Book Reviews

Of Mice and Men

Author:John Steinbeck (Bio) | Publication:September 1, 1993 by:Penguin Books| Series: N/A | Length: 110 pages | Genre: Young Adult/Teen, Classical Literature, Fiction | ISBN:9780140177398 |Source: Amazon | Book: Amazon (here)

They are an unlikely pair: George is “small and quick and dark of face”; Lennie, a man of tremendous size, has the mind of a young child. Yet they have formed a “family,” clinging together in the face of loneliness and alienation.Laborers in California’s dusty vegetable fields, they hustle work when they can, living a hand-to-mouth existence. For George and Lennie have a plan: to own an acre of land and a shack they can call their own. When they land jobs on a ranch in the Salinas Valley, the fulfillment of their dream seems to be within their grasp. But even George cannot guard Lennie from the provocations of a flirtatious woman, nor predict the consequences of Lennie’s unswerving obedience to the things George taught him.

All any hard working man could want these days was a little piece of land to call his own and to live off the fat of the land. That was always the plan for George and Lennie save for the face that Lennie was always getting into trouble. George being the brain always found them work and Lennie who for all purposes is an overpowered child in a man’s body. They are on their way to the next job with one goal in mind, to work hard enough to buy their own place so they never have to work for anyone again. When they arrive at the new job they are immediately challenged by the boss’s son Curley and have a run in with his flirtatious wife. George and Lennie make a plan with old man Curley to pool their money together and buy this little piece of land. All they have to do is make it to the end of the month. One day while the other guys are out playing horseshoes, Curley’s wife catches Lennie alone lamenting over the puppy he accidentally killed while playing with it. She takes advantage of Lennie’s like for soft things and offers to let him touch her hair. She starts screaming at Lennie and he panics, held holds tight to her and in his panic accidentally kills her. Lennie runs for it and when the others discover what he’s done they chase after him with one goal, to put him down. George finds Lennie first and kills Lennie himself because he knew there was no saving him from this situation.

I have been taking the time to throw a classical book or two into my reading lineup whenever the feeling is set upon me. While the story is short it is so powerful for this tale. Lennie is all George has and it is established rather quickly that without him Lennie would not be able to survive on his own. George plays two roles for Lennie being both a father and a brother to him. Steinbeck was able to paint such an amazing picture very quickly of the dynamic of their relationship without taking the time to explain every detail of it. When reading I think the death of the puppy really struck me, but showed exactly what the reader was supposed to gain which was Lennie’s pattern of behavior. As with previous incidents Lennie never meant any of the trouble he caused, but that does not mean his actions did not have disastrous consequences for the time period. I feel for George because he really does all that he can to protect Lennie without chaining him down like an animal, but in the end it wasn’t enough with what was bound to happen. The day when Lennie went too far and it was something he just could not be saved from.

Although I read this book over 5 years ago a fresh wave of emotion him me while reading again. It really is a true tale of love and friendship even in the end. George was not going to let Lennie suffer or fall into anyone else’s hands. He took the only opportunity he could to protect Lennie one last time. It hurt as I got to those final pages knowing exactly what was going to happen and knowing that like George there was nothing I could do to protect the lovable Lennie. I love this story and it really pulls at my heartstrings as I could see this being a real thing even today.

If you are looking for a short classical read then I suggest putting this at the top of your list. This can easily be read in a day or two days at most if you’re taking your time. Grab a box of tissues or at least be ready for some feels when going through this.

A link to the author’s bio is listed above as well a link to purchase the book. Steinbeck is an amazing author who has blessed us with countless other tales that are enriching and deeply thought provoking. Keep an eye out for other reviews of his work coming soon.

I rated this book a 4/5.

