Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Balance Keepers trilogy by Lindsay Cummings


Synopsis for The Fires of Calderon:
The first book in an epic middle grade fantasy adventure series that takes place in an underground society at the center of the earth. Packed with action, humor, magic, and mystery.

After following a mysterious map into the woods and then under the woods, eleven-year-old Albert Flynn learns he’s a Balance Keeper—someone with special magical skills for fixing problems in three underground Realms at the Core of the earth. His new job is important; if the realms fall out of balance, the world above could be in great danger.

Albert and his Balance Keeper teammates Birdie and Leroy arrive in the Core not a moment too soon. There’s an Imbalance in the Calderon Realm and it’s threatening to bury Albert’s hometown of New York City in a mountain of ash.

The three must train hard completing mental and physical challenges, but above all, they must harness the power of their Tiles—unique superpowers given to each Balance Keeper. So far, Albert’s mastered the art of not mastering his Tile....

With the situation in Calderon growing worse every day, can Albert, Leroy, and Birdie restore balance before New York is destroyed forever? Will Albert master his Tile before it’s too late?

Perfect for fans of Percy Jackson, The Unwanteds, and the classic Journey to the Center of the Earth.

(Synopsis from Goodreads).


Synopsis for The Pillars of Ponderay:
Albert Flynn is psyched to return to the Core, the magical world at the center of the earth where Balance Keepers fix problems in three underground Realms. Last term, Albert and his Balance Keeper teammates Birdie and Leroy saved New York by fixing the Calderon Realm and were crowned First Unit, aka the Coolest Kids in the Core.

Now Albert and his teammates have been called to the Core for an emergency training session…along with their archenemy, Hoyt. There’s a horrible Imbalance in the Ponderay Realm and they have only seven days before California will be swallowed by hurricanes, earthquakes, and tsunamis. Worse yet, it’s rumored there’s a traitor among them who is causing all this chaos. 

Will Albert, Leroy, and Birdie discover who’s been putting the Core—and the world above—in danger? Can they save Ponderay before California becomes an underwater wasteland forever?

(Synopsis from Goodreads).


Synopsis for The Traitor of Belltroll:
Albert and his Balance Keepers teammates have been called back to the Core for immediate action! There’s a serious Imbalance in the fantastical underground Realm of Belltroll, and without intervention everything from New York to Yellowstone above could be swallowed by earthquakes. It’s clear the mysterious traitor who caused last term’s chaos is at it again, and with a vengeance.

Albert’s super-magical Master Tile helped fix the Ponderay and Calderon Realms in previous terms, but now it seems the Tile may be more trouble than it’s worth. Because if it’s Albert’s Tile the traitor is after, there will have to be a battle sooner or later, and only one of them can win…

(Synopsis from Goodreads).

My Thoughts:
I'd heard great things about Lindsay Cumming's The Murder Complex duology. I hadn't heard many things about her Balance Keepers trilogy, but I had been wanting to read a lot of middle grade fantasy books lately, so I figured I'd try it before The Murder Complex. I ended up loving it. In fact, I loved it so much that I read the entire trilogy in two days, which is no easy feat considering the size of the books.

I loved everything about The Balance Keepers trilogy. I can't think of one thing I disliked about it. It reminded me of Harry Potter, combined with parts of Ender's Game, and brought back a lot of nostalgic feelings for both series. I loved how fast paced the series was. There was never a single moment where I was bored, or wanted to put the book down. It was interesting to see how the main characters used their resources to solve the problems in the realms. There were some that I didn't think they were going to be able to solve, but they did in surprising, and shocking ways.

I loved each and every one of the characters. I don't think i could pick a favorite if I tried. Each one of them had something unique to bring into the trilogy. The three main characters reminded me a bit of Harry, Ron, and Hermione from the Harry Potter series. Even though I didn't like him at first, I even ended up liking Hoyt. He might be a jerk at first, but in the end, he redeemed himself, and became one of my favorite characters.

