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Book Review: The Giver, Graphic Novel by Lois Lowry and P. Craig Russell (Illustrations)

the giver

The Giver, The graphic Novel will be available for purchase on February 5, 2019.

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, via Edelweiss+, for an honest review.

Genre: Teen/YA/Fiction/Graphic Novel/Comic

Plot: Placed on countless reading lists, translated into more than forty languages, and made into a feature film, The Giver is the first book in The Giver Quartet that also includes Gathering Blue, Messenger, and Son.

In this new graphic novel edition, readers experience the haunting story of twelve-year-old Jonas and his seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment, through the brilliant art of P. Craig Russell that truly brings The Giver to life.

Witness Jonas’s assignment as the Receiver of Memory, watch as he begins to understand the dark secrets behind his fragile community, and follow the explosion of color into his world like never before.

Opinion:

I can picture it so clearly as if it were yesterday.

I was sitting in class, a wee youngster at the time.

A black book with an old man on the cover was dropped on my rickety desk; assigned reading for the semester. Audible groans and grumblings of “this looks boring” and “dude, come on. Something from this century, PLEASE” were heard throughout the room.

The story of a young boy was given to us with a cover so wise beyond our years, with words so eloquently written, that it almost felt too much for our wandering minds to grasp. A book we appreciated and grew to love, but one that still left a dryness across our eyes.

If ONLY we had been given this beautiful version.

You all know the story of young Jonas and his path to becoming the Receiver of Memory. Living in a place where color does not exist, and the memory of it is not taught. But when he is given his Life Assignment, he is given a job unlike his friends. He is to be the Receiver of Memory, the one who holds all the memories of the world, including those with color. So ensues Jonas’s journey to learning about the world, one filled with happiness and pain, sadness and elation. This version of The Giver pulls in readers of all ages and gives them beautifully illustrated images of Jonas’ story.

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This graphic novel is AMAZING.

I honestly didn’t know how much I needed a graphic novel version of The Giver, until now. These illustrations are BEAUTIFUL and perfectly portray this story. Not only is it a great version for all us who had read this in school or when we were kids, but it is a FANTASTIC way to get the younger audiences and newer generations interested! I feel SO lucky that we were given a movie, and now this! The story is the same, but naturally, not every word from the original was transcribed to this rendition. This form of The Giver is much more direct with its delivery of the story, thanks to the illustrations being able to shorten the originals descriptions of scenery.

Instead of the reader having to imagine Jonas learning about colors and the world, they get to SEE it happening as they read. It’s a movie and a book in one! I think all ages can enjoy this adaptation of the classic novel by Lois Lowry, but I feel that it might end up targeting a younger audience overall. Due to the writing being shortened to accommodate the illustrations, it seems that some of the more dark and somber moments from this book are reduced. The reader can see the emotion from the illustrations, but it definitely doesn’t have that gut-wrenching effect that the original has.

Some things from the original were shortened, like Jonas’s big escape with the baby and some of the moments with the current Receiver of Memory. I also found it interesting that the illustrations only portrayed moments of full color for Jonas when he was receiving a memory, or when he had left. I would have expected him to have full color before then, but really, I suppose it doesn’t matter!

In comparison to the original form of The Giver, I found this graphic novel to be breathtaking and VERY enjoyable. As a long-time lover of this book, I was hit with a rush of nostalgia and happiness while reading. This version is truly a masterpiece and will be a great interpretation for younger audiences. I cannot WAIT to get this in a print version!

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5-stars

 

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Book Reviews · Books · New Releases · Reviews

Book Review: The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air, Book 2) by Holly Black

the wicked king

Genre: YA/Fantasy

Plot: You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.

The first lesson is to make yourself strong.

After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.

When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world.

Opinion:

So there I was.

Curled up on the couch upstairs.

Enjoying my lunch break in silence. Reveling in the comfort and bliss of a book of fantasy and Fae, magical creatures and humans.

Devouring the pages and words with the eyes of a stalker, with the death grip of a blubbering woman not at all keen on letting go of a lover.

With the enthusiasm of a book junkie getting their long-awaited fix.

There I was.

Just…minding my own business.

