Tuesday, September 19, 2017

{Review} THE FIRE SERMON (The Fire Sermon #1) by Francesca Haig

ISBN #: 978-1476767185
Page Count: 384
Publisher: Gallery Books
Release Date: March 10, 2015

Goodreads Summary:

Four hundred years in the future, the Earth has turned primitive following a nuclear fire that laid waste to civilization and nature. Though the radiation fallout has ended, for some unknowable reason every person is born with a twin. Of each pair one is an Alpha - physically perfect in every way - and the other an Omega burdened with deformity, small or large.

With the Council ruling an apartheid-like society, Omegas are branded and ostracized while the Alphas have gathered the world's sparse resources for themselves. Though proclaiming their superiority, for all their effort Alphas cannot escape one harsh fact: Whenever one twin dies, so does the other. Cass is a rare Omega, one burdened with psychic foresight. While her twin, Zach, gains power on the Alpha Council, she dares to dream the most dangerous dream of all: equality. For daring to envision a world in which Alphas and Omegas live side by side as equals, both the Council and the Resistance have her in their sights.

Lupe's Review:

Wow. That was so much deeper than I thought it was going to be. The thought that twins are always born and that one literally can not live without the other seemed to be an easy peasy storyline and plot. But Haig turns it into so much more.

Cass is the Omega seer twin of ambitious Alpha Zack, whom she split from very late in life. From there, she is sent to an omega outpost to live with other omegas. Suddenly, she is taken away from there on her brothers orders many years later and forced to stay in the Keeping Rooms. This leads to many other issues revelations, not including the discovery of a place even worse than that. Cass dreams of the Island, a mythical place of Omega resistance and knows that's it's real. She wants to find it, has to find it, before the Council and her brother does. But what will happen when she does?

This was seriously epic on an epic scale I had not anticipated. I'm not sure why it took so long for me to finish it but holy smokes am I glad I did. I have the second one too, so I am ready to dive into the next part of the story with Cass and see where it leads. I was really impressed with this work. Apocalyptic fiction can be hard, especially when trying to set up the world (in this case, the Before and the After) but Haig did a masterful job of that. Really good work.

*A physical copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

{Review} WHERE THE LIGHT FALLS by Allison Pataki and Owen Pataki

ISBN #: 978-0399591686
Page Count: 384
Release Date: July 11, 2017
Publisher: The Dial Press

Goodreads Summary:

From the courtrooms to the battlefields to the alleyways of Paris, with cameos from infamous figures in French history, the Patakis have crafted an epic, action-packed novel of the French Revolution as it has never been seen before. Three years after the storming of the Bastille, Paris is enlivened with the ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity. The monarchy has been dismantled and a new nation, for the people, is rising up in its place. Jean-Luc, a young optimistic lawyer, moves his wife, Marie, and their son to Paris, inspired by a sense of duty to contribute to the new order. André, the son of a former nobleman, flees his privileged past to fight in the unified French Army with his roguish brother. Sophie, a beautiful young aristocratic widow and niece of a powerful, vindictive uncle, embarks on her own fight for independence.

Underneath the glimmer of hope and freedom, chaos threatens to undo all the progress of the revolution and the lives of these compatriots become inextricably linked. As the demand for justice breeds instability, creates enemies out of compatriots, and fuels a constant thirst for blood in the streets, Jean-Luc, Andre, and Sophie are forced to question the sacrifices made for the revolution. Liberty proves a fragile, fleeting ideal, and survival seems less and less likely—both for these unforgettable individuals, and indeed for the new nation itself.

Mandy's Review:

This was definitely an interesting, action-filled novel covering the French Revolution. As with all revolutions, it began with the people feeling oppressed and wanting to break free from their rulers. Getting what they want didn't wind up as great as they thought. Oh, it took a while for them to realize that of course, but realize it they did. Whenever a group of people appear to be floundering around with no direction, a leader or group of leaders will emerge. Add that to the zealousness of the people and you have the makings of chaos.

