2016 Review List

The following titles are all books we reviewed in 2016! It was a great year in bookland. Peruse at your leisure and discover your next favorite story! Click on the cover to be taken to the review. This list is not complete and we are working to get it up to date as quickly as possible. Please feel free to use the search bar to locate specific titles if you don’t see them listed yet.

                                      ♥♥♥Enjoy!♥♥♥

Delilah Dusticle Trans Adv Cover Fairest Book Cover The Three Graces Cover

Life after the undead cover Stick and Stone Cover

The Cabin Book Cover The Dean Machine Cover Delilah Dusticle Cover

 

 

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Best 50 Books of 2016

How goes it my fellow bibliophiles? 2016 has been one hell of a year. This year we have seen the death of many a beloved celebrity, a sketchy election and monumental social action. As for books, well, this year I have read some truly amazing stories. From fiction to non-fiction, my world has been rocked by the talent and bravery of so many authors. AlliesOpinions reviews a wide range of genres and I know there is something for every one this list! I am proud to present my picks for your viewing pleasure.

Note: Not all of the following books were released in 2016. This list is made up of books that I read, reviewed and loved this year. Click on the covers to learn more!

Enjoy!

delilah-dusticle-trans-adventure-new-cover         Fairest Book Cover            Life after the undead cover           Stick and Stone Cover     the-cabin-angela-shori-new-cover             The Dean Machine Cover sol of the coliseum cover        The Free Bronotosaurus      inequality book cover visionsight cover           The Split Book           walk in the flesh cover Britain at War Cover      The Insect Hotel Cover     Where Death Is A Hunter Cover

A Frog In the bog cover    Clean Cover       Smashing Book Cover                         The island on the edge of forever revised cover         Simply the wildside cover    Kyle evans cover Silverwood Cover               reaperlands-updated-cover     Eboracum Cover The Unknown Soldier cover               Titanborn Cover        Into The Dark Cover      Delivering Virtue New Cover      Solomon Crocodile Cover     The Keeper and the rulership cover       The Poverty Industry Cover            Private Lucky Cover          trauma shame and the power of love Cover        A Howl for Mayflower Cover           Fling Cover          sirens-song-cover

a-place-to-call-home-cover           the-virgin-queens-daughter-cover         all-her-secrets-cover

there-was-an-old-sailor-cover       hands-across-the-sky-cover              i-become-you-cover

moonstone-beach-cover             burned-cover       missing-mona-cover

the-oldest-soul-cover   where-memories-meet-cover  Timesmudger Cover

 

 

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2016 delivered some awesome books! I’m looking forward to what 2017 will bring!

 

Book Review “The Mirage On The Brink Of Oblivion” Andrew M. Crusoe

synopsis

What if you could hold a memory in the palm of your hand?

In the Mirage, you can. Reachable only by leaving the physical body and entering the out-of-body state, the Mirage allows all within it to trade memories like souvenirs and create structures that defy physics. And now, after centuries, even the memory of the devastating Vakragha attack on their world has all but been forgotten, and most have lost touch with the physical world altogether.

Jyana is different. Driven by her desire to understand the natural world, she dedicates herself to studying the sea below Mirage City. Yet when she finds that the coral reef is being decimated by an unknown cause, no one will take her seriously, not even Torin, whom she loves more than anyone. Ambrosia supply shortages are getting worse, and Torin fears a crisis is brewing. Its formula a state secret, ambrosia gives architects the power to form colossal structures, and without it, their ancient civilization would surely collapse.

In the midst of this, everyone is shocked when a refugee from before the attack returns. Filled with questions, Asha has come with a secret mission which may destabilize their entire planet, causing the end of the Mirage itself.

A fast-paced, out-of-body Sci-Fi adventure, THE MIRAGE ON THE BRINK OF OBLIVION is the triumphant 3rd installment in the EPIC OF ARAVINDA.

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I would like to start this review with a few of my favorite passages from the book.
“To try, as best as we possibly can, to find the place where those three parts agree, because they all have something valuable to say.” 
“But what if you can’t find that space where they agree? What then?”
“Well, then you remember their strengths.”

