Posted in Book Reviews, Fantasy, Reading, Science Fiction, Young Adult

Keepers By Sacha de Black [Book Review]

Keepers by Sacha de Black Book Review

Title: Keepers (The Eden East #1)
Author: Sacha de Black
Published: 
November 17, 2017
Genre: Young adult, science fiction
How I got the book: I received a free digital review copy in exchange for an honest review

Summary:

Eden’s life is balanced…
…until her soul is bound to her enemy.

When her parents are murdered, the realm of Trutinor is threatened. Then a mysterious human arrives and changes everything.

As Eden’s world spirals out of control, she doesn’t need a charismatic Siren from her past returning to complicate life.

Now, saving Trutinor is the last thing on Eden’s mind.

Three boys.
Two murdered parents.
One deadly choice.

My Review:

rp-first-thoughts

I have been following Sacha on her blog and social media for some time now. I’ve read and followed her through every update this book and I can’t believe the time has finally come – it is out in the world. Sacha approached me to advance read this book and I was more than happy to accept.

rp-plot

Keepers has the most unique plot I’ve seen in a while. The world is fleshed out to the max and the characters are super important in their own way.

We follow Eden East as she tries to do right in her world, Trutinor. Everything changes when her parents are murdered, her soul is bound to not one, but two boys. One of those boys being her enemy and neither of them being the man she truly loves. Then it’s a race against time to fix their binding and Balance their souls once more.

It’s hard to explain only because this world was so cleverly crafted and the rules are complicated (but they’re easy to understand within the pages). A lot of worldbuilding went into this book and it certainly shows. The plot revolves around Keepers, Fallons, Shifters, etc., with the occasional human sprinkled in. While I would not want to be in Eden’s shoes, the world of Trutinor seems like an interesting place.

There was a good amount of romance thrown in, as once you’re Bound your soulmates. You may not be Bound to who you love. That called for a perfect opportunity for a love triangle. I’m not a big fan of romance or love triangles, but it was well done in this story and I found rooting for one guy over the other.

rp-characters

I loved each and every character. They all fulfilled a certain role and no talent was wasted.

Eden made a great protagonist. I loved her voice and her strong will. I felt that she had a nice balance of being “tough” and “vulnerable” at the same time.

Victor made a nice antagonist. Though I have to admit, even though we were meant to hate him, I actually liked his character in the beginning… then I hated him.

Trey made a great supporting character as did Bo, Kato, and everyone else in the story. It was a great cast of characters.

rp-writing-style

This book was written in the third person limited through Eden. I felt that was a good choice for the narrator for this kind of novel.

The pace was smooth, yet it was action-packed. It sped up and slowed down at the right moments. I never got lost in the reading as it was easy to understand and it flowed well.

There’s a lot of learning as you read this novel. It’s a big world with many new terms, but it’s easy enough to stay caught up.

rp-overall

I don’t read a lot of science fiction or even this kind of fantasy for that matter, but I can very easily see myself getting sucked up in this world. The ending had a great twist. I’m really looking forward to the sequel.

Keepers (The Eden East #1) by Sacha de Black gets…
5-Star Rating | Book Review 5 out of 5 stars

Favorite Quote:

“Scars are memories. They’re real. Moments we shouldn’t forget.” –Sacha de Black, Keepers

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Posted in Book Reviews, Memoir, Poetry

Into The Light By Emily Stroia [Book Review]

Into The Light by Emily Stroia

Title: Into The Light
Author: Emily Stroia
Published: 
October 2017
Genre: Memoir, Poetry
How I got the book: I received a free digital copy in exchange for an honest review

Summary:

Into the Light is a memoir-inspired poetry collection in seven parts.

The book shares the author’s life from a transformative perspective of being in a deep state of darkness to finding hope, miracles and light. In the final part, there are notes to the reader and finding one’s inner peace after adversity.

This book explores trauma, abuse, sexual abuse, mental illness, loss, healing, spirituality, meditation, inspiration and empowerment.

My Review:

rp-first-thoughts

This isn’t the kind of book I would typically read. I’ve read poetry before and I do enjoy memoirs. However, if I saw this at the bookstore I probably wouldn’t have picked it up. It’s a dark, sensitive topic, but it’s a quick read and it never hurts to branch out a little. Since this is a memoir, this review will be written a little differently.

rp-plot

This memoir is told through the author’s point of view from birth and beyond. It goes through all the motions as everything she witnessed as a child between her father’s relationship with her mother as well as her father’s relationship with herself. She describes both of her parents and watches them both continue on with their lives, though not necessarily in an upbeat way.

There is light at the end of the tunnel, however. It’s hard to describe as the story is so short. This one is better if you just read it yourself.

rp-writing-style

This book is a quick read being only 158 pages. It’s told entirely through poetry, so it goes fast. Some pages only have a few words written on them.

The poetry was well written and easy to follow. Some pages rhymed while others didn’t. Some of the poetry was written in longer sentences and some weren’t. It flowed well and no matter how it was written, it just read poetically. The author does have a way with words.

The book is broken up into several parts as well. We start at the very beginning, go through the journey and pain, and end up with her breakthrough and finally forgiveness. It goes through the motions very well almost as if it were the stages of grieving.

