Book Review: Fantasy & Science Fiction

Book Review: The Curse by Jina S. Bazzar

Posted on

Last fall, I connected with a writer who was ‘putting the finishing touches’ on her debut novel just as I was at the time. Jina S. Bazzar was writing a new fantasy series and trying to decide how many books, where to split the plot lines, at what point to release each one. We chatted a few times, helped each other through some marketing plans and provided an ear whenever it was needed. She was really fun and engaging to talk with and I’m glad we connected.

Jina is also a mom, a writer at a fantastic magazine, Conscious Talk, and the author of a blog where she shares advice, life musings, reviews, book updates, and other fun content. She’s from Brazil, lives in the Middle East, and often has battles between different bugs! I say this with humor because of a few posts she’s shared about how she lets one bug stick around to help control another one. Spiders are involved, and it’s just scary to me! (Yes, I’m a baby apparently). Anyway, I digress…

Jina’s launched both her prequel short story, The Curse, and her first book in the series, Heir of Ashes. I will be reading Heir of Ashes this summer, but I took on the short story this week to immerse myself in the story… what a great thing to have something like this to introduce me to a new world… and if you read thru the review all the way to the end, you’ll find a way to get a copy for FREE! Let’s dive in…

Short Story Review

If you’ve read my book reviews before, you probably know that they tend to be mysteries, thrillers, historical or contemporary fiction; however, you also know I’m branching out to try a few different genres, including romance, fantasy and science fiction. An opportunity popped up to read a new book by debut author, Jina S. Bazzar, who has both a book and a prequel short story, The Curse, currently available. What a great opportunity to explore a new author and genre by reading her short story to get the ‘lay of the land’ before I dive into the details of a new fantasy series she’s currently writing.

38894349.jpg

I read the prequel eBook, The Curse, in less than an hour earlier this week via my iPad. With a title like this, and my interest in mysteries and suspense thrillers, who wouldn’t be intrigued! I’m normally not a reader in this genre because I prefer a clear understanding of all the rules and structure within the setting or world I’m reading about, and fantasy books often leave a lot to the imagination or surprise. Bazzar does a fantastic job providing details without over-building the background — just enough to wet your appetite to want to continue reading the series.

As I’m reading through the first half, I’m getting to know the characters, the background of the drama, the different types of creatures and/or humans… then suddenly, I see the emotional side of the The Curse beginning to form. I became invested quickly and as I finished the last few pages, I vividly remember thinking… “I may not get thoroughly excited by other worldly creatures, but wow, I’m definitely drawn in right now.” The impact of a decision the main character had to make and the loss of a connection (s)he suffers was enough to extract tons of emotion and hope for what could or might change to in the future to help find their way back together, save the family, or solve the battles between species. (Is that even the right word, species, when there are different types of humans, creatures, clans? I think I’m gonna learn something when I read the next book).

So… from a non-fantasy reader, this was the type of story that appealed across other genres and pulled this reader in. From secrets to mysterious plagues, future war to (un?)requited love, and family drama to trust, there’s a little bit of everything in this story. It excites me to keep reading, and that I plan to do in the next month when I take on the actual first book in the series, Heir of Ashes.

If you’re interested, you can download a copy of this short story for FREE via Smashwords. I hope you will, as this will give you a really intricate and eye-opening view into another world in a book with a strong writing style and a wonderful debut author. Kudos to Bazzar for tempting a non-reader in this genre to want to continue reading more.

 

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Advertisements

Book Review: Erin Bailey is a Time Lord by Jasmine Scott

Posted on

Why This Book 
In my quest to read from different genres in 2018, I found myself intrigued by Jasmine Scott‘s novel, Erin Bailey is a Time Lord, a science fiction story that crosses across multiple genres. Most of my recent reads have been children’s books, cozy mysteries or contemporary fiction, so it was time to expand the horizons this week. An interesting choice that gave me a lot to think about; let’s get into the review.

time lord.jpg

Characters, Plot, Approach & Style 
Erin needs to save the world… from some things he’s done throughout time as a result of his unknowing, yet inherent actions. Cassandra, a beauty that perfectly completes him, feels the direct result of what happens. It’s difficult to say too much without revealing some of the wonderful surprises or mysteries that are better left to be discovered as you read, but ultimately, being a ‘time lord’ is not exactly what you think it is! Did that get your attention? By interacting with various controls and controllers, Erin tries to do the right thing to set things in order again, but he finds himself thrown a few steps forward and backward at the same time. Author Jasmine Scott weaves a tale set in a different world, somewhat familiar, but also unique and new given many characters we’re familiar with and some we are not. Told in third person POV with a focus generally set on Erin, the male protagonist and Time Lord, the novels ran about 130 pages – much shorter than a typical science-fiction book. This was quite helpful to a newbie like me, and it will introduce you to a world which I secretly suspect is rather large and may come back in the form of a sequel or different story-arc (just my speculation).

