Thursday, July 19, 2018

Magical Princess Harriet: Chessed, World of Compassion by Leiah Moser | A Book Review

Magical Princess Harriet: Chessed, World of Compassion by Leiah Moser | A Book Review by iamnotabookworm!

It's been almost two weeks since I last posted on here. My sleeping time is so abnormal lately. I feel so sleepy during the afternoons and I can't help but take naps. And then, I can't sleep until 3:00 AM. My day is so erratic that I can't seem to find the best time to work. These days, I've found myself feeling so tired and just want to catch up on sleep. Hopefully, this August, everything will be good and I will be able to catch up on my reading on my my reviews since I will having a change in work schedule. 

I got this book from the author via the Contact Us form of this blog. I've been getting a lot of requests lately and I'm very happy but the downside is I have an ever growing TBR list. I can't say no to any request because until now, I'm still unable to comprehend or believe how these authors, publishers, or literary agents found me. I know some found my blog on The Book Blogger List. I'm just amazed as to how these people are brought to me that I just don't have the heart to say no. I want to review all books as long as it means I'm helping an author, one way or another. 

Magical Princess Harriet is written by Rabbi Leiah Moser. This is about the coming of age of Harris Baumgartner. A seventh grader whose life was change on the first day of school when he saw something inexplicable on his way to school. From that moment, everything will never be the same in Harris' life. Will he embrace the change or fight it?

This is my first time to read a queer story in a Jewish perspective. It's refreshing because somehow people often associate homosexuality or gender issues with religion. It's disheartening to hear that even in this very modern day and age, there are still people who are so backward in their thinking that homosexuality is an affront to religion. On the other hand, I'm glad that most religions are now open about discussing topics about sexuality and are more accepting of these individuals. If you have a friend who's gay, you would know that it's not like it's their choice to be gay. It's just is. They can't fight it. The same way, a woman is a woman and a man acts as a man. It is not some disease that has to be cured or some kind of possession that has to be exorcised. It's just in their DNA. So, anyone has no right to say that they have no right to be part of this world or this universe. They have as much right as everyone else to be here. With the world getting to be more involved with championing for the rights of the third sex, I am glad that more stories are coming out speaking of their experiences. This story is just one of those stories where the main character and a superhero to boot, is a queer. What's more amazing is it's written by a rabbi who seems to have a wide understanding of the topic. 

This story reminds me of the anime Sailor Moon. Sailor Moon's alter ego Bunny is a very different person. She's often seen as dumb and clumsy. But when she's Sailor Moon, she's so amazing. Harris character which is very ordinary gets to transform into someone unbelievably amazing and powerful Princess Harriet. It was confusing at first because why would her alter ego or superhero counterpart be a girl. It's the most dumbfounding thing. But then, as he becomes to get comfortable in his superhero skin, he gets to know himself better and realized some very vital information about his true self. 

One of the things that strike me in this story is the name of one of the nephilim characters which is Kasadya. Kasadya in Cebuano dialect means happiness, joy, zest. It's actually a positive word and is very much the opposite of the character of Kasadya. Kasadya is very neglected and needs a lot of love. When I first encountered the word, the first thing that came to mind was where and how did the author get the word Kasadya? Was she friends with a Filipino who's from Cebu or Bisaya or is kasadya also a Jewish word? It was surprising to actually see the word being used in this story. I guess, in a way, Kasadya fits one of the female antagonist here because that's exactly what she needs to escape whatever bond that's keeping her. The irony of things.

One other thing I liked in the story is how Harris, Frances, and Aiden were drawn together and found belongingness in each other. These three seemed to have a lot in common. Harris and Frances are best friends. Frances is a very smart girl who loves architecture yet has a neurological issue which makes her sensitive to bright lights and loud noises. Aiden is a later addition to the group. Like Harris and Frances, Aiden is a bit of a keep-to-himself-boy also. He usually gets beat up because he's also a bit different from the other students. So, this trio makes a very interesting mix of characters and each complement each other which greatly helped in their fight against the forces of evil.

This trio, with all their flaws and all, is a very adorable group. I root for them. It's just so easy to empathize with them because in one way or another, we are either, Harris, Frances, or Aiden once in our young lives. Like Aiden, I was bullied in my grade school, so it's so easy to identify to anyone of these three characters or find something in common with them. If not, you might find yourself in a parallel position to Kasadya and Azrael. Two kids who are neglected by their parents. They're treated as soldiers and are either punished for their failures and were never appreciated just as they are. They have to prove themselves to earn some appreciation or to just even be acknowledged that they exist. 

I think the main lesson in the story, aside from embracing being a queer or being comfortable with your gender, is having to acknowledge our fears and in turn, mastering them. If we know our fears and the reason for them, then no one can use it against us because we know it's just in the head. It somehow lessens it's hold on us. And in this story, that is just what exactly happened. When the three characters were forced to confront their fears and resolve that they can't have their fears have power over them, then the evil that threatened them lost his advantage.