It’s fast-paced, but I think it worked well for this particular topic. As I read the story, I felt as though the ending, the redemption, was slower than the beginning. That was my interpretation of it, but I liked it. You want that happy ending.

rp-overall

This was a great read. While I can’t personally relate to the author, I’m sure there are others out there who can. It’s easier said than done, but there are positive moments in life and everything does and will get better. I think that’s what this story is about. You go through tough times, but there always is a light at the end of the tunnel. It was well written and I commend the author for sharing her story.

Into The Light by Emily Stroia gets…
5-Star Rating | Book Review5 out of 5 stars

Favorite Quote:

“If you ever wonder what you could
have done differently
remember you were doing your best
with what you knew how.”
-Emily Stroia, Into The Light

Buy the book:

Amazon

About Emily Stroia

Emily is an intuitive teacher, spiritual leader, author, and artist. Emily first discovered her gifts of intuition and creativity as a child and was placed in a highly gifted program for children. She often explored her gifts through writing, art, and experienced frequent visions and dreams that would turn out to be accurate. Not understanding fully why or how she was able to do this, she decided to study.

She has always felt a strong attraction to the metaphysical and spiritual aspects of life and continues to delve deeper into each. Believing strongly in her intuitive gifts, as well as wanting to express her deep desire to help people, Emily decided to utilize her abilities to turn her passion into a profession.Her mission is to inspire people to find the gifts in

Her mission is to inspire people to find the gifts in their stories and live powerful transformed lives with ease and peace. Her life is a breathing expression of intuition, passion, spirituality and creativity. Most days you can find her coaching clients, writing, practicing yoga and playing with her dog in Los Angeles.

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Posted in Book Reviews, Inspirational Fiction, Mainstream Fiction

The Fragile Thread Of Hope By Pankaj Giri

The Fragile Thread of Hope by Pankaj Giri

Title: The Fragile Thread of Hope
Author: Pankaj Giri
Published: 
November 3, 2017
Genre: Mainstream inspirational fiction
How I got the book: I was given a free eARC by the author in exchange for an honest review

Summary:

In the autumn of 2012, destiny wreaks havoc on two unsuspecting people—Soham and Fiona.

Although his devastating past involving his brother still haunted him, Soham had established a promising career for himself in Bangalore.

After a difficult childhood, Fiona’s fortunes had finally taken a turn for the better. She had married her beloved, and her life was as perfect as she had ever imagined it to be.

But when tragedy strikes them yet again, their fundamentally fragile lives threaten to fall apart.

Can Fiona and Soham overcome their grief?

Will the overwhelming pain destroy their lives?

Seasoned with the flavours of exotic Nepalese traditions and set in the picturesque Indian hill station, Gangtok, The Fragile Thread of Hope explores the themes of spirituality, faith, alcoholism, love, and guilt while navigating the complex maze of familial relationships.

Inspirational and heart-wrenchingly intimate, it urges you to wonder—does hope stand a chance in this travesty called life?

My Review:

rp-first-thoughts

I was certainly interested when the author reached out to me about what the book was about. Death is a hard topic to talk about, it’s hard to put into words. Yet, it’s a topic that everyone can relate to and feel for. So I was certainly intrigued.

rp-plot

This book follows the point of view of a couple characters, but the main characters are Soham and Fiona. They both lost someone dear to them early one. However, Fiona’s loss wasn’t a death. I still took it as a metaphorical death though. If that was done on purpose, I found it clever.

For the sake of spoilers, I won’t go into too much detail. Soham found it hard to admit the death in his family. It took him years to find peace as he felt guilty and lonely. Still, life pressed on.

Fiona was the same way. She couldn’t accept the death. While she didn’t feel guilty, she felt betrayed by Jesus and lonely.

They find their way through life, having good days and bad days. It was realistic to real life as they both struggled and sought peace.

rp-characters

I found all the characters to be relatable and well liked. Soham and Fiona both had in-depth backgrounds. I felt as though there was just enough information without it being “dumped” on me.

Sharon, Fiona’s mother, was an excellent character. She was the perfect mother trying to do anything and everything for the best interest for her daughter. She was amazing and probably my favorite character.

Joseph, Fiona’s husband, was great as well. However, I felt as though I didn’t get a good enough chance to get to know him. The novel starts off with Joseph and Fiona and then goes to tell us their story together, but I still felt as though pieces of him were missing.

rp-writing-style

This story is told through the point of views of Fiona and Soham and then Sharon on occasion. Each time it switched point of view, I took that as a new chapter beginning. I found this a clever way to tell their sides of the story and then weave them in together.

There were also dates as well. However, the dates jumped around. Well, they went in order for the most part, but sometimes Fiona’s story would be shared, then we’d have to jump back a couple of months to share Soham’s part of the story. While this makes sense, I did get confused a few times. I found it hard to keep track of the dates and years.

Still, the story was easy to read and flowed well. There wasn’t too much information and there wasn’t too little. It was a great pace and kept me turning the pages.

rp-overall

This certainly was an inspirational read. Death is something that we all have to overcome multiple times in our lives and we all face it at some point. I think the author handled it well and portrayed it well through his characters. It’s certainly a good read if you’re feeling down or lonely.

