Sunday, September 16, 2018

Spaceway Down by Casey Herzog | A Book Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other books by the Charissa Stastny:

Between Hope and the Highway

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Jerusalem Parchment by Tuvia Fogel | A Book Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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