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Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Author:J. K. Rowling (Bio) | Publication: August 1, 2000 by: Scholastic Press | Series: Harry Potter Series #4 | Length: 752 pages | Genre: Young Adult/Teen, Fiction, Magic, | ISBN:9780439139595 |Source: Amazon | Book: Amazon (here)

Harry Potter is midway through his training as a wizard and his coming of age. Harry wants to get away from the pernicious Dursleys and go to the International Quidditch Cup. He wants to find out about the mysterious event that’s supposed to take place at Hogwarts this year, an event involving two other rival schools of magic, and a competition that hasn’t happened for a hundred years. He wants to be a normal, fourteen-year-old wizard. But unfortunately for Harry Potter, he’s not normal – even by wizarding standards. And in his case, different can be deadly.

For most school age children the summer holidays mean freedom and ample amounts of relaxation. For Harry Potter it is a means another miserable summer with the Dursleys, who for all intensive purposes treat Harry as if he is a plague on their family for even existing. After getting their permission to go to the Qudditch World Cup and witnessing first hand the first sighting of the Dark Lord’s mark for the first time in 14 years Harry knows that his school year will be anything but normal. Upon returning to school the Tri-Wizard Tournament is announced and Harry is mysteriously chosen to compete with representatives from other sounds in spite of the rules put in place to forbid this. Somehow Harry barely scapes through the first two tasks and makes it to the third with very little effort put in on his part. Even the third task appears to be a breeze until he tries to share the fame of winning with Cedric Diggory. He and Cedric are taken to the grave of Voldemort’s father where Cedric is murdered and Harry watches Voldemort come back from his shell of an existence since his defeat at Harry’ hands. Harry is forced to duel with Lord Voldemort and is able to escape with Cedric’s body thanks to his and Voldemort’s wands being derived from Fawkes’s tail feather. After arriving back at school Mad Eye Moody escorts Harry back to his office to find out exactly what happened in the graveyard. It is here that Moody admits to fixing the entire tournament so that Harry would win to meet the Dark Lord. Dumbledore bursts in and with a bit of veritaserum the Moody in front of them is revealed to be Barty Crouch Jr. who was indeed a faithful servant of Voldemort. After Harry is forced to rest and heads back home to the Dursleys knowing that nothing will be the same.

I appreciated this book in the series for multiple different reasons, but I’ll start with the fact that is shows how much Harry really relies on his friends. Harry is really just a plain jane wizard if you away the Voldemort attack. His is without a doubt an extremely exceptional Qudditch player and can outrun hell on a broom, but that’s it. Moody basically held his hand completely through the first task that he was completely unprepared for. Only Hermione helping him practice got him through that. Again the second task goes to Moody and the third task I suppose Moody and Hermione must share the cake. This fact of Harry’s lack of care for his education and preparedness is more evident in this book than any of it’s predecessors. The second thing this book did that I really enjoyed was that it called attention to the fact of how crappy being Harry’s best friend had to be for Ron. I imagine it’s like living in the shadow of a celebrity or in Ron’s case a famous brother. I did not once fault Ron for being upset with Harry and was surprised that it took this long for J.K. to address that elephant in the room. The last thing I want to call attention to is the resurrection of the Dark Lord. J.K., well done milady. It was classy and such a well thought out ritual. I was floured that after all this time I had forgotten how much thought and effort had to go into the entire graveyard scene and setup to make it work the way it did. My only complaint was the length. I think this was dragged out a tiny bit.

As with the previous three reviews this was my first time listening to the Stephen Fry version of this book. In my opinion I feel as if he reads the story exactly as J.K. hears it in her head. Although this may seem trivial to some understanding how the book sounds from the author’s point of view is pretty cool.

Harry again finds himself in over his head and worst than he’s ever seen before. If you thought the first three books in the series were good, just want until you dig into this one.

A link to the author’s bio is listed above as well a link to purchase the book. The fourth was riveting and of course exciting. Moving on to the next in the battle between good and evil and what that means for Harry.

I rated this book a 5/5.