The Fragile Thread of Hope by Pankaj Giri gets…
4 stars book review 4 out of 5 stars

Favorite Quote:

“But disgust sliced through her heart as her eyes caught his teeth–they looked as if they were borrowed from a dead rabbit.” -Pankaj Giri, The Fragile Thread of Hope

Buy the book:

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon IN

About Pankaj Giri

Pankaj Giri was born and brought up in Gangtok, Sikkim—a picturesque hill station in India. He began his writing career with a book review blog, and now, after several years of honing his writing skills, he has written a novel—The Fragile Thread of Hope, a literary inspirational fiction dealing with love, loss, and family relationships. He is currently working in the government sector in Sikkim. He likes to kill time by listening to progressive metal music and watching cricket.

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Posted in Book Reviews, Graphic Novel, Memoir, Middle Grade

Real Friends By Shannon Hale [Book Review]

Real Friends by Shannon Hale

Title: Real Friends
Author: Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham (illustrator)
Published: 
May 2017 by First Second
Genre: Graphic novel, memoir, middle grade
How I got the book: I bought it

Summary:

When best friends are not forever . . . 

Shannon and Adrienne have been best friends ever since they were little. But one day, Adrienne starts hanging out with Jen, the most popular girl in class and the leader of a circle of friends called The Group. Everyone in The Group wants to be Jen’s #1, and some girls would do anything to stay on top . . . even if it means bullying others.

Now every day is like a roller coaster for Shannon. Will she and Adrienne stay friends? Can she stand up for herself? And is she in The Group—or out?

Newbery Honor author Shannon Hale and New York Timesbestselling illustrator LeUyen Pham join forces in this graphic memoir about how hard it is to find your real friends—and why it’s worth the journey.

My Review:

rp-first-thoughts

I have seen this book floating around the book blogs of the WordPress world. I love a good graphic novel so when I found it at the bookstore, I decided to pick it up.

rp-plot

This is a fictionalized memoir based on the author’s childhood. A lot of it is true, but she fictionalized some things to make the story flow better. We follow Shannon as a young girl and watch her grow up as she tries to hold onto friendships and figure out who she is.

Her best friend is Adrienne, but then they meet a group of girls who follow Jen around. And they’re not nice all the time. Shannon doesn’t know whether they like her or not, but she still hangs out with them because she doesn’t have anyone else.

This is a good story all middle schoolers should read. It teaches an important lesson about being nice to others and also that it’s okay to not have a large group of friends. It’s okay to not be “popular.”

rp-characters

All the characters were portrayed well. I could relate with Shannon so much. She was being bullied, she didn’t have a lot of friends, and she developed anxiety along the way.

Adrienne was a good character as well. She was nice to Shannon but was also friends with Jen. When Jen was mean, Adrienne didn’t do anything because she didn’t want Jen to be mean to her in return. It was a vicious cycle. The other members of “The Group” were pretty much the same way.

It was typical behavior of middle-schoolers. But Shannon managed to push through.

rp-writing-style

The writing was well done, using a good amount of narrative and dialogue. The art style was great too. It really made the story, especially when Shannon was using her imagination.

It was a quick read being a graphic novel, but it was enjoyable (and relatable) enough that I was able to read it in one sitting.

rp-overall

This is a great story with an important lesson on bullying and just being true to who you are. Everyone should read this, no matter what age.

Real Friends by Shannon Hale gets…
5-Star Rating | Book Review 5 out of 5 stars

Favorite Quote:

“All a person needs is one good friend.” -Shannon Hale, Real Friends

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Posted in Book Reviews, Science Fiction, Young Adult

Warcross by Marie Lu [Book Review]

Warcross by Marie Lu

Title: Warcross
Author: Marie Lu
Published: 
September 2017 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Genre: Young adult, science fiction
How I got the book: I bought it

Summary:

For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

My Review:

rp-first-thoughts

If I remember correctly, this book was recommended to me by Nthato long before the book was released. It intrigued me and I put it on my Goodreads wish eventually forgetting about it. But I saw it in the bookstore the other day and I immediately remembered the book because of the cover. So I grabbed it. And I have to say, I haven’t read a book this fast in a while, it was that good.

rp-plot

Emika Chen is an 18-year-old bounty hunter. She is also an excellent hacker and certainly knows her way around computers and technology. So, when she accidentally hacks into one of the biggest virtual reality games, Warcross, during a live match, she assumes she’s in big trouble.

However, Hideo Tanaka, the 21-year-old creator of Warcross, offers her a job instead.

Emi is hired as a bounty hunter to go undercover in the games and hack into it to find and catch another hacker, only known as Zero. Between her skills and Hideo’s, they work together to catch the unknown man… or woman.

Books about hacking into video games are not uncommon. However, this plot was woven so intricately that it really made it its own. There’s hacking, there’s video game playing, there’s romance (eh), there’s humor, there are dangerous moments… it’s a roller coaster.

While I did figure out who Zero was fairly easily before Zero’s real identity was revealed, there was a twist at the end that I certainly didn’t see coming. And it was the best twist I’ve ever seen in a book.

But I’ll stop talking about the plot now. I could talk about it all day and I know I’ll spoil something…

rp-characters

I found all the characters to be likable in some way or another. Emi was a great protagonist and had a humorous personality. I could relate to her a lot.

Hideo was a great character as well. However, he was just okay for me. He was nice, smart, polite, but I don’t know. Something was off for me, but I did still enjoy him as a character. And I think he was the perfect fit to play the “21-year-old genius.”

The side characters, such as Emi’s Warcross team, Asher, Ren, Roshan, and Hammie, were cool as well. They each had their own unique personalities and contributed in one way or another. It showed their friendship with one another and they each had one goal in mind – to win Warcross. Still, they considered Emi a friend and was willing to help her own in any way they could.

