Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Absence of Evelyn by Jackie Townsend | A Book Review

The Absence of Evelyn by Jackie Townsend | A Book Review by iamnotabookworm!

This story took me back to my trip in Hanoi, specifically the Halong Bay cruise. It was my first time to be on a cruise and I felt like big bucks. There were just about 20 of us in the junk and we felt like we owned the boat. It was only an overnight stay in Halong Bay after a tour of the floating villages, pearl farm and the big cave in one of the islands. We kayaked in tandem. It was an amazing experience except for the fact that Halong Bay is not exactly as beautiful as in the pictures. The water was not clear and there was even a smell which is not the same refreshing and revitalizing salty air you would usually breathe when at sea.

The Absence of Evelyn is a story of familial love. The love between sisters. The love between parents and kids. The love between mothers and daughters. The story revolved around three women--Evelyn, Rhonda and Olivia. Evelyn and Rhona are sisters. Olivia is the adopted daughter of Rhonda. The story will take you through the longing of Olivia for her real parents and Rhonda's getting to terms with the absence of Evelyn.

I always love stories about women--women's literature. There is always this poignant display of emotions when you talk about women. Our pain, disappointments, triumphs and struggles are always filled with more intensity and drama. I guess, it has to do with us women being emotional beings. We are drama queens at some point in our lives and even if we try to downplay some of these emotions, they still show and come up to the surface. It's in our anatomy. It's how we were made. We were made to feel and exhibit those emotions. We were made to share and spread these feelings out to the world. We were made to feel deeply and passionately about a lot of things, especially about things that we hold dear like family and friends.

At first, I kept asking who is Evelyn and what she is in this story. Then, as the dynamics between Rhonda and Olivia was explained it slowly became evident the role of Evelyn in their lives. She is the glue that held all the connections between Olivia, Rhonda, Carlotta and Marco. With her absence, it seemed that the link has been severed also. Some of them were left drifting like Marco, finding no reason to live. Others like Rhonda became scared and fearful of the changes. Olivia, on the other hand, was looking for that something to make her whole. 

I liked how one Skype call changed everything.  It prompted the series of events that moved all these people into each other's orbit. It propelled each person to reach out and in turn each one discovered what's the significance of the other. It was like playing connect the dots. It all starts and ends with Evelyn.

This is a very moving story of finding oneself. To realize that the one thing you were looking for was right in front of you. To find that there is someone or people out there who cherished the same things as you do and you have a common ground--a connection that could never be erased by distance or time. That knowing where you came from can actually lead you to finding the person you want to become.

I give this 4/5 junk boats. I was not happy with the ending. Not everything was resolved. Marco should have done something to make up for his shortcomings and for the time that were wasted. What happened to Marco's character made the ending incomplete. All the other characters in the story had been able to find solace but not Marco. I think it was so cowardly of him to not face his situation. I think he should have been thankful instead of turning his back. I wished there was a better ending for Marco. I think he too deserved some measure of happiness and peace after all that he has been through.

She stood, listening to the silence, a silence so unlike the one she knew--the desert--dried up and hollowed out, empty. But this silence was different. Full and lush and alive. She felt strangely attuned to it, the soft wind, like a howling animal.
- Jackie Townsend, The Absence of Evelyn -

 Thank you again Netgalley for the copy.

Worth More Dead and Other True Cases (Crime Files #10) by Ann Rule | A Book Review

Worth More Dead and Other True Cases (Crime Files #10) by Ann Rule | A Book Review by iamnotabookworm!

I bought this book way back in August of 2011 on a sale from a famous bookstore chain. I think there are more of these books I bought on sale or from a second-hand store that I have not gotten to read. This one was on another shelf that was covered by the used notebooks and books of my nephews. I am not sure if anyone has ever read all the books in his/her shelf. I am sure, there is either a few of those books that have been just sitting on there and have escaped attention. Hopefully, like every other bookworm, I will be able to read all of them.

This is my first foray into Ann Rule. Yes, I am into mysteries and crime novels but I have not read Ann Rule before. I guess, this is why I bought this one. This is a collection of true crimes. This volume is comprised of five stories. The common theme of course is that the victims were worth more dead than alive to whoever killed them. The  stories in this collection are:

Worth More Dead is a story of a husband who killed two women, planned to kill his second wife and kidnapped his step-son for money. 

It's Really Weird Looking at My Own Grave is about a serial rapist and killer who believed that if his victims were dead, no one can identify him and charge him of the crime.

Old Man's Darling is about a woman who grew-up without the love of a father and sought that love from rich and older men. When the last man he dated did not want to divorce his wife and decided to leave her, she'd rather kill him than not have him at all.

All for Nothing is about a guy who killed two people because of jealousy and a blow to his pride.

A Desperate Housewife is about a dedicated wife, a model employee and co-worker who was killed by her cheating husband because she wanted to get out of a lifeless marriage.