This is a good and refreshing story which reminds me of my younger years growing up and watching Sailor Moon to my heart's delight. Those were good days. I give this book 3/5 red roses. It's entertaining enough, especially when the three friends are together. I think Princess Harriet is able to master her powers because of the full support of her friends. She was able to find clarity and accept the changes in her life, both physical, emotional, and mental because her friends are there to help understand them. 

It is indeed necessary to allow judgement to be governed by mercy.
- Leiah Moser, Magical Princess Harriet: Chessed, World of Compassion - 

Thank you again Leiah Moser for the copy.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Lightning Struck (Brothers Maledetti #3) by Nichole Van | A Book Review

Lightning Struck (Brothers Maledetti #3) by Nichole Van | A Book Review by iamnotabookworm!

I have good news. There will be a change in my work schedule starting August 1 and I'm so excited. I'm excited because it would allow me time to read and post reviews everyday. Unlike my current online job which takes up most of my time, this one, I will only work 9 hours a day and it's not anymore online. Anyway, I'm just so happy with this new development and I'm so looking forward to it. Aside from the schedule, it also pays more than what I'm doing right now. I can't wait for August 1. Yehey!

So, the book I'm reviewing today is Lightning Struck by Nichole Van. This is the third book in the Brothers Maledetti series. Oh, I so love this series. It's not only a romance story but with a lot of very interesting and surprising twists. It has historical fiction, supernatural, and mystery too. That's exactly why I love it. There's a lot of everything in it and it takes me to picturesque Italy too. Fantastic!

In this third installment, this one is about Chiara, the one and only sister of the D'Angelo triplets and Jack Knight-Snow. Chiara is a very feisty and very bubbly character. She's very adorable and her antics are very funny. In this book though, she finds Jack very irritating and gets to her nerves. Aside from that, she still gets this weird dream that keep haunting her about the death of their dad. Jack, on the other hand, is a very curious and interesting character as well. Jack first appeared in the second book Love's Shadow. On this book, more is revealed about the mystery surrounding Jack's character and how he is in anyway related to the D'Angelo's. If you love the first two books, you will definitely not get disappointed with this one. 

Wow! There are a lot happening in this book and it has more to do with supernatural things that have surrounded the D'Angelo's. And this time, Chiara, the only sibling purported to be not fortunate enough or maybe better off not gifted with The Sight is having this vivid and scary repetitive dream that had haunt her in her childhood. Now, the dream is coming back and it seems to be telling Chiara something and she won't rest until she gets to the bottom of that secret message and mystery.

This is such an enjoyable read especially when it comes to Jack and Chiara's scenes exchanging banter and trying to piss off or outwit the other. Obviously, Chiara is more often the one that gets irritated in the exchange. It's very cute and it's obvious that these two have a thing for each other. They are such a very lovely and adorable pair. Their exchanges always give me a laugh. 

On to a more serious note, a lot has been revealed about the gift of sight of the brothers because of the mystery surrounding Jack and Chiara's recurring dream. It's seems like there might just be hope for the cursed brothers. I really love that idea. I so root for them to master their abilities and not be turned into lunatics because of the strong pull of their gifts. I want them to live long and not follow after their ancestors who didn't have the chance to grow old because of this curse or this family gift. And most of all, I wouldn't have to worry about Ten. Ten is one of the triplets who is mostly susceptible to the effects of the curse. So, I'm pretty sure the next book would be about Ten and them finding more concrete information about their gifts and maybe win over the curse after all. I'm so stoked!

I just love this series. I give this book five scenes with lightning. I can't wait to get my hands on the next book. I am supercharged to know what's going to happen next and finally be able to hear about Ten's story. A lot of possibilities are presented in this book and I am so so eager to learn about them. This is probably one of the most enjoyable series I have ever read or the most enjoyable yet. It's incredibly addicting and this is one addiction I'd love to keep. I hope this series does not end on the next book. 

Hope...when you haven't had any for as long as you can remember...can be a dangerous thing. Hope leads to wants. And wants lead to disappointment. And disappointment, when you are already on shaky emotional ground, can be deadly.
- Nichole Van, Lightning Struck - 

Thank you again, Kathy of and Nichole Van for the review copy. 

Literary Book Gifts | An Online Bookish Shop

I just met someone a few days ago. She reached out to me through the Contact Us form of this blog. She asked if I could help her promote her shop. Of course, I accepted. I am honored to help someone with anything, even if it's not a book review. As long as it's related to books, or even slightly related, if it's a good and worthwhile endeavor, I'll definitely lend a hand.  This lady that I'm talking about is Melissa. She owns Literary Book Gifts. It's an online shop selling bookish goodies like shirts, tote bags, and backpacks. I checked out her site and there are a lot of designs based on your favorite books, authors, and literary characters you can choose from. The best thing is all the designs are all available in women and men's shirts and also in tote bags and backpacks. Cool, right?