Key Thoughts 
I’ll start out by saying I’m not a science-fiction fan. I’ve read a few novels and watched a few TV shows, but it’s not a normal genre for me. I was worried, but I needed to push myself. This novel makes that easier, as while it is in the science-fiction realm, it’s actually a more comprehensive story about love, choice, forgiveness, protection, penance, and righting something considered wrong. Time-travel is a key component, but once you go beyond those boundaries, it’s about the relationships between each of the characters. That’s where you’ll find the meat of this story.

I enjoy the author’s writing style. It flows easily, speaks to the beauty of relationships, develops characters with substance and offers something a bit more lighthearted than a typical techno-science-like novel full of rules and regulations about what people can and can’t do in the ‘fantasy’ world. Instead, Scott offers something contemporary wrapped with a skilled approach at revisiting time periods, actions and impacts of decisions (or lack of decisions…) throughout history. I respect her ability to pull together such intricacy in what the impacts are of everyone’s actions not only in the current time, but also the past and the future. She deserves kudos and praise for this great balance in her work.

I’m sure everyone will focus on Cassandra and Erin, the primary characters. And they were good and strong, don’t get me wrong. I liked the introduction in semi-small parts to the deities or gods, the secondary relationships and the trouble-makers in the bunch. Each has a strong personality that lets you know what you’re dealing with, but also leaves a little guesswork to consider what’s actually going on. You’ll find elements of spirituality and ancient deity-worship, fundamental and core relationship dilemmas, and concepts of life and death.

If you’re wavering about whether to give science-fiction a shot, this may be a good entry point. If you’re a die-hard fan of the genre, but up for something unique, then take the chance.

Summary 
One of the exciting things I learned is that the author, Jasmine Scott, has several other books which she plans to re-publish soon under her new publisher. How exciting for her – and the rest of us. A chance to read may books by the same author, in a variety of genres. As I get through my expansive TBR this year, I’ll see which she publishes and pick another to read in the coming months.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.
Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: Twelve Tales of Christmas by Cathleen Townsend

Posted on

Book Review: Twelve Tales of Christmas by Cathleen Townsend

Twelve Tales of Christmas cover copy copy

Why This Book 
The author and I connected via our WordPress blogs, which led to us developing an e-friendship. As it progressed, I realized how prolific she’s been, which made me curious to read a few pieces of her work. Given she writes in the fantasy realm, it was an opportunity for me to read more in this genre, as I normally don’t, as well as enjoy something by an author I’ve chatted with many times. I was also very interested as the holiday season is arriving and there are 12 short stories, so I could read it in small amounts without worrying about getting too overwhelmed by a new genre (but that didn’t work out, as it was so good, I read it ALL in one sitting)!

Approach & Style 
I read this collection on my iPad through Kindle Reader. It has 126 pages spread across 12 individual and separate short stories, some of which are a few pages, while others are about 25 pages long. It took me about 90 minutes to read the entire collection, stopping only once to make a cup of hot cocoa. It’s that kind of book!

Key Thoughts 
As a collection, this is fantastic and charming in its individuality and its entirety. The focus runs the gamut of angels, dragons, Santa, magic, romance, spirits, family traditions, elves, and much more. The imagination and inspiration within each of the stories are plentiful, especially in the way Cathleen Townsend weaves traditional with modern values. In the first story called The Gift, you are treated to a beautiful gesture based on something that happened in real-life (and she’ll reveal that connection in an upcoming post!). In another story, a father working as a mall Santa, is hoping to find enough money and time to buy presents for his children, as no one else is around to help. In a third, a treetop angel is dying and needs someone to help her maintain her tree — the family who she lives with is no picnic at first! The beauty in the basic elements of the story, the language and words crafted along the path, and the message readers take away is breathtaking on multiple levels.

Generally when you read 12 different stories, there will be a few you love, a few you think are okay and a few you don’t particularly care for. That’s not the case here; you will love or like them all. For the most part, I really enjoyed the shorter ones, as they had a bit less fantasy and a stronger message that connected with my own emotions or views on life. These are the types of stories you could read on a bus/train ride to work, at the coffee shop, waiting in a doctor’s office or standing in a line at a cash register — all the while improving your mood and giving you something fun and enjoyable to do. Or you could read them allowed as a family, maybe at a hospital to children around the holidays… so many options and types of content that will appeal to a variety of masses.

My two favorites: The Gift and Department Store Santa

Summary 
Cathleen is a remarkable author and blogger. I’m very glad to meet her and would recommend her collection of short stories to most any reader. You’ll walk away inspired and energized about humanity, and some of the characters aren’t all that nice! Please stop by my blog on Fri 12/22/17 for an author spotlight I’m doing specifically on her. You’ll be able to read one of her stories for free, as well as find out how buy/download her books in time for the holiday for free as well right now!

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.
Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

Posted on

Why This Book 
I run a poll each month on my blog called the “Book Bucket List” where followers choose one book each month for me to read. November’s winner was A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas — and I’m quite glad it was! You can vote in December’s poll at https://thisismytruthnow.com; there are 12 books to choose from and I will read it mid-December.

court

Plot, Characters & Setting 
Feyre is a 19-year old girl trying to support her sisters and father, living by poor means in a very small hovel, as one character puts it, near the forest. The book opens with her attempting to kill a doe that could feed her family, but a wolf steps in her way. She considers the wolf might be a faerie, a creature she’s not allowed to kill, but ultimately reasons it is not. That’s the beginning of her mistake, as she kills the wolf, then takes both animals to feed and clothe her family. From there, the story evolves into a fantasy where she is captured by the High Fae and brought to a distant world to make amends. Everything she knew to be true about the faeries is not actually true. She falls in love with her captor, along the lines of a Beauty & the Beast re-telling, but the book is so much more. I can’t wait to read the second one as there is family drama, bonds of friendship, danger, love and morality.

Approach & Style 
This is the first book in the ‘A Court of Thorns and Roses’ series. I read this 420-page young adult fantasy novel on iPad through Kindle Reader. It took me about 5 hours over the course of 3 days to finish it. It’s told in first-person POV with a focus on Feyre, the main character.

Strengths & Suggestions 
I remember when one of the later books came out in the series earlier this year, seeing people going a bit nutty over the release. Some complaining how awful the books are, others loving them. I avoid fantasy under most conditions, but since this was the winner, I had to read it. I wasn’t thrilled with the first two chapters, but once Feyre leaves her land and goes back with the faeries, it’s an absolutely beautiful tale. I read for 3 hours non-stop, turning pages quickly, loving the words, the style, the setting and the character. It truly has a great deal to praise and I love the morality and lessons each character learns. It’s a great series with very few concerns. At times, it was a bit wordy (but so am I in my own books, I acknowledge that). It has a few open plot holes, but they might be resolved in a future book, so no complaints here. Overall, it’s a definite 4+ for me right now. I can’t wait to read the next one, probably in 2018 after I clear a few ARCs off my plate and finish my second novel. All I can say is for someone who isn’t always fond of fantasy, this was a fantastic book. Thank you to those who picked this book as my November read!

About Me 
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Posted on

Book Review: I run a monthly poll on my daily blog where voters choose a book I read each month from my Book Bucket List. Last month, voters chose Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo.

crows

Before I get into the review, a few housekeeping items… I do not normally read fantasy or young adult books as a regular part of my reading genres. I tend to prefer historical, contemporary, thriller or mystery fiction; however, I try to branch out each month and read something out of my ‘comfort zone.’ I love Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, The Book Thief, The Hunger Games, and many more, so I do often find myself with top ratings for books in fantasy and young adult. Before I opened Six of Crows, I had been warned the first 50 to 75 pages would be difficult until I was absorbed into the story, given all the background on the fantasy world and the new terms / descriptions; however, I was not warned it was almost 500 pages long. I probably should have put something smaller on the list that voters could have chosen! Let’s get into the review…

The plot, characters, setting, themes and perspectives are intense and beautiful. I could easily see the story unfolding before my eyes as I immersed myself into the new world. It feels like this could grow as popular as some of the other fantasy tomes I’ve read (see above) among various reader groups. It hits all the sweet spots for transferring your mind from the monotonous and ordinary to an explosively and wildly imaginative universe. The way character back stories are woven together, the order in how events unfold and the dynamics between so many of the major and supporting characters is well thought out, planned and developed. Kudos to the author for building such an amazing playground for readers to frolic in.

All that said, I struggled through the book – not because it wasn’t a good one – because it was so different from what I normally read and enjoy. I need clarity on a world when I read about it mostly because I like to figure out the connections and history of what’s going on. I wasn’t sure of the boundaries and parameters here because it could literally have gone anywhere (then again, that’s the point of fantasy, so it seems like an obvious statement). If I put my analytical cap on, I think had I watched this as a film to gain the broader perspective of all the components of the world and the character profiles, I might have had a strong enough baseline to let myself become completely absorbed in the book while reading it afterwards. Unfortunately, that isn’t possible at the moment, so I read it first.

