Tag: Book Review

eARC Review: The Bone Roses by Kathryn Lee Martin

eARC Review: The Bone Roses by Kathryn Lee Martin

Sixteen-year-old Rags is the most feared Rustler in the world, and for good reason. When she’s not raiding the post-Yellowstone Kingdom’s established settlements for supplies to keep her frontier, Rondo, alive another day, she’s fending off witch hunt-happy villagers who want her rare blue eyes […]

eARC Mini Review: Song of Blood & Stone by L. Penelope

eARC Mini Review: Song of Blood & Stone by L. Penelope

Release Day, May 1, 2018! In the beginning, there was silence. Partial synopsis provided by Goodreads. Song of Blood & Stone Series: Earthsinger Chronicles #1Author: L. PenelopePublication Date: May 1, 2018Publisher: St. Martin’s PressPage Count: 384Format: eARCGenre: Young Adult, Fantasy, RomanceCover Artist: —My Rating: Since […]

Mini Book Review: Prince of the South by Ava Richardson

Mini Book Review: Prince of the South by Ava Richardson

Being a Prince, J'ahalid is no stranger to the fact that his kingdom requires protecting. When he Sees the Dragon Riders of Torvald, he knows that dragons are the answer to his problems.

Prince Of The South

Author: Ava Richardson
Publication Date: July 2017
Publisher: Relay Publishing
Page Count: ---
Format: ebook
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Short-Story
Cover Artist: Shardel
My Rating: ★★½

Prince of the southPrince of the south by Ava Richardson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“I wanted such a dragon. Why should only the kings of Torvald have such power? Why should our kingdom be lacking?”


Prince J’ahalid Mudin Dar Awil of the South Kingdom immediately desires dragons for his kingdom when he sees the dragon riders of Torvald midflight. Knowing that his kingdom is constantly threatended by others, he takes it into his own hands to protect his family and people.

Traveling towards the mountains along the old spice route, J’ahalid catches a glimpse of the mountain dragons. Desperate to capture some for himself, he risks his life to travel up the mountain during a sandstorm. Nearly losing his life due to his arrogance, he’s saved by non other than that which he seeks: a dragon and her rider.

“Dragons are friends–you do not use your friends.”


Samir of the Binshee Tribe, and her fellow dragon Toolon save J’ahalid from the trechery of the sandstorm. In doing so, they learn who he is and what he’s looking for. J’ahalid quickly learns that dragons are not animals to be conquered and tamed. They deserve respect and choose their riders themselves. These lessons do well for J’ahalid, as his immature and rather unlikeable character is humbled.

Deciding to stay in the mountains with Samir and the dragons, J’ahalid learns the ways of the dragons and how to form proper relationships with them.

“I have learned a dragon’s heart, and some things are more important than land and kingdoms. Tesh has taught me that. I see now why the dragons saved your people but let the city burn. That was the wise choice. For cities can be rebuilt. Buildings are jusst empty shells without people. And that is what drives me back–I must see my parents again.”


Overall, this was an alright read. The dialogue is written in what feels like a vernacular, so it’s hard to settle into the characters and their interactions as they feel clunky and unnatural. Granted, this is a short story, so the writing is definitely more to the point. However, I thought this was an area that could have used much improvement.

Vulgarity: None.
Sexual content: None.
Violence: None.

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eARC Review: Sky In The Deep by Adrienne Young

eARC Review: Sky In The Deep by Adrienne Young

Release Day April 24, 2018! OND ELDR. BREATHE FIRE. Partial synopsis provided by Goodreads. Sky In The Deep Author: Adrienne Young Publication Date: April 24, 2018 Publisher: Wednesday Books Page Count: 352 Format: eARC Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy Cover Artist: — My Rating: ★★★½ Eeyln […]

Audiobook Review: My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton & Jodi Meadows

Audiobook Review: My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton & Jodi Meadows

THE PLOT THICKENS as Edward, Jane, and G are drawn into a dangerous conspiracy. With the fate of the kingdom at stake, our heroes will have to engage in some conspiring of their own. But can they pull off their plan before it’s off with […]

eARC Review: Ace Of Shades by Amanda Foody

eARC Review: Ace Of Shades by Amanda Foody

Welcome to the City of Sin, where casino families reign, gangs infest the streets… and secrets hide in every shadow.

