Sunday, November 4, 2018

The Liberty Box (The Liberty Box #1) by C. A. Gray | A Book Review

The Liberty Box by C. A. Gray | A Book Review by iamnotabookworm!

And just like that, October is gone. November is here and that means December is just around the corner. Time flies so fast. I can still remember going crazy with worry about what the year would be like for me. I'm so glad and relieved that I'm way past that. I'm happy to be tired but productive. Not bone-tired worrying but rather tired after a day's work. I could say, I'm at a way better place where I am now. I'm so thankful and I am going to do my best to stay where I'm at. 

This book is another author request. I got this through the Contact Us form of this blog. I have read about this book before. I think in one of those book scavenger hunts that I joined. It might be the New Adult one or the YA one, but I am pretty sure I have heard about C. A. Gray before. I just haven't read any of her works. This is the very first of her books that I've read.

I mentioned about escaping from my worries earlier which is just fitting because this book talks about escape and worries too. It talks about fears and the harsh realities set in a dystopian landscape.

 "This room is what we call the Liberty Box." " Isn't that an oxymoron? Liberty in a box? "

This statement is a good explanation for the title and in a way provides a very short summary of the story. And yes, it's a bleak future knowing freedom means being in a box. A world full of rules, restrictions, and deception. You have to conform and any deviation from what's required and mandated by the new Republic of the Americas will be punishable by death. It's about control. If death doesn't scare you enough, then the brainwashing will take any fight out of you. And you're not even aware that you're being constantly brainwashed. That's how the future looks in this story.

And then, enter Jackson MacNamera. One who didn't grew up in the States. He returns to the US for his mom's funeral, only to be arrested and taken into the Liberty Box because he stands out. He is different. Jackson knows there's something terribly wrong with the situation or with the people he has seen so far and he has to use every bit of what his Grandpa has taught him to get his freedom back.

Kate Brandeis, a news anchor  who suddenly felt like she just woke up from a hazy dream and into a nightmare. Bereaved and confused, she stumbled into a group of people living in the forest, away from the government's reach. It's where she met Jackson and these two formed a bond.

Yes, it's starting to look like a love story but no. A lot more important things are at stake here so it's really good that the author held off on pursuing the love angle. I guess,  romance does not sound so appealing when freedom is a great issue. For the characters in this story, nothing is ever more precious than taking back what rightfully belongs to them and death doesn't seem as scary if it means getting that robbed freedom back.

I really enjoyed this story. Jackson's character is  just the perfect person that the story needs. A fighter. A person rightfully equipped with the skills needed to go against the Potentiate. A champion to help rally the people to fight back and save the rest. I think the best  thing about him is that he's not clueless. He doesn't blunder into the story and he has to learn his way. No. He comes in with purpose and determination. He was prepared for what was waiting for him in the US. Though at first, he wasn't aware that was what all his Grandpa was training him for. Yes, a great credit to his Grandpa for being smart and for having the foresight to know what Jackson would very well need.

The way Jackson comes into the story was not in any way forced. In a way, I know that the story would have this one very strong character who would serve as a voice and rally everyone and help them open their eyes to the grim reality. I just didn't expect that it was someone like Jackson who was more than ready than he thought he was for what awaited him. I think this is what separates this story from other dystopia.  This story  wasn't waiting for someone to rise from the abuse or from rubble. You will be spared from that. It was like Jackson was created first and then the rest of the story followed because he has to be in a setting where his  skills has to be essential. Here's one who's all ready to go to battle, only he wasn't aware that there's actually one waiting for him. In here, the main character doesn't have to keep reacting but rather a little ahead of the enemy which isn't really common in a lot of stories. And that's the best thing about this.

Aside from Jackson and his Grandpa, there are other interesting characters in here. Men and women of strong character who value  freedom above all else. They're a great ensemble that make the story more engaging.

How the story builds up and how these band of people started to really make a statement against the enemy is a very hopeful situation. Very daring and suicidal in a way but the situation is desperate so their methods need to be more aggressive. I was rooting for the success of the Jackson and his friends the whole time. Not a very grim dystopia, if you ask me. It's actually very hopeful which is again one things that's different.

What I was not so taken with was this Council thing. In some way, it was holding the group down. It felt like they weren't that free from the Potentiate's clutches after all because here is a group of people just as willing to stump on free will. I hope that this Council will get disbanded and leaders who are really looking out for the benefit of the people will take their place. It's bad enough that they're hiding from a bigger enemy. Where they are should be a safe enough place to express their opinions and do something to help those still out there walking with their eyes in the fog. I feel like this Council is going to be another obstacle in Jackson's and his friends quest to take back their freedom. 

This story promises a sequel and that's a good thing because this should end well with all things neatly tied and wrapped up. This book ending with a cliffhanger was in a way not how I wanted it to go. But then, a prospect of another book to continue Jackson's fight is just what I am hoping. And cliffhangers are really good indicators of more interesting things to come. Thankfully, as of this review, book 2  and 3 are out, so I don't have to worry about waiting for the rest of the series to unravel.

I give this book 5/5 steel containers. This is a really good start to a very engaging series. Jackson's character alone is enough and I can't really stress that enough. I am so glad this book ended up in my lap. Thank you so much C. A. Gray. Looking forward to the rest of the series.

Power is a byproduct of a peaceful and quiet mind... but the moment power becomes an end in itself, the peace evaporates. 