These are all stories of gruesome murders. Some are planned with great cunning and some were done out of desperation. One thing is for sure, only sick minds, devoid of any conscience can carry out these deeds. These were all written with great detail necessary to understanding each case, the persons involved and the reason(s) for the horrible act. Thankfully, all the victims of all these cases got justice because all the culprits were found guilty and sentenced. Though for some, justice was not immediate but at least it was served and the criminal would not be able to walk free again.

Of the five, I think the worst and the most disturbing was the last case--A Desperate Housewife. It was through the concerns and efforts of friends, office mates and neighbors who reported the wife was missing and may have been killed by the husband that mobilized the police. If not for the victim's friends, it would have not been known that she was missing since the husband did not report it. He was covering his tracks and the crime while the community were busy trying to locate the missing wife. 

Truly, Ann Rule is a master. She narrated and chronicled each story with precision and made sure that the most important element for each story was in there. I only wished these were not real stories because they are too horrible to contemplate to be true. But then, we can never know what drives a person to desperation and end another life. 

I give this book 4/5 hunting knives. I want to read more of Ann Rule. I want to read her fiction stories. I think I could not stomach more real crime stories. I think I'd stick to fictional ones. At least, I wouldn't have to think about the real person who was the victim of the real crime and the viciousness of the soulless being who perfected the deed. May all the victims of these stories rest in peace.

The mass of women and women experience broken relationships, jealousy, wounded pride, and despair over lost love. It is never easy for any of us. Only a tiny percentage of humans react with unbelievable violence.
- Ann Rule, Worth More Dead and Other True Cases - 

Friday, June 23, 2017

Henrietta and the Dragon Stone (The Five Kingdoms #2) by Beth Barany | A Book Review

Henrietta and the Dragon Stone (The Five Kingdoms #2) by Beth Barany | A Book Review by iamnotabookworm!

This is the sequel to Henrietta the Dragon Slayer. I received book marks from the author. I can't remember how that happened. Maybe it was one of those giveaways I joined and not remember anymore. Anyway, I emailed the author thanking her for the bookmarks. She also asked me if I already have a copy of Henrietta and the Battle of the Horse Mesa, Book 3 of this series. I already have it but mentioned to her that I do not have book two yet. She was so generous that she sent me this book. Thank you so much, Beth Barany.

This continued the events following that of Henrietta the Dragon Slayer. It picked up right where the first book left off. Henrietta, with the dragon stone in her possession, set out to go home and heal her sick mentor-the Master Blacksmith. Unfortunately, she came a bit late and more devastating surprises are awaiting for her. 

I was not so impressed with the first book but I did enjoy this second installment. I finally appreciated the story and found myself rooting for Henri. I have seen the light of day and now I am converted. I am now a fan. I liked that more of Henri's character is revealed in this story which I think helped in my conversion. Henri is shaping up to be the heroine I would gladly follow in her adventures. 

A new set of characters were introduced in this story. Henri met new friends and new allies. She is back in her hometown and old wounds and pains seemed to have reopened and visited Henri again. Her failures are now back to stare her in the face and she can't afford to fail like just before. She has to succeed in her new mission. 

A new enemy also threatens the peace and order of the Five Kingdoms. Henrietta does not know who this evil is and that he is also after the dragon stone. This book is promising an onset of a war. I am looking forward to know what new adventures and perils await our heroine and her friends in the third book. 

I give this 4/5 green stones. Finally, this story has captured my interest. This adventure is just starting for me. I am excited for the next book. I am sure Henri would be able to fully showcase her skills. 

A trust forged in the fire of adventure is steadfast for life.
- Beth Barany, Henrietta and the Dragon Stone -

Other Books in the Series:

Henrietta the Dragon Slayer (The Five Kingdoms #1)

Undertow: The Complete Novel by Joss Dey | A Book Review

Undertow: Rock Bottom (Unbound Realms #1) by Joss Dey | A Book Review by iamnotabookworm!

I actually have two copies of this book. The one in the picture which I got this through the AXP Read and Review site.The other one is Undertow: Complete Novel. I have read the latter but the one in the picture is the former. I don't know what's the difference between these two. The blurb seems to be the same. 

I thought this book is about mermaids. This is probably the second time that I thought the book was about mermaids. I don't know what's with me and mermaids. I love Ariel of Disney's Little Mermaid, that's for sure. I don't think I read the blurb for this book carefully or read it at all. I admit the title is so intriguing. I think I signed up for this one thinking this was a mermaid story. Well, the notion was not so far out because this is a paranormal story but no mermaid though. This involved characters with magic and monsters.

This is a story about Dragon. A girl who was modified with supernatural gifts. She is the only modified human or mutant to survive. Speaking of mutant, this reminds me of X-Men. That is doubtlessly the closest thing I could describe the characters in this story. Only the characters.

