Wednesday, September 28, 2016

My Friends Are All Strange by Margaret Lesh | ARC | A Book Review

If you have seen my last post before this one, it was also for an eARC. Learning from what happened with the other book, I now make sure to read the eARC's sent to me before the actual release date out of respect for the author. And I understand that I got an eARC so I can read it before anyone else gets a copy and I should abide by its purpose.  

My Friends Are All Strange is another psychological fiction. I have been reading a lot about crazies lately. This is my third book. This talks about a strange girl named Becca. Becca is a senior in high school. Due to lack of sleep and pressure for the SAT and college applications, she had an episode in the school cafeteria. She took of her shirt because she felt too hot. Her mom brought her to Brookside to allow her to sleep and get back her normal sleeping habits. Also, to manage her condition which is still to be known.

While in Brookside, Becca met new friends who are like her suffering from some disorder. Will Becca be able to overcome whatever is plaguing her mind? Would the doctors be able to diagnose what is really wrong with her brain?

My Friends Are All Strange by Margaret Lesh Book Review

The book is about Becca's journey as she struggles to take back the control of her mind. She has an imaginary friend who is illegally occupying her thoughts. Becca wants to get rid of him because he is not helping. He keeps on blaming Becca for everything. Troy, the illegal brain squatter is in Becca's dreams and those dreams are not pleasant. Worst of all, he is around even when Becca is awake. 

Becca has always been strange even before the big episode in the cafeteria but it was managed because of her father. Her father was always there to comfort and calm her down. I think her condition got worse right after the death of his father. Also, she was never diagnosed. I just thought, if her condition was referred to an expert in the early stages, the incident at the cafeteria could have been avoided and Becca would have been better off. But at least, the doctors and psychiatrist were able to help her and in the end, she felt better. Troy was no longer living rent-free on her mind. I am at least glad that she has become well and is on her way to conquering college.

I signed up to read the book because the title is very intriguing. I was thinking what kind of strange friends? I thought there was a hint of paranormal or horror but it wasn't. It was all about the strange workings and disorders of the mind. Some may be in the genes, others caused by a tragic or traumatic event, and the mind has its own way of coping, strange as it may. 

I was not so taken by the book. I admit Becca's character is weird but is endearing in some ways. I just expected more. I was a bit deflated when I found out that the strange friends were just people with mental and behavioral issues. I was expecting something else. Probably, some special traits other than the love for Hello Kitty and skills in playing pool. 

I guess, the book is reminding everyone to not forget our mental health. To always get enough sleep and to try to manage the different stresses of daily life. Whether they are emotional, social, physical, and psychological. All these problems, no matter the size, could always have an impact to our health -physical and mental. The best takeaway I could get from it all is to always get enough sleep. Sleep could always cure everything. For me, sleep has always been my go-to remedy. If I am unhappy about something, I will try to sleep it off. To at least give my mind and heart some rest. And when I am depressed, I would prefer to sleep the whole day. And if something is really off, consult a doctor. Early diagnosis could mean a lot. Early intervention could spell a better quality of life for that loved one. Above all, an ounce of prevention is always better than a pound of cure. It would also help if you have a very good support system of friends and family who will always be there for you, no matter the state of your affairs. 

I give the book two and a half stars. Thank you Margaret Lesh for the eARC.

Is free will an actual thing, or do we just think we're making all of our decisions and someone else is actually pulling the strings.
- Margaret Lesh, My Friends Are All Strange - 

Release date: October 18, 2016.
Ebook copy from author through

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

In the City of the Falling Stars by Chris Tusa | ARC | A Book Review

I got an eARC from Chris Tusa last September 2, which was about 6 days before the release of  this book. Thank you Chris. Unfortunately, I had books lined up to be read already and I was not able to sneak this in. I only got to read it about two days ago. I am so sorry Chris. So, I guess better late than never reading it all, right? Anyway, this review is just in time for the hard cover release.

At first glance, this would seem like a science fiction book. Probably a book about stars because of the title. Or likely about a city in another galaxy. Hahaha. It's not that at all. It is far from sci-fi. You will definitely be surprised to know that this is actually a psychological book. 

In the City of the Falling Stars by Chris Tusa Book Review

This is after the hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. The people and the government are still in the process of picking up from the aftermath of the hurricane. A lot of houses were left abandoned and falling apart. People have moved to Texas or some other state. The story revolves around one family. Maurice Delahoussaye, the father is an insurance agent. His unfaithful wife, Vivian, is a reporter from Chanel Four News. His eldest child, Audrey, who is in college, is having an affair with her married professor. His other kid, Brandon, is in High School and is smoking pot. His rich father, Virgil, is living in a nursing home because his house was destroyed by Katrina. He is still in good shape for his age.

Maurice has always been paranoid. He was always suspicious of his surroundings. But it has gotten worse right after Katrina and Vivian's betrayal. Vivian cheated on him and is pregnant with another man's baby. This has taken a toll on Maurice and he has been acting way way far from the usual.

