Posted in Book Reviews, reading

Gatecrashing Europe by Kris Mole

gatecrashing-europe

Title: Gatecrashing Europe
Author: Kris Mole
Published: 
August 2015 by Valley Press
Genre: Nonfiction travel
How I got the book: I received a free digital copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Summary:

In 2007, Kris Mole flew one-way to Stockholm with a vow not to return home to England until he had visited every capital city in the mainland European Union. He set himself eight simple rules, most importantly A) that no money would be spent or handled during the journey, and B) no credit cards would be used either. Thus, the great Euro Freebie Challenge began: twenty-three cities to be visited, 6000 miles to be covered, without spending a single penny on the journey – to raise money, in fact, for Cancer Research UK.

The colourful story of this six-month trip was first told by charismatic, wise-cracking, semi-anti-hero Kris via a series of blogs, and followed by readers of The Daily Mail, The Telegraph and the BBC website. Readers found Kris drawing on his formidable resourcefulness to acquire all of life’s necessities for free, resting wherever he could find a place, and travelling by foot, hitch-hiking, or stowing away on trains – experiencing, as you might expect, a wild emotional ride in the process.

August 2015 marks the first appearance of this epic journey in book form, with the author donating 10% of his royalties to Cancer Research UK.

My Review:

rp-first-thoughts

I don’t typically read books about travel, but I do enjoy a good memoir from time to time. What the author did was pretty inspiring so I was intrigued on how his travels went for such a good cause. I couldn’t say no when he reached out to me about reviewing the book.

This won’t be a typical review as it’s non-fiction, so bear with me.

rp-plot

The major “plot” of this is that the author, the protagonist, Kris, was attempting to explore the EU by visiting every capital without spending a penny. There are 23 capitals and well over 6,000 miles to travel.

You think, “How can he possibly do that without spending any money?” Well, he did it. And at the age of 24, no doubt.

It was interesting to see how he managed to get from one place to another whether it was from a kind citizen hearing of his cause and buying him a bus ticket, he hitch-hiked, or he simply walked.

It’s a good challenge, an exciting one, and as difficult as it is, it’s a simple one as well.

rp-characters

Kris himself was ambitious and determined that made him a great fit for the challenge. He began the challenge for Cancer research as his grandmother was sick. While on the journey, he received word that she had passed on.

He continued on the journey for his grandmother and everyone else who battles Cancer.

I can’t even begin to explain all the various people Kris met on his journey, but I’ll just say that he met some really nice people and then some pretty interesting characters.

rp-writing-style

Kris’s writing made the book easy to read as the pace was steady and each chapter flowed nicely right into the next. Every time he crossed another capital off his list, he laid it all out at the beginning of the chapter. How many capitals he had left to visit and which ones they were, how many miles he had traveled, and how many days he had been on the journey.

His writing was also humorous as he wrote exactly what he was thinking at all times. It definitely catches your attention.

rp-overall

I can’t stress enough how inspiring this book is. It’s hard to believe that anyone was able to achieve such a feat and make it all the way back home. If you’re interested in a feel-good kind of read, then this is the way to go. Plus, you get a little geography lesson in the mix.

Gatecrashing Europe by Kris Mole gets…
5 out of 5 stars

Favorite Quote:

“How could you hate so many things about a place you had never seen with your own eyes.” –Kris Mole, Gatecrashing Europe

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Follow Me Home by Jen Benjamin

follow-me-home

Title: Follow Me Home
Author: Jen Benjamin
Published: 
March 2015 by Wallace Publishing
Genre: Fiction – Chick lit
How I got the book: I received a free digital copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Summary:

When writer Katie Kendall moves to LA to turn her best-selling novel into a film, she is pretty sure it should be the happiest time of her life. But with an unsupportive husband who suddenly files for divorce, the paparazzi assuming she’s having a fling with the leading actor, and her friends left miles away in her old hometown, she begins to think she’s made a big mistake.

Can her new crowd of friends help her through these times? And could those paparazzi snappers have a point about that leading actor…?

My Review:

rp-first-thoughts

I love a good chick-lit once in a while, despite not being a “romance” reader. However, it’s refreshing to read one once in a while so I couldn’t say no to this opportunity.

rp-plot

Katie has moved herself and her husband to LA as her popular book turns into a movie. She doesn’t have many friends and her husband is anything but supportive of her decisions and her success. When she comes home to find that her husband has uprooted himself and left her, she finds comfort in her newest best friend, the movie’s director, Julie, and the guy playing the male lead in her movie, a famous child-singer now all grown up, Jesse.

