Saturday, November 18, 2017

Review: Journey to Freedom

Journey to Freedom










Journey to Freedom by Katelyn Buxton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars     

Journey to Freedom is a fantasy novel that can be enjoyed by all ages! It takes a bunch of fantasy tropes and combines them together to make a novel full of inspiring themes, great Christian messages, and endearing characters!

Being the 8th book in a series, this book marks a new beginning to the series, and as such, it can be read on its own without needing to have read the previous books. (Though there are references to earlier books) I had only read the 1st book before this one and wasn't confused at all!

Synopsis:

Josiah is a prince... albeit one that has just about had it with his hypocritical parents and grandparents, the ruling family of Aralan. Sure, he's not that much different than they are, really—but when they turn down a small country's plea for help in an oncoming war, Josiah is furious. A full one-eight of his blood comes from that country, and he can't believe his ears when they send the emissaries away without a promise of assistance. So he flees the castle, hires a cook to feed him in his travels, and breathes the free forest air for the first time in his twenty-one years of life. Sleeps on the ground for the first time in his life. And argues—constantly—with the most stubborn cook he's ever met in his life. Emma is not one to take orders quietly, despite coming from the poorest part of Freymont; a stark contrast with her sweet-tempered, eleven-year-old sister named Hadassah. Add in Josiah's crazy hermit uncle, a pair of mischievous identical twins, an unheard-of amount of sass, a war of epic proportions, and a betrayal or two—and you have a Journey to Freedom.

While I wouldn't call the plot anything spectacular, I actually saw this as one of the novel's strengths! I think more often than not authors feel the need to develop a long winded complex thought and in the process the concept of well developed characters is forgotten. So the fact that the characters were able to carry the story despite having just a simple plot to work with speaks volumes of the characters strength. It's in this way that I believe the simple plot happens to be one of the book's underlying strengths!

And speaking of the characters, can I just say I loved them! Each of them were very interesting and diverse in their own little ways, they all had something to add to the story! Emma and Josiah were definitely my two favorites. They correlated very well as the two MC'S! They were similar enough to each other to make their personalities clash, but different enough to be seen as their own entitiy. Both were fun characters in their personality traits alone, but what I really loved about them was their subtle complexity.

Josiah has never known any other life but that of nobility, so when he leaves all that behind and is forced to learn peasant ways, he regards it in a sliently snobbish way. It's very subtly done as Josiah never goes out and says it, but rather we can tell by the way he views the customs. Yet, despite his flaws, Josiah has very noble intentions and a heart of gold beneath it all.

Then there's Emma, a girl who was burdened way young with the weight of raising her family. She never got to have that happy innocent childhood that she wishes for Hadassah; Instead, she was too busy worrying about how to keep her family alive each and every day.

Caleb, Hadassah, Elias, and Emory were all great additions to the story as well; each contributed something to the story and helped to spice things up. Caleb's role as a mentor served him well, Hadassah as Emma's voice of reason likewise, and Elias and Emory were great as the comic relief.

The Christian themes in this book corresponded very well with the plot I thought. Rather than just throw in a bunch of Christian messages just for the sake if throwing them in, Buxton thought them through and molded them into the story in a believable way. They serve as a great reminder that saying your a Christian isn't enough, we need to live it out as well, through or actions and words.

I did think that some things happened a bit too fast and could've been a little more fleshed out, it wasn't anything more than a minor dislike however and it didn't by any means hinder my enjoyment of the novel. I also found the battle to lack.... a certain amount of....logic? I just have a hard time believing that a bunch of untrained commonfolk we're able to he there own against an army of trained soldiers without ant explanation as to why. However, I'm very picky about my stabby stab battles, so chances are my critique of this detail has more to do with me than the book.

Journey to Freedom serves as a very solid new beginning to the series and is a book that I would highly recommend. It's heart, it's themes, and it's characters all combine to make a pure inspirational story that I believe is well worth reading!


Quality rating: 8/10

Content rating:10/10


Author's website



Purchase it here
   

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Review: Two Lives Three Choices

Two Lives Three Choices Two Lives Three Choices by K.L. + Pierce
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.75 stars!

