5 Star Book Review: From Johann to Tannenbaum by Ashlyn Forge

As promised, here is the review for From Johann to Tannenbaum from my previous blog tour post.  It’s still been a crazy year with snow, earthquakes, and being sick.  Let’s hope it will get better.
I was provided a copy of this from the author for the purpose of writing this review.  I had reviewed the first book in the Toys & Soldiers series and enjoyed it immensely.  This one is no exception.

5 Stars

From Johann to Tannenbaum is a stand-alone story set in the same universe as In Liam’s Wake, Ashlyn’s first novel in the Toys & Soldier’s Series.  You will see a couple familiar faces while reading this story with the timeline along the same lines as In Liam’s Wake.  Just like In Liam’s Wake, it is a dystopia set in the underground Colony introduced previously.  This story is about Johann Andreas IV, a spoiled little rich kid trying to come into his own and failing, and a low-powered E (Empath) Tannebaum with an agenda of his own.  They start out working together and the sparks start to fly.  Each have their secrets and reasons for getting to know each other, but it builds slowly and weaves with the underlying Andrea family drama as we find out about secrets that were kept from Johann for most of his life.  You will be amused, you will cringe, and you will cry as these secrets, and more, are revealed and relationships between several characters break and reform.  Through it all, you can’t help but to keep rooting for Johann and Tanner as they find their bumpy, but happy, ending.  The interweaving of the characters and subplots provide a cohesive whole that makes this story 5 stars.

Below is an except and links to find From Johann to Tannebaum.  Thanks for reading!

Eloreen Moon

An Excerpt from From Johann to Tannenbaum:

