Monday, February 26, 2018

Pen and Xander by Laekan Zea Kemp | Book Blast and Giveaway

Title: Pen and Xander
Author: Laekan Zea Kemp

Published Date: October 31, 2017
Genre: YA

Pen Prado has a passion for cooking. Specifically, cooking her father's food in her father's restaurant. It's the heart of their immigrant neighborhood, a place where everyone belongs, and second chances are always on the menu. Except for Pen. Despite the fact that there's something almost magic about her food, her father can't imagine anything worse than her following in his footsteps. And when Pen confesses to keeping a secret from her family, he fires her, ensuring she never will.

Xander Amaro is undocumented but that doesn't stop Ignacio Prado from offering him a job at his restaurant. For Xander, it's a chance to make amends and to sever his toxic relationship with the druglord, El Cantil--a man whose been like a father to him since his own disappeared. Soon after, his mother abandoned him too, leaving behind a void that not even his abuelo can fill. Until he meets Pen.

Both seeking a place where they feel like they truly belong, they end up finding each other, and in the face of tremendous fear and self-doubt, they end up finding themselves.

The parking lot hasn’t changed; the science building looks the same as that first day of school five months ago. But as I sit in my car, watching girls I met during orientation skip up the steps, hugging their bags, excited to play nurse, I try to convince myself that something inside me has. That today I’ll actually be able to go inside. That today I will stop lying and be the person they want me to be.

Class starts in approximately seven minutes—the class I should have taken and passed last semester, moving me one step closer to a degree in nursing.
Six minutes.
I sit in the parking lot, watching the clock tick down. The car is in park but I can’t bring myself to turn off the engine. 
Walk inside.
I turn off the car, reminding myself how much I’ve already wasted on tuition and books.
You can do this. You can.
I reach for my bag.
Get. Out. Of. The. Car. 
And then I can’t breathe.
My mother’s shoes.
All I can think about are my mother’s shoes.

How they’ve sat in the same spot by the door for almost twenty years. Scuffed and cracked, the shadow of her foot pressed to the leather even when the laces are loose. I imagine every hallway they’ve ever walked down, every door they’ve propped open, every mess they’ve ever stepped in, every second they’ve held her up when all she wanted was to collapse. Because one of her patients couldn’t remember her face or their daughter’s name or how to speak.

When she lost one I’d wake to the knock of the rolling pin and the smell of dough warming on the hot plate. Sometimes I’d try to take the pin from her but there was something about the force, about the rhythm that reminded her how to breathe. We’d work in silence and three-dozen tortillas later she’d wrap them in foil and drive them to the family. The family that only visited once a month. That would accept my mother’s food without acknowledging that she was more family to the deceased than they were.

And then the next day she would go back to work.
For almost twenty years. She went back.
And if I step out of this car, if I walk up those steps, if I sit at that desk and pretend…how long will I be sitting there before I realize I’m trapped?

I take a deep breath, the scent of a thousand shifts at the restaurant tucked into the fabric of the front seat. Mango and cilantro and epazotetomatillos and roasted pepitas and tortillas. I can’t sleep without those smells tangled in my hair, without those flavors still on my tongue.

So I have to decide what’s scarier: living a life that doesn’t belong to me or losing the one I love. If the truth breaks my father’s heart, I know he’ll take it from me. But if it doesn’t, if he understands, if I can makehim understand, I can be free.

I weigh each option, simmering in the anxiety they provoke, in the hope. Because I have to do what scares me. It’s the only way to ward off the helplessness. To stay in control. I always have to be in control.

Which means that today is not the day I go inside.
My stomach drops, my hand reaching to put the car in drive again.
Today is the day I tell them the truth.

Click on the photo or the Enter Now! link below to enter the giveaway.

Giveaway ends on March 25, 2018.


