The Automation: Vol. 1 of the Circo del Herrero Series (The Circo del Herrero Series/The Blacksmith’s Circus) by B.L.A. and G.B. Gabbler

The Automatons of Greco-Roman myth are not clockwork creations; they are so much more. They are intricate and divine in a way that no human mind could ever create. They are not mindless creations, but they do have a purpose; they have a function – a pre-programmed existence their creator installed in each one. A function that some would call questionable.

Odys finds his rather staid lifestyle disturbed when he witnesses a stranger commit suicide right in front of him. Only later does he realize the stranger did such a thing to free the Automaton attached to himself when she uses Odys’ soul to resurrect herself. Odys must come to accept this new development; this Automaton is part of him and they are now two halves of a whole. He must also accept that while his life doesn’t have much direction, hers does and it now includes him whether he likes it or not.

This is yet another book I was provided with for the purpose of review.

The Automation touts itself as a “prose epic”, a conglomeration of different writing styles and literary cliches. Told by an enigmatic Narrator and an Editor named Gabbler, they are the frame for the story. While the Narrator maintains the story is true, Gabbler’s doubt of the tale’s veracity shows up in the numerous snide comments made via footnote. It is this back and forth that helps keep the story grounded and from running too far amok.

Dear reader, I want to say that I enjoyed reading The Automation. Truly I do. However, I had a hard time with this one. The frenetic writing style made it difficult at times to follow along with the story and to understand what was going on. Add to that the fact that there were a few sensitive subjects touched upon (suicide, mentions of incest, etc.). There were a few instances where I felt somewhat uncomfortable reading it.

That is not to say that others won’t enjoy this book. Over on Goodreads, I have seen quite a few glowing reviews for The Automation. Sadly, I cannot add my own to the list. While I am certainly curious as to what will happen in the following books, I won’t be actively seeking them out either.

I Bring The Fire Part 1: Wolves by C. Gockel

Somewhere in the middle of America, Amy Lewis is trying to make her way to her grandmother’s house. Little does she know that there is a big bad wolf on her proverbial tail.

Worlds away, Loki is waking up in a prison cell with no idea how he got there or what he did wrong. What he does know is Odin is up to something and Thor is covering for him.

Eventually these two meet and quickly realize they’re going to have to work together. Exactly how a nice mid-western girl and a jaded God of Mischief plan to outwit Norse gods, elves, and even nosy neighbors is any one’s guess. Amy just has to keep Loki from getting too distracted…

I picked up I Bring The Fire for two main reasons. One, I enjoy the subject of mythology in all its various forms; and two, the book was free. As I am always on the look out for new books to read and review, at this particular time I was also looking for new books to add to my e-reader.

I personally enjoyed I Bring The Fire. While I was vaguely aware of the mythological Loki, most of my knowledge for him came from the Marvel comics and subsequent movies. While Gockel makes brief mention of the comic book characters, her Loki and Thor are based on the original mythical beings.

Gockel has obviously done a great deal of research for I Bring The Fire. Norse characters well known and less well known are presented as three dimensional beings; their wants and needs, whether noble or ignoble, are laid out on the page. Loki is no hero, nor is he a total villain. He is surviving in the only way he has learned how; with humor and self deprecation.

Amy is much the same way. A veterinary medicine student, she is on her way home for summer break when she meets Loki and is drawn in to his world. Even as she begins to realize the extent of his powers, she doesn’t ask him for help but instead gives it. She sees someone who is hurting and only wants to help.

I Bring The Fire is an interesting twist on the ‘Loki comes to the modern world’ trope. Fans of Marvel’s version of the character might have a bit of trouble parsing this version of him, but I encourage readers to give it a try. Readers who are more familiar with the original mythos will likely enjoy this series greatly. Personally, I loved it and have already ordered the next two books of the series.

All At Once by Vera Mae

Fate can be a funny thing sometimes.

If Jayne hadn’t gone to that audition…If Lyel hadn’t gotten on that elevator…

A chance meeting sets two individuals down the path of a three day whirlwind romance. In just that short amount of time, the two fall deeply and completely in love. But Lyel has a secret and when the three days are up, he leaves Jayne and returns to England and disappears in to thin air.

Jayne is left behind to try and mend her broken heart. Just when she believes she can finally move on, Lyel returns…

I was given a copy of All At Once from the author Vera Mae (pen name of K.P. Ambroziak) for review on this site.

Allow me to start, dear reader, by saying that I am generally not one for romance novels. I must find myself in a certain mood before I’ll even pick one up.

With that being said, I found myself enamored with All At Once. Not only does it feature the highs of a whirlwind romance that many dream of, it also has the extreme lows that often come with it. The feelings the characters experience is real and palpable and heartbreaking at times.

What woman (or man) hasn’t felt the anguish that Jayne goes through? What person hasn’t had to pick themselves up and keep going even as their world crumbles around them? Mae captures these emotions with her words and brings the reader with her on Lyel and Jayne’s journey.

My earlier experience with Mae’s work was through her earlier books, though those were more of the supernatural genre. Whichever genre she decides to continue to write in, she can count me as a fan.

Fans of softer, contemporary romances are bound to love All At Once. If you enjoy authors like Nicholas Sparks, you should definitely give Vera Mae a read.

Scarlet Widow (Beatrice Scarlet #1) by Graham Masterton

Beatrice Scarlet was raised by her apothecary father. From him, she learned to mix a wide variety of ingredients in medicines that could help or harm. Despite her knowledge though, she is an orphan at 16.

Some years later, Beatrice has married a preacher and the two have made their lives in the wilds of a new country. Things have been peaceful for quite some time but that peace is shattered when a group of pigs is found dead of no apparent cause. Each of the pigs has a tiny piece of looking-glass beneath their tongue and according to scripture this is the work of Satan himself.

But things do not add up and Beatrice wonders if perhaps this is the work of man instead.

Scarlet Widow is one of those books where at times it was easy to read and other times the subject matter made it difficult to continue. History hasn’t always been kind to women and it is quite obvious in Scarlet Widow. The events of Salem left many afraid of witches; it was too easy to point the finger and to give in to mass hysteria. This is a recurring point in Scarlet Widow, with many members of the village accusing unseen demons and spirits rather than even consider the thought that one of them could possibly commit such awful acts.

I will warn my more sensitive readers that there a rape. It is described in some detail and could be potentially triggering for some. While the scene itself was is a crucial part of the narrative, I still found it a bit unnerving.

On the whole, Scarlet Widow is a pretty good book. The only real faults I had were with the rape scene I mentioned above and the title of the book itself. I think a better title could have been found as it really gives the ending of the book away.

While I enjoyed reading Scarlet Widow, I do not know if I will be continuing this series.