I find the characters very fascinating. A mix of mythical and magical creatures from all over the world.  Most fascinating is of course, Dragon. Half-human. With her special ability, I think anyone could use her help. Unfortunately, in this story, the people she helped only caused her misery. They became better versions of themselves but didn't want to stay with her any longer. In turn, broke her heart.

Other than the fascination for the characters, I don't think I was so engrossed with the story. I am not even sure if I fully grasp the plot. I mean, I get it--a civil war between a ruthless queen and a dark prince. Both have powers and the rest of the characters of this story are pawns. I just could not see where the story is going and how the rest of the characters are going to play into it. The queen has not made an appearance yet in this story. This book centered on Dragon's obsessive search for love. I am also unsure how that will play into the whole scheme of things in this tale. I hope how the characters are interconnected and how the events will play out that will eventually lead to the heart of this story will be done flawlessly. I am so wishing for it.

With that said, I am still curious as to what happens after this story. Obviously, this is a series, so I am wondering what will happen next. I hope the storyline would be clearer this time. And I am hoping the next book will actually shed more light to the whole story. 

I give this book 2/5 tablets of sleeping pills. It felt like I needed to sleep it off after reading this story. The story is dark with a lot of deaths and the theme overall was not so hopeful. It was not clear where the story was going or what it was striving for. That was how it appeared to me.


Pride like love, made fools of us all.
- Joss Dey, Undertow: The Complete Novel - 

Nothing is Predictable by Adalina Mae | A Book Review

Nothing is Predictable by Adalina Mae | A Book Review by iamnotabookworm!

I just got a DM from the author yesterday via Instagram that I won an ebook of this same book. I joined the Author's of Instagram Summer Giveaway Hop. I thanked and told her that I already have a copy of this book from Netgalley. I suggested she gives my prize to someone else so s/he can read her book. I have read her book but have not written a review, yet. The author gave me some updates about the book and was thrilled to be in-the-know of what's going on. I am happy for the author and looking forward to finally see the plans come to fruition.

I love stories about people or characters of mixed heritage or background. Reading about other characters like those in the Middle East like the books of Khaled Hosseini (A Thousand Splendid Suns, The Mountains Echoed, etc.) is just very refreshing. It's good to hear the everyday lives of these people who are just like the rest of us. Going through each day with hardwork and wishes that tomorrow will be better. It's a far cry from the bad news we hear about civil wars and bombings. And this story is the same. Though the setting changes from Lebanon to the US and other places Zara has travelled to, it can't be denied that a large chunk of the story is centered around a character of Lebanese descent. I love to travel and I guess that's where my undying curiosity to learn about other cultures springs from. And this story just gave me a peek into the lives of people in Lebanon, especially during the most tumultuous time in their history.

As I see it, this story is tragic. At first, I can't decide if I like the main character-Zara. She just has this penchant to ignore her instincts. I mean who does that, right? The ending, she always ends up with her heart more broken each time. It's such a pity. But then, when you understand where she's coming from, your heart will bleed for her. What she has been through was terrible. And no child, should witness what her mother and her father had to go through. It was really horrible. And the only thing she knows of trying to ease her anger and hatred for her father was think of the good times, though  it was never enough to absolve him of all his faults. 

And her choices of men in her life. Wow! I admit I can't judge her but I always wonder if she ever learned from her mistakes? The only thing I could say is she should have listened to her instincts. I think it is more reliable than her brain or her heart. I think it is better to be cautious than be sorry. Always sorry, as it appears to be her luck each time. But she also learned her lessons. Only it took years for her to actually examine her choices. I actually rooted for her to still end up with her first love. Sigh.

In the end, Zara is a strong woman. Being able to decide that she can do well on her own without any man. She must learn to love herself more so she can be whole. She must come to terms with all her issues and baggage before she tackles more. I can't fault Zara for all the mistakes she made or her misplaced trust. Each person learns at her/his own pace. Some of us do well in some aspects where others are having a hard time. We each have our own strengths and our own challenges. Zara did too. The best we can do is live our lives the best way we can, on our own terms, as long as we don't hurt anyone in the process, including ourselves. 

The best part of the story is when Zara decided to travel to de-stress. I think it was the best decision she has ever made. Based on my own experience, travelling puts things into perspective. It allows for self-growth and healing that starts within. I think it's the best cure for all ailments--especially for a broken heart and a shattered spirit. Though, I was a bit dismayed that the story did not end with Zara finally finding the love that she needed, I liked that Zara resolved to delve deeper into the death of her father. I think it would make for a good sequel to this story and it would show another facet or strength of her character which I really want to see.

I give this book 4/5 tarboush hats. Zara is just like the rest of us. We know life is very unpredictable, no matter how much we painstakingly make plans and try to prepare for it. You will never know what's gonna hit you. The only thing we can do is rise up every time we fall and to remember "to be meaner than our demons" (quote from The Day You Went Away by Jennifer Millikin).

I didn't need all that heartache and trauma in my life to be the person I am today!