It’s definitely an interesting premise. Katie moves on after some shock of the divorce, as she didn’t exactly have the best relationship with her husband. She falls for Jesse wanting to stop herself due to the age difference since she’s much older than him.

There’s a love-triangle, the whole “I-want-you-back” from her ex-husband, and an overall sappy love story mixed in with paparazzi.

I think overall the plot was pretty well done, even with the few cliches thrown into the mix.

rp-characters

Katie was a wonderful protagonist to follow around. Normally her kind of character would bother me, but she was so much like me that I couldn’t help but relate and enjoy her thoughts. She was kind, focused on what she needed to do, and over-thought everything while was funny as we were able to peek into her thoughts now and then.

Jesse was an interesting male lead and I think he was the right choice for a love interest for Katie. The age difference didn’t really bother him, he just interacted with Katie as though they were equals and that was that. They had a good dynamic with one another.

rp-writing-style

The author had a great style that made the story a breeze to read. The pace was consistent as was the POV as we got to peek inside Katie’s mind and hear her thoughts overthinking everything and making snide remarks.

At the beginning of each chapter, there was a brief journal entry from Katie. Sometimes it was a paragraph, sometimes it was just one sentence. But it summarized the events quickly and effectively and captured Katie’s personality pretty well.

rp-overall

This book was a fun read and a great romance story. It was a short and quick. My only issue with it were the cliches. They were well done, but I felt it was too much for one story.

Still, I would read from this author again and would recommend this book to anyone.

Follow Me Home by Jen Benjamin gets…
4 out of 5 stars

Favorite Quote:

“I step back, trying to blend into a tree, which is stupid because I’m wearing a white shirt.” -Jen Benjamin, Follow Me Home

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Rise of Elohim: The Spirit of Iris by Rocky Rochford

the-spirit-of-iris

Title: Rise of the Elohim: The Spirit of Iris
Author: Rocky Rochford
Published: 
September 2014 by Solstice Publishing
Genre: Fantasy
How I got the book: I received a free digital copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Summary:

Set in a world much unlike our own, on a lonesome planet at the end of the universe, an epic battle between good and evil is about to come to pass. Living in a medieval era, the inhabitants of the world find themselves up against the dreaded Shanzi, vile creatures of pure darkness who seek one thing, the annihilation of that which is good. There is only one who can stop them, a young boy by the name of Zach who must Rise up against the forces of darkness and drive them back to the shadow existence from whence they came.

My Review:

rp-first-thoughts

When the author reached out to me about this book I was intrigued immediately when he told me it’s kind of like “The Legend of Zelda,” one of my favorite video games. Fantasy is always a fun genre, though I don’t read it too often, so I decided to give it a try.

rp-plot

The story begins with a young baby boy in a basket found by Mako and his talking crow, Izal. They raise the boy, Zach, and train him as a warrior knowing that he will have an important destiny ahead of him.

Zach overhears Mako talking to Izal about his lack of readiness causing Zach to advance the plot by running deep into the forest where he meets a shadowed figure. It’s predictable of who this man really is, even though his true self isn’t revealed until later.

Zach battles his way save the world, himself, and Mako and Izal, from Shanzi. It’s a fun adventure with swords and special powers alike.

rp-characters

I enjoyed all the characters. Mako and Izal had interesting back stories. We still don’t fully know Zach’s backstory, but seeing as this is the first of a series, I’m sure we’ll get to know more soon enough.

They all had great dynamics with one another as well. Mako and Izal had that “old friends” relationship while Mako had a father/master relationship with Zach. Izal and Zach had a big brother type relationship, which I enjoyed.

Yet, I still feel like I didn’t get a chance to really know the characters. The plot overshadowed the development of the characters so when some dire happened, I didn’t really have any feelings towards it. I couldn’t care one way or the other. I enjoyed the characters, but I wish I got to get close to them.

rp-writing-style

The author’s writing style is quick and fun as well as easy to follow along. He has a great way with words and created an interesting world filled with fantasy antics.

However, like I said in the previous section, the pace of the plot moved a little quick. I think so much more could have been done, more details could have been added. I didn’t get to really know the characters as much as I would have liked and I didn’t feel the sense of urgency that the world needed saving.

The novel felt rushed and it was fairly short being about 250 pages or so, so I feel like a lot more could have been done with it. This is also the first book in a series, so I’m sure we’ll learn more overtime, too.