“The Mirage On The Brink Of Oblivion” is the third book in the “Epic Of Aravinda” series. Want to see my reviews of the first two books? Click on the covers below.

the-truth-beyond-the-sky-cover The island on the edge of forever revised cover

Now that I am three books into this series, I have to brag on Mr. Crusoe a bit. The first book was really good and I enjoyed reading it. The second not quite as good and the message of “one” kind of took over the story. In this, the third book, Mr. Crusoe’s writing has started to gain some finesse and it’s been a real treat to watch him evolve as a writer. That alone is a fun reason to keep reading the series.

In “The Mirage” (shortened the title), a beloved character from the first book comes back in a very unexpected way. I definitely did not see that coming. I have been wondering about the fate of said person since they went missing. Needless to say, a lot of the loose ends from the previous books are beginning to be revealed.

A bad habit that Mr. Crusoe has with his dialogue is over explaining situations. There is no need to simplify every single event. I suggest trying to replace some of that dialogue with action scenes. Show us, don’t tell us. And PLEASE don’t repeat dialogue. I got it the first time. If you’re trying to update a new character through an old character just write “Asha filled her in”, or something like that. Don’t re-explain! Argh! That drove me nuts. That is really the only thing left for Mr. Crusoe to work out.

The “Mirage” was an interesting place. This is a great example of how much Mr. Crusoe’s writing has improved. The picture he paints of this ethereal world is fantastic. It sounds beautiful and magical. I would love to see this world brought to life in film or animation.

Learning more about Asha was a real treat too. Her character is growing and I’ve built a real fondness for her. She’s strong and intuitive but not egotistical. The relationship that her and Zahn are building is beautiful to witness. The bond between them grows stronger every page. They bring a new definition to “soul mates”.

Speaking of growing character, Zahn is getting wise and very philosophical! There are a ton of points that he makes in the story that stuck me right in the heart. Between him and Asha, they would make one heck of a governing system. I would like to see them move up the ranks.

The action in this story is steady and is paced well to keep you on your toes! The creative plot twists were surprising and interesting.

I still have a few questions that I would like more information on. The biggest is the Confederation. We really don’t know much at all about them. I would like to see that part of the story fleshed out more. How does it work? Who is in it?

I’m rating this 4 stars.

4 star

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The Technical Data:

Title: The Mirage On The Blink Of Oblivion | Series: Epic of Aravinda  |  Author(s): Andrew M. Crusoe  |Publisher:  Aravinda Publishing / Publication Date: 7-20-2016 |Pages: 241 (Print) | ISBN: B01GWD5A4O  |Genre(s): Young Adult Science Fiction |Language: English |Rating: 4 out of 5 |  Date Read: 12-10-2016 |Source: Copy from author.

 

That Series Tho…

I don’t know about ya’ll but there is just something about a series that grabs me. I’m not a hit it and quit it kind of girl when it comes to books. I want to take my shoes off and hang out for awhile. I want to intimately discover new worlds. Go where no woman has gone before….that kind of thing! 

Sadly, not every series is going to be the one. You know, the one that you can’t leave. Not to eat or sleep or…well anything. Your eyes are glued to the pages and your brain is firing at mach 5. The amount of injuries you have sustained from running into literally everything in your house can’t be counted. Yes, that one.

For me, series like “The Hunger Games” and “Divergent” were like this. I think I just found my new obsession.

Behold….

I’m not trying to put a bunch of pressure on my husband or anything but….I really need that third book! 

What book currently has it’s hooks in you?

Book Review “Bizzarma – How I Became A Hippy Without Really Trying” Douglas B. Wood

synopsis

Bizzarma is a true story that spans from the 1950’s “Leave it to Beaver” American Dream era to the political and drug charged 1960’s and 1970’s. Hyped by iconic musicians like The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and Bob Dylan; Doug went where the wind blew him and experienced the world with LSD bright eyes. This baby-boomer fell into a world rife with discord and did his best to make his own mark on the era. Sometimes hilarious, very colorful and painfully honest – Doug narrates his life for the world. 

(Note: Since there is no summary on Amazon, I wrote my own version.)

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I would like to begin by making a few of my concerns about this book known. First is the cover, obviously it’s a lot of naked people. I hope that those who are in this picture were asked and approved this picture to be shared with the masses.While the picture is blurry and faces are not easy to make out, a picture like this could mean the end of someone’s career. I believe that the people in the picture were happy to be photographed all those years ago, but their opinions may not be as open now. I am also aware that most people in this picture are probably considered elderly and may not of been easy to contact. I strongly advise the author to choose a different cover. In my opinion, this cover is misleading and could turn away people who would otherwise of enjoyed the story. The person reading this would have to consider (due to the nudity) that this is not a book that can be read everywhere.  My second concern is that this book has no summary listed on Amazon and the book isn’t listed at all on Goodreads. These oversights will cost Doug exposure and make it hard for consumers to make informed choices. 