Pierce has taken this story to a whole new level with her revisions!! A lot of the issues I had with the original version were fixed and the overall story took a big leap in quality.

At it's center, this story is one with pure themes about family, friendship, and beliefs. I have no issue with stories that have morally gray and complex messages, but I find them to be a bit overused nowadays and so was extremely refreshed to read a book with such rich and healthy messages.

I enjoyed the characters a lot more in this version as well! The first time around I found Krysta to be rather hard to connect with. It's not like I didn't like her or anything, but I found some of her reactions to certain happenings to be rather stiff and unrealistic. This time around she's much more relatable! She's constantly getting angry and frustrated about a lot of things that she's made to go through, and so is portrayed in a much more realistic light.
Alec was pretty cool too, he was such a good friend to Krysta! I really liked seeing his soldier side get fleshed out more and loved seeing some of the parallels between him and Dion.
And Dion!!!! (I had to save the best for last) he was such a morally complex character!! At one moment you'll want to root for him and the next you'll want to slap him. He's more or less the "Villain" off this story, but he was such a well developed one! While he's willing to bend a lot of strong moral codes for his own doings, once in awhile we're given glimpses of his former self that show us he isn't completely lost to darkness (Think Loki type of villain) He still cares deeply for a few people and would be willing to go to any lengths to make sure they're safe. We need more villains like Dion!

This book isn't a perfect one, it still did have it's issues. For instance, I found some of the dialog to be a bit too casual sometimes? Granted, a lot of this is probably due to the contemporary setting the majority of the book is set in, but I still felt like the dialog lacked, I don't have a specific name or definition for it, but it lacked that extra something.
I also felt as if certain things that happened to Krysta (Those who have read it will know what I mean) confused me a little bit.
And Alec, while an interesting character, felt a little bit underdeveloped in that we didn't really get any of his backstory. Once again, this might be more of an "It's me not the book" as this book was meant to focus more on Krysta and Dion than Alec, yet I still would've liked at least some vague hints or references to his past.

However this is a debut book, and despite it's few flaws, it serves as a solid gateway to what I believe will be an incredible series. We need more Christian art like this, if more Christian authors thought with the creativity that Pierce does, I would read a lot more Christian fiction.          

Friday, October 13, 2017

Review: The Ship of the Dead

The Ship of the Dead







































The Ship of the Dead by Rick Riordan
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

1.5 stars rounding up to 2! I would've given it 2.5 stars except Rick Riordan crossed the line and pushed his personal agenda even more.

Warning: There will be major spoilers in this review!!!

This book was honestly just a big disappointment. I'm pretty sure that Rick Riordan has some sort of amnesia cause he seems to have forgotten how to write a conclusion.

Don't get me wrong, this book was still entertaining. It had all the classic Rick Riordan awesomeness in it that we've come to expect . But..... it was so......... anti-climatic. This book is supposed to be a final showdown, yet it lacked any final showdowny feeling. The stakes were EXTREMELY high, I mean, come on they're trying to prevent RAGNAROK for Valhalla's sake!! but I never felt worried for any of the characters, like, AT ALL! I always knew that they would all get their various happy endings and ride off into the sunset sinigng kumbayah in one way or another, which is fine and all, but just not for this type of book.
And where on earth was the big battle?! Oh, was it that one point in the story where Magnus gets onto the ghost ship, insults Loki a few times, and then somehow manages to edge past 1000's of giants while still intact, jump out of the side of the ship and living happily ever after? Was that the big battle? Wow! Good thing they all survived! I was soo worried that they would perish!
And It doesn't even wrap up any of the story threads. When it's all over Magnus pretty much just says, "Well, me and my friends will one day die our final deaths at Ragnarok , but until that happens we're going to live life to the fullest" and that's pretty much where all of their story arcs end. It also has somewhat of a cliffhanger in it too, which I'm pretty sure is only added there to create suspense for The Burning Maze #rude

I did like some things about it though. It was refreshing to see some of the cool secondary characters get more depth and, despite my issues with this character, I did love the snark battles between Alex and Magnus. And OH MY GOODNESS THE FIRST 20 PAGES WERE LIKE HEAVEN!!!!! There were so many references to Heroes of Olympus and sass battles and inside jokes and Percy and Annabeth were back to there bantering sassy selves and it was just sooooooooo amazing!!!!!!!