"I ask myself that all the time, love.  But there is something in the psychology of an abused woman that I don't understand myself and can't explain. It's like an addiction." "Variable reward." "Sometimes she gets affection and sometimes she gets a beating, and it's not knowing which it'll be is what keeps her coming back. It's like that experiment of the pigeons pecking at a disc--"
- C. A. Gray, The Liberty Box -  

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

On Leopard Rock: A Life of Adventures by Wilbur Smith | ARC | A Book Review

On Leopard Rock: A Life of Adventures by Wilbur Smith | ARC | A Book Review by iamnotabookworm!

It's October once again. The leaves are falling down. As the song by Bethany Joy Galeotti goes. It's autumn in some parts of the world. I think Autumn is a magical time of the year. The leaves are turning gold and falling from the branches covering the ground in soft carpet. I haven't experienced autumn yet. As you know, I'm from the Philippines and we don't have autumn, spring, or winter. It's all just summer and rain. I am hoping that one day I could actually spend autumn in New York or in Paris, or in any other beautiful city in the world. 

So, the book I'm going to be reviewing doesn't actually have anything to do with autumn in it because most of what's in it happens in Africa. And as you may well know, Africa doesn't have autumn as well. I was so thrilled that I was asked to review this book. Until now, I can't help but wonder how it happened. Wilbur Smith is one of my favorite authors and to be asked to review his autobiography is  such an honor. I thank the book gods that this book found me. This is such an incredible book. It's not just a peek but an close look into the life of this famed author and his experiences. Where his stories came from and his great influences in his life and writing. I was so enamored by the book that it felt like reading one of the author's sagas. It didn't feel like an autobiography at all but rather reading of Mr. Smith's great adventures.

What a delightful adventure this is. I actually feel envy knowing of Mr. Smith's life growing up because it was filled with a lot of adventures and time spent in the African landscape which is just filled with wondrous gifts of nature. But it wasn't all safaris and fun, there were a lot of very scary incidents too that has marked the author for life. Though I could say that his experiences with lions and snakes are ones I surely wouldn't survive, but reading them here is both frightening and in a way comical. 

The thing that strikes me the most in this book is the author's close relationship with his dad. That's another thing that I envy. He kept that relationship till he was older and till his dad passed away. His dad was his own hero and the inspiration in more than one of his great stories. His dad was a larger than life figure who had greatly influenced Wilbur Smith as an author and as a person. 

Reading this was a really great and immersing experience. To actually have a better understanding of the author as a real person and know how his stories came to life because of his rich experiences is such a rewarding experience. It was like being there under the African sun and having to relive the author's childhood, all his mischief, his failures, all his struggles before he became one of the world's most published and widely read authors and being shown his first high as the first of his many amazing stories were published. 

Like us readers, the author humbly admits that he too is inspired by his readers. He recalled in this book some of the times when some of his  readerreades have touched his life because they have read his books. And I count myself one of those lucky people who have greatly appreciated Mr. Smith's gift for storytelling. My first encounter with Wilbur Smith was through Reader's Digest condensed books. If I remember correctly, The Sunbird was the first book I've read and my life was never the same after that. Yes, if you're one of his avid fan and readers, you know that his books are quite hard yet very engaging. Hard because it exposes the realities of life in Africa, o r wherever the setting of the story is, the human struggles and frailties. It's blunt and honest and no holds barred. Not to mention sex and violence. But all these weren't there just to sensationalized the story but rather because they help make the story more authentic. 

With that said, my only wish is long life for Mr. Smith so he can continue to enrich the world with his wonderful stories. As I have said, I am so fortunate to have grown to love this author and his countless stories. I don't think a bookworm's life is complete without having known him or be enthralled by one of his numerous stories.

I would say, I'm not fit to rate this book. There was no need for that. I think this author has earned his laurels and is way past needing reviews. I just gobbled up and allowed this book to take me to the author's childhood, his years growing up in boarding school and be regaled with his experiences in the African  landscape. It was definitely a great feast for the senses. Again, I am so honored to have been given the opportunity to experience this book. So, I give this a pride of lions. A fierce autobiography fit for a very fierce man and talented author who have battled more than lions and deadly snakes in his life, who have accomplished more than most of the world aspires yet still humble enough to admit that none of his stories ever came easy to him. Even at this stage in his success as an author, he still says that he's just like the other writers who have struggles but he just kept on. 

Literature throws many great heroes at us, but real life invariably outdoes them.
The human need to seek out heroes is deep-seated and it’s been recognized by storytellers ever since Homer wrote his epic of the Trojan War, The Iliad, nearly three thousand years ago. My passion is to bring to life those heroes--and, if ever I need a model for one, all I do is remember that night when I was eight years old: my father, his Remington rifle, and three man-eating lions, rampaging in the night.
 - Wilbur Smith, On Leopard Rock - 

Thanks again, Gretchen Crary for the book copy and Mr. Wilbur Smith for sharing this wonderful experience with the world.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Clutch by Lisa Becker | A Book Review

Clutch by Lisa Becker | A Book Review by iamnotabookworm!

According to this story, men are like bags. And I find the comparison very amusing and very fitting. The author is very clever to come up with this idea. It's amazing. And yes, I did enjoy the story. Thanks again, Lisa W. Becker for the review copy.

For a person who likes bags and at one point, thought that the more I have them, I could have more variety and more choices to choose from. I used to think that it would be amazing to have bags in all colors to match outfits or have a different one whenever you feel like it. I'm not one who buys expensive bags. I used to want to have different styles for versatility. But now, maybe it comes with age, I realized I don't have to change bags as often and I want my bags to last. I realized, I don't need a lot of bags. Just one functional and durable one. And just like in this story, you don't all these bags but one. One you can hold dear. 