Here are some of the favorite designs that I fancy. By the way, all the designs were made by Melissa herself. Pretty impressive and creative, right? There are different sizes available for all the shirts for both sexes. There is also a Sizing and Fit link provided to make sure that you get your correct size for the shirts. The shirts come in eighteen to twenty-two different colors depending on the design. Yes, you heard it right. So many colors to choose from. The shirts are made from 100% soft cotton, so it's really comfortable. The women's shirts are slim fit with longer body length and run slightly small. So, make sure to check the sizing and fit chart to make sure you got your correct size. The link is found at the bottom of the page. 

One of the first things that caught my eye was the Ulysses shirt. Of course, because I'm such a fan of the Odyssey and Ulysses is one of my favorite Greek heroes. Remember the Trojan Horse which was key to the fall of Troy? Yes, it was Ulysses' idea. 

Ulysses Shirt for Women's 

I also liked the Iliad shirt. I liked it because it's not a very common shirt. I don't see a lot of shirt designs alluding to the Odyssey or the Iliad, so this is a very cool and unique shirt to wear. Pictured below is for the women's but it's also available in men's sizes. All shirts are.

Iliad Shirt for Women's 

The Tesla shirt is also very cool. I like it very much. It channels the frustrated engineer in me. At one point, I wanted to be a computer engineer but instead I took Accountancy. Pictured below is a men's shirt and is also made of 100% cotton. It's a classic fit and runs slightly large. So, if you're a woman who likes to wear loose shirts for comfort, you can have one of these but don't forget to check out the sizing and fit chart to make sure you get the right size that you want. 

Tesla Shirt for Men's/Unisex

This Darwin Tree of Life shirt is very nice too. I like this one because it looks like it's abstract. It's not obviously a tree but if anyone asks, then you can brag that it's a shirt alluding to Charles Darwin that you are wearing. Awesome!

Darwin's Tree of Life shirt for Men's/Unisex

I like this 20,000 Leagues under the Sea shirt also. All the shirts are $28 each but if you use my discount code, you can avail of a 20% discount. Yes, 20%. Just amazing! You can use the code IAMNOTABOOKWORM20 in Literary Book Gifts store as many times as you want on anything and there is no required minimum purchase. So, grab that discount code now and checkout Literary Book Gifts shop right this minute. 

20,000 Leagues Shirt for Men's/Unisex

The backpacks have a laptop sleeve inside, so you can make sure that your laptop is safely tucked inside it. It's made of 100% PU leather (polyurethane) material perfect for school and everyday use. This Typewriter backpack is one that I really liked. I also liked this Crime and Punishment tote bagThe backpacks and totes are also available in different sizes from Small to Large.

So, what are you waiting for. Checkout Literary Book Gifts now and find your favorite designs and items based on your favorite books and characters. And don't forget to use my discount code IAMNOTABOOKWORM20 on all purchases so you can save 20%.

Typewriter backpack

Crime and Punishment tote bag

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Halfway Dead (Halfway Witchy #1) by Terry Maggert | A Book Review

Halfway Dead (Halfway Witchy #1) by Terry Maggert | A Book Review by iamnotabookworm!

I got this book from the author. He requested me to review all the four books in this series. This is the first book. This is also my first to read a book by the author. This is a story about Carlie. She's a cook at the town diner and is also a witch who people depend on to solve some problems and illnesses. One day, a handsome stranger came into town and Carlie had no choice but to follow him into the depths of the forest. There she encountered a thousand-year old vampire that had been trapped in the forest. Carlie had to attempt a few things she had never done before and to fight a very evil being. 

Halfway is a name of the town where Carlie lives and where the story is set. It's called halfway because of it's location which is exactly halfway in the middle of Utica, New York and the Canadian border. It's a tourist destination town and a repository for magical things which is I think is both an advantage and disadvantage for Carlie being a witch. Just like her being a witch, it's both a gift and a curse and that's what's we're going to find out in this story.

Like all fantasy and paranormal stories, you'll meet here different magical creatures, including those evil ones. Carlie, being a new witch, has to navigate through this magical side of her life with the guidance of her grandmother and learn more about her abilities. Then, Jim Dietrich came to town to ask for Carlie's help. She didn't know that the help he requires may actually get her to use her gifts and go into the forest where something bad happened and Carlie may need her magic to put things to right. 

I did enjoy this story. What I really like was what started out as just a routine investigation to prevent corporate espionage has turned into a battle to get rid of evil spirits. It's a turn of events that you will not normally expect but it was done very well in this story. I was actually hanging on to every chapter because I was so curious. Then, it gets curiouser when other magical beings appeared and their origin is even more interesting. I'm glad that Carlie succeeded in this first mission of sorts with her using her abilities. I'm dying to know what adventures and creatures she had to exorcise in order to protect Halfway and it's people. 

