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“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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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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A Badass with Yellow Wings

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The 1-line Review:

A completely unique story and super thrilling read.

The longer review:

 Fledgling is very captivating and hooked me from the beginning. The plot instantly stood out as unique and is different remind me of anything I have read before. Quick spoil free plot- Murdered girl turned archangel in training on quests to save innocents by mind dumping conscious(es) into  evil doers. Cool, right? Author Katrina Copes spin on angels was a real refresher on you typical archetype.

Its all about angels, but I wouldn’t call it christian fiction. This is definitely a 13 and up read due to gruesome fight scenes.Cope really paints each scene very vividly in your brain, and that includes very detailed fight scenes. You can definitely feel the action jump off the page. The bone crunching and cartilage ripping pushed my (relatively low) limits for that kind of action sequence, some will like the realness of it, the faint of heart might, well… faint.

The main angel (no name dropping, kind of a mini spoiler. You’ll understand when you read it) is likable in that annoying kind of way. Her haste and haphazard choices really turn the pages. I can tell if I loved not liking her, or hated liking her. Either way she kept the story going.

Bottom Line:

Great scenes, excellent action.  Highly entertaining, very engaging page turner. Could be the start to a a very worth-reading series.

Where the book lost a half star:

Main angel was the most real feeling character, but she became a bit one tracked, especially in her decision making. One male angel had some decent enough depth. The rest of the small character cast were ambiguous (some by design) or felt very one dimensional.

The gruesomeness pushed the limits a bit. Like I said above, some will love it.

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Killer Instinct by Robert W. Walker- Review

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The Quick Review:

Killer instinct is an excellent murder-mystery, and the first in what should be a very strong series.  This is my first murder-mystery, and I believe anyone not common with the genre would do well to start here.   I felt like I was reading a good ‘cop show.’  I pictured the main character to be very much like Kate Beckett from Castle, but in more of CSI type of story.  I could see the entire series potentially coming back to events in this story, this story sets the pace for the Instinct series to go very far and get more thrilling throughout the series

The Longer Review:

Robert Walker writes a very realistic, full depth character in Dr. Jessica Coran.  The murder scenes in Killer Instinct leave little to the imagination and really give you a shocking picture in your head. The story seemed uncharacteristic for a first in a series.  The murder takes on a very supernatural persona and is not the typical serial killer. Turn of events for both Dr. Coran and Detective Otto Boutine take surprising turns at the end of the novel. This story line would be one I expect later in a series, but Walker digs deep and puts his characters to the test in the very first novel.

The story has a lot of focus on the politics of the fictional FBI. Dr. Coran being a strong woman in a man’s world makes for a good, realistic character. At times I though too many of the male characters felt crotchety, yet even these characters opinions change as the story goes.

I have 2 big critiques. First, most of the story seemed in the realm of possibility, even if a real expert would deem the actions inaccurate to what actually happens. However, Dr. Coran going to a house completely alone…in a taxi… just didn’t work for me. It set up a very dark and exciting ending that I enjoyed very much. I just didn’t like how the story led up to it when Dr. Coran went at it alone.

Second critique is the relationship between Dr. Coran and Otto just didn’t connect for me. I am perfectly fine with a relationship with a big age gap; I just couldn’t understand why Jessica Coran found Otto so appealing. It felt like her emotions really played the pity card, like she fell for a wounded puppy. She is young and a stunner and Otto is near retirement and nothing special in the looks department, so physical attraction is not a factor for Jessica. She didn’t really seem to fall for him because of his status or out of respect. She seemed to care for him based on proximity to each other and because she felt bad for him in his current relationship status. The relationship could have been left at a close friendship with no detriment to the story. A relationship with JT would have struck me as more believable and interesting.

The Story:

(Taken from Goodreads) Dr. Jessica Coran, a brilliant and determined FBI medical examiner, was an expert student of the criminal mind who thought she could face anything. That was before Wisconsin. Before she saw one of his victims… The FBI had a special code name for his unusual method of torture: Tort 9, the draining of the victim’s blood. The newspapers called him the Vampire-Killer. But his own twisted love letters were signed ‘Teach’…and were addressed to the one woman he wanted most of all: His hunter, his prey, Dr. Jessica Coran

The Writing:

Walker creates excellent, graphic visuals. At times I cringed because I can stand to see some of the crime scene visuals; and I did feel like I could see them.

He creates perspective from both the FBI and killer POV’s, which makes for better understanding of the ‘why’ behind the ‘who’ of the story. Most of the story is set from the POV of Dr. Coran, and much of the story progress as if we are in her head and can hear what she is thinking

The Characters:

Walker’s main cast has very deep backgrounds and depth. Dr. Jessica Coran’s and Otto Boutine’s characters are very in depth right from the beginning, while their progression really layers them as the story progresses. Dr. Coran is going to make for a great main series character moving forward. I can see her being taken in a variety of different directions and am interested to see how her story unfolds.

Walker brought a level of understanding to his murderer. Not enough to sympathize with him, but enough to understand him and really help round out the story. This particular killer has the potential to come back over and over, opening many avenues for the series.

Conclusion:

I really enjoyed this book. It is not what I normally read, yet kept me entertained. I think first time murder-mystery readers will really get hooked to the series and potentially the genre after reading Killer Instant.

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