This family has given meaning to the word dysfunctional. Each person seems to have his/her own issue. I think, it's only Virgil who has come to terms with his past and is now trying to live a normal life. I guess, in his age, he should. What is sad is, each member knows what is wrong but is not doing anything to change the situation. I agree with Audrey that it is Vivian's fault. The rapidly developing extreme paranoia of Maurice is due to his love and strong desire to protect Vivian and the unborn baby from the supposed father. If Vivian had just left the man alone when he told her that he doesn't want to have anything to do with baby, then everything would have not escalated. It was like a domino effect and Maurice's mind which was barely hanging on a thread because of all the stress, totally unraveled. And it was only Audrey who noticed the difference in his actions. I think Audrey's character would have been perfect and ideal if she broke off with the professor right when she felt suspicious. But she didn't, she was in denial. But I am glad that in the end, she realized her worth. I would definitely have done the same things she had done to get back to the professor. If only, she had planned them properly so nothing can be traced back to her. 

All in all, I wasn't really into the story. I think it took a while for it to come into conclusion, especially, in the case of Maurice. He never suspected that he was way off-kilter. He had become so delusional. But at least, he was off-the-hook. I would hate for him to go to jail. I feel so sorry for him. I liked also how the rest of the story got resolved. It seemed that all of the worrying and all the extreme measures Maurice has taken was all for naught. In the end, it turned out he has nothing to worry about. In a way, it was hilarious but I did not see it that way right after I finished the story. I just came to see it now while writing this. Poor Maurice! Yes, as what he said in the ending. It was not bad at all. 

I give the book three falling stars.

People still need to have dreams. Even if those dreams are unrealistic.
- Chris Tusa, In the City of the Falling Stars - 

Published: September 8, 2016
Hard Cover Release: September 30, 2016

Mud Vein by Tarryn Fisher

Mud vein is the black ribbon-like digestive tract on the back of a shrimp. 

This is my second time to read a Tarryn Fisher novel. I enjoyed Marrow so much that I decided to read another book of hers. What I like most about Fisher is her titles are so intriguing. Not unless you read her books, you would not know what they are about. Her books appeal to my curiosity and fan it to a blazing fire. Her novels have a dark kind of quality in them. Dark because they are often about the dark and sinister workings of the mind. Yes, liking Fisher is like being drawn to the dark side and it has been a unique experience so far.

Mud Vein by Tarryn Fisher book review

Senna Richards is a reclusive writer. Then, one day, she woke up in a cabin in the middle of nowhere, wearing someone else's clothes but they perfectly fit her. She explored the cabin and found a man from her past tied to the bed. Senna needs to find out why they were kidnapped and who kidnapped them. 

I was as clueless as Senna as to what is really going on. For the life of me, I can't figure out who kidnapped them. I was wracking my brain for some clues but I failed. I have no idea who the culprit was and was too shocked when I found out who it was. She never even came to mind. My head was starting to ache just trying to help out Senna figure out who the sadist was, the one who enjoyed to torture her mind. Thinking over and over of how she ended up in the cabin. 

I think the story took too long to wrap-up. It took too long to resolve that I thought they will never ever get out. There was also a point wherein I was deciding whether to put the book down and start something else. There was a dull point in the narrative that I thought would not end. But all in all, the story is interesting. I just wished it was more gripping.

I give it three shrimps. 

It's your darkness that pulls me in. Your mud vein. But sometimes having a mud vein will kill you.
- Tarryn Fisher, Mud Vein - 

Tea with Emma (The Teacup Novellas #1) by Diane Moody | A Book Review

Tea with Emma (free on Kindle) is a story within a story. 

Lucy is a writer and she had been experiencing a writer's block. She can't think of anything to write. Then, her favorite and cute UPS delivery guy named Mark knocked on her door to deliver a package from her dad. To her surprise, it was the china tea cups from her favorite Aunt Lucille who just passed away. She remembered all the happy times she had spent with her aunt. Each tea cup felt like telling her each own story. Her thoughts started running and she decided she will write stories for each tea cup.

The first story is about Maddie Cooper. Maddie just came from a Jane Austen tour from England and was so inspired to start her own English tea shop in Austin,Texas. And like Jane Austen's Emma, she thinks she is a natural matchmaker. Only to find out that she isn't.

Tea with Emma (The Teacup Novellas #1) by Diane Moody Book Review

I have not read Emma by Jane Austen but because of this book I wanted to read it. Jane Austen is like every girl's favorite writer. I liked Pride and Prejudice but I just hadn't gotten to reading the rest of her works. I will try find time to do just that. I will try to sneak it in between reading contemporary writers.

I had fun in this book. A light read and makes you feel good. Aside from the fact that I love tea which what this book is about, it gives off a really relaxing vibe. Just like drinking a hot cup of tea. It settles your nerves and it would make you feel like all is well in the world. The book is also funny. I like how Maddie is so clueless as to how other people feel about her because she's too focused on her matchmaking. 

I give the book four hot steaming cups of tea served in bone china tea cups. I really enjoyed the book and would love to read the next books in the series. This is what me and my friends would call a classic example of inspirational romance.