And then

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Dear Holly Black,

Please accept this as my death letter. For 2019 is ruined, and I cannot go on.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

All of Jude’s scheming has finally paid off, or has it? With Oak safely in the mortal world with Vivi and Cardan successfully bound to Jude, things should be going smoothly. But Cardans constant antics and games have left Jude to be the one ruling faerie from the shadows, with Cardan fighting her every step of the way. But with new power comes something worse, the craving for more and a target on your back. There are whispers of an attempt to overthrow the High King, but when? Jude is told that she has been betrayed by someone she trusts, but who? With her feelings for Cardan in a constant state of confusion, and the fate of an entire world on her shoulders, Jude fights to keep her carefully constructed pieces from scattering in the wind.

I feel nauseous.

You’d think I would catch on to these blind-sides and surprises by now. If not from the mass number of books that I murder, then from reading The Cruel Prince and knowing that Holly Black likes to TORTURE her dear and devoted readers.

My day had STARTED out pleasant.

Now, it’s a swirling pit of misery and disgrace. I am DISGUSTED, yet slightly charmed. Wholly DEVASTATED and…a bit impassioned. My stomach feels like its attempting to crawl up my throat, dragging my heart from the depths of bleak outlooks and deprivation. As if my insides have decided “to hell with it”, and will begin seeping out and dissipating into the cruel air and harsh lighting that is my life as of now. First came the disbelief. The shock and the audible gasps. Then came the incessant repeating of No, NO, NOOOOO! The Anger! THE AGGONNNNYYY!

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Dramatics aside. This book is f*****g amazing. I flew down the stairs in a panic as soon as I finished; I immediately began furiously pounding my feelings away through my fingertips, onto this keyboard, and into this theatrical review. But now that I have finished throwing my feelings up all over these pages (because we ARE at two pages already), what do I say without spoiling everything?!

I say this.

Taryn is still a tripe. Madoc is still a devious strategist. Jude is still cold and cunning. And Cardan is still cruel, while also quite wicked. As I was reading through The Wicked King I wondered if Holly Black could really have any more tricks up her sleeve. I assumed everything that had come after The Cruel Prince would be on a milder scale. Sure, there would still be malicious games, callous moves and bloodthirsty characters. BUT, I thought the worst had passed.

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I am SO gullible.

The backstabbing has reached a new level here, along with the “blood is thicker than water” sayings. It’s almost laughable how righteously f****d these characters are to each other, especially when you stop to imagine yourself in this world. The constant looking over your shoulder and anxiety of being plotted against. The riddles and lies that are spewed in elegance. The stab wounds and death threats that skate alongside the small smiles and kisses. IT’S ALL TOO MUCH!

But as wicked as the king is to be said, Jude is truly the most wicked of them all. There’s just SOMETHING about a girl that can stab a man in the neck that just makes me do a little dance on my tippy toes. Whether it’s her Oscar worthy acting skills or her sarcastic taunts and digs, I can’t help but adore the girl to pieces. There is truly something to be said for a woman that can make her heart as cold as ice. Something of brilliance, I imagine. But next to Jude, we have Cardan. The sweet and infuriatingly dreamy Cardan. *SIGH*…what couldn’t one say of his character?! He is suave, he is arrogant and clever. He is still a jackass. Though I didn’t think much of Cardan before, I sure as hell do now! *Slow and sarcastic clapping* Well done Cardan. Well done.

Though now, I have even less I can say without being the Viscount of Vague! There are conversations in towers, a crown of foul-smelling mushrooms, plotted assassinations, betrayals by the trusted, time spent in the waters, poisonous poisons, duels ‘till the death, ruby rings and moves and counter moves! There is just so little I can say, but I CAN say this: waiting a year for book three is definitely and undoubtedly the bane of my existence.

Until then, I leave you with this.

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Book Promo · Book Reviews · Books · Netgalley · Reviews

Book Review: Evenfall (Shadowfire, Book 1) by Gaja J. Kos & Boris Kos

Evenfall

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher via NetGalley for an honest review.

Genre: YA/Fantasy

Plot: As if waking up in an unfamiliar world isn’t enough of a surprise, Ember gains a new title to her name. Savior.

Hunted by the Crescent Prince and his lethal shadows, she accepts a young Mage’s help to navigate the land of blood magic and its many illusions. But where Ada sees the good in her power, Ember discovers something else.

An icy darkness, designed to take lives, not save them.

The only thing worse than not being able to rely on her senses—or the reality she had once believed to be true—is knowing that she cannot trust her heart. Especially as it seems to draw her to the one person in whose hands she can never fall…

Opinion:

 “The thing I noticed above all else when unconsciousness released me from its talons of darkness, was that for the first time in my life, I found myself gazing at the night sky.