And I guess, it goes the same with men. Unlike the main character in this story, Caroline, who had the luck or the misfortune of meeting these different kinds of men,  depending on how you look at it, I've only been in love three times. I have a lot of guy friends but I never ever thought of comparing them to bags which is a very clever and hilarious idea. I think the closest thing I could compare to having a relationship would be my jobs or the companies I've worked for. I think the explanation is very lengthy, so let's not get into that.  I guess, reading of Caroline's experiences with men is hilarious but if this were real life, it's actually disastrous. Yes, I do admit it's interesting to meet these varied types of men but I prefer not to engage with them knowing all these things from Caroline. I am  good just watching Caroline from the sidelines here. I don't envy her. But having a man and a best friend like Mike in her life is what I covet.

Mike, he's a good sounding board. A very reliable best friend. But the best thing about him is he wants to carve a path of his own even if it's going to be hard. Even if it would mean he could be disowned and not have the comforts and luxuries in his privileged upbringing. Not a lot of guys would have the same strength of character to turn away from that.  I know normally, a lot would bet his life living on dad's money.

Mike and Caroline. I think the reason why these two took a long while to realize they are what each one needs is because they've gotten so used to the idea that they're perfect together as best friends. It never occurred to them that they're perfect for each other more than that because of the bond and experiences they have shared. They are each other's rock. And this is what I liked most about the story. The fact that these two just simply did not see right away that they are just meant to be. It was frustrating having to witness Caroline go through these different dates or relationships and knowing that none of them were bound to last. And after each fall out, Mike was always there to deal with the aftermath. No question. He was always there. It was part of how things are. The ever supportive best friend. Ah, I just love best friends who end up together. I wish the same is true in my life.

The book is very perceptive. Again, I can't stress enough how clever  it is to compare men to purses. And it's a very accurate and very interesting metaphor which every girl could very well relate to and understand. I guess, if you have a friend who have gone through a lot of boyfriends and have not realized that she had been buying the same type of bag, just in different sizes and colors but it wasn't what she needed because it was not functional, poor in quality, and does not suit her needs, letting her read this book will probably make her come to her senses sooner than all those heart to heart talks combined. I think this is a very good book to understand men. I think every girl should read this book. The entertainment value alone is so worth the time.

With that said, I give this book 5/5 clutch bags. Again, this is a hilarious, perceptive, and very educational story. Nothing more to be said except for all of you to read it. I'm so happy that this book was handed to me. 

I don't need to drive you crazy. You're close enough where you can walk there all on your own.

- Lisa Becker, Clutch - 

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Spaceway Down by Casey Herzog | A Book Review

Spaceway Down by Casey Herzog | A Book Review by iamnotabookworm!

I got this through Facebook. The author messaged me and asked if I'd want to review this book. I agreed. It took quite a while for me to read this book. I should have gotten to it sooner because this was a very interesting story. Again, as I have mentioned here several times, I am not really a big fan of sci-fi but I have read a few that had made me open to the genre. This is one of those books that's worth the time spent reading it. Thank you again, Casey Herzog for the copy. 

This is a prequel, I think, for the Johnny Spaceway series entitled Dystopian Child Prodigy SciFi. Again, like other sci-fi stories that came my way, I am a bit hesitant in really diving into this right away. I am bit wary that it may be a let down or my being not so fond of the genre will take over. Fortunately, this story was written really well and very engaging. Not to mention that the main character is a very strong woman bent on not letting anyone control her life or affect her decisions. Even if she had been through a very difficult experience, she didn't let it deter her. She has to move forward and make a life of her own choosing. I adored Marna's character. She's smart and very observant. I really loved the part where she planned her life perfectly after she was released from the hospital. She planned everything thoroughly. I was very impressed, especially when she ordered those special items that would help her settle in her new home. That was the most impressive part of the story. 

This story is short but not too short to leave you hanging. It was complete enough on its own but it also promised a lot more on the next book. I am so looking forward to read the next stories. This has set the tone and introduced the characters and explained enough their circumstances. It hinted that more is coming which made me realized that I should have read this book sooner. 

I give this book 5/5 humanoid robots. This was really enjoyable and engaging. And trust me, I don't find a lot of sci-fi books that are enjoyable. So, this one is really a class on its own. And to think, this is just a prequel, it's not the full story yet. I imagine there's so much more of this on book one. I hope I get my hands on that one too. I can't wait to find out also if the author will be able to maintain the same engagement and interest in the next set of stories. Writing a sci-fi is a challenge in itself, making it as engaging is an added pressure. washing away a layer of filth from the hospital. Like an insect shedding a layer of its skin, leaving behind a shell of what it once was, emerging from the chrysalis as something new. 
- Casey Herzog, Spaceway Down - 

Package Deal (Ruled Out Romances #2) by Charissa Stastny | A Book Review

Package Deal by Charissa Stastny | A Book Review by iamnotabookworm!

I got this from Kathy of and I've read a book of the same author before and I enjoyed it, so when I saw this one up for review from the same author, I decided to sign up. Thanks again Kathy for the ebook copy.

This is a story of a single mom who tries so hard to raise her two-year old daughter. Then, on her best friend's wedding, she met a very handsome and charming man but when he saw her daughter, he was disappointed. He definitely did not want any excess baggage. 