The version I received also had illustrations included in between each chapter. I thought that definitely added something unique to the book and I looked forward to each picture as I finished a chapter.

rp-overall

I enjoyed this book. I would pick up its sequel and give that a shot as well so learn more about the characters and see how they get on in their world. It’s definitely an interesting premise and a fun adventure to go on.

Rise of the Elohim: The Spirit of Iris by Rocky Rochford gets…
4 out of 5 stars

Favorite Quote:

“Soon the days of true darkness will come and then the real fight will begin.” –Rocky Rochford, The Spirit of Iris

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The Aqueous Transmission by Mike Eye

the-aqueous-transmission

Title: The Aqueous Transmission
Author: Mike Eye
Published: 
December 2016 by Fastpencil Publishing
Genre: Science-fiction (visionary and metaphysical fiction)
How I got the book: I received a free digital copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Summary:

IN A DYING WORLD NOT UNLIKE OUR OWN, two elemental forces are controlling two avatar demigods who seek to perpetuate the planet’s existence by reshaping a new world in a certain way after it has finally fallen to a post-apocalyptic state. On the One side we have Mother Magdalena, a strong and fierce pregnant Hankerhawk woman of the Earthen Bry Dellows who will be faced with the challenge of reviving humanity in a changed, desolate, dark world with no living creature in sight. On the other side we have Al Rodnam, a wise, old Sirian guru mystic who has much love for the dying world of Earth and is the last of his kind, the Godheds, who had helped Mother Magdalena restart civilization One age prior. Both personas will cross paths and have to help each other meet the commands of their elemental forces.

Meanwhile, throughout it all, Magdalena is continuously haunted by the shade of a mysterious man she somehow feels fiercely attracted to and also reminds her of someone important she had met Once, someone she had Once loved… Upon giving birth to her child, Magdalena feels compelled to search for this man, wherever his real person may be, fully believing the man to not only still be alive, but to in fact be the Last Godhed of whom she had been searching for for a long, long time. However, we come to find that the shade of this familiar man, although not in fact the Last Godhed, is indeed the Last Godhed’s fully manifest Shadow Identity toying with the Mother. Once the prerequisites for Magdalena and her High sisters are met, Al Rodnam must use his High powers to help beckon the Mother to his Shadow. But first, there must be a divine transformation through a magical pond located at a secret, special spot upon the ruins of the destroyed Earth, a spot that’ll help shift the gears of the story up a couple of notches in an extremely powerful and enchanting way, but not consciously quite exactly the way in which either avatar was ever expecting…

My Review:

rp-first-thoughts

When the author contacted to review his debut science-fiction novel, I’ll admit I was hesitant. The novel sounded intriguing, but I don’t typically read science-fiction. However, it’s always good to try something new and that’s what I did.

rp-plot

We get a great sense of the what the world is like the moment the story begins. Magdelena is trying to figure out what is going on as she experiences some memory loss and notices the world around her is dark and empty.

I felt as though the plot took a little while to get started as Magdelena was alone. There was a lot of narrative and it was well written, but the longer it went on, the more it became redundant. When the plot was finally in motion, it was executed well and moved at a steady pace.

rp-characters

I wasn’t a huge fan of the protagonist, Magdelena. It’s hard to read through a book when you can’t enjoy the main character. She was very arrogant so full of herself. I understand that’s who she is as a Hankerhawk and that’s her personality, but I just couldn’t get into it.

The other characters in the story were well written and I do wish we got to see more of them as we mostly followed Magdelena in her third-POV.

rp-writing-style

Overall, I found this book to be well written. The narrative was spot-on and while I felt as though the dialogue could have used a bit more work, but this is an epic read, so it evens out.

The author hid different meanings and messages within the text which was clever. Certain words were always capitalized within the sentences. This isn’t a bad idea, but it got confusing and jarred me out of the story. A lot.

I’m not saying this wasn’t a good idea on the author’s part, I think for the genre it was a clever idea. But as someone who doesn’t typically read science fiction, I just didn’t get it. It went over my head. I might not have fully understood the plot well enough to get the different interpretations, but because of that, it kept distracting me from the overall story.

rp-overall

This book is not for everyone. As I’ve said, I don’t typically read science fiction because I rarely understand it, so take this review with a grain of salt. It’s well written, the characters were developed throughout and each one had their own point to the plot, but if you don’t get science fiction then you may not fully understand this book.