Braving the Wilderness

Author: Brené Brown  (Bio) | Expected Publication:September 12, 2017 by Random House | Series: N/A | Length: 208 pages | Genre: Self-Help, Relationships| ISBN:9780812995848 |Source: Amazon | Book: Amazon (here)

“True belonging doesn’t require us to change who we are. It requires us to be who we are.” Social scientist Brené Brown, PhD, LMSW, has sparked a global conversation about the experiences that bring meaning to our lives—experiences of courage, vulnerability, love, belonging, shame, and empathy. In Braving the Wilderness, Brown redefines what it means to truly belong in an age of increased polarization. With her trademark mix of research, storytelling, and honesty, Brown will again change the cultural conversation while mapping a clear path to true belonging.
Brown argues that we’re experiencing a spiritual crisis of disconnection, and introduces four practices of true belonging that challenge everything we believe about ourselves and each other. She writes, “True belonging requires us to believe in and belong to ourselves so fully that we can find sacredness both in being a part of something and in standing alone when necessary. But in a culture that’s rife with perfectionism and pleasing, and with the erosion of civility, it’s easy to stay quiet, hide in our ideological bunkers, or fit in rather than show up as our true selves and brave the wilderness of uncertainty and criticism. But true belonging is not something we negotiate or accomplish with others; it’s a daily practice that demands integrity and authenticity. It’s a personal commitment that we carry in our hearts.” Brown offers us the clarity and courage we need to find our way back to ourselves and to each other. And that path cuts right through the wilderness. Brown writes, “The wilderness is an untamed, unpredictable place of solitude and searching. It is a place as dangerous as it is breathtaking, a place as sought after as it is feared. But it turns out to be the place of true belonging, and it’s the bravest and most sacred place you will ever stand.”

This book took me way longer to read (over a month) then it really should have. I found myself struggling to stayed consistently engaged which concerned me more than anything else. I immediately began to doubt the research of Dr. Brown and started to form my scathing review of how lacking her book was. As I am not one to not finish a book no matter how terrible it is I persisted, and I can say it was one of the best choices I’ve made recently. While the beginning is slow to start and in some areas Dr. Brown drones on, I began to feel the genuine parts of her spirit that she poured into her writing. I realized that as she wrote she is not seeking attention nor acceptance, but is simply making herself vulnerable in order to offer herself on the path less traveled.

As I’m mentioned in previous reviews I am not a sucker for self-help books, yet lately I’ve been drawn to a distinct selection of books meant to empower the human spirit. I can say for sure that Dr. Brown does this here. While she challenged some of my notions for how the world is, she also opened my eyes to be willing to accept a certain level of responsibility for the way I choose to interact with the world around me. Dr. Brown offers four unique approaches to walk in the wilderness:

  • People Are Hard to Hate Close Up. Move In
  • Speak Truth to Bullshit. Be Civil
  • Hold Hands. With Strangers
  • Strong Back. Soft Front. Wild Heart

I won’t spoil the approaches because Dr. Brown takes the time to paint such a unique and effective picture in explaining each of these. My only advice is to read her book with an open mind and be ready to have your way of thinking challenged. I did not agree with every point she made, but I did understand the perspective and angle she was writing from. This is the first book I have read of her’s but I do intend to read her others.

Thank you Dr. Brown for your work and continue to be one who blazes a path in the wilderness. While we each need to walk our own path it allows us to take heart that someone has been there and is offering to be a guide on the path.

I rated this book a 3/5.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Author:J. K. Rowling (Bio) | Publication:July 8 1999 by Scholastic Inc | Series: Harry Potter Series #3 | Length: 435 pages | Genre: Young Adult/Teen, Fiction, Magic, | ISBN:9780439655484 |Source: Barnes and Noble | Book: Amazon (here)

Harry Potter’s third year at Hogwarts is full of new dangers. A convicted murderer, Sirius Black, has broken out of Azkaban prison, and it seems he’s after Harry. Now Hogwarts is being patrolled by the dementors, the Azkaban guards who are hunting Sirius. But Harry can’t imagine that Sirius or, for that matter, the evil Lord Voldemort could be more frightening than the dementors themselves, who have the terrible power to fill anyone they come across with aching loneliness and despair. Meanwhile, life continues as usual at Hogwarts. A top-of-the-line broom takes Harry’s success at Quidditch, the sport of the Wizarding world, to new heights. A cute fourth-year student catches his eye. And he becomes close with the new Defense of the Dark Arts teacher, who was a childhood friend of his father. Yet despite the relative safety of life at Hogwarts and the best efforts of the dementors, the threat of Sirius Black grows ever closer. But if Harry has learned anything from his education in wizardry, it is that things are often not what they seem. Tragic revelations, heartwarming surprises, and high-stakes magical adventures await the boy wizard in this funny and poignant third installment of the beloved series.

Harry is once again barely managing to get by when home for the summer holidays with the Dursleys. After a nasty run in with Vernon’s sister Marge and a rash choice to run away from home, Harry finds himself in front of the Minister for Magic who is just happy to see Harry safe and in one piece. On his own for the rest of the holidays and confined to Diagon Alley, Harry is for once blissfully happy until finding out that a dangerous convict by the name of Sirius Black is after him for defeating Lord Voldemort 12 years prior. Harry finds out that Black is his godfather and was his parents best friend before handing them over to Lord Voldemort. Harry operates under the intention to make Black pay until he learns the truth for himself. Ron’s rat is really Peter Pettigrew the Potter’s secret keeper who betrayed them to the Dark Lord. While Harry did manage to prevent Sirius from being executed by the Dementors of Azkaban, Pettigrew was allowed to escape.

This is without a doubt my favorite book in the Harry Potter series. First and foremost it’s the only book in the series that does not complete revolve around a plot to kill Harry. It also gives the first glimpse into the deep rooted lack of trust between even friends that the presence of Voldemort had cultivated. This book definitely has a darker tone at times than it’s predecessors due to it revolving completely around the betrayal of Harry’s parents and the cause of his miserable life with the Dursleys. Personally I love Sirius! His mysterious introduction is perfect and although he’s not your conventional parenting figure, he is still presented to deeply care about Harry. I am also a huge Lupin fan! He’s gentle, yet prepared to protect Harry while avenging his best friend. I was rather displeased that J.K. chose to have his condition revealed forcing him to resign from his post. I completely understand the necessity of the choice, but Lupin is one of the best characters introduced thus far.

As with the previous two reviews this was my first time listening to the Stephen Fry version of this book and he makes the story not only engaging, but too thrilling to even put down. I listened to this particular book twice because I love every moment of it especially when Sirius finally is on the scene.

Harry’s back, back again, tell a friend…okay terrible joke, but he really is back in another adventure that as with any Harry Potter book leaves more questions than answers. As if you need anyone more reason to go out and pick up the third book in this enticing series.

As I’ve mentioned a few times and feel no remorse in doing so again, this is definitely my favorite Harry Potter book in the series.  There is a link to the author’s bio account at the top of the page. Thank you J.K for the third book in the series. On to the fourth.

I rated this book a 5/5.

The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts

Author:Dr. Gary Chapman (Bio) | Publication:January 1st 2015 by Northfield Publishing | Series: N/A | Length: 208 pages | Genre: Self-help, Relationships, Love, Psychology | ISBN:9780802412706 |Source: Amazon | Book: Amazon (here)

Falling in love is easy. Staying in love-that’s the challenge! How can you keep your relationship fresh and growing amid the demands and conflicts and just plain boredom of everyday life?

I’ll bluntly start by saying how much I detest the majority of all self help books. This one one by no means falls into that category. Dr. Chapman delivers effective and sound advice on how to love others through using what he calls that 5 love languages. These love language are discussed in detail and he provides the best ways to properly fill the “love tank” of a person’s love language. The practical application provided in the book really allows for one to do some soul searching and helps to really put long lasting changes into place rather than promising the sort of instant change that other books promote. Dr. Chapman by no means says that this book is the end all be all to issues one may be having with being loved and loving others, but he does instead offer steps one may take to address these issues.

What I like most about this book is that Dr. Chapman shoots straight from the hip. Even while reading it I noticed things that I didn’t like, but I knew applied to me. When helping someone it is of course important to be mindful of their feelings, but not so much so that they are only told what they want to hear. That more than anything is what drove me to pick this up and read it in the first place. Personally for me it confirmed some things I already knew about myself and helped me to see others who I interact with regularly in a different light. If you choose to pick this book up, it will definitely require effort on your part to make a change and see a difference. For me it w has been and continues to be worth it.