1st Place: (1 winner)
Kindle Fire
E-copies of My Entire Backlist
Digitally signed copy of The Girl In Between
Digitally signed copy of Pen & Xander
The Girl In Between Instrumental Soundtrack
Printable Bookmarks

2nd Place: (5 winners)
E-copies of My Entire Backlist
Digitally signed copy of The Girl In Between
Digitally signed copy of Pen & Xander
The Girl In Between Instrumental Soundtrack
Printable Bookmarks

3rd Place: (10 winners)
Digitally signed copy of The Girl In Between
Digitally signed copy of Pen & Xander
Printable Bookmarks

4th Place: (15 winners)
Digitally signed copy of Pen & Xander
Printable Bookmarks

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Snow Owl (The Alder Tales #4) by R.S. McCoy | An ARC | A Book Review

Snow Owl (The Alder Tales #4) by R.S. McCoy | An ARC | A Book Review by iamnotabookworm!

The last book in The Alder Tales series. It's finally here and it's also sad because the series has ended. I would like to have more of Blossom, Kade, Parson, Raene, Hale, Gemini and Da. These amazing characters have become like family to me as I have seen them grow through the four installments. The tale is concluded and it's a mixture of emotions because then, there would be no more waiting for the next book. I will miss the build up of emotions and the anticipation that came with the waiting. Ah, but it was a very good run.

I think all the important characters in this whole tale have mobilized in this story. It's like all hands on deck. All the Franes and all those that are related to the Franes have to get involved and do something. Everyone has to chip in. Everyone needs to help. Now, it's not only the Franes who are in danger but the whole of the kingdom. 

A lot of things are happening at the same time in this last book. From start to finish, I was filled with tension and I was on edge. I wanted the plan of the Franes to work. I want them to succeed in their mission but it was not as easy as it was. The best thing about this story is it has done what all good last installments do. It tied all lose ends neatly and perfectly. I love how it ended but I wish there was one or two more books. I know the Franes have now found their happy endings and each have found the right person to complete them, but I wanted the story to not end there. I wanted to know how their lives will be after all that they have accomplished and survived.

Everything here comes full circle and truth be told, when you are unhappy you want everyone to be unhappy too. Since you suffered, you wanted people to do the same. When you were robbed off of your choices, you wanted to take that away from people too. Audra Mercer, the grand villain of this story, was a prime example of that and she represents a lot of hurt, miserable and selfish people here in the world that wanted the whole kingdom to feel the same way she felt too. I just wished she didn't have it easy at the end. She wasn't even repentant at all. I wished to pound her for all the torments and sufferings that she had caused just because she was so miserable. I almost thought that she was going to have a change of heart because I thought she might have just found the person she needed. Almost, but not quite. Right to the very end, she did not want to relinquished what little control and power she had left. Well, like in real life, not all villains realize that their end is near, so change is not to be expected. 

There were a lot of revelations here-- of characters, of motives and hidden agendas are now all out in the open. It's no time for subtlety or discretion anymore. The guilty are now made to pay for their crimes and sins. Allies have to band together for strength. A lot of very unexpected characters rose up to do the opposite also. Actions that were out of character.

Yes, I am happy with the story but again, I still could not get over the fact that this series is over. It hasn't sinked in yet. I wanted to have more. 

I give this book 5/5 snow owls. As I have said, the book is a very fitting conclusion to the series. It absolutely and certainly tied all loose ends. Everything that needs to be resolved was resolved and anyone that needs to pay for their crimes was asked to pay back all debts that were owed in one way or another. I perfectly did not expect all the revelations but it wasn't surprising at all too. They all made perfect sense and the dots all connected. 

But the secret to bravery is doing what's needed even when you're afraid.
- R. S. McCoy, Snow Owl - 

Thank you again, R. S. McCoy for the ARC.

Other books in the series:

Blossom and the Beast (The Alder Tales #1)

Raene and the Three Bears (The Alder Tales #2)

Hale and Gemini (The Alder Tales #3)

Friday, February 16, 2018

Gladly Beyond (Brothers Maledetti #1) by Nichole Van | A Book Review

Gladly Beyond (Brothers Maledettin #1) by Nichole Van | A Book Review by iamnotabookworm!

I read book two of the series first. It was called Love's Shadow. I so love the story. I got this book for free on Kindle. I can't remember how. Maybe, I got an email that this book was on sale or whatever. Long story short, I got this for nada. 