That’s why I’m giving this book three stars because it was just an okay read for me.

The Aqueous Transmission by Mike Eye gets…
3-stars 3 out of 5 stars

Favorite Quote:

“Trying to remain calm, focusing her force inward, the woman subconsciously sensed a dark reflection of the heavy smoke in the deep black swirls emanating from her Heart.” –Mike Eye, The Aqueous Transmission

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Posted in Author/Site Information, Blogging, Book Reviews, Writing

March 2017 Goals

goals-march-2017

Reading

I got behind in my reading in February, so I challenged myself to read five books in the last week. I read four, which is a win in my book. With that said, my reviews aren’t going to match up with what I’m currently reading.

Books to be reviewed this month:

1. The Aqueous Transmission by Mike Eye
2. Gatecrashing Europe by Kris Mole
3. The Spirit of Iris by Rocky Rochford
4. Follow Me Home by Jen Benjamin

Books to be read this month:

1. Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen
2. The Cellar by Natasha Preston
3. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J.K. Rowling
4. The Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling

Be sure to check out my Reading List to stay up to date on my books!

Writing

Due to what I got done (or didn’t get done…) in February, here’s what I plan to work on this month.

1. Edit George Florence – It’s about time to got back into this. I currently have two novels in the editing stage and decided to alternate months with them.
2. Outline UnwrittenCamp NaNoWriMo is officially one month away (yeah, I can’t believe it either…) and this is what I’ll be working on. It’s a brand new idea (that came to me in the shower, of course) and I’ve been jotting down ideas here and there for it and can’t get it out of my head. More information will be revealed about this idea later in March. If not, then definitely in April.
3. Submit two pieces – Whether I submit to a magazine or two or a contest or two, I just want to have at least two writing pieces out there somewhere with my fingers crossed.

Blogging

1. Finish March posts
2. Get a head start on April posts
3. Guest post on other blogs more (anyone…?)

Overall

March will be tough. I have no days off from work, no school vacations, nothing. This will be all how I manage my time. We shall see how it goes…

What are your plans for March? Do you have a lot of writing and reading planned? Let me know in the comments below!

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Deceived by Heena Rathore P.

deceived

Title: Deceived
Author: Heena Rathore P.
Published: 
Citrus Publishers, June 2017
Genre: Psychological thriller
How I got the book: I received a free digital copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Summary:

How well do you know your loved ones?

A young girl struggling to cope with the murders of her mother and five-year-old brother.
A journalist chasing the ghost of a potential serial killer.
A thirteen-year-old girl who slaughtered her parents.
And a revenge-driven psychopath who is about to destroy everyone’s life.

After 9 years, a young writer is still coping with the brutal murders of her mother and five-year-old brother, as she moves into a house of horrors, unwittingly to start a new life with her lover. Will friends and family be able to redeem Ally out of the impending doom in time? Will her infallible love become the key to the destruction of her already fragile world? Will madness prevail over love; true love over revenge?

My Review:

rp-first-thoughts

The author’s publisher contacted me about reading an eARC of the book among other things for the release. I was excited to work directly with the publicist and when I found out the book was a thriller, I was sold. I love mystery and suspense, so I was eager to give this one a try.

rp-characters

I have to admit that I wasn’t too thrilled with a lot of the characters. Ally was a good protagonist and I was able to relate to her through her anxiety. Her father, Stephen, was a great character too. I loved seeing the dynamic between father and daughter.

Steve, Ally’s cousin, appears to help solve the murders even though he stopped talking to Ally when it all happened. They make up after so many years lost, but that’s it. I expected the two of them to get close again, have a lot of scenes of the two of them figuring out the mystery together, but there was barely any of that. After they made up, they only spoke once in a while and that was it. I almost felt as though there was no point to having them be distant in the first place.

I absolutely love Sam, Ally’s roommate, and Max, Ally’s dog. They were the most loyal, trusting, and caring about Ally and everything else. They were crafted really well, as was the killer. His crazy tendencies was very well done.

One nitpick I have about the characters are the names. Ally’s father is named Stephen and her cousin is Steve. Ally’s boyfriend is named Danny while Steve’s assistant is named Donny. I got used to it after a while, but it did get confusing at times. I kept reading “Danny” as “Donny” if I went too fast and then I found myself wondering why Danny was helping Steve. Nothing major, but I felt as though better names could have been chosen.