The novel flips between focusing on Jean-Luc and his family and Andre and his family, so we get to know both men pretty well. They're both fighting for the revolution but get caught up in the zealousness of the men desiring to be leaders of the revolution causing them to join forces and fight together. I liked both men. They were noble and had a sense of morality that they didn't back away from.

Overall, WHERE THE LIGHT FALLS was well-written and entertaining. I will admit that I grew tired of reading it towards the end because it seemed to drag out a little bit. Despite that, I would recommend this novel to history buffs and those who are drawn to the French Revolution.

*A hardcopy of this novel was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

{Review} THE ATWELLE CONFESSION by Joel Gordonson

Goodreads Summary:

After discovering rare gargoyles mysteriously positioned inside an ancient church being restored in the small English town of Atwelle, the architect Don Whitby and a young research historian Margeaux Wood realize that the gargoyles are predicting the bizarre murders that are occurring in the town. 

Five hundred years earlier when the church is being built, two powerful families in Atwelle are contesting control of the region in the delicate backdrop of King Henry VIII's dispute with the Pope over the King's divorce. In the middle of these conflicts, the same bizarre murders are being committed in the town. 

Two stories of identical macabre murders five hundred years apart ─ One surprising solution in the mystery of the gargoyles and the Atwelle Confession.

Mandy's Review:

I agreed to read and review this book because the premise of it is in my wheelhouse of stories that interest me. Also, the cover looked creepy and evil and I loved it. The cover above is not the same as the cover on the ARC I received. My cover is below ...

So, what we have here is a mystery spanning centuries connected by some carved gargoyles inside of a church. Each gargoyle is different and hints to part of the past of the two families who helped build the church. Why in the world a gruesome story is depicted inside of the church is something Don and Margeaux is trying to figure out. Are the gargoyles cursed? Is someone just using the symbolism to conduct their deadly deeds?

There wasn't really any depth to this story. The reader only catches glimpses here and there of some of the characters' pasts. I cannot think of one character I got to know at a really personal, emotional level. This read like a story a person would tell around the campfire.

Not all of the conversations were awkward in the book but enough of them were to make me wonder about the quality of the editor's handiwork. Also, some of the scenes in the book felt staged, like an old black-and-white movie. The example I want to give you is towards the end of the book so I won't post it here to prevent any spoilers but when I read it I was like, "Really?! That isn't believable at all."

I started out intrigued and excited to read this novel only to end up disappointed by the lack of character depth and cheesy situational flow. I didn't hate this book but it's also not one I'd go out of my way to recommend, which means this book will only get two stars from me.

*A physical copy was provided by the publicist, FSB Associates, in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

{E-Book Review} HOW TO FIND LOVE IN A BOOK SHOP by Veronica Henry

ISBN #: 978-1409146889
Page Count: 336
Publisher: Orion
Release Date: June 16, 2016

Goodreads Summary:

Everyone has a story . . . but will they get the happy ending they deserve?

Emilia has just returned to her idyllic Cotswold hometown to rescue the family business. Nightingale Books is a dream come true for book-lovers, but the best stories aren't just within the pages of the books she sells - Emilia's customers have their own tales to tell.

There's the lady of the manor who is hiding a secret close to her heart; the single dad looking for books to share with his son but who isn't quite what he seems; and the desperately shy chef trying to find the courage to talk to her crush . . .

And as for Emilia's story, can she keep the promise she made to her father and save Nightingale Books?

Mandy's Review:

Maybe it's because I'm a book nerd but ... how amazing and romantic would it be to find love in a bookshop? I mean, you're already in a place surrounded by your loves and then to find a human in that same place and to fall in love with them ... *sigh* ... So, that's what drew me in: the title and my own imaginings.

Every person has a story. While I love to hear (and read) everyone's story, sometimes it can be a bit much when there are a bunch of stories being told at one time. That's one of the issues with this book. At one point, I almost made a list of characters and how they were connected with Emilia because it was starting to become a bit congested. What I would have LOVED was to have "How to Find Love in a Book Shop" be the title of the series and then each book be based on a couple who met in Nightingale Books and fell in love. Instead of Emilia being one of the main characters, let Nightingale Books shine as the main character in the series.