For those who don't know, I am a sucker for stories with history thrown into the mix. That's why I love the books of Clive Cussler, Steve Berry and Dan Brown. I love stories that weave connections between the long dead past and the present. How the timelines or people are interconnected between the vastness of time and how the past has a lot to do with the present. I was just so thrilled to find Nichole Van, a female author who specializes also in this genre. Most of the books I read on the same genre were written by men, so I am just so happy to have found a woman who can just do the same. 

So far, these two stories are set in Europe, specifically Italy. This one--Florence. The D' Angelo brothers which are the brothers referred to in the series title are descendants of an Italian Count who was cursed. So, the term "maledetti" which in Italian means "damned or cursed". The curse actually was asked for by the original D' Angelo. He wished for it from a gypsy woman, which turned out to be too much for him. So the saying, "be careful what you wish for" was probably aimed for the first Conte de Maledetti. This curse gets passed on to all the first born sons, until the present. The only difference now is, there are three of these sons, thus the ability was also fractured into three parts. The brothers Dante, Branwell and Tennyson are triplets who inherited the gift from their father, who got it from his grandfather, which can be traced back up to the first daring D' Angelo. This gift has driven a lot of D' Angelo's to madness and death. Good thing, the triplets had learned more of the ability as it was passed on to them. Now, they are more equipped than their ill-fated ancestors were but still, it doesn't guarantee that they are safe from the consuming madness that came with it or the ever present threat of death.

I realized the order of the books in the series might be based on the order of birth of the brothers. This story is about Dante who's the older twin of Branwell. Ten is the youngest of the three. The second book was about Branwell and the third one is about Chiara their sister and the last book is about Ten. I have book three too. So, I might have to start it soon. 

I have been curious about regression and past lives. Could it be true?  How amazing could it be to be able to know about our past lives and figure out how it's relevant to the current situations. How much of it impacted the you that you are today? Are you living the same life over and over again? Finding the same person over and over, life after life. Making the same mistake across lifetimes like a broken record. That's exactly the theme of this story. The same old song seems to be playing in the present lives of Dante and Claire and it has never changed over the past centuries. Will history repeat itself as it had always done over the past? Is there no escaping the past and how would these two end up?

I feel like I need to go to Italy after reading this book. A lot of beautiful places and tourist spots are mentioned here. I feel like I was there, seeing Claire taking selfies. And yes, gelato. How I would love to eat gelato for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The intrigue and mystery in this story was not lost in all the grandeur and historic places. Who's who and the prominent figures and artists mentioned in the story. Not to mention, again Da Vinci, the favorite subject of controversy among many writers. He's in here to. Who could refuse a heady sprinkling of a  Da Vinci mystery, right? Just what I need.

I am not sure which of the two stories so far I liked more. Van has been so consistent. All the elements that are in this book are also in the second one. A haunting past that has a tight hold on the present. A mix of very interesting and suspicious characters. You wouldn't know who's really the bad one. A leading lady who is just as strong as the main man. And of course, the workings of the supernatural. There was no letting go of this book until I was done. Never have I been happier. I could eat the book if I wanted to. Just glorious.

Stories like these are what made me want to just read without stopping. How my heart beats faster in time with Claire and Dante as they try to outrun and outsmart the unknown enemy. How I was helplessly pulled into the story like these two were helplessly thrown back into the past without warning. And how I too made that same audible sigh of relief with the rest of the D' Angelo's as these two came home alive and unharmed to the manor. Ah, I want more. I feel no discontent but I can't get enough of it.

I give this book 5/5 pictures of Florence, Italy. After reading this story, I feel like I should be cautious in taking selfies because someone from a bygone era might appear in my photos. If it's as handsome and as gentle as Dante or any of the D' Angelo brothers, then no problem. As long as it's not some ghost that is out to haunt me. Nichole Van, no doubt you will end up in my favorite author's list. I can't wait. 

Peace washed through me. An ache for this amazing man who would always be my own personal battering ram. Destroying anything that tried to hurt me, sheltering me.

Just make a little Dante-sized hole in the walls around your heart. You're welcome to seal it right back up once I'm inside. But, please, let it happen.

White tennis shoes on the Americans; brown loafers for the Germans; black dress shoes for the Japanese. I swear you can identify nationality by footwear alone.
- Nichole Van, Gladly Beyond- 

Other books in the series:

Love's Shadow (Brothers Maledetti #2)

Lightning Struck (Brothers Maledetti #3)

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Melody's Key by Dallas Coryell | A Book Review

Melody's Key by Dallas Coryell | A Book Review by iamnotabookworm!

The author reached out to me via Instagram and asked me if I wanted to review his book and I agreed. I don't think I have ever refused any author who approached me to review their book. You don't refuse an offer of a free book. It's such an honor for me to be noticed and offered a rare opportunity. Sometimes I am surprised how some of these authors find me. This blog has been in existence for 2 years. I started this January of 2016. I don't expect to be able to reach a lot of people. I only wanted to do this because it has been something that I wanted to do for a long time. This is also a medium of expression for me for bottled up thoughts, etc.  I am happy that so far, this has been doing good and that in some way, I have helped some authors get their book across to some of the people who happen to read this blog. Thank you everyone and I will continue to write reviews in spite of all the challenges, whether time or other things happening in my personal life. This has been one of the best things I have ever done and it has helped me more than I have helped the authors or anyone else through this blog.

Melody's Key. The picture seems a little eerie actually because of the vintage effect. For me, it somehow hinted of a horror or suspense story, if I were to judge the cover. But then again, as always, don't judge a book by its cover. This is a love story actually which I find to be most enjoyable. Very fun and a feel good story that brightens up your mood, if ever you're in a foul one. If feel like you need a pick me up, this book is for you. 

Tegan Lockwood. I think Tegan is such a cute name for a girl which also denotes strength. Though, Freckles is a very cute name too. For me, a girl named Tegan would surely be a girl with a strong personality and conviction. And the heroine of this story is exactly just that. Strong and selfless. She was supposed to go to Columbia for college but she decided to put it off to help her family run the family business to help pay off their debts. If you think about it, Tegan seems like a martyr but not really. I think she just loves her family so much and is just practical. She doesn't think they can afford yet to support her study in the US. Lockwood Manor is in England and it hosts vacationeers during summer. So, flying to New York to study is an  expensive expense the Lockwoods could not afford right now. They are up to their necks in their debts.

Tegan's ordinary and boring existence was disturbed when the famous American pop star, Mason Keane, with a widely known reputation for charming the ladies, a party animal and a big spender stayed in the manor incognito. Their first meeting was hilarious. It was in a way a meet cute only to the observer. These two batted heads on. Tegan confirmed her beliefs that Mason Keane was no good and she should just avoid him altogether. But that was not how to be.

How Tegan and Mason's friendship developed was hilarious and cute. Mason proved to Tegan he wasn't what social media purports him to be, yet Tegan still continue to refuse the evidence that were obviously staring her in the face. Their exchanges are often hilarious and full of references to movies, etc. As their relationships progressed, their conversations were filled with innuendos which are still hilarious as they get to know each other more. 

Mason probably represents a lot of celebrities that are not exactly what their reputation led to believe. How an artist or an actor is package or marketed to the public is not exactly his real personality. Like Mason, how he ended up a pop star when he hates his own songs. He only sang the songs but he never wrote them. If only he could sing his own compositions. 

As this story is written by a musician, it gives the readers a glimpse into the inner workings of the music industry. So, no wonder why some very popular celebrities just couldn't handle the fame and all the things that came with it. Simply because, it's not all glamorous as we are all made to believe. How many celebrities have we heard have overdosed on drugs or have gone out of control? Yes, they may seem like they have expensive and designer things and go to the hottest parties but are they really happy with their lifestyles? Are they exactly doing what they really want to do? Not everyone. And like this story, Mason Keane is one.

Mason is definitely a manicorn. A rare breed of a passionate, a gentleman and thoughtful person. What he did to help the Lockwood's was more than generous. He did everything he can because only the Lockwood's made him feel like he is part of the family and helped him  find the clarity that he has been looking for. They saw him as the real Mason Keane, the person, not the pop star. His short stay in the manor put things in perspective and made him feel alive again.

One other aspect of the story that I really enjoyed was the bit about the history of the manor and the love story of one of Tegan's ancestors. It was a really nice touch to the story. It added depth and mystery to the story. It is probably one aspect which made the story different from all the other girl-meets-famous-boy-and-fall-in-love story. It somehow added that quality that will make you take the story seriously and not just stereotype it as another unmemorable romance story to join the rest of the pile. With the Lockwood Manor and estate as the backdrop, somehow added a very good setting for the story where a lot of unexpected things can happen. So, another point for the author for that. 

I give this 4/5 skeleton keys. I obviously enjoyed the story. Not just the love story but its entirety. The setting, the historical background and the witty and hilarious dialogs. Not to mention, the supporting characters were given enough exposure to at least give the readers enough details to be able to picture and know the personality of those characters. Tegan's family and friends were an interesting mixture of personalities that contributed to the making this story different from the rest. I would always remember this story not with eerie cover but how it made me forget the worries of the world for a while. And Tegan is definitely one very memorable character with her very unusual name and a feisty personality to match. I would always remember this book as fun, though there were fights, misunderstandings, Tegan's battles and insecurities and all of the Lockwood's struggles. The positivity and the bond of this family eclipsed all the other sad things. What I would always remember were the hilarious episodes and all the teasing. Thank you Dallas Coryell for the opportunity to read this story. It's been a real pleasure.

Therefore I shall call you Lady Freckles McDermot of the Canterbury Gardens, Duchess of the Privy Seal and Holder of the Golden Chalice of Truth...or Freckles.
- Dallas Coryell, Melody's Key - 

Dallas Coryell is a musician and author residing deep in the untamed wilds of Michigan, USA, where he desperately attempts to assign meaning to his world through bouts of maniacal creative catharsis and pitifully doomed hopeless romantic fantasies. All of the songs written by the characters in this novel are real and can be viewed on the author’s fledgling YouTube channel. Selfies and other assorted randomness can be found on the author’s Instagram.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Elemental Ninjas by Mon D. Rea | A Book Review

Elemental Ninjas by Mon D. Rea | A Book Review by iamnotabookworm!

I've been getting a few follow-up emails from some of the authors who have sent me review requests. It is because I'm way past the 3-month deadline that I promised them. Yes, there are no excuses and I feel bad and ashamed. This has been my current dilemma, as I have been having a hard time catching up with my TBR and writing reviews. I know this has always been my song, if you have read my reviews. This has always been a challenge but now it has become worse. I hardly have time to read, much less do reviews because of this new job. I am happy that I am feeling so alive and useful again, but then I don't also want to let other people down. I apologize again to all the authors who requested me to review their books, but I will try to keep up. I hope that I will find the rhythm and balance to make sure that I could keep this new job and keep writing reviews as well, at the same time. Thank you all for understanding.

I got this book along with the other one that the author sent me--Soul City. I've enjoyed Soul City. Having already read a book by the same author, I don't know what to expect with this book, because that was how Soul City was to me. It was not as I have expected, in a good way. So, I was psyching myself up to be surprised and amazed by Elemental Ninjas.

Having read a book by the same author before, I shouldn't be surprised that Mon Rea is one talented creator of worlds and stories. His stories are so well-researched and thought out. Complete with terminologies, myths and legends. I am so proud that this book is written by one talented Filipino. This book is like the animation Avatar: The Legend of Aang or Avatar Korra. There are some similarities but then, this is also a totally different story altogether.

What I love about the book is that it's mixes fantasy and legend and created very relatable and very adorable characters. Sakura is a headstrong and smart princess of the Wind Clan. She is the granddaughter of the Emperor and is the heir to the throne as her father had passed away. Her father's death was the only blight in her almost perfect and happy life. Her father died protecting the Beshazzar's Scroll. The relic that was entrusted to Sakura's family and clan to protect. The relic is purported to give power to the one who wields it to rule over the four clans- Cranes of the Wind, Dragons of the Fire, Bears of the Ice and the Tigers who are masters of geography and great hunters. Temujin is an orphan of the Clan of the Dragon. He was sold by his father into slavery to work in the mines. He met a monk from the Clan of the Crane who trained him, even in the spiritual arts. And then, Sasha, the youngest son of the famous architect Babor of the Clan of the Bear. He and Sakura were childhood friends and had shared a very memorable experience and special bond. These three will cross paths and join forces to find Mr. Babor and bring back the scroll to safety. Away from hands of those who would use it to their own gain and bad intentions.