Partial synopsis provided by Goodreads.

Ace Of Shades

Series: The Shadow Game #1
Author: Amanda Foody
Publication Date: April 10, 2018
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Page Count: 416
Format: eARC
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Mystery
Cover Artist:
My Rating: ★★★½

Enne Salta, a young low-family dancer arrives in New Reynes, better known as the City of Sin in order to track down her mother. Lourdes had gone missing a few months before. Enne had received from Lourdes instructed her to find and speak to a Mr. Levi Glaisyer, a friend of Lourdes, if she didn’t return. Hence, to Ney Reynes she travels.

Seeking out Mr. Glaisyer, Enne stumbles across a boy part of the Iron gang. The boy lead her directly to Levi Glaisyer, who happens to be the Lord of the notorious gang. Levi, in debt to the captain, Sedric Torren, and some other powerful people, looks for any opportunity to make money to pay off his debt–including Enn’s pockets.

However, things turn a severe turn when Levi is handed a Shadow Card, marking him as “wanted” by the Phoenix club. Having only ten days to pay Sedric Torren back, he must do what he can to make the money and avoid the Shadow Game…in other terms, his demise.

Between Enne and Levi, it is a race against the clock to locate Enne’s mysterious mother, and Levi to come up with ten thousand volts in ten days.

Ace of Shades (The Shadow Game #1)Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

All included quotes have been taken from an ARC and may not match the finished publication.

If I’m not home in two months, I’m dead.

I’ve seen mixed reviews on this book. Naturally heading into it, I wasn’t sure what to expect after reading such a wide range of thoughts and feelings from other readers. To my surprise, while I did have some minor issues with the book, the eloquent writing, complex characters, and delicious combination of magic and grit captivated my attention. Hold on to your hats folks, as I try to break down some of the lengthy elements within this story.

description


World Building

“Better be careful, missy. Souls can go black in this city.”

The entire plot is set in New Reynes, better known as the City of Sin. Clearly having a bad reputation for its gangs, casinos, prostitution, and the like, everyone entering the city is made well aware to take precautions.

New Reynes is split up, as the North side of the city has the worst reputation, and the South being the “better” of the two. New Reynes is one city of a larger “Republic” also consisting of territories like Bellamy, and several others briefly mentioned. Bellamy is an island that has a reputation for being quite behind the times and popular trends. Notably, it’s preferences in propriety are much different than fast-paced New Reynes. I’m not quite sure which era this is supposed to take place in. With the lifestyles that people lead and the fact that there are cars and telephones, (or that propriety itself is even mentioned) I’m thinking the early 1900’s?

Much of the city is run by gangs, three total, and casino families. The gangs, the Irons, Scarhands, and the Doves each have established hierarchies and territories within New Reynes. Naturally, they have run-ins with one another in all types of scenarios. These gangs also frequently cross paths with the notorious casino families, the Augustines and the Torrens. Known for being ruthless in their own ways, these groups are constantly battling for power and control in the City of Sin.

Politically, the Republic is governed by a group of elitists known as the “wigheads.” Only having been in power for twenty-five years, they took over when the Mizer reign was demolished during the Revolution. The Mizer kings were feared, as they were gifted with Talents of Mystery–better known as magic. These talents that couldn’t be learned were considered to be a threat, and harsh restrictions were placed upon people with these abilities. These restrictions eventually were the reason for the Mizers being overthrown.

Other Talents that people possess are Talents of Aptitude–skills which can be learned like dancing, singing, arithmetic, and the like. All people have a Talent, technically two, as they inherit them from both their father and mother’s sides.

The most mysterious of these Talents exist among the Talent of Immortality, which belongs only to the members of the Phoenix Club, including Chancellor Semper and other elite.

“Have you ever heard of the Phoenix Club? They’re the most powerful and dangerous people in the Republic. Businessmen, wigheads, scholars…all with a talent for immortality. They’re the ones who orchestrated the Mizer executions. The whole Revolution, even.”

Not a lot of information is disclosed about the Mizers, other than their controversial reign and ultimate demise. While greed and other obvious factors had a play into them being overthrown, more exists to the story.