Okay, I'll stop with my critique of what the author should've done and just tell you about what I read. This really was a good story with a lot of hope and happiness thrown in. There was a bit of sadness here and there but it wasn't at all overwhelming. Emilia's father, Julius, bought the bookshop when Emilia was a baby. He grew the business into the success it was at his death. When Emilia took over the business, she saw that the success was customer-based only. The finances were almost nonexistent. So, with the help of some of her friends and acquaintances, Emilia struggles with updating the bookshop and almost gives in to a businessman to sell the place for a profit. Over the course of these ups and downs, some bookish matchmaking happens with very promising results.

How to Find Love in a Bookshop is, of course, going to have a happy ending for all involved. If that's a bit of a spoiler for you, I apologize, but it's to be expected with these quick, easy, romantic reads. Isn't it? I did enjoy my time at Nightingale Books. It was a fun, light-hearted read that I'd give 3 stars.

*An e-book was made available through NetGalley by the publicist in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, August 25, 2017

{Re-Read Review} IT by Stephen King

Goodreads Summary:

To the children, the town was their whole world. To the adults, knowing better, Derry, Maine was just their home town: familiar, well-ordered for the most part. A good place to live.

It was the children who saw - and felt - what made Derry so horribly different. In the storm drains, in the sewers, IT lurked, taking on the shape of every nightmare, each one's deepest dread. Sometimes IT reached up, seizing, tearing, killing . . .

The adults, knowing better, knew nothing.

Time passed and the children grew up, moved away. The horror of IT was deep-buried, wrapped in forgetfulness. Until they were called back, once more to confront IT as IT stirred and coiled in the sullen depths of their memories, reaching up again to make their past nightmares a terrible present reality.

Mandy's Review:

I chose to re-read this novel before the first movie comes out September 8th. My first reading of IT was when I was 13 and, maybe because a large portion of the story centers around children close to my age at that time, it resonated with me. My re-reading of IT did not diminish my love for this novel. It enhanced it.

If, for some ungodly reason, you have never read IT and have no clue what it's about, I'll give you the gist of it. Basically, there is a cycle of evil that takes place every 25 to 27 years in Derry, Maine. (Side Note: The new movie comes out 27 years after the horrendous television mini series. Coincidence? I think not.) In 1958, through (seemingly) preordained circumstances, seven children form a group and are known as the Losers. The bond between them felt more than just the bond of friendship, it felt almost supernatural. Despite their fears, they are determined to face down the evil residing in Derry and kill it. Only when they're called back to Derry 27 years later in 1985 do they realize they only hurt it the first time. This time, they won't stop until they're dead or IT is.

Most people who have not read this novel don't want to read it because of the clown and their fear of it. The evil in Derry manifests as a clown BECAUSE people have a fear of clowns, but the evil in Derry is a shapeshifter. The reason it mainly preys on children is because of a child's innate belief in all that is fantastic and strange. So, when a child hears something scary in the dark, they relate that sound to something (a werewolf, or mummy, or a rat, etc.) and whatever they BELIEVE the sound to be coming from that's what the evil in Derry transforms itself to.

So, yet again, I have laughed, sat in suspense, and have been heartbroken by this novel. When I got near the end of the book last night, I was thinking to myself, "NO! No, I have to go back! I have to go back to when they were kids playing in the Barrens and forming their circle of friendship. I don't want this to end!"

To those who wonder how in the world I can be heartbroken by a horror novel, I'll tell you: the same way you (and I) were heartbroken over Harry Potter. Like Harry Potter was about more than just magic, IT is about more than just an evil clown. It's about a child's guileless belief in all things, it's about how adults grow up and become adept at glancing over evil happening right in front of them, it's about how as children grow they forget the wonderful magic they were tapped in to, and it's also about how we often forget those that helped us the most during our darkest times. To say IT is about nothing but evil and horror is not doing this novel justice. It's also about love, faith, beauty, simplicity, and power. It's about something outside of us yielding its power over us, whether it be evil or good. God, I could talk all day about this but I'll stop now. You just have to give this a chance if you haven't read it before. Look beyond the obvious and see IT for what it really is.
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