 If you always do what you've done, you always get what you've always gotten.
- Adalina Mae, Nothing is Predictable - 

Thank you again, Netgalley and Adalina Mae for the review copy.

Monday, June 19, 2017

World of Shawn by Jordan M. Elrich | A Book Review

World of Shawn by Jordan M. Elrich | A Book Review by iamnotabookworm!

One review said that this is a nice original take on parallel universe. I do agree. A parallel universe where the characters in your favorite video game come to life and become part of your reality. I think it would be nice if a handsome prince or hero comes to life and becomes your hero. But what if it's dragons and evil villains wrecking havoc? Doesn't sound fun, does it?

If you are into game developing and online gaming, you would definitely like or have a blast with this book. Me? I was not so keen. I admit, the idea is great. Very unique. But I was just not so sold on it. One reason is that it was a bit hard to keep up or it gets confusing when you are dealing with multiple clones of the fictional video game character. There were times that I was lost on who was being referred to--the real life Shawn or the video game character. The distinction was not so clear so it was easy to get lost and not follow the movement of the characters. I wish the writing was a little smoother so the confusion could have been avoided. I did get the gist of the whole story but I wished it was more. It just did not allow me to get involved. 

I give this 2/5 computer monitors. I guess, this story is just not for me. I was not drawn into this parallel universe and I was not moved to participate. I guess, being unable to clearly and thoroughly picture out the scenes in this story contributed to it. 

Quantum physics, especially quantum computing, is much an unknown branch of science. It turns existing physics and science on its head; the possibilities are exciting--extremely efficient computing...teleportation, even time travel; we really don't know what all this can or can't do.
- Jordan M. Elrich, World of Shawn -  

Thanks again, Library Thing for the review copy.

You Shook Me All Night Long (Scorned Lovers #1) by Simone Harlow | A Book Review

You Shook Me All Night (Scorned Lovers #1) by Simone Harlow | A Book Review by iamnotabookworm!

Do you have a bucket list? I do. I even have a bookworm bucket list. Yes, I have two separate bucket lists. One mostly involved trying new adventures and experiences. The other one has more to do with bookish things and places. How about a life list? Do you have one? What's the difference between a bucket list and a life list? A bucket list is more like things to do before you die. You have your whole life or lifetime to check off the list. While a life list refers to the now. A list of more urgent or immediate things to do. It's like a short-term plan while a bucket list takes longer. A list of things that will involve going out of your comfort zones.

Why am I talking about these lists? The story I am reviewing today talks about a life list. Charlotte Lambert was left with a broken heart and a list of things--new and daring experiences to try after her twin sister died. This list forces Charlotte to go back to the land of the living. One item on the list has something to do with a rock star. Will Charlotte honor the last wish of her sister or continue to refuse to join the dance of life?

Honestly, I think I like this list that Vivienne left Charlotte. It is indeed a sure way to move past whatever hard time a person is going through but it also comes with its own consequences depending on the kind of daring the activity requires. This list requires jumping first and ask questions later. I say I like the list but I don't think I am that bold to finish it. It seems exciting but I'd prefer the safer adrenaline-inducing experiences like bungee-jumping or climbing mountains. I think I would skip the ones that would likely hurt people or myself. I don't think I can actually steal but I think I can lie. But I'd make sure the lie would have no life-changing results or permanent damage. I also think that if I were as broken as Charlotte was, then I probably would be desperate enough to try what she did if only to feel alive again. If by ticking off the list, I'd be able to feel things that I thought I would never experience again. If I'd been feeling like a void like Charlotte, then I may actually just finish off the list if it would be the only thing that would make my heart beat again.

If like in this story, something you do out of desperation will eventually bring out a better version of yourself or allow a special person to come into your life and help patch your broken spirit again, then why not? I would gladly wallow in that desperation if only for the hope that something extraordinary will come out of it. But life doesn't guarantee any of that. In this story, it was kind of fate for Charlotte and Travis to meet. They each needed to get over a tragedy and they found each other. It was like meeting a person who totally understands the pain your going through because he too is trying to deal with that same pain. He too is currently licking his wounds.

I give this 4/5 hummingbirds. The story explores the possibilities of living life out of your comfort zones. What are its benefits and consequences. Are you willing to screw all other people's expectations and just live according to your terms and the best way you know how to? Or are you going to live like there's no tomorrow sans the aftermath? The story also talks about family background and dynamics. How it plays into choices and decisions a person makes. In this story, Vivienne and Charlotte are twins but they are opposites. Vivienne was so daring and Charlotte was so intent on not crossing boundaries and lines. Charlotte was content to stay in the safe zone until she realized that nothing could protect her from the pain and void that Vivienne's parting will cause. She has to, in-a-bizarre-kind-of-way, live dangerously like Vivienne if only to feel her pulse and blood rushing again.

Personally, I have learned to live by the present. It helps when you have friends who do. I have learned that we need to celebrate every triumphs and successes, no matter how small. To enjoy each victory, no matter how brief because these little things and little joys actually would mean a lot in the bigger scheme of things and in the long run. I guess, these moments somehow made me hold on. I admit, I have come to times when I think I might have been a little too close to the edge. It also means that you acknowledge defeats and mistakes and move on from them. Do not linger and over examine. That's the idea but it doesn't exactly work that way all the time. Worrying and stewing over an error or an issue can never be avoided but "living in the moment" means not torturing yourself over it. Move on and learn from that mistake. Your past does not make your whole being. It does not sum up your whole existence. Do not wallow in it. Wish it were that simple in practice.

This was how my thoughts were working after reading this story. A simple list launched this story into deeper territories and emotions. It examined issues. I guess, my thoughts were geared into this direction probably because I too was going through some tough time and I think this story showed me a radical perspective. Definitely, this story shook me.

Thank you, Carol of Star Angels Reviews. I got this ARC last January but I think I might have overlooked the email and only got to read this last April.

Life is tragic, but then the wonderful sneaks up on you and you can go on.
- Simone Harlow, You Shook Me All Night -  

Cupcakes and Cowboys (Sunset Plains Romance #1) by Lindzee Armstrong | A Book Review

Cupcakes and Cowboys by Lindzee Armstrong | A Book Review by iamnotabookworm!

I read this last month. Some of the characters of this story also appeared in Twisters and Textbooks. This is the first in the Sunset Plains romance novella.

The female main character in this story, Cassidy, is the sister of Tanner in the story I have mentioned above. This is Cassidy's story of how she got her heartbroken by an aspiring actor and was later put back together by his ex-fiance's best friend who is also an actor.

This is a short, sweet and endearing story with cupcakes and delicious pastries on the side. The romance of Cassidy and Jase was not easy. It was at first awkward and Jase brought painful reminders of Cassidy's ruined life. But like all stories with two people seeing everyday and forced to deal with each other, they fell in love. Faster than the usual rate of two people attracted to each other. Though, this story is short since it's just a novella, it did not lack for drama. The characters were both trying to move on from a very difficult experience and are on their way to finding themselves when their paths crossed. So, there was no surprise that in such a short time, they have become comfortable with each other. Just like the author, the Cassidy and Tanner got engaged right away. This may have been coined from the author's personal experience.

As I said, this story is short and sweet. I actually wish it was a bit longer. This was easy to read and the two main characters were so relatable that they could be one of my friends in some point in their lives. I can't personally relate to the heartbreak Cassidy went through but there were some experiences in the story that I can equate to my personal encounters. The story was smooth and fluid and it was so easy to get carried away by the flow. 

I give this book 3.5/5 colorful cupcakes. If you are looking for an easy read that can be finished in about two hours, this is for you. Thank you again, Lindzee Armstrong for the copy. I enjoyed this treat.

This is the choice I'd make regardless of whether you were in the equation. You're just the icing on the cupcake.
- Lindzee Armstrong, Cupcakes and Cowboys -  

Queen of the Dawn (Stella and Sol #4) by Kimberly Loth | ARC | A Book Review

Queen of the Dawn (Stella and Sol #4) by Kimberly Loth | ARC | A Book Review by iamnotabookworm!

This is the finale of the Stella and Sol series. It's incredible to finish a series within a year or within six months after the first book came out. Just like this series. I can still remember when I first got the first book-God of the Sun. It felt like it was just yesterday and now the series ends. It's a mixture of emotions. It's sad to say goodbye to the characters I have grown to love and root for and to their story. At the same time, it is a relief to finally have all their trials come to an end. That finally, the characters will have peace and live happily ever after. After all, they deserved it. With all the horrors, heartaches, betrayal and pains they have to live through. 

I don't know how the author did it. Coming up with four books, one after the other in less than a year. And most amazing of all is the creativity and the beauty of the story. No, this series felt like it took effort, strength and may be even pains for the author to write and finish. This did not in any way felt rush or was done on a whim. This was done with a well-planned out plot and thought-over characters with personalities unlike in any other stories. Being able to publish these four books like a month after the other was a feat the author did with great success. I can't wait for the next series and adventure I will embark on with Kimberly Loth at the helm.

This is a great ending to a very endearing story and set of characters. I can't think of any other fitting ending. All the bows were neatly tied and issues were resolved. I can have a good sleep knowing that I won't have to worry over Zwaantie and her friends anymore since danger is past and they don't have to fear for their lives. The kingdom is back to the way it should be and everyone, both citizens of Stella and Sol, are all happy with their new life. All is looking good and the future is bright and sunny.

I liked the King of the Stars better than this one. For the reason that it was more intense and I had a hard time getting over the events in that book. Add to that the cliffhanger ending that surprised me out of my wits. It was the most memorable scene in this whole series for me. Until now, I am still unable to believe that it happened. So, if I were asked, the best book of the series for me is definitely the King of the Stars. I guess, I was expecting a punch a lot stronger than the one in book three, but the surprises and revelations in Queen of the Dawn I think, paled a little (just a little) in comparison. I am thankful that the story ended so well. 

I give this 4.5/5 queen's crowns. It is an honor to be part of this story from start to finish. It's nostalgic yet exhilarating to witness the growth and transformation of the characters as the story progressed. I felt like I was a citizen of Stella and Sol fully invested in all the events happening between the two kingdoms. Being part of Zwaantie's journey from a strong-willed teenager to a queen responsible for the lives of two kingdoms was truly an experience that would stay with me. Fare thee well, Zwaantie, Sage, Leo and the rest of Stella and Sol. I am sure, I will visit you again. 

Thank you again, Kimberly Loth, for this wonderful story. I am so privileged to have read this great and extraordinary series with strong and beautiful characters. I hope you continue to come up with unique and amazing stories because you definitely have a great talent in creating new worlds of wonder and adventure that bring relief, if not temporary, to this mundane living. Your stories also issue a challenge, just like your characters. A challenge to see life in a different perspective. To see examine things in another angle to better understand them and in turn accept and learn from them. Your stories are full of real life lessons and scenarios, that is probably why I can mostly relate to your characters. More power to you!

Anger was a thousand times better than grief.
- Kimberly Loth, Queen of the Dawn -

Friday, June 16, 2017

Country Heaven (Country Love Series #1) by Vicki Green | Audiobook | A Book Review

Country Heaven (Country Love Series #1) by Vicki Green | Audiobook | A Book Review by iamnotabookworm!

I am not exactly into cowboy stories. I won this audiobook from the author's giveaway. Thank you again, Vicki Green for this audiobook prize. 

The best thing about audiobooks is that they take your reading experience to another level. Hearing how the characters sound elicits more involvement from the reader. I have come to the point where I basked in the glory of audiobooks. They are an experience book lovers should not miss. The only downside is I haven't mastered the art of bookmarking quotes and memorable conversations in audiobooks. A challenge I am willing to take in my next audiobook session.

As I have said, I am not into a lot of cowboy books. I have read some and this one is one of its kind. Aside from the fact that this came in an audiobook, which enhanced its appeal, the characters and the story is just as endearing. The two main characters are from totally different worlds. Their worlds collided when Sadie, a city girl who loves to party, was sent by her dad to Memphis' ranch as a punishment so she will change her ways. Memphis on the other hand is unsure of how this brat will fare with the hard labors of the ranch.

Memphis is a true-blooded cowboy to the heart. He grew up in the ranch which was a product of his Pa's hard work and is now passed on to him. The ranch is his life until Sadie came and turned his world upside down. If I wanted to meet a real cowboy, I wanted him to be just like Memphis. He is a textbook and perfect example of a true-blue cowboy.

Sadie and Memphis' first meeting was not ideal. They both turned each other off. It was hilarious and cute to hear this two bicker and Sadie surely tested the limits of Memphis patience and gentlemanly manner. Sadie was an irritating brat at the beginning but later realized that she had no choice but accept her situation and face it. Her transformation was a feast to behold. How she changed into someone who can do things on her own, physical labor at that, like milking cows and tending to the horses made her realize that there is a world outside of parties and drunken nights. How her relationship with Memphis changed was also very gradual and a delight to the senses. She had to understand how important the ranch is to Memphis and learn to see the beauty of the land before her to appreciate all the hard work she contributes to the whole operation.

The story isn't just about the transformation of Sadie. It's also about how people in the country help each other through bad times. This was a sweet read yet thought-provoking. It makes you understand the hardships and the toils required to keep a ranch. It's no easy feat. The story has a happy ending and the best thing was how Sadie found her niche. She found what she really wanted to do and what she was good at. So, her being exiled to the ranch was the best thing that ever happened to her. 

I give this 5/5 pairs cowboy boots. This story was very engaging and Memphis just melts my heart to puddles. I am actually looking forward to the rest of the books in the series. I am curious if I am going to totally fall into this genre or just dip into this sparingly. I have enjoyed this read.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Book of Revelation Decoded by Rabbi K. A. Schneider | A Book Review

The Book of Revelation Decoded by Rabbi K. A. Schneider | A Book Review by iamnotabookworm!

When I signed up for this book, I didn't know that this was a non-fiction. I had read of similar works before about the exposition of faith or religion, some great research findings about Christ and about Freemasonry. I admit, I am drawn to these kind of books. I am drawn by the intrigue and the controversy surrounding and generated by these kind of works. This is definitely the reason why this book did not escape my notice out of the many in Netgalley.

This is a simplification of the mysteries and interpretations of the Book of Revelation. The last book in the New Testament of the Holy Bible and the most controversial and scary, whether taken literally or figuratively. It speaks of the Apocalypse, the Armageddon, Rapture, the end of the world and the second coming of the Messiah. The world will be cleanse of its impurities and evil in disastrous ways no one has ever seen or imagined. This book wishes to prepare the faithful for that eventful coming of the Lord and to move people to change their ways and go back to God's graces. 

One of the most noteworthy and often emphasized thought in this book is the relation of the Old and New Testament. This book cited many examples that whatever is mentioned in the Revelations is also found in the books of the Old Testament. Meaning, even before, people had been asked to prepare for this eventual general cleansing of the earth. It also mentioned and emphasized that the Jewish or the people of Israel are the chosen people of God. The lost ten tribes of Israel is being called forth to go back to their roots and into the arms of God. But this does not mean that non-Jewish people like I am are going to be left to be ravaged by the elements and tempest that are bound to rock the earth in the end times. No, the Gentiles are also called to help bring back the stray chosen people of God to look back to their faith and the faith of their fathers. 

A lot of interesting and clarifying points have been discussed in this book and I can't help but be educated and informed. I too have been misguided or have been given misinterpreted information about the Book of Revelations. I am glad that I came upon this book now when I am mature and open-minded enough to understand its message and its call for conversion. This book also warns of the ultimate justice that God will impose on those that committed various crimes, inequalities and sufferings. On the end times, no one will escape this grand judgement. No one can bribe the judge or minimize the verdict. All that has been owed  and all the hurt and pains inflicted will received its due punishment. But the punishment will not be light and it will be unending. 

In truth, the things written in the Book of Revelations are scary and terrible. They are horrible ways to die and end this world. In as much as they are horrendous to contemplate, the book also brings a message of hope. Hope that there is still time. Time to change our wicked ways. It's not yet too late. We can still be part of those few who will survive the predicted horrible forms of catastrophe that will savage our world, physically, mentally and emotionally.

I am not sure if it is proper or is it even allowed to rate this book. But for the purpose of its understanding and of its getting the message across, I will  rate this book on such criteria. I give this 4/5 stars on the basis of being able to convey the message clearly. Was I able to understand it and if I was able to reach a form of discernment while reading its pages. On that note, the book did good on that. Point by point, the author was able to explain the major items to be understood when reading the Book of Revelations--the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, the seals and the signs. The connection between the old and new testament and the relevance of the events in the bible to the current times. They were all clearly dissected. My only concern was that there were some points where I had to stop. There is a tendency that you will be overwhelmed with all the information. There is also a part where you would feel that this non-fiction book is too much and will be tempted to stop. I did. I took a break and read a book of a different genre. A much lighter read to at least to unload my mind. Then I went back to finish this book. 

Clearly this is very informational and enlightening. The title summed it up. The Book of Revelations is indeed decoded in this book. Thank you again, Netgalley, for the review copy.

Yeshua's Second Coming at Armageddon will begin a sequence of events including the church's Rapture, Israel's salvation and the most glorious event in the history, "marriage supper of the Lamb."
- Rabbi K. A. Schneider, The Book of Revelation Decoded -  

Solomon's Bell (The Genie Chronicles #2) by Michelle Lowery Combs | A Book Review

Solomon's Bell (The Genie Chronicles Vol. #2) by Michelle Lowery Combs | A Book Review by iamnotabookworm!

I had been quiet lately. I had been unable to post reviews. For this month, I only have three so far and we are already half way in June. I am still playing catch up. I don't know if I will eventually be able to write reviews right away after reading a story. I had found that it saves a lot of time and on electric bills if I post more than one review at a time. So, instead of posting a review everyday, it makes a lot of sense to post multiple reviews at least once or twice in a week. I can cover a lot of items on my TBR in between writing and some other things happening in life.

This story follows right after Heir to the Lamp. You can check out the review here. I read this last month right after the first book. I was so entranced by the story that I had to read the second book right away. There was no use waiting or taking a break. This talks about the myth of the bell of Solomon. Yes, the one in the bible, that same guy. This bell is purported to have magical powers of great proportions. 

I am in awe as to how the author presented Solomon's bell into being a part of the story. It was very clever and the background story was very finely done. It became part of the story without a glitch and brought an all new level of adventure to this already packed fantasy. The fact that the story went from about genie in the modern times to time travel, mythical creatures and ancient artifacts is just so much experience in one story. I was really pulled into it all. Just like being sucked helplessly into the a whirl-wind, I was brought to adventures beyond my imagination can conjure. 

This story also reminds me of another book--Snow in August by Pete Hamill. This story and that of Hamill's both have golems, rabbis and Prague in them. Did I say Prague? Yes, Prague with its own old astronomical clock tower, old churches and castles. Oh, I just love the story of how that clock tower came to be and how it stopped ticking. Prague. It's not everyday that I get to read stories about this place. With its own set of lore and myths that is both for the admirers and the not. Even if you are not a fan of myths and artifacts, this story will have you mystified. I wouldn't know what to expect in the next book. I am all for surprises. Thank you so much World Weaver Press for the review copies. Hope you would still give me that chance to review the next book without having to pay for it.

I give this 5/5 old church bells. I don't care if they are Solomon's or not. Mythical or just plain old rusted bells. Just like the tolling of the church bell which spurs you to attention or pulls you back to the present when your mind wanders, this book will call your attention and will not let it waver or stray again. I was like a child introduced to a world of wonders that are so new to me. This book just opened up another world that I thought adults like me will no longer visit and appreciate.

I am curious as to what other stories and genre the author has. She has a likelihood of ending up in my favorite authors list.

Gran believes that time changes people, but a part of me believes--just this once, maybe--that Gran is wrong. I think it's people that change people.
- Michelle Lowery Combs, Solomon's Bell -  

The Frogg Princess: A Real Life Fairytale (Silver Creek Novella Series # 3) by Jamie Brook Thompson | A Book Review

The Frogg Princess: A Real Life Fairy Tale (Silver Creek Novella Series # 3) by Jamie Brook Thompson | A Book Reviewby iamnotabookworm!

This is the third book in the series of retellings done by Jamie Brook Thompson. This completes the box set of three fairy tale stories given a very modern twist.  

This is the story Taya. A girl from New Orleans who set out to start a new life and hopefully setup her own restaurant. She ended up in Silver Creek where a few rude people are set to ruin her dreams.

This has similarities to Disney's animated movie The Princess and the Frog. One is both female main characters are black. As with the movie, the twist lies in the male protagonists. In this story, he is Felix Frogg, a police officer of Silver Creek who has a kind heart. 

The story was okay. Between the three stories, I love the author's version of Cinderella. What I like about this one is the introduction of new characters that will be in the next installment. A very teasing preview of what's to happen next and a glimpse of the next fairy tale character that is going to be given a new breath of life in this modern day. 

I give this 3.5/5 police cars. I did enjoy this story but not as much as the very first installment. I guess, my expectations were high because the first story was just so unexpected and I was wanting for the same kind of elation for the next two. I advise, based on experience to read the stories one after the other so you will get the full on magical feeling experience. Even if the second and third book were not as surprising as the first, on my opinion, all three make a really good real life versions of the world's most beloved fairy tales. But if I were to choose, Cinderella is right up there and I just wished that the succeeding two were as just as fascinating. Hopefully, the fourth story, judging from the way the characters were introduced, would turn out to be in the same caliber as the Cinderella story--packed with amazing surprises in both its characters and unexpected modern twist. I can't wait to read it.

Never marry a man that buys a ring to turn your finger green.
- Jaime Brook Thompson, The Frogg Princess: A Real Life Fairytale - 

Thank you again, Kathy of

Other stories in the series:

Cinderella: A Real Life Fairytale (Silver Creek Novella Series #1)

Beauty and the Beast: A Real Life Fairytale (Silver Creek Novella Series#2)

Beauty and the Beast: A Real Life Fairytale (Silver Creek Novella Series #2 ) by Jamie Brook Thompson | A Book Review

Beauty and the Beast: A Real Life Fairytale (Silver Creek Novella Series #2 ) by Jamie Brook Thompson | A Book Review by iamnotabookworm!

This is Jamie Brook Thompson's version of the classic Beauty and the Beast. Unlike Disney's re-imagined movie, this is a very modern take on the oldie-but-goodie tale. If I was impressed with the author's Cinderella version, I was not so by this one but it goes without saying that this story has its own merits. 

Belle here is a beautician. If I think about it, it's not so unexpected considering the story. I wished she were something else. Something more surprising like Cindee's character in Cinderella. I just thought it was too obvious that was what Belle's character would be like. I just didn't find anything so noteworthy about it. Beast on the other hand, Adam Anderson in this story, is very interesting, if not mysterious. The kind of beast that he portrayed here is so curious and it drew me in. I wanted to know how his character is in parallel to the original one. Another thing I liked about the story is how Belle and Adam met. It was akin to the wolf scene in the latest movie, only Belle was the one surrounded by the dogs and not his father. 

I did enjoy this story. It was so straight-forward and there was no beating around the bush. Their love story progressed rapidly. It was like a May-December love affair yet you can feel how the characters were so drawn to each other that you will tend to agree with the immediate plans to tie the knot. 

I give this 3.5/5 Darth Vader helmets. As I have said, I just wished Belle's character was more unexpected and as bad-ass as that of Cindee in the first book of this series. I just thought she could have been more than just being a beautician. She was feisty though. Nevertheless, Belle did step-up and showed that she wasn't some weak woman who was just going to take all the beating. That was a redeeming quality that put a happy-ever-after ending to this story.

Thank you again, Kathy of for the copy.

Other books by the author:

Cinderella: A Real Life Fairytale (Silver Creek Novella Series #1)

The Frogg Princess: A Real Life Fairytale (Silver Creek Novella Series #3)