Book Review: War of Wizards (Secrets of Shadow Hill) by S. P. Cervantes

I’m going to make a confession.  I have never read the Harry Potter series.  Yes, yes, I know.  I’m deprived.  But it is on my list.  As I continue in this genre of paranormal romance, it is clearer to me that I need to read some of the big books in the genre.  I broke down and read the “Twilight” series for example.  And now I can see all the references my vampire books make to it.  So now I have to read Harry Potter.

warwizardsEbook

I read the first two books in this series and loved them.  My review for “Always and Forever” is here and my review for “The Prophecy” is here.  It is strictly YA, no graphic sex, but in this one, Ava and Dalton are finally married and finally consummate their relationship.  The descriptions aren’t detailed and it is very tender and sweet.  Definitely YA appropriate.

Here is the synopsis for this final book:

Ava and Dalton want nothing more than to forget about the danger their love puts them in, and live peaceful lives in Shadow Hill; but that is not their destiny. Evil continues to haunt them, threatening to destroy everything. Volikai’s determination to summon the dark powers that the Originals have kept hidden for centuries before the Prophecy can be fulfilled.

When Patrick finds a new love, and learns of the reason for his powerful connection with Ava, he will stop at nothing to protect those he loves and destroy the evil that has plagued the world since the beginning of time.

Together, they will be faced with unimaginable choices to save the one’s they love as the final secrets of Shadow Hill are revealed.

As with the other books, this one is written from varying points of view.  I usually don’t have a problem with that, it is really creative and different.  But in this book it was a bit confusing when chapters went from Patrick to Dalton because it wasn’t exactly clear who the speaker was at times.

I do like the maturity shown throughout all of the books.  Especially with Dalton and Patrick.  It is a number of years after they first met, and with all they have been through with Ava, they now have a mature, adult, working relationship.  They both want to keep everyone safe, especially Ava.  They aren’t at odds anymore.  I truly liked seeing that particular relationship evolve.

Ava and Hannah have evolved as well.  They take their situation very seriously.  They go from knowing nothing about magic and wizards to leading their coven in the space of a few years.  Their strength is remarkable.

I hate to say this, and many YA fans will vehemently disagree, but it was kind of refreshing that some characters didn’t make it.  I’m not going to do a spoiler alert and name names.  But in most of these types of books, everyone lives happily ever after.  In this one, its a different kind of happily ever after.  And I really liked it.  It is more realistic, as much as realism can be found in a book about wizards.

A great follow-up to the first two books.  A great ending to the trilogy.  I truly love this series for its romance, its relationships between characters, its drama and aspect of a thriller.  And the magic is cool.  Definitely a must read for fans of paranormal YA.

Advertisements

Book Review: The Scourge: Nostrum by Roberto Calas

In these times of madness, only madness will save us.

Zombies, knights, hilarity, Sir Tristan.  I’m in love….

nostrum

This is the second book in The Scourge Series by Roberto Calas, here is my review for book one.

Here is the synopsis from Amazon:

Sir Edward Dallingridge survived his journey through the anarchy that is now England, leaving in his wake the bodies of mad lords, foul invaders, friends, and the risen dead. There was nothing on earth that could keep him from the woman he loves.

Nothing but the horror that has already consumed her.

His journey is over, but his mission is far from complete. As a knight of the realm, he has defended England from every enemy it has. But how does one drive away a plague sent from hell? His only hope lies in the rumors of a cure–a treatment concocted by a strange man on an island fortress. Edward will do everything in his power to find this alchemist and to bring Elizabeth back from the walking terror she has become.

This book is again a serial, and is a bit darker, considering  the end of the first book.  The adventure continues for Sir Edward and Sir Tristan, but with the addition of others such as Belisencia, a “nun” they come across in their journey.  Her presence adds some much needed female comic relief and her interactions with Sir Tristan are hilarious.  And again, Christianity and the church are often the butt of the jokes:

“Barbaric?” Tristan asks. “And why are they any more barbaric than Christians?”

Belisencia scoffs and looks away.  “There’s no sense talking to you about it.”

Tristan laughs.  “Go on, tell me.  I would like to know what’s more barbaric than drinking the blood of our savior every week.  Or eating his flesh.” He laughs again and sweeps his hand to encompass the countryside.  “Maybe all of these plaguers are just good Christians that got carried away.  They’re drinking everyone’s blood.  Maybe they are more devout than any of us.”