I give the book 4/5 delicious waffles. This is a really good start to a new series. It's very suspenseful and you won't really know what's going to happen next in the succeeding chapters. I basically had no idea. I had no way of knowing. I did not formulate any theories as to what Carlie will do or what's going to transpire. I just enjoyed the story as it took me to where it went next and it was fun and a relief that Carlie succeeded. It was scary and nerve-racking having to watch Carlie face an enemy she had never seen before, except in books or heard from stories of her grandma. Having all these other mix of characters, both immortal and ordinary humans also add up to the whole dynamics of the story. I like the fact that in the first few chapters, the author has laid it out that Halfway is a magical place. It's like a disclaimer or a warning. So definitely, you would expect supernatural and paranormal things to happen. I like that it somehow prepares the reader but not really that prepared because you'll never know what creatures are going to make an appearance. I'm looking forward to reading the next books in the series and how the rest of the book will unfold and as to what direction the story will take. This is a book that falls halfway between an easy and a not so easy read. Easy on the beginning but you will have to brace yourself in the later part because that's where the real fight begins. And then, you can take a deep breath of relief because Carlie was able to get out of that forest unscathed and probably just advanced into the next level, if there are levels in being a witch. After this assignment, she may have just become a newly-improved witch from being just a newbie.

But for now, I treat my magic like a new pair of shoes. Someday, we're going to love each other, but for now we're just trying to fit together comfortably.

You insult my waffles, and you've just launched the first salvo in a war.

Tea first, troubles second. 
- Terry Maggert, Halfway Dead - 

Thank you again, Terry Maggert for the copy. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

In Defense of Innocence by Dave Wickenden | A Book Review

In Defense of Innocence by Dave Wickenden | A Book Review by iamnotabookworm!

I was unable to access the internet for about a week because we had an issue with our connection. I was not able to work also. Good thing is I was able to read a few books. This is one of the books I read, which is a review request from an author. This is my first to read of this author. This book is probably the most difficult to read, if not, one of the most difficult ever. Difficult because of the subject that it tackles and its harsh realities. I had to rest after reading a few chapters and read a lighter story to decompress. In a way, it has gotten to me and I felt like I was drained of all energy. The truth was just too much for me to swallow.

Like its title, the author, through the effort of this book, takes on a very daunting and intimidating endeavor. Knowing that the author is a military personnel who pretty much has to deal with crimes and other criminalities, I'm pretty sure, he's such a wealth of information on the subject that is being raised by this story. This is about pedophiles and the different atrocities and cruelties inflicted on children. I, for one love children. I see their innocence and vulnerability. I have three nephews and one niece and it's my first instinct to protect them from anything that might harm them. If I were a parent, I'd take on the world to shield them. With that said, to read this book, takes a lot of courage and strength. It was not easy. I was filled with loathing and I wanted to hurt those people who prey on children and their weakness. It grieves my heart to accept the truth that these monsters could be anyone. More so, those who are in positions of influence and take advantage of that power. So, if it takes a lot of strength for a reader to read this, it took much gumption, strength of character, and guts to be able to write this very gruesome tale. It's both a lesson and a cautionary tale. It opens one's eyes to what's right in front of our faces, not just in Canada but all over the world.

This is probably one or the only story where I was rooting for the other character, other than the main one. I was rooting for the vigilante. Yes, her method is not exactly the legal or the most moral one but it gets the job done. It paved the way for the change in laws regarding the punishment for sex offenders and pedophiles. It also mobilized a lot of people to go out to the streets and make the government act. It's also very inspiring to have people who dedicate their lives to the protection of the rights of all children. The police officers, specifically those who work at the Child Exploitation Center or more like the Women's Desk or Children's Welfare here in the Philippines. Those rights advocate who unceasingly and tirelessly work to fight for the rights of children and women all over the world. The emergency or first responders, the doctors, the crime scene investigators, the police officers who work in IT and frequent those online hangouts of these offenders, just so they could prevent another child from being abused or rescue the next victims and return them safely to their family. Those law officers who almost never sleep just so these types of evil will never walk free or see daylight again because there is no rest for the wicked. These are modern day heroes who deserve as much recognition. The fight will never be over. 

While reading this, I felt like my heart was stabbed to shreds. It was so harrowing. It was too much to even just read. How much more if an innocent six-year old was actually going through those unimaginable atrocities? Can you ever imagine? What person gets off of that? Definitely a monster, right? Someone who doesn't deserve to live. It breaks my heart to even think of it but it's the brutal reality. There are just monsters who walk this world who doesn't have a single drop of conscience or remorse. I hope they burn in hell.

I give this book 5/5 wolverines. In this book, a wolverine is described as a truly evil animal that challenges the lynx (a symbolism for those who have been abused), the wolf (which stands for those who fight to live and run free), and the trapper. Most trappers will put away their traps for the season if a wolverine ever crosses their line. That is how vicious a wolverine is, that even an armed trapper is afraid to cross it's path. The wolverine stands for those people who are not afraid to exploit and destroy the future of young children. And I hope that people all over the world will continue the fight. We need to be as vicious and as mean as the wolverine. We need to imposed the most severe punishment for those sexual offenders. The damage they cause doesn't only affect the victim. It's a domino effect. It bleeds and taints the family of the victim, the people whose jobs call for having to deal with the victims and these offenders. All the people who have to work in solving these crimes, enforcing the law, emergency responders, everyone. It affects all these people and no one is ever the same after they witness these type of evil. The lasting effect of the crime should be taken into account also when the sentence is given. It should consider the lives that have been affected and destroyed, the cost of rehabilitation of the victims who may survive the ordeal but not necessarily survive the shame and the pain that never goes away as long as they live. It's a stigma that is everlasting. I have so much respect for the author for having the courage to write this book. This is an eye-opener and I encourage everyone to pick up and read this. This is going to be painful but it contains a lot of truth and it helps empower us women, mothers, and all of us who try so hard and those who dedicate their lives to protect the rights of all the children in the world. 