That's pretty much it as far as positives go though. The rest of it was just a whole lot of rushed predictable garbage with an occasional joke thrown in. I feel really bad about giving this a negative rating, because I think I would've liked this book a lot more had it not been the last book in a series. It was fun, but a terrible conclusion.

Quality rating: 5/10


Content rating: 4/10

   

Monday, October 9, 2017

Blood Ties: Book Review

3.5 stars!
 
Blood Ties is a story about brotherhood, the gray area of war, and what happens when a bunch of sassy young men go questing together! so, naturally, this book was just SO. MUCH. FUN!
 
Plot synopsis:
 
In an Ireland that mixes high kings, faeries, and modern warriors who drive fast cars, Ciran, a descendant from the famous warrior Fionn Mac Cool, bands together with a company of young warriors to go on a quest to recover their missing family members who were captured on patrol by the Goblins during a shaky peace between the two kingdoms. Ciran and his companions must figure out not only how they are going to rescue the prisoners, but how they are going to complete their mission without killing each other. This first book in the new urban fantasy series by Hazel West is a story of brotherhood and friendship against all odds, that mixes the ancient Irish legends with a modern setting for an action-packed read.

 
I'll admit, despite how much enjoyement I had with this book it did take me a little while to get into it. The first few chapters were loaded with too much info and worlbuilding which I think kind of messed with the pacing a little.
 
The characters though, oh my goodness were they amazing! West does a great job of balancing a big cast of characters and giving them all depth. I absolutely loved the banterous dialog between them, and watching the chemistry between them start to develop! Caitlin has to have been my favorite, she's very capable and kick butt yet she isn't all "hmmph, I won't accept help from a man, men are weak" either. She's written like an actual human being, which I appreciated (writers take note) I wasn't extremely fond of the main character though. There was never really anything relatable about him as I felt like he was rather flawless. I was a little bit disappointed about this because as the main leader of the questing group, I think it would've been very interesting to see him have to balance being a good leader and working through his personal issues while seeing how his shortcomings affected the group, but sadly he never really made any mistakes so we never really got to see any of the struggles of leadership. The rest of the characters were really awesome though! they had so much red head sass oh my goodness!
 
The ancient Ireland setting mixed with modern day blended really well together. The modern tech addition to fantasy added a completely different flavor to the story. It just added so much humor. Like how the team actually drove on a quest instead of walking and how Ciran would just whip out his cellphone and call his boss as soon as they had a mission update, it was just so great!
 
Yet if I had to choose one favorite thing out of the whole book it would have to be how the book portrayed the gray areas of war. You'll have to read it for yourself (#marketing) to see what I mean as I can't get detailed with this since it involves major spoilers, but needless to say, the author does a great job handling this topic.
 
Other than the issues already mentioned, I had jus a few other critiques. The first being that I thought the overall writing could've used a few more rounds of edits, it felt kinda rocky and unatural at points which I felt messed with the overall flow of the story. And the other major issue that I had with it was that the major climax of the story didn't really feel like any more of a challenge then any of the other hardships that they encountered on the way. I just think that it was slightly rushed and could probably have been fleshed out a bit more.
 
Aside from those issues though, I really liked this book! I highly recommend this to anyone who loves fantasy with a bit of hist fiction thrown in

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Interview with Hazel West

scarsofwarfrontcover copy.jpg



Synopsis:

After the events on Samhain Eve things have calmed down for High King Eamon and his Fianna. The Unseelie Court is under new rule, and Eamon is happily married—and with an heir on the way! But just when it seems like things couldn’t be better, reports of changelings keep coming into BPAFF (Bureau of Protection Against Fair Folk). With the risk of children being changed out in their cribs, especially when a royal heir is weeks from being born, Eamon enlists the help of Aeden Mac Cool, Commander of Na Fianna, and Cassandra Whalen, Director of BPAFF, to deal with the threat before it escalates. Riots, Faerie rebels, and road trips with the King of the Unseelie—it’s just a typical day, right?

