The Tarot Cards: Sword of Souls [Book II]

*I received a free copy of his book in exchange for a completely honest review*

 

Maharaj gives readers another fascinating story in the second part to her Tarot Cards series. I’ll be honest and say it’s been quite a while since I read the first book so I definitely needed a refresher. The second book pretty much picks right up from where the first ended so if you haven’t read the prequel, you may want to grab a copy of it as Sword of Souls is not a standalone book in the series.

This book takes on more of an emotional tale as we see Alex struggle with his circumstances and worry over Clara’s wellbeing. Even though our female protagonist is the Tarot Master, that doesn’t mean she is without her fair share of troubles. In this book, the danger has returned and it nearly catches our duo by surprise. There is action, magic, and evil forces at bay—all of which are brought to the forefront of this novel as readers take a look into the lives of our young heroes.

In my review of the first book in this series, I made a comment about the style of narration. In the first book, everything read like a to-do list which made the dialogue and the action seem a bit choppy. I didn’t really like the flow and I complained about this issue in the first installment. While I’m still not a huge fan of the style of writing in this second book, I will say that it is definitely a huge improvement from the first. I feel that the sentences are a bit too short and that makes the flow feel awkward and choppy—but there is certainly more characterization and development to make up for that.

Overall, I will say this is a fine read for anyone who enjoys dark fantasy and magic. If you like close friendship and character bonds then this series will certainly interest you. With a strong female lead, a classic good vs evil feel, and an entertaining cast—this is the classic makings of a popular YA fiction. I would recommend this series to all ages.  

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What If I Go?

By Polly White

By Polly White

*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*

 

This is a book that everyone should read. Part of me wanted to say that every girl should read it, every Christian should read it, every college student should read it, every parent should read it… but the truth is that there is a lesson for everyone in this book and its tragic, painful, and raw with emotion.

What If I Go? Is a roller coaster coming-of-age novel about a young woman named Grace. Kind, innocent Grace only wants to pursue her education and her dreams in the UK—but she wouldn’t mind finding love along the way. Fortunately for her, she does find it in a seductive young man named Zul. Unfortunately … Zul is the last person she should surrender her heart to.

In this painfully honest story, audiences watch Grace’s life spiral out of control as she makes one bad decision after another. Innocence is tainted, light becomes darkness, trust is betrayed, and hope destroyed as our protagonist fights a string of battles and loses—repeatedly. Sex, drugs, alcohol, and abuse are just a few of the problems Grace finds herself tangled up in. The sad part of this story is that things never really get better for Grace. She is a completely lost cause and we are forced to sit and watch and hope that she can somehow make it out of her circumstances. Even more painful… this is not an uncommon tale.

The very depressing truth is that Grace is not a special case. How many young adults venture off expecting to find love and success and are instead handed a plate of worms? I believe there is a little bit of Grace in all of us—a gentle light hoping for more, trusting a little too much, believing in every smile we see. Sometimes we allow ourselves to get hurt by being too nice. I’m not sure if that makes us or the world sad but it’s the truth.

My heart goes out to our protagonist and especially to our wonderful author for bringing this story to light in its painful, raw truth. This book was written incredibly well with a gifted hand. I am very pleased to have had the opportunity to read and review it.

I would recommend this book to mature readers and those who enjoy coming-of-age tales.

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Australian Shepherd Bible and The Australian Shepherd

By Mark Manfield

By Mark Manfield

*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*

 

I’m honestly not a pet person. I love animals—but only from a distance. Unfortunately, I live with a family who loves animals more than people so I grew up with three dogs, a guinea pig, a bearded dragon, three fish, a rabbit, a hamster, and a fancy rat. So, I may not enjoy raising animals but that doesn’t mean I am not interested in learning how to properly care for one.

That being said, I found Manfield’s book to be a very detailed and very organized guide on everything there is to know about the beautiful Australian Shepherd. I learned about what breed of shepherd I should choose, their personalities and habits, their diets, weight, and even sleeping schedule. I have never owned an Australian Shepherd before but I feel more than prepared to take on the responsibility of adopting one after reading this book.

The structure and guidance made me feel very secure and confident in raising a puppy or adopting a fully-grown Shepherd. I now know the signs of a healthy dog as well as one who could use more attention. I know how to potty train, schedule play time, and even help familiarize puppies with other pets. While I may not adopt a Shepherd anytime soon, I can most certainly say this book has given me all the essential information to keep me prepared for whenever I make the decision to extend my pet family.

This book is easy to read and comprehend, dog lovers and dog owners will enjoy and appreciate every word. Anyone who is even the slightest bit interested in pets will find this to be a book worth picking up.  