“Mizers created volts, that was their talent. Being an orb-maker, I was taught a lot about the Mizers–I’m sure I know more than you. We’re different from the metalsmiths or glassmaker families. As you might know, Mizers don’t technically make volts–they make energy. Orb-makers filter that energy into volts, sort of like a by-product. Without orb-makers, no one would’ve ever started using volts as money. Without orbmakers, holding that energy in your skin would be unbearably painful.”

While the Talents hold a high place in the structuring of society, there isn’t much to speak of in terms of there being an established religion. There are brief references to “the old Faith,” but very little is disclosed about what exactly the religion consisted of.

“…Jac was already pulling out his Creed, the necklace he wore that was a symbol of the old Faith. Not many believed anymore; the Mizers had perpetuated its stories for their own gain, and, after the Revolution, the wigheads had declared the Faith illegal…Jac rubbed the Creed–which looked like an intricate knot in the shape of a diamond–between his fingers.”

Artifacts of the old Faith appear here and there throughout the plot, yet again, little information is divulged as to their importance.

Pacing & Readability

While the plot is slower where it involves more information-heavy sections, the pacing remains consistent throughout. Due to the fact that there are complex backstories and world-building, it makes this a very engaging, yet heavy read. It’s worth mentioning to take a few notes here and there (unless you are able to give your undivided attention) to keep track of all that is going on, specifically with the terms and who-is-working-with-whom!

Point-Of-View & Characters

Enne Salta (full name Erienne Abacus Salta (view spoiler)) serves as the protagonist. A “low blood” dancer from Bellamy, she travels to New Reynes to find her missing mother after receiving a strange letter.

“School began again in September, and this was Enne’s final year before graduation, before her debut into society. All her life, she had perfected her fouettes, memorized her table settings and obsessed over every salon invitation…all to graduate and earn the title of lady. She wanted it more than she wanted anything. It was all she’d cared about…
Until Lourdes went missing.”

Growing up on the reserved island of Bellamy with her loving but strange mother Lourdes, the City of Sin is a major culture shock. Not only that, Enne realizes that she must adapt in order to survive in the wretched place. Surprisingly enough, Enne thrives in the face of adversity. The shy girl who has always been overlooked and had to work extra hard to prove herself discovers a hardness beneath the surface that enables her to surpass obstacles thrown at her. Enne showcases an admirable amount of grit while mostly staying true to who she is.

”Enne had always considered herself someone who rose to the occasion. After all, being from one of the lowest-tier dancing families at her school, every challenge was an opportunity to prove herself. This might not have been ballet, and this certainly was not her finishing school, but her familiar competitive drive began to take over.”

However, Enne quickly learns how precarious each situation is and how dangerous the Talent of Mysteries can be, as an omerta is placed upon her by Vianca Augustine. Hopelessly tied to not only Levi, the leader of the Iron gang, but also Vianca, one of the most powerful women in the city, Enne plays a dance between the two in hopes of finding her mother.

Levi Glaisyer, Lord of the Irons, is an altogether different type of character. While his first encounter with Enne labels him as a self-absorbed, power-hungry thug, he really isn’t.

“What makes a lord isn’t the bravest, the smartest or the first person to whip out a knife. It’s the one who earns the volts and keeps everyone alive. No one else can lead like me.”

While he has confidence, he also understands that there is more at stake than just his reputation.

“He needed to figure out how to deliver ten thousand volts to Sedric Torren before Sedric Torren delivered him.”

Having a strong devotion to his fellow Irons, Levi tries to be as resourceful as possible in order to care for those he oversees. However, his responsibilities begin to strangle him when he finds himself deep in debt to one of the notorious casino family members, Sedric Torren. After evading him for a while, Sedric finally catches up to him and issues him a “warning” shadow card. Knowing that he has only ten days to pay back the debt, the takes on helping Enne find Lourdes.

I know that Levi’s character specifically has been receiving a lot of attention because he’s black and bisexual. However, I wanted to point out that I didn’t read him as he’s been described by others. There were hardly any references to his gender orientation, and once an obvious attraction between he and Enne developed, pretty much all of that labeling fell away. I could definitely be wrong in this because I was rather caught up in other aspects of the book and I could have overlooked some of it. However, if I could read him as being a straight guy for the majority of the book, then I think this is being more hyped up that necessary as it really wasn’t so blatantly obvious?

Lourdes, the elusive mother to Enne Salta is incredibly mysterious. While I can’t say much about her, everything surrounding her and her character made the plot all-the-more gripping.