The second, just as enchanting, yet infinitely more unbelievable, was that the world around me was no longer mine.”

Ember wakes to find the various hues of black, blue and velvet of the night sky staring down at her. Where her world is flushed in light, this new world is flushed in darkness. With no recollection of how she must have traveled between worlds, Ember finds herself exploring a city called Nysa during their celebrated winter solstice. But the warning from a young girl named Ada brings caution to Ember. Their planes have been fractured, broken, and only a child born of the three worlds may have a chance at repairing them. The Crescent Prince seeks the savior, the one, to use in his quest for power and complete control. As a powerful mage, Ada feels that Ember is the one they have been waiting for. As Ada works to hide Ember from the cruel and ruthless prince, they formulate a plan to sneak into his palace to steal one of the three fragments that could keep the worlds from falling apart. But Ember soon finds that nothing is as it seems, especially when it comes to the past.

“But what truly drew my gaze was a fountain of starlight, pure and mesmerizing, a work of art that commanded the space with singular grace.

I was stunned by its simplicity, by the beauty of thousands of minuscule stars, cascading down the three levels before they were drawn up to the top again to repeat the cycle. I wanted to sit down before it, stare at this wonder until the flickering specks were imprinted on the backs of my lids…”

If I was to pick a set of authors to describe a fantastical world to me, it would be these two. Somraque is a world of night, of starlight and dark shades of color. It is a world that I fell in love with instantly, as did the main character, Ember. Walking with Ember as she explores the city and witnesses the various types of illusions and magic, was exhilarating. The writing is exquisite and beautiful, and it crafts a detailed and pulsing world for the reader to easily visualize in their minds eye. But as bewitching as the writing is, the construction of the plot felt over-drawn and dragged-out.

Truth be told..

…I was practically falling asleep during the first half of this book.

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About HALF of Evenfall is story-building and fillers. For nineteen chapters I was slipping in and out of consciousness. There was some speed-reading, some page scanning for dialogue, and the ever-true sign of a book you just CANNOT get into: I put it down about thirty times. I DID enjoy some aspects of the first half, such as the descriptions of the city and the explanation of the fate of the worlds, but I felt like I was drowning in words that were completely unnecessary. I NEVER thought I would say this in a book review, but the first half of this book was WAY TOO WORDY. It felt like I had lived through the stone age before the story started to pick up and pull me in.

But once I hit chapter twenty, something magical happened.

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~*I woke up*~

My advice:

Stay and get to Chapter Twenty.

It will fulfill at least SOME of your dreams.

“A touch so gentle it barely existed, yet it enveloped every inch of me, radiating through my veins and crackling through the very shadows that reached towards the starlight sky beyond the illusion.”

THIS is what I was waiting for! The point when the authors would throw a rope around my ankles and drag me into the midst of turmoil and heartbreak. Chapter twenty is when you will get hooked, when you will swoon, and when you will finally be able to make sense of what is going on. Here we are finally blessed with the prolonged presence of the crescent prince, not just a snippet or two of him. He is dark and mysterious, stone-faced and stiff, but is he…cruel? I just wasn’t seeing it.

“And yet it wasn’t his face or elegant demeanor that stole away my breath. It was the shadows- tendrils of pure silver that seems to unfurl from his body and dance in his wake.

Horrifying. And beautiful.”

For the entire first half of Evenfall characters are telling Ember how horrible and cruel the crescent prince is. That he is a murderer and only craves power. That he wants to enslave her and bend her to his will. But when we finally “meet” him, he just seemed…blah. I was expecting the Beast that trapped the Beauty, the High Lord of the shadows and night, the Cruel Prince with sarcasm and charm. But he wasn’t any of those things. He may have been described in a beautiful way to make anyone swoon, but his character fell flat. For all the time it took to build the first nineteen chapters, I would have expected twice the time to build up his and Ember’s relationship.

But alas, the details and buildup of that relationship was just as quick as my eyes fluttering shut at the beginning of this book.

The relationship between Ember and the crescent prince had barely any beginning before it jumped right into the middle! This man has lived for years upon years in isolation, so how is he so quick to be familiar with Ember being around? A gradual relationship was what was needed for this story. One where the reader could REALLY connect with both characters on a different level. This would have been the opportune time to really sharpen and mold Ember and the crescent prince.