My most favorite part of the book is when Sakura and Sasha tested the protection of the scroll. It was a very daunting adventure. It was very smart yet very dangerous. I guess, they were just being children. Their intentions though were valid and it was so unbelievable for this two to come up with that plan. Well, Sakura mostly. The leader and instigator of the mischief. And Sasha, just being a good friend and of course, he wouldn't want to miss the fun. I love this part so much that I can read it over and over again and still marvel how these two have successfully penetrated the defenses and found the weak spot in the protection of the scroll. These two even in that young age have proven that they are bound to do great things when they come of age. 

Temujin, an even more admirable character who was brought up in a harsh and cruel life. Yet, he grew up to be an honorable young man and way opposite of what most people of the Clan of the Dragon represent. It was was very bold of him to come to the kingdom of the Clan of the Crane to warn them because Dragons and Cranes don't mix. And it was through this almost suicide mission that he chanced upon Sakura and somehow started their adventure together. When we talk of Temujin, we can't of course forget his very dependable sidekick and friend Griffin, a harpax eagle. Another notable and very cute character thrown in into this mix. 

A budding romance, a budding rivalry and a promise of more adventures into far away lands where more interesting characters will surely surface. Three young people out to prove that they can master their skills, especially in dire and life and death situations. How will these three fare when they face the most dangerous enemy? 

I give this 5/5 shurikens. A very wonderful adventure with very lovable and stubborn characters trying to prove that they are ready for the world. A very enjoyable and amazing coming of age story set in picturesque landscapes with exotic creatures only found in legends. An age old relic that threatens to ruin the peace and cooperation among the three clans if it falls into the wrong hands. An enemy that is otherworldy and hints of some secrets that are yet to be uncovered. I can't wait for the next book and what becomes of this budding love triangle. I can't hold off my grin the entire time I was reading this book. An adventure I most gladly want to be a part of. I am so fortunate to have been given this book. It was a real pleasure and so far, this is probably one of the best stories I have read this year and I want more. Where to next? I have packed my bags and provisions. I am ready. How about you Sakura, Temujin and Sasha?

There are only three times in her life that a ninja is supposed to cry. First, when she is born. Second, when her mother passes away. Finally, when her father passes away.
- Mon D. Rea, Elemental Ninjas - 

Thank you again, Mon D. Rea for the paperback copy.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Wings Unseen by Rebecca Gomez Farrell | A Book Review

Wings Unseen by Rebecca Gomez Farrell | A Book Review by iamnotabookworm!

I got this from Netgalley. I read this about two days before Christmas and only got the time today to write a review. It's been a long time coming. I'm still busier than a bee, which I am so thankful for.

Wings Unseen is a story of three people who are next in line. A prince who is about to inherit the throne. A princess who is to be married to the crown prince. And a daughter of a rich nobleman who have the power of the flame. The first born but was denied being an heir. These three people will cross paths and share a common destiny. Each will discover his/her own strength and would help beat the evil that is wreaking havoc all over the land. A trio of headstrong characters. And in this story, they will discover what they were meant to be. They will find their purpose.

This story is set in a kingdom that has been divided. Lanserim and Medua. Medua is a quarter of Lanserim that was given up where all the greedy and the bad people were exiled to have peace in Lanserim. Prince Janto and her bride-to-be, Serra, must go their separate ways before their wedding to learn more of their individual selves. Janto will have to train and pass a test. Serra will need to discover her gift. Vesperi, the girl from Medua will find her place elsewhere. Since her father deemed her unfit to be his heir, then she'd rather be someplace else. 

At first, I wasn't sure if I should hate Vesperi or not. At the onset, she seemed to be a misguided person, just like all the other Meduans were. Meduans are greedy and selfish by nature, so it was to be expected that Vesperi is exactly one. She had her own share of misdeeds. She had used her gift of the flame to cause harm but was smart enough to cover her tracks. So, it was a relief to find that she was different from the rest. She proved that she was not like any Meduan. Yes, her speech and her manners are rough and needed a lot of finesse. That would take time to change and soften. But to her surprise also, she liked being this different version of herself. The better version. It wasn't that bad at all. She could actually get used to it. Being good actually felt nice.