Thank you Diane Moody.

To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.
- Diane Moody, Tea with Emma - 

Nanny Returns (Nanny #2) by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus

I finally got my hands on the Nanny Returns (sequel to The Nanny Diaries). I have read the first book years ago. I got my copy of The Nanny Diaries from a second hand bookstore. I enjoyed it very much. So, I was so happy to learn that there is a sequel. It is just unfortunate that it took me years to remember that I still need to read it.

After ten years, Nan returned to New York. She got married to Ryan (a.k.a Harvard Hottie) and have lived abroad. Now, they are back in New York, is Nan ready for all the changes of the city, the people and her life? 

Nanny Returns (Nanny #2) by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus book review

I really enjoyed the first book. I thought it was so hilarious. A peek into the grand lives of New York's elite. I was expecting Nanny Returns would be as hilarious and witty as the first one. I was bracing myself to be rolling on the floor laughing. 

So, I was surprised when I realized that the book is not anymore hilarious. Not funny at all. All I could hear were Nan's worries. They were echoing all over the place. I am annoyed of how Nan was acting. She just allowed someone to be bullied. She didn't intervene. I was so disappointed. I can't believe she would forgo building a family of her own because of her fears. Her fears are unnecessary. 

The writing is as great as the first book but I just did not like how the story had turned. Yes, a lot of changes, including Nan.  I did not expect that she would turn into someone controlled by her fears. She's a confident woman and I would like her to be always that. She lived abroad for ten years. I think she can take whatever New York has to throw at her, even if it was far from what she expects. I didn't like that she just folded, right away. And I was scared for her that she will lost Ryan.

I give it two and a half stars and it has nothing to do with the writing. I thought the story is good but in a way off its direction. Not really the way I expected. I wanted it to as funny as the first but it wasn't. I think I will read The Nanny Diaries to get over my disappointment on this book.

Is it that they normalize being mean for one another so they never have to address what they're really angry about?
- Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus, Nanny Returns - 

Nefertiti's Heart (Artifact Hunters #1) by A. W. Exley | A Book Review

Lately, I have realized that my thoughts are free-flowing when I am listening to Korean soundtracks. So, every time I am writing a post, I listen to those soothing and relaxing Korean drama OSTs. It doesn't matter that I have no clue what the song is, as long as the melodies and the feelings of the singers are always heartfelt. My mind is transported into a calm state and allows me to come up with just the right words to make my posts coherent enough. The best thing of all, I am not at all lulled to sleep. In fact, my thoughts are most alive.

I read Nefertiti's Heart (free on Kindle) about a month ago. I am not really into historical thrillers that are purely set in the past. Most that I love to read, like the works of Clive Cussler, Steve Berry, and Dan Brown, always have an effect in the present time. So, I wasn't expecting to be able to appreciate Nefertiti's Heart by A. W. Exley since it was all happening in the past. I devoured up the story as much as I am reading my three favorite authors. 

Nefertiti's Heart (Artifact Hunters #1) by A. W. Exley Book Review

Cara Devon is a twenty-one year old who was scorned by society. She is a noble whose father is an avid, bordering on obsessive, collector of ancient artifacts. When she was fourteen, her father used her as payment for a debt he owed to Lord Clayton just so he can't be parted with any of his ancient treasures. She was abused by Clayton and fortunately escaped. She went back to her father only to be whipped for escaping. Her grandmother took her away from London. Now, she's back and her father is dead, murdered. After she put his affairs in order, find where the artifacts are hidden, and then sell them all. She will leave London for good. But as she was in her father's library, with Lord Devon's journal in his hand, two armed men came and forced to get the journal from her. Good thing, Cara is armed, he shot one man in the shoulder and the other in his palm. The men were sent by no other than the Villainous Viscount Lord Nathaniel Lyons. Why would the Viscount want her father's journal? This encounter with Lord Lyons men would lead Cara back into the snares of London, the life she so wanted to get away from.

I love Cara, she is strong and her tragic experience in the hands of Lord Clayton and his father Lord Devon, did not break her. Instead, the experience has motivated her to learn to protect herself and be wary of her trust. She can take care of herself and has grown into a very smart woman because her grandmother has loved and doted on her. She loves to travel and treats it as a great way to learn. She doesn't care what society thinks of her. She was the victim, yet they viewed her as if it was her fault that tragedy had befallen her. She refused to conform to whatever society wants from her. She doesn't owe anyone. She's going to live her life as she sees fit. 

Enter Lord Nathaniel Lyons, also known as the Villainous Viscount. He is a very wealthy man and has businesses all over London. He owns airships. Some of his businesses are known to be shady. Both his and Cara's characters are alike in some ways. And I love that he has taken a strong interest in Cara and her father's affairs. I thought that he was just after the artifacts but I was so elated to know that he has far better reasons for wanting to be around Cara. He just appears to be a toughie but he has a real soft spot for Cara and all those that have been taken advantage of.

