*REVIEW* ~ Ascension: Placard of Shame, by Carmen Capuano

#dystopian #thriller


I am blessed–or cursed–with the ability to see the colour of peoples’ souls, something I dare not reveal. Keeping my secret hidden has kept me safe. Until now.

Now I am afraid that I can no longer hide from the evil in our society. Our laws are intended–or so I have always believed–to protect us from sinfulness and chaos. But my friend, Sarah, is pregnant and unmarried. Her child will be taken from her at birth and she will be forced into a life of shame. Time is slipping away. I must discover where the father of her child is and why he’s disappeared.

But will the answers I find save, or destroy our society? Will they save, or destroy Sarah?

I’m torn between doing the right thing and the wrong thing. The trouble is that I don’t know which is which.

I settle for the truth. It’s all I have.

My Review ~ 4 and a half stars

Thought-Provoking Dystopian Novel

This is the first book that I have read by the author and I found it both page-turning and thought-provoking, which played on my emotions. I enjoy dystopian novels and in Ascension Carmen Capuano has written a worthy heroine in Jessica, as she delves into her own abilities and unearths some sordid truths about the society she lives in.

Written in the first person POV, the narrative has an immediacy about it that pulled me into the story, as Jessica gives her all to solve the mystery of the whereabouts of the man who fathered Sarah’s unborn child. The consequences for an unmarried woman giving birth in the dystopian society of Ascension have grave and life changing impications for both mother and baby, implications which are especially brutal for the mother.

It has a number of themes which have resonance for me – the control of society through the rule of doctrine and law; the treatment and control of women in a patriarchal society, particularly their sexual freedoms (or rather lack of); whether we are born good or evil and whether we have any choice in what we become. We are also left to ponder whether or not we should tolerate some evil is to exist for the greater good to prevail.

The main character’s ability to sense the colour of people’s souls is key to the plot. Jessica has hitherto kept this a secret, but in order to help her friend Sarah, she will have to learn to use and exploit it to its full potential, a potential she has yet to explore. This could put her at grave risk as her path exposes truths about the society she lives in.

I won’t reveal anything about the intracacies of the plot as it would spoil the read, but I will say that I enjoyed it immensely. It will appeal to readers of dystopian novels, particularly those who enjoy coming of age stories.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

Please note, a copy of this book was given to me by the author for the purpose of  a fair and honest review.

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RAIN, BY NICOLE HURLEY-MOORE – Synopsis, Trailer, Review, Author Bio and Giveaway


Rain - Tour Banner

Title – Rain
Author – Nicole Hurley-Moore
Genre – Fantasy (medieval fairytale)
Publication Date – 20th November 2013
Length (Pages/# Words) – 169 pages
Publisher – Jupiter Gardens Press
Cover Artist – Tibbs Design

Rain - Book Cover

1216 AD
On the mountain, high above the village of Farran – Nuri is caught between heaven and hell. Two men fight for her love and her soul. The first is Maras, an elemental being who follows the storms. Nuri knows that he is not human, he’s something more. She believes he is her beautiful fallen angel. Yet he is transient and is bound to the elements and their love may be as fleeting as the storm itself. The second is Brother Erebus, a pious monk whose tortured soul is twisted by his desire for her.

But Nuri may sacrifice more than her heart when the Church brands her angel a demon. As Brother Erebus will do anything to protect her soul from the silver haired devil, even if he has to crush her body to do it.

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A Magical Fairy Tale – Sensual Fantasy/Paranormal/Medieval Romance

This novel is pure magic – a beautiful and sensual romance that has all the elements of a fairy tale for adults. It has well defined and believable characters and a strong plot set in a world akin to that of European folk lore and fairy tales of old.

The love story at the centre of the novel is pure delight to read. I loved how Nuri and Maras meet and how her love rescues the tortured and lonely water elemental from his self-imposed exile from the human world, due to his misplaced guilt about past events. There are many romantic moments and sensual love making scenes as the novel progresses and the couple find that they cannot ignore their mutual attraction. Nuri herself represents all that is good and selfless, but she also has a strong personality and is prepared to give her all to protect Maras her Angel. Erebus by contrast is truly a troubled soul, who is twisted by jealousy and lust and has lost his grip on reality. There is a great cast of supporting characters who also play a key role in the tale.

The author paints a vivid picture of the village of Farran and its inhabitants and I was immediately drawn into the plot and identified with the emotions of the characters. The tenor of the novel oscillates between darkness and light – the beauty and goodness of Nuri’s and Maras’ romance and the malevolence of Erebus’ twisted and unrequited love for Nuri and his belief that Maras is a demon that he must destroy regardless of the damage to Nuri. The descriptions of the storms, when they appear in the tale, I found particularly poetic.

Like all good tales it has many layers of meaning that as a reader I related to.  Whilst it is first and foremost a love story of two people finding their soul mate it also explores the themes of jealousy and lust and reminds us that the demons which exist are those that reside within individuals. It also examines the prejudice and fear that some have towards others that appear to be different to us. The writing is sublime and reminded me of some of the fantasy novels of Linda Mooney and Christine Pope. I will definitely be checking out other books from this author. Recommended for readers of historical novels with a paranormal twist and lovers of fantasy romance.

Rain - Author Photo

Nicole has always been a lover of fairy tales, history and romance. She grew up in Melbourne and has traveled extensively, whilst living her life through the romance of books. Her first passion in life has always been her family, but after studying and achieving a History degree and Honours in Medieval Literature, she devoted her time to writing historical romance.

She is a full time writer who lives in the Central Highlands of Victoria with her family, where they live in the peaceful surrounds of a semi‐rural town.

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The Return by Carter Vance

The ReturnThis book was received thankfully from the author in return for an honest and fair review.

‘The Return’ is a story about the rebirth of Christ, the second coming. Only, as the dark forces are doing all they can to prevent this major event from taking place we find out that the Knights Templar are still in existence and have been waiting for this moment where they can use their resources to protect Him and His family.

The story begins with Geoff, an investment banker, having a holiday at his friend Jacque’s house in Southern France. Here, Geoff finds a secret room full of literature. He discovers a book referring to the Knights Templar, written in modern day language and referring to the Templars as being in existence today. From here, Geoff quickly takes a plane back to London and carries out in-depth research regarding the Templars and their purpose, theories and background. He travels various places around the globe to carry out more, extensive research.  And, gradually, certain people begin to get suspicious and track him down to find out what he knows.

I found Geoff to be a little naïve as there was at least one occasion when he felt that he was being followed. Later, he is approached by a woman, Regina, claiming to be a lawyer, who just happens to be inquiring about something in relation to the Templars and yet he doesn’t add these situations up. He doesn’t seem to think that it is too much of a coincidence. This was a little frustrating and he was subsequently killed.

Personally, I wasn’t happy with the storyline at this point as Geoff appeared to be the main character, the hero, and yet here he was being killed off. I was left trying to pick up the pieces of the other characters to try and connect with them but this did prove to be difficult as up until this point Geoff and his findings were focused heavily on, making the other characters appear to be more brief, background characters.

The story then unfolds to reveal that Geoff’s friends, Peter Christos and Sarah Davidson, become an item, marry and Sarah falls pregnant. Her baby is destined to be Him, the one that the human race has been waiting for for centuries. This seems to happen all too quickly with very little attention paid to connecting with these characters and feeling their relationship and romance grow. More description and detail were needed in these areas.

The reader is then taken on an adventure as the Knights Templar make preparations for the birth and protection of Him, whilst constantly under the threat of the dark forces. Both sides have very strong allies and support from the Vatican to scientists to drugs traffickers, etc. This adds intensity to the story as the reader is never sure which side will possibly win as they both seem fairly equal.

This novel is mostly written to the point. It is very direct and factual when it comes to theories, however it did lack some description in parts and emotion to the characters. On the one hand, it was nice to follow as theories were occasionally repeated, not too often, but enough to keep the reader in check. And, on the other hand, it would have been an idea to elaborate more with romance and emotion on the relationship between Peter and Sarah, thus helping the reader to engage with their characters and gain a great sense of how they became so close so quickly.

When it comes to the theories, it is obvious that Carter Vance has a great deal of knowledge in this area and he does explain these ideas well. This is the first book I have read covering this subject and I initally felt that this would be way over my head, however I did understand and enjoy the storyline.

My overall opinion of ‘The Return’ is a mixed bag. However, on the whole it is an enjoyable, well-written read. It has kept me entertained throughout and it is surprisingly a nice read to follow, as opposed to losing me with language and theology.

Carter Vance’s website – http://www.cartervancebooks.com

Book cover by kind permission of Carter Vance.

Reviewed by Caroline Barker