I love how the zombie apocalypse in medieval England pretty much mirrors the zombie apocalypse in every other time period and part of the world that I’ve read.  Makes me think that no matter where or when, humans are humans and will probably devolve to their baser elements when the fabric of society is torn apart:

The afflicted are not the worst thing about this new England. Plaguers are hungry and desperate.  I understand those motives.  What, then, are the motives of the survivors?  Power?  Avarice? Cruelty? Of the two groups, the unafflicted survivors are the greater threat.  I am uncomfortable with what this implies about my kind.

Like I said in my earlier review, I know NOTHING about this time period, outside of what I’ve seen in Monty Python.  And this reminds me much of Monty Python.  But Mr. Calas is very gifted at understanding that not all of us readers know what a bevor (?) is, and works very diligently to make sure we aren’t completely lost.  He makes all of the knight stuff palatable.  And funny:

Every priest dreams of sainthood.  Every merchant dreams of riches.  And every knight, no matter how much he may deny it, dreams of slaying a dragon.  It is in our blood. Tristan and I nearly knock each other to the ground in our haste to reach the creature.

Another feature I love of these books, maybe it is just a serial thing, is the historical notes at the end.  Mr. Calas has done extensive research into his writing.  Sir Edward was a real person with a real castle.  A good number of the events were based in some sort of reality.  Even the dancing mania AND the dragon (you have to read about it).  I truly appreciate these types of works that are based in some sort of reality.  And then the author just runs with it.

Again, I highly recommend this series.  Fulfills my zombie requirement, humor requirement, history requirement all in one book.  A must read.  I can’t wait to see how it all ends.

Book Review: Weeks in Naviras by Chris Wimpress

naviras

 

Ohhh…one of my favorite kinds of books.  I would call it a mashup.  A little bit of romance, a little bit of sci-fi, throw in some politics and political commentary, add elements of a thriller.  Excellent.  Here is the synopsis:

It’s late afternoon in the tiny Portuguese fishing village of Naviras, where Eleanor Weeks is sipping wine and watching the ocean. Even though she’s been there dozens of times, how she arrived that particular afternoon is a mystery to her. Until she remembers she’s the wife of the British prime minister, and that she’s just been killed in a terrorist attack.

As Ellie explores her afterlife she finds other people she knew, all of whom died before she did. She recalls her troubled marriage during her husband’s rise to the very top of British politics. She remembers the tragedy and secrets which dominated the last ten years of her life, before recounting her role in a conspiracy which threatens to destabilise not just Britain but the wider world. 

Both a political thriller and love story, Weeks in Naviras delves into the heart of a woman who sees first-hand the rise and fall of governments troubled by turmoil and crisis.

Beautifully written.  I really want to go to Naviras.  Like right now.  The way it is written, you can see the little village.  You can feel Ellie’s attachment to it.  You understand why it is where she would go.

The “flashbacks” aren’t puzzling at all.  When not written effectively, it can detract from the overall reading experience.  Not so with this book.  It only makes you want to keep reading on to find out what happens.  The author only feeds you enough information to spur you on.  It is maddening but at the same time satisfying when you finally DO get the answers.

Ellie is an intriguing character.  The ten year span that you get to know her is appropriate.  You get to see her grow as a mother, as a person.  The amount of courage it takes to do what she does on the last few pages is phenomenal.  She grows from someone afraid to confront her husband and his power to one who essentially takes on some unknown quantity to save the world.

I appreciate the honest depiction of depression.  The noonday demon.  The malaise.  And the portrayal of it in someone in Ellie’s position is appreciated as well.

I also liked the political commentary as well.  I can very well see the author’s political stance on recent events, but it isn’t overwhelming.  It isn’t a political book, it is more futuristic (I think?).  Not enough is specified to pinpoint exact events or political figures.  But the criticism rings loud and clear.

I also love the creativity employed with the mode of  terror device used.  I don’t want to give anything away, but put it this way, it will knock your socks off.  The twists are so unexpected, so genius.

Excellent, excellent book.  Highly recommended.  Definitely different, definitely eclectic.

Book Review: The Scourge by Roberto Calas

scourge

 

Back to the zombies.  I figure Easter is coming…

This time it is zombies in medieval England:

God has forsaken this land.