I am left feeling like I know the characters as if another reader had explained them to me, instead of me seeing them for myself. The authors touched the surface of them, but I feel no depth and no kinship to them. I think the only character I TRULY care for in this story, is the dog. And what a precious dog she is! Though I don’t feel a strong and heart-wrenching passion for these people, my interest is still peeked for what happens and the possibilities of what COULD happen. This story ends with a cliff-hanger that DOES leave me wanting more, if only to know what happens to the cruel-but-not-so-cruel prince.

Though my review comes off more negative than positive, I find that I am much more appreciative of this story than I sound. It was creative and beautifully crafted, I just wish there was an even and consistent flow throughout the read. I wanted to be engaged and hooked the entire time while reading, not just for the last half. I am hoping the characters will have a stronger presence in the next story, which I plan on reading. It was a beautifully woven tale of magic and adventure, so hopefully it is in book two where I will really fall in love.

3-5-stars

 

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Book Promo · Book Reviews · Books · JKS Communications · New Releases · Pre-order · Reviews

Book Review:Immortal Girls by Griffin Stark

Immortal Girls

Disclaimer: I was sent an ARC copy of this book by JKS Communications on behalf of the author, for an honest review.

Genre: Fiction/Fantasy/YA/Teen

Plot: The year is 1095, Normandy, France. Five year old Skylar runs away into the woods to escape nuns who are convinced her inexplicable seizures are the work of Satan. She survives after being adopted by wolves, when two mysterious strangers appear and reveal Skylar’s destiny to her. Skylar is the first of the Immortal Girls, destined to save humanity from itself.

“Immortal Girls” follows Skylar, Rachel, Caitlin, Beth, and Bethany, five immortal sisters who, over the course of a thousand years, attempt to learn the purpose of their own existence while hunting down the worst criminals this world has ever seen. They’ve faced the likes of Jack the Ripper and the Nazis, but as a new enemy arises to threaten the sisters’ survival they’ll soon learn that immortality doesn’t mean forever.

Opinion:

It is I, on this Sunday, that blesses you with this:

A book with the potential to reach the stars

if only it had gone through a few Beta/Alpha readers first.

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This book has tremendous potential to be amazing, but it just doesn’t feel finished. There are a few positives, a few negatives, and some gray areas in-between. There were times when I really enjoyed the authors writing, and times when I had no idea what he was trying to convey to the reader. If I look at the work as a whole, I find it to be a cute story and something I really didn’t mind reading. But it could have been SO much better.

Let’s start with the length of the book. Yes, it is short. But let’s categorize it into the “Short Story” genre then. In that regard, it is the perfect size. The writing is quick and to the point, and doesn’t waste time with too many words and unnecessary “fluff”. But if the intention is for this to be a novel, then okay, it’s short. However, in my opinion, I think the story is fine at this length. I saw a few complaints from readers expressing that it was too short for a fantasy story which caused there to be a lack of story and character building. But every book is different. This just happens to be a shorter fantasy book that doesn’t include an exuberant amount of description and detail, but I think it works.

The plot for this book is what immediately interested me, and what compelled me to accept it for review. I loved the creative idea of moving through historical events and characters, and bringing a fictional side into it. The author successfully weaved a tale of inventive possibilities and outcomes that COULD have happened in history, and it was enjoyable to see them play out. I liked the interaction with Joan of Arc and how the author portrayed her as a typical teenage girl who was seeking friendship, the idea that Anne Frank met a girl in her concentration camp and wished her to share her diary with the world, and that a few eighteen-year-old girls were the true demise of Jack the Ripper. This is all VERY creative. But some of it just wasn’t executed as well as it could have been.

The change of scenes was only separated by paragraphs, which made it EXTREMELY difficult to keep up with what was happening. There was a moment when one immortal girl was introduced and described to the reader, but in the next paragraph the reader is thrown into a scene from her past. Where was the notice that this was happening?! It could have been completed with just three small characters. Look, it’s so simple:

***

The author paints the parents, Isabelle and Alistair, to be these divine and heavenly beings who are tasked with showing the girls the “right” path in life that could save the world. I mean I think that was his goal? It’s not very clear. But who are these two characters? Where did they come from? They could be tricksters from Satan for all I know about them! But what is even more confusing is that these girls are actually “trained” to be savage killers. And when I say “trained” I mean they become immortal, and then instinctively know to reach through a guy’s chest and rip his heart out.

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I DID like the introductions for each Immortal girl though, and how each one was a little different. I REALLY liked the introduction of Caitlin when the author described her. THIS is how they entirety of the story should have been described. It was detailed and gave me a PERFECT image of what she looked like and who she was, but wasn’t overly wordy. It was just right. But then by the end of Caitlin’s story I was confused again because I didn’t understand if she was already immortal at that point, or if she was then going to become immortal?