Then there’s Keira. And here’s my only complaint about this book. Keira was Emi’s roommate back in New York, when they were poor and about to get evicted, before Emi accidentally hacked into the game. Once Emi is hired, she flies to Tokyo leaving Keira behind. She’s never heard from again.

I know she was a minor character, but I did like her, and I would assume that she would at least text Emi to see how things were going. Especially since Emi was blasted all over the news a couple of times. There seemed close enough friends that I was hoping they’d keep in touch. If Keira really wasn’t needed, she shouldn’t have been in the book at all.

rp-writing-style

The book is written in Emi’s first-person point of view. We see everything she sees and knows everything she knows, especially her thoughts. She had a humorous personality which definitely made her a fun character to follow around. It made the narration easier to read.

There was a lot of description in this book mostly of the Warcross game and overall world and all the technology that came with it. It was interesting and it honestly makes me wonder if we’re going to have something similar to that in real life at some point. It reminded me of VR Super Smash Brothers.

But it wasn’t just a came. It was a way people communicated with each other as well. It was very well done.

rp-overall

Can you tell I liked the book? I could gush about it all day if you’d let me. It was well written with a twisty plot and fun characters. I’m looking forward to book two.

Warcross by Marie Lu gets…
5-Star Rating | Book Review 5 out of 5 stars

Favorite Quote:

“Death has a terrible habit of cutting straight through every careful line you’ve drawn between your present and your future.” –Marie Lu, Warcross

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Posted in Book Reviews, Picture Books

Lulu’s Ballalam-Bam-Bam Grooves! by Serina Adham

Lulu's Ballalam-Bam-Bam Grooves!

Title: Lulu’s Ballalam-Bam-Bam Grooves!
Author: Serina Adham (Illustrated by Ken Steel)
Published: 
August 2017 by Amazon
Genre: Children’s picture book
How I got the book: I was given a free digital copy by the author’s publicist in exchange for an honest review.

Summary:

There is nothing Lulu loves more than dancing by herself. With each new song, she practices the “Ballalam-Bam-Bam Grooves.” She slides her feet, claps her hands, and bumps her hips against a tree trunk.

There is just one problem. Lulu is a gorilla! When she stamps her feet and shakes the trees, she ends up disturbing all the other animals in her jungle home. Poor Squin Squirrel cannot even sip his nut tea without Lulu’s dancing rattling his tree home. Squin and the other animals try to tell Lulu that her dancing is disruptive, but they cannot get through to the gorilla.

Then, Lulu’s loud music and dancing ends up waking up the mighty king of the jungle. The angry lion Jhawfors then confronts Lulu with the problem. Will the animals be able to find a compromise?

This rhyming children’s tale imparts valuable lessons to young readers. Lulu does not want to stop doing what she loves, but she needs to understand that her actions affect others. Through Lulu, children will learn the importance of respect, compassion, and compromise.

My Review:

rp-first-thoughts

I used to be a preschool teacher, so I’m always more than happy to check out new children’s books. Since this is a 20-page picture book, this review will be shorter and slightly different than most of my reviews.

rp-plot

Lulu the gorilla is happy-go-lucky and loves to dance. She plays her music loud and dances like no one is watching. However, her dancing causes some ruckus in the jungle.

Her dancing disturbs Squin the squirrel during his tea time and her music is too loud for Lilly the owl and Fluer the skunk. Then, the king of the jungle, Jhawfors the lion, gets involved.

Before a fight breaks out, Lilly the owl comes up with a suggestion so that Lulu can dance without disturbing the entire jungle.

The moral of this story is that even though you may be doing something harmless and innocent, you still need to be aware of the others around you and be respectful of their space. This is the first picture book I’ve read with that kind of a lesson and I think it’s a good one to teach children and take to heart!

rp-characters

The characters of this story were cute and simple. I found their names to be creative and they flowed well with the rhythmic way the story is told.

rp-writing-style

Being about dancing, this is a rhythmic book with rhymes that have a poetic feel to it. The dancing is described in a way that should get kids up and move and possibly try to mimic Lulu’s dance moves.

Because of the rhymes, the story flowed well and read easily that will certainly keep kids’ attention. Even at the end of the book, a general question to the kids ask to make up some more dance moves for Lulu, which is another great interactive way to get the kids more involved in the story even though it’s over.

The illustrations were adorable as well. The backgrounds were very pretty and the colors all around were vivid and plentiful, which are certain to attract the wandering, curious eyes of a child.

rp-overall

This is a cute story with an important lesson, fun storytelling, and pretty pictures. This would definitely be one to read to your children.

Lulu’s Ballalam-Bam-Bam Grooves! by Serina Adham gets…
5-Star Rating | Book Review 5 out of 5 stars

Favorite Quote:

“It is true we all share this jungle home together, so we must be aware and consider one another.” -Serina Adham, Lulu’s Ballalam-Bam-Bam Grooves!

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Posted in Book Reviews, Reading

Beauty’s Kiss & Beauty’s Gift (Once Upon A Princess Books 3 &4) by C.S. Johnson

Beauty's Kiss by C.S. Johnson

Title: Beauty’s Kiss (Once Upon A Princess book 3)
Author: C.S. Johnson
Published: 
July 2017 by Dire Wolf Books
Genre: Young adult, fantasy, retelling
How I got the book: I received a free digital copy from the author for the blog tour in exchange for an honest review.