A mysterious plague descends upon 14th century England, ravaging the country and trapping the souls of the afflicted in eternal madness. The feudal hierarchy–and even the church itself– slowly crumbles as the dead rise to feed and the living seek whatever shelter they can. The bishops of England call for calm and obedience, but one man isn’t listening.

Sir Edward of Bodiam has been separated from the woman he loves and nothing on heaven or earth can stop him from seeking her out. 

Edward and two of his knights travel through the swiftly changing landscape of England, a countryside now overrun by the minions of hell. The knights encounter madness, violence, and sorrow, but Edward fights his way ever deeper into the thickening darkness of unholy terror. 

Roberto Calas brings you along on a dark, historical tale full of love, death, and black humor. Follow Edward as he journeys to save his wife, his kingdom, and his very soul.

Very similar to The Zombie Bible series by Stant Litore.  But where Mr. Litore is poetic and philsophical, Mr. Calas is humorous.  Think Monty Python with zombies.  But not so campy.

I know next to nothing about this time period in history.  My husband is a huge fan of medieval history, weapons, warfare, etc.  When he starts going on about the battle of Agincourt my eyes start to glaze over.  It’s not that it isn’t interesting, it just doesn’t interest me.  But Mr. Calas made it interesting.

Many people say that chivalry is a dying notion.  That honor is dead.  This may be true.  but no knight I have ever known can resist a maiden in distress.

Intermixed with all of the knightly adventures and the quest for Sir Edward to return to his wife, Elizabeth, are zombies.  My husband seems to think that zombies would be easily dispatched in medieval times, but he didn’t count on the power of the Catholic church.  It is thought that the zombies just have the plague:

The noises that come from the plaguer are those of an animal.  Growls and shrieks.  There is no reason.  There is no humanity.  I can feel his teeth scraping at the bevor upon my neck.  His hands shove at my helmet.  I see three red circles above his thumb.  I shove at him, but he has latched on to me, with one arm under my head.  He pulls me toward his mouth like a hungry lover and I scream.  Not in fear but in anger.

I’m always intrigued by the little differences that the authors of zombie books weave into their stories.  Be it the way the zombies began (plague, gas, aliens, or no reason at all) or how they move and act, this always fascinates me.  These zombies feel pain.  Which must make it difficult to kill them.

On his quest, Sir Edward has Sir Tristan and Sir Morgan with him.  Sir Morgan is devoutly religious.  He is always quoting scripture.  Sir Edward and Sir Tristan kind of give him hell for it.  But their discourse highlights the way Catholicism permeated everyday life during this time period.  Sir Morgan actually believes that holy relics can cure the plague.  And by the end of the book, Sir Edward starts to believe him as well.  The religious conversations were hilarious, however:

“Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle.”

“This is the same Lord who says we shouldn’t kill?” Tristan asks.

“No, it’s the Old Testament God,” I say.  “The grumpy one.”

“You have two Gods?” Zhuri asks.

“Just one,” Tristan says.  “But he had a troubled childhood.”

I was struck at the similarities between this work and the other zombie books I’ve read.  Particularly the ones set in modern times in the US.  Apparently when the dead start walking, the world goes to shit.  There is a fundamental breakdown in society, even in the “dark ages”, and the desire to rule one’s own little kingdom is powerful.  Even at the price of precious human life.  If you are a Walking Dead fan, think “The Governor”.  These knights find this all over England.

There is a situation the knights in this story find themselves in that is quite absurd.  Think zombie bears.  Edward remarks to himself after they have barely gotten out alive (again):

I wonder how many mad tyrants rule in England now.  How many lunatic kings sit in dung-pits and throw men to their deaths.

Overall, a great read.  Full of adventure, strong characters, humor and strong relationships.  Very different from typical zombie stories in that you actually LEARN SOMETHING about history while reading them. Much like Stant Litore’s work.  I look forward to the next installments.

Oh, and a quick note, this book was originally written as a serial for Amazon in 2012.  Each episode seems to end in a cliffhanger because a new episode would be released each week.  It doesn’t detract from the work at all, but I didn’t realize that at first when I was reading, and it made sense in the author’s notes in the end of the book.