Janto, the crown prince. If he had a choice, he wouldn't want to rule the kingdom. He wants to do something else. He wished his path was not already carved out for him. He wished he could refuse but there's no one else to inherit the throne, so he has to step up.

This contained a lot of unexpected turns and surprises. The three main characters themselves were often recipients of these unlikely turn of events. The good thing is, these three have proven they are more than what their inheritance were. Janto, was not just a prince, he proved his worth that he can hold his own and he is ready to rule the kingdom. Serra, of the three, I think she had most tragic and heartbreaking experiences. Too much is asked of her in this story. She was asked to accept a lot of things that were just too painful. She asked to forgive which was probably the most difficult thing. In the end, she learned to accept her role and the lot given to her. It wasn't that bad at all. And lastly, Vesperi. She probably had the most amazing transformation of all. I think she made this story very interesting. I admit Janto and Serra's adventures, if we were to call them were interesting in their own. But adding Vesperi to the mix made it even more fascinating. Vesperi is the odd one out here. And how she wormed her way to become part of the trio with Janto and Serra, is the most intriguing part of this story. 

This is a well-written tale of adventure, of coming of age and of finding one's self. These three people gave up their personal needs and agendas to help save the kingdom. Vesperi proved all people wrong. Her inner goodness came to the forefront and she can't help but embrace it and forget all together that she's a Meduan who by nature should only think of herself and for herself. I can't wait for the next book. The ending hinted of one. 

My favorite part of the story was when Janto joined the Murat. It was a fascinating adventure. I think their adventures and challenges in the Murat could make another story altogether. The enchanted island and the magical creatures living there are enchanting. And to top it all, having a group of boys of different personalities out to prove himself better than the other is very entertaining. In a way, it was like a pissing contest. They first entered the island as boys and they came out as men, ready to be take on the role they were meant to play. Ready to take on the world.

I give the book 4.5/5 wasps. The story is full of twists and turns. Right at the onset, I know that Vesperi will be important, I just didn't realize how important she was. Her role started as someone you were likely to hate but as the story unfolds, there was so much more to it. And Serra, I think my heart goes out to her. Yet, she stood tall and took everything in strides and with grace. Her character is probably the most admirable of all. At first, she seemed liked a decorative character. Just put in there for her beauty. Like she was told to jus sit there and look beautiful and do nothing else. But it wasn't. Of the three, I think she took more than her share of the weight that they were to bear. Plus her own personal struggles, doubts and insecurities. In the end, she came out more graceful and beautiful and even powerful. So, cheers to these two strong women in this story. They are two very different people yet they found a common ground to work together and became very formidable together. I can't wait for the next book. Will they eventually vanquished the evil that is destroying the kingdom and will they be able to unite Lanserim and Medua as one again? 

I am so tired of being led like a child with a blindfold over my eyes, grasping at feathers I cannot see.
- Rebecca Gomez Farrell, Wings Unseen - 

Thank you again, Netgalley for the copy.

Refugees (Mud, Rocks and Trees #1) by R. A. Denny | ARC | A Book Review

Refugees (Mud, Rocks and Trees) by R. A. Denny | ARC | A Book Review by iamnotabookworm!

I've been slower than a turtle in posting my reviews since the start of the year. No, my inner sloth has not been in attendance lately, on the contrary, I have been very productive. I may have mentioned in my previous posts that I just got a new job last December and up to now, I'm still not able to find the right balance to be able to still have time to read and post reviews. It's still a great struggle and often, I don't even have time to read each night. It's stressing me out that the book gods would think that I have neglected my duty. But I will keep trying to find balance to still be able to enjoy a night of bliss with books. I will keep you posted on any development on that front. But I am feeling good about myself again, knowing I am performing so well in this new job.

About Refugees. I got a message from the author through the contact us form of this blog. Apparently, she had come upon my review on Moxie's Decision by Hank Quense and she asked me if I would want to review her book. I read the blurb and I was immediately taken by it because it was about clueless heroes. I love that stuff. 

Yes, this is a story of three clueless young heroes. The title of the series- Muds, Rocks and Trees is where these three came from. Each one is from each tribe. Amanki is a Webbie whose feet are like a duck and he lives near the river. A really good swimmer who feels at home in the river. Moshoi is an Armored one who lives inside caves. His back is full of scales, so the term armored. The first thing that came to mind when I think of Moshoi is an armadillo, because of the scales but you may find a more appropriate animal to compare him to. And Brina, a Glider who live high up in the trees. These three are connected by one destiny that starts as a new star appears in the sky which signals the fulfillment of the important roles they are to play. Join them in their journey. Will their young hearts be bold and brave enough to face and succeed in the challenge?

I love clueless heroes. I love to see the transformation of each character living up to the challenge that is weighed upon each inexperienced shoulder. And this is what exactly happened here in this story. Yes, I know. Prophecies are a little overrated. Yes, a lot of stories were based on prophesies. Most of my favorites are based on one like Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, etc. What's different in this one is there are three. I know Harry got Ron and Hermione but unlike them, Amanki, Moshoi and Brina, mostly share the same weight on their shoulders. It may seem that Amanki may likely have a bigger role to play but Moshoi and Brina would not standby and just be called sidekicks. They play an important role too and that is still to be determined. 

The whole story maps out the origins of these three heroes and how each one came to be chosen to play his/her part. Each is born of strong character and often, not given much credit because of their youth. Like Amanki, the youngest boy, was often underestimated because he was not like his brothers. Moshoi, the oldest but not exactly the favorite of his father. Brina, a good sister but is yet to prove her worth to their whole tribe. The amazing character transformation of these three would likely surprise you. Amanki at such a young age had to witness a tragedy that is too horrible to contemplate. Moshoi bound to prove that he could be a man to his father, embarked on a journey. Brina, fresh from a tragedy and heartbreak had to go off and leave her family to fulfill greater plans and a destiny just to prove her place in their tribe. Your heart will definitely go out to these three. I am not sure which one is my favorite yet. Each one has a purpose aside from going blindly into the unknown led by that one star which started it all.

This story promises to be a David versus Goliath. These three unlikely, inexperienced and too young heroes will join forces to go against one very powerful enemy. Armed with the love and a destiny that they will change the future of their tribes and of the world, they have to go up against an army. I can't wait to see what happens in the next book.

This is not a story to be taken lightly. The characters may be young and still to have prove their worth but the tragedy, loss, and heartbreak that they have experienced is too much which had strengthened their resolve and character. Yes, in this early part of the story, these three heroes have rose up to the challenge and took on the weight of the their tribe and the fate of the kingdom in their shoulders. Will they be strong enough is yet to be known?

One other character in the book that is a bit ambiguous to me is Metlan. He's the son of the king of the people who work with lions. He seems to be of a different character from his father. I think he's kind of the wild card in this story. I don't know yet where his loyalties lie, to be honest. To his father or to do what's right and just. In the story, he came to realize that some things are not what he was made to believe and I think he may have a role to play in the fulfillment of the destiny of our three heroes. Whether he will be a thorn in their side or an ally is yet to be determined. But I love to see how his role will play out in the next installments of the story.

There are more curious and interesting supporting characters in the story like Brina's father, Baskod, Rhabdom and Pegassi the lion pet of Metlan.  I am pretty sure some of them will make an appearance again in the the next stories. I would love to know how Pegassi will be part of this whole adventure.

I enjoyed the book. It's a great start to a series which details the origins of the three main characters of the story. The background was given in airtight detail. Their history and background were laid out astonishingly. No minor detail was left out. The three heroes characters, background and history is so well established in this early stage. The tragedy and the force that propelled each of them to embark on this journey is done with amazing clarity that there is no mistaking what they are fighting for. It was narrated in very vivid details.

I give the book 5/5 bright stars. This is a great adventure to embark on and I so enjoyed the journey so far. I am looking forward to accompany Amanki, Moshoi and Brina in their quest and I do hope they succeed and put things to right. 

How was it that my Papa could always make me feel like I could rise up into the stars, even when the weight of the world was crushing me to the ground?
- R. A. Denny, Refugees - 

Thank you again, R. A. Denny for the copy.