Doug has a real gift for storytelling and I love his style of narration. It felt very much like sitting in someones living room and having a conversation. I especially enjoyed the pictures! It’s always good to have a face to put with the name. (As long as its approved)  His disregard for the educational system is understood and I feel for all the adults in his life who were trying desperately to convince him to get his diploma. While the educational system has many flaws it is still an important institution in our society. I am too young to know much about how the educational system operated then but I can imagine that it, like now, had its flaws.

Another thing I would like to point out is the honestly with which Doug speaks of drugs. He clearly disregarded the long term or even short term risks while taking them and as a young man I understood that it was hard for him to think much past his current state. I wonder how odd it felt for him to write those passages in the story. Did he, as an adult, look back on his young self and cringe as most of us would today? He could have fallen deep into addiction but didn’t. When I speak of drugs, I am mainly talking about the LSD. I don’t consider Marijuana a drug, dangerous or addictive. 

Religion, to me, is another kind of addiction. I would like to thank Doug for his candor in explaining his delusions. Since he was deep in the thralls of LSD, I find it hard to take much of what he said about the “physic” at face value. What gets me is that while in the mental hospital, after coming down from the LSD, his delusions of religion persisted but the rest of his mind appeared sharp. I found that interesting and appreciate the look into that mindset that Doug gave.

One great lesson that I learned from this book was how we can change who someone really is in our minds. We create this ideal of who they are because we want them to be a certain way. Often these delusions are incorrect and very unfair to all parties.

Something I would like to see from this author is his perspective on  more current events. With his experiences, how does he feel about the direction the political winds have shifted? Maybe “The Baby Boomers Thoughts” or something fun like that. *hint* *hint* 

I enjoy reading memoirs. I enjoy learning about another person’s experiences. I enjoy riding along as they hit their lows and their highs. It’s fascinating to me to see how each person overcomes obstacles in different ways. 

Doug sounds like a very interesting person and his sense of humor is entertaining to say the least. What a personality!

4 stars!

4 star

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The Technical Data:

Title: Bizzarma – How I Became A Hippy Without Really Trying | Series: N/A  |  Author(s): Douglas B. Wood  |Publisher:  Alpha Graphics / Publication Date: 2009 |Pages: 244 (Print) | ISBN: B006KHPF5W  |Genre(s): Hippy & Memoirs |Language: English |Rating: 4 out of 5 |  Date Read: 12-05-2016 |Source: Copy from author.

“The Truth Beyond The Sky” #BookSpotlight

“The Truth Beyond The Sky” won this Book Spotlight by getting the most votes on AlliesOpinions Battle Of The Book Cover. We are proud to present “TTBTS” to our readers and hope you enjoy the book as much as we did. 

Do you love Sci-Fi? At AlliesOpinions, Science Fiction is one of our favorite genres! If you’re looking for a last minute gift for the book lover in your life – give this book a shot! Andrew M. Crusoe is a self published author so, if shopping small is your prerogative – I’ve got you covered! 

“The Truth Beyond The Sky” has a wide audience but is targeted at Young Adults. If you’re worried about graphic violence or risque sex scene’s, worry no more. “The Truth Beyond The Sky” is a clean read.

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Twelve years after his mother’s disappearance, Zahn makes his annual hike up to the island peak to sleep above the clouds — only to be awoken by an alien object thundering down from the sky, changing the course of his life forever.

At last, Zahn has the chance to learn the fate of his mother, but the opportunity comes with a price: leave his world in a self-aware starship, with no guarantee of return. Now on the verge of twenty, he leaves his planet, bound for the galactic core where he encounters the vicious Vakragha, an ancient species that craves the largest prey: entire stars. Bent on tearing at the fabric of spacetime itself, the Vakragha scream toward Zahn’s home. Only the Tulari, a stone that can heal these fissures, offers any hope to Zahn and his new friends.