Spring Flowers. What a cute name, right? Yes, that's the name of one of the main characters in this story. Her cute two-year old is Emma. And to complete the set of characters, we have Hudson Sandel, the handsome man who was smitten with Spring. To him, Spring would have been perfect if not for Emma being part of the package. 

Spring and Hudson's first meeting is a meet-cute. Isn't it romantic to meet someone on a wedding? And Emma in all of her pint size personality threw a tantrum and Hudson came to the rescue which was not exactly what he planned, but he wanted so much to impress Spring. That gentlemanly act is what started to bring them together and there's no denying that Emma has a way of worming slowly into Hudson's heart. 

There were a lot of cute and warm moments here, especially with Emma involved. She's just so cute with all her two-year old vocabulary and not yet able to pronounce words properly. She's one of the things that makes this story work and I can't help but fall in love with her also. Hudson also had a lot of moments here. He's just so sweet and caring. After meeting Spring and Emma, he realized what he's been missing in his life. He ended up doing a lot of sweet, generous, and kind things for the mother and daughter and not just because he wanted Spring to fall for him but because he wanted to make these two happy and make their lives easier. Ah, Hudson is just another book boyfriend one could wish for. 

I give this book 5/5 cute little flower girl dresses. I really enjoyed the story. It was so cute that it made me swoon and wish for my own sweet Hudson. This is a feel good story though Spring and Emma's life was not perfect. Spring had to hurdle and overcome a lot of challenges in her personal life, career, and most especially in raising Emma. But her character is just so admirable that you can't help but root for her. Emma is her strength, so everything she does has to be all for the good of Emma. Even falling in love with Hudson has to be favorable to Emma. Fortunately, Emma has made sure that Hudson would fall in love with her also. She's just so adorable and oozing with cuteness, so Hudson was no match for this little devil. He was putty in her very small hands.

What's the hurry Spring? Is winter chasing you? 

Forgiving means you let go of the bitterness poisoning you. 
- Charissa Stastny, Package Deal - 

Other books by the Charissa Stastny:

Between Hope and the Highway

Avenged (Circle of the Red Scorpion #2) by Charlene Johnson | ARC | A Book Review

Avenged (Circle of the Red Scorpion #2) by Charlene Johnson | ARC | A Book Review by iamnotabookworm!

This is an ARC. I was supposed to post this review in time for the blog tour but was not able to. I got the ARC from the author who reached out to me through the contact us form of this blog. Thank you again Charlene Johnson and Kingston Publishing for the ARC. I am sorry that this review came late but better late than never, right?

This is the second book of the series. I have not read book one but this book is comprehensive enough and is a stand alone. I was still able to keep up with the story even if I have not read the first book. This is a paranormal story where the characters are either half supernatural and half-human or full vampire, etc. There is a mix of supernatural beings here which is interesting. How they came together is all because of Broderick Devereaux. He founded the Circle of the Red Scorpion to bring together other supernatural beings that share his goal to protect humans from the other supernatural creatures who are exploiting humans for their gain. 

I think the best part of this story is its mix of characters. It's varied enough that some of them I haven't encountered in other paranormal stories that I have read. Other important characters that are also in the story are Drake, his mom Elise, and Ebony. Most of the story revolved around these three characters and Broderick. The villain, Solomon, was also very vicious that I ended up hating and wanting to end him myself. I think the author have played and explored his role effectively that I ended up wanting to be the one to put a stake to his heart.  

There were also a lot of revelations in the story that I so did not expect. Some of them were done cleverly while there were some that should have been milked by the author and delivered with great suspense but unfortunately they were not. They were just handed over without a lot of preamble. I would have liked them to have been given more fuss over as they were really astonishing revelations. Aside from that, I have no other complains. Be warned though, like most supernatural adult stories, this one is very steamy and has a lot of sex scenes. So, if you are a bit squeamish and prefers those clean and wholesome reads, then this might not be for you. I think, since most of the characters are half-human half-animal, I was not so particular with the story being clean and wholesome. I understand that the author may have to include those steamy parts.

So, I give this book 3/5 jaguars. I would definitely want to read the next book. The cliffhanger ending was enough for me. It promised that the peace and relief felt by the Devereaux and the Circle of the Red Scorpion is very temporary. Now, another enemy has surfaced bent on disturbing their lives. Let's see how the Circle will find and defeat the enemy this time. I am also excited for Ebony and Drake's twins to be part of the story. I hope they grow fast so they will be active and talking characters in the next installments. 

The constellations of Orion and the giant scorpion represented the battle between good and evil, arrogance and humility, and right and wrong.

Scorpio symbolized the attribute of determination, power, self-reliance, and resourcefulness. The red scorpion of India was the deadliest of its species. 
- Charlene Johnson, Avenged -  

Lineage (Elemental Ninjas #2) by Mon D. Rea | ARC | A Book Review

Lineage (Elemental Ninjas #2) by Mon D. Rea | An ARC | A Book Review by iamnotabookworm!

This is book two of the Elemental Ninjas. I had a paperback copy of book one given by the author and he also gave me an ebook copy of book two to review. Thanks again Mon D. Rea. 

This continues the adventure of Sakura and Temujin. This time, another one joins their crew- Sasha. This was the same Sasha who Sakura played with when they were younger. The same kid who helped Sakura broke through the vault for the scroll. This time, he's also grown, just like Sakura and wants to go on an adventure of his own and wants to prove much about himself. So, will this trio get more things done or just get into more trouble?