A lifetime of pain and shame that never diminishes.

Women have fewer rights than men.

If someone who was supposed to help others could abuse children and get away with it, hidden by the very church he represented, then what good was the church? What good was the law?
- Dave Wickenden, In Defense of Innocence - 


Thank you again, Dave Wickenden for the ARC. May you continue to write more fierce and unflinching stories that serve as eye-openers for the world over. I salute you. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Electric Impulse (Love, Life and Sex #1) by Angel Hilson | An ARC | A Book Review

Electric Impulse (Love, Life and Sex #1) by Angel Hilson | An ARC | A Book Review by iamnotabookworm!

The author sent me a review request through the contact us link of this blog. I did agree to review the book and make room for this because this is an ARC. This is a story about a woman who have abandonment issues and who was dumped in front of a lot of people in a family gathering at his boyfriend's house. Then, she meets real estate mogul in the club she works for and their attraction and chemistry is undeniable. Why this story is called Electric Impulse is explained in the book. It's about the flowers and bees. The real story why bees know which flowers are ripe with pollen is because of electric impulse. Not the flowers and the bees version that parents give to their children to explain sex. It's an electric field that somehow leads the bees to the flowers and then bees carry the nectar so the flowers could be fertilized. How electric impulse is relevant in the story? You will have to find out. I don't want to spoil anything.

So, Aria and Phoenix. These are the two main characters in this story. By the way, this is a steamy book, so read at your own risk. Anyway, these two cross paths and the attraction between them was very palpable. You can feel it in the air but Aria is already taken. Then, the unthinkable happened and her boyfriend dumped her. In some way, fate seems to intervene and these two meet again after that drunken behavior of Phoenix in the club. They hang out and the rest is obvious. 

It turns out, Aria has a lot of things that he did not know about Phoenix and when they were revealed, it was a total shock to her. She felt like she was being played. I too was surprised at the twists in the story. I never expected that Phoenix had secrets but then again, the story would be so boring without those curveballs right. They were just so unexpected that I was totally surprised and speechless just like Aria when she found out.

The story is not exactly new but the way it was written was very engaging that I couldn't put it down. I had to finish it. There was this unseen force or electric field that urge me to just get on and finish the story. There's no stopping it. I also like that the story seems to backtrack. It did no start with the present but rather from six months ago when main character became undone or at a pivotal point in her life. At some point, some chapters of the present are inserted in between. It was a clever way of arranging the chapters which in a way explains why I was glued and just couldn't let go of the story. It gives me snippets of some thing that's about to happen but then doesn't exactly give me a clue on what it was. The anticipation building was absolutely done perfectly and was the key in making me finish the book in one go. The force was just irresistible. I was rendered powerless and can't do anything but succumbed to it until I reach the final pages. 

So, I give the story 4.5/5 bees. Again, the story is not new but the way it was written was doubtlessly refreshing. It was probably the best thing about the story. How the chapters were paced and arranged was so clever. It keeps the readers anticipating and in suspense but still keeping to the story. I was never at some point, confused or lost as to how the story goes even if the chapters were not done in order of occurrence. This isn't the first time I've seen it but it was the first that have I seen it done this way. I have read books before that was ordered differently but how it was done in this story was a different variation. Great job to the author for attempting that feat and had successfully done it. It was risky but was done perfectly and the timing of the events were not lost at all. 

I really liked what the author wrote below and I think if you want to curse someone this is the best way to do it. This curse will definitely give you good karma and will return to you a thousand fold, which of all the curses in the world you will not definitely feel sorry for. I would definitely want to be cursed this way too. Go on do it!  

I curse you with abundance that's so full and bursting at the seams, it allows you to be generous, kind and caring to those around you in need. 
I curse you with a happiness so deep and profound, that you beam, shining like the sun everywhere you go. 
And for every person that lays eyes on your brilliance, I curse them to be inspired to live as fully as you are.
-  Angel Hilson, Electric Impulse -

Thank you, Angel Hilson for the ARC. I am looking forward to reading the rest of the books in this series and find out what else do you have that will surprise me. Hopefully, you'd be able to maintain the same engagement that had me hooked on the story. I hope you could maintain the same pace and keep that electric field and have your readers finish your stories in one sitting. Congratulations on Electric Impulse!

And yes, I like this cover better than the other one.

The Exploding Sky (Sons of the Sand #4) by Kimberly Loth | ARC | A Book Review

The Exploding Sky (Sons of Sand #4) by Kimberly Loth | ARC | A Book Review by iamnotabookworm!