The 7th Day

18810289Title: The 7th Day 
Author: Nika Lubitsch
Release Date: August 2012
Length: 147 pages
Series?: n/a
Genre: Suspense, Thriller
Format: e-book
Source: author
Challenge: n/a

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

Synopsis

Sybille and Michael are a happy couple, finally expecting their first baby. But then Michael disappears without a trace. Sybille finds herself in the middle of a living nightmare. When her husband is found, stabbed to death, there is one suspect only: his wife who is charged with murder. While listening to the witnesses´ testimonies in court, Sybille in her mind revisits her life with Michael. On day seven of the trial, suddenly the truth dawns on her. Now, she only has to find a way to prove it.This devious mystery is set in Berlin and at a secret place, which is so secret that some readers recognized it.

Review

Some people are born victims. 

They are a power couple, a couple of means and privilege, and this trial will not escape anyone’s eye. She is famous for her journalist work, and her husband for his work as a business attorney.

The higher you climb, the farther you fall.

It’s true, Sybille is on trial for her husband’s murder. Yes, she thought about it before hand. Yes, she went to find him after his strange disappearance. Yes, she was going to give him a reckoning…

But she doesn’t remember any of it.

Today, they will try to prove that I planned to commit the crime. Of course, I did. I just didn’t get around to it. 

That’s of little consequence, though, as soon police find her with the bloody knife on her hotel nightstand – the very knife that brutally stabbed her husband. Of course she did it!

Sybille’s dear old friend, Ulli, is her defense attorney. He is very well known, and one of the best; her husband said so many times before his sudden disappearance. But Sybille and Ulli know each other besides Ulli sharing a business space with her late husband: they used to be lovers, before Michael came into the picture. In fact, Ulli is the very one who introduced Sybille to her husband. I found this very odd, and immediately thought there were all kinds of ways this trial could go wrong for Sybille, often referred to as Bille. I could not help but keep coming back to the term “jilted lover,” regardless of how Bille describes the ending of their relationship. I also thought this would be considered a conflict of interest, and Ulli should not be allowed to represent Bille, but that’s just my opinion.

The prosecution calls up every single witness that could remotely give any opinion or testimony about Sybille’s character: her former boss, her mother’s cleaning lady, various police officers and investigators, a psychiatrist, and lastly the waiter and all of the patrons but one who dined with Sybille in her hotel’s restaurant the night her husband was murdered. They paint a disparaging, ugly portrait of her. How funny one’s actions can be misrepresented.

Throughout Bille’s seven day trial, she shares her own narration from the courtroom of the goings-on of the trial, almost in journal entry form. Strangely though, she intersperses her own flashbacks of Ulli, his wife (who is Bille’s best friend from college), and her husband throughout various points in their relationships, and Bille is in no way to be taken as a Madonna for the sexual references and descriptions she makes of her relationship with Ulli so long ago. This part was difficult for me to wade through and separate at first, as I had no idea where this was leading, but after a time I got used to the style and technique that Lubitsch was using.

Also included with Sybille’s stream of consciousness of the trial and her past memories is the summary of the day’s trial by one of the local papers in an article, and they take Sybille for all she’s worth, make her out to be the most horrendous, using quotations out of context and applying sinister connotations to her actions.

This book shocked me in several ways, and it all comes about in the ending, which I can’t tell you about. :) Suffice it to say that Sybille is indeed disgraced, but the ever-hungry journalists are dying for an inside scoop – and they get it. Sybille agrees to write her story for Cosmos magazine, in return for which they will not edit her writing, but they will also conduct their own investigation of her husband’s murder…

The novel includes Sybille’s installments of her story for Cosmos magazine, as well as a letter from her husband, and an installment from the writers of Cosmos about what they uncovered on this insane journey that Sybille sent them on to find out just what happened to her husband, and get the answers she so desperately needs. You will be shocked at what you find!

A very good read. I recommend to all who enjoy the thriller and mystery genre, as well as if you like a twist!

fd7a6b6e18960ad8956e17.L._V379018045_SX200_About the Author

Nika Lubitsch lives in Berlin, while her soul lives in Florida. Having been rejected by all German publishers, The 7th Day was at the top of the bestselling list only one week after its publication at Kindle, surpassing even „Shades of Grey“. The novel stayed number one in Germany for 100 days, making Nika Lubitsch the most successful KDP author of the year in 2012. The “Queen of E-Books”, as a major German magazine dubbed her, again landed a number one hit in the Kindle charts with her second mystery Das 5. Gebot (The Fifth Commandment). A major production company has already bought the film rights. The 7th Day is currently translated by publishers throughout the world. The manuscript also has been reviewed by Amazon crossing, but didn´t correspond with their “idea of what a best seller in English should be like.” However, a thumbs-down is the biggest motivation an author can get: Just you wait …