About the real villain in this story - I am giving myself a pat in the back for figuring out the murderer of Lord Devon and the person responsible for all the other killings in the story. The moment he came into the picture just out of the blue, it was already suspicious to me. I know he will have an important part in this story. And as soon as I knew that Lord Lyons genuinely cared about Cara's well-being, I knew then that he was not the villain he was supposed to be. And true enough, the real culprit of all the murders was the same person I thought. Yay! It was not obvious but since I have read a lot of this genre plus crime, mystery, and fiction, I sort of know to pick up clues that lead right to the guilty's doorstep. 

I love everything about the story. The ancient artifacts and their secrets; tough and shady characters but turned out to be darlings; persons who purport to be sweet but are really dubious. This has all the elements I really enjoy in historical thrillers. Even the lack of present day relevance did not bother me. This is really a great find. The title alone has gotten me ensnared.This book has blown me away. Now, I will be stalking Miss Exley. I will be hunting her books so I could get ahold of them. I am glad to meet your acquaintance Miss Anita W. Exley. Welcome to my life.

I give the story 4.5/5 mechanical hearts. I think Exley has the prowess of Cussler, Berry, and Brown. I wonder why I have not met her sooner. I am glad that I now have a woman in my favorite genre to watch out for. I would just need to read the rest of her works. I am quite sure, she will end up in my favorite author's list. 

Crowbars are great for working out parental issues.
 - A. W. Exley, Nefertiti's Heart -

Other books in the series:

Hatshepsut's Collar (Artifact Hunters Book 2)

Friday, September 23, 2016

The Stone Bearers by Jacque Stevens | A Book Review

The djinni in a bottle who gives you one wish a day, not the usually three wishes like Aladdin. A djinni who tells you that you can't say a particular wish instead, tells you what you can do about it to make it true. No need to wish for it. What kind of djinni is that?

Ashira is a fifteen-year old who wants to meet a prince and go on adventures. She refuses to accept that her prophecy would be to live a life of no renown. She can't have that. Then, she came upon a bottle and a djinni who grants wishes. At the same time, a bearer from the temples of Kalum arrived in their town. Intent on changing and designing her own fate, she volunteered to study at the temple of the bearers to learn magic and make something of herself. 

The Stone Bearers by Jacque Stevens A Book Review

This book is about wishes and making them come true. It is also about making your own destiny instead of allowing it to be shaped by a prophecy. This is about breaking norms, of refusing to conform to expectations. I think we are all like Ashira. Who wants to follow a life that is pre-set? No one, right? I, for one would like to live a life that I want, not because it is what society expects of me. Like Ashira, just because her father is a skilled potter, doesn't mean she wants to spend making pots for the rest of her life. We all want to have our own adventures and grow our own roots. We all want to have a choice, to make our choices. We all want to be something, to be somebody.

True to Ashira's aspirations, she meet new friends, learn new things, visited places and went on adventures. She experienced all these things without having to wish for them. She encountered them because she looked for them. She seized the opportunities, just so she can avoid that doomed no reknown life. And just like in real life, if we try hard enough and look hard enough, we will also find the adventures and opportunities that we seek.

I took pleasure in this book. It was indeed an adventure. An adventure that makes you wonder how far would you go to be the person you want to be. How much are you willing to lose to get to where you want to go? Would you set aside the people you care about? Would you cross the line separating right from wrong just to be someone? This book surprisingly delves into the workings of a person's need to create a name and a life of her own. I didn't expect to ponder upon these thoughts until I started writing this review. I enjoyed the book and the story but I didn't expect that this is the impact it will give me. I would like to recommend this book to teenagers and those that are trying to prove themselves. This is an enlightening story. I didn't realize that this message was embedded in the story. I am not even sure it was what the author intended. 

I give it three and a half gemstones. It ended well, at the same time it felt like there could be more. I felt like the ending holds a promise that Ashira could have more adventures. That in some way, it's not over yet. I would not be surprised if another book will follow this one. It would be nice.

Cheers, to a life we gladly choose and to the adventures we are brave enough to take.

I got this from in exchange for an honest review.

Oppression (Children of the Gods #1) by Jessica Therrien | A Book Review

I thought Oppression was about slavery just looking at the title. Yes, I did a classic don't judge the book by its cover. And I was wondering why the series is called Children of the Gods. I think I did not read the whole summary. I was very surprised to learn that this book was a little like Percy Jackson and the Olympians. That was my first impression. It got me more curious and I told myself to finish Oppression right away so I can read the rest of the books in the series. Fortunately, the three books were sent to me, although I was only required to review one book. The author was so generous. Thank you Jessica Therrien.

So, here is book one. 

Oppression (Children of the Gods #1) by Jessica Therrien A Book Review

The story centers on Elyse, who looks like she's eighteen but she's actually older than that. Way, way older. All her life she had been too protected by her parents to keep their secret. She never had friends. All that suddenly changed when her parents died in a car accident. She meet two people she found she can trust with her secret. Also, she found that there were others like her. People who are special and who know more of who she is and what the future awaits her.