 
  

Purchase links:



Smashwords

Amazon Kindle






Hey everyone! Today I got the honor of interviewing author Hazel West as part of her blog tour for her new book: Scars of War, which is book 3 of her Tales of Na Fianna series! If you're into brotherhood, banter, roadtrips, and overall fantasy themes you will love this series! and even if you aren't into that kind of thing I still highly recommend it! Now, onto the interview!




Interview:



So Hazel, tell us a little bit about yourself!



I spend a good bit of my time writing historical fiction about brave men and women who have graced the pages of history, trying to bring more light to their legacies so readers of all ages will enjoy them.

My favorite things/hobbies: Writing obviously, listening to and playing Irish and Scottish folk music, practicing with all eras and types of historical weaponry, GOOD COFFEE, reading of course, dark (dark) chocolate, sketching/painting, hats and boots, collecting little old-fashioned things of all kinds, buying books, and don't forget dressing in period clothing!

My favorite kinds of books: Good adventure (sometimes with a little romance), Epic historical series, anything having to do with brotherhood or camaraderie--I'll read anything if it has a strong brotherly bond between two or more guys, time travel novels as long as they are traveling back in time (and not in their own lifetime), good steampunk novels (heavy on the clankers and none of the weird things), military adventure, historical fiction that's either well-written or has unique twists, meaningful or bittersweet war novels, occasionally a good funny book especially ones that are spoofs off old stories or fairy tales, and classics--always the classics!




Who is your favorite character you've written and why?



I think I love writing various characters for different reasons. I always enjoy Eamon because he’s easy to write, and I like his voice. Paired with his best friend and foster brother Killian makes him even more fun to write since their rapport is so flawless and usually full of sarcasm.

 

But I also love writing Oberon. He’s another character that has a great sarcastic sense of humor, but he’s also got a lot of other layers going on that even I’m not sure about yet. I always enjoy characters who continue to surprise me.



What made you choose self publishing instead of traditional?



I liked the idea of having full control over my own writing. Plus I generally like to write for fun, as opposed to something popular that might be more “what people want”. I figure if anyone wants to come along for the ride, they are welcome to.



Were there any authors who helped influence you in your writing?



Quite a few. I think one of my biggest influences was Rosemary Sutcliff, for inspiring character relationships and historical settings, though.
 


Do you plan on writing any more books in this series?



Yes, Book Four will be the final book in the Modern Tales of Na Fianna series, but I have a couple spin off books planned set in the same universe.



Do you have any advice you would give to aspiring authors?



Read a lot of books to see how stories are formed, pay attention to your favorite ones. And also write what you love. I think that any story should first, and foremost be for the writer, not just with an audience in mind.



Can you describe your outlining process?



It differs per book. Some books I outline completely, others I just write. It depends on the complexity of the plot. For the 2nd and 3rd Na Fianna books I did do pretty extensive outlines because I had multiple points of view and had to make sure that each character had the right narrator.



What is your favorite genre to write in and why?



I love Urban Fantasy. It’s fun to work with because you get the fantasy feel, but you already have a setting that you can choose to bend however much you want, as opposed to having to come up with your own extensive and rich fantasy world.



And finally, if you could visit any fictional universe which one would it be?



Middle Earth, of course!



If you aren't already caught up with the series you can get book 2, An Earthly King, on amazon kindle for just 99 cents! just follow this link!


And the first book, Blood Ties, can be gotten for free on smashwords today through tomorrow how cool is that! just go into your smashwords account (or if you don't have one you could always make one. It's free!) follow this link  and punch in this code: EJ57R

 
                                                                                                                                                                                 Also,be sure to head to the author's blog where you can win this amazing embroidery!