Johann worked well into the night, having received a message on his interface around six o’clock from Kobal. Dinner was off, but they’d reschedule.
“Right.” Time and again he’d repeat that single-sentence text to himself and snort bitterly. “Yeah. Right.”
He was late in leaving the office, and, as anticipated, most workers had retreated to the area designated for staff by the time Johann arrived at the seemingly empty kitchen. When he saw the outline of someone sitting at the table in front of the food that had been set out for him, he approached with caution. It wasn’t a body he readily recognized.
Tanner sat hunched at the table, writing on a piece of paper.
Johann paused, thinking back to the days prior to figure out when or where the E had gotten that paper. He made a mental note to count his stack tomorrow.
The E’s bald head snapped up, and he gave a weak smile. Tanner’s brown eyes settled on the paper once more. He studied what he’d written and pushed it forward.
Johann decided to sit and did so slowly as he picked the paper up. The very texture made him want to cry; it was from the office. By the Colony, how much more paper can be sacrificed for the good of communication? What he saw made him pause for some time. It was a picture. He’d seen E drawings before. Hell, when he’d called up Queen and Tanner’s profiles to see if they were single, he’d seen a few samples of Queen’s artwork. The man was a genius with a brush. Tanner, however…was much less sophisticated than the other E’s. When Johann lowered the paper and saw Tanner’s smug look, he focused on the picture again and finally laughed.
“So this is your way of giving me a message?” Johann pointed at the drawing. “I guess this is Queen?”
Tanner took the paper back, ran his thumb along the pen to change the ink color, and scribbled green hair on the stick figure.
“Right.” Johann studied the message again and smiled in spite of himself. He turned the paper around to Tanner for inspection as he spoke. “So Kobal told Queen to tell me he wasn’t coming.” He pointed down to the second row of pictures to show Queen’s stick figure with a frowny face. He took on the same gruff tone the E was noted for. “So Queen said ‘hell no, I’m not going.’ So you’ve decided to come tell me. But that was a good three hours ago.” He got to the final image with the Tanner frowny face, made all too clear that it was Tanner because he’d drawn everyone else with exaggerated eyebrows, yet this stick figure was the only one without. “So you’re pissed because you waited out of the kindness of your heart and I took a long time to get here?”
Tanner only gave him that calm, pleasant look Johann had come to like. When the man folded his arms and sat back, Johann bowed humbly.
“So sorry.” He didn’t get a response, so he clapped his hands together and bowed. “So sorry. Sorry.”
In response Tanner pushed the tray of food forward and sat up with his elbows on the table as he pointed to what was on the tray.
There wasn’t much, but then again, Johann wasn’t surprised. Marian had brought the hammer down, and although Gulliver didn’t usually act all that servile to her, whatever Marian threatened to do must have convinced the cook to take heed.
The sight of the soup, bread, and yogurt caught his attention, and he nodded.
“Right. A hearty meal.”
With no way of making conversation, Johann waited for Tanner to leave. The E didn’t budge; he just sat and watched him. For an instant Johann missed Gulliver. Sure the man couldn’t talk, but at least he could understand.
Now Johann truly felt like he was talking to himself. He sighed and started on his soup. Halfway through, he noticed that Tanner had slouched lower to watch him, eyes on Johann’s mouth.
“Oh yeah, you guys don’t eat, huh?” At the curious look, Johann decided to offer some of his food. “Never? You just never eat? Not even for pleasure? Some of you eat for fun, don’t you? Here, try it.”
The gesture prompted Tanner to sit back and shake his head. He took interest in the bread roll next, and Johann studied him closely. As large as Tanner’s body was, despite all the power he exuded just by being there, he did appear harmless on many levels. There was a gentleness about him.
He didn’t think of it as much of a risk when he broke the bread and handed a piece over. Tanner looked at him cautiously and then took the piece. He seemed apprehensive, to say the least, but he took a bite and spat it out immediately.
Johann smiled and then laughed when Tanner looked from the bread roll to the paper he had scribbled on and nodded between the two.
“It does not taste like paper. Come on,” Johann mused.
When Tanner reached for the paper and threatened to take a bite, Johann sat up to snatch it from him.
“Stop already.” Johann chuckled. “Other than the fact that they both burn easily—”
Tanner made an attempt to snatch the paper back, but their fingers brushed, and a slight spark flickered between them at the contact.
Johann stood cautiously. “What the hell…”
He managed to catch a glimpse of Tanner’s eyes widening in fear before the paper caught fire.
No doubt in an attempt to shield Johann, Tanner pushed him back.
The very touch of the E’s hand on his skin made Johann howl.
Johann looked up from the burn mark on his chest. Tanner stood, both hands engulfed in flames, staring at the offending appendages, clearly at a loss of what to do.
A chime sounded, and the System’s voice boomed. “Fire. Oxygen depletion in five, four, three, two…
The kitchen door slid shut, and the lights dimmed. Tanner was the only light source then, his fists burning blue. Within a matter of seconds, there was no more air for Johann to gasp.
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Johann Andreas IV is a rich loser who has a raw deal in life. He is handsome, yet with a poor self-image, clever, but still uneducated, and despite being the heir apparent in his grandfather’s will, he’s about to be thrown out with nothing.In the underground colony of his birth, two things matter the most to its denizens: a name, which will guarantee his wealth and status, and a designated branding tattoo, the only thing allowing Colony-Dwellers to live safely underground. Johann has one year to secure both.His grandfather’s unexpected passing has propelled Johann to the foreground of his family. He must learn the family business within the year. He’s up to the challenge but one thing stands in his way; his mother has plans of her own…and they don’t include him.

About the Author

Ashlyn Forge has called four different continents home, America, Europe, Latin America, and Asia. Having spent most of her childhood staying out of trouble in upstate New York, she now lives in Japan. She is currently working on her “Toys and Soldiers” series, which is set in a Sci-Fi Fantasy underground world. The books of the series are released out of order with the debut (book 1) “In Liam’s Wake” and “From Johann to Tannnenbaum” released in 2013. Book 2: “Beyond Riley’s Slumber” as well as “The Stuff of Dreams” and “Erosions” are slated for publication in 2014.