Yes, this feels like Percy Jackson with a twist. Instead of demi-gods, here, they are just people with special abilities. I was wondering if this story was a fan-fic of Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson and Olympians. Is it? I am absolutely curious.
Jessica, please let me know if my hunch is right? There are similarities to the story. In here, the clueless hero is a girl - Elyse. And like Percy, she too have friends who help her discover her abilities and face her true identity. Also, there is the influence of a prophecy which determines the fate of our heroine or the world. This is akin to Percy's adventures where he has to consult the Oracle and go on a quest. Except here, there was no need for a quest. Elyse doesn't know what she has to do. Only, that whatever she decides, the prophecy will definitely lead her to her destiny.

I enjoyed the story and it's a different take on the ever-popular Greek mythology which a lot of books have been inspired from. And I think this is where the biggest chunk of the similarity to Percy Jackson lies. It being based on Greek Mythology. It is a fresh and simpler look into it but the best thing is, it has not been done before. I love mythology. I have always been fascinated by these larger-than-life characters and amazing stories. In fact, the very first book I bought with my first salary was a Edith Hamilton's version of Mythology. 

I rate it 3 and a half stars. The story is able to keep me in suspense to the point of being impatient. I was compelled to stay on so I can get to the part where who Elyse really is, is revealed. Just like Elyse, I can't wait to find out what the whole hiding and keeping anonymous is about. And I was not disappointed. The story just kept on getting interesting. I totally understand now why they are called Children of the Gods and I can't contain my excitement of what is waiting for Elyse and her friends on book 2 - Uprising. I really appreciate Jessica Therrien throwing in the rest of the books in the series. This way I am spared of being frustrated. Tada, I have the rest of the stories right in my hands. 

Those of you who are Percy Jackson fans, try these books of Therrien also. They may not be as great as that of Percy/Riordan but they are captivating enough to make you curious how the characters will transform and how the story will evolve. I am a big Riordan fan - from Percy, to the Kanes, to Jason and to Magnus. But the fact that this story has interested me has a lot to do with it being a simpler variation of the popular demi-god stories that we are all so familiar with. This simple perspective makes it very unique because no one has attempted it. Sometimes, you just have to look at things simply, without complication. But I do not mean to suggest that the story is uncomplicated, the basis for the plot is. And the story will keep you guessing. It was for me.

The Olympians, the Titans and now we have the Descendants. Good work Jessica Therrien.

Life.A labyrinth of crossroads and blind turns that you've never really intended to find your way through. Full of defining moments and significant landmarks that could at any time take you by surprise, turning your whole world inside down.
-Jessica Therrien, Oppression (Children of the Gods Book 1) - 

I got this from in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Six Months in Montana by Pamela Kelley

I read a sample of this book, can't exactly remember how many months ago was that but I remember being frustrated because the story is promising. I wanted more. I wanted to find out what happened. So, imagine my face when I saw that this was free on Kindle. I immediately downloaded a copy, scared that it would suddenly go back to it's regular price if I dally more.

Six Months in Montana by Pamela Kelley book review

Here it goes. Christian Ford's grandfather died and he left the family's ranch and business to him as he is the only surviving heir. Great fortune right? Unfortunately, his grandpa's will included a condition. The condition is that Christian has to marry his childhood best friend Molly and need to stay married for six months. Christian doesn't know if his grandpa was playing a prank on him or he means serious business. The question now is - will Molly agree or find the proposition ridiculous? If she doesn't agree, a lot of people will be affected, including all the people who work on the ranch. They will lose their jobs if Molly would say no. So, what would it be?

I think the premise of the story is very interesting. Intriguing to say the least. If this proposition was meant for me and it would mean a lot of jobless people were on my conscience, then I think I would say yes. Well, Christian was my best friend and we were close when we were kids so it should not be a problem, right? Besides, it's only for six months. I wouldn't mind playing house with a good looking and sweet guy for six months. Sounds like fuuuun... Not to mention, I get to have my own inn if I agree. My own business. I think I can survive six months. I will survive it. I'll make it work. But then, a lot can happen in six months and that is what exactly went wrong in the story. Or could it be, what went right? Hahah. I am not saying anything.

I really had a good time with Christian and Molly. It was not bad at all. I think it was all for the best. I really like Christian's grandpa. I think he may have seen something when they were kids that lead him to ridiculously include this outrageous condition on his will. 

I give the story four stars. A very relaxing read. No pressure at all. Not mushy or corny at all. Just one pleasant afternoon with tea and sweets. Not bad at all.
I like you Pamela Kelley.

Cloister (Charlie Jones #2) T J Slee | A Book Review

Sister Jones got me at "Your Honor", when she first addressed the Cardinal. I was so amused. She was so confused as to what she should call the Cardinal. And I know right there, she has a fiery and non-conforming personality.  More like defiant. A Nun who usually break rules and get away with it. I am starting to like her.

Cloister (Charlie Jones #2) T J Slee Book Review

Cloister is about the misadventures of Sister Charlie Jones who used to be a Security Service operative. After she was stabbed by a suicide bomber, she realized she wanted another vocation. She turned to the Mercy Sisters. And she thought, being a novitiate of the Mercy Sisters could give her a safe and boring life but it was far from what she hoped for. 