One thing I will point out is the last quarter of the book does get quite repetitive. I’m sure the intent was to drive the point home for those who may struggle with emotional interact, but for me it was slightly annoying. Another thing to note is that the book is written in respect to marriages, but the knowledge contained can easily be applied to any relationship. Other than that I really enjoyed this book and suggest it to anyone who wants to enhance the way they love others.

This book is definitely for anyone who is single, dating, married, or looking to enhance the way they express their love to others. It is without a doubt worth the time it takes to read the book. A link to the author’s bio and to the book are both provided above. Thank you Dr. Chapman for the wealth of information provided here. I look forward to reading your other work.

If you want to learn your love language click here. There’s an assessment that has also been included in the latest edition of the book.

I rated this book a 4/5.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Author:J. K. Rowling (Bio) | Publication:July 2 1998 byA. Levine Books | Series: Harry Potter Series #2 | Length: 341 pages | Genre: Young Adult/Teen, Fiction, Magic, | ISBN:9780439064866 |Source: Barnes and Noble | Book: Amazon (here)

The Dursleys were so mean and hideous that summer that all Harry Potter wanted was to get back to the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. But just as he’s packing his bags, Harry receives a warning from a strange, impish creature named Dobby who says that if Harry Potter returns to Hogwarts, disaster will strike.

The scene opens to Harry getting yelled at as usual by his Uncle Vernon. This time over the awful racket Hedwig is making due to being locked up since Harry returned from Hogwarts. After excusing himself from breakfast he goes outside to dwell on the fact that he has not heard from any of his Hogwarts friends since the end of last term. As the Durley’s prepare to host a new client for Uncle Vernon’s company Harry finds himself being remanded to his room and told to act as if he doesn’t exist. During the visit a house elf shows up and gives Harry a cryptic warning not to return to Hogwarts. After ruining the deal for Harry’s uncle and with the arrival of an official warning from the Ministry of Magic, Harry is placed on a prison like sentence until he is rescued by the Wesley’s. Harry spends the rest of his summer holiday with them completely carefree until they leave for Diagon Alley. Harry gets lost and overhears Mr. Malfoy selling some items that he does not want discovered in a Ministry raid. After a harrowing ride where the Wesley’s flying car is destroyed and Harry barely escapes getting expelled he starts to hear voices around the school as students are attacked. Harry and Ron have to solve the mystery of the attacks on their own after Hermione is also attacked. Harry comes faces to face with Voldemort’s memory preserved in a diary that was draining the life out of Ginny Wesley. Harry defeats the Basilisk and destroy the diary of Voldemort ending the attacks and keeping Hogwarts open.

Even though this is a re-read of the series I find myself with a childlike emotion listening to the book from start to finish. While I know that Harry is going to win out, I still find my heart racing at certain parts of the story. This book really increased my appreciation for the emotion that Hagrid adds to the overall tale. His reaction to being sent to Azkaban was one the most heart wrenching sections of the book. Even more so finding out the lengths that Voldemort will go through to get what he wants just increased my dislike for a character who is intentionally written not to be liked. Hagrid on the other hand has a very lovable nature and reminds me of a close friend of mine who is quite famous being bringing stray animals in off the street. He expresses a pure love for those around him and for the creatures he takes care of. This is evident in the way that he still takes care of Aragog even after all the trouble owning the creature caused him. It was my favorite thing about this book. The story itself outside of that I felt was dull in many areas and drawn out when it didn’t need to be. I also was not fully committed to the plot.

This was my first time listening to this on audiobook and Stephen Fry made this a reading exciting read. While the Chamber of Secrets is my least favorite Harry Potter book it still provides the amazing story that I have come to expect from the series.

If you could not get enough of the wizarding world then book two in the series is for you. Harry and the gang returns with even more to investigate and discover than the first book. And Harry once again is fighting to save his life.

Although this is not one of my favorite books in the series it’s still wonderful to read this book again. There is a link to the author’s bio account at the top of the page. Thank you J.K for the second book in the series. On to the third.

I rated this book a 4/5.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Author:J. K. Rowling (Bio) | Expected Publication:June 30 1997 by Bloomsbury Publishing | Series: Harry Potter Series #1 | Length: 223 pages | Genre: Young Adult/Teen, Fiction, Magic, | ISBN:9780747532743 |Source: Barnes and Noble | Book: Amazon (here)

Turning the envelope over, his hand trembling, Harry saw a purple wax seal bearing a coat of arms; a lion, an eagle, a badger and a snake surrounding a large letter “H”.
Harry Potter has never heard of Hogwarts when the letters start dropping on the doormat at number four, Privet Drive. Addressed in green ink on yellowish parchment with a purple seal, they are swiftly confiscated by his grisly aunt and uncle. Then, on Harry’s eleventh birthday, a great beetle-eyed giant of a man called Rubeus Hagrid bursts in with some astonishing news: Harry Potter is a wizard, and he has a place at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

The book opens to the most boring, perfectly normal family in all of Great Britain. Quickly their world is turned upside down when Petunia Dursley’s baby nephew shows up on their doorstep after the murder of his parents in what Harry is lead to believe a car crash. After multiple attempts to deliver letters to Harry which are destroyed by Uncle Vernon, Hagrid personally comes to inform Harry about his acceptance into Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. He tells Harry that he is really a wizard and takes him off to Diagon Alley where Harry is introduced to the wizarding world. Over dinner Hargid tells Harry about Lord Voldemort, what really happened to his parents, and the origin of his scar. The rest of the holiday passes and Harry boards the Hogwarts Express and eventually makes his way to Hogwarts where he is sorted into Gryffindor House and embarks on the first year of his Hogwarts journey. Through all his classes and making the quidditch team, Harry finds himself working to uncover the plot behind a mysterious stone that someone seems to be after. With the help of his friends Harry uncovers the plan to steal the stone and confronts one the teachers who is trying to steal it in order to bring Lord Voldemort back to life. Harry barely defeats the Dark Lord again and keeps the stone from falling into his hands. At the end of term because of their bravery Gryffindor is awarded extra points to win the house cup. Harry heads off with his uncle back to the plain house on Privet Drive.

I love Harry Potter! Now that it’s out of the bag I can get on with this review. This is probably my 9th or 10th time reading the book and each time reminds me of my first. Barely 6 years old I remember trying to read this completely struggling and it taking me forever to get through it. Each page more captivating than the last allowing you to put yourself right along Harry each step of the way. What I find most enthralling about this book is the the level of depth each character possess, even the ones with less impact on the story. The detail and development of the plot and wizarding world is easy to absorb and swallow while reading this story.

This was my second time listening to this on audiobook and I really enjoy the Stephen Fry version better in my opinion. Such a wonderful and captivating story and the series only goes up from here.

If you are a fan of traveling to other worlds, adventure, magic, and wonderfully described feasts this is your book.

This book is literally one of the best selling books of all time. There is a link to the author’s bio account at the top of the page. I humbly thank J.K. for gifting me with the world of Harry Potter and hope that everyone takes the time to read this at least once.

I rated this book a 5/5.

Achilles (SPOLIER FREE)

Author: Greg Boose (Bio) | Expected Publication:September 26 2017 by Diversion Publishing | Series: The Deep Sky Saga Book 1 | Length: 288 pages | Genre: Young Adult/Teen/Dystopian| ISBN: 9781635760545 |Source: NetGalley |Book: Amazon (here)

The year is 2221, and humans have colonized a planet called Thetis in the Silver Foot Galaxy. After a tragic accident kills dozens of teenage colonists, Thetis’s leaders are desperate to repopulate. So Earth sends the Mayflower 2―a state-of-the-art spaceship―across the universe to bring 177 new homesteaders to the colony. For Jonah Lincoln, an orphaned teen who has bounced between foster homes and spent time on the streets of Cleveland, the move to Thetis is a chance to reinvent himself, to be strong and independent and brave, the way he could never be on Earth. But his dreams go up in smoke when their ship crash-lands, killing half the passengers and leaving the rest stranded―not on Thetis, but on its cruel and unpopulated moon, Achilles. Between its bloodthirsty alien life forms and its distance from their intended location, Achilles is a harrowing landing place. When all of the adult survivors suddenly disappear, leaving the teenage passengers to fend for themselves, Jonah doubts they’ll survive at all, much less reach Thetis―especially when it appears Achilles isn’t as uninhabited as they were led to believe.

