The Official M.L John Website

The Official M.L John Website

Book Reviews

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Extaordinary, By K.M Herkes

Posted by Michelle John on February 28, 2016 at 3:15 PM Comments comments (0)

I downloaded this book for free when it first came out. I do this a lot. I download books and they sit on my Kindle for ages, waiting for their titles to catch my eye. Last night I came across this one. I have just enough time to read a short story before bed, I thought. I am so glad I did.


I have read a lot of stories where people get super powers. Usually, it is a young person, and usually, it is exciting and an honor. This story flipped those expectations on their heads. What happens when a woman who has built an entire life already, a woman with responsibilities and burdens and a heart heavy from a life lived, is suddenly told her body is going to change? Not only that, but superpowers are a curse and a death sentence. A disease. Suddenly she is dealing with social stigma, with controlling what she can do, with her family's reactions. Can she reinvent herself? Can she use this problem, which is layered on top of her other problems, to become strong?


The characters in this short were complex and realistic. The world building was so real, so heart-wrenching. Honestly? The most beautiful super hero story I've ever read. No lie. I would say, I wish it was longer, but I don't. It flowed perfectly and stopped exactly where it should have. You don't expect literature out of the super hero genre often, but when you find it, just shut up and pay your ninety nine cents. You can thank me later.

The Redwood Rebel, by Lorna George

Posted by Michelle John on February 28, 2016 at 3:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Naomi was a princess, once. Before her cousin Adrienne usurped the Redwood throne, murdered their family, and threw Naomi into the deepest part of the deepest dungeon, she was heir to the throne of Ffion. Naomi has been there for three years, periodically tortured, nearly starved, and longing for just one glimpse of the sun. When Adrienne’s henchman comes to offer her a chance at escape, Naomi can only expect treachery—and she’s right.


Arun is the king of far-distant Koren. His land is prosperous and thriving, and he needs only one thing: a wife to bear his royal heirs. Despite his counselor’s insistence, he agrees to marry Adrienne because she’s the closest thing he can find to an appropriate bride. But when his people’s traditional wedding-night magic goes wrong, it casts both Arun and Naomi into a situation neither expected and a headlong flight for their lives.


I enjoyed this book. Naomi was my favorite part, and I’ll tell you why: she was very real. Many authors would expose their characters to horrible abuse at the hands of their enemies and then have them recover immediately. Naomi is a tough, capable lady, but she’s been through horrors, and her behaviors show it. She’s cold and angry at times, but she can also be fiercely loving. She’s complicated. She’s no Sarah Connor, who’s lost her femininity in the face of the pressures of war. She’s been weakened by pain, and though she’s brittle, there’s something very relatable about her. Arun is pretty good, too. He’s a decent enough guy, but he’s internalized a lot more of his society’s worldview than he realizes. They have a long way to go before they can be friends, let alone anything more.


The world, I would say, was pretty standard, the magic system was above par, and some of the imagery was downright great. These things were kind-of a vehicle for the story’s message. To tell the truth, that was the only thing I really had any qualms about. Sometimes, the message was so strong it drowned out the story. It’s a good message, and one I whole-heartedly support, but I felt like the story was a little subordinate to it at times.


In short, it was an interesting and enjoyable addition to the fantasy genre. I’m not sorry I paid for this book, and I’d absolutely pay for the next one. So if you love a strong but flawed heroine and a charming but overbearing hero, I’d recommend checking this one out.


You can get the book right here:

The High King's Will (Steel for the Prince, Book 1) by M.A.Ray

Posted by Michelle John on February 28, 2016 at 3:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Eagle Eye’s father is High King Beager’s huntsman. His father has taught him a great many things about surviving at court, and most of those things involve staying away from it and knowing how to fight. He knows how to track animals for the royal table, how to care for hounds, and how to keep his mouth shut. Sure, he’s killed a dragon—but that was almost completely an accident. When the crown prince, beautiful Brother Fox, arrives in Eagle’s hut, wounded from the most recent of the king’s beatings, all father’s warnings go out the window. Fox wants to leave home, and he wants Eagle to go with him. Eagle thirsts for adventure, and he thirsts for Fox. How can he refuse?


Full disclosure: this lady is one of my favorite writers. I grew out of epic fantasy years ago, but every time she puts out a book I squeal like a little kid and snatch that bad boy up. This book is a little bit of a departure for her. It’s romance as much as adventure, and though it happens in Rothganar, it’s six hundred years before Dingus’ time and almost unrecognizable as the same place. But what isn’t unrecognizable is the rich complexity of the characters, the beautiful tapestry of words, and the magical feeling imparted by the prose.