Pope Michael is visiting Australia. The Cardinal received reports that there are threats to kill the pope. Knowing Sister Jones and her background, he decided that Jones could help liaise between the security people from Vatican and the local security personnel. And here again, Sister Jones finds herself in a very dangerous situation and questions her choices of leaving her previous job and keeping the current one.

This is the first time I encountered a bad-ass nun. Kick-ass as well. I have worked with both nuns and priests and I would honestly say that I would prefer to be bossed around by priests, rather than nuns. No offense there, I just did not have a really good working experience with nuns. I know, there are really cool and sensible nuns out there. This is just my experience and this not be taken as a point for argument. So back to Sister Jones, at first, she doesn't seem really impressive. In fact, she almost got killed, that is what prompted the change of vocation. She does have a very big personality though. The person you would like to be what nuns should be like but also makes you question if she is fit to be really one. She has piercings and tattoos but as she said, God doesn't look at the physical aspect of a person he calls to His ministry.

Sister Jones has a push and pull type of personality. She has traits that you would love but there are also things that you wish she was not. Makes you confused if you really like her or not at all. That is what I felt about her. Unlike all heroine and heroes in other novels, you just know that you like them, no doubts. But with Sister Jones, it's like solving a complicated math equation. No simple answer. I do not totally agree to some of her language. She doesn't want to be ordered around and she's causing her counselor a headache and her priest confessor sleepless nights. But she's a good person inside who doesn't want evil to triumph so I admire her. And I silently want to high five her when she gives out very smart answers. That's what I meant by push and pull. What's really impressive is she doesn't rest until she is sure that the problem is solved. That's probably the best thing about her.

I think Sister Jones is a good addition to the existing line up of heroes, especially in crime and espionage. She makes a really good operative. She doesn't have extraordinary abilities and skills just a lot of common sense and logic. If I were to work with a nun again, I would like her to be as bad-ass as Sister Jones. Practical and not self-righteous.

I give the book four  crosses. The overused expression, follow the money, does not get old. Most of the time it's always the money that leads you to the source of evil. In this book, it still did it. Just one observation, one character referred to Pope Michael as Pope Francis and she did it twice. I don't know if this was intentionally done by the author to check if the reader was really following, or an error in the printing? I actually had to check myself that it was Pope Michael in this book and not Pope Francis. And I was right, it was the former. I guess, Slee should check this out. This was the scene in the police station.

This is book two. I am looking forward to reading the first book and the next of the misadventures of Charlie Jones.  The third one is coming out soon. T J Slee, impressive work on this one. You have a space in my favorite authors list.

I learned a new word on this book - voluntold which means people were told that they were volunteering. 

Is this one of those reverse revenge things where you act really nice to make me feel even worse?

- TJ Slee, Cloister - 

I got this book as a giveaway from the author. Thanks again T J Slee.

Game of Love (The Remingtons #1) by Melissa Foster | A Book Review

If you have read Melissa Foster before, I am sure you know that her books are hot. Yes, drop it like it hot! Her books are hot and steamy romances with very unique stories. Her characters also are always ripped hot men and sexy talented ladies. 

Game of Love is part of the Love in Bloom Series. This is The Remingtons Book One. Of all the books of Melissa Foster that I have read so far, this is my favorite. Not a lot of hot and steamy sex like all the others but enough. I am no expert. But I think here, it has more emphasis on the story and the development of the characters. And I think, I really liked how this is done. 

Game of Love by Melissa Foster A Book Review

This is how the story goes. Dex Remington is a game developer and he reconnected with his teenage best friend Ellie Parker. Ellie grew up in foster care and has trust and other issues. Running away from Washington from an ex-boyfriend who she thought was married, she went back to New York and incidentally bumped into Dex on her first night back in the city. From there, no matter what she does, she can no longer get away from Dex. And Dex turns out to be her savior, again.

Did I say I really liked this book? I did. I did like it. One very obvious and silly reason is because just looking at the title reminds me right away of what the story is. Game of Love, the guy was a gamer. That easy. Unlike the other books of Foster, I have to try to recall what the story was and maybe read the summary to recall it. So, the recall factor is really a thing for me. Silly, right? But I love to be able to remember the stories I read right out the bat just by looking at the titles. So, it's kind of a downer if the title is really far from what the book is. Anyway, as I said, the story is not overflowing with sex scenes and is more focused on the development of Ellie and Dex's characters. And I know that I just repeated myself. Their story is not that unique but it has its own appeal. They were best friends and Ellie had a habit of leaving Dex without a peep, without saying goodbye. Dex has been hurt twice by Ellie for being abandoned and left hung out to dry. But he can't still seem to leave Ellie alone. He still wants to be a part of her life. 

Like all books of Foster, the story ended well but it seemed like there is still more to the story of Dex and Ellie. I want to find out. I appreciate how Ellie finally decided to make good and strong choices for herself and her relationship with Dex. Well, after Dex sort of gave her an ultimatum. 

I gave the book four stars.