This could be summed up as Sasha's adventure. It's because it focused more on Sasha. It doesn't mean that Sakura and Temujin were left out but it's just that most of the story is spent on Sasha's school and here, Sasha has to face some of his fears. Before the story ends, the three have to fight for their lives which was what was expected when they embarked on this quest but hoping to not happen. Unfortunately, it happened just too soon. 

Even if this story had more Sasha in it than Sakura and Temujin, or all three of them, it was still very engaging and entertaining. I still enjoyed it. I guess, it's a good way to introduce Sasha and showcase what he can do and contribute to the team. And with how his adventure in the school went, there was a lot he can contribute. He, in some way, has mastered some of his skills and has mastered a part of himself. He has conquered one of his fears and proved to be the hero, instead of some loser who's joke was on him. 

In this story also, the tension between Sasha and Temujin to fight for Sakura's attention is a bit coming to the surface. Temujin is now feeling that Sasha might prove to be a very good rival for Sakura's heart. Not too mention, that these two- Sakura and Sasha, were best friends and now reunited. These two have a lot of history together and what would Temujin have to top that. So, I'm welcoming this growing tension and I am not sure yet who I will be rooting for, but I'm leaning towards Temujin because he's more of the underdog in this rivalry. At the same time, the thought of falling in love with your best friend from childhood who is very familiar and comfortable, is not a very bad thing also. Hmmm...who will likely end up with Sakura's heart? For now, Sakura is not showing any clues or signs as to who she is more partial with. It seems, for now, this two boys hold their own place in Sakura's affections because they both shared an experience(s) with Sakura. But who will eventually hold her heart in his hands is still a big question. For now, Sakura's focus is just on their quest and to make sure that the scroll will not fall into evil hands. 

Though, this showcased more on Sasha's character development, I am glad that the author did not lose sight of the whole story. This side adventure of Sasha actually has a connection to the trio's quest as a whole. They have found valuable information that might just actually be a key to helping them with defeating the enemy. I didn't expect to actually find out about that. It was done very cleverly that you won't be expecting that there was actually a bigger picture in that little pit stop on their way to their destination. Wow!

I give this book 5/5 hippocamps. Hippocamps meant sea horses but they're reptiles. Sasha's mastery of the blue ninja's technique to call out to marine animals is very impressive. This reminds me of Percy Jackson being able to ride Pegasus and his ability to command the sea and communicate to its creatures. I am looking forward to learning more what Sasha can do. He's hell-bent on proving everyone that he's grown and can stand his ground, especially his family and the people at his school. I also liked the special surprise at the end of the story. That was really special and it calms my heart to know that these trio will not be alone and unguided in their adventure. Someone is tracking their progress and is also rooting that these unassuming heroes will succeed in their quest. So, at this point, I don't know what to expect next. I am just excited to follow these three to where they will take me. So, onward to the next stop, adventure, lessons that await. 

Give hope to others even when you leave none for yourself. 

Most of us were just too shy to express our feelings to others, and it was human nature to take time for granted, thinking that keeping our feelings secret was a good thing. We would leave words of appreciation unspoken till it was too late. 
- Mon D. Rea, Lineage -  

The Jerusalem Parchment by Tuvia Fogel | A Book Review

The Jerusalem Parchment by Tuvia Fogel | A Book Review by iamnotabookworm!

It's been over a month since I last posted a review here. I've been caught up trying to adjust to my new work schedule and until now, I'm still struggling. I'm on a night shift and by the time I get home, I'm so sleepy that I don't have time to write any reviews. I did say previously that I might actually have time to read and review everyday starting August since my schedule is fixed but I haven't written any reviews. I did do a lot of reading. There's been a lot of downtime at work, so to pass the time, I read. I've gotten to read a few of my book requests. Now, my reviews to be written is filing up. Here I am, trying to make a dent to that to do list. 

So, The Jerusalem Parchment is one I got from Netgalley. If you have read a few of my reviews here, I have quite a penchant for books that are about conspiracies, or controversies, or artifacts, especially about religion. This book is one. It's about a parchment in Jerusalem that might destroy the Catholic Church or Christianity. 

The book's main characters are two people you will not exactly expect to join forces together back in the 13th century. It's a Jewish kabbalist and a Cistercian abbess. Master Yehezkel ben Yoseph (after Ezekiel in the Bible or the Talmud) and Sister Galatea degli Ardengheschi. The rabbi and the nun met in a very bizarre way. I won't say it was serendipitous because Master Yehezkel saved Sister Galatea from drowning in the Venetian lagoon. See, not a very serendipitous way to meet a person but it was fortunate because if not for the rabbi, the nun would have died and froze in the lagoon. It wasn't serendipity because it was not exactly a very good way to meet a person. It was fortunate because that chance meeting had brought together these two people who were destined to do greater things that would bring them together and find a common ground for both Judaism and Christianity. Some other notable characters in history are also mentioned in this book- St. Francis de Assisi (who was still Brother Francesco), the Knights of the Templars, and the Sultan of Egypt. 

To be honest, I almost gave up on this book. Very very close. I think there were a lot of things that should not have been necessary that were included. I think some of the events mentioned here should have been scrapped out all together because they just made the book lengthy but not really contributing anything at all. It took me quite a while to finish the book. I have to stop whenever I feel like the story was just droning on and on and was not really getting to where it should take me. Fortunately, I find it intriguing and curious enough to forge on, though very painstakingly slow. 