Also, I think those cheesy one-liners when the girls are killing don’t even need to be touched on.

Honestly.

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By the end of the of the book I was a bit annoyed, but I had learned to accept it for what it is. I think it would be a great idea for this author to use Beta and Alpha readers for his next book, because it would only benefit him to have the opinions of readers that are going to give him honest helpful criticism. I think this story was cute and creative, but it just didn’t execute in the way I had hoped it would.

2-5-stars

 

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Book Promo · Book Reviews · Books · Reviews

Book Review: The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air, Book 1) by Holly Black

the cruel prince

Genre: YA/Fantasy

Plot: Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

Opinion:

This tale may have faeries that harness such beauty that your throat will constrict on sight, a court of royalty both fierce and alluring, and a human girl thrust upon its center.

But this isn’t your typical Fae tale, and it isn’t for the fainthearted.

There are tricksters and murderers, kin slayers and cruel rulers.

There are romances with slit eyes and truths entwined in riddles.

There are faeries as flinty as a fox, ones who love tyrannical tricks and depraved deadly deeds.

But sometimes the most cold-blooded becomes the compassionate, and the most sympathetic becomes the sadistic.

Buckle up boys and girls. Your sweet faeries are dripping in poison.

At the age of seven Jude and her sisters were swept away to a land called faerie by the murderer of their parents, the general of the High King at the High Court of Faerie. After being forced to adapt to her new surroundings and way of life, Jude grows to love faerie even though humans are looked down upon. Ten years later, Jude can finally call the land of Faerie home with the goals of becoming a Knight to the High King. But Jude’s life in Faerie is far from easy. She is ridiculed and tortured by the Fae, especially by the youngest Prince of the High Court and his minions. Usually choosing to be meek and keep her head down, Jude decides to show a different hand. As she fights to win a place at court, she realizes that the politics and deceptions in the inner circle might just be more than she bargained for.

Call me naïve, and maybe even innocent as a stretch, but here I thought I was going to be reading a nice Fae tale with a grumpy prince, a whirlwind romance and the potential of a swift rebellion.

Dear oh me. Was I f*****g wrong.

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Where do I even start?! This book just went to the TOP of my favorites list, and THANKFULLY book two, The Wicked King, is coming out in four days or I might just have to fall over in some sort of dramatic goth-like fashion!

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The tale goes as such: long, long ago, in the far away land called Faerie that isn’t’ all that far away, Jude’s human mother marries a Fae general named Madoc and they sire a half-Fae daughter. Soon the human wife falls in love with a human swordsmith in Faerie, and they both escape to the mortal lands with the half-Fae daughter. Some odd years later AFTER the mortals sire their twin human daughters, said Fae General named Madoc finds the mortal couple and attempts to convince his wife and daughter to return to Faerie. After refusals and threats, the impatient Fae general murders the mortal couple in front of their children. But EVER the gentlemen that this Fae male is, he takes his half-Fae daughter AND her human sisters back to Faerie whilst bringing honor to the wife that he just killed.

Isn’t that just dreamy?

I knew you’d love it.

Let’s start with our lovable, though debatable, female lead: Jude. Jude is the epitome of an underdog. Nobody in Faerie expects much from her and Taryn due to their humanly status, and as such they are ridiculed and taunted mercilessly by Prince Cardan and his loathsome entourage. At first Jude strikes the reader as a meek and dutiful girl, trying to stay in line and invisible to the Fae. But quiet quickly a drastic change in her is thrust upon the reader, and we are given this formidable and fierce female. Plainly put, Jude becomes a Grade-A BADASS with a pension for s**t disturbing. I don’t know about you guys, but I want this girl on my team. Ruthless.

But what is the cause of this sudden change in demeanor for our female lead? Why, it’s the cruel prince himself, Cardan! Naturally it was easy to assume that the romance of this story would be between Cardan and Jude. That Cardan would be a sulky little prince at first meeting and then transform into a valiant and respectable man fit for a fairytale! Well…not so much.

Ladies, Cardan is a hulking jackass.

He is vicious, constantly in a state of inebriation, and does everything in his power to torment Jude. But this isn’t just a case of name-calling and shoving. He tears off other Faeries wings and tries relentlessly to persuade Jude to kill herself. BRUTAL. Truthfully though, I find Cardan to be sinfully delicious and intriguing. The author goes out of her way to confuse the reader about this character, and I am left with a vague and mysterious idea of him that makes me crave more.