Summary:

Rose, the Princess of Rhone, doomed to fall into a sleeping death on her eighteenth birthday, has only ever wanted two things in all her life: to be free of her curse, and to never fall in love. After securing the dragon’s blood from the Serpent’s Garden, Rose is confident she has all she needs to free herself from Magdalina’s curse. But when Magdalina comes to offer Rose a new deal—one that would free her from her curse, while also eliminating future threats—Rose is forced to confront the truth of her feelings for Theo.

As Theo’s past and new troubles interrupt their journey back to Rhone, Rose knows she must make a devastating choice. Will she let herself fall in love? Or will she break her own heart instead?

My Review:

 

rp-plot

Rose fights another conflict as she’s faced with Magdalina herself and given an ultimatum. If she does one thing for Magdalina, then the curse will break. However, this may be worse than a sleeping death.

I won’t spoil what the ultimatum was, but that’s Rose’s inner struggles throughout book 3. I found it to be an interesting twist, but Rose being Rose, I don’t think she handled it well.

Sparks fly as Rose and company make their way back to her kingdom of Rhone where she will not only have to figure out her next course of action, but also face her father, the king.

rp-characters

The characters haven’t changed much since the last two books. Rose is still stubborn and snippy with everyone. I understand why, but if I were there I would have left a long time ago. She didn’t treat her companions very well, especially Theo, who is the kindest to her. That’s usually how it goes, though.

Theo is still my favorite character. Even though I kept rooting for him to walk away, he was still kind to Rose and took care of her. However, he increasingly grew tired of fighting her and did eventually leave. I’m sure I was supposed to be rooting for him to stay, but… I really can’t see myself relating to Rose at all.

rp-writing-style

Just like the first two books, this was short and sweet. It was easy to read and understand. Aside from the occasional typo here and there, it flowed well.

rp-overall

I didn’t feel as though much happened in this book. Rose was conflicted with her ultimatum and she and Theo were too busy loving each other without really admitting it (until the very end, but even that caused problems). It got old pretty fast which made some parts kind of boring to get through.

Beauty’s Kiss (Once Upon A Princess book 3) by C.S. Johnson gets…
3 Stars 3 out of 5 stars

Favorite Quote:

“Beautiful things can hide ugly secrets.” -C.S. Johnson, Beauty’s Kiss

Buy the book

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Google Play

Beauty's Gift

Title: Beauty’s Gift (Once Upon A Princess book 4)
Author: C.S. Johnson
Published: 
August 2017 by Dire Wolf Books
Genre: Young adult, fantasy, retelling
How I got the book: I received a free digital copy from the author for the blog tour in exchange for an honest review.

Summary:

With only weeks away from her eighteenth birthday and the fulfillment of her curse, Rose, the Princess of Rhone, faces more obstacles than ever. The kingdom, anxious over her fate, is destabilizing under her father’s rule; her mother is imprisoned, and her uncle is holding a silent coup against the crown. With Theo’s absence, she is unable to do more than brood over her fate as she attempts to solve the problems around her.

When Theo returns with surprising information, Rose knows the time has come to risk everything. Along with her friends, she prepares to face Magdalina, the wicked ruler of the fairies, and fight the battle of her life – the battle for her freedom, her kingdom, and her heart.

My Review:

rp-plot

And now we have come to the epic conclusion of the Once Upon A Princess saga. Rose’s birthday is arriving faster than ever, but they have a plan to defeat the evil Magdalina. They just need to hope that it works.

We open with Theo on his own journey, seeking revenge and trying to find his aunt. It’s when he fulfills that task that discovers interesting news for Rose.

Even though this is the end, I still felt as though not too much happened. Throughout the book, Rose and Theo fought with their own (and each other’s) hearts. It felt like a game of, “she loves me, she loves me not.” It wasn’t until the very end of the book that their plan to fight Magdalina comes into play and even that was short.

Everything was tied together nicely, there were no loose ends, which was great. However, I felt the ending was rushed and definitely wanted more of a fight.

rp-characters

While Rose is much nicer now, I still can’t seem to connect with her. She’s not a favorite character of mine, so I didn’t really care if she broke her curse or not.

I did enjoy all the other characters though. I was really fond of Philip and Isra, though they weren’t in this book as much.

I especially loved Theo. If Theo had his own book, I would totally read it. He had a wonderful backstory, a cool job, and a great personality all around. He was by far my favorite and I honestly think he’s the reason I enjoyed this book the most. At the end of book three, he leaves Rose’s side. So, for a decent amount of time during this book, Theo is by himself fulfilling his own destiny, as we focused on him. And it was great.

rp-writing-style

Not much has changed in the writing style from the previous books. Everything flows well and easy to read. I just felt as though some parts, like battle scenes, seemed a bit rushed.

There were also a lot of typos in this book that kept bringing me out of the story. There were two chapters labeled “18,” which certainly threw me off.

rp-overall

This wasn’t a bad book. As I said before, this is my favorite one out of all four. As a series, this isn’t my favorite. The plot was clever and was well executed, but it sometimes felt rushed or there wasn’t enough action. I couldn’t get myself to like Rose as a character and, as the protagonist, that’s a dealbreaker for me.

