October 17, 2020

Stalking Jack The Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco




⭐️⭐️

It's the 1800s, in London, and Jack the Ripper is on the loose murdering women in the dead of night. Audrey Rose is not like the other girls, she enjoys apprenticing under her uncle, a medical examiner. Sneaking out because her family doesn't approve, Audrey Rose will do whatever it takes to solve the mystery of who Jack the Ripper is, even if that means he's someone she loves...



This book sounded so good. I've heard really good things about the series, and one of the reviews on the book says it's a murder mystery with a bit of romance. However, this is misleading and I was disappointed. 
I feel like the story had a lot of potential, but it's more of an 1800s romance novel, with a bit of murder mystery. Which there is nothing wrong with. I loved the show Jane the Virgin and loved the book based on the one she wrote in the show, Snow Falling, which is a 1900s romance novel. However, with Snow Falling, I knew I was going to be reading a romance with a bit of mystery.

I was really drawn in with the first couple of chapters. It starts out describing how Audrey Rose wants to be a medical examiner, and is very in depth of her helping her uncle examine a body. As a note, this book does get graphic in a gory way in describing the murders and examining the bodies. I loved this aspect, my favorite shows are crime shows, so of course I was sucked in and thought the story would be great.

After the first couple chapters, though, the story levels out. It still has some of the gory, crime aspects with the murders, but it starts to more focus on Audrey Rose and the romance than the crime solving. This was not really what I was expecting from the description of the book and not really the story I was looking for. I was really wanting something spooky/creepy, and there was a little bit of this, but not much.

This book is written in first person, from Audrey Rose's perspective. As I mentioned in the plot description, Audrey Rose is not like the other girls, and she doesn't let up reminding us of that. I'm all for a girl who isn't all girly and isn't like normal girls, but I felt like Audrey Rose repeated this statement so often that she was more convincing herself than the reader. This is when I don't like first person perspectives. She preferred to be cutting open bodies with her uncle instead of attending tea parties with her aunt and cousin, but she did enjoy wearing makeup and being fashionable. She doesn't do everything that normal girls do and she wants to have a job that was seen as only for men at the time, so in that aspect she isn't "like normal girls". It just was repeated so often to the point that it became annoying, especially since she isn't super different from normal girls.

Without giving away the ending, I'll go into more detail in my spoiler section, but it felt anticlimactic. I almost DNF’d the book about halfway through because it was going way too slow for me, but I pushed through mainly because I wanted to know who the killer was. I had my suspicions and wanted to know if I was right. As the ending came, I felt hopeful for a good end with some action. There was a little bit of action, but it honestly was a let down again. Not as much happened as I thought would. Then the very end felt a bit rushed and didn't seem very realistic. Again, I'll go into more detail about this in my next section.

One of the things that I did like was the formatting of the book. Each chapter is titled with the date and location of the setting for that chapter. This helps you to follow along with the timeline and keep track of where events are taking place. Additionally, there are occasionally pictures included at the start/end of chapters that are mainly real pictures, giving a real representation of the basis of this story.

As I mentioned, I've heard that the next books in the series are even better. Eventually I'll probably read the next books since they contain the same characters and I'm kind of interested to see what comes of them. However, I'm in no hurry to continue the series. I may have enjoyed the book more, too, if I had known what to expect beforehand. So, if you are wanting a creepy, thriller, this is not the book for you. If you are wanting something like an 1800s romance novel with a little bit of thrill and mystery, then this is the book for you.



SPOILER SECTION

As said earlier, I got really sucked in at the beginning. I loved the idea that Audrey Rose dressed up as a boy to attend her Uncle's class, and snuck out of the house to examine bodies with him. The book starts with her plunging her hands into a body. I was really intrigued to see how this continued. However, due to having trouble evading her father, Audrey Rose quit attending her uncle's classes. I would have liked to hear about more than one class session.

After the first couple of chapters, I thought the book was going to include a lot more about Audrey Rose attending the classes and her work with her uncle. The mystery was good, but not quite what I was wanting or expecting and was super slow. Also, Audrey Rose described going through her uncle's notes about the murders to find clues, but none of those notes were actually said for the reader. What I enjoy most out of mysteries, whether it's a tv show or a book, is getting the same information that the characters are so I can follow along and try solving the mystery on my own. But you don't really get that with this book.

As for the mystery, I was a little surprised that Audrey Rose's brother Nathaniel ended up being Jack the Ripper. My first suspicion was Thomas. Then the clues started to point towards Audrey Rose's father, but I didn't think it was him, rather someone trying to frame him. Once you find out that it is her brother, it makes sense. Especially once Audrey Rose finds his lair and the reasoning behind his actions.

When she found Nathaniel's lair, I was really expecting some sort of action. I thought that maybe Thomas would come bursting in to save Audrey Rose, and there would be a struggle. However, again I was disappointed. Their father came in, and just tried to talk Nathaniel out of it. I understand he was family, so they didn't want to turn him in to the police or even hurt him, but I feel like they could have done a bit more.

