Review: Eternal Wanderings by Danielle Ackley-McPhail

44671370Eternal Wanderings by Danielle Ackley-McPhail

Publication date: April 1, 2019 by Paper Phoenix Press

Pre-order this book at: Amazon | B&N

Synopsis: Mortal. Immortal. Musician. Mage.

On a journey from the boroughs of New York to the heart of Tir na nÓg, from innocence to the deepest darkest crevices of her soul, Kara O’Keefe found power and strength in the discovery of self. But with that peace came a hard truth. As a bridge between many worlds, none of them held a place for her.

She must find her own way, forge her own path.
To honor a vow to Granddame Rose, a matriarch of the Kalderaš Clan, Kara joins the Romani caravan, only to find herself even more of an outsider than before. While she strives for acceptance, and to honor her vow, little does she know she has once more become a lure to an ancient and deadly enemy, drawing danger into the midst of her unsuspecting hosts.

Once savior of the world, Kara must now save herself and the innocents around her.

She has come into her legacy, but where will destiny take her?

Rating3 star

Review: **Disclaimer** I received a free copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Netgalley!

I wish that I had known this book was the fourth in a series before I requested it because I think I would have enjoyed it more having read the previous works. But I did not know and the premise sounded fascinating.

This was a good story. It was very well written, the characters were engaging and the story was a lot of fun. The author also peppered in enough information about previous books that I was able to follow along by about 40 pages in. I was captured in the story even when I didn’t entirely know what was happening.

My biggest complaint with this one was the length. The story described in the synopsis is only about 70 pages long, barely a novella, when I was expecting a full length novel. The remaining 70 pages of the book was a collection of short stories for this series universe. I skipped all but the first one because I had no idea who any of the characters were and didn’t feel the title story should be negatively impacted because I couldn’t follow those side stories. But 70 pages is barely anything. I felt like the story was just reaching the climax point and then it was over.

So, while I loved the writing and I loved the story I was left feeling unsatisfying because it didn’t feel complete. I may venture back to this series at some point and read from the beginning though because it was very well done.

Review: Our Dried Voices by Greg Hickey

23617219Our Dried Voices by Greg Hickey

 

Published: November 4, 2014 by Scribe Publishing Company

Buy this book at: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Synopsis: In 2153, cancer was cured. In 2189, AIDS. And in 2235, the last members of the human race traveled to a far distant planet called Pearl to begin the next chapter of humanity. Several hundred years after their arrival, the remainder of humanity lives in a utopian colony in which every want is satisfied automatically, and there is no need for human labor, struggle or thought. But when the machines that regulate the colony begin to malfunction, the colonists are faced with a test for the first time in their existence. With the lives of the colonists at stake, it is left to a young man named Samuel to repair these breakdowns and save the colony. Aided by his friend Penny, Samuel rises to meet each challenge. But he soon discovers a mysterious group of people behind each of these problems, and he must somehow find and defeat these saboteurs in order to rescue his colony.

Rating: 4 star

Review***Disclaimer*** I received a copy of this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Greg!***

This book was a delightful little read. Based on the synopsis it sounded like it would be right within my area of enjoyment and it turned out that it was. I had a few irritations with it, and there were a few struggles but I found that I did not mind those things too much because the story kept my interest well.

The book starts with a bullet pointed list of all the major accomplishments and failures of humanity in the 300-ish years leading from our present to the beginning of the story. While I found this information interesting, I would have preferred that the information was packaged in a different manner. Bullet points are not that enthralling to read. There was a short excerpt from a “history” of the same time period that we get at the end of the book and a lot of the same information was covered. It confused me why this was at the end and not the beginning. It would have been a better introduction to the story than an ending.

I also got the impression that the author struggled with his narrator a bit, which is understandable and I think anyone would have struggled with it but overall it was handled well. I could tell at times that the author really wanted Samuel to be able to describe things better but he couldn’t because he lacked the language or awareness for it at that moment. At times this led to a bit of an inconsistent narrative but not often enough that it got on my nerves.

Warning: There may be some spoilers beyond this point.

As I read other reviews for this book, I saw a lot of people wondering how humanity could get to a point of being so lazy that we experience a regression in all cognitive functioning and lose the vast majority of our language and ability to communicate. I wondered that too for a while. But then I got on social media for a few minutes and it all made sense to me. We already are practically communicating only in pictures these days with memes, GIFs, selfies and emojis. And plenty of people are so lazy that they can’t be bothered to seek out answers for themselves and instead of spending 30 seconds on Google figuring something out will instead spend an hour asking other people to do it for them. So, to me at least, I can completely see this as a future for humanity.

I really liked the series of tests that Samuel encountered trying to help his community but I also got frustrated with him at a certain point. Clearly, his efforts were going to waste. The rest of the colonists didn’t appreciate, nor even notice, his efforts to keep them content and happy so after a point I was wondering why he was still trying. This also leads me to the ending, at first I didn’t understand it. Staying with the other colony seemed like a natural step. These were people like Samuel. He could improve his own life and be with people who valued their minds, like he did. So why didn’t he?

I thought about that a lot since I finished the book last night and I think I came to a conclusion. Just like Samuel decided that he no longer wanted to waste his labor on colonists who would never progress, he equally didn’t want to waste his labor toward an effort that was directed for someone else’s benefit. He wanted to use his ingenuity, his mind, and his labor to forge his own way not just trade one master for another. In the end, I really like that message. It was an enjoyable book that I liked more than I first expected that I would.

Destruction by Sharon Bayliss

Alright guys, I have been MIA long enough. I am literally dragging my fingers across the keyboard to post this, but here it is!

destruction Destruction by Sharon Bayliss

Published April 14th, 2014 by Curiosity Quills Press

Buy this book at: Amazon / B&N / Books a Million / Book Depository

 

Synopsis:

David Vandergraff wants to be a good man. He goes to church every Sunday, keeps his lawn trim and green, and loves his wife and kids more than anything. Unfortunately, being a dark wizard isn’t a choice.

Eleven years ago, David’s secret second family went missing. When his two lost children are finally found, he learns they suffered years of unthinkable abuse. Ready to make things right, David brings the kids home even though it could mean losing the wife he can’t imagine living without.

Keeping his life together becomes harder when the new children claim to be dark wizards. David believes they use this fantasy to cope with their trauma. Until, David’s wife admits a secret of her own—she is a dark wizard too, as is David, and all of their children.

Now, David must parent two hurting children from a dark world he doesn’t understand and keep his family from falling apart. All while dealing with the realization that everyone he loves, including himself, may be evil.

 

Rating: 2 star

 

Review:

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Curiosity Quills!

This will probably be a short review because the book just wasn’t that good. My first annoyance with it was actually the blurb. It gives away so many big plot points. I mean, who writes these things? It tells me the entire arc of the story almost, guess I didn’t need to read the book after all.

I was highly annoyed with the magic in this book too. I hate it when books don’t give magic any consequences, it’s jut there to fix all your problems. The book claims that doing magic can make you deranged and evil, but the main characters seem to have no problem whipping out complex magic when it suits them…and seem to suffer no ill effects or other consequences. For example, fiddling around in someone’s brain? Well it was for their own good, so no consequences. The only possible consequence is that the person doing the meddling now had to remember all those bad memories they were erasing, oh the horror! End snark.

David was a fairly likeable character until he started excusing a rape (he’s a dark wizard, can’t help it) and then perving on a 17 year old (but she’s a fertility witch, he couldn’t help it!). Notice a pattern here? It is always the magic’s fault, not the character’s.

In the end, I didn’t care for this book. It was a fairly good idea but not executed very well. The characters were marginal but not unlikeable. The magic was poorly executed and seemed completely secondary to the story. I won’t be continuing with this series.

 

Defy by Sara B Larson

defy Defy by Sara B. Larson

Published January 7th, 2014 by Scholastic Press

Buy this book at: Books a Million / Book Depository / Amazon / B&N

 

Synopsis:

Alexa Hollen is a fighter. Forced to disguise herself as a boy and serve in the king’s army, Alex uses her quick wit and fierce sword-fighting skills to earn a spot on the elite prince’s guard. But when a powerful sorcerer sneaks into the palace in the dead of night, even Alex, who is virtually unbeatable, can’t prevent him from abducting her, her fellow guard and friend Rylan, and Prince Damian, taking them through the treacherous wilds of the jungle and deep into enemy territory.

The longer Alex is held captive with both Rylan and the prince, the more she realizes that she is not the only one who has been keeping dangerous secrets. And suddenly, after her own secret is revealed, Alex finds herself confronted with two men vying for her heart: the safe and steady Rylan, who has always cared for her, and the dark, intriguing Damian. With hidden foes lurking around every corner, is Alex strong enough to save herself and the kingdom she’s sworn to protect?

 

Rating: 3 star

 

Review:

Disclaimer: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Scholastic!

Where oh where did this story go wrong? It had everything that a good story should. Wars being waged, girls being kickass soldiers, sorcerers, loyalty, honor, revenge, and betrayal! And it started off so well, I just don’t understand what happened in the middle.

So let’s start at the beginning. I liked Alexa, she was interesting and brave. I liked everything I saw from her. Okay fine, so she tended to blush and quaver when an attractive male was around. But since that would most likely just make her fellow soldiers think she was gay…well, no big deal in the end I guess. But she was smart and brave and loyal to a fault. The story was also very interesting in the beginning to. The prince was clearly up to something but I had no idea what. I had suspicions but I wasn’t sure exactly where it would go.

Now let’s skip to the end. I also really liked the end….mostly.The part where Alexa has to convince the king to allow her near him during the battle, it was a good bit. And then the actual battle was excellently written and I enjoyed it a lot. I didn’t even mind the ending too much, though it fell short after the excellence of the battle scene.

Here is where I hated this book, the entire middle. Alexa was supposed to be this big kick ass fighter and she was…at times. And then as soon as the prince gave her the side eye she got all wussy and pathetic! In that moment she became every pathetic, cliched YA heroine ever. She cried, she quavered, she had a heart that flip flopped around in her chest. I was flummoxed! What happened to the Alexa from the beginning of the book? Where on earth did she go?! She didn’t return until the very end and even then she started slipping back into it a little bit. Her character became an utter disaster.

My other big problem and the biggest reason behind just 3 stars was the constant use of rape as a plot measure. They have breeding houses, aka rape houses, and yes that’s exactly like it sounds. Apparently girls captured in war are repeatedly raped so breed new soldiers. Okay, here the huge logic fail here. The war has only been going on for just longer than 17 years…so maybe 20 years. How exactly are these babies helping the army? You could only have had maybe one generation, how the hell does that even work?! And then the king has a son conceived in rape, and that one served no purpose either. I will not accept author’s using rape just as a device to say “hey look, he’s a bad guy!”. It’s lazy and it’s disgusting.

I was disappointed because this book had so much potential. Some of it was realized and some was not.

 

Chantress by Amy Butler Greenfield

chantress Chantress by Amy Butler Greenfield

Published May 7th, 2013 by Margaret K. McElderry Books

Buy this book at: Amazon / Books A Million / Book Depository / B&N

 

Disclaimer: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you to the publisher and Edelweiss!

 

Synopsis:

Lucy’s Chantress magic will make her the most powerful—and most hunted—girl in England.

“Sing, and the darkness will find you.” This warning has haunted fifteen-year-old Lucy ever since she was eight and shipwrecked on a lonely island. Lucy’s guardian, Norrie, has lots of rules, but the most important is that Lucy must never sing. Not ever. Now it is 1667, Lucy is fifteen, and on All Hallows’ Eve, Lucy hears a tantalizing melody on the wind. She can’t help but sing—and she is swept into darkness.

When she awakes in England, Lucy hears powerful men discussing Chantresses—women who can sing magic into the world. They are hunting her, but she escapes and finds sanctuary with the Invisible College, an organization plotting to overthrow the nefarious Lord Protector. The only person powerful enough to bring about his downfall is a Chantress. And Lucy is the last one in England.

Lucy struggles to master the song-spells and harness her power, but the Lord Protector is moving quickly. And her feelings for Nat, an Invisible College apprentice and scientist who deeply distrusts her magic, only add to her confusion…

Time is running out, and the fate of England hangs in the balance in this entrancing novel that is atmospheric and lyrical, dangerous and romantic.

 

Rating: 4 star

 

Review:

This book has a cover to die for, I fell in love with it the instant that I saw it.  I decided in that moment that I wanted to read this book.  So when I got a copy of it from the publisher to read, I was ecstatic!  Before I started this book, I put my hand on it gently and prayed that it wouldn’t disappoint me.  I hate being disappointed by books that I want to read this badly.  Let me just say this simply, I was not disappointed.

Lucy is an enchanting main character.  She is smart but stubborn, sometimes to her own detriment.  She had so much spunk to her that I couldn’t help but root for her.  Granted, that she can be a bit naive and silly sometimes but she is just a girl after all.  I am too often disappointed by the heroines in YA novels so Lucy was a delight to read.  Even though the plot took a good long time to get going it was Lucy’s narrative that kept me glued to the pages anyway.  I felt bad for her, I smiled at her, I laughed with her, I sat in horror for her, and I rooted for her.  It’s been a long time since I liked a YA heroine as much as I liked Lucy.

The plot of this book was unique and interesting.  I have read books with all kinds of magic but summoning magic solely through song was a concept that I haven’t seen before.  I liked the idea, and I liked it even more once we figure out all the nuances and perils that it entails.  My only wish for the plot was that it had been fleshed out a little more.  We hardly get any history about Chantresses or the world at all, very cursory at best.  I found the world fascinating so it frustrated me that I didn’t learn that much about it.  For example, the Shadowgrims were not described enough for me.  After 300 odd pages I still can’t quite picture what they are supposed to look like in my head.  They are terrifying no doubt, but they just weren’t described well enough for me.  Maybe it was just me, but I thought that some parts of this needed more detail.  It was also very slow going for most of the book.  Even though I was still interested in what was going on, I wish that there had been a little more action sooner.

The payoff at the end of this book was very satisfying.  Nothing is worse than loving a book all the way through only to feel ripped off once you get to the last page.  The ending was exactly what I wanted to see, how I hoped it would end.  In the end, Lucy saves the day and proves her power to herself and all that awesome stuff.  But it also wasn’t easy, nobody got through it completely unscathed and that made the ending even more awesome.  I hate endings where everything ends perfectly for everybody, it’s not realistic.  I appreciated that every character in this book paid a price for the good they accomplished, it made the stakes real to me and I rooted for them all the harder.

There was actual romance in this book!  I know!  I could hardly believe it myself.  Nat and Lucy spend months on an amicable but chilly basis and then slowly get to know the other and get to a more friendly space.  They stay in that space and continue to get to know one another and face hard times together before they finally develop feelings for each other.  I loved this little romance so much.  It was genuine and honest and sweet.  I knew exactly why Lucy was falling for Nat and exactly why Nat was falling for Lucy.  They were both good, sweet, smart, brave, amazing people.  They both deserve someone as kind and generous as each other and I was thrilled that their romance was so natural and not rushed.

I loved this book.  My once complaints were about the pacing of the plot and the lack of descriptive detail.  I will be reading the next book and I can’t wait to see where this story goes.

Blog Tour: Red Leaves and the Living Token

Red Leaves and the Living Token by Benjamin David Burrell

Published April 5th, 2012 by the author

Cover and synopsis from the Goodreads book page

This book can be purchased at: B&N and Amazon  (Please note: On B&N and Amazon this book is available in three parts, the ebook I am reviewing is all 3 parts)

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review and participation in this blog tour.  No other compensation was received other than the book and a positive review was not promised.

Synopsis: Doctors tell Raj that his son Emret won’t survive his illness. As Raj struggles to prepare himself and Emret for the inevitable, he’s confronted by Moslin, his son’s nurse, who’s been filling Emret’s head with fairytales about heroic quests and powerful disease curing miracles. Emret now thinks that all he has to do is find the mythical Red Tree from the nurse’s stories, and he’ll live.

In an attempt to protect his son from further emotional damage, Raj asks Moslin to stay away from Emret. He returns hours later to find them both missing.

He searches the fairytales for clues to where they may have gone and stumbles upon stories that, strangely, he already knows. He saw them in a vision just before his son disappeared.

Rating (out of 5):

 

Review:  The description of this book says everything that you need to know as a reader.  I couldn’t possibly add to it, so I won’t try.  Emret is a sick little boy and most likely going to die.  In a desperate attempt to get a miracle, he goes on the run with his nurse and without his father’s knowledge.  Raj is frantic to find his son missing and follows them but finds himself on a much more complicated journey than he first expected.  I really enjoyed this book, it intrigued me and kept me entertained at every page.  With that said, I must point out a few things that prevented this from being a five-star review.

There is some editing issues with this book.  As far as I am aware, I received a final copy of this book, but it could use another read through from an editing perspective.  There is nothing too egregious but the minor problems were so frequent that I have to comment on it.  For example, on nearly every page I could find things such as: “I’m am” or sentences that seemed to be missing words or had a plural form of the word when the sentence called for singular.  Ultimately, the editing issues weren’t bad enough to affect my enjoyment of the story but it was impossible not to notice.

My only other complaint would be that I felt as if not very much was explained to me.  It wasn’t explained very well what the Token is, or why it’s important.  You get a vague sense of why it matters, but the full story is a mystery.  It’s also not clear exactly why everyone wants the Token, other than to find the Red…but we don’t really know why they are all that vital either.  What does Emret’s illness mean?  What is “losing his binding”?  What’s a binding, why does it get lost?  I don’t know any of those things either, and I wanted to.  I still enjoyed the story immensely, but I would have preferred getting a more complete history and explanation of a few things.

But enough with the minor issues this book had, because the rest was simply fabulous.  I loved the story!  Emret was such a great character and was very relatable and likeable.  He believes in miracles and is determined to find his miracle.  No matter how many times he ended up being disappointed and Moslin lost faith, he never did.  I liked that about him and I found myself rooting for him to find his cure because he worked more than hard enough to get it.  Raj was also a really likeable characters.  He’s not a perfect man but he’s trying to be the best father he can be for his son and protect him from some of the more unpleasant realities of his situation.  But when it all comes down to it, he will cross nations to find and protect his son, and he does just that.  His journey isn’t perfect.  He makes a lot of wrong decisions that ultimately make it harder for him, but he never gives up.  I get so used to reading characters that are perfect in every way that I found Raj to be very refreshing.  He’s not a perfect guy, but he tries his damnedest to make it right anyway.  Great, great cast of characters.

The imagery in the plot is also fantastic.  Some authors have a hard time conveying action scenes, because these scenes rely so heavily on what is happening and not what is being said.  But Ben Burrell does this in a very vivid and engrossing manner.  Every aspect of the scenes was something I could see playing out in my head because it was described that well.  I couldn’t have been happier with this since I love reading a book that I can see in my head.  To me, that is the mark of a good storyteller.   I find it interesting that this author got his start in script writing, since I have found that script writers often have a hard time making the transition to full length fiction. Nothing could be further from the case for this book.  This holds true for the different races that are present in the book.  Each is different and you can tell has their own motivation, but all of them seem to center around finding this Token.

I highly recommend this book.  It’s a quick, fun, interesting read that will have you fervently turning the pages until the very end.  And even after it’s over, you’ll find yourself thinking about the story a few days later and wondering what happens next.  Hopefully you won’t have to wait very long…I hear there are at least a few other books planned as follow-ups to this one.  I know that I will be reading it, because I want to know what happens next.  And I want to know if the beings mentioned at the temple are humans, I really just have to know.

Also, if you haven’t already checked out the other stops on this blog tour, so give them a look.  I read each and every one, and all participants have done a fantastic job with a great book.