Beauty’s Gift (Once Upon A Princess book 4) by C.S. Johnson gets…
3 Stars 3 out of 5 stars

Favorite Quote:

“He could hear Bachas cackling happily, which likely meant he had found someone to fight.” -C.S. Johnson, Beauty’s Gift

Buy the book:

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About the Author

C.S. Johnson authorC.S. Johnson is the author of several young adult novels, including sci-fi and fantasy adventures such as the Starlight Chronicles series, the Once Upon a Princess saga, and the Divine Space Pirates trilogy. With a gift for sarcasm and an apologetic heart, she currently lives in Atlanta with her family. Find out more at http://www.csjohnson.me.

 

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Giveaway

Want to participate in a treasure hunt?

At the end of each book in this series is a special collectible clue. Collect all four books, and get all four special prizes, FREE!

Love reading fairytales? Enter to the world of C.S. Johnson’s Once Upon A Princess Saga by entering to win a paperback of Beauty’s Curse, the entire saga in ebook format, four specially designed t-shirts of a quote from the series, and two handy mugs for your favorite drink.

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Posted in Book Reviews, Reading

Beauty’s Curse & Beauty’s Quest (Once Upon A Princess Books 1 & 2) by C.S. Johnson

Beauty's Curse(Once Upon A Princess book 1) by C.S. Johnson | Book Review

Title: Beauty’s Curse (Once Upon A Princess book 1)
Author: C.S. Johnson
Published: 
January 2016 by Dire Wolf Books
Genre: Young adult, fantasy, retelling
How I got the book: I received a free digital copy from the author for the blog tour in exchange for an honest review. However, the book was free on Amazon, so I downloaded it onto my Kindle.

Summary:

For four years, Princess Aurora of Rhone—Rose to her friends—has searched the world for a way to break the curse placed on her by Magdalina, the wicked ruler of the fairies at war with her kingdom. Under the curse, Rose is doomed to die on her eighteenth birthday after pricking her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel. And time is running out.

On the eve of her seventeenth birthday, Rose makes the journey home with her friends—Theo, a priest with a penchant for revenge; Mary, a young and talented fairy; and Ethan and Sophia, siblings with a troubled past–as pressure from her father, King Stefanos, leaves her with two equally unsatisfying options: Abdicate the throne, or get married.

My Review:

rp-first-thoughts

When I was approached to read this book (and the three books that follow it), I was intrigued by the summary. If you know me, you know I love retellings and oddly enough, I have yet to read any Sleeping Beauty retellings.

rp-plot

Time is running out for Rose. Her 17th birthday is approaching which means she only has one year left before her curse of pricking her finger on the spinning wheel on her 18th birthday is fulfilled. On a journey with a few friends, Rose returns back to her kingdom as she spends every waking moment trying to find a way to break the curse.

And that’s about it.

Being the first book in a series of four this felt more like an introduction. Not too much happened as Rose and her companions made their way back to the kingdom before they set out on their next adventure. There seemed to be a lot of build-up, especially where the king wants Rose to get married, but not much came from it. While they came to an agreement, it was swift and a bit anti-climactic.

The book ended on a cliff-hanger setting up the second book, but nothing from the first book, other than introducing the characters, seemed to be a big deal.

rp-characters

I’m not sure how I feel about Rose as a protagonist. Yes, this is a Sleeping Beauty retelling so it’s only natural she would be the center of attention, but she just seemed a little flat to me.

Theo, Rose’s priest companion and friend, was a wonderful character. He seemed fleshed out and was kind putting Rose’s needs before his own and he really seemed to know what he was doing.

Mary, Sophia, Ethan, and later Prince Philip, were good characters as well. They all have good personalities which made them fun to read.

rp-writing-style

This seems to be told in third-person omniscient, which isn’t my favorite POV at all. There were times when a character would state the obvious or mention something that I wanted to figure out on my own or wait and see what happened.

Despite this, Rose is the main focus. Yet, sometimes we would switch to someone else for a moment just for the sake of them talking about Rose behind her back or thinking about her. I didn’t care too much for that.

rp-overall

I liked this book, though it’s not my favorite. I wish there were more high stakes against Rose and her friends. Still, it was enjoyable enough that I kept reading on.

Beauty’s Curse (Once Upon A Princess book 1) by C.S. Johnson gets…
3 Stars 3 out of 5 stars

Favorite Quote:

“He was not fooled by the calm look on her face; there would be a battle in getting her to agree.” -C.S. Johnson, Beauty’s Curse

Buy the book – Beauty’s Curse is FREE on all platforms!

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Title: Beauty’s Quest (Once Upon A Princess book 2)
Author: C.S. Johnson
Published: 
June 2016 by Dire Wolf Books
Genre: Young adult, fantasy, retelling
How I got the book: I received a free digital copy from the author for the blog tour in exchange for an honest review.

Summary:

In order to defeat the sorceress Magdalina, and free herself from her curse, Rose, the Princess of Rhone, has set out to find dragon’s blood. As she travels toward the Romani territory, where the Serpent’s Garden resides, she is accompanied by her faithful group of friends, including their newest member, Prince Philip of Einish.

But when the group ends up shipwrecked on the small island of Maltia, they find themselves trapped without supplies and a way off the island. With time, money, and new enemies working against them, Rose remains determined despite her despair to rise to each challenge. But can she face the growing fear—and longing—inside herself?

Sweet, suspenseful, and full of surprises, Beauty’s Quest is the second book in the Once Upon a Princess series from C. S. Johnson.