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Deprogramming A Bully: The Barber Chair Series, Book I

By Kathy Rae

By Kathy Rae

*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*

 

I’m honestly not sure how to approach this review. There are many different aspects to this book that make me pause when I try to figure out exactly what rating it deserves.

Let me start by saying, this is a good book: it has a great concept, and a very strong message for young readers and parents alike. But… there is just something strange about it. Maybe it’s the odd illustrations, the weird names of the characters, or maybe the coordination in the story.

The story centers on a young man who has been having trouble in school—like most young boys. What makes Boone so special is that he takes out all of his problems on everyone around him—specifically the timid kids, as his mother says—but Boone’s major problem is the prettiest girl in school. Unfortunately for him, this beauty is not interested which causes him to lash out at every guy who dares to even look at her.

Being the responsible parent that she is, Boone’s mother seeks help for her son’s behavior and that’s where the barbershop comes into play. When Logan, the local barber, witnesses Boone acting out against his mother, he decides to step in and help. Except the help he can offer isn’t anything like what Boone or his mother expected.

Logan has Boone transported to a world whose inhabitants have one goal: to deprogram bullies. That means Boone gets turned into a robot and must learn his lesson or risk losing everything.

What I found so interesting about this book was the concept itself. I have never really been to a barber before but I thought the inclusion of such a relationship in the story was unique. You’re supposed to be able to trust your barbers and confide in them, not get sent to another world. Even though I had read the description to the story before agreeing to review it, I was still surprised by how things unfolded. Everything seemed so ordinary in the beginning until suddenly, the main character was a robot in another dimension.

Now, the things I didn’t like about this story were definitely the illustrations and the style of writing. I’m a bit lenient on this book because it is for children but I just wish it’d had stronger writing. Sometimes it felt like I was reading a grocery list: Boone did this, then Boone said that, Boone smiled, Boone felt angry, blah…blah…blah… When a book reads like that, it feels less like a story and more like a point by point replay of a story.

My last complaint, which is more of a personal note than anything, is the target audience. This book is written as if it is for children but I’m not sure if kids or parents will enjoy it more. The need for literature to take part in this Anti-Bullying movement is strong but … is it interesting? If I were a kid, would I honestly want to read a book about mean kids getting turned into robots so they can learn to be nice again? Just food for thought.

All in all, I would still recommend this book to readers of all ages. Those with an interest in science fiction may enjoy this a bit more, and anyone who likes books with a strong message will certainly want a copy.

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Double Lightning

By Margaret Mal

By Margaret Mal

*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a completely honest review*

 

Having provided a review for this author in the past, I was somewhat familiar with her style of writing so I knew what I was getting into when I agreed to provide a review for this novel. Let me start by saying, I did enjoy this book to a degree but I found there were several pitfalls that took some points away from my overall rating.

The first thing I have to say about this story is that there is an awful lot going on. Overall, it’s a great idea but with less-than-great execution.

The plot of the story is a mystery combined with paranormal/supernatural abilities. The main character is a 22-year-old woman named Lily who decides to take the extra step in finding her missing brother by going after the suspects all on her own. The only problem here is that the suspects are a group of criminals whose real-names are unknown—it also doesn’t help that they’ve got supernatural abilities. That means Lily will have to pull out all her cards to outsmart a group of super-criminals who’ve even got the FBI scared.

When I read the description for this story I thought it was interesting enough but unfortunately it simply didn’t come together well. There were half a dozen characters introduced in the first two pages alone and nothing more detailed about them beyond their odd nicknames. I had no clue what on earth was happening or who on earth I was reading about. The sad part is that much of the story is written in that fashion—way too many characters, not enough distinction between them, very little detail on each person (despite it being a mystery novel) and the narration often switched from person to person sometimes in the same paragraph. It was confusing and distracting when dealing with such a big cast.

Despite all the negatives I just listed, I do think this book has potential to attract a fair audience. The combination of the mystery with supernatural powers and Lily’s struggle as the main character was entertaining and I thought the mystery behind it all came together well. Even though the cast was a little too large for my taste, I did enjoy the characters and I found their abilities to be unique and challenging for Lily and her team to take on.

There were a few hiccups, but remember this is just my opinion. I wouldn’t be surprised if this book made it onto the shelves of many YA or paranormal readers. It has a very unique and intriguing concept and I think many others will find enjoyment in it. I would recommend this book to YA readers and anyone with an interest in mystery, paranormal, or supernatural books.   