The sisters of Jude are also interesting characters that bring an ENTIRELY different level of innocence and cruelty to this book. Taryn embodies the roll of a submissive female. She seems willing to do just about ANYTHING to stay out the path of ruthlessness provided by Cardan and his friends. The girl has a floppy spine, the heart of a rock and I would be GLAD to be rid of her. But Vivi is a completely different case. She is Fae but loathes living in Faerie, and wants nothing more than to return to the mortal world. She is a fiery and outspoken woman, especially when it comes to her EXTREME distaste for Madoc. I wish she had a bigger role in this story, but in the end, I suppose it make no difference.

The Cruel Prince has proved to be an extremely imaginative and completely different story than what I was expecting. These faeries are brutish and downright wild when it comes to getting what they want. I feel completely constricted in what I can say, but look out for those blindsides, because you will NOT see them coming! This book is packed with vague answers, manipulation, mind games, murder and brutality. However, I am slightly disappointed that there wasn’t more descriptions and world building for the land of Faerie. I felt that the author had a HUGE chance to make this world a whimsical and dauntingly beautiful place, but instead it comes across as “okay” due to the lack of description. I also would have preferred a little more insight into Jude’s physical training and to see her grow in that way as well. This was all mentioned, but moved over rather quickly.

With that said, I honestly can’t say anything more or I will give everything away to those of you who haven’t had the chance at reading this FANTASTIC book. I am counting down the days for The Wicked King to be released! Hopefully it will be just as addicting as the first.

4-stars

 

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Book Promo · Book Reviews · Books · New Releases · Reviews

Book Review: Quelling (The Purification Era, Book 2) by Angie Grigaliunas

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the author, Angie Grigaliunas, for an honest review.  

Genre: YA

Plot: For years, Rabreah has longed to overthrow the power-abusing Hulcondans who control her city. Yet in the wake of an unauthorized rebel attack, Lord Masrekah takes over the hunt for the“terrorists” – and it’s only a matter of time until he figures out her secrets.If he hasn’t already. Resistance leader Sorek’s return is a welcome sight, but his easy infiltration of the enemy kindles Rabreah’s suspicion of where exactly his loyalties lie – and threatens her growing feelings for him.

Unaware of her sister’s double life, Ariliah continues to support the Hulcondans. But as the city spirals into violence, everything she’s ever believed starts to unravel. Afraid to confront her doubts, she clings to her splintering trust and a dangerous new connection with Lord Masrekah.

Yet as the Hulcondans bear down on the resistance and its allies, the truth becomes clear: there aren’t just two sides, the greatest enemies lurk inside the city, and even the most faithful supporter has a breaking point.

Opinion:

*Soft, yet dramatic, whimpering through an endless stream of tears*

*Incessant poking of arms and legs to check if I’m real*

*Attempts at forming words that come out as incoherent mumblings and squeaks*

This series will be the end of me.

The “terrorists” continue to move against the Hulcondan’s and to voice their propaganda by way of posters, attacks, and the most recent attempted murders of one of their most prominent Lords. But with the threats against the city showing no means of slowing, Lord Siserah decides to step aside and let decisions be made by the ruthless and brutal Lord Masrekah. With each citizen under close surveillance and forced to travel with an escort to their assignments and homes, fear is at the forefront of everyone’s mind. For Ariliah, the fear is that the Itzalin monsters will breach the wall to the city and destroy everything she loves. It is the fear of her abusive mother and the fear that the Hulcondans, who she trusts with her life, will parish trying to protect the citizens. But for Rabreah, it is a different form of fear entirely. Staying undetected as a rebel becomes increasingly difficult for Rabreah and her allies, especially when their leader, Sorek, returns to the city posing as a Hulcondan in order to get close to his enemy. Rabreah knows she must trust her leader with her life, even when her feelings for him start to change, but her distrust of men is always in the back of her mind. The truth of what they were taught as children to be right and wrong starts to blur for both of Ariliah and Rabreah, and they are forced to choose which side they want to be on when chaos hits.  

(Click here for my review of book one, Sowing, if you need a refresher haven’t read it)

*Sigh*…where to begin.

I was an Alpha and Beta reader for Angie for the second book in this amazing series, so this is my third time reading Quelling. As this is obviously the final edit, there were a few additions and changes from the copies that I read, but they only added to the splendor that these books possess.