My Review:

rp-plot

Rose, Philip, Theo, Mary, Sophia, and Ethan set out on another journey to slay a dragon for its blood. However, their adventure takes some twists and turns once they’re shipwrecked and they become stranded on an island. Now they have to get back their money and supplies in order to continue their quest.

There was more action in this book than the last as Rose enters a tournament. She ends up making rivals with the champion and that tends to be the forcing drive behind most things she does in this book. Rose has a temper and she’s not afraid to use it.

Still, they’re trying to make it to the dragon. Once they do make it, it’s the very end of the book (one or two chapters) and it’s anti-clamactic again.

rp-characters

I’m still enjoying all the characters. My respect for Theo and Philip have especially gone up. I don’t care much for love triangles, but this one between them and Rose is working quite nicely.

However, I don’t like Rose. She was mean in this book. She’s stressed and worried about her curse, but she doesn’t treat others well and nearly kills two men. This is okay some of the time, of course, but it was constant in this book. I no longer have any sympathy for her and it’s hard to root for her to overcome the curse.

rp-writing-style

The writing style is the same as the first book. It’s still not my favorite, but that’s just my preference and I’ve gotten used to it since that happens to just be the style of this series.

However, there were a few typos here and there and the “thoughts” weren’t consistent. Sometimes they were in italics and something they weren’t.

Other than that, it was pretty easy to read and flowed well.

rp-overall

I liked this book better than the first one. There was more of a plot to it, but I still felt the need to give it only three stars because I couldn’t care for Rose. And, for me, characters are everything in a book.

Beauty’s Quest (Once Upon A Princess book 2) by C.S. Johnson gets…
3 Stars 3 out of 5 stars

Favorite Quote:

“Your arguing skills are as sharp as ever.” -C.S. Johnson, Beauty’s Quest

Buy the book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Google Play

About the Author

C.S. Johnson authorC.S. Johnson is the author of several young adult novels, including sci-fi and fantasy adventures such as the Starlight Chronicles series, the Once Upon a Princess saga, and the Divine Space Pirates trilogy. With a gift for sarcasm and an apologetic heart, she currently lives in Atlanta with her family. Find out more at http://www.csjohnson.me.

 

Website | Newsletter | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram  | Pinterest  | Google Plus 

Giveaway

Want to participate in a treasure hunt?

At the end of each book in this series is a special collectible clue. Collect all four books, and get all four special prizes, FREE!

Love reading fairytales? Enter to the world of C.S. Johnson’s Once Upon A Princess Saga by entering to win a paperback of Beauty’s Curse, the entire saga in ebook format, four specially designed t-shirts of a quote from the series, and two handy mugs for your favorite drink.

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY

Calling all book readers! Join us as we celebrate C.S.Johnson’s ONCE UPON A PRINCESS SAGA on October 6th from 8:30PM to 10:30PM EST (7:30PM CDT and 5:30PM PST).

Grab your favorite drink and snack and be prepared for a fun night of chatting with the author and special guests, games, and giveaways.

Special guests Chandler Brett, Jeff Sartini, and Disney Princess Addict will also be sharing their books and joining in the fun.

As a note: The giveaways held on this event page are in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook. Any questions or comments regarding the party will be directed to the host (Laura A. Grace), not Facebook.

JOIN THE FACEBOOK PARTY

Posted in Book Reviews, Reading

Everland by Wendy Spinale

Everland by Wendy Spinale | Book Review

Title: Everland
Author: Wendy Spinale
Published: 
May 2016 by Scholastic Press
Genre: Young adult | Fantasy | Fairytale retelling
How I got the book: I downloaded it onto my Kindle

Summary:

The only way to grow up is to survive.

London has been destroyed in a blitz of bombs and disease. The only ones who have survived the destruction and the outbreak of a deadly virus are children, among them sixteen-year-old Gwen Darling and her younger siblings, Joanna and Mikey. They spend their nights scavenging and their days avoiding the deadly Marauders—the German army led by the cutthroat Captain Hanz Otto Oswald Kretschmer.

Unsure if the virus has spread past England’s borders but desperate to leave, Captain Hook is on the hunt for a cure, which he thinks can be found in one of the surviving children. He and his Marauders stalk the streets snatching children for experimentation. None ever return.

Until one day when they grab Joanna. Gwen will stop at nothing to get her sister back, but as she sets out, she crosses paths with a daredevil named Pete. Pete offers the assistance of his gang of Lost Boys and the fierce sharpshooter Bella, who have all been living in a city hidden underground. But in a place where help has a steep price and every promise is bound by blood, it might cost Gwen more than she bargained for. And are Gwen, Pete, the Lost Boys, and Bella enough to outsmart the ruthless Captain Hook?

My Review:

rp-first-thoughts

I love a good fairy tale retelling and Peter Pan is my favorite. So, naturally, I have to read all the Peter Pan retellings there are out there.

rp-plot

This was by far the most unique Peter Pan twist I’ve read. Instead of a lost girl or boy finding their way into Neverland, children are all around England orphaned from the war and a deadly disease that took their parents.

We go back and forth between Gwen’s first-person and Hook’s first-person. Gwen is trying to keep her younger brother and sister safe and they’re all trying to survive. Meanwhile, Hook wants his hands on the “cure” for the disease for the Queen who started the war in the first place.