 
        


      


 


 
 

Monday, September 25, 2017

The Obstacles of Blogging

Hey everyone! I realize that its been awhile since I've posted, and I would apologize for my absence if it weren't for the fact that I have a totally reasonable excuse......... actually no that was a lie, I don't have any actual reason for not posting, I just haven't been. And it's actually really funny timing that I'm posting this after a long absence from blogging, because today's post is actually about the obstacles of blogging. This week's post was actually suggested to me by Daley Downing (Go follow her awesome blog if you haven't already! You won't regret it) when I asked and I thought it was a really cool idea, plus one that I actually have experience with (I never stick to my deadlines) so that's what I'm going to be talking about today.


Obstacle #1: Siblings. Look, I really like my siblings. (Most of the time) What I don't like, however, is when they decide it's a good idea to look over my shoulder while I'm blogging. Like, it would be nice if they could just chill and go get eaten by a shark once and awhile, just saying.


Obstacle #2: Mental energy. This probably isn't a big struggle for a lot of fellow bloggers, but unfortunately it is for me. I only have a short focusing span before I zone out before my brain goes "See ya Jesse" and goes vacationing at Florida or something while I'm left drooling on my computer screen like a zombie.


Obstacle #3: time management. Balancing your School life, Geek life, Writing life, Social survival life, Superhero life, Christian life, and world dominion life while managing to write a blog post every week doesn't sound very hard but in reality it is. It's actually not so much about how much time I have left over after all those activities as how much energy. And being a low energy kind of guy there are only so many kingdoms I can conquer, or villains I can defeat before I need a nap.

Obstacle #4: No motivation. This has definitely been the biggest struggle for me lately. I just haven't had any motivation to blog or do much of anything lately. And considering my brain is a rebellious little thing that has a mind of its own (Har har) I've decided it's probably best to be anti-jedi and not FORCE myself to do it (I'm so sorry. I swear I'm not usually this messed up)

Obstacle #5: Anxiety. Lets face it, if you're a blogger you've had that moment where you're worried that no one will like the latest thing that you've posted, despite how hard you've worked on it. I generally consider myself fairly staunch and uncaring about the popularity of my opinions, yet I still can't help feeling nervous whenever I post. What if they don't like it? what if they completely bash me and my opinion after reading it? What if they decide to assassinate me in the middle of the night? Just normal things like that.

Obstacle #6: Perfectionism. When it comes to most things other than manual labor I consider myself to be somewhat of a perfectionist. Well, not exactly a perfectionist, but close to it. I like to excel at everything I do and get annoyed with myself when I don't do well at things. Like how I'm bad at writing blog posts 9:00 at night. This in turn causes me to keep editing my blog posts longer than I should, which usually means I drop off the face of the blogiverse for at least a month.

So those are all the obstacles that I have to face when blogging. (Failing at blogging) Well, what do you guys think? Do you struggle with these obstacles? how does your blogging experience compare with this list? What are some of your own obstacles? Let me know in the comments below, and we can mourn our failure's at blogging together! :D Farwell underlings!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Chrisitans and the LGBQT Community

Movies are a blessing and a curse. They can be used to help get our creativity flowing, they are a very good way to convey important messages through, and they're just a whole lot of fun to watch. At the same time however, bad things can result from it as well, the main thing for me anyway being the LGBQT agenda being forced into them.

There seems to be this trend happening nowadays where anything worthy or unworthy of quality feels the need to throw in their own personal opinion into whatever they create. This usually comes in the form of either making one of their characters gay, or have a sudden identity crisis where they suddenly decide to become a different gender.

This is the reason why I've decided to call it quits on Rick Riordan's books after The Trials of Apollo, this is why I'm wary of franchises like Star Wars and Marvel becoming unwatchable.

Yet, as upset as I sometimes get about it, I can't find it in my heart to blame them. As a conservative Christian I know where I stand on this issue. God has made it explicitly clear in the bible that altering the use of our bodies from their intended purpose is wrong. However, what about those who aren't saved, what of the people who haven't heard the Bible. Would I be against the LGBQT agenda if God hadn't forbidden it? Would you? These people, while wrong are only doing what they believe to be right. They have a message which they believe to be important and all they want is for us to see things the way they do too.