I love when a long-awaited new book by a favorite author is everything I hoped, and that means I loved this book. If you like epic fantasy with a little romance and a whole lot of action, pick this up. Tell ‘em I sent you.


To get this book, click this link:

Echoes of Darkness, By Rob Smales

Posted by Michelle John on February 28, 2016 at 3:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Thirteen little pieces of dark horror, finely crafted and delivered in one convenient book cover. What more could a fan of ghosts and goblins want from a book?

I don’t read a lot of horror, but I found Echoes of Darkness deeply enjoyable. Rob Smales takes conventional monsters and renders them into chilling tales just twisted enough to keep you guessing, or he presents brand-new monsters awful enough to turn your stomach. But with every story, he makes his reader small and vulnerable. He has the ability to make you weak enough to remember what it feels like to fear the monster under the bed. These stories are almost primal. They speak to the hair on the nape of your neck. You might devour this book, but you won’t realize how frightening the stories were until they’re keeping you up at night.

Rob is an award-winning horror writer, so besides making terrifying little stories, he also makes well-crafted prose so easy to digest you won’t realize how quickly you’re reading this book. I got through it in a couple of hours, but I wish I’d spent more time with it. Each story is different enough from the others that you might need to take some time to digest them.

Five stars from me. If you are interested, you can pick it up here:


The Third Eye of Jenny Crumb, By Martina Dalton

Posted by Michelle John on November 10, 2014 at 11:00 AM Comments comments (0)

Jenny has a secret.


She’s been hiding it for years. When a boy in her English class comes down with pneumonia, Jenny pretends she didn’t know before the doctors what was ailing him. When the police are called out to a party, she pretends that she has a headache to get her underage friends out before they arrive. Jenny is psychic, and she can’t tell anyone. What would her cheer-leading squad think of her if she said something like that out loud?


But when a girl she doesn’t know goes missing from her school, the visions get a lot more intense, and a lot scarier. A sweaty man with a knife is haunting all her dreams, and he’s doing it at the worst possible times. When a blinding vision causes her to fall off the top of the human pyramid, Jenny has to admit that she has a problem, and it’s not going away.


I enjoyed this story so much I read it all in one sitting. It gets intense very quickly, and kept turning pages just to see what happened next. The writing itself is quite good, and the editing was decent as well. I felt like the characters would have used more contractions in their dialogue, but that’s such a nitpicky thing I’m still giving the book five stars. The characters seemed so natural, and handled their strange situations like real highschoolers might have. I’d recommend this book to teens or adults who like to read like teens. You’ll love it!


To take a look for yourself, click this link:

The Wandering Wizard by Kristy Carey

Posted by Michelle John on October 28, 2014 at 1:10 AM Comments comments (0)

An aging wizard, tasked with protecting the world, must find an apprentice to take his place or let the people he has sworn to protect be consumed by darkness and chaos.


The main character is simply known as ‘The Wizard,” and he’s been walking the earth for over two hundred years, trying to keep humanity safe from hungry monsters. I found him a fascinating character study and a really cool dude.

I really enjoyed this book and would give it five stars. It was a short story that nonetheless managed a complete and interesting plotline. I have definitely never encountered a protagonist quite like the wizard before. So if you’re looking for a quick, entertaining urban fantasy read, I’d recommend picking this one up. This is the ideal read for people who love The Dresden Files and Faerie Tales, by Fiona Skye.


At only 99 cents, this short is quite the deal. Pick it up here:

Review of 'The Bazaar' By Jen Ponce

Posted by Michelle John on July 29, 2014 at 5:05 AM Comments comments (0)

‘The Bazaar’ by Jen Ponce is an indie book about a suburbanite named Devany Miller. She’s a wife, mother, and social worker at a domestic violence shelter. But all that changes when she steps into a tent at the local fair. The gorgeous proprietor says he’s selling “magic sugar,” but Devany never expects the tent to contain real magic. Even if she did, how would she know magic could be so dark…or so dangerous?

It isn’t long before Devany finds herself inexorably changed. She’s soon sharing a body with a dead spider, a ghostly witch, and a powerful magic battery that every demon in the world would love to get his hands on. But those aren’t the worst of her problems. Her husband, Tom, has more secrets than he’s let on, and Devany finds herself sorting out her new powers while her marriage crumbles around her.