When Gwen’s sister is taken by Hook’s crew, she comes across Pete and the Lost Boys. After a rough start, they decide to help one another out and go after Gwen’s sister and Hook.

This was certainly a different kind of plot than I’m used to reading, especially for a Peter Pan retelling. I enjoyed it though.

rp-characters

I didn’t fall in love with any of the characters. I found Gwen to be annoying at times. She flip-flopped a lot on her decisions and feeling. For a 15-year-old who has parented her younger siblings all the while trying to stay alive, I get why she was iffy at times. Still, there were times when I felt like she played the “I’m only 15” card and sometimes she seemed to play the “I’m older, therefore I’m in charge” card.

Pete was okay. He had a sad backstory, but there wasn’t much feeling behind it. Doc, one of the lost boys, explains Pete’s backstory to Gwen, but that’s about it. It’s just an explanation. Peter mentioned it once or twice to Gwen later on, but again, I couldn’t feel anything for it.

The supporting characters weren’t much better. I didn’t feel like I had enough time with any of them to really feel sorry or happy for them. Due to spoilers, I won’t say much, but I didn’t feel sorry for what happened to Jack or Pyro. I barely knew either one of them, so I didn’t care too much about what happened to them.

Overall, the characters didn’t really do it for me. And, to me, the characters are what makes a story.

rp-writing-style

The actual story was easy to read and to follow along. Each chapter alternated (for the most part) between Gwen and Hook. So, we knew his motives as well as hers.

Other than that, there wasn’t too much special about the writing. I thought it was pretty simple and straight-forward.

rp-overall

This book was just okay for me. The plot was interesting, but I don’t know if it worked well as a Peter Pan retelling. The characters were a little too bland for me. Also, there’s a quote in the book that’s in the original Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie. It’s a wonderful quote, but for some reason that didn’t sit well with me. I feel like if the author wanted to add that in, she should have changed it a bit and made it more her own.

This is the first of a series. I may read the next book, but I don’t know if it would be anytime soon.

Everland by Wendy Spinale gets…
3 Stars 3 out of 5 stars

Favorite Quote:

“Oh, aren’t you cute? It’s absolutely… darling.” –Wendy Spinale, Everland

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Posted in Book Reviews, Reading

The Black Book by James Patterson

Title: The Black Book
Author: James Patterson
Published: 
March 2017 by Little, Brown and Company
Genre: Mystery
How I got the book: I borrowed it from my mom

Summary:

How can you prove your innocence when you can’t remember the crime?

Being a cop runs in Billy Harney’s family. The son of Chicago’s Chief of Detectives whose twin sister, Patty, also followed in their father’s footsteps, there’s nothing Billy won’t give up for the job, including his life. Left for dead alongside his tempestuous former partner and a hard-charging assistant district attorney out for blood, Billy miraculously survives. But he remembers nothing about the events leading up to the shootout. Charged with double murder and desperate to clear his name, Billy retraces his steps to get to the bottom of what happened. When he discovers the existence of a little black book that everyone who’s anyone in Chicago will stop at nothing to get their hands on, Billy suspects it contains the truth that will either set him free…or confirm his worst fears.

My Review:

rp-first-thoughts

James Patterson is a wonderful author, but I don’t read his books enough. My mom raved about this one so I decided to pick it up and give it a try myself.

rp-plot

Billy Harney, the protagonist, gets himself into a lot of trouble. He solves a crime with no true evidence and it’s because of that that people question him. Then he wakes up from a coma. He had been shot and was lucky to be alive. His partner, Kate, and the woman he was seeing, Amy, were not so lucky.

The thing is, Billy has no memory of what happened.

The only thing that can help Billy is finding a little black book that will reveal everything. That, and getting his memory back. He is now framed and accused of four murders, Kate and Amy included. While he can’t remember, he knows that he would never kill anyone.

This was a long and twisted plot, but pretty easy to follow along and it certainly kept my interest the whole time. Once you thought you and the characters had figured something out, something else would happen. It was suspenseful, real, and twisty.

rp-characters

I did enjoy all the characters. Billy, the protagonist, was my favorite. He seemed to be the only one who had most of his stuff together. He seemed to be the definition of a true cop, despite some cliches here and there (his wife and daughter had died).

All the other characters seemed to be in it for themselves, which made sense. They were all trying to protect themselves in the severity of the case. Kate was a cool character too, though she and Billy seemed to have a falling out towards the end which made me a little sad.

Patti, Billy’s twin sister, who is also a cop, was just an okay character for me. The book opens up with her and I thought she was going to be a protagonist as well, but she wasn’t really. She did have a few big parts, but other than that, she wasn’t in it too much.

rp-writing-style

I loved the way this book was written. It’s broken up into parts, the past and the present. Billy’s parts were told in first person, but he couldn’t remember the past. So we, as the readers, knew what had happened by reading the past, and then when we jumped back to the present, Billy was still trying to piece everything together.

It was a clever way of revealing everything, especially at the end when they all went to court. Everything started to come back to Billy and we learn the major climax through alternating between the past and present within the chapters.

It was clever, easy to follow along, and kept my attention.

rp-overall

This was a great read. If you’re into mysteries or suspenseful reads, this would definitely be a good one to pick up.

The Black Book by James Patterson gets…
5-Star Rating | Book Review 5 out of 5 stars

Favorite Quote:

“It’s easier to focus on someone else’s grief than cope with your own.” –James Patterson, The Black Book

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