But saving his world from total enslavement isn’t all he has to worry about. Just when Zahn lands on a moon the Vakragha stole, he makes a breakthrough, finally learning his mother’s true fate. Now he is faced with a decision that could either save his world or doom it forever

SPECIAL DEAL: When you buy this paperback from Amazon, you’ll be able to get the Kindle version completely free. (Also available as an audiobook!)

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AlliesOpinions reviewed “The Truth Beyond The Sky” and boy did we love it! Want to see the review?

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Andrew Crusoe

From The Author

I wrote this book for you. You love Science Fiction, and you’ve immersed yourself in the worlds that Clarke, Asimov, O.S. Card, and Lucas created. You love action in your Sci-Fi, but you want meaning and humor, too. You want the characters to actually care about each other and act with their hearts as well as their heads. You want a story where the hero isn’t a “chosen one” but instead chooses themselves, just like real life. I want that, too, which is why I wrote this series. As I said, this book is for you, and I hope you love it.

Learn more about Andrew and his books. 

Andrew’s Website

 

Book Review “The Collector” Nora Roberts

synopsis

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts comes a novel about a woman who needs nothing, a man who sees everything, and the web of deceit, greed and danger that brings them together—and could tear them apart…
 
When professional house-sitter Lila Emerson witnesses a murder/suicide from her current apartment-sitting job, life as she knows it takes a dramatic turn. Suddenly, the woman with no permanent ties finds herself almost wishing for one…
 
Artist Ashton Archer knows his brother isn’t capable of violence—against himself or others. He recruits Lila, the only eyewitness, to help him uncover what happened. Chalking up their intense attraction to the heat of the moment, Lila agrees to help Ash try to find out who murdered his brother and why. From the penthouses of Manhattan to grand Italian villas, their investigation draws them into a rarefied circle where priceless antiques are bought, sold, gambled away and stolen; where what you possess is who you are; and where what you desire becomes a deadly obsession…

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I want to kick this off by admitting that this book has been sitting on my shelf damn near all year long. My husband bought it for me earlier in the year when I was buried in my review pile. I’ve run my fingers over it’s cover at least 20 times wishing I had time to read it. Nora Roberts writes some pretty amazing books and I’ve been looking forward to (finally) reading “The Collector” for far too long. Considering I built up some serious anticipation for this book, I had to take a couple of days after reading it to decompress and make dang sure my review would be on the actual book and not my preconceived ideas of how it was going to go down. After decompression, this is what I’ve got.

The only character that I felt was close to fully fleshed out in “The Collector” was Lila. That’s not to say that she didn’t need some work. I thought I had a pretty good eye on who she was until Ash came into the picture. All the sudden, it was like Lila’s independent nature was squashed. She didn’t put up the fight I was expecting of her and it blurred who she was in my head.

I feel like Roberts should back almost all the way up with Ash. The “brooding artist” stereotype ruined him for me. I love his art and his steady side but found the few things I loved about him stomped on by his downright shitty behavior and inconsiderate nature. I could see that Roberts was trying to convince the readers that while brash, Ash cares about those around him but I’m not buying it. For the most part Ash acts like a douche and I don’t like him. I don’t think he is a good fit for anyone and feel that his behavior is abusive.

One of the main themes in this book is Obsession. The reader is hit with two forms. One slightly veiled in its intensity and the other’s is blatant and frightening. The veiled obsession still unsettles me. I felt the character exhibited some pretty frightening narcissistic traits that were passed off as bluntness. There is a big difference and I don’t like how this was passed off as a healthy relationship. 

The nefarious obsessor is blatant with his disregard for any life other than his own. I can see the distance Roberts tried to put between the “Obsessor’s” but felt that by only vilifying one she glossed over abuse in less obvious forms. Obsession is dangerous.

I love Lila’s profession and found it interesting to get a glimpse into that world. Roberts found a way to make house sitting seem exciting and I felt the job added nicely to who Lila was as a person. While having Gypsy tendencies, I felt Lila is also a very steady person. Someone to be trusted and cherished. Her kindness and thoughtfulness is so at odds with Ash’s domineering personality!

The book is well researched and the premise intriguing. I came away from the book with a mixed bag of emotion but ultimately enjoyed reading it. After serious consideration, I still feel like the book could stand to be reevaluated by the author. There is too much conflict for the romance to come across as anything other than abusive and I feel Roberts should consider this a bit further and consider who she really wants Ash to be.