This was a great book. It was a mixture of urban fantasy and horror, entirely peopled by fleshy characters so realistic you could shake their hands. The best part about this book, in my opinion, was the way Devany’s magic and reality seem to slide over each other. Watching her interact with her kids while a disembodied spider commands her to kill is quite the kick. There were some spots where the setting was drawn a little thin for a fantasy world, but the characters were rich enough to make up for it. In short, I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and can’t wait to read the sequel (it’s already out, by the way, and called Slip Song.)

If you like a little grit to your fantasy, take a look!

Review of Queen Morgana and the Renfairies, by Teel James Glenn

Posted by Michelle John on March 10, 2014 at 2:05 AM Comments comments (0)

There was a time, long ago, when the land of Faerie and the human realms stood open to each other. Anyone who desired it badly enough could cross. But Morgana, the queen of the Fairies, has had her heart broken one too many times. The best way to protect herself from the pain of loving mortal men is to close the ways between the worlds. If both worlds have grown a little darker because of it, that’s not her problem. A least her heart is safe.

Of course, even a creature as powerful as Morgana cannot close them all—at Renaissance Faires, a place where the Fair Folk are so desperately desired, the ways can be opened by an (un)lucky few. Someone powerful knows it, and plans to use that knowledge to change the worlds forever…

This book was a hilarious mix of film noir and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, with a few fun trips to the Ren Fest thrown in and even a little sidetrack into Tijuana for the stout of heart. It was poignant in places but always entertaining. I recommend it for adult fantasy lovers with bawdy senses of humor. Enjoy!

Queen Morgana and her minions are available on Amazon:

And Barnes and Noble:


Review of Watergirl, by Juliann Whicker

Posted by Michelle John on March 8, 2014 at 2:15 AM Comments comments (0)

Only in high school can a girl be nicknamed based on her phobia of water.

When Genevieve was a little girl she nearly drowned, and she has been dreaming of death under water ever since. Naturally, the sensitive souls at her school call her Watergirl in honor of her greatest fear. But that’s not the only thing about Gen that makes her feel like an outsider: she has a strong, uncontrollable obsession with the school’s handsome quarterback, Cole. Thanks to his constant snubbing and awful girlfriend Sharkie, Gen has decided to move on to some of the more attainable fish swimming in her particular sea. While she’s at the self-improvement, she’s also decided to learn how to swim. There’s a handsome new boy at school named Oliver, and he seems like just the sort of person to help with her backstroke and help her get over her desperate crush.

It’s not long before Gen realizes there’s something unusual about Oliver, as well the swim team’s ice- king of a captain, Sean. Could they have some connection to her ability to sing so powerfully she loses consciousness, or to the monster that lives in the lake and seems to protect her from her own watery death wish? And is Sean’s mother really as murderous as she seems?

This book was full of round, interesting characters and constant intrigue. It was an easy read, without much to make it inappropriate for young teens. If you like (clean) paranormal romance with a twist, this is the book for you!

Watergirl is available at Amazon:

and Smashwords:

Certainty, by Eileen Sharp

Posted by Michelle John on December 16, 2013 at 4:30 PM Comments comments (0)

Last Week I read Certainty, by Eileen Sharp. It is a YA paranormal romance about a boy named Ren Tanaka. Ren has just moved from California to the east coast. Though he may seem to be little more than handsome and charming, Ren has a secret he can’t tell anyone-he can see the future. The moment he meets MacKenzie from two doors down, he knows two things about her: she will be his wife someday, and her little brother is in grave danger.

This book was very sweet, more romance than paranormal. The characters were very real to me. I spent quite a few pages crying over their fates. I don’t read a lot of romance, but this made me think of love the way I did when I was Ren and Mackenzie’s age. It felt so full of possibility here, so clean and good. Ren’s powers, when they did come into play, were very realistically used. He is afraid of himself and what he can do, but he still manages to love people for who they will grow in to. I wish there was a way I could see into Ren and MacKenzie’s future the way they see into their own. I know they’ll grow into fascinating people.

The story and the telling deserve five stars, in my opinion, but there were a few things to point out for readers to whom these things are important. There were some continuity errors, like Steve’s name being exchanged for Ryan sometimes. The grammar was good, but in some places this book could have used a second set of eyes. Even so, I am glad I read it and I would recommend it to any person who enjoys a really sweet YA romance.

 You can find Certainty at Amazon: