Thursday, May 18, 2017

Book Review: A Gleam of Light by T.J. & M.L. Wolf

Goodreads Summary: In 1995, at the age of eight, Una Waters survived a terrifying encounter at 30,000 feet aboard Flight 564 from Dallas to Las Vegas. It changed her forever. After 21 years, and a decade away from the Hopi Reservation where she grew up as a child, a surprise plea for help brings Una back, to solve a mystery that threatens their traditional way of life. The U.S. Army's sudden interest regarding a cave discovery in the Sacred Peaks has triggered alarm, leading to violence. With the help of friends, new and old, Una must confront her painful past, seek proof to qualify the ancient site for protection under law, and stand up to a stiff-necked general, whose agenda is more concerned with retrieving a mysterious power source.
Goodreads Rating: 3.11 stars with 9 ratings
Genre Listing: Speculative Fiction, Aliens, Native American Culture


First of all, I received a copy of this book from the authors in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to T.J. & M.L. Wolf for sending me a copy of your book.

I have a lot of mixed feelings about this book. I like the concept of the speculative history surrounding a plane flight and an alien encounter. I feel like A Gleam of Light put way too many ideas in one book. There was just so many themes in this book ranging from aliens, Native American Culture, Military, and archeology. It just didn't feel cohesive story to me. I liked some of the aspects separately but being all mixed together made it difficult to stay interested in.
I didn't really feel any connection to any of the characters. They all felt fairly flat and one-dimensional to me. I didn't really feel like any of them had any personality, and from one character's point of view to the next, it was hard to decipher whose train of thought I was following.  There were a lot of parts in the book, especially in the beginning of the story, where it felt like the scene just stopped abruptly to add this sense of suspense. It really didn't make it any more suspenseful in my mind.

The military aspect of this story just seemed incredibly off to me. I've been around a lot of military people (tends to happen when your husband is a marine) in my life, and it just didn't feel believable to me. Especially where it talks about information being classified but then offering Una a tour and telling her information. She may have been able to get in with her government job, but it seems unlikely that her friends would have been able to be allowed in, and that's only if she had a security clearance. I don't know if the authors have previously had military experience, but based on how the scenes were written, I'm going to assume they did not. 

That being said, the aspects of the Hopi culture did feel a bit more believable to me, and I got the impression that there was a lot of research or first-hand knowledge that went into the writing of the Hopi's Culture in this story. I also liked the archaeology portion of the story. That felt realistic enough to me as well. And I enjoyed reading about their adventures in the cave.

Some of the wording in this book really irked me. I physically cringed when I read that the authors put in the quote "They laugh at me because I'm different. I laugh at them because they are all the same." I've seen this statement on many things, and I can't help but including it might be grounds for plagiarism if someone really wanted to push it. Even if it's not, it's a very cliche line that has been completely overdone for years. Towards the end of the story, Una meets up with her friends, and they hug. Una starts crying because her friend starts crying and refers to it as being "A woman thing." This was another thing that made me cringe because it's a generalization that really doesn't apply to most or even all women.

Additionally, Una and Ashcroft having feelings for one another is just odd to me. It feels like it came out of nowhere and had no build up to it. There was one scene where they got close, and apparently, it was enough to make Una trust him implicitly and have feelings for it. Again, this doesn't feel realistic to me.

Personally, I did not enjoy the book. I can see how some would enjoy it, but for me, it would need a serious rewrite. I didn't feel like the weird plane flight experience correlated with the things that were going on around the reservation. I didn't really feel like there was a meaning behind bringing the characters from flight to the cave. I didn't get a sense of personality from any of the characters, and the majority of the themes just didn't come across as realistic. Even in speculation, there are ways to make it seem believable. I honestly haven't read any other books this month because I knew I needed to finish this one but just couldn't bring myself to want to pick it up beyond a sense of obligation.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

March Books of the Month and Reading Challenge Update

Normally, I try to do these in two separate posts, but I'm really behinds and didn't read much at all in March so I'm just going to combine them. The reading challenge list can be found here.

I think my favorite book I read in March was hands down Magyk by Angie Sage. It was fun, whimsical, and had a great sense of humor. I'd definitely recommend it for lovers of Harry Potter or Discworld. It's a very clever read, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. This was #13 on my reading challenge list, which is A book in a series you've been meaning to start. I had wanted to read this for years but had never gotten around to it. So glad I finally made myself sit down and read it! You can find my review of it here.

The Merciless by Danielle Vega was my Book I had intended to read in March. I was really excited to read it but was sadly disappointed in it. I think the only reason I finished it was because it's a very short read. The characters were incredibly flat, and really the only entertaining factor was some of the twisted things they were doing to "save" one of the girls. This was #19 on my reading challenge as A book you picked out because of the cover. Which is completely true. You can find my review of it here.

I also reread Marked by P.C. and Kristen Cast, but I didn't assign it to a number on my reading challenge. I felt like that was cheating since I've already read it. You can find my review for it here.

This currently puts me at 10/50 books on my good reads challenge, and I think 9/50 for my personal challenge. I need to get cracking on reading!
That leaves us with the book I plan to read in April. 

T.J. & M.L. Wolf contacted me recently and asked if I would review A Gleam of Light. I told them I would, and they sent me a lovely paperback copy to review (Thanks!!!) I'm a little apprehensive about reading it because it only has a 2.85 on Goodreads, but it's only been rated by 6 people. I'm going to go into it with an open mind, as the concept does seem interesting. 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Library Book Haul 3/30/2017

I'm going to be doing a lot more book hauls I think. The best part, I'm not actually spending money on them. Yay Libraries! I went to the Library last week and picked up some goodies. I'm hoping I'll get a chance to read them before they're due. Here's what I got:

Goodreads Summary: To celebrate the rise of their new queen, three goddesses of the moon created three stars, one of fire, one of ice, one of water. But then they fell from the sky, putting the fate of all worlds in danger. And now three women and three men join forces to pick up the pieces…
Sasha Riggs is a reclusive artist, haunted by dreams and nightmares that she turns into extraordinary paintings. Her visions lead her to the Greek island of Corfu, where five others have been lured to seek the fire star. Sasha recognizes them because she has drawn them: a magician, an archaeologist, a wanderer, a fighter, a loner. All on a quest. All with secrets.

Sasha is the one who holds them together—the seer. And in the magician, Bran Killian, she sees a man of immense power and compassion. As Sasha struggles with her rare ability, Bran is there to support her, challenge her, and believe in her.

But Sasha and Bran are just two of the six. And they all must all work together as a team to find the fire star in a cradle of land beneath the sea. Over their every attempt at trust, unity, and love, a dark threat looms. And it seeks to corrupt everything that stands in its way of possessing the stars…
Goodreads Rating: 4 stars with over 16,000 ratings
Genre Listing: Romance, Fantasy, Paranormal, Fiction, Magic, Contemporary
Initial Thoughts: Apparently, I bought this for my Sister-in-law this for Christmas. Interestingly enough, she's the one who got me into Nora Roberts. I haven't read the entire summary. I don't plan on it. I want to be surprised. The bit about goddesses, moons, stars, etc. was enough for me to be intrigued. I promised the SIL I'd read this soon so we could talk about it, so I'll probably dive into it sometime this week.

Goodreads Summary: At the dawn of the Roman Empire, when tyranny ruled, a daughter of Egypt and a son of Rome found each other...
Selene's legendary parents are gone. Her country taken, she has been brought to the city of Rome in chains, with only her twin brother, Alexander, to remind her of home and all she once had.

Living under the watchful eyes of the ruling family, Selene and her brother must quickly learn how to be Roman – and how to be useful to Caesar. She puts her artistry to work, in the hope of staying alive and being allowed to return to Egypt. Before long, however, she is distracted by the young and handsome heir to the empire...

When the elusive ‘Red Eagle' starts calling for the end of slavery, Selene and Alexander are in grave danger. Will this mysterious figure bring their liberation or their demise?
Goodreads Rating: 4.11 with over 20,000 ratings
Genre Listing: Historical Fiction, Egyptian Culture, Romance
Initial Thoughts: I actually picked this up thinking it was in a series with a couple of other books I got. But now that I look more into it, it doesn't seem like it is. Which is awesome because this was the one I wanted to read the most. I really haven't read much Historical Fiction in regards to Egyptian Culture, so I'm extremely excited about this read.

Goodreads Summary: Nefertiti and her younger sister, Mutnodjmet, have been raised in a powerful family that has provided wives to the rulers of Egypt for centuries. Ambitious, charismatic, and beautiful, Nefertiti is destined to marry Amunhotep, an unstable young pharaoh. It is hoped that her strong personality will temper the young ruler’s heretical desire to forsake Egypt’s ancient gods.
From the moment of her arrival in Thebes, Nefertiti is beloved by the people but fails to see that powerful priests are plotting against her husband’s rule. The only person brave enough to warn the queen is her younger sister, yet remaining loyal to Nefertiti will force Mutnodjmet into a dangerous political game; one that could cost her everything she holds dear.
Goodreads Rating: 4.06 with over 26,000 ratings
Genre Listing: Historical Fiction, Egyptian Culture
Initial Thoughts: This was one of two books I thought was in a series with Cleopatra's Daughter. It looks like none of them are in a series, which makes me extremely happy. Again, I haven't read much, if any, Egyptian Historical Fiction, so this is going to be a whole new literary world for me.I think the hardest part now is which do I read first since they are not in a series?

Goodreads Summary: In ancient Egypt, a forgotten princess must overcome her family’s past and remake history.
The winds of change are blowing through Thebes. A devastating palace fire has killed the Eighteenth Dynasty’s royal family–with the exception of Nefertari, the niece of the reviled former queen, Nefertiti. The girl’s deceased family has been branded as heretical, and no one in Egypt will speak their names. Nefertari is pushed aside, an unimportant princess left to run wild in the palace. But this changes when she is taken under the wing of the Pharaoh’s aunt, then brought to the Temple of Hathor, where she is educated in a manner befitting a future queen.

Soon Nefertari catches the eye of the Crown Prince, and despite her family’s history, they fall in love and wish to marry. Yet all of Egypt opposes this union between the rising star of a new dynasty and the fading star of an old, heretical one. While political adversity sets the country on edge, Nefertari becomes the wife of Ramesses the Great. Destined to be the most powerful Pharaoh in Egypt, he is also the man who must confront the most famous exodus in history.
Goodreads Rating: 4.21 with over 17,000 ratings
Genre Listing: Historical Fiction, Romance, Egyptian Culture
Initial Thoughts: My thoughts on this one pretty much are the same as the previous two books I mentioned. Sorry, I know that's not very deep at the moment. It's 4 am, and I should be sleeping.

Goodreads Summary: Lauren O'Farrell is an "art detective" who made it her mission to retrieve invaluable works stolen by the Nazis during the darkest days of World War II. Her quest leads her to the Manhattan apartment of elderly Isabella Fletcher, a woman who lives in the shadow of a terrible history-years ago her mother was rumored to have collaborated with the Nazis.
But as Isabella reveals the events of her mother's life, Lauren finds herself immersed in an amazing story of courage and secrecy as she discovers the extraordinary truth about a priceless piece of art that may have survived the war and the enduring relationship between a mother and a daughter.
Goodreads Rating: 3.92 with over 1,000 ratings
Genre Listing: Historical Fiction, Art, Mystery, World War II
Initial Thoughts: I think what grabbed my attention with this one was the title. It just seems interesting. The reviews I've checked so far seem kind of hit and miss, so we'll see how it ends up being.
Goodreads Summary: If there’s one thing Mare Barrow knows, it’s that she’s different.
Mare Barrow’s blood is red—the color of common folk—but her Silver ability, the power to control lightning, has turned her into a weapon that the royal court tries to control.

The crown calls her an impossibility, a fake, but as she makes her escape from Maven, the prince—the friend—who betrayed her, Mare uncovers something startling: she is not the only one of her kind.

Pursued by Maven, now a vindictive king, Mare sets out to find and recruit other Red-and-Silver fighters to join in the struggle against her oppressors.

But Mare finds herself on a deadly path, at risk of becoming exactly the kind of monster she is trying to defeat.

Will she shatter under the weight of the lives that are the cost of rebellion? Or have treachery and betrayal hardened her forever?

The electrifying next installment in the Red Queen series escalates the struggle between the growing rebel army and the blood-segregated world they’ve always known—and pits Mare against the darkness that has grown in her soul.
Goodreads Rating: 3.96 with over 72,000 ratings
Genre Listing: Fantasy, Young Adult, Dystopia, Science Fiction
Initial Thoughts: Of the books I picked up, this is probably the one I'm the least excited about. I was pretty "eh" about the Red Queen if I remember correctly. That being said, I'm intrigued enough to see where the series goes.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Book Review of Marked by P.C. and Kristin Cast

Goodreads Summary: After a Vampire Tracker Marks her with a crescent moon on her forehead, 16-year-old Zoey Redbird enters the House of Night and learns that she is no average fledgling. She has been Marked as special by the vampyre Goddess Nyx and has affinities for all five elements: Air, Fire Water, Earth, and Spirit. But she is not the only fledgling at the House of Night with special powers. When she discovers that the leader of the Dark Daughters, the school’s most elite club, is misusing her Goddess-given gifts, Zoey must look deep within herself for the courage to embrace her destiny – with a little help from her new vampyre friends (or Nerd Herd, as Aphrodite calls them)
Goodreads Rating: 3.79 stars with over 379,000 ratings
Genre Listing: Young Adult, Vampires, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance, Fiction,
Get the Book: AmazonBook Depository

Book Review:

So, this is not a new read for me. I read most of the series what feels like forever ago. I've been thinking about it a lot though and wanted to start rereading it. It's amazing how much of the first book I've forgotten, but then again I think I might have read it around the time it first came out. Despite how much I had forgotten it was just like catching up with a long-lost friend. 

Rereading this made me remember why I fell in love with the series. I love that it combines a variety of different beliefs to give Vampirism a unique twist. The intricate tattooing and the importance behind it is still fascinating to me. While I'm usually not a spiritual person, I really enjoy the spirituality that surrounds Nyx and her children. I'm assuming a lot of it is based on Paganism, but I should probably research that to be sure. Regardless, I enjoyed reading it the first time and still enjoyed it the second time around. 

I forgot how incredibly awful Aphrodite was early in the series. I think the thing that bugs me the most about Marked, and I don't know if it did previously or not, is the inconsistency in the language. There are a lot of parts that just mainly use regular swear words and then all of the sudden it will switch to things like "Poopie." It completely drives me nuts. Pick one, preferably the swearing. I don't mind swearing in books and given that the characters are 16ish actual swear words makes them seem more their age. I cringe every time Zoey reverts back to things like "poopie." It makes her seem so completely juvenile, even though she's supposed to be the most powerful fledgling and future High-Priestess. 

Aside from that annoyance, I still really enjoyed Marked the second time around. I'm going to be hopefully diving into the rest of the series soon. It'll be nice to reread everything somewhat close together. I know when I read it before there was a lot of gaps in between each book because I was generally waiting for the next one to come out. Now I have a dilemma, do I finish rereading this series or dive into my library books? Hmm.

Oh, and I'm not putting this on my reading challenge since I've already read it. That seems like it'd be cheating to me.  When I originally read it I gave it a five, and I'm content enough to keep it there.


Monday, March 27, 2017

Book Review of Magyk by Angie Sage

Goodreads Summary: The seventh son of the seventh son, aptly named Septimus Heap, is stolen the night he is born by a midwife who pronounces him dead. That same night, the baby's father, Silas Heap, comes across a bundle in the snow containing a new born girl with violet eyes. The Heaps take this helpless newborn into their home, name her Jenna, and raise her as their own. But who is this mysterious baby girl, and what really happened to their beloved son Septimus?The first book in this enthralling new series by Angie Sage leads readers on a fantastic journey filled with quirky characters and magykal charms, potions, and spells. Magyk is an original story of lost and rediscovered identities, rich with humor and heart.
Goodreads Rating: 3.8 stars with over 88,000 ratings
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Magic, Fiction
Get the Book: AmazonBook Depository
2017 Reading Challenge: #13 The first book in a series you've been meaning to start

Book Review:

I've wanted to start this series for so long, and I'm so glad I finally did. I think I was halfway done with it and had already started to recommend it to a few of my friends. I think if J.K. Rowling, Sir Terry Pratchett, and Douglass Adams all got together and wrote a book it would be Magyk by Angie Sage. It's just so quirky and adorable. It was hard not to love. 

There wasn't really anything about this story that I disliked. I will admit that the mystery around which of the potential boys were actually Septimus Heap was fairly predictable, but it didn't really detract from the story. With it being a kid's book, I didn't really expect a ton of surprises in the plot. That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The Heap family reminded me a bit of the Weasleys. They're kind of oddballs but in a charming sort of way. I enjoyed the legend of the seventh son of the seventh son. It seemed really fitting for a book about wizards. The characters were likable, but honestly, they weren't what made me love this story. For me, it was the details.

I'm a sucker for details, so this book basically was heaven for me. Everything was described so well, and I loved every minute of it. From the weird community that the Wizards lived in, to the details of spells and how they're bolded throughout the story and even the thought process of every character mentioned. I love that if it mentioned Maxie or Messenger Rat or Boggart,  even the Python it talked about what they were feeling or thinking at the moment. I love that Zelda has a pet duck that's actually a cat. Everything had it's own little story and personality.

I thought it was really cute at the end. It ends how it's supposed to but gives you random afterthoughts on some of the less important characters. I thought that it was very clever. I think this book could stand on its own, but I definitely want to read more in the series. It's got a really nice sense of humor to it and is all around an easy read. It was 500+ pages but didn't really feel like it because I was so entertained by it.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

How to get free e-books

A while back I did a quick review of various reading subscription services, but today I wanted to talk a little bit about how to get free e-books. I don't know if you all are like me, but I have a hard time paying a lot for e-books. It's not that I feel they should be free, but I feel they should be significantly cheaper than regular books. If I'm going to pay $10+ for a book, I might as well get the physical book, and that's not always feasible for me.

One of my go-to ways has always been to search Amazon. This is honestly so daunting, though. I've spent hours doing this. Sometimes I'll find gems, sometimes I won't. It's really hit and miss. There are a couple of sites though that will help with the search, though. OHFB is a site I used to use a lot. I think it's Kindle only. What they do is highlight different books that are currently free. I will say that if you use this, you need to watch before you buy. The books are free at the time they are posted, so when you go to buy, they may not still be free. So just double check. I've had a time or two where I just clicked blindly and ended up buying a book. Luckily I don't think any of them were more than $3. One thing I really like about this is it's not just fiction.They also post deals on cooking books and other varieties. If you've got time to really hunt it's not bad. Like I said, I found some gems doing this.

A similar site to OHFB is Bookbub. This one has something for all devices, not just Kindle. The main thing with BookBub is it's not just free books, they also post books that are discounted. What sets them apart is that they try to send you deals based on your taste preference. I haven't used this one a ton because while it does offer some free books, I think it's primarily just discounted books. I did think it was worth a mention, though, since it has some on there.

If you are a big fan of classics, then I highly recommend checking out Project Gutenberg. For those of you who don't know, this website is completely run on donations. They work to compile fiction and non-fiction books whose copyrights have expired. Once they've expired, the books can be provided for free. I believe right now they have around 54,000 books. I actually spent a glorious amount of time last night when I couldn't sleep looking through their collection. The site is a little confusing to get through, so I've linked you to the bookshelf. You can then narrow down the search from there.

Obviously, I can't write this post without talking about Libraries. I was slacking and didn't have a library card, mainly because I'm supremely lazy. However, I remedied that and went and got a library card today. I was actually really impressed with our small township library. They had a pretty decent selection and also have an e-book program. I got six books I'm pretty excited to read. Plus, now I don't feel like a giant hypocrite for promoting libraries without having a card myself. I'll do a quick Book haul later tonight or tomorrow.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Reader Questionnaire

Hi readers,

I wanted to branch out and get some thoughts from you all! I'm really hoping you'll comment as it will help me out a lot.

I want to start taking reader suggestions on what to read. I know that a few people have given me ideas, and I wanted to try and compile them in one place. So what I would like from you lovely readers is to comment below with books you'd really like for me to review. It can be one book or a list of books. Just comment below and let me know what you want a review on!  I think this will make reading my reviews more enjoyable for you all and also make me expand my boundaries.

Thanks :)