The Book Reviewer Yellow Pages

Descendent Darkness: Book III Redemption

*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*

As with the last two books I reviewed by Macready, Redemption demonstrated a strong amount of growth in the story and in the author. The style of writing with this author is somewhat of an acquired taste but I’ve learned to love the description, the insightful details, and the steady pacing.
Here we have the third installment in what I like to call a classic style vampire novel. For those who haven’t had the luxury of reading the last two books, I don’t want to spoil too much but if you enjoyed the first installments of the series then you will definitely enjoy this last one.

There is an ominous aura in this book which helps set the stage for the story to come. While the pacing might have been somewhat slow for my taste, drawing out that dim feeling definitely added to the old school, dark fantasy tone in the book.

As always, the editing was topnotch which is something I greatly appreciated. My only complaint would be the wordiness of the novel. While the description and detail was much appreciated, I thought there was an excess of verbiage that sometimes seemed more like the author was showing off their vocabulary rather than writing a decent story. But then I fall back to the old-fashioned style of writing the book has and I don’t mind the long-windedness of the book—considering this is the third in the series, I’m somewhat used to it now but I always find that I have to push myself to get through this series.

Overall, I enjoyed the progression in this series from the first book to the third and I would recommend this series to anyone who loves dark fantasy and horror with a classic feel to it. This is probably fit for mature audiences only. 

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Legacy: Book III of The Fire Chronicles

*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*

 

I have worked with Susi Wright before so I knew the style of writing and narration I was getting into when I agreed to read and provide a review for this book. Wright is addicted to detail, that is the first thing I will say about this book and I don’t necessarily mean that in a bad way.

On a positive note: the wording and descriptive phrases used were phenomenal. I could perfectly imagine every situation, character, and location and I appreciated the little things such as the weather, the color of a character’s eyes, the way their hair moved when they tossed their head back, the feel of the warmth of the sun. All the minor details added up to a bigger picture which demonstrated all the care and effort put into this book.

Now, the only thing I didn’t like about all the detail was that it sometimes felt like there was too much. The first example is that there was a preface and a prologue. I’ve said it before and I’ll shamelessly say it again, I don’t like “pre” or “pro” anything, I don’t read them. Just no. Granted, some prologues actually contain vital information that may help prevent any confusion in the story. But I just don’t like them. Whatever needs to be said should be included in the story. BUT this is a personal preference and has no weight on my review.

What does carry some weight in this review is that the story could’ve been about half as long as it was. As much as I enjoyed and appreciated every detail and description, it felt like the book was 70% description and 30% story. I probably sound like I’m contradicting myself right now. What I mean to say is, the story was written well, the detail was beautifully crafted, but there was just too much of it.

Now back to the positivity. This story is a great addition to the fantasy genre. It has a fine, balanced mix of YA characters, struggles, and attitude, with the maturity of a strong and imaginative fantasy novel. Even though this book is part of a series, I think it’s good enough to stand on its own but that doesn’t mean the rest of the series should be forgotten. I would recommend this book to readers of all ages. Those who enjoy fantasy and YA fiction will definitely want to check out all three books.

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I AM SLEEPLESS: The Huntress

By Johan Twiss

By Johan Twiss

*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*

To be quite honest, I don’t remember much about the first book in this series. It feels like it’s been years since I reviewed the prequel to this piece but I was happy to hear from a returning author and leapt at the opportunity to provide another review for him.

Considering I didn’t remember anything from the first book, the list of abilities and brief guide detailing the strengths and weaknesses of the primes was somewhat helpful but I do think readers who are new to the series would benefit from reading both books. The story is set to a great pace and allows you to digest every event which occurs and get to know each character we meet along the way.

I liked the cast and was surprised how much Sheva grew on me. She is a dark addition to the story but her background and the more you get to know her makes her more than just a “Huntress”. I was intrigued by her presence and found her to be more interesting than Twiss may have intended. I think the cast behaved well together, especially considering all the pitfalls they went through. The characters were young so I was half expecting to be annoyed by their attitudes and demeanor but I found them to be responsible and mature.

Each character is tested in this book and are demanded to put forth their fullest effort to survive and complete the task at hand. I liked that Twiss pushed them to their limits through obstacle after obstacle. With the lurking dangers, character relationships, and overall edgy tone of the story, I found The Huntress to be very enjoyable and would definitely recommend it to other readers. The only complaint I have would be in the style of writing. While the book was edited well and definitely came together as a decent and coherent story, I found Twiss sometimes used unnecessary words in his writing such as: “Stood to his feet” (where else could you stand to?) or “Held in her hands” (if you’re holding something, its naturally in your hands…)

While those phrases may not be grammatically incorrect, they are considered signs of what may be described by some as “weak writing”. While I disagree, and believe Twiss’s writing was very good and entertaining, I think getting rid of such habits in his style will push his next book to a new level.