While Vianca Augustine is not a major character, she is definitely worth mentioning. Being a part of the elite, Vianca has special abilities that ensure both Levi and Enne to do her bidding. Having the ability to place omertas on a select few, she can bend them to her will and carry out her dirty deeds. In a way, Vianca’s vendetta towards the Torrens works in favor of both Enne and Levi–except for when it doesn’t.

“Everything you do, Miss Salta, you do for me.” Enn felt ghostly fingers scrape across her throat, the omerta teasing her.

Sedric Torren, in conjunction with other characters part of the Phoenix club serves as the main antagonists. The Shadow Game itself, or the threat of being invited to play is also a constant intimidator to the characters.

Many, many other characters exist throughout the timeframe of this book, however, I felt it necessary to list only the most prominent of them.

Major Themes

⇒ Self-Affirmation

Mostly observed in Enne’s character, she grows up her entire life wanting to be more. She works tirelessly in order to prove herself to others, but more importantly, to herself. In the long-run, her hard work paid off as she is able to distinguish a capacity within her that wouldn’t have existed without her determination to prove that she is capable of being more.

⇒ Power/Control

An obvious theme, especially among the different gangs, casino families, and the Phoenix club, the desire for power and control, is evident. Fighting among themselves, these groups navigate the grimy streets of New Reynes with their grimy and selfish intentions only for personal gain.

⇒ Opposites Attract

It is immediately evident that the life in Bellamy and life in New Reynes are like those from different worlds. Enne and Levi couldn’t be more different. Yet, events somehow keep leading them back to one another.

Overall Feelings

Things that I liked:

⇒ The writing is eloquent, visual, and simply beautiful.
Here are a few examples:

“If St. Morse were a palace, then the Tropps Room was the throne room, and greed was king.”

“His smile was filthy with insincerity.”

⇒ The depth of the main characters and how they were realistically represented (especially Enne).  know, I’m one of the few that actually liked Enne.
⇒ The backstory is magnificent, and holds its mystery throughout and really pulled me in.

Things that I didn’t like:

⇒ There is a lot of backstory and world-building in this plot (which is great). However, it could be very info-dumpy at times, making it difficult to keep up with everything playing into the society of New Reynes. With that, some of the world-building needs much more explanation!
⇒ What really is the Old Religion? It’s never really explained and I’d like to know more about it!.
⇒ The Shadow Games, while they were veryintriguing, needed more to them! I felt that there was a lot of build-up to the moment of this game, but was let down by how it played out.
⇒ At times, I was surprised with Levi’s character. Being the Lord of a gang, I’d take him to be some tough cookie. At times, however, he proved himself to be the opposite. I’m not saying it’s wrong for a street lord to be more sensitive, but, I’m not sure if he’d realistically survive?

Overall, I thought this was a fantastic start to the series. The main reason why I rated this 3.5 out of five stars was because of the areas in the world building that felt incomplete. Without them, I couldn’t quite grasp the full picture of New Reynes and exactly what is happening behind the scenes of this dog-eat-dog city (and there’s a LOT, I’m sure.) Despite that, I’m very much looking forward to the next installment in this series!

Vulgarity: 17 words counted altogether.
Sexual content: Considering this is the “City of Sin” there’s definitely some racy material scattered throughout. In particular, there is a weird scene with Enne.
Violence: Quite a bit with some gory scenes.

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Fairy Tale Friday #5: The Adventures of Pinocchio (Le avventure di Pinocchio) by Carlo Collodi

Fairy Tale Friday #5: The Adventures of Pinocchio (Le avventure di Pinocchio) by Carlo Collodi

The Adventures of Pinocchio (Le Avventure Di Pinocchio) By Carlo Collodi The Adventures of Pinocchio, originally titled Le Avventure Di Pinocchio was written by Carlo Lorenzini, better known by his pen name of Carlo Collodi. Carlo was an Italian author, who liked writing about characters […]

eARC Review: Bacon Pie by Candace Robinson & Gerardo Delgadillo and Author Interview with Candace Robinson!

eARC Review: Bacon Pie by Candace Robinson & Gerardo Delgadillo and Author Interview with Candace Robinson!