Mother of Goddesses! I can't believe this series is over. The adventures of Gabe and Liv are over. No more running, lies, and secrets. Everything has been revealed and laid out. Anyone that has been hiding a secret has confessed. And my goodness, they were all so shocking and so jaw-dropping. Until now, I am still shaking my head in disbelief. 

True that, this book concludes the four-book series of genies and adventures. If you haven't started this series, start it now. Right at this minute. You will definitely not be disappointed. If you love magic, love stories, mythical or magical creatures, then this is the story for you. It's so enjoyable that you will find yourself stepping into the shoes of Liv and get carried away by all her experiences, worries, and adventures. A lot of characters here may seem ordinary and not note-worthy, very unassuming characters that will definitely surprise you. 

I have read this from the first book and now, this last installment. I have accompanied Liv in all her confusion, her exhilaration, her doubts, and all her fears. If I did not want to be Liv, I'm her older sister who wanted her to succeed in all the challenges that have been thrown to her throughout this story. Her character had developed beautifully as the story progressed and had come to terms with the changes and revelations that were part of her identity. She had surprised all those who wanted to hurt her and had tried so hard to protect those she loved. Here is another teen heroine who took me to various adventures, made me fear for her life, and have made me cry with her. It's sad that this story is ending but it ended with a lot of fireworks that I almost had trouble keeping up because they just came out right after the other without the chance for me to even breathe or think through them. 

Again, classic Kimberly Loth with all her surprises coming from everywhere will bombard you endlessly. I did not see these surprises, especially in this last book coming. Never ever. I have no idea. They were totally out of the blue. They just came down raining faster than you can say "What?" Yes, you will end up saying the word "What?" again and again because of the numerous secrets and people owning up to secrets right after the other, literally. That was the best part of this book and I want to relive those moments again. Very priceless. I've never been hit with these multiple revelations before. Totally a first and a one-for-the-books kind of experience. 

I only expected that the book will end happily ever after and that the villain will be extinguished. Those expectations were met but what blew me entirely was it was more than I could ask for. Freaking absolutely beyond my imagination. I never ever thought of those twists to come flying right out to me like Aladdin's magic carpet. It was super fantastic. Literally and figuratively, the sky has exploded in this story. 

And with that said, I give this book 4.5/5 voodoo dolls. I love the surprises in this story and the whole series in general but I think it's slightly not as emotional as the Stella and Sol series. This is a very good series and I did enjoy it but I just love Stella and Sol even more. I think the Stella and Sol was a more mature story than this one with a lot of depth and drew a lot of difficult and complicated emotions from me. I know where the differences lie between this and the former series and it's also because the main character of this story, Liv, is a teenager and her experiences and what's expected of were totally different from that of Zwaantie but I just can't help but compare the two. Stella and Sol is deep and complicated and this one is loads of fun, lighter. This did not mean that this story disappoints. No, far from it. I absolutely love this though I did point out a few things that I would have wanted to be more on this series. Nevertheless, this book ended with major fireworks which is just beyond any I could ever imagine. And fireworks are always grand.

Mother of Goddesses!
- Kimberly Loth, The Exploding Sky - 

Thanks again, Kimberly Loth for the ARC. I'm looking forward for the next series that will again take us to another adventure and get me to meet new characters and creatures. Congratulations!

Other books in the series:

The Smoking Lamp (Sons and Sand #1)

The Blazing Glass (Sons and Sand #2)

The Glowing Sands (Sons and Sand #3)

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

John's Crazy Socks and Their Great Mission

Father and son - Mark and John Lee Cronin, founder and owner of John's Crazy Socks.

Last week, I came upon an online socks store through Dealspotr. Dealspotr is a site where you can find discounts, freebies, promo codes, and deals for all stores and products. I was invited to join this platform to earn additional income. Businesses who are also members of the site have ongoing campaigns and a blogger or influencer can apply to help promote those campaigns. If approved, you'll either get paid, get free products or both. So, it was through Dealspotr that I stumbled on John's Crazy Socks. It's a shop owned by a father and son--Mark and John Lee Cronin. The site got my attention not because of it's colorful, creative, funny, and unique socks but because of how the store came to be. The store is John's idea. He loves crazy socks. Socks with funny designs and full of colors which speaks of individuality. You may ask, what's so unique and different about this father and son socks store then? Well, it's the fact that John came up with the idea to get into business with his Dad. And the most amazing part of their story is that a portion of their sales goes to various charities that help people with Down syndrome, autism, and other mental conditions. This is their mission and commitment to help people like John, who has Down syndrome. This is exactly what interested me. 

If you love Bill Murray, then you've got to have these socks.