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Underland: The Story of Bookland, Book III

Josh Brannan

Josh Brannan

One of the things I loved most about this series was the style of narration. By now, anyone who has read a review by me should know this is a very whimsical and quirky series. It has a distinct feel of a story dancing the lines of fairytale and fantasy. I can truly describe this as a silly, one-of-a-kind series but it most certainly has a serious edge. From dragons, to romance, to action, and more—this series has plenty to offer in entertainment for every reader.

This book in particular felt like a good ending despite its claim not to be. I liked the silly titles to the different sections in the story like: Not the Middle, and Not the End, when—of course—it certainly was. This series has been a wonderful ride and I do hope to see more follow its unique and hilarious style in the future. It feels so close to a fairytale it almost reads like a classic, which is a good thing! I’m excited for this series and I hope other readers enjoy it as much as I have.

Now that I’m done praising this series, I will share one of the issues I had with the writing. The narration was my favorite part of the three books but it also came as a double-edged sword. Sometimes the language of the narrator didn’t work out so well. While trying to sound quirky, there were times it sounded more like reading a typo. One sentence I distinctly remember reading over twice was:

“Faug rushed forward, and both Fierce and Damsel rushed just as rushingly to meet him.”

Maybe I’m wrong but I’m sure “rushingly” isn’t a word. That was probably done on purpose considering the style of the story, but it wasn’t done *right* in my opinion. Maybe making up words was taking it a bit far.

Despite that last complaint, the narration definitely provided a silly undertone to the story, but it severely lacked an essential part of any story: emotion. I did not feel very attached to the characters. I felt I knew them well, but only from a distance. Beyond that, what really bothered me were scenes or events that were supposed to be emotional. In this book, there was a reunion of three characters which I expected to be charged with emotion but it was fed to me in a very blunt, almost dry, way.

For example, while the characters were embracing the narrator described the scene as them “sharing a long moment of kisses”. That’s not exactly what I would expect when a family is reunited but more frustrating is that it made it awkward to picture what was happening. In the first book the narrator said he left out details so that we could use our own imagination to fill in the blank but, in some cases, telling us what’s happening but leaving out all description or detail is not encouraging us to be imaginative at all. To me, it isn’t even like telling a story but more like reading a checklist of events that occurred.

They were separated.

They reunited.

They shared hugs and kisses.

And now, dear reader, the story shall end.

So, the narration was a hilarious voice that worked sometimes but not all the time. That doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it, just that I noticed some setbacks—as with every book on the market. Nonetheless, I do hope this series reaches great success and I would recommend it to readers of all ages with an interest in fantasy, comedy, or fairytales. Anyone looking for something unique will definitely find it here.     

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Full Moon Rising: Trilogy of the Wolf Book I

By JB Jenn

By JB Jenn

*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*

I will be honest—like I’m supposed to be—I have mixed feelings about this book. The thing is, when you write about common mythological creatures, such as werewolves or vampires, you have to bring something new to the table and I feel like that didn’t happen here. This was a very typical werewolf story, even down to the title: Full Moon Rising. We all know wolves change on the full moon, we all know wolves have a dedicated pack mentality, we all know wolves tend to be protective of the ones close to them—all typical behavior, all featured in this book.

Now, just because the book was typical doesn’t mean it wasn’t entertaining. The prophecy cast an ominous shadow over much of the story and gave it that dark, supernatural aura that got me turning pages. The style of the author’s writing was almost old fashioned and gave the book a somewhat classic feel, especially in the descriptions which were beautiful and very detailed. I felt like I’d been taken into that world; I could perfectly imagine every character, setting, and action scene.

I also liked the entire cast and their interactions. I was happy the dialogue always fit their personalities. Each individual had a strength of their own which became prevalent as the story progressed. While I did find the pacing to be somewhat slow—probably due to the wordy yet beautiful details in the story—I felt it matched the overall style of writing and fit the story very well.

For the actual plot itself: it was cool having a werewolf book told from the perspective of a Priest on the run. You usually get some teen romance novel with these sorts of genres. Maybe the Priest’s perspective was the “new” thing I felt the story lacked but in the end, it still didn’t add up to more than an OK book. Grammatically, everything was fine. Developmentally, everything was fine. Contextually, everything was fine. Creatively, it fell a little flat for me. BUT I think it has enough of that classic werewolf style to appeal to a number of old school supernatural nerds and fantasy readers.

I would recommend this book to any werewolf fan and those who like classic supernatural/fantasy novels. If you’ve got a taste for a little horror/violence then you might enjoy this too.

The Book Reviewer Yellow Pages