Release day April 13, 2018! When a showdown between Lia and Kiev lands them in the principal’s office, they’re forced into volunteer work at the cringe-worthy Piggy Palooza Festival, or risk being suspended. Lia and Kiev aren’t thrilled about the situation, especially when it interferes […]

Mini Book Review: Identity by Ted Dekker

Mini Book Review: Identity by Ted Dekker

My name is Christy Snow. I'm seventeen and I'm about to die. 

Partial synopsis provided by Goodreads.

Identity

Series: Eyes Wide Open #1
Author: Ted Dekker
Publication Date: December 26, 2012
Publisher: Outlaw Studios
Page Count: 66
Format: ebook
Genre: Young Adult, Christian Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
My Rating: ★★★½


“Christy was familiar with panic attacks, but she had never faced the kind of fear that now settled over her like death itself.”

Christy has found herself in her tomb—literally. All she wanted to do was retrieve her locket from her friend’s hideout, where she accidentally left it the day before.

She’s tried to reach Austin, but her cell battery died in the middle of a desperate phone call. Hopefully, it will be enough. Hopefully, he will understand her urgency. 

As the walls close in around her, Christy questions who she is and all that she knows. As she is led on a terrifying adventure, she is faced with asking the hard questions about who she is, and what really makes her, her. 

Identity (Eyes Wide Open, #1)Identity by Ted Dekker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“What is it, then, that comprises our deepest selves and gives us worth?”

This is one of those books that I feel I could dissect for days. There is so much here that could be discussed, but I will refrain, and rather urge you to pick up this series. 

Discussing self, both of the main characters are introduced with all of their crises hanging out. Christy, a teenage girl with self-image insecurities and feelings of abandonment as she was orphaned, struggles to connect with other kids her age. She feels as though she doesn’t have a childhood or a past altogether. Because of this, she puts a false sense of security in a locket necklace, still featuring the display photo that she bought it with.

When she finds herself encased in stone, she could never guess what is to come next. Just when hope and escape seem to be on the horizon, Christy is sucked into a world of deception, confusion, and manipulation, and becomes a victim of a rather nasty antagonist. 

“Not knowing who your parents are can mess with your identity. An all too common phenomenon these days, but in reality, most people have no idea who they really are. Do you know who you are, Christy?”

Austin, having a very different upbringing and life altogether, still manages to relate to Christy.

“In every other way he was quite average: average height, average weight, average athleticism. But his mind set him apart.”

His mind is his sustenance. A brilliant mind with many promises of a bright future, Austin begins to experience terrible headaches and fears for the worst. On his way to visit the doctor, he receives Christy’s desperate voicemail and decides to search for her first. In doing so, he discovers a grim secret and finds himself trapped in a world where there is no exit.

For those of you who enjoy psychological thrillers, and books that make you really reflect on yourself, this is a series you may enjoy.frustrating at times!

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eARC Review: Children of Daedala by Caighlan Smith

eARC Review: Children of Daedala by Caighlan Smith

Six months alone in the labyrinth has made her strong. But the search for the exit means gambling on an old ‘friend’ and going against everything she’s been taught to survive. Partial synopsis provided by Goodreads. Children of Daedala Series: Children of Icarus #2 Author: […]

Mini Book Review: The Oracle Queen by Kendare Blake

Mini Book Review: The Oracle Queen by Kendare Blake

Release Day April 3, 2018! Triplet queens born on the island of Fennbirn can be many things: Elementals. Poisoners. Naturalists. If an oracle queen is born, however, one with the gift of sight, she’s immediately drowned, extinguishing her chance at ever taking the throne. But […]

Book Review: Children of Icarus by Caighlan Smith

Book Review: Children of Icarus by Caighlan Smith

It is Clara who is desperate to enter the labyrinth and it is Clara who is bright, strong, and fearless enough to take on any challenge. It is no surprise when she is chosen. But so is the girl who has always lived in her shadow. Together they enter. Within minutes, they are torn apart forever. Now the girl who has never left the city walls must fight to survive in a living nightmare, where one false turn with who to trust means a certain dead end.

Synopsis provided by Goodreads.

Children of Icarus

Series: Children of Icarus #1
Author: Caighlan Smith
Publication Date: August 1, 2016
Publisher: Switch Press
Page Count: 313
Format: ebook
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Horror, Dystopia
Cover Artist: Cecily McKeever
My Rating: ★★

Welcome to the city of Daedala, a city situated at the center of a massive labyrinth. A city built on history and lore. A city of people seeking to enter the labyrinth in order to become angels.  