Other books by Melissa Foster:

Seized by Love: Blue Ryder (The Ryders #1)

Rimrider by L.A. Kelly | A Book Review

So, I got this book from I am not sure what's going on but I seem to have a few science fiction books on my TBR which I didn't actually realize once I started reading them. Rimrider is the fourth of the sci-fi works I read in a span of about two weeks. The first one had a good plot and it was fun to read but I was not sure if I wanted to read the next books in the series. The next two were very engaging and I somewhat don't want to expect more from this so as not to disappoint myself. Well, great thing, this is a really really fun and enjoyable trip to outer space. I love this and can't wait to read the next one in the series.

Rimrider by L.A. Kelly Book Review

This is a futuristic story. One wherein people on Earth can get into a shuttle and find work in the rim colony. The rim colony is where prisoners on Earth are sent to serve their sentence and do hard labor. When they have served their punishment or escape, as what most do, they can also settle and find jobs in the rim. The rim is a planet mined by UEC (United Earth Corporation) for bentite as fuel for spaceships. Our heroine, Jane Benedict is a teenager who lost her parents while working for UEC. Their deaths were very suspicious and Jane suspects that there was foul play. Before her dad left for work, on the last day that she will see him, he gave her a set of alphanumeric characters to memorize and never tell anyone. His dad never came home and Jane and his brother Will, were left under the care of Mr. Gunter, their dad's superior. Fortunately, Jame received a message that a passage on a ship leaving at midnight had been prepared for them. Jane and Will decided the best thing for them is to leave earth and go to the rim colony and find their long-lost aunt.

I have mentioned on my previous post that I am not really a fan of sci-fi. I have read some. There were some I enjoyed and some that had left my head spinning. This book doesn't seem like sci-fi to me. This seemed more like an action-adventure, only it was set in outer space. The characters are really interesting and I even surprise myself because I really gobbled up this book. I love Jane, Will and Gem. This is kind of a tiny bit like the latest Star Wars movie - The Force Awakens. Rey is Jane in this book. Like Rey, Jane is destined to be very useful for the cause against the UEC. They are both females and are both independent and smart. Rey was abandoned and Jane is an orphan. As Rey's fate is to be the next Jedi, who has the Force, Jane is also fated to be the new Rimrider who could save a lot of people and hopefully make the settlement and Freetraders independent of UEC. I think that is how the similarities are but they are totally different stories. If you enjoyed The Force Awakens, I believe you will enjoy this too and be awed by the adventures and struggles of Jane and the Freetraders. As in Star Wars, there is also a collection of vibrant characters here that no doubt will make you endear them.

What I really dig about the story is the common use of spaceships. In here, riding a spaceship is as common as your daily commute to the office. A good thing to look forward to in the future, especially for travel bugs like me. What a treat it would be to spend a vacation or a weekend in Mars or in some other star because space travel would be just like hopping on a plane to Singapore or Hong Kong.

I am not sure if 3 out of 4 makes me a sci-fi fan already. But I really had riots of fun while accompanying Jane on this adventure. I give this book four spaceships. My only very slight grumble is that the ebook copy furnished to me had the letter "L" missing throughout the entire story. I don't know if it was in the printing. But it did not at all made the story less fascinating. It had no effect whatsoever to my enjoyment but it was just a very common occurrence that I had to mention it.

A Freetrader's past is unimportant. The true measure of a person's worth is how he or she lives today.

- L. A. Kelly, Rimrider - 

Three of A Kind - James Herriot: 3/3 All Things Wise and Wonderful

All Things Wise and Wonderful. This is the third book feature for James Herriot. I apologize, this took quite a while to come out. I had some things I had to finish. So don't fret, the wait is finally over and here it is.

Like the first two books of James Herriot, this one also contains a lot of enjoyable and hilarious stories on his calls to the farms. What is different this time is the circumstances in Dr. Herriot's life. This time he is married to Helen, as mentioned in All Things Bright and Beautiful. They now live in the top floor of the Skeldale House. Everything is going smoothly with the practice and their domestic life when the boys of Skeldale House got a letter to enlist in the military. Of course, James, Siegfred and Tristan are all loyal citizens, they signed up. James left Helen in Skeldale House and this time she is pregnant with their first child. James was assigned to the RAF (Royal Air Force) and started training. In fact, Helen gave birth to their son with James still in the RAF.
Three of A Kind - James Herriot: 3/3 All Things Wise and Wonderful

In between rest from strict training and going out to town with his mates, James would miss Helen and remember their experiences and he would often recall them with great pleasure. So, all in all, the book talked about his training in the RAF where some incidents would lead him to remember parallel experiences in Darrowby. Especially, when James' senior officer has it bad for him. His commanding officer seem to hate him. To alleviate his misery and homesickness, he would often reminisce about the comical encounters in the farms and his house calls in Darrowby. 