I cannot stress enough how AMAZING this series is.

Angie has this irritating knack for ripping my soul into her characters, making me either trust them or hate them, and then completely twisting my feelings into something that I can barely grasp or fathom. I am a fiercely loyal person by nature, and Angie has made me overly protective of these characters and their lives. I feel every bit of anger and defiance that Rabreah possesses, and every act of pure innocence and uninhibited trust that Ariliah gives to those around her. Angie has put a mirror up to every woman in the world, sliced their beings into two, and thrown them into these fierce and brilliant female characters.

It is taking only the laws of physics to keep me from reaching through these pages and maiming anyone who tries to hurt these girls.

But Rabreah and Ariliah aren’t the only amazing characters in this series. The reader is introduced to several other members of the rebellion that each have heart wrenching and sorrowful stories. As Rabreah begins to meet more rebel members, she is introduced to an array of people with different jobs and backgrounds. This book holds countless eye-opening moments for Rabreah where her character is forced to question what she has been taught with what she can actually see. But of course, one of the most prominent rebel members is their fearless leader, Sorek.

Sorek returns as a Hulcondan in order to remain close to his enemy, and to act as a VERY convincing spy. Not only does this put Sorek RIGHT next to the frightening Lord Masrekah, but it tests the trust of Rabreah as she watches him immerse himself in his performance. Sorek is the epitome of a strong, upstanding and fearless male character. As the story went on I couldn’t help but love and adore him, as I think most of us will or have ended up doing. His tenderness and respect for Rabreah leaves me happily broken and weapy, and the ending to this book just about ripped my heart from my chest. In a good way.

Now on the other side of the fence we have the sweet and delicate Ariliah. Book two is where Ariliah shines, and where readers will REALLY begin to latch onto her. In Sowing Ariliah was a very timid girl who trusted and obeyed the hulcondan’s without question, never stood up for herself, and who seemed to be a shadow of who she could be. But in Quelling, she transforms into a woman who can and will stand up for herself. She is the little sister that we have always wanted, and you can’t help but want to standby her side and root her on.

But what I really can’t get over with this book, is that Angie has done the unthinkable.

She has made me question ALL of my previous opinions of this series,made me rethink one or two of my morals and beliefs, and even lessened a slight part of the man hater buried DEEP in my soul.

Brace yourselves.

I have a SLIGHT liking towards Masrekah now.

So it turns out that this horrible, ruthless, disgusting pig of a man just MIGHT not be the evil scum that he was perceived to be. Sneaky Angie, very sneaky. Lord Masrekah, to my utter shock, has become somewhat of a human being in book two. He has begun to show an interest in Ariliah, and even goes as far as to act almost protective over her but without making it seem beyond creepy…?! Trust me when I say, I am shocked at my changed feelings.Mostly because it took me three times of reading Quelling to have even ONE positive thought toward this guy.  But to make things stranger, I even sort of see the appeal of him now.

You know, like how a really attractive serial killer could be somewhat appealing. -_-

Characters aside, the overall story building in this series is really remarkable. These books keep me tense and hooked the entire time. It feels almost PAINFUL to put these books down and go to work! The countless attacks and threats, the gruesome moments, the literal “what in the actual f**k” moments in Quelling are what really put this series over the edge from great to AMAZING. There is SO much going on in this book and I can’t utter one word of it without revealing everything! This is a series that will force the reader to THINK and QUESTION their own feelings. I am blown away with the detail the Angie puts forth in her writing and the cruel yet beautiful world that she has created.

This is not a request for you to read this series.

This is a demand. Do it. You WILL NOT be disappointed.

 

5-stars

 

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Book Review: Joshua and the Shadow of Death (Berserker Series, Book 1) by Gary McPherson

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Amazon.com – Joshua and the Shadow of Death (Berserker Series, Book 1) by Gary McPherson

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Disclaimer: I was sent an ARC copy of this book by JKS Communications on behalf of the author, for an honest review.

Genre: Fiction/Crime Thriller/Suspense/Mystery

Plot: “I never thought my life would turn out like this. My best friend Richard Brown is dead. Parts of his brain still paint the wall where he shot himself. Eighteen years ago, he and Barbara entrusted me with curing their adopted son, Harold. I was so sure of myself. After all, I had cured his half-brother at the orphanage. I thought I knew what I was doing, but now I’m not sure of anything.