“Children between the ages of ten and sixteen are candidates for the labyrinth trial. Clara is sixteen. So am I. This is our last chance to become Icarii: to enter the labyrinth and become angels.”

Clara has always been the brave one. Eager to enter the labyrinth to join her brother on the other side has been her dream since he was chosen to be one of the Icarii years before. Her timid friend, however, doesn’t feel the same way about the labyrinth. Preferring the shadows and staying home, she’s surprised when they are both chosen to become Icarii. The glorified position immediately turns sinister only moments after the chosen enter the labyrinth.

Once inside, the Icarii are descended upon by angel-like creatures, who attack and reduce their numbers immediately. Terrified, everyone remaining disperses and hides. Tragically, the narrator witnesses Clara’s brutal demise, and immediately understands that her “privileged” position isn’t what everyone believed it to be in the city. She must now learn how to survive the treacherous labyrinth, in hopes to eventually find the exit. Foes are around every corner, and friends are hard to come by.

 

Children of IcarusChildren of Icarus by Caighlan Smith
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

⇒ To disclose the content warning a little further, there is a weird, “rape-y” vibed scene between the main character and another character named Ryan. The main character’s response reveals a masochistic-like quality to her which appears later on as well.

”I can feel his ragged breath down the front of my shirt. Something about how it gets quick when I twist the dagger excites me. He’s terrified me and treated me so cruelly, and all it takes is me doing one thing to make him this weak.”

In an unrelated incident, another character tries to rape the main character as well.

Initial Thoughts

Before I really got into this book, I was pretty excited to read it. However, at only ten percent into it, I realized it was going to be a very different read that I had expected. Sure, mythology has it’s creepy, and rather gory moments, but Children of Icarus takes it to a new level.

World Building

The story begins in the city of Daedala and gives only brief accounts of its makeup, history, and societal functions. The scene quickly shifts to inside the labyrinth as it follows the main character for the remainder of the book. While some details are given in both settings, vague terminology and direction give the reader a sense of being lost. Which, for a book like this, I guess is appropriate–seeing how the characters are lost in a labyrinth…

The most page time for world building is spent on identifying the creatures in the labyrinth and developing the social hierarchy among the Icarii.

Society is structured upon, and orbits around an interpretation of the Greek mythology story of Icarus and Daedalus (aka Daedala in this version).

“The gods have always been cruel, always tricksters. The sun was no gateway, but poor, young Icarus could not have known the gods’ plan for him. He flew into the sky until his wings caught fire and he plummeted back to the earth.

In this book, Icarus is initially depicted as a young angel. Also being the last free angel, he was tricked by the gods to come to their land and rescue the angels that had been captured. But the gods tricked him into believing that the sun was a portal to their realm.

Daedala, a representation of Daedalus from the original story, retains the same vocation and identifies as a craftswoman. She mourns the death of Icarus. Hoping he may regenerate, she built Icarus a tomb.

“Daedala knew she would not live to see Icarus fly again, and so built for him two more gifts, to protect him from the ruthless, relentless gods. She constructed a giant city over the tomb of Icarus, with walls and towers so high they threatened the territory of the gods themselves. And then, around this city, she built a labyrinth that was thought to never end.”

To the residents of Daedala, Icarus is a sort of god. The people of Daedala would choose a select number of children between the ages of ten and sixteen each year to become “Icarii” and enter the labyrinth in order to find the end of the maze. Once through, they would enter into Alyssia–the land of the angels and have the honor of welcoming Icarus home.

Pacing & Readability

While this book starts off with a bang, the entire body of the text was so slow and tediously uneventful. There are some creature attacks and what-not here and there, but not a lot happens for the majority of the book. It gave a disjointed feel to the book because the beginning and end had so much going on, that the middle was the exact opposite.

Point-of-View & Characters

The point-of-view is told from the perspective of the main character, who happens to remain unnamed for the entire book. While I thought this tactic was clever, I didn’t care for her character very much. The fact that I wanted to find out who she was battled with her being unlikeable, and made me more aggravated with her character than anything.

”I grew up in this building and I was supposed to die in this building. Now I’ll never die. Now I’ll become an angel. So why is my heart in my throat?”