 

rp-plot

We follow multiple characters throughout this story, each chapter being a different POV. However, the protagonist is Ally, a young woman still grieving over the murders of her mother and younger brother. She has her roommate and best friend and her father, but she’s mainly just trying to move on with her life.

She ends up meeting a guy, Danny, and moves in with him despite her friends not being too thrilled about it. She then begins to realize that he isn’t exactly who she thought he was.

I thought this was such a clever plot and an interesting twist on the typical stalker-killer. We saw through the eyes of the killer, yet that didn’t give anything away. It leaves room for the reader to figure it all out alongside the main characters.

With that said, I did still manage to figure it out long before the killer’s identity was revealed. Things were just a bit too fishy and there weren’t any red herrings. There wasn’t much else for me to go on so it was pretty easy to figure out who the culprit was long before it was revealed. It was predictable because that was the only lead that was given to us, but the author did a great job not revealing any information.

rp-writing-style

The author has a clever way of getting her words across. I found her writing to be easy to follow along and enjoyable to read.

Alternating POVs was a good choice as well. Sometimes they can get confusing when you’re following multiple characters. Not only were we following four characters-Ally, Steve, her journalist cousin, Elizabeth, the 13-year-old who killed her parents, and the killer himself. Elizabeth was from a different timeline. However, it was all well done and written in a certain order so that you wouldn’t feel lost.

rp-overall

I found this novel to be enjoyable and edge-of-your-seat gripping. The writing style and POVs really made the novel what it is and the killer was crafted so well. The novel ended up being much darker than I thought. Somethings the killer did bothered me a bit, but I also have a weak stomach. So take that as you will.

Deceived by Heena Rathore P. gets…
4-stars4 out of 5 stars

Favorite Quote:

“Denial. It’s the only thing that keeps most of us from losing our sanity.” –Heena Rathore P., Deceived

In other news, I’ve challenged myself to read five books between Sunday, February 19 and Sunday, February 26. Feel free to join me and check out my daily updates on Twitter, Tumblr, and my Bookstagram!

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Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier

ghosts

Title: Ghosts
Author: Raina Telgemeier
Published:
September 2016, Graphix
Genre: Young adult graphic novel
How I got the book: I bought it

Summary:

Catrina and her family are moving to the coast of Northern California because her little sister, Maya, is sick. Cat isn’t happy about leaving her friends for Bahía de la Luna, but Maya has cystic fibrosis and will benefit from the cool, salty air that blows in from the sea. As the girls explore their new home, a neighbor lets them in on a secret: There are ghosts in Bahía de la Luna. Maya is determined to meet one, but Cat wants nothing to do with them. As the time of year when ghosts reunite with their loved ones approaches, Cat must figure out how to put aside her fears for her sister’s sake – and her own.

My Review:

rp-first-thoughts

I’ve read Smile and Drama by Raina Telgemeier and enjoyed both of those graphic novels a lot. When I found out she had come out with another, Ghosts, I was excited. I love Telgemeier, graphic novels, and ghosts (despite how easily spooked I get). So, I definitely had to pick this one up.

rp-characters

We follow two sisters, Cat her little sister, Maya. Maya has cystic fibrosis so their family moved to a new town as the salty sea air would help Maya’s lungs. I absolutely loved both girls, Cat being the protective and worrisome older sister and Maya being a child, carefree and innocent, not bothering to let her illness stand in her way.

Both characters easily made this book enjoyable and they both developed quite nicely throughout the story, despite how short it is.

rp-plot

Day of the Dead is approaching in their new town. Maya is intrigued, Cat is scared. Cat doesn’t like ghosts while Maya loves them. However, we don’t know the reason as to why until near the end of the story. The reason why brings the story full circle and really brings out both of their personalities.

Cat tries to keep the ghosts away while Maya keeps trying to speak to them. For spoiler reasons, I’ll let you speculate why that is, but you should just read the book for yourself.

rp-writing-style

The pictures really make the story what it is. The dialogue is great, but I really do enjoy the pictures more so. There are many pages where there’s no dialogue at all. Pictures really are worth one thousand words and that’s true in this story.

rp-overall

Ghosts is a super quick read being a little over 200 pages, but being a graphic novel I read it in 30 minutes. I laughed, I cried, I was intrigued by the whole ghost scene. It’s a sweet book about sisters and an interesting message about death. It’s definitely worth a read for everyone.

Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier gets…
5-stars5 out of 5 stars

Favorite Quote:

“I guess it’s hard not to feel good when you’re surrounded by so much life!” –Raina Telgemeier, Ghosts

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