The Cabin by Smoky Zeidel, my review

This delightful read had me spellbound. It’s been a while since I read purely for pleasure and this was the perfect book for that. It has elements of magic, time travel, romance, and mystery –all beautifully blended in a way that makes the reader believe.

I always look for characters I can relate to, ones that develop as the story progresses. In this, too, Ziedel performs, whether we slip back into the Civil War years or live in modern times, whether the decisions and actions of the characters are propelled by magic or by real relationships in the past or present, I never doubt. The characters are real while I I am with them.

Zeidel never resorts to gimmicks or coincidence to move the story forward, in spite of the temptation magic might provide. Each incidence of magic serves a purpose. As well, her descriptions of her surroundings, both past and present, are deftly portrayed without becoming flowery or overwrought.

Zeidel writes with a deceptive simplicity that I love.

Highly recommended.

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My Review of The Trinity by Paige Ambroziak

This is a story that will create very diverse reactions in those that read it. It is deep, involved, and may offend those with a religious bent who do not take kindly to conspiracy theories involved the Roman Catholic Church.

I was not one of those. I recognize it for what it is:  fiction, almost a fantasy, in the vein of the Da Vinci Code. Like that book it is complex, with dark secrets, skewed interpretations of doctrine, and characters that will stop at nothing, even murder, to keep those secrets and move their heretical cult’s cause forward. Unlike that book, it is written with greater skill.

Ambroziak’s writing is complex and detailed. The reader must pay close attention as the story moves back and forth in time in order to explain without giving too much away. That she does and still keeps the reader guessing attests to her considerable skill as a writer.

If I have one criticism it is that almost every character has more than one name, depending on what stage of life they are at and who they engage with. While I occasionally found that confusing I do understand why it was necessary. Those who love complex stories with intrigue and secrecy will likely find this an asset rather than a distraction.

This book is definitely not for everyone. Yet it was well researched, skillfully written and will appeal to many, especially those who like to be challenged a bit.

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My Review of El and Onine by Paige Ambroziak

El and Onine

“El and Onine” is a complex story that does not fit neatly into any box. It is a creation story, an epic saga, a paranormal fiction, a fantasy, and a romance. I took my time putting this review together because I wanted to do justice to the deft way Ambroziak deals with the complexities of a theme which appears in many forms throughout our human history.

Those of us familiar with Ovid’s Metamorphoses will recognize the origins or theme behind the masterful way in which Ambroziak makes this recurring subject  in literature new and fresh. As someone not familiar with Ovid’s version I found that my lack did not deter me from enjoying this one.

Even those not accustomed to creation myths will find this book a joy to read. Yet, its complexity will challenge the reader – in a good way. Ambroziak creates characters that reveal themselves slowly and patiently. She does so with such a clever hand that we are drawn to them, wonder about them, want to know them better from the outset, even become impatient to solve the riddle of who they are in their depths. While this is especially true of both El and Onine, our two main characters, even some secondary characters, such as the Venutian goddess, do not appear full-blown, but become known to us bit by bit.

The worlds Ambroziak builds, both on Venus and on Earth, are beautifully and completely wrought. The alien cultures are well developed, including the religious/mythological  aspects which drive the theme forward. I marvel at the visual images that invoke both worlds. Ambroziak uses description with just enough detail that we see a full picture, but wastes no extraneous words to get us there.

The story does not follow a chronological line, but moves back and forth in time. This allows the reader to learn why things unfold as they do without giving away too much too early. Some characters are given two names, depending on what part of the story they live in at the moment, or which other characters they interact with. This keeps the reader guessing, at least for a time, as to who is who. We have our suspicions, but no certain confirmations until well into the book. It is a clever device that keeps us on our toes, asking questions, wanting to see how it all ties together.

While I loved all of these aspects, the underlying romance is what drew me in the most. Both El and Onine must suffer greatly before they can fulfill their destinies, El without knowing her role, Onine with full understanding.  Yet neither are what they seem, at first, to the reader, or to each other.

This exceptional book will keep readers engaged from page one to its conclusion. I recommend it for enthusiasts of all the genres mentioned.

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New Review for Back From Chaos – Wow

K.P. Ambroziak

May 16, 2016

K.P. Ambroziak rated it it was amazing

This is the first work of Yvonne Hertzberger I have read, but it will not be my last. I picked up the free read from Amazon without knowing what to expect, and was pulled in from the opening pages. Hertzberger writes with an uncommon elegance, lending her story important details without weighing it down in extraneous prose. The pace is close to perfect, and the narrative moves its reader along without effort. Despite the simplicity of the story, I was wholly absorbed and rapidly turning pages from short chapter to chapter. Though this is the first book in her “Earth’s Pendulum” series, it doesn’t leave you hanging but leaves you wanting more.


Perhaps that’s the thing. Hertzberger introduces characters easy to care for, while at the same time invites her reader into a modern medieval world she won’t want to leave. I think, however, the most successful aspect of this story is the romance. The compassion and attraction between the characters is deeply-rooted, and invokes a visceral reaction. I have admitted elsewhere that I am drawn to moments of literary romance, and for me, it’s not something a writer can fake. I think when done well, the reader is moved by the characters and the feelings they express for one another. Again, this can’t be put on. Like Rochester’s and Jane’s repartee, where love bleeds from the seams despite sardonic quips, deft flirtations and parries, Hertzberger’s dialogue channels romance and the romantic on every level. Even her descriptions of food serve to romanticize the atmosphere as a complement to her tightly-woven narrative. A great writer can pull this off without effort, and for me, Hertzberger is in that class.


There’s everything to love about “Back From Chaos” … I couldn’t put it down.

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Listening: A Writer’s Tool (by me via Indies Unlimited)

Listening: A Writer’s Tool

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