Category Archives: Book Reviews

“We have not yet slain the devil: how shall we determine who is to be our new god”

 

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The 1-line Review:

A seriously quotable fantasy novel .

The longer review:

There were at least 3 lines that I read and had to pause for a second because of how impressive the lines read. The first one that stopped me was “”We have not yet slain the devil: how shall we determine who is to be our new god.” that was a seriously awesome line to me. I can’t find the other 2 quotes for the life of me but there were a couple others that had some real pull.

The story starts off with a Ranger’s Apprentice feel and the rest falls in line with a story similar to The Beyonder’s series.  It is a lightning-fast non-magic fantasy.  The story is driven by political shifts and espionage, but not to the Level of Game of Thrones. This story would be a great read for a youngster who would love Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings, but are too young for those levels of reading.

I was impressed with the sage-ness of the character Mordecani. Many of the ‘quotable wisdoms’ came from him. The main character, prince Korbin, progresses well from start to finish and was a very likable main character.  Prince Korbin ages from boy to man and has to fight with feeling of Duty, and a justice of law that must be brought down upon him.

The strength of the writing and flow of the story overcomes any debut novel shortcomings I detail below. I very much enjoyed the book start to finish.

 

Where the book lost a star:

Half a star for character naming. Down to the end I was confused with character and location names. The author favored names beginning with A (Aeggis, Ascanth, Astrith, Adamah, Addrich) and R (Rotchardin, Raccanith, Radrin, Roald) .  The sound of many of the names felt too similar,  like how Angie and Angela are similar while Angie and Amanda are less so.

My other gripe was the interjection of a young character in the middle of the novel. There needed to be a flash back type memory or discussion placed somewhere  in the beginning of the novel to tie that character to something. Rather it felt completely out of no where.

Bottom Line:

This was a great debut, I expect the next to really build and flourish off of this first tale. The land of Adamah has real potential to flourish into a great fantasy realm.

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The Lost Branch

 

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The 1-line Review:

What can I say, I loved this book just as much as the first. The magic gets even better, the plot lines are deep and woven, and we get a great story line into the history preceding the main trilogy story line.

The longer review

Marcellus, Nicolai, and Corren have to handle new roles as King, Prince, and Head of the order. The Norther magical guild, The Osiris Colony threatens the balance of the realm with a claim to the powers of the Phoenix. The earth faeries face a challenge that will challenge their way of life. Can the new king and his brothers safeguard the realm of humans and fairies before the land they know is destroyed?  (you should read and see)

The magic continues to impress from the first book. The book dives into the history of the  Mapmaker and the earth fairies that added a great depth of knowledge to the character of Salerno as well as the origins of The Order.  There is still much to learn about the order, leaving mysteries for the next installment.

The Lost Branch matches the great depth the first book, Gift of the Phoenix, contained . Again the layers of major and minor plot lines are woven together so intricately, and feel separate but connected at the same time  I felt like there were several “mini ending” throughout the story that gave me a satisfying sense as each perspective plot line came to a close.

The main character of each chapter rotates among Marcellus, Nicolai, and Corren, with occasional chapters and excerpts centered around pro and antagonists. Each chapters grips and pulls you into a story line, only to be switched back into another characters story pages after. It ends up creating quite the page turner as you constantly are reading to get back to each character to see what happens next.

Bottom Line:

 I can’t wait for the next! this series is truly one of the great ones.

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The Dragon boy is back!

 

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(You can read the beginning of the book in that blog link up there!)

The 1-line Review:

Action and adventure are abound in a book even better than the first.

The longer review:

The Watcher of Zargon built upon the strong foundation built by Ben the Dragonborn. It was hard to put this book down, reading one chapters became eight as I tried to stretch my lunch breaks to get more reading in. Much less takes place at the school as Ben, Allison, and new student Mack are quickly dropped into Zargon. The rest of the story became a back and forth of

Zargonian war, family feuds, and diplomacy written in a way that is understandable and appropriate for the  intended reader (juvenile) while still being very entertaining for an adult reader.

 

I think the greatest improvements from book one stem from the growth of the author. Ben and Allison’s feelings and actions more accurately portray their age (14-15 years old) in this book. I felt they, particularly Ben, acted a bit younger than 13-14 year olds in the previous book. The Watcher of Zargon also has much better chapter to chapter flow than its predecessor; it sheds some of the episodic feel of the last book.

 

By the end of this book, readers of the six world series have journeyed with ben through 3 worlds, with the promise of an adventure on an unexplored world in the next installment. I certainly hope we get a story into each of the remaining worlds that have not been traversed by Ben and Allison.

Where the book lost half a star:

I’d say my only wish for for a bit more length to the stories. A little more dialogue and a interpersonal development will go a long way for the  coming stories. I think any youngins’ reading the next installment will already be invested in the series and be able to take a little more complexity without losing interest.

Bottom Line:

A series that is picking up speed and worth coming back to again!

 

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The Angels are back- The Afterlife book 2

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The 1-line Review:

A sequel as good as the first; solidifying The Afterlife Series as a series worth reading.

The longer review:

The Taking doesn’t disappoint; avoiding the sequel slump that can often stymie a series. The addition of a grumpy old protagonist adds an unexpected depth to the mix of characters. He is a needed balance to the amount of millennial thickheaded-ness  Aurora and Cindy bring to the table. (As a millennial myself, I hope the world doesn’t think we all act like them.) Aurora’s decision making doesn’t drive as much of the plot in book two as it did in book one; this is a big plus for the story line.

The story has a gradual build up in intensity ending in a great fight seen finish. The ending was full of action packed surprises and more of that lovely decision making by Aurora. Aurora does some crazy things in the end and again gets reprimanded by the arch angels.  Honestly, one of my biggest gripes is that I was truly excited for her to in trouble, but her punishment felt week compared to what I thought she deserved. Dang that girl got off way to easy.

Anyway all the other fledgling side angel characters don’t appear in this story, and the remaining characters all grow in depths from book one. There still is all the tendon ripping, bone breaking fighting you can take. And leave it to Aurora to have this lingering love triangle make its way from start to finish.

Bottom Line:

If you liked the first you will like the second. If you held off reading the first, i’d say this is a series worth getting into.

Where the book lost a star:

The prologue. I new right when I saw the word that points were coming off. The Ethan surprise would have been much better as bomb drop we didn’t know about in the middle of the story. Instead, we knew before the whole book got started. I have never been a fan of prologues, they almost always can be woven into the story in a better portrayal.

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Differences between Scorch Trials Book and Movie

Let’s start off by saying the Maze Runner book was awesome, and so was the movie, but they were very different from start to finish. The plots stayed roughly the same so the end of the movie ended up in the same place as the book.

I went into The Scorch Trials movie expecting it to be different. IT WAS. I mean totally, crazily, incredibly different. The movie kept me on the edge of my seat, I was captivated watching a story unfold that I have not read before.

Okay, lets get into some differences now. I couldn’t possibly remember them all. And the endings are so different I can’t even list all the things!

-Things that changed in book 1 that carry over (Like no telepathic link between Thomas and Teresa) Don’t change. Check out my original Differences In the Maze Runner post

-Teresa is still the betrayer, she just does it differently…..

-The safe haven is an actual base where a resistance group called The Right Hand exist and fight WCKD.

Thomas finds some crazy s*** in the Compound in the first 5 minutes

-The kids get transported to a compound with a whole bunch of other Gladers in it.  Boys, girls, 60 of them at least and all from different Mazes. No group A, no Group B.

-Teresa doesn’t get separated and switched with Aris. Aris remains a character who joins the group though.

-Teresa is not evil (then good, then evil, then good, etc.) and she ends up traveling with the boys the entire book.

Yup, that’s all of them. Definitely not 20 Gladers

Only Minho, Newt, Winston, Fry Pan, Thomas, Teresa and Aris travel through the scorch. No other Gladers escape the compound.

-No Flat Trans, No rat man behind a screen (although there is a white suit guy in the compound.)

-We find out in the first 5 minutes exactly what WCKD is doing with the gladers after the maze.

-THE SCORCH IS NOT A TRIAL. Ironic since it is still the title of the movie

These Don’t exist

-No underground tunnel, no liquid metal head-cutting-off ball creatures. None of the popping ball creatures at the end.

-They have tattoos on their necks. They are just bar-codes, no words on them.

Zombies!

-The Flare is a disease that takes over a person quickly. They are pretty much fast Zombies

-All the Gladers are immune. Except Winston…..

-WICD has a whole bunch of soldiers shoot up Jorge’s building (which the Gladers find after traveling through the city, not before). We get some Michael Bay type explosions in there as Jorge and the Gladers and Thoms and Brend get separated.

Pretty sure that’s a big gun there

-These two are obvious from screen shots. Jorge is old and Brenda has Short hair.

-There are working vehicles in the Scorch, and plenty of guns.

-Lastly (for this post anyway) There is no way Maze Runner: The Death Cure can be in any way like the book. I haven’t read it yet, but the movie ending was so different from the book that it is impossible.

Let me know what you all thought were the big differences I missed! There are too many to count. Did you like the movie or book better?

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Is it Bad that I liked Allegiant?

 

What would you rate this book?

This book gets 3.5 stars about everywhere you look. To me that indicates a bad rating. I don’t know about you, I don’t typically buy something on amazon with 3.5 stars. I understand why some people hated how this book ended. I mean HATED it, some of those reviews come off livid, even offended at how the author could write what she wrote.

I wasn’t offended, nor did I hate, the acts of the story that ruined it for others. Tris’s big ending was very appropriate for her head strong, ill advised decision making character. I don’t want to spoil it if you have not read it (but we can certainly talk about it in the comments!)

SOOOOOO is it weird that I enjoyed it? Yeah the story has some holes, characters just don’t think things through, I can get past that. Some reviewers said tone and having 2 narrators was an issue, and a means to an end; reviews said the characters sounded exactly the same, but I don’t agree…… well let me add that I listened to the whole series on CD, and I think this might help attribute to why I enjoyed the book so much.  A male narrator was added for Four in addition to the Tris narrator. Both narrator really capture the voice of their perspective characters very well.

I particularly love how Roth writes scenes. She has this knack for using smell to perfectly set a scene. Smell is such an underused sense in writing, and when it is used it is not often used well. I marvel at her ability to tap into this unused literary sense so keenly.

 

 

 

 

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Hybrid

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The 1-line Review:

Great characters and plot within an exciting story, but with some structural issues.

The longer review:

I really like the story, characters, and the new take on well used fantasy roles, but give the book a tough critique when it comes to structure.

Hybrid is the debut novel from author Venus Morales. Its a fresh take on fantasy with a uniquely  diverse array of characters; Greek Gods, Vampires, Demons, Angels, and a new take on phoenixes attribute to a cast of characters I have never seen together. I really enjoyed the authors portrayal of the Greek Gods, Ares and Hera. Greek Gods have been dominated by Rick Riordan fiction (some of my favorite books), and Morales created Godly characters I didn’t expect.

Ultimately, Hybrid is a love story and concentrates on Ari, the main character, and her relationship struggles with others and within herself.  Ari, is a kick butt, do-what-I-want-when-I-want-t0 loner type. She kills demons to let off steam and has no problem doing it with her god-vampire-phoenix ancestry. She has  an inner evil alter ego, Rheain, who is in a constant fight for control of Ari. The back and forth relationship between the two of them was my favorite in story relationship. They can’t live with each other, but can’t live without, and at times they get the best of each other.

There is a love triangle relationship that Ari has to come to terms with through the novel. I don’t want to give more away here, you’ll have to read to see who wins in this Edward vs. Jacob relationship struggle.

I think the middle of the book was the strongest. And there is an excellent story arc where Ari has to fight for the right to remain phoenix royalty while fighting her own demons. I think this middle piece had the chops to be it’s own story.

Bottom Line:

I think this is a strong showing from a new author, and believe the next book in the series will be an even stronger sequel.

….Where the book lost a stars:

This is the hard part, I liked the book plot and story line over all, but felt it had structure weaknesses.

While the story content had a YA feel, I think the writing and verbiage fit better into the juvenile fiction genre. (The book is definitely not meant for the juvenile age range though.)

The books starts with a blunt and unnecessary  prologue. It gave way too much detail away. The prologue could have been left out entirely and the reader would have been able to discover all that info naturally.

While the middle of the book was very strong over all. The beginning happened suuuuuper quick and i felt the ending was rushed.

Alaris- he was supposed to be supreme evil, but I never got more that a bad boy from the wrong side of town vibe from him. His evilness really didn’t develop enough.

I think Alaris was introduced (very quickly) and the main antagonist in the first few pages. Through the middle of the story he all but disappeared.  The middle story are I referred  to as strong is the fight for Ari’s nobility. It felt like a really good story within a story. During it I kept wondering if the Alaris thing was going to resolve at the end. The ending came back to Alaris, but ended very quickly.

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