Our unnamed narrator is clearly a “follower.” From the first page, her adoration for her best friend Clara is clear. Without Clara, she doesn’t know what to do or how to handle herself. This element of her personality gets her into tight places when she finds herself alone, unsure of how to process the situation in front of her. Several times instead of facing what was actually going on, she instead wishes that she is home and back behind the curtains of safety. This “smoke screen” tactic pushes her to act before she thinks about the repercussions of her decisions.

Clara is the main character’s best friend. She’s outgoing, fearless, but also dominating, over-confident, unrefined, and self-centered. While she’s not very nice to her friend, she naturally falls into the leader role and expects “unnamed” to take the backseat willingly. Eager to become one of the Icarii, she instantly shows her true self when “unnamed” is chosen first.

Some of the minor characters, like Ryan and the Executioner, was the most interesting of them all. Both Ryan and the Executioner are difficult to make out. While Ryan’s character isn’t explored much (and comes off way worse than I think he actually is), the Executioner’s true nature is revealed more towards the end and remains to be the most complex characters of them all.

The main antagonist is shared between the labyrinth, and later on, with Collin. While the labyrinth poses a constant threat to the Icarii, Collin becomes a threat to the main character when he discovers that she is not who she claims to be. Collin turns from a pleasant person to a despicable, tremendously cruel human.

Major Themes

⇒ Bullying

Bullying is very visible throughout this book. The main character is thrust into a situation that she doesn’t want to be in in the first place and is not prepared for the challenges before her. While she doesn’t handle herself well, she also doesn’t deserve the treatment that people give to her. I cringed at the way Collin would treat “unnamed,” and it nearly made me stop reading this book altogether. The interactions between these two characters (along with “mob mentality”) show just how dangerous bullying can be when no one decides to stand up for what’s right and for the person being bullied.

⇒ Fending for oneself

There isn’t a good example of friendship in this book. The closest glimpse the reader gets into a “friendship” is between the main character and the Executioner. While a sense of comradery is attempted to be built in Fates, the moment someone does something wrong, they are thrown to the wolves…quite literally.

⇒ Facing Reality

“I didn’t mean to trick you. I didn’t want to, but you were so kind, and I was so scared, and I didn’t know what to do. And then it was too late and I couldn’t find a way to tell you the truth because I…I didn’t want to think about her being dead, and I knew if I told you it would hurt you even more than it was hurting me. She was my friend. My best friend. Pretending to be her, it was almost like it kept her alive, and I know that’s no excuse, but I wasn’t ready to face it.”

The main character has a major issue with facing the reality of her situation. While her reactions are understandable, they still aren’t right. She spends a majority of the book wishing for everything to be different, which inhibits her from being able to grow, adapt, and move on.

⇒ Paying for your Mistakes

“You’re just like all the monsters in this graveyard. You’re worse than the monsters, because they can’t help being disgusting and vicious and cruel. You chose to do this. You ruined my sister’s name and memory.”

Another rather negative theme visible was paying for the mistakes that were made. Instead of any type of decency or attempt to understand where a person was coming from, a cruel punishment was given instead. Several characters experience this treatment, especially the main character.

Overall Feelings

Things that I liked:

⇒ The way the plot was constructed around the original mythological tale.
⇒ The Executioner’s character complexity.
⇒ For the most part, it was romance-free.

Things that I didn’t like:

⇒ The overall brutality.
⇒ The major variation in pacing.
⇒ The feeling that the backstory was somewhat incomplete and therefore, left unexplained.
⇒ The main character’s passiveness when she was being bullied and abused, her general character being rather annoying, and the weird masochistic qualities that surfaced at a few points in time.
⇒ There is little detail given on character description across the board.

Overall, I wasn’t a fan of this book. The gore and dismal atmosphere overpowered anything else in the story and kept me from enjoying it much–not that I found much to enjoy. While I liked how it was a creative twist on the original mythological tale, I felt that a lot of the plot was left unexplored, the characters underdeveloped (and unlikeable), and uncomfortable topics being focused on that weren’t redeeming in any way. This may be a case of “it’s me, not you,” but I also don’t think that action scenes and suspense make for a solid plot alone.

Vulgarity: Surprisingly, none!
Sexual content: As stated in the content warning at the beginning of this review, there was a scene that felt like it was leading up to something, and then another scene where rape was actually attempted.
Violence: Quite a lot, including very gory scenes.

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Fairy Tale Friday #4: The Enchanted Pig (Porcul cel fermecat) by Petre Ispirescu

Fairy Tale Friday #4: The Enchanted Pig (Porcul cel fermecat) by Petre Ispirescu

The Enchanted Pig (Porcul cel fermecat) Written by Petre Ispirescu The Enchanted Pig, originally published as Porcul cel fermecat in Legende sau basmele românilor in Bucharest, Romania in 1882. It was written by Petre Ispirescu, a Romanian folklorist, who wrote several tales that were published throughout his lifetime […]

eARC Review: Reign The Earth by A.C. Gaughen

eARC Review: Reign The Earth by A.C. Gaughen

Shalia is a proud daughter of the desert, but after years of devastating war with the adjoining kingdom, her people are desperate for peace. Willing to trade her freedom to ensure the safety of her family, Shalia becomes Queen of the Bonelands. Partial synopsis provided […]

Book & Audiobook Review: Of Sand and Storm by Amber Argyle

Book & Audiobook Review: Of Sand and Storm by Amber Argyle

By law, any child born in Idara is free, even if that child is born in a slave brothel. But as Cinder grows into a beauty that surpasses even that of her mother and grandmother, she realizes that freedom is only a word.

Partial synopsis provided by Goodreads.

Of Sand And Storm

Series: Fairy Queens #5
Author: Amber Argyle
Publication Date: August 11, 2016
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services, LLC
Page Count: 175
Format: ebook
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal
Cover Artist: ---
My Rating: ★★★★

Of Sand and Storm (Fairy Queens #2.5)Of Sand and Storm by Amber Argyle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“She was the wind, and wind could never be caged.”

After reading Cinder, the name Cinder had been killed for me, but the main character in this book totally redeems it.

Of Sand and Storm is a very dark, and oppressive story. Sex trafficking holds a strong undertone throughout and ensnares the reader in the devastating realm it creates. It is not an easy read, because of this reason, as the reader is placed directly into the bowels of the beast.

Cinder, along with her mother and grandmother, are held in a brothel. While Cinder is “freeborn,” her life certainly doesn’t reflect it. Her “Mother” (as she prefers her “proteges” to call her,) Zura, holds her family’s enslavement and situation against Cinder. Zura coerces her into servitude by threatening her mother and grandmother’s livelihood. (Not that Ash and Storm had much, to begin with anyway.)

Cinder’s character is phenomenal. She is challenged at every angle, with HARD decisions. Yet, she remains true to herself and is willing to lay everything down for those whom she loves. This is a major theme throughout this book series, and I’m really appreciative of that. Many books nowadays focus on antiheroes, and their characters have little-to-nothing to offer. They don’t help the reader to think, to internalize, and to grow as a person. It is without a doubt that Of Sand and Storm does this.

Darsam is a wonderful and redemptive hero character. He seems shady and shallow at first, but his role in the plot requires him to be so. I won’t reveal why here–I guess you’ll just have to read it and find out.

The plot line is depressing, but there is so much which comes from that aspect and is turned into good, making this a valuable and engrossing read.

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Audiobook Review: Read December 2017

Of Sand and Storm (Fairy Queens #2.5)Of Sand and Storm by Amber Argyle
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this audiobook from the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

This is my second time reading Of Sand and Storm. I read the entire Fairy Queens series towards the beginning of 2017 and absolutely fell in love with the plot, characters, world-building, and writing style. Listening to the audiobook version of Of Sand and Storm made me rethink my original ratings of this book, as well as the rest in the series. My conclusion is that I don’t think I rated these books high enough. Whether it’s due to being reintroduced to this fantastic story or reliving Cinder’s experience by hearing her tale, Of Sand and Storm yet again, knocked me off my feet.

Of Sand and Storm was narrated by Elizabeth Evans. She did a fantastic job of bringing this story to life. Her voice matched the characters well and did not possess overpowering or distracting qualities to the plot or characters themselves. While there weren’t many tonal differences between characters, her dictation of them was easy to follow as the correct emotional variances were portrayed at the appropriate times.

Overall, I thought this audiobook was very easy to listen to, and the plot even more powerful the second time through.

My Rating: ★★★★★

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