The story revolves around young teenager named Jonah who we first meet aboard the Mayflower 2 journeying towards a new Earth like planet. The story quickly dissolves into chaos when the ship experiences some sort of failure and crashes on Achilles, a moon of Thetis. Half of those aboard the ship are killed on the initial crash and the survivors try to deal with the crippling loss. Very soon though it’s revealed that the crash was not as accidental as it appears and the group begins to struggle with trust. When people start mysteriously turning up brutally murdered sides are chosen. As one group splits up and decides to journey across the moon, it becomes apparent that something is not quite right about the moon or the planet Thetis. As more and more starts to go wrong a plot unravels that pushes all the teenagers to the very brink of their humanity.

This book was basically The Maze Runner meets Lord of the Flies meets The 100. It’s such a well written tale that really took me through some strong emotional turns. There were some people, sad to say that I’m glad didn’t make it. There were others who I felt deserved to survive and grew quite attached too. The loose sense of law and order was my favorite part of the story because it didn’t feel forced or out of place given the situation. The best part I would say is that Jonah was a very well rounded character who I feel had a part that everyone could connect to.

If you are a fan of dystopian novels or enjoy the idea of a bunch of kids lost together trying to just survive then pick this book up. I really struggled with putting this book down once I started it. I feel like many would have the same issue.

This book can be picked up from the Amazon link above. There is a link to the author’s bio at the top of the page. I humbly thank NetGalley and the publisherDiversion Publishing for this ARC copy of the book to review prior to release. I wish the author the best of luck with his future writing endeavors.

I rated this book a 4/5. I’m eagerly waiting for the next book to be released whenever that happens. I’m sure we ca expect great things from this author.

Halayda (SPOILER FREE)

Author: Sarah Delena White (Bio) | Expected Publication:March 23rd 2017 by Uncommon Universes Press | Series: Star-Fae Trilogy Book 1 | Length: 439 pages | Genre: Young Adult/Steampunk| ISBN: 9780997409970 |Source: NetGalley |Book: Amazon (here)

A mortal alchemist. A faerie king. A bond that transcends death. Betrayed by a trusted mentor, Sylvie Imanthiya hides on the fringes of society, caring for half-fae orphans and trading her alchemical creations on the black market. She lives for the one night each season when she can see her dearest friend—a man whose destiny is far above hers.King Taylan Ashkalabek knows better than to exchange halayda vows with a mortal. Even their friendship is a risk; love is an impossible dream. Then a brutal alchemical attack poisons his realm, unearthing a dark power within him—and leaving Sylvie with the ancient mark of Faerie’s savior.Manifesting unpredictable abilities and aided by allies with their own secrets, Sylvie and Taylan journey into the wilds of Faerie to heal the damage and confront Casimir, an invincible star-fae determined to claim the realm as his own. But only their enemy knows Sylvie’s true capabilities—and Taylan’s weaknesses—and how to use them in his vicious schemes.Her fate is life. His fate is death. With Faerie in the balance, Sylvie and Taylan must stand together before reality as they know it is destroyed.

This tale starts with quick introductions to most of the major characters who in one shape or another are connected to the realm of  the fae. As the story progresses it becomes quite clear that the land of Faerie is not at all what Sylvie thought it to be and even worse it’s success depends on her. She is brought into a dark and poisoned world, content with it’s own destruction. Little does she know Casimir, a star-fae of legend is seeking to re-write the reality of Faerie using her powers. In the end Sylvie must overcome her own fears and self doubts to save her world and Faerie as well.