A Review of In Liam’s Wake: The Makeshift Soldier (Toys & Soldiers Series) By Ashlyn Forge

Liam Baldwin PortraitWelcome to the Blog Tour of In Liam’s Wake: The Makeshift Soldier book one of the Toys & Soldiers Series by Ashlyn Forge!  I am today’s blog tour host here at Moonbeams Over Atlanta maintained by yours truly, Eloreen Moon.  I have posted previously that this is coming and now it’s here!  Now, without further ado, on to the review…

5 out of 5 Stars

MM, Gay, GBLT, Romance, Science Fiction, Dystopia

I’m not very formal, nor am I lengthy.  I don’t talk about the plot, nor do I do spoilers either.  You will either decide to read it based on how the synopsis sounds to you,  how many stars averages and how the persons posting reviews line up with your taste.  There are others who provide the more in-depth reviews and they have their places.  Since I don’t necessarily remember specifics of a book past the emotional content, I leave the plots and spoilers to the others.

I was provided a copy of the book for this review.  In fact, I was going to give it a week to read the book as I had other beta reading, work, and review commitments, including posting for this blog tour.  And then I decided to pick up my Nook Color one Saturday a week and a half ago and started to read.

I couldn’t put it down.  I read for three or four hours straight. I’m not entirely certain how long it took me to read since there was this time warp where I was in Liam and Riley’s world and didn’t want to leave.  I had to finish the story, and did so in less than a day.  I do read fairly fast, but I hadn’t been sucked into a plot like that in a while.  I loved it.

It’s not a perfect story.  There were a few slow scenes in the beginning; but just as I wanted to understand what was going on in the world, the answer appeared.  This continued throughout the rest of the story.   For a science fiction/futuristic/dystopia storyline, it had its realism and moments when you want to cry.  Sometimes, I did. But, it also had its good moments and you were cheering on Liam and Riley.  It’s a coming out theme, a hurt-comfort theme, and an angst theme all rolled into one.  Most of all, there is love.  It’s not in your face.  It’s not simple.  And like life, it sneaks up on you.  You then discover that you have come to love the characters as they love each other by the end of the last word.  I think I even said “no, no, I want to know more!” when I read that word.  Something about “you can’t stop here,” also flitted across my mind. J

All in all, the characters, both main and supporting, were believable. I look forward to seeing more stories.  Half-way through, I thanked Ashlyn for intending this book to be the start of a series, because I wanted to find out more about the imps.  All of the characters moved me, especially the “alien” ones.

Overall, I really enjoyed this novel and can’t wait for the next story.  Finding an author who likes to write a series is a plus in my book.  Despite the few slow places in the beginning, I have to give it five out of five stars.  You deserve it Ashlyn.  And now I leave you with a quote from the book that I think says it well:

“Life is a struggle. It’s just as hard as, if not harder than, the blood sports you participate in. If you really want to tempt fate, you should try actually playing the cards you’ve been dealt for once.”

A revised version of this review will also appear in Goodreads under the ebook.

In Liam's Wake full cover


For eight years, Liam has been trapped underground in The Colony—a sanctuary so determined to stay hidden it forbids anyone from leaving once they’ve entered. His only hope of returning home rests on his best friend Riley who, on the eve of their escape, slipped into a coma.

Despite staggering debt, vengeful mutants and bounty hunters, Liam continues a seemingly never-ending quest for a cure to end Riley’s unnatural five-year sleep. Every night, Liam stares at the listless man who not only holds his escape, but his heart. The suffering can end, however; Liam must only forsake all hope of ever returning home again, abandon Riley to his fate, and wholeheartedly serve as a soldier for The Colony—the very people he’s trying to escape.

Live the life within his reach, or continue chasing the one just beyond his grasp? He need only submit.

More details and sample downloads – http://www.ashlynforge.com/in-liams-wake/

Buy Links:

Amazon (ebook) – http://amzn.com/B00FPYT5V6/

Amazon (paperback) – http://www.amazon.com/Liams-Wake-Makeshift-Soldier-Soldiers/dp/0989506010/

Kobo – http://bit.ly/1g5vJKL

B&N – http://bit.ly/HddnHT

Smashwords – http://bit.ly/Hq5Kyt

Goodreads – http://bit.ly/19mo9r9

Be sure to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below for a chance to win one of the following:

1 Paperback copy of In Liam’s Wake

3 ebooks of In Liam’s Wake

1 In Liam’s Wake Audiobook (Available Dec 15)

1 Personalized audio message from Liam

5$ Amazon Gift Card

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