I think there were only about a few very interesting parts of this story and I can actually name them. One is how Yehezkel and Galatea met and how they realized that they have to join forces and go to Jerusalem together. The other one is when Brother Francesco de Assisi made an appearance in the story. His character is really larger than life. Even here, he seems to be so captivating. His personality, his brains, and his fervor for his faith are really admirable. I think Brother Francesco's inclusion in this story has been a saving grace for me because I would have totally dropped this book and forget it. I think how the author portrayed Francesco here is his best and the best part of the book. I was really awed how he has captured the soul of the saint in the pages. It was like the saint's essence is tangible. Like I can feel it in my bones.  It's one of the strengths of this book. Then, there was the Sultan of Egypt. When he meet Brother Francesco and he sort of agreed to a debate about religions- Muslim faith versus Christianity, that was probably the most amusing and entertaining part of the story. And then, the part when they get to Jerusalem, the discoveries and realizations there were very astounding. 

One thing that strike me in this story is the Averroism philosphy. It's a belief that holds no religion possesses the whole truth, which I totally agree. I know a lot of people or those that claim to be religious would tend to strongly disagree on this because I am sure they would claim that their religion holds the only truth and the only path to salvation of the soul. But I think, this book is right about that. I don't say that we have to give up our religions but I think it's telling us to be open-minded. To be open to the idea that each religion holds some truths, just not the complete and single truth. That somehow, we can learn from the teachings of Judaism, or from the Muslims, or from Buddhism. I'm sure, they have great ideas that could also illuminate and help us live our lives fully, justly, and meaningfully. 

All in all, I am thankful that the book finally got to Jerusalem and circled on that most talked about parchment. I thought it wasn't ever going to do that. I think it was going around in circles just like the Parchment of Circles that is the objective of Yehezkel and Galatea's quest here. How the book ended was enough to actually conclude this very lengthy and arduous quest, especially for me reading it. The ending, at least, made it up for me and really got to the story. Finally!

So, with that said, I give this book 2.5/5 old maps. I was thinking 3/5 but the let down that the adventure I was promised was not really how it turned out is just so hard to ignore. It keeps coming back to me. As I have said, I was just relieved when the pair finally reached Jerusalem. Finally, it was getting to where the story should be. I think, if I were to read this book again, I would have skipped the middle part. I would just read the beginning and then get to the last quarter of the book. Those contain the most important parts of the story and it could do without the rest. I was very disappointed that it got so so painstakingly long for the pair to get to Jerusalem. More so, because the part in-between did not hold as much attention as the beginning and the ending. I think, this story could have done a lot of polishing. Stripping away the parts that were not really essential. If they were intended to build up the suspense and the anticipation, it did not do so. It was a let down and I really thought that even without them, the story would still be substantial enough and would have been more adequate for me. 

So, I would say, read at your own risk. After finishing this, I am not sure I want go through the ordeal again. The title and subject is very interesting and the short summary is also very intriguing but delving into the whole story was quite a chore for me. I went in hungry for an adventure and ready to be blown away by what this Jerusalem Parchment is but was a bit miffed that the adventure promised was not that all very engaging. Time and time again, I had to drag and convince myself to finish the book. And I guess, that was the most painful thing for me. I would say, this was like the Iliad (Dover and Thrift edition) for me. Until now, I still haven't picked it back up. I stopped when the story was enumerating names. I think the book has been with me for 10 years. I am just glad that I finished this book because I was so close to just leaving it and move on to something more. This is a very interesting topic but it somehow failed in its delivery.

But Augustine also said, Jews shouldn't be killed, since exile is their punishment for refusing to accept Jesus as the Messiah. In a sense, we Jews owe him our survival in Christian lands. 

In other words,  Jesus wasn't a magician, but a kabbalist who took a wrong turn, a rabbi whose kabbalah was full of errors.  

Two parallel straight lines are two lines that meet where it pleases Allah. 
If they didn't want to seem disrespectful, they could have said, it was Allah who decided they could never meet. 
And if somewhere, some day, two such straight lines should meet, how great is the power of Allah. 
- Tuvia Fogel, The Jerusalem Parchment - 

Thanks again, Netgalley, Destiny Books, and Tuvia Fogel for the copy. 

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Into the Moonless Night (Moonfall Mayhem #3) by A. E. Decker | ARC | A Book Review

Into the Moonless Night (Moonfall Mayhem #3) by A. E. Decker | ARC | A Book Review by iamnotabookworm!

I've been waiting for this book. This is the third installment in the Moonfall Mayhem series. As what the author confided in me, this story is about Catch. The second book hinted that this story might be about him. Thanks Miss Decker! So, I'll now be able to understand what makes Catch tick and the mystery that surrounds him.

I read the second book of this series in October 2016, so it's been almost a year. This has been truly a long wait but I don't mind because this story has a lot to tell. A lot of secrets that got unearthed. Old wounds that get reopened and old rivalries that got revived. Issues that were left unresolved were tackled here and new friendships and alliances were formed also. Yes, a host of new characters which are very very interesting are introduced. New enemies have come into the light too. This book is totally still a mayhem.

As I have said, this is Catch's story. This installment would take us to the birthplace of Catch, the Clawrags, and delve into his history. His friends, in order to rescue Catch, followed his steps to his home and along the way encountered their own set of adventures. There were some references to some famous fairy tales though, like the house of the witch in Hansel and Gretel. That was the most hilarious part of the story, especially with its very eccentric homeowner and cauliflowers. 