As you may all know, or if you don't, then let me tell you. This blog started out two years ago just as an outlet for me for my thoughts and my frustrations. Not to mention, that I love to read and it has been my plan years before to actually start a blog. Yes, this just started out as just me thinking out loud. Making my thoughts known to the world of how I was affected by the story I just read along with all my emotional ramblings. Then, when people started to read this blog, especially authors, and then some of them said that they appreciated my review, I then realize that I could actually help authors promote their books. So, I did and has thus become the main thrust and goal of this site. To help authors spread the word about their book, especially self-published and indie authors. And with John's Crazy Socks and it's very admirable mission, I too wanted to be a part of that. I had this impulse and crazy idea to email them and ask permission to help promote their site. And here I am. And just to be clear, I am not asking anything in return. I only emailed them to ask permission to use their pictures and information. I volunteered to do this out of my eagerness to help because I believe in their cause. I never get paid for my reviews here or any book reviewers for that matter, as far as I know. I wrote this to help spread the news about their site, their mission, and their products. When you buy one of John's crazy socks, not only will you be getting cool and colorful socks but you will be also be helping a very noble cause. A part of the sales goes to the Special Olympics who played an important role in John's development. So, the money you paid for the socks will go a long way and you get to sport colorful and express-yourself socks too. 

Summer socks, as colorful and bright as summer.

So, if you are a bookworm or just somebody who loves to wear socks, you can check out their site and browse through their wide array of sock designs. I do like their United Nations socks. They have all kinds of socks--knee socks, ankle socks, compression socks, foot socks. I mean all types socks. They have it. They also have sock collections. I like their Book Lovers socks and the Dog Lovers socks. My personal favorite is their "Banned Books" socks which is part of their Book Lovers socks collection. If you are a Harry Potter fan like me, you can have the "Books Turn Muggles into Wizards" socks, so "Sock Sundays" will be so much fun. And who can resist curling up in a corner reading a Harry Potter book channeling in your inner wizard by wearing socks inspired by the story itself. Reading Harry Potter will be so much more fun and enjoyable. These socks will complete your Hogwarts ensemble along with your Hogwarts House scarf, robe, and wand. Once your friends will see these, they will want to get one too and you may just have started craze for Harry Potter socks from John's Crazy Socks. These really cool socks will look so good in your Instagram photos too. How's that? 

It's a small world after all. It's a small small world.  

Even if you don't do "Sock Sundays" or take pictures of your socks with your books in a flat lay, or just a person who is really not into socks, just the thought that you will be helping a very noble cause is already a very good reason to get a pair of socks from John's Crazy Socks. You can get one of their gift boxes and send it to someone you know who would love one of these socks. They ship within the same day and you also get a personalized handwritten thank you note from John. If I were in the US, I would have bought their socks already but I am from the Philippines and the best I can do is help spread the word about this father-son duo who wants to help social organizations whose goals are to empower and help spreading awareness about autism, down syndrome, etc. If I get the chance to travel to the US again, then I will surely buy for myself those two Book Lover socks that I really love. 

Really cool Banned Books Socks. 

The main reason why their story drew my attention in the first place is because I have a nephew who was diagnosed with very slight autism when he was two years old. It has more to do with his emotional and behavioral development. My sister resigned her job so she can focus on his therapy and support his development. After a year in therapy, endless support, patience, and follow-up from my sister, he's now very very functional. He is now eleven and goes to a regular school. He's going to be in fifth grade this school opening and is just like all the other kids who can't get his hands off the tablet. Now, his only struggle is his weight. So, hearing about how John's Crazy Socks started touched me because I understand and know how it feels to have a family member who has a mental or behavioral condition. So, this is my way of helping out spread awareness not only for their store but for the very good cause they stand for, which is very admirable.

This would complete your Harry Potter ensemble.

So, if you've read this post, whether you're a bookworm or not, go ahead and check out John's Crazy Socks. I'm pretty sure you will find a pair of socks that would be to your liking. And when you do, go ahead and buy it. It's for a very good cause and you will feel a hundred times lighter and better because you've done a good deed for the day. Don't forget to spread the news too. They need all the help they can get so they can continue supporting these advocacies for Down syndrome, autism, etc. Tell all you friends, neighbors, officemates, everyone. Let's support their cause and let their mission be our own personal mission too.

You can also check out their social media accounts:

Note: All pictures in this post are from John's Crazy Socks website and Instagram account used with permission from them. 

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Blood Oath (Blood Oath #2) by Amanda McCrina | Release Day Blast and Ask the Author

Blood Oath
(Blood Oath #2) 
Author : Amanda McCrina

Publisher: Month9Books
Publication Date: June 19, 2018
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 244

I was asked to review this second installment but I just can't insert it anymore into my overly crowded TBR and more so because I would not be able to read and review it in time for the release day. So instead, I opted to just post something to help promote the book in time for the release day. Since I read Blood Road, I decided to ask the author some questions regarding some of the things I've noticed on the first book. So, scroll down to the Ask the Author portion of this post and find out for yourselves the questions I've asked the author and her interesting answers. Hopefully, I would be able to read and review this second book of the series in the later months. 

Thanks again Month9Books and Amanda McCrina for allowing me to ask my questions and have them answered. 

For everyone's information, this is my first time to ask an author questions about the book and get them answered and I am allowed to post them. Mostly, this usually happens in private messages and some authors gave me inside information on their books that I've reviewed but of course, I am not allowed to share them with anyone. And that's one of the greatest things about being a book reviewer and blogger. I get to be privy to some very important updates and development of some of my favorite books that are not included in newsletters and other pubic forums or social media platforms. It's like an insider tip given to me by author. This is officially my first author interview though very very brief. Thanks Month9Books for facilitating this and for the awesome opportunity.

The aftermath of what happened in the capital has shaken Torien to the core. Battling self-doubt and bitterness, he must find his resolve as he is sent back to Tasso to quell a violent uprising on the Road.

But Torien will need more than resolve to navigate the deadly path before him. His troops are inexperienced and his new adjutant untrustworthy. A series of murder attempts leaves the whole camp on edge. As the threat of mutiny builds, the mission seems doomed before they even reach Tasso—and Torien is beginning to suspect it was meant that way. He and his men are being set up to fail.

With his best friend in the hands of the rebels, his commanding officer refusing to negotiate a peace treaty, and his own men ready to turn on him at any moment, Torien must decide once and for all how much he’s willing to sacrifice for an empire he no longer believes in.

Chion unsheathed his knife and slid the blade under the edge of Torien’s cuirass, above the hip.
“I’m going to signal the ships tonight,” he said.
Torien stood very still against the blade. “Chion—”
“I won’t kill you—though I think Serik would, if I asked him. I’ll let them give you your trial in Choiro.”
“Listen to me, Chion.”
“You’ll be under guard. The Tegeni can do it. Easier that way. You’ll be in your quarters as if nothing has
“I sent to negotiate. I sent to offer peace.”
“General Sarno said you would.” Chion unbuckled Torien’s sword belt with his free hand. “He said you’d
try. Said it was in your barbarian blood—to betray us. I said I’d stop you, if it came to that.” He tugged
the belt off and bundled it under his elbow. He shrugged Torien’s hand from his shoulder. He eased the
blade a little, pushing Torien around toward the hilltop. He jabbed the point into the small of Torien’s
back. “Walk.”
“Is that what you think? That it’s my barbarian blood?”
“I don’t know.”
“Is that what you think, Chion?”
Chion was silent, for a moment.
“I don’t think you’re a traitor,” he said finally. “Not the way Sarno thinks, anyway. I think you really
believed they’d give us peace.”
“At least give them the chance. Wait until the signo comes back.”
“If he comes back.”
“You’ll know by nightfall. At least wait until then.”

“I can’t,” Chion said. “I can’t, even if I wanted. I gave Sarno my word.”

“You gave me your word. Any oath I asked—you weren’t the traitor. Your word doesn’t mean much, at
this point.”
“I can swear truthfully that I serve the Empire. My word to you came subject to that. You should
understand. You swore it the same.”
“I serve the Empire,” Torien said.
“They can decide it at your court martial,” Chion said.

In the first book, Blood Road, I observed that Torien seemed to faint a lot of times. Why did Torien keep passing out in the story? Does this happen in Blood Oath?

Honestly, Torien had a pretty rough time in Blood Road: getting stabbed twice and suffering a seriously infected wound, taking a spear butt to the face, being tortured via exposure/water deprivation ... the list goes on. He does pass out after one of the stabbings, during the extended torture sequence, and while suffering an extremely high fever from the infection, but I don't hold it against him—I’m pretty sure I wouldn't have lasted as long. 😊 I'm happy to report that he doesn't take such a physical beating in Blood Oath.

One of the characters that I really liked in the story is Lieutenant Senna. I want to know who's the inspiration for his character. Is he based on a person in real life who's close to you? Is Torien based on anybody in your life?

None of my characters are intentionally based on real people, though I'm sure I've subconsciously recycled bits and pieces of people I actually know. I will say that Alluin's snark and sarcasm came pretty easily to me; his sense of humor is pretty close to mine. Torien himself is a character type that I tend to write quite a lot—an insufferably honorable character, usually a soldier, who's trying to do the right thing even if it means personal hurt (and it always does)—and he's drawn from the types of characters I like most to read about. Costis, from Megan Whalen Turner's Queen's Thief series, is an example of a similar character, as is Aquila from Rosemary Sutcliff's classic YA novel The Lantern Bearers.

How did Torien's story come to be? What inspired you to write it? Did something close to what Lida experienced happen to you personally or someone close to you? Or were you a witness to some cruel injustice and corruption and have taken it as a personal cause?

Writing from a position of privilege as a middle-class white woman, I've never experienced the kind of hardship Lida experiences in Blood Road—seeing her mother murdered by gangsters, her twin brother sold into slavery, and her government either turn a blind eye to or actively participate in her oppression. But that kind of violence and injustice does happen in our world, and closer to home than we'd like to think. Too often, we can witness it just by watching the news. I truly wish Torien's story didn't have so many real-life parallels.

Amanda McCrina was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. She received her BA in History and Political Science from the University of West Georgia. She lives in Madrid, Spain, where she teaches at an international school.

She writes historical fiction and political fantasy.