While reading this book I really struggled because so much of it felt like it was borrowed from another well known author, Sarah J. Maas. I feel like a good portion of the material in the book was copy/pasted, abet very poorly. The book dragged on un-necessarily without developing the plot at all in multiple areas. I also struggled to even write this review due to my string feelings towards the concepts and ideas used. I’m not sure whether the author forgot to change the names of some things, or was just trying to branch off of ideas established by another author, or wanted to expand on Sarah’s world. In all I’ve very disappointed by this blatant use of another author’s material so openly.

If you are a fan of fantasy novels or enjoy magical worlds with far away places then this book might be for you. Again I found it dull, drawn out, and using what I consider stolen material. That is a word that I do not use lightly at all.

This book can be picked up from the Amazon link above. There is a link to the author’s bio at the top of the page. I humbly thank NetGalley and the publisherUncommon Universes Press for this ARC copy of the book to review prior to release. I wish the author the best of luck with her future writing endeavors.

I rated this book a 2/5. I’m not extremely hopeful about the next book in the series to be honest, but time will tell if I give it a chance.

A Cold Day in Hell (SPOILER FREE)

Author: Lissa Marie Redmond (Bio) | Expected Publication:February 8th 2018 by Midnight Ink | Series: Cold Case Investigation #1 | Length: 397 pages | Genre: Mystery/Thriller/Crime| ISBN:N/A |Source: NetGalley

Lauren Riley is an accomplished detective who has always been on the opposite side of the courtroom from her nemesis, slick defense attorney Frank Violanti. But now he’s begging to hire her as a private investigator to help clear his client of murder. At first Lauren refuses, wanting nothing to do with the media circus surrounding that case—until she meets the eighteen-year-old suspect.
To keep an innocent teen from life in prison, Lauren must unravel the conflicting evidence and changing stories to get at the buried facts. But the more she digs, the more she discovers that nothing is what it first appears to be. As Lauren puts her career and life in danger, doubt starts to lurk on every corner . . . and so does her stalker.

This story quickly jumps into the career and life of Lauren Riley, a successful cold case detective who is well known throughout the Buffalo Police Department for her work. She is a approached by a shifty defense attorney who wants to hire her despite his track record of calling her incompetent on multiple past cases. As she tries to balance her professional and personal life, some lines start to blur. As the tale unravels Lauren must decide who she can trust in this cat mouse game that some how ends up with her in the center. In the end Lauren must decide between following her cop mind or her heart to do what she feels is right.

What I find most captivating about this book is how real it is. Lauren is portrayed as a real character that some people, both men and women might be able to identify with. Not only is she a single mom twice divorced, but also battles with feelings of abandonment as her daughters are off to college. Lauren’s life depiction is not some story of a perfect female cop and all is right in her world without any complications. Instead her her strengths and weaknesses are equally laid out there for everyone to see and multiple characters in the book call out these things which makes Lauren seem even more touchable.

It is not often a book in this genre captivates me enough to stay up all night to complete. I find that crime novels are often easy to figure out and for that reason they tend to bore me. Not this one, the reveal at the end somewhat blindsided me because I couldn’t quite make up my mind. One thing to keep in mind as I read was that not everyone in the tale is as they seem. Redmond did a great job with playing to multiple audiences with the way she wrote her novel and for that I applaud her and her work. What is also cool is that the author worked, and lives in my home town of Buffalo, NY. It was completely by luck that I happened upon this book and it was awesome at how she portrayed the city. I could easily place myself at the majority of the locations she described with ease. I hope I run into her one day.

If you are a fan of crime novels or just looking for a new read, this is definitely worth picking up. The chapters are quick and the story transitions quite well from scene to scene. This is basically your most complicated Law and Order episode you can think of except better and in book form.

This book is not yet release. There is a link to the author’s Goodreads account at the top of the page. I humbly thank NetGalley and the publisher Midnight Ink for this ARC copy of the book to review prior to release. I wish the author all the best and hope to see this on shelves early next year.

I rated this book a 3.5/5. I am looking forward to the next book in the series.