin he passed onto Alexei before his death. The pelt’s transformative powers are intended to help protect Alexei’s Estonian villages. Alexei’s selfish choice results in enough destruction that he has to leave his beloved land in search of anyone who knows the old practices from his grandfather’s generation, which can be used to heal Alexei. But en route to find that certain someone, Alexei is unaware of the many challenges he will have to face before he can be healed, if that’s possible.

Morris puts a new spin on Baltic folklore in his latest novel. A unique coming of age story set in the latter part of the nineteenth century, Morris’ plot features Alexei, a young man whose lack of understanding in old-world traditions gets him in Lycanthropic trouble. Basically, Alexei has the ability to transform into a werewolf. Morris surrounds his unseasoned character with an interesting cast made up of thunder dragons, wind hags, and storm goblins, to name a few, as his journey takes him through Latvia, Lithuania, Silesia (Poland), and Bohemia (the Czech Republic). Morris even includes the legendary Frau Bertha (or from the German, Perchta). Sprinkled with Estonian language, Morris’ narrative follows typical folktale storytelling. Replete with all the whimsical trappings, readers can expect a flurry of surprises amid anticipated scenes. A fantastical read that appeals to young and old alike.

To purchase a copy of the book, click here to find it on Amazon.

Books about dealing with cancer and loss.

Stories can fulfill a great many human needs, but perhaps their greatest purpose is to bring us comfort during times of uncertainty and loss. October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so we’d like to give particular attention to two fantastic works we’ve reviewed recently that are notable for the care and insight they bring to the topic of battling cancer. The first, Shaken Not Stirred: A Chemo Cocktail by Joules Evans, is one woman’s detailed account of the obstacles that cancer placed in her path – and her journey to overcome them. The second, The Change Agent: From 30,000 Feet by Bruce Barcomb, offers advice for working through grief, life lessons, and personal anecdotes from the author, who lost his mother to cancer in 2012.

 

Shaken Not Stirred: A Chemo Cocktail by Joules Evans

     Fewer sentences can deliver such horror as this one: “You have cancer.”  After waking up one morning and feeling a lump on her chest, Joules Evans makes an appointment for a mammogram (at forty-two, it was her first – she strongly advises all women to make them part of your annual routine now!).  What follows is Joules’ story of what happens when cancer enters a person’s life – in an instant, everything is turned on its head.  As prevalent as cancer is in today’s world, we live our lives believing that it won’t ever happen to us.  And then your diagnosis comes, and it just doesn’t make sense.  Perhaps you had assumed that you would always be there to provide for your children, but cancer has a way of reminding us how fleeting life can be.  In the face of such a terrifying foe, many would be tempted to turn tail and hide, or cower in the closet until the end comes for them.  But Joules’ responses was something else entirely: she chose to greet cancer with humor and strength, cracking jokes and keeping her family positive throughout all the surgery and chemotherapy.  In the end, Shaken Not Stirred proves that there’s no cure like optimism.

     This is a book you’ll want to buy in bulk.  Maybe you know someone who is currently battling cancer.  Or, maybe you’re facing down the enemy yourself.  Shaken Not Stirred shows how a family is affected by cancer, with quotes and thoughts from Joules’ friends and family members.  The only way to win is if you have allies fighting alongside you; this isn’t a war you can win alone.  Despite the subject material – or, more likely, in spite of – this book is laugh-out-loud funny.  Joules talks about her many chemotherapy treatments, and how it’s no coincidence that superheroes also have a tendency to drink radioactive cocktails.  Cancer doesn’t change who you are – it only makes you stronger.

To purchase a copy of Shaken Not Stirredclick here to find it on Amazon.

 

The Change Agent: From 30,000 Feet by Bruce Barcomb

four stars

change     The Change Agent: From 30,000 Feet by Bruce Barcomb is about the journey of self-discovery and actualization that comes from adapting negative thinking to more positive outlooks. With many examples from his own life experiences of loss, such as his sister’s brutal murder and his mom’s death after battling cancer, Barcomb describes helpful methods for dealing with the grief and anger that come from loss and trauma. Peppered throughout with spiritual and historical quotes along with parallels to popular movies, the book remains compelling, relatable, and moving throughout its entirety.

     Though at many times somewhat repetitive, large portions of the book are unique accounts of the author’s personal struggles and insights into the ways he was able to overcome and move past them. When a serial killer murdered his sister while he was still a teenager, Barcomb’s life was greatly affected with sadness and nightmares for many years after. The riveting story of events surrounding this horrible tragedy that involves several young women’s deaths leads finally to closure for the families of the victims, and to the author’s ability to move forward in his life. The book also discusses universal life experiences such as the different forms of love, the trials of adolescence, the value of positive thinking, and even the author’s take on the meaning of life. Spirituality is often mentioned, mostly from a Christian perspective, but also encompassing a wide range of religious and spiritual viewpoints. Delving into psychology and the usefulness of group therapy, the book is a well-rounded account of positive change in the human mind and the need to do what one can to constantly be improving their thoughts and their lives.

To purchase a copy of the book, click here to find it on Amazon.