Finally, the book ends with Audrey Rose's father accepting her desire to be a medical examiner and saying he's sending her off to some prestigious school to study, and that Thomas would be attending with her. This just felt really unrealistic to me. It didn't fit with her father's attitude the entirety of the book. Her father wanted so badly for her to be a proper lady and not be interested in a man's job. Additionally, Audrey Rose's father had a falling out with his brother, adding to why he didn't want Audrey Rose apprenticing under her uncle. So this felt like he was suddenly forgiving his brother and suddenly accepting Audrey Rose's wish to be a medical examiner. Furthermore, her father had arranged for her to court the police officer Superintendent Blackburn and wasn't fond of Thomas. So again, it's like he was suddenly accepting Audrey Rose's choice of being with Thomas. Audrey Rose says that Thomas must have won over her father, but there is no explanation of how. These are all good things and make for a good ending to lead into the next books, I just think there should have been a bit more explanation between Audrey Rose and her father to make this feel more realistic.




Favorite Quotes

"Death was not prejudiced by mortal things such as station or gender. It came for kings and queens and prostitutes alike, often leaving the living with regrets. What might we have done differently if we'd known the end was so near?"

"Roses have both petals and thorns, my dark flower. You needn't believe something weak because it appears delicate. Show the world your bravery."

"One needn't be strong in only physical matters - a strong mind and will were fierce to behold as well."

"Diamonds were everything I hoped to be; beautiful, yet containing unimaginable strength."

"Without humans and nature, there's no such thing as science."

"Seeing the truth was never easy, especially when it revealed those closest to us could be monsters hidden in plain sight."

September 15, 2020

To Sleep In A Sea Of Stars by Christopher Paolini

 


⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


Several hundred years in the future, humankind has expanded into space. Humans can now travel much farther than ever before and have built colonies across other planets in other systems. Kira Navárez, a xenobiologist, goes out to perform a routine inspection while her team is researching on a new planet for potential colonization. What Kira finds changes her life... Next thing she knows, humankind as she knows it is at risk from aliens, and she must use what she found to save the galaxy.




I’m typically not the biggest fan of sci-fi, especially when it takes place in space, but I absolutely loved this book! There’s action, adventure, mystery, aliens, new planets, a misfit team trying to save the universe, literally.


Christopher Paolini is a pure writing genius! His Inheritance Cycle is one of my all time favorites. To Sleep In A Sea Of Stars is a complete opposite story, but still shows how amazing Christopher Paolini is at creating a whole world. Everything is so thought out and explained. He can get really technical in some parts, especially when they’re talking about the ships and how they operate, which sometimes loses me, but you can tell that Christopher Paolini did his research. Not everything about being in space is completely made up, you’d think he worked for NASA. The way this story was written, with all the detail, makes it seem like it’s all actually possible.


This story is written in third person, from Kira’s perspective. The most unique part of the writing style is the different ways conversations are written. Normal conversations are written with the normal quotation marks, but other forms are italicized, put in brackets, and within asterisks, which really helps to keep everything organized and clear. For instance, when characters are in suits and communicating through the radio, the conversations are italicized and within asterisks.


Not only is each character unique, but each alien character is also unique. No one is bland or dull, each person (human or alien) has been very thought out with complete backstories and certain characteristics. Everyone that Kira meets is different in some way, each grown up differently, some even from different planets and systems.


The only bad thing about this book is how long it is, nearly 900 pages. But that’s also a good thing. It means that the story is well built with a lot of action, and no cliff hanger ending making you wait for another book. The very beginning was a little slow, which can be expected since the context and background of the story were being explained. Once the action started, though, it didn’t stop. There wasn’t a boring moment!


The ending was really good. It was good enough to leave you feeling content about how the story ends, and has closure. It's good to where another book is not needed, but also leaves the story open to where there is the possibility of the story continuing, similar to The Inheritance Cycle. 


As I mentioned, sci-fi space stories are usually not my favorite, but I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the technicals of space travel and living in space in this book. I’m still not too keen on traveling into space, but this story piques my interest of adventure into space and what could possibly be discovered. If you enjoy space, then you’ll love this book. But even if you don’t like space, I’m sure you’ll still enjoy the adventure. 


Another thing I like, just as with The Inheritance Cycle, in the back of the book there’s an appendix. The appendix lists terms used throughout the book with their definitions. There’s also more detailed explanations on how the spaceships operate and travel. Additionally, throughout the book there are some images of the planets and stars within the systems that that part takes place. 


As a warning, this book is adult, unlike The Inheritance Cycle. Even then it’s not as adult as some adult books. The main “adultness” is the language. So if you want to stay away from swear words, especially the F word, then beware. Otherwise the book could be considered more young adult. 


Since Eragon was made into a movie, I really hope that this one will be too. Maybe a Netflix original tv series!


I received my copy from BookishFirst. I cashed in my points for it. So thank you BookishFirst for getting me an early copy!




SPOILER SECTION


From the start I knew something big has to happen. It’s very rare that the main character starts out with a significant other, so I knew something must be up since Kira was in a relationship. I definitely feel bad that some of her teammates died, especially Alan, but obviously the story wouldn’t be the same if Alan lived. I also really like Falconi, even if Kira were to not live happily ever after with him. He’s probably one of my favorite characters. He starts out seeming really hard and strict, but then as the story progresses and Kira becomes closer to him, he softens up. He makes a really good captain and his team meshes really well.


The team of the Wallfish is definitely made up of misfits, but misfits who fit together. I loved learning about each team