Richard left me a note telling me to help Harold find the men responsible. Richard claims if we fail to solve his suicide that his company and everyone working there will be lost. What does that mean, and does it matter? How can I help? I am a psychiatrist, not a detective. If I fail, what will become of Barbara? Will Harold’s grief unleash the beast living inside him? The berserker is controlled, but he is not contained.”

Join childhood development psychiatrist Doctor Joshua Zeev as he attempts to find the answers to his best friend’s death and help the family through their grief. Can Joshua survive his insufficiencies? Does Maria’s patient love give him the focus that he needs to discover the truth, or will she be a distraction? Does his challenge of a lifetime, bring answers and closure, or even more perilous dangers?

Opinion:

A suspenseful thriller JUST in time for the holiday season!

Put on those trench coats and grab those magnifying glasses boys and girls, there’s a conspiracy afoot!

Joshua has spent many diligent years working with countless young boys at an orphanage in North Carolina. Two of his most memorable cases were that of two half brothers who were both left at an orphanage by their mother. Both boys were diagnosed by Joshua with “Berserker Syndrome”, a condition that makes the person fly into a blind rage so bizarre that it can be described as being possessed. After curing the youngest of the brothers, Bill, Joshua is enlisted by the adoptive parents of the oldest boy, Harold, in hopes that he may also be cured. Years later in California, Harold is a grown man and Joshua is still living with the family and working with Harold on his blind rage. But when the sudden suicide of Harold’s father Richard Brown occurs, Joshua’s concern for the young man is at an all time high. As he tries to find the reason for his friend’s sudden death, while also keeping Harold under control, Joshua finds himself with more questions than answers.

This story has just about everything I could ask for in a suspense thriller; a man with a dangerous blind rage, blackmail, countless deaths, and even a little bit of romance. Did somebody say swoon?! Though I was expecting a story that focused on the slightly disturbed inner workings of a young man who starts beating people to a pulp out of nowhere; I was instead welcomed with a mystery on the suicide of a man who ran a very profitable weapons company. Though I am not upset about this change of events, I must say that I feel slightly derailed from what I was expecting of this story.

I was hoping to have a better understanding of this “berserker syndrome”, which the reader is introduced to right away at the beginning of the story. The reader is taken through a part of Harold’s life as a young boy when Joshua is first treating him for his condition, and the author paints a nice picture of how little Harold can control his rages. But we are fast-forwarded years later to when Harold is a grown man, and the story turns into more of a “who-done-it” rather than focusing on Harold and his condition. It feels like this initial idea for the book to be based more on the psychiatric and mental side of the experiences of this family was thrown by the waste side a little. I wish it would have had bigger role in the overall telling of this story, instead of just going right into being a search to find out the reason for Richard brown’s suicide. I felt like I didn’t get an in-depth look into Harold as much as I would have liked, which in turn made it harder for me to connect with his character.

Our other main character in this story is Joshua, a psychiatrist who specializes in child development and who had coined “berserker syndrome”. I found that Joshua’s character could have also been given a little more depth and attention. Many times, I found myself slightly irritated with the comments he would make about suicide or other observations. He didn’t come across as the intelligent and worldly man that I think the author was trying to mold him to be. Instead, I found him to be a little dim and overly simplistic in the way he thought and spoke. There were a few examples of Joshua and other characters emotions being TOLD to the reader, rather than SHOWN. A book can tell me someone is sad, but I won’t believe it until I see the evidence backed by the actions of the character.

Characters aside, the overall story has an interesting and thoughtful plot. The Brown family runs a very successful weapons company. Now, I think this may be something to do with nuclear weapons, but I am not very clear on that. Anyways. One day Richard Brown shoots himself in the head in his office in front of Harold (super casual), which commences the true question of the story: WHY?! This takes the reader on a hunt to find the cause of Richard’s suicide, which eventually leads to a bigger scandal. Now I don’t want to give anything away, but BE WARNED that this book will reference some not so pleasant things. Nothing graphic, so don’t worry. I found the journey to the truth in this tale to be likable, but at times a bit too wordy. There was a lot of dialogue that wasn’t completely necessary, but I think was used to give the reader a deeper connection to the characters. Unfortunately, it didn’t for me and I just ended up skimming through those parts.

I think Joshua and the Shadow of Death was an entertaining and different read but didn’t quite hit the mark for me in terms of a deep connection and concern for the characters. I think the plot definitely makes it a great book that had me yearning for what really happened, and I found that I rather enjoyed that aspect of the book. I think the writing and character development can use a little work, but it is still very easy to read and enjoy.

3-stars

 

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