So where does this leave us? It's becoming increasingly clear that there's no longer a place for clean family movies anymore, and it's pretty much impossible to avoid reading or watching everything with that content in it. But you know what? We don't have to. In the real world, we aren't going to necessarily agree with everyone or everything that's put out there, so why should we even pretend we can? Now obviously, our comfort zone comes into play, so we obviously shouldn't read or watch anything too explicit for ourselves either, yet we can no longer deny it's real and let it dictate our lives.


Well, writing this whole post at night has made me exhausted so I think it's time for me to get up from my desk and watch Netflix for a few hours. Until next time!





Tuesday, July 25, 2017

My Booktubeathon TBR

Hello Underlings! Er, readers. Today I have decided to share my TBR for the Booktubeathon which is a Readathon event that Booktubers do which runs from July 24- 30 (Yes I realize that I'm not a Booktuber, but I'm doing it anyway) What happens is there are 7 reading challenges decided upon that you must meet throughout the week, and you must pick a book for each challenge and try to read it during the Readathon (I probably just totally confused you all) with that confusing explanation out of the way, here's my TBR for the week.

Challenge #1. Read a book with a person on the cover.

I've heard that this is one of "those classics" that you should read in your lifetime. And though, I don't particularly have high expectations for a book that focuses on people cheating on their spouses I'm willing to give it a try. The reason I picked this one is because (A) It's short, (B) It has a facish thing on the cover, and (C) It's a classic which means I can read it and not feel like an uncultured swine (A name given to me by my sister)


Image result for the great gatsby cover



Challenge #2. Read a hyped book

I realize that I kind of missed out on the whole OMG LETS READ ENDERS GAME! curve, but this is still a fairly hyped book from what I gather. And being a big Scifi fan, I've been wanting to read this one for a while. Hopefully it has cool fights and alien guts

Image result for enders game



Challenge #3. Finish a book in one day

Those of you who have been reading this blog for awhile probably already know what about this book made me pick it up. Can you guess? If you get it right, you can have free oxygen.

Image result for the supernaturalist


Challenge #4. Read a book about a character completely different from you

The MC August is a monster who eats people's souls, which I'm pretty sure I don't do. I prefer human meat marinated for about two hours and sprinkled with salt and pepper, souls taste bland.

Image result for our dark duet

Challenge #5. Read a book completely outdoors

As much as I love Harry Potter, I have yet to read any of the short novellas that take place in the Hogwarts/ Harry Potter universe so I figured this would be a good place to start (Plus it's short, which means I'm less likely to get eaten alive by mosquitos)

Image result for the tales of beedle the bard



Challenge #6. Read a book you got because of the cover

I actually don't really get books based on their cover as I like to make sure I'm comfortable reading it content wise before I get it. So instead I chose this book based on what I've heard about it.

Here's what I've heard about it: 1800s setting+ Pirates+ Sassy characters= The Lies of Locke Lamora. Need I say more? 

Image result for the lies of locke lamora

Challenge #7. Read 7 books.

Aaaand finally I just have to choose one random book. For this I chose The Tomb of the Sea Witch, the sequel to The Beast of Talesend. I chose this book for a number of reasons, it came out on the 24th which is the day the Readathon began, this book was all I could think of for the past week, and Crispin.

I actually just finished it today and loved it just as much as the first. It's full of fandom references, sarcasm, and awesome characters if your looking for a reason to pick it up.

And also, don't forget to subscribe to, and support the author on his blog(http://kylerobertshultz.com/blog/) Talented indie authors are very rare and could use any support you can give. Plus he and his blog are awesome and you'll be missing out if you don't subscribe.

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So that's my Booktubeathon TBR! I hope you guys enjoyed, I enjoyed writing it.

What about you guys, are you participating in this event? if so what's on your TBR? What are you guys currently reading? I'd love to chat with you in the comments below. Come on now, I don't bite!