I was not prepared for this trilogy to end. As I turned the last few pages of The Traitor of Belltroll, it felt like I was losing a home, and a friend. I really hope that Lindsay Cummings writes a spin off series. Maybe she could write one where the main characters are older, and making their decision about whether to live there all the time. However, I'd be happy with any sort of spin off series in this world. I'm not above begging, pleading, and groveling to make this happen. This will definitely be a series I buy physical copies of, read multiple times, and probably read to the children in my life. I'm more than slightly addicted to this trilogy. I really do wish more people would read it.


I give The Balance Keepers trilogy: 5/5.

Want to know more about the author?
Website: https://www.lindsaycummingsbooks.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lindsay.cummings.758/?fref=ts
Twitter: https://twitter.com/authorlindsayc
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtQXGpcOtwWF1zHuWnA8wjg
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/authorlindsaycummings/?hl=en
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5805483.Lindsay_Cummings

I received this trilogy from the publisher, via Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review. I was in no way compensated for this review.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Fe-Lines by Norman R. Shapiro


Synopsis:
The French have long had a love affair with the cat, expressed through centuries of poetry portraying the animal's wit and wonder. Norman R. Shapiro lionizes the felines' limitless allure in this one-of-a-kind collection. Spanning centuries and styles, he draws on she-cats and toms, and an honor roll of French poets, well known and lesser known, who have served as their devoted champions. He reveals the remarkable range of French cat poems, with most works presented here for the first time in English translation. Scrupulously devoted to evoking the meaning and music of the originals, Shapiro also respects the works' formal structures. Pairing his translations with Olga Pastuchiv's elegant illustrations, Fe-Lines guides the reader through the marvels and inscrutabilities of the Mystique féline.
(Synopsis from Goodreads).

My Thoughts:
For those of you that have been around since I started book reviewing, you know I love books about cats. I will read any genre, even genres I usually don't like, if I find a book in the genre about cats. Typically, I don't road poetry. In fact, before now, I think the last time I read poetry was when I read the Shel Silverstein books when I was a kid. It's just not one of those genres I enjoy. However, when I saw a book of poems about cats, Fe-Lines, for request on NetGalley, I wanted to read it badly. Unfortunately, I ended up disappointed. 

I was hoping that I would be able to identify with Fe-Lines, and that it would make me laugh. In actuality, I was extremely bored. I found the whole book to be tedious. In fact, towards the end of the book, I found myself skimming through the poems, just to be done with the book. The only reason why I chose to give the book two stars instead of one is that I liked the illustrations. Most of them were adorable, and fit well with the poems. That was the only thing I found enjoyable throughout the whole experience.

Based on my reaction to Fe-Lines, maybe poetry isn't my thing after all. I think it will be quite some time before I pick up a book of poetry, and try it again. The book didn't give me that joyful feeling I usually feel when I read books about cats, and stumble across a quirk that I can identify with, because I've seen my cat do the same thing. If you like poetry, I would recommend at least trying this book. However, don't go into it with high expectations.


I give Fe-Lines: 2/5.

Want to know more about the author?
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/list/233668.Norman_R_Shapiro

I received this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. I was in no way compensated for this review.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Tut: The Story of My Immortal Life by P.J. Hoover


Synopsis:
Tut: The Story of My Immortal Life is a funny, fast-paced novel for young readers by P.J. Hoover which chronicles the mischievous adventures of King Tut, now an immortal eighth-grader living in Washington, D.C..

You’d think it would be great being an Egyptian demigod, but if King Tut has to sit through eighth grade one more time, he’ll mummify himself.

Granted the gift of immortality by the gods—or is it a curse?—Tut has been stuck in middle school for ages. Even worse, evil General Horemheb, the man who killed Tut’s father and whom Tut imprisoned in a tomb for three thousand years, is out and after him. The general is in league with the Cult of Set, a bunch of guys who worship one of the scariest gods of the Egyptian pantheon—Set, the god of Chaos.

The General and the Cult of Set have plans for Tut… and if Tut doesn’t find a way to keep out of their clutches, he’ll never make it to the afterworld alive.

(Synopsis from Goodreads). 

My Thoughts:
I've read a lot about mythology lately. Greek, Norse, Egyptian, Chinese, it doesn't matter. As long as the book is about mythology, I'll read it. I'm especially loved middle grade, and young adult books about mythology. I blame the Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan for this. Therefore, I thought I would love Tut: The Story of My Immortal Life. Unfortunately, after reading the book I found myself feeling very underwhelmed. I didn't hate it, but I definitely didn't love it either. 

There were parts of this book that I did love, such as the snarky sense of humor. I also really enjoyed the shabtis. However, most of this book drove me crazy. There were so many plot holes and inconsistencies. For example, Tut breaks an oath to Horus, for which you would think there would be consequences. In fact, it's strongly implied in the book that there will be consequences. However, nothing happens. The whole situation practically gets ignored. 

Tut, the main character in the book, drove me crazy. He was incredibly irresponsible, and had no common sense whatsoever. He meets this new girl named Tia. From the beginning, she acts very suspicious. Right away you can tell that she's hiding something, and isn't trustworthy. Despite all of that, Tut tells her some very important secrets, and shows her a secret tomb. I just wanted to reach through the book, shake him, and ask him what the heck he was thinking.

Other than a little bit of snarkiness from the shabtis, I didn't like Tut: The Story of My Immortal Life at all. The book was a major letdown. It was disappointing, considering how much I loved P.J. Hoover's other book, Solstice. There is a sequel to Tut: The Story of My Immortal Life, but I don't think I will be picking it up. Even though I didn't enjoy this book, younger readers that are fans of the Percy Jackson series might like this book.


I give Tut: The Story of My Immortal Life: 2/5.

Want to know more about the author?
Website: http://www.pjhoover.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorPJHoover
Twitter: https://twitter.com/pj_hoover
Tumblr: http://pjhoover.tumblr.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/pj_hoover/
Google+: https://plus.google.com/+PJHoover
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/965908.P_J_Hoover

I received this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. I was in no way compensated for this review.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Ghost and the Belle by Rose Shababy


Synopsis:
Always a loner, Irene Bell prefers to spend her days tending her little bookstore in the sleepy little Virginia town of Saint’s Grove. After all, she tells herself, what other company does a girl need when she has her books?
But when a much anticipated lunar eclipse and planetary alignment bring a meteor that tears a rift between realities, the entire town is thrown into chaos as mythology becomes reality.
A reality that includes a drop-dead gorgeous ghost named Benjamin Churchill, who appears naked and unconscious, smack dab in the middle of her store.
A chance meeting with a witch reveals he’s been cursed, his body and soul bound to his former office, now Irene’s bookstore. The only way to break the curse is to assemble the long-lost pieces of a mystical artifact known as the Star Anthame, a knife created by magic and cursed by the darkest witch Saint’s Grove has ever known. No one knows where the pieces lay, and worse, they aren’t the only ones looking for it.
Racing against a ticking clock, both Irene and Benjamin must fight the irresistible attraction between them.
Breaking the curse means Benjamin can finally cross over. Failing means he’ll be stuck between worlds for another thousand years. And no matter how hard they look, they can’t seem to find a way for him to stay.
What’s a girl to do when the man she loves is a ghost?

(Synopsis from Goodreads).

My Thoughts:
I read the first book in the Saint's Grove series, Immortal Ties, earlier this year. I absolutely fell in love with it. After that, I was determined to read all of the books in the series this year. The series isn't a series that you have to read in order, so I decided to read The Ghost and the Belle next. I thought it was a great book.

The Ghost and the Belle was a cute, romantic read. At times, it reminded me of a Beauty and the Beast re-telling, although I'm not sure it was intended to be. The book was definitely cheesy at times. Sometimes it was so cheesy that it was over the top. However, that is a part of the book's charm and appeal.

I loved all of the characters in The Ghost and the Belle. It was interesting to see the relationship dynamic between everyone. I especially loved the relationship between Professor McGurty, and Flora. It was adorable to watch them together. My favorite character was Irene. I can relate to her on so many different levels. She's a huge bibliophile. Like me, she would rather spend the day curled up somewhere reading instead of having to interact with people.

I loved being able to immerse myself back into the Saint's Grove world while reading The Ghost and the Belle. The book made me even more excited to read the rest of the books in the Saint's Grove series. Also, I really want to try to read more of Rose Shababy's other novels. Based on this book, I really love her writing style. I recommend this book to anyone wanting a fun paranormal romance book to read.


I give The Ghost and the Belle: 4/5.

Want to know more about the author?
Website: http://roseshababy.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rose.shababy
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8380112.Rose_Shababy

I received this ebook from the author in exchange for an honest review. I was in no way compensated for this review.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Highmage's Plight by D.H. Aire


Synopsis:
Professor George Bradley, computer staff in hand, "envisions" an archaeological site, which could turn history on its head. Then he falls through a ripple in reality. He enters a world where: trolls think they are human; elves believe humans can't do magic since they don't have souls; a child of prophecy is dying of a curse; a shape-changer is bent on killing him; a seeress keeps too many secrets; and an ogre and a boy struggle to defend a keep against the evil ruling it. This is a world where a starship crash landed, bringing about a war, which led to the laws of magic defeating those of science. Here a demon rages, intent on destroying all life, its minions intent on killing the human mage from another world. If that wasn't bad enough, George's computer is now rather sarcastic.
(Synopsis from Goodreads).

My Thoughts:
I've been binge reading a lot of fantasy lately. I can't get enough of it. I've especially been loving to read fantasy by indie authors. Therefore, I was hoping that I would love Highmage's Plight. Unfortunately, I didn't really care for it at all. 

Highmage's Plight reminded me a lot of the Thomas Covenant series, which for me isn't a good thing. The reader is dropped into the story with no world building whatsoever. It made everything so confusing. I spent most of the book trying to figure out what the heck was going on. The different races, traditions, and characters of the world weren't explained well at all. There were times when I thought the story line was starting to make sense and became interesting, only to be confused again a page or two later. 

I had such high hopes for Highmage's Plight, but in the end, I was letdown. It wasn't the epic fantasy that I expected. It was so disappointing. There are several more books in the series, but I will not be picking them up to read. I honestly can't say I recommend this series to anyone.


I give Highmage's Plight: 2/5.

Want to know more about the author?
Website: http://www.dhr2believe.net/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Dare-2-Believe-238893922808198/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Dare2Believe1

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. I was in no way compensated for this review.

Monday, May 22, 2017

The Portal by Alan Zendell


Synopsis:
Harry Middleton is born in an America staggered by a century of decline, a time of medical and technological marvels beyond the reach of most people in a shattered economy. Pessimism and despair are more common than optimism and hope, and a desperate government bets the future on space. The lunar and Martian colonies have not provided the hoped-for salvation, so despite an angry, disillusioned public, the first star mission will soon be launched.

Harry is a special child, smart, precocious, his only confidante an embittered grandfather. When the old man dies, Harry is lost, until he meets Lorrie. At thirteen, they bond, certain they’ll spend their lives together, but a year later, she disappears, and Harry is desolate.

With help from his friend Carlos, Harry begins a quest to find her, but he quickly learns how powerless he is. Even the police lack the resources to help. Harry and Carlos can only depend on themselves and each other. An unlikely duo, Harry is an academic prodigy while Carlos is a stud athlete. Realizing that school and baseball are their tickets out of the morass they’re caught in, they inspire each other to greatness in both.

Trying to move on with his life, Harry has a college sweetheart, but as long as Lorrie haunts him, he knows the relationship is doomed. He gains celebrity and wealth, but the thing Harry wants most, finding and saving Lorrie from whatever fate took her from him remains beyond his reach. And always, in the background, are the deteriorating state of the country and the coming star missions.

And of course, there's the Portal.
(Synopsis from Goodreads).

My Thoughts:
I've owned The Portal for quite a long time. Even though I really wanted to read it, I put it off for a couple years. It was intimidating to me for some reason. I'm not quite sure why. In 2017, I've made it a goal of mine to catch up on some of my review books. Therefore, I decided to get over the intimidation and read it. I wish I would have read it sooner. I loved it.

Most people that have read The Portal and talk about it on Goodreads classify it as a romance. It is a beautiful, heart breaking romance. However, it is so much more than a romance. I want to touch on an aspect of the book that most people don't talk about, the science fiction. I loved the science fiction aspects of this book. It was fascinating to see how the portal technology worked. I read primarily science fiction book, and this was definitely one of my favorite ones that I've read this year. 

There was one thing about The Portal that I didn't like. The timing wasn't explained very well, which made for some confusing moments. For example, four years pass after the attack that happens, and while reading it, it was like no time had passed at all. The only reason why I knew the time had passed was because the author had pointed it out halfway through telling that part of the story. It also took me a little bit to figure out that it had been a year after one of the characters had died (trying to be vague so I don't spoil it for anyone). If the author went back into the book, and fleshed out the time line a little better, the book would be perfect.

The ending of The Portal was absolutely beautiful. It made me bawl. I hope Alan Zendell writes a sequel, or at least a novella, about what happened after the ending. I loved this book so much. I regret that it took me so long to read it because I kept putting it off. I will definitely be reading Alan Zendell's other books very soon. I recommend this book for anyone who loves sci-fi, and enjoys a little romance intertwined.

I give The Portal: 4/5.

Want to know more about the author?

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. I was in no way compensated for this review.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

DNF Review: Dr. Lane Bravo's Lectures on Bervin "The Blue" by Chris Sweigard

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Synopsis:
This is the history of Bervin "The Blue" as recorded by Dr. Lane Bravo. Young Bervin of the planet Kelner was picked to unite the Common Sense Stones of Sight, Sound, Taste, Hearing, and Touch. As his journey progresses, and he recovers the stones from there protectors, Bervin experiences dramatic changes in his own senses and abilities. His actions are also responsible for dramatic changes on his small planet. Bervin's actions are credited for raising the wondrous Brietta Mount up above the existing atmosphere, allowing the sun's rays to ricochet around in it and shoot blue into the sky all over Kelner. It is Dr. Bravo's job to record this history. He does this by compiling first person accounts of the events, and presenting those as interviews. He also presents legends and lore. The final piece of information he presents is Bervin's own journal from the journey. Although few, the accounts offer the closest to first person history that we have to this historical event.
(Synopsis from Goodreads.)

My Thoughts:
When I first read the synopsis for Dr. Lane Bravo's Lectures on Bervin "The Blue", I knew I had to read it. It sounded like it was unlike anything I had ever read before. The perfect mix of fantasy with a unique story telling method. Unfortunately, I disliked this book quite a bit. I ended up DNF'ing it at just twenty-two pages because I couldn't read anymore. 

Most of the first twenty-two pages of this book was a complete info-dump. It was way too much information to try to take in at once. It made everything confusing, and hard to pay attention to. I felt my eyes glaze over several times while trying to read this. I wasn't absorbing any of the information. Doctor Lane Bravo would also go off, and randomly get sidetracked throughout the book, and go on random tangents. That didn't help my attention span at all. By the time I DNF'd the book at twenty-two pages, I had a terrible headache from trying to figure out what was going on. At that point, Bervin "The Blue" was barely mentioned at all. Therefore, I decided to give up, and DNF the book. 

At this point in time, I will not be going back to try to read the book again. Days later, even the thought of this book still gives me a headache. However, I can't say that I don't recommend Dr. Lane Bravo's Lectures on Bervin "The Blue" to anyone. My husband read the book, and he enjoyed it. Therefore, it might be more of a personal preference thing. However, if you do start it, be prepared for a lot of info-dumping.


I give Dr. Lane Bravo's Lectures on Bervin "The Blue": 1/5.

Want to know more about the author?
Website: http://www.chrissweigard.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ChrisSweigardauthor/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/chrissweigard
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/chris-sweigard-598a8328
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5292955.Chris_Sweigard

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. I was in no way compensated for this review.