In this story, again Rags-n-Bones, Dmitri, Moony, and even Nipper, pitched in to get them to succeed in their adventures and quests. I think Rags again proved to be very impressive and he used what he had learned in Widget to help the team here. Moony also just keeps on getting funnier and wittier. I think I'd like to keep him as a pet. There would be no dull moments with him around and he's just so full of himself but in such a very cute way. Instead of being irritated because of his overconfidence, you will just be amused at his antics and witty comments. The "catch the flag" thing also was very fun. It's one of the highlights of the story and again, Team Ascot took the prize.

I really enjoyed this adventure although, it was slow going at first. Not a lot was happening until they got to the house of the witch. That house really cracked everything up, literally and figuratively. And then, after that, I think all hell broke loose because a lot was happening and a lot of developments were presented. I think, the last part of the book was loaded with everything- discoveries, fireworks, and all. And again, it sets me up for the excitement for the next installment. New characters are introduced which are going to play a vital part in the story. I can't wait to know what's going to happen next. This time, I'm not sure who's going to take center stage. I guess, if it's going to be the conclusion already, then there would be no need for that but to just tie up all the loose ends neatly and beautifully.  And that includes the love angle. Hopefully.

I give this book 4.5/5 cauliflowers. The same way as avocados make the second book memorable, this story is made hilarious and unforgettable because of cauliflowers. Oh, my goodness, I'm still amused every time I remember what this vegetable is doing in this story. Just simply hilarious. I think I can still smell it while typing this review. 

That was the trouble with being a dedicated liar: occasionally you fooled even yourself. 

Sarcasm. It was something that just blossomed with adolescence, like spots. 
- A. E. Decker, Into the Moonless Night - 

Thanks again, World Weaver Press and Miss A. E. Decker for the ARC. 

Moonlight Over Manhattan (From Manhattan with Love #6) by Sarah Morgan | A Book Review

Moonlight over Manhattan (From Manhattan with Love #6)  by Sarah Morgan | A Book Review by iamnotabookworm!

I always love movies and stories that are set in New York. I don't know, but New York for me is a melting pot of everything and there are a lot of places there that would be a good start for a very good story. It's like anything can happen there. The city is teeming with endless possibilities, more so with the most unexpected love stories. 

I think one of the reasons I signed up to review this book is because it was set in New York. The blurb is also curious and who can't resist a story about a dog walker in New York, right? Sounds like an easy enough and fun job. That is, if you love dogs. 

Harriet Knight is a shy dog walker who owns half of the dog walking business with her sister which is based in Manhattan. To escape her creepy date she met online, she ended up with a sprained ankle. In the emergency room, she meet Dr. Ethan Black, which turned out to be not the last time that she will see him. 

This is one of those meet-cute stories. When Ethan met Harriet, Ethan had his own theories and questions about Harriet's sprained ankle. His mind was coming up with these possibilities about Harriet's situation. Some were bordering on hilarious and extreme. He was used to dealing with the chaos in the ER and the hoard of demanding patients but he was not prepared for a nice one like Harriet who seemed to have melted his heart with just her smile.

I think the cutest and the most important character here in this story is Madi. Yes, without her, Ethan and Harriet would not have meet again and became closer. It was all Madi's fault. I think dogs are just the most successful matchmakers. They often draw two people together. Even if sometimes, these two people may not have anything in common at first glance. Madi is one of the reasons why I really enjoyed this story. It's not only funny but also inspirational. 

This is an example of stories where at first, it seemed to be a disaster in the making but is actually sort of fate intervening. With Madi's antics, I don't think Ethan and Harriet would have been able to get to know each other. Also, the classic saying "The best way to a man's heart is through his stomach" is still very much applicable. Ethan was not immune to Harriet's culinary skills. He ended up wanting Harriet for keeps.

I give this book 5/5 very cute and cuddly dogs. I love that Harriet's character is very kind and very caring. Even though she's so shy, she more than made up for it for her ability to reach out and get close to people who really needed the attention and kindness. Just like the two old ladies here in the story whom Harriet helped. Even Ethan was so surprised that she knew more things about his old neighbor than him. I think that's one of the most endearing qualities that Harriet has that drew Ethan to her. 

This story really made my day. Anyone having a bad day will definitely feel better after reading this. It's not only cute but very sweet as well. And I really liked that both of the characters here became better versions of themselves because they complemented each other. Harriet was able to overcome her fears and was able to do things she was afraid to do before. Of course, like all relationships, there were conflicts too but then love wins at the end. What sets this apart from all other meet-cute and happy ever after stories, is of course, Madi. It was all because of Madi. The best performance in a supporting role award goes to---Madi! I may be partial because I love dogs but still I'd say, it was all Madi. 

No, because if you die in the night I don't want that on my conscience. I already have enough scars and baggage to deal with. Carrying any more will give me spinal problems. 
- Sarah Morgan, Moonlight Over Manhattan -

Thank you again Netgalley, Harlequin,  and Sarah Morgan for the review copy. 

Starr Gone (Starr Fall #3) by Kim Briggs | A Book Review

Starr Gone (Starr Fall #3) by Kim Briggs | A Book Review by iamnotabookworm!

This is the third part of the series and it is far from over. More revelations have sufficed which is a surprise both to Starr and her friends. It seemed like the General have more pawns in the game. Now, what would Starr do? What would her friends do?

I am not yet sure how I feel about all the things that happened in this installment. There were some good things and some parts which I am not too happy. I did suspect that some of Starr's old friends may make a comeback because their disappearances were very suspicious. True enough, they're back. In as much as I may have suspected it but then I was still surprised when they showed their faces. It turned out, they were not really her friends. In fact, they were so jealous of her. Yes, those fake friends are very common in real life too. But don't worry, Starr has a solid set of very loyal friends who will scour the ends of the earth to find and rescue her. They will never abandon Starr.