Like all other James Herriot books, this is full of mirth, fun and lots of laughter. Herriot is truly one of a kind in his genre. He made life in the dales and the back-breaking woes of farmers less arduous because of his interesting stories. Aside from the colorful human and animals characters, he also included his memorable experiences in the RAF which were also testament to his high-spirited personality. James Herriot never fails to find humor in all his situations, whether they are bordering on disaster or success. And those who love Tristan like me, you will have more of his disastrous antics. And boy, just so you know, the guy can't cook. He is all beauty and brains but not in the kitchen. But this book isn't just about all humor, there are touching parts too. Just when you thought you can't get enough of the laughter, there are also pages that would make you want to cry. Herriot has his serious side also and you can't help but admire him more.

I pride myself in stumbling upon the first of his books that I got my hands on in a second hand store. It was worth all the stooping and rummaging in the cramped space. Truly, James Herriot's works are a treasure. He never fails to put a little fun in my mundane life. Thank you James Herriot! If heaven allows you to continue to spread good vibes, then by all means do. After all, we all need a little fun and a lot of laughter in our lives. Yes, laughter is still the best medicine.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Burn for Burn Trilogy by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian

I was curious about Jenny Han. I have read a lot on social media of people reading and liking her works so I decided to read her too. She writes children and teen novels. Most of her teen novels are trilogies so I decided to start with Burn for Burn.

Burn for Burn Trilogy by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian book reviewBurn for Burn is also the title of the first book. It's about a small island town called Jar Island and three high school girls that became friends because they wanted to take revenge on the people who gave them a hard time. These three girls are Kat, Mary and Lillia. Kat is an angst-filled teenager whose mother died of cancer. Mary returned to Jar Island to face her bully. And Lilia is a pretty, rich and popular Asian girl who used to be best friends with Kat. 

So, since I will be talking about three books, this feels to me like a three-of-a-kind post. If you have read my previous posts. I usually do three-of-a-kind featuring three books from my favorite authors. The difference this time is I am going to do all three books in one post, unlike the usual which is in three parts. Also, this is my first venture into Jenny Han and Vivian Siobhan territory, so it is still to be determined if they will join my favorite authors' list.

First off is Burn for Burn. The book laid down the foundation of story. Of how the three girls came to know each other and become close. How they plotted to take revenge of the people who had caused them pain and who had made their life difficult. These three girls want to play pranks on their bullies to let them know of the pain they have caused. A classic an eye for an eye. 

The story is well-paced. There was no dilly-dally. It does not linger too much on an event but still maintain enough suspense. Each chapter is narrated by one character and even if the next chapter is a rehash of the other character's point of view of what happened, it didn't feel like it was redundant. I really liked it that it was done that way.

This book has started my dislike for Renie. Yes, she's one of those popular girls who thinks she's above everyone. I really hate her character and can't wait for her to get a piece of the torment she doles out.

So, in Burn for Burn, the three girls successfully handed out the revenge to one of the three people they targeted. This was Lilia's revenge. 

Book two, Fire with Fire, is about Kat's revenge on Renie. Unfortunately, that is not what only happened. There were a lot more and you'll be surprised. I was really startled on the developments on this book. And true to it's title, there is a fire. Major fire! Something really went wrong and I was in a way confused. This book felt like something else entirely. Not your usual teen novels. Really, really unbelievable and I mean it in a good way.

Aside from the themes, mentioned about, the book also delve into friendships, loyalty and the price of loyalty. Is it worth disowning a friend just so you can be keep your loyalty to another friend?

What I didn't like about book two was that each chapter did not say who it belonged to, like in book one. Sometimes, I have to figure out who was speaking in the chapter. It might be that my ebook copy was messed up or it was definitely an error in the printing or the author just wanted it to be that way. I hope it was not the last one because it sucks. It cut off the momentum because you will have to reread a few sentences to know if it was Lilia's, Kat or Mary's. Other than that, I was engrossed in the story and can't wait to get to book three.

Book three is Ashes to Ashes. As obvious as the title, yes, this book talks about ashes, figuratively and literally. Hmmm, yes, they have successfully doled out their revenge on the three people they wanted to. At the same time there is also a realization. I am glad that finally, Mary got her closure. I didn't like how it ended up with Reeve and Lilia. Kat got a good ending too.

Thankfully, the chapters like in book one were labeled who it was for so I was spared of the slight confusion like what happened in book two. Except for a few typo errors which are really not that big of a deal, the book was as captivating as I wanted it to be. As I said, this is not the usual teen lovey dovey novel. This is quite deep and dissected current issues like bullying and its harmful effects. I am actually glad that this book talks about bullying victims' empowerment. It encourages bullied teens to fight back and not be a doormat. But it also points out the dangers of going beyond the usual pranks to the point of being the bully instead of the bullied. I admire the wit of the three girls coming up with really inventive ways to get even with their tormentors though it came to a point where it went to being scary and pure cruel. I also liked the surprise factor it gave of putting in something out of the ordinary. I never figured it out until the author made it obvious. I was really stunned. As stunned as Mary was.
I really admire how Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian did it. This is really proof of two heads are better than one. Their combined prowess have created a great series that is unlike any other without it being predictable.

I give the series four fireballs. I would like to read more of Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian. I would like to see if their individual books are as interesting as this series.