Find the author: Website| Facebook | Goodreads

Book Review: Chasing Xaris by Samantha Bennett

xaris

Again into the YA realm.  Here is the synopsis:

Chandler Bloom starts her day like every other—on her surfboard and away from her smothering grandparents. It’s the only way she’s been able to cope since the hit-and-run that killed her parents two years ago. But when a shark nearly turns Chandler into breakfast, a loner surfer named Ari saves her life. Which is great, except that he also triggers new questions about her parents’ deaths. Before Chandler can ask him more, Ari disappears. 

Desperate for answers, Chandler decides to track down Ari with the help of her best friend Jordan, a surfer guy who’s totally in love with her. The search leads to Ari’s home—a hidden island that can only be found with a form of light called xaris. But Chandler isn’t the only one searching for the island or the unearthly elements found there. Her parents died protecting it, and if Chandler doesn’t come to grips with what she’s really chasing, she could be next. (YA inspirational urban fantasy)

I really liked this book.  It was well written with many different themes woven throughout.  The inspirational part of it wasn’t forced, it was sort of in the background and really only made an appearance later in the book.

The author captured the reader early on with the shark attack and literally doesn’t let go (sorry for the pun!!)  The author also is very authentic with the voice of Chandler, the surfer talk, the tone and cadence, the vocabulary.

The story is a thriller as well.  I really didn’t see a bunch of the twists and turns, and I’m pretty good at seeing that those coming.

I also loved the story of the lost civilization.  That really added a different element to this story that made it more mature.  I would have loved to have learned more about the island and their history.

The themes with Chandler and her grief were extremely well written and thought out.  I understand the need for the surfing.  It is her escape.  It is helping her to keep on surviving.  I have never been surfing, but through the vivid descriptions in this book, I can imagine it in great detail.

I would have liked more info at the end on how Chandler gets to the point she is at four months later.  It is like she is a different person.  And as I understand that her experiences have changed her, I would have liked more of an explanation or more of a build up to the conclusions at the end of the book.

Overall, a great YA story with some elements of sci-fi.

The Divergent Series

divergent

Yes, I had to hop on this bandwagon too.

I love dystopian YA literature.  And I love books that turn into movies.  So its no wonder that I found this one.  And I did try to avoid it.  But one of my friends recommended it, and I was sucked in.  So here goes:

In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

Debut author Veronica Roth bursts onto the literary scene with the first book in the Divergent series—dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance.

I do not like the ending.  Period.  That is all I will say.

I do like the first book, and even the second, and most of the third.

The first fascinated me with the explanation of the factions, Choosing Day, the entire concept that you have to pick the entire rest of your life on one day.  I was fascinated with the idea that these people had no clue of their past, no clue of where they came from.  That question was answered later, but the logical, adult part of me was analyzing every aspect of it.  I had the same problem with The Hunger Games.  I guess if enough time goes by, and kids are indoctrinated into a certain way of thinking in schools, certain knowledge just goes away.  It makes me shudder to think that my child is educated in Texas public schools.

Outside of the dystopian aspect, it really is a true coming of age story.  Tris is figuring out who she is.  What she likes about herself, what she doesn’t like about herself.  What she chooses to accept from her upbringing, what she chooses to reject.  She is constantly challenging herself to do things she never thought possible.  And at such a young age!  At 16 I don’t think I could make the choices she continually makes.  I’m not sure if I know who I am at (nearly) age 32.

I love the aspect of the Dauntless, of facing your fears.  Of courage.  Not sure I could do it at any age.

The love story isn’t as developed as the one in the Hunger Games.  It seems that Four and Tris don’t actually get enough time to know each other before the shit starts hitting the fan.

It is a thriller, a page turner.  Something that I would have been totally immersed in about 15 years ago.  I may be able to cajole my husband into seeing it when it hits theaters in March.  Just because I love seeing what I’ve imagined in my head come to life.  And I’m a huge fan of Kate Winslet.  That’s the teenager in me (can you say “Titanic”?)

So if you are interested in this stuff, go ahead and read it.  I do think that The Hunger Games is better, but it does seem that the author of this series set out to NOT be the Hunger Games with the ending.  I hope I didn’t spoil it.

Previous Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: