Thursday, May 24, 2018

Happily Ever After Collection (A Timeless Romance Anthology) by Various Aurthors | A Book Review

Happily Ever After (Timeless Romance) by Various Aurthors | A Book Review by iamnotabookworm!

I got this from This is a collection of retellings of famous fairy tales The Six Swans, Rumpeltstiltskin, Hansel and Gretel, Beauty and the Beast, Little Red Riding Hood, and The Snow Queen. I read this in January of this year and haven't been able to write a review right away because I wanted to review each story individually and not review the whole collection as a whole. The task seemed daunting, so I pushed it off and wrote other reviews. It didn't help that I have a lot of things going on and have to deal with physically, emotionally, and mentally. I am not where I want to be and a lot of things have been hitting me from all corners and all I want to do is just crawl into a ball and sleep till eternity.

I have always enjoyed reading Timeless Romance anthologies and when I saw this one was up for review, I just couldn't resist. I didn't have any challenge writing reviews for the other collections before. After this one, I don't think I'm set to review a collection of stories. I think my patience and perseverance is wearing thin these days and I have to find inspiration where I can just to keep writing reviews because my moods have never been helpful lately. 

Here are the six stories and the authors:

Mail-order Princess by Jessica Day George

This is a retelling of the Grimm's fairy tale The Six Swans only in this story it's seven swans. I am not very familiar with this fairy tale. I think it's the first time I've really heard of it. I enjoyed it. Princess Elise's strong determination to undo the curse of his brothers was very admirable. She developed a really good friendship with Daniel who was The Count's right hand in the farm. 

I liked the ending. It was so cute, especially with what happened to the last brother when he turned back into a human. It's a very nice retelling because even though Elise started out as a foreigner and alone in a new place, she had found really good people who she can trust and who were ready to help her. And part of her success in breaking the curse of her brothers was Daniel's undying support and friendship. And they both lived happily ever after. 

The Miller's Daughter by Julie Wright

This is a retelling of Rumpelstiltkin's story but in here thankfully Rumplestiltskin isn't a small and mean man but rather Thomas Rumple who helped Isa. In this story, there was no magic but rather just the beautiful brains of Thomas Rumple that helped Isa turn straw into gold. Isa's father was her ruin. She offered Isa to the king to save himself from the gallows. Good thing Isa has Thomas Rumple to save the day. 

I also enjoyed the story. I think I liked this version from the original one. No magic or fairies, just plain outwitting the king. Thomas Rumple thinking smart so he could save Isa. It was very clever how they outsmarted the king every time he topped his request for more gold. This story makes you wish you have your own Thomas Rumple who has a very cunning and brilliant plan to save you from greedy and vicious kings or any other situations. And of course, Isa and Thomas lived happily ever after. The end.

But I suspect every heart has a shadow or two lurking within; don't you agree?
- Julie Wright, The Miller's Daughter - 

The Peebled Path by Sarah M. Eden

This is a retelling of Hansel and Gretel's story. In this story, they are not siblings. Gretel's father was under the spell of an enchantress. So, for her father to be released from the spell, Gretel offered herself up in return as a servant. 

I liked how Hansel and Gretel met here and how they were able to vanquished the enchantress. And instead of the breadcrumbs, Gretel used peebles. Very cute and creative. 

Black Fern by Julie Daines

This is a retelling for Beauty and the Beast. Ros had to find work in order to feed her sisters, so she asked for work at Black Fern Manor. The owner, who no one has seen accepted her offer but gave her two conditions. She had stay at the manor for 4 months which is the end of the harvest moon and she can't go home within that period. 

I liked how the story incorporated herbs like lavender which is the flower of peace and rosemary which means loyalty. I also love that it mentioned the tragic story of Tristan and Iseult. Tristan was sent to Ireland to pick up Iseult to be married to the Cornish King but they fell in love with each other. The Cornish King had Iseult's hand but not her heart. I can hear Gavin DeGraw singing the theme song "We Belong Together" for the movie who starred James Franco. Oh, I love that song. It's also adorable that Brannan the Beast can actually play a harp. Unlike also the more popular Disney version, Ros is not an educated girl and it was Brannan who taught her to read and write. Very sweet, right? I also liked that there was no magical transformation in the story. Brannan stayed ugly but his heart was changed.

How can you know if you love someone by merely glancing at them? Even devils can smile.

I see you are naught but a hedgehog. Prickly, to be sure, but underneath there is nothing but fluff.

- Julie Daines, Black Fern - 

Scarlet by Heather B. Moore

This is the story of Little Red Riding Hood. In here, Little Red is August's nickname for Scarlet. Scarlet's mom is the village midwife. Mrs. Ivy has a blood disease and Scarlet's mom need the tonic from the apothecary. Scarlet need to get to the tonic to save Mrs. Ivy. She had to go into the forest where it's not safe to venture at night. August accompanied Scarlet in order to keep her safe. 

I think of all the six stories, I liked this the best because it's as far away from the real story. Having August as the village's protector from the wolves is a very daunting yet very brave duty. Putting yourself on the line to protect the lives of other people everyday is very noble. The only thing I didn't really like was the fact that August's Dad made a pact with the wolves to keep them out of the village. It may make sense but I don't really agree to it. As Scarlet said, wolves are animals and I don't think they honor any pact. It's also really cute that August and Scarlet started as not really friends because August used to tease her when they were younger. Then, just because of that one fateful night where she had to get to the apothecary, she and August developed an instant kinship as what happens to most people who share the same life-threatening experience together. It somehow created a special bond for both of them that is very unique and drew them close.

So A Rare Power by Annette Lyon

This is the story of the Snow Queen. Patrick was taken by the Snow Queen because she thought that Patrick had powers and could make her powerful. Stella finding that Patrick was gone, decided to find Patrick. On her quest to find Patrick, she meet an old lady who helped her and lent her Remi, the reindeer to bring Patrick back. 

This is also a nice story. This reminds me of the animated movie Frozen. I could still hear Elsa singing "Let it go." I loved that movie. And originally, it was about the story of the Snow Queen but Disney decided to make the story more child-friendly and the decision was the best thing because the movie was a hit. So, here music is the key also. Two people in love do make really good music together and that was how they defeated the Snow Queen. Truly, no force is more powerful than love. Just like in the movie, Anna's love broke Elsa's curse. Love in all its form is really powerful. It could move mountains and tame a savage beast like Beast in Beauty and the Beast. 

All in all. These stories are all really good. I enjoyed all of them. There were certain elements that were unique to each retelling from the original story which is also the key in a retelling. To try to change or add something to the story to make it stand out and different from the original, if not, it's just merely copying the original tale, right? Best of all, they all ended happily which is what I really needed today. Happy thoughts and happy stories after a very very bad day. I too hope that I could have days that would end happily. Not exactly having to do with a prince charming but at least, somehow a day that would make me look forward to waking up the next day. But I wouldn't say no also if a knight or a prince charming comes to my rescue. There haven't been a lot of that for me. Not prince charmings, but nice days. It has been a long time and if there were, those happy times were very momentary. Very short-lived. I wanted something more lasting. Something that could sustain me even in those darkest days. I actually know what I really need to battle the dark days, but I just don't know where I can find it. Maybe I'll have to start not being too hard on myself and loving myself more. 

I give this collection 3.5/5 sprigs of lavender. I just love lavender and they smell really good. It reminds me of a time when we were in the US for a training for work. We went to Puget Sound and there was a yard with lavender and I just can't help myself. I picked a few stalks and took them home with me to the hotel. I was just so happy to see a real live lavender. We don't have them here in the Philippines. I'm sure, the owner wouldn't have minded. I enjoyed the stories because they all represent that there's always hope and that not all days are going to be dark. The sun will come out and melt all the ice and bring warmth. Yes, warmth and love wouldn't be such a bad thing to wish for. Isn't it?

Thank you again Kathy of I am a reader and I apologize for the delay.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Need to Know by Karen Cleveland | A Book Review

Need to Know by Karen Cleveland | A Book Review by iamnotabookworm!

Having vented out my frustrations on the last review is making me feel a little okay. Not really better but at least not wanting to just sleep into oblivion. My cure for all that ails, whether emotional, mental, or physical, is sleep. I'd sleep all my disappointments away and wake up into the next millennium or not wake up at all. Like Sleeping Beauty only without Prince Charming to awake me from my healing slumber.

I got this book from Netgalley. This is a very gripping story, yet very annoying also. The ending was a bit frustrating for me. Ah, I wanted to smack Vivian in the head to stop doubting her instincts. To trust her woman's intuition. But to think about it, it wasn't that easy for her also granting the situation and all the circumstances and the things she would have to lose. This story presents a very complicated dilemma of following your heart for love of country or for the love of your family. It's a choice between either breaking her heart and family or committing treason. Which would you choose?

I haven't read Karen Cleveland before and I totally enjoyed this thriller. The pacing is just right and the mix of characters is just perfect to mislead you who's who. Being an avid fan of thrillers, mysteries and spy novels, in a way, I had an inkling of what the story is going to be. When Vivian discovered that one of the Russian sleeper agents was someone she knew, I had an idea then who it was and I was right. Then after that, you will start to get lost in the story. Lost, not because you will be confused by the next events but rather you'd be so entrenched and involved in the story. I became Vivian's ally and the only other person who knows her secret and the moral dilemma she's battling with. I too was dumbstruck what to do. It was unbelievable that she was able to avoid detection. I knew that someone else had to be in it also inside the agency. There has to be a mole or a sleeper agent who has gotten inside its walls. 

Wow! Definitely the Russian got one point in this story. The conspiracy was well-planned and was laid out even before Vivian came into the picture. It was so well-planned that Vivian was actually targeted and how her career progressed was also part of the whole scheme. Incredible! I hate the guy. I can't say which guy is it because that will then unravel everything and would just spoil the story. But the guy that's very close to Vivian wasn't anything he was claiming to be. I am not even sure if he really loves Vivian. It was all part of the mission and Vivian helplessly feel into it. What she had to go through wasn't worth it just to protect that person she thought had her and their families best interest at heart. No. It was Mother Russia right from the start. 

I give the book 4.5/5 passports. This is like "How to be a Russian Sleeper agent in the US." With the author being a seasoned CIA analyst, she had made the story so believable and so engaging. My heart goes out to Vivian and I wanted to be her ally and help her see through all the deception and lies that was fed and being fed to her. It's like having a friend who's in an abusive relationship and you wanted to help that friend but the friend is bent on helping the other party rather than herself. She's being manipulated and you can't help but stand and watch because you've been told to stay out of it. This story is delicious yet leaves a bitter taste in you mouth because of the ending. It was another revelation in itself on top of all the lies and deception. What else is there? I think this story needs a sequel because I wanted to know who else is on the conspiracy. Who else was lied to and manipulated? Who else was used as scapegoat and how deep does this go? This story makes you think which do you value more--duty and love for your country or your love for you family? Both are the same it's love. But which love is greater that makes you want to defy everything else?

Like knowing the bad news is better than knowing nothing at all.
- Karen Cleveland, Need to Know - 

Thank again, Karen Cleveland and Netgalley for the copy.

Things You Can't Un-see by Sarahbeth Caplin | ARC | A Book Review

Things You Can't Un-see by Sarahbeth Caplin | ARC | A Book Review by iamnotabookworm!

I'm having a very bad day. It's a kind of bad day where in you can't do anything about it. I woke up today to a rejection phone call. The thing is, because of the call, I have more respect for the organization and its people because they have the decency to actually make that call. They didn't have to do that, but because they respected my time and the effort that I made to come to that appointment they set up a week ago, they believe that at least, I deserved that phone call to know how it went. Not all organizations have the courtesy to do that. An email would have sufficed and even others wouldn't even care to do at all. They leave their candidates waiting in agony to hear of the news. So, even if I were rejected, the more I wanted to be a part of that organization. It was unfortunate that I didn't get what I wanted but I was not sorry because I believe I have done my best. I have done everything I can to the point where I tried to clear out a misconception of one of the people who I happen to speak with. I had to. I had the same thing happen before and I regretted that I did not correct the person. So, when that situation happened again, I just can't let another person think the same. I had to explain to her the difference and I hope that I had at least made my point. These bad days have been happening a lot lately. It seemed like each month, something like this seems to happen and I'm left to wallow and stew. What did I do to deserve these misfortunes? Did I do something so terrible that I merited this painful and frustrating karmic repercussions? Maybe I am such a bad person, I just didn't realize it and the world is making me see myself clearly now by having me be the recipient of all these misfortunes one after the other. I thought they should have been over by now. They should run out, right? But they just kept on coming. I don't know now what to do because it seems like this black hole is so intent on swallowing me whole.

With this feeling of just wanting to crawl into this black hole and never come out again, I decided to review this book by Sarahbeth Caplin because it just fits my aura perfectly. The book is a collection of her writings online about a lot of social and personal issues. Some of the writings touched on exactly how I am feeling today or very close to it. Frustrations, anger, having to deal with issues, and all. I think, this is the perfect book where I could unleash my disappointments and feeling of unfairness.

I just finished watching the season 2 of Thirteen Reasons Why last night. The season ender was a shocker but at the same time, it wasn't that surprising at all. It was bound to happen, like a volcano just taking it's time to erupt. There was closure for some but I think, Bryce's character was left off easy. The good thing was he may have learned something from everything that happened, I hope. In some ways, I want to blame his parents because they were always absent. Bryce did not have people to guide him. He was left with too much freedom on his hands to abuse. At least, his mom felt guilty about what her son was turning into. There were some other things in the series that I wished were done differently, like the box of polaroids. I don't want to say more because I might spoil it. I know I have said too much already. But there were a lot of revelations about Hanna's character and the other characters in the story, like Zack and Justin. There was this very one notable character also--Scott. One of the members of the baseball team. 

The reason why I'm talking about the series is because the author talked about suicide in her essays also and the series was also mentioned as an example. At some point, we've all been teenagers and in high school. It was a point in our lives where we felt like the world is within our grasp and we were invincible. At least, to some who didn't have the misfortune of getting bullied and have to deal with a lot of issues at home or dealing with mental health issues. I can relate to a lot of what the author said because I have experienced these issues myself. I have been bullied. I have been harassed. I have been discriminated and have to deal with personal issues that I felt like there seems to be no point of living at all. I am not suicidal but I have those dark thoughts whirling in my mind. The only thing probably that's stopping me of committing the deed was my fear of feeling more pain. If I go, I wanted to go painlessly and without mess. No blood, or gagging or struggle. I want to go painlessly into the night, if there is such a way to go if I decide to act on it. In some way also, I may have had enough good experiences happen to me that they may have given me a little bit of strength to resist the temptation. I know I have gotten very close to the edge and have only to decide if I wanted to take that leap off the cliff. 

This book is not easy to read, in a sense, that it deals with a lot of real and painful issues. They are done in tidbits which allows the reader to pause and contemplate but the rawness of the emotions will hit you like a deer in a headlight. I know I have tears running down my face while reading some of these essays, especially those that talked about the issues that I'm currently dealing with. It's like finding a kindred spirit that understands the complexity and the intensity of these feelings that we all oftentimes tend to bear in silence. 

One of the things mentioned also was about names. Like the author, I too wanted to change my name because it's so common. Paired with a very common last name, also proved to be a very very common name. Last week, in the experience I mentioned earlier with the organization where I received the bad news from, someone commented that my name is very unique. I then had to explain to him that in the Philippines, it's not. In a way, I resent my mom for not being creative enough and coming up with a more unique name. If I could change my name, I would have done so, but in the Philippines, that's a tedious and a very expensive process. I remember having one classmate in grade school with the same first name and I hated that my classmates had to call me with my first and last name. 

The book talks about Trump and all the other issues that came with him taking the seat of power in the US. I agree with the author in all the things she said about this topic. It's just disheartening that there are just people who refuse to see the truth. Even here in the Philippines, my people are guilty of the same thing. Some of us continue to give power to those who only seek to enrich themselves from the country's coffers. There's a political family for example who have been proven to have done many atrocities when they were in power, yet they still continue to hold government positions. There's this public official who had been convicted of plunder and corruption, yet still won in the elections. Sometimes, we just never learn. Unless, we experience the atrocities and injustices first-hand, we chose to not believe the victims' stories. 

This is a book of collected essays. The essays are not long and the whole book itself is not that lengthy but it packs a lot of power. Sarahbeth Caplin is one very brave woman who stands by her convictions and have announced them to the world. I too would want to do the same. It takes a lot of courage to do just that, knowing a lot of people will react and easily condemn and judge you, especially with social media making it a lot easy with just a few stroke of the fingers. And I know, the author is not the only one. A lot of authors nowadays are very socially aware and are trying to do their share in making awareness about bullying, harassment, mental issues, and all other socially relevant issues experienced by teens and all ages alike. We can't all run for office and try to do the change we wished to see in the world, but we can each do our little share in our own little part of the world. Just by doing some random act of kindness and not throwing trash everywhere could actually help. It may not be that drastic or the instant major change that we wish to achieve, but little steps. As the saying in the movie Utopia says, "One drop raises the ocean." We are all that one drop and if each of those "one drop" come together to do something significant, then maybe we can create a tsunami that will change the world forever. 

I give this book 4/5 pictures of Joan of Arc. One of things that really hit me hard was one about someone telling the author that her experience was nothing compared to what happened to the other person. It's like a pissing contest of who got it worst. I totally can relate to that. Instead of finding a common ground with that person because you had the misfortune of having to go through a similar bad experience, some would invalidate your experience just because you did not have to go through a more excruciating pain than hers. Are we all masochist or sadist? Why does one person has to validate my experience or measure my pain from 1 to 10 just so I could join the club? It's sick. I felt so awful and angry reading this part. Right there, I felt like I was standing in the author's shoes and that awful thing was said right to my face. Maybe it's part of the human flaw to do that or maybe it's just in the DNA of that person. I don't know and I don't think there is any excuse for that person to say that. Just because we suffered worse than the other person, it doesn't mean we have the right to lash out and make others hurt the same way we did. I understand everybody has a tendency to do this, that's why when I'm angry or hurt, I'd rather be quiet and alone to stew because I don't want to regret anything I might do. Anything done out of extreme emotion does not excuse the deed and I'd rather wallow in my misery than cause someone else's. 

Thank you again, Sarahbeth Caplin for the ARC. This is very enlightening and brave. I commend you for coming up with this book and for giving me the opportunity to read this. This is very personal. It felt like reading through someone's journal. I had expected that this was one whole story and was very very slightly miffed it turned out to be individual essays. But then, it still fulfilled its purpose. The message was not lost and I wish a lot more people could read this. And I felt sorry for the woman who told you that your suffering were nothing compared to hers. She has no right to say that, no matter how badly wounded or broken she is. In some way, we are all broken but just because we are broken not in the same places, doesn't mean we didn't feel the pain. Pain is still pain, no matter what caused it or what the intensity. No one has the right to tell you that your pain does not count because you're not bleeding.

Many suicidal people don't want to die, per se; they just want the pain to stop.

It may be that those who lost the battle are the ones who fought the hardest. 
- Sarahbeth Caplin, Things You Can't Un-see - 

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Cecilia by Sandra Rostirolla | A Book Review

Cecilia by Sandra Rostirolla | A Book Review by iamnotabookworm!

About a few days ago, I was able to watch the movie Goodbye Christopher Robin online. I did not grow up knowing Winnie the Pooh. I knew of this very famous character when I had my nephews. I did not know that Christopher Robin was actually based on an actual person with the same name. Watching the movie and learning about how the characters of Winnie the Pooh came to life was very enlightening. It was also an insight into the life of the real Christopher Robin. How it was for him growing up and how the war has affected his life. In fact, Pooh Bear, came from the effects of war. A. A. Milne, was supposed to write something about the war. Let the people and the government know about it's ill effects, but then things happen and he ended up writing this bedtime story about a bear. Great thing though because when the second world war broke out, many of the soldiers took strength from that children's story and thought of their homes. So, we are very lucky to have Pooh and his friends. Thanks to A. A. Milne and Christopher Robin, or Billy Moon as he preferred to be called.

So, Cecilia also talks about war. It's talks about a previous war and what happened to the citizens after the war. It's a dystopian story with fantasy and prophesies in it. It's has a lot of parallelism to real life. Also, it has a bedtime story or a children's fairy tale in it. It's not about a bear, but it's about The Flower Princess and a Wolf. I really like how this story actually is about a prophesy. And for it to be not lost or forgotten, it was cleverly turned into a harmless fairy tale that could be passed on onward, without the danger of anyone being persecuted because what can a fairy tale do? 

Yes, the title is the name of the most important character in this story--Cecilia. She grew up in a village in the forest with seventy other people. She has two older brothers--Eideard and Rabbie. They were living peacefully and happily in their own community in this little part of the forest when suddenly a group of black horsemen came to their village and killed everyone. They took the young men, including Cecilia's brothers. Cecilia ran and evaded the leader of the murderers but lost everything that she cared about. She's the only one left standing. What to do now? How can she go on?

I love how Cecilia's character developed in the story. She started out as a very protected girl who doesn't know anything of the realities outside of their little corner of the forest. She knew death because her father died but the tragedy that has befallen her entire village was worth the grief and suffering of a hundred people. It's more than her young heart can bear. She lost everything she ever holds dear. Her home, her family, and her friends. How she found her purpose and what she needs to do to fulfill that did not come easy. She had a lot of doubts. What can a teenager do against an army and powerful enemies? But she was not alone. She found help just as what was prophesied.

The host of other characters in this story was very unexpected. It's a totally good combination and very well thought out. A lot of surprises there in terms of how one character was actually connected to another. Characters that will definitely take their own space in your heart, if you will let them. There are a lot of very memorable and adorable characters here that will surely melt your heart. Very unassuming, yet very instrumental in making the whole story work. I admit, the story is mostly about Cecilia but it doesn't just revolve around her. The other supporting characters were given enough to make them also stand on their own. 

The romance angle was very unexpected. I certainly did not foresee that it was going to take that turn. But it was very very good. A guy having a change of heart because of a girl he met, does not get old. In real life, every girl wants to tame a bad boy, right? So, having included that element in the story which wasn't really obvious at first, was very nice. I did see that eventually Amalardh might fall for Cecilia because that's what happens when two people are thrown together in one place, right? When two people share the same experiences, especially difficult ones will definitely turn to each other. So, I expected that but I didn't expect that there was more. That's another good thing there. 

All other elements of the story were done with great care. A lot of unexpected turns and surprises that will surely make your heart stop beating for a moment. I really enjoyed those moments. You will become a believer in Cecilia and root for her to be what she is destined to be. And as I am a great fan of heroines, this story just hit the right spot. Heroines and underdogs. The young, looked down and underestimated. All neatly packaged in this book. I want a sequel for this story. And that ending, OMG! My heart literally stopped for about two seconds there. I definitely could not accept if it had turned sideways. I would definitely file a protest. I would surely be sour for the rest of the month.

So, short of singing Cecilia by The Vamps loudly, I pretty much finished this book in one reading. I couldn't put it down. I'm sure, you wouldn't. You could not just leave Cecilia and her friends. You would want to be with them each step of the way. You wouldn't want to miss the adventure after learning of all the plans, because it's as if you were part of the planning team. You're part of the inner circle of rebels. You can't turn back now. It would be against everything you believe that's right and just in the world.

So, I give this book 5/5 trees of life. And since it's going to be the barangay elections this Monday in the Philippines, this story also talked about leaders. How leaders can incite fear among the people and make them believe anything just because the people are deprived of the basic things. Out of necessity, the majority had to look after their own welfare and have forgotten about how it is to be concerned about their neighbor and the whole city or the world, in general. So, hopefully Filipinos would have learned by now and really elect into office those people who are honest and seek to only serve and look out for the good of the people they represent. I know the barangay is the most basic governing unit and hopefully, the aspiring officials or the elected officials will not just look after their needs. I know the barangay is given millions in budget. I hope this budget does not go into the pockets of those who have access to it. There are a lot of things to be improved and hopefully those would be given priority. 

Thank you Sandra Rostirolla for giving me an opportunity to read this story. It's a fantasy but it's really relevant in this modern world. We may not have prophesies or Flower Princesses or Wolf Knights to defend and save us, but we do have five-headed dragons. This dragon comes in any forms and it can be anything to anyone. This beast is our fears, our worries, our doubts, and our insecurities. Let us not let it devour us but rather fight it to the death with all our strength. We have all our own demons and it can't be defeated unless we do something. It would take a lot, just like Cecilia. She has to bury her whole village for two weeks. But no task is beyond a very strong and dedicated heart. Like Cecilia, we can be that Goddess of Light. Let our goodness, compassion, creativity, and kindness shine forth. We all have it in us.

How does one replace a lost heart?

The truth of man is that he does what he does based only on what he knows, and what he knows is warped by experiences, convoluted by fears, and deformed by perspective.
- Sandra Rostirolla, Cecilia -  

Monday, May 7, 2018

The Glowing Sands (Sons of the Sand #3) Kimberly Loth | ARC | A Book Review

The Glowing Sands (Sons of the Sand #3) Kimberly Loth | ARC | A Book Review by iamnotabookworm!

I just found the tv series The Good Doctor and have binge watched it. Now, I'm caught up. I found that the series is an adaptation of the original Korean series. It's about a guy who has autism but at the same time is also savant. He has a photographic memory and is very functional that he actually became a doctor. Dr. Shaun Murphy is a very fascinating character. He has navigated his condition and is actually a smart doctor who has effectively proven that he can be more successful than most doctors who are normal. The series hits a close mark with me because I have a nephew who has mild autism. He's very functional and is actually almost normal now after a year in therapy and the dedicated support from my sister, his mom. My fervent hope is he will grew up to be really good in whatever career or field he chooses, just like Dr. Shaun Murphy who has proven everyone wrong that there's no way he can be a really good doctor. Dr. Murphy actually exceeded everyone's expectations.

The book I'm reviewing today is the third of the Sons of the Sand series. I have read books 1 and 2, so I'm very much attuned to the progress of the story. 

I actually thought that this might be the last book in the series. I should have known by now that with Kimberly Loth, no story ends with the third book. It has always been a fourth or a fifth one. With that knowledge, I should not have been surprised that this book ended again with a cliffhanger. It's a trademark of Miss Loth but I was still none-the-wiser. It still surprised me and I think she will always will. She never fails to come up with very interesting and unexpected twists to her stories. Even I, who is very familiar with her stories is still caught off guard every time. And I so love it.

So, in this installment, a new set of characters are introduced--the goddesses. And so is Liv. She is thrown into the midst of these goddesses, which she thought were just myth. She learned a lot about them and also the reason for their existence and for hiding. Liv also learned a lot about herself and the secret of her grandma. What's more fascinating is learning about her special abilities which definitely puts her above the rest of the goddesses and the goddesses-in-training.

I think this story was too short. I think I needed more. I wanted more to happen. The story just centered on the place where Liv is currently and where the goddesses are. Though, in a way, it gives the readers a better understanding of the relationship between the goddesses and the genies. It somehow explained everything and circles back to how the story started. But still, as to how the story will progress and how this will wrap up, I still have no idea. Anything can still happen and I would definitely want to be shocked and surprised as to how Liv and Gabe will end up.

I give this book 4/5 vintage rings. As I said, I felt like there should be more happening in this story. It felt short for me, but looking at it from Liv's point of view, a lot is happening. Especially, with her finding out more about her mom and her grandma and her abilities. I have no idea how this story will end up because it could go a number of ways. How this book ended presents a lot of possibilities which I am just so excited about. Now, I think with Liv's newfound abilities, it just levels the playing field. Or more likely gives her an advantage over Samir. Now, she's not a defenseless girl but rather a very formidable opponent. I would like to see Samir's face when he finds out what Liv can do. I know he will definitely prefer to hide in a bottle forever. 

Maybe this was love. Letting go when you desperately wanted to hang on.
- Kimberly Loth, The Glowing Sands - 

Thank you again, Kimberly Loth for the ARC.

Other books in the series:
The Smoking Lamp (Sons of the Sand #1)

The Blazing Glass (Sons of the Sand #2) 

The Exploding Sky (Sons of the Sand #4)

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

The Story Peddler (The Weaver Trilogy #1) by Lindsay A. Franklin | ARC | Blog Tour | A Book Review

The Story Peddler by Lindsay A. Franklin | ARC | A Book Review by iamnotabookworm!

“Selling stories is a deadly business.”

Title: The Story Peddler
Author: Lindsay A. Franklin
Published Date: May 1, 2018
Publisher: Enclave
Genre: Fantasy

Tanwen doesn’t just tell stories—she weaves them into crystalized sculptures that sell for more than a few bits. But the only way to escape the control of her cruel mentor and claw her way from poverty is to set her sights on something grander: becoming Royal Storyteller to the king.

During her final story peddling tour, a tale of treason spills from her hands, threatening the king himself. Tanwen goes from peddler to prey as the king’s guard hunts her down . . . and they’re not known for their mercy. As Tanwen flees for her life, she unearths long-buried secrets and discovers she’s not the only outlaw in the empire. There’s a rebel group of weavers . . . and they’re after her too.

I got this book from Miss Laura Grace of Unicorn Quester. She's the blog tour coordinator for the tour of this book. She got my contact information from The Book Blogger List. Of course, I agreed to join the tour and review the book. 

The Story Peddler is the first of The Weaver Trilogy. The main character in the story is Tanwen. An orphan whose only memory of her parents are the trinkets, few furniture, and books left on the cottage in the farming village of Pembrone. She had to support herself in order to survive. Until she found a mentor who taught her to master her storytelling and started peddling stories from town to town. Her one dream is to become the Royal Storyteller. She didn't know that when that dream would come true, it wouldn't be the dream job as she thought it would be and that it would be at the cost of denying her true self.

The cover alone of this book already had me. It's so beautiful. It's obvious that there's something magical within its pages. Something wonderful and mysterious awaits. And it didn't fail. My first question when I got this story was, "What's a story peddler?" And as simple as those two words, that's just what it is- selling stories. But the magic lies in how the stories are told. It's amazing. I can just imagine seeing it just as Tanwen narrates each of her stories. Then once the story is done, a crystal object materializes out of the ribbons of light from Tanwen's hand. Simply fascinating. It's like Dale Chihuly creating those colorful masterpieces out of blowing glass.

Tanwen En-Yestin is a character that you will definitely love. Her origin is a mystery at its best. A young woman with a very special talent which is very curious. I was asking myself the whole time where that special talent came from? How did Tanwen get it? She's one of the underdogs. Definitely made of the same stock of what most heroines of any stories are made of. Unyielding determination, unbelievable strength that comes forth when the situation demands it, a keen observer who speaks her mind and very smart. I think her strength is in speaking her mind. She's not afraid to ask the hard questions. Her honesty, which is sometimes brutal is refreshing. Not a lot of characters are like Tanwen, who calls out anyone without fear. Her being without filter is just what makes her character stand out. You either see her as one with a stupid mouth or one who's just too honest for her own good, depending on which of the two you are--one who likes to hear the truth or one who wants to keep it buried. 

There are a lot of interesting characters in this story with very colorful pasts and lives. One of the things that stood out for me was that each character had a prefix to his/her last name. Like Tanwen, there's an En before her last name. The men have Bo and married women have Ma. It's one of the interesting and unique elements in the story. 

Most of the important or relevant characters in the story were given enough background to get an understanding of the character. The story promises a mystery right from the start. It hooks you on that mystery and it dangles it in front of you. You know it's there but you can't put a finger on it. Not when the author isn't ready yet to reveal it. The story got me so curious that I started to formulate theories in my head. I know Tanwen is someone important or her parents are important. I know there is more to her gift. And all of those things that had me in its grip were slowly unravelled piece by piece with great timing. I can't let go of the story until I reached to the point where my questions were all answered and the mystery was finally unveiled. And it was all worth it. The waiting and anticipation was all greatly rewarded.

This is one very satisfying story. I gave it all my attention and never wavered. I can't lose my focus because as I progressed from one chapter to the next, the more I was drawn in and caught in it's web. I can't leave it unless I have unentangled all the knots. I give this book 5/5 colorful ribbons. I was helplessly caught in the story and I was totally relishing the journey. I shadowed Tanwen in every step of her adventure and I definitely wouldn't have missed it. This is a very very delightful start of a great adventure which I definitely wouldn't want to be left out. Tanwen's coming of age story and finally getting to know of her past and the story of her parents is a story you would want to be a part of. It's ripe with strong characters, villains that are cunning and so power-hungry like the characters in the Game of Thrones, and a lot of unexpected surprises. I am definitely a happy camper knowing that this story found me. I thought the mystery would have killed me, thankfully it only made me hang on tighter until I reached the end of the fantastic journey. Congratulations Miss Lindsay A. Franklin. This story is definitely selling.

I don't think my life's too keen on slipping by unnoticed. I seem to ping off one bank of the river, then bounce off the other. Then slam into a rock or two. Or twelve.

I was about ready to mind my own onions forevermore.
- Lindsay A. Franklin, The Story Peddler - 

-       Book Spotlight – Tabitha Caplinger
-       Review – Jane Maree Author
-       Review – E. Kaiser Writes-A-Blog

 Wednesday, April 25th  
-       Visual Post – Jebraun Clifford
-       Interview – H.L. Burke Author

 Thursday, April 26th   
-       Review & Interview – Reality Reflected
-       Review – Lands Uncharted
-       Review – Scriblerians

 Friday, April 27th  
-       Review – Ralene Burke
-       Book Spotlight – Morgan L. Busse, Author

 Saturday, April 28th  
-       Interview – Liv K. Fisher
-       Review – C O Bonham
-       Interview – Quills and Inkblotts

 Monday, April 30th  
-       Book Spotlight – New Authors Fellowship
-       Interview – Unicorn Quester
-       Interview – Singh with Books

 Tuesday, May 1st  
-       Review – i am not a bookworm!
-       Review – Worthy2Read
-       Review – Lori’s Book Loft
-       The Story Peddler Facebook Launch Party

Thank you again, Laura and Miss Lindsay Franklin for the ARC.