3 stars.

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The Technical Data:

Title: The Collector | Series: N/A  |  Author(s): Nora Roberts  |Publisher:  Berkley / Publication Date: 4-15-2014 |Pages: 485 (Print) | ISBN:  B00FX7REI6 |Genre(s): Romance & Suspense |Language: English |Rating: 3 out of 5 |  Date Read: 11-27-2016 |Source: Copy from personal collection.

BOTBC #4 “The Truth Beyond The Sky” Wins!

AlliesOpinions Battle Of The Book Cover has broken from it’s previous weeks lull and come away with a clear winner. We had a lot more participation this time and the people have spoken! 

“The Truth Beyond The Sky” is the winner!

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Andrew M. Crusoe is the author of “The Truth Beyond The Sky”. AlliesOpinions reviewed the first two books in his “The Epic Of Aravinda” series. Check out the reviews below:

The Truth Beyond The Sky Review

The Island On The Edge Of Forever Review

Mr. Crusoe’s third book is scheduled to be reviewed soon so keep an eye out!

AlliesOpinions is happy to assist Indie Authors in their literary quest and will be featuring a variety of books. If books are on your shopping list (and honestly everyone should buy at least one) look no further! Every book featured on BOTBC or any other promotional post has been read and reviewed before promoting. We are happy to wade through the muck to assist in your journey to find amazing stories!

So, keep an eye out for Andrew’s Book Spotlight and consider shopping for Indie books this holiday season.

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Book Review “Treachery and Truth” Katy Huth Jones

synopsis

Immersed in the historical background of the tenth century, this true tale of Good King Wenceslaus, as told by his faithful servant Poidevin, brings the reader into the Dark Ages. Fear grips the land of Bohemia as the faithful face betrayal and persecution under the reign of the pagan Duchess Dragomira. As she struggles for power with the rightful heir, Prince Vaclav, her foes forge alliances in secret despite the risk of discovery. Who will survive?

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“Treachery and Truth” is a Christian novella that explores the land of Bohemia and the fall of a beloved leader. Told through the eyes of Poidevin, the narrative can be sometimes cumbersome but has an innocence that I find myself divided over.

On one hand I understand why the story is simply told. Poidevin wouldn’t of been very educated and therefore wouldn’t understand the complexity of the plots swirling around him. On the other hand, his bleak beginnings and abusive new mistress would have required him to have some wit just to survive. Servants lived at the whim of their masters and would of needed to anticipate what their masters were needing or feeling. This leads me to feel like (while young in age) Poidevin would of been adept to tell this story in a bit more complex way.

While I agree that a lot of Pagan practices (like human sacrifice) are atrocious, I felt that by mainly focusing on this aspect of that religion the author was glossing over the intolerance Price Vaclav shows to the Pagans while at the same time condemning his mother for her intolerance for Christians. I found this narrative to be one sided and did real damage to an otherwise very interesting story. 

The imagery in this story is well done and  Jones did a fantastic amount of research to make this world come alive. I found it pretty accurate and am definitely impressed.

In conclusion, I felt the story was well written and researched but felt Jones damaged the likeability factor of Vaclav with his one sided tolerance. In such a short book the damage done by this could of been balanced with more information or further examination of Vaclav’s character. After reading I don’t feel the kinship I like to feel with a character. My suggestion would be to extend the story by adding more character building scenes and by shaping Poidevin as less ignorant and feeble. 

3 stars.

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The Technical Data:

Title: Treachery and Truth | Series: N/A  |  Author(s): Katy Huth Jones  |Publisher: Pauline Books & Media  / Publication Date: 1-1-2016 |Pages: 528 (Print) | ISBN:  978-0819875358 |Genre(s): Medieval Historical Fiction |Language: English |Rating: 3 out of 5 |  Date Read: 11-25-2016 |Source: Copy from author.

Contests – Yay or Nay?

As of now AlliesOpinions only runs one contest. The Battle Of The Book Cover. The cover with the most votes gets a free book spotlight. I like the contest and enjoy seeing why people pick one cover over another but am having issues with getting people to vote.

I enjoy blog contests and regularly participate in them. I love helping well deserved authors get some attention for their books. Contests have brought amazing stories into my life.

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What say ye fair patrons of these vast interwebs? Do you like blog contests? Do you participate in them? What’s the make it or break it for you?