At this point, I'm not sure who's using who when it comes to the people after Starr. Between her family and the General's group, each party seems to have their own agenda and Starr is in the middle of it. Talk about the proverbial "between a rock and a hard place." It's definitely where Starr is. But I'm guessing, Starr is just waiting for the best opportunity also to make her move. I know she will come up with something. Also, her friends are not just lying around helpless. They are planning her rescue also. So, it's a wait and see for the next book. Hopefully, the General's evil plans will finally be exposed and he would be punished for all his crimes and Starr would finally be able to stop running for her life and be a carefree teenager again.

With regard to the part where I was not too happy, well, there was a part that annoyed me. Of course, with the way the story has turned, not all of them are really in Starr's favor and it's a bit frustrating because I thought everything is going good for them. Also, some of the villains are really annoying and I can't wait to see if some of them will change their loyalties. It seemed like, some are not too happy where they are and may just be the key that Starr needs to get out of her current prison. We'll see. 

All in all, it's a surprising turn of events. I did not totally picture it but as I said, I did have an inkling that something like this may turn out. But then again, it was still a shock. Hopefully, good things are going to happen in the next book. So far, I have no idea or any theory as to how Starr and her friends are going to outsmart the General but I know they will come up with something. I hope it's going to be as surprising as what happened here. Something that would be totally unexpected.

I give this book 3/5 guns. 

I'm a china doll to be placed in a vacumm-sealed glass case on the very top of the tallest shelf to collect dust and grow fragile from lack of use.
- Kim Briggs, Starr Gone - 

Thank you again, Kim Briggs for the review copy.

Red Sunrise by Simon Laffy | A Book Review

Red Sunrise by Simon Laffy | A Book Review by iamnotabookworm!

So, earlier this week, I went to a book sale here in Cebu. I just browsed. I don't have the money to spare to buy new books and besides, I have quite a long list on my TBR, both in e-book formats and in paperbacks. I don't think it makes sense to add more books to the pile as I am already struggling with what I have right now. I just don't have enough time. Also, the books I wanted to buy, if I were to buy, were Clive Cussler's. They only have three books there at the sale and I've read two of them. I did find very interesting new authors and stories and I took pictures in case my TBR would have room for them. 

I got this book through Instagram. The author sent me a message and asked if I wanted to review his book and I agreed. This is about a US naval war veteran who have survived the most brutal way to die during World War II via a kamikaze attack on his ship. After recovering from his injuries, he decided to travel around the world by boat. During his sea travel, he meet various people and started to examine his life, his mind, and all his losses. The journey turned into an introspection into the choices he had made in his life and how it led up to his current state. And it turns out, there's more for him to do before he takes his last breath.

This is a sad, tragic, and a tale of redemption. The redemption of Commander Jack Sampson. As the author have mentioned in his blurb, Sampson is a ex-naval officer who turned into an anti-war hero. That perfectly summarizes this whole adventure. But of course, to understand his journey why after giving years of his life for the service of the United States, he ended up offering the rest of his life to end wars, is a tale you must read so you'll understand his motivations. Sampson had seen war and had experienced firsthand the losses that it had caused, especially in his personal life. He has lost his family and his friends because of war. It also almost cost him his own life. It was by a sheer miracle that he survived but his sanity had suffered most because of it. Physical wounds heal but the recurring dreams and nightmares are going to forever haunt him. His guilt will keep chasing him for things that should have been and what might have been. 

So, this book is like an expose on the United States effort on the study, testing, and production of atomic bombs as a new way of getting an upper hand in military warfare. It's a way of again showing the world its might and power. Who would dare challenge her if she has the ultimate weapon of destruction? I admit I don't know much about this subject. But after reading this, I understand better now. And Bikini was immortalized as the new name for swimwear. How could you ever forget the fate of Bikini Atoll? In this book, it described how that beautiful untouched island won the lottery as the unfortunate recipient of the effects and destruction of an atomic explosion. Until now, that island is dead and will take years to actually be safe for humans to step on its shores again.

This is very informational and I came out educated after reading this story. Commander Sampson is a hero and the last moments of his life were never in vain. This is a very good read and I ended up rooting for Sampson to succeed in his journey to find his inner self again and to finally discover that the greatest redemption is to forget oneself for a greater cause. Not for his country but for sake of the world or for those whose voice is not loud enough to be heard.

My only observation was that there were portions wherein the transition between events, was not very clear. I found myself pausing at some points because there were some paragraphs that were not connected but there was no clear indication that one thought has ended and a new one has begun. I wished in some parts, the paragraphs did not just follow each other like they were one thought. Other than that, this was interesting enough to read and since I like historical thrillers, this one was not off the mark. 

I give this 3/5 mushroom cloud. Yes, after reading this story, I don't think I would want to see a red sunrise. It's not a spectacle that anyone should look forward to see. It's a beginning of a very very horrible day. So, after Nagasaki, there's Hiroshima, and then Bikini. The two places in Japan may have recovered and is now again a bustling city, like it was not a witness to a very gruesome tragedy caused by war. But Bikini will forever remain just a memory of what it used to be. It will never ever know life again.

If hatred alone were a weapon, he would have been able to wipe them out. 

...devotion to your religion seemed to be measured by how wicked you could be to others.
- Simon Laffy, Red Sunrise - 

Thank you again, Simon Laffy for the copy.