One of the key things I believe in life – especially as a book reviewer and a writer – is to be honest and fair, but to also look at a situation from all perspectives. This is a tremendously good book with a huge and wide appeal for its audience. It wasn’t an ideal match for me as a reader, perhaps right now, or perhaps given its genre. That said, rating it is tough. Ratings are personal and reflect how a reader feels about a book, but as an author, I would hate for someone to rate my book poorly because it wasn’t a good match for them; because a reader doesn’t like it doesn’t mean it isn’t a fantastic book. It is in that tenuous space that I try to come up with a rating that is fair given all the circumstances. If I loved fantasy and this type of novel, it would hands-down be a 5-star rating. Because this is not something that normally appeals to me with great significance, it’s probably a 3-star rating. To be fair, I think the book deserves a middle-ground to represent the best of both worlds – my personal opinion and that of a critical reader and author.

4-stars to this book… while some may applaud my effort to be fair, others might yell at me for misunderstanding the book or not being creative enough. Either way, I would recommend this to anyone who loves this genre or even wants to explore the genre more. If you’re not a fan of this type of work, don’t start here. You won’t be able to absorb what is probably the true greatness of this book and its appeal until you’ve had a bit more experience in the fantasy world.

Kudos to the author… and hopefully people reading my review see that I did not follow my normal review style in this book, rather I took a step back to find the best approach for me to review it. Thank you to the voters in my poll. I’m definitely open to more fantasy, but perhaps I should start a bit lighter to grow into this genre. I think you voted A Crown of Thorns and Roses for November… here I go!

For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon @ http://mybook.to/WGS. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

About Me 
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon @ http://mybook.to/WGS. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Book Review: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

Posted on Updated on

3 out of 5 stars to The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden, the first in a fantasy and historical fiction series about Russian fairy tales.

bear

Why This Book
I ordered this online many months ago based on the description I’d read in Goodreads. Then a friend of mine, Valerie, was planning to read it. We decided to do a buddy read together earlier this month.

Plot, Characters & Setting
A Russian girl loses her mother and her place in a family. She meets strange creatures who no one else can see. Her father remarries to provide her with a mother figure, then has more children. Something happens in the background where there is a war between religions, people and culture. It’s a battle to maintain your village and your family, but also to connect the past with the future.

Approach & Style
I read the paperback version over a two-week period. It’s 312 pages or 28 chapters long. Chapters are about 10 to 12 pages, told in third person.

Strengths
It had absolutely beautiful imagery and lyrical prose. You truly feel transported to a new world full of complex characters, interesting plots and high imagination.

There is a lot of great history and views on religion, politics and royalty. You believe you are in Russia dealing with true occurrences and fantastic situations.

Concerns
The language was too confusing for me, often leaving me wonder what was real and what was fantasy. I’m not normally a fantasy reader, so it might have been partially my fault.

Names on the characters change a bit too often, which made it slightly difficult for me to recall who each person was.

Final Thoughts
I had been in a reading slump and was working on the final chapters of my own book. I might have been distracted while reading this one. I wanted to love it, but I didn’t. I think it’s a strong book, and for that, I settled on a 3 rating. It is good, just not the right match for me.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

Review: The Return of the King

Posted on Updated on

The Return of the King Book Review
4 of 5 stars to The Return of the King, the third book in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, written in 1955, by J.R.R. Tolkien. After reading the first two books in this series, how can you not finish it with this one? I knocked them back between 9th and 10th grades, loving every minute of the imagination and struggle between good and evil. When I got this this final one, I already knew I’d be sad to say goodbye to all the characters I’d fallen hardcore for over the 1500 pages between the volumes. But when the movies came out, I had a chance to re-live the intensity of this drama… as taking on such large books with everything else I had on my reading plate, did not make sense. Watching them in film form tho lived up to many expectations. Of course, I loved the books more, but I still enjoyed the films and will watch them if I am skimming the channels and find one in play.

The flaws in each of the characters, as well as their journey, are immense but real. When you find out some of the changes in this book (no spoilers!) and people you thought were long-forgotten, it is brilliant. And seeing the evil forces fight the good forces… it’s just a version of the reality we face every day. All over a ring that provides power. But power is at the center of it all. And it’s one of the few books where I found myself happy with the ending.

I could talk about these forever, but I won’t bore you. I am not a big fan of fantasy, and have only read a handful of books and authors in this genre. These are a favorite across all genres for me, and it’s because of the creativity in Tolkien’s mind that I consider reading more in this genre. Before Harry Potter, we had a family of hobbits… who stole our hearts and taught us many lessons. Ones I still think of today whenever I need to weight the options before me. Please give them a chance! But start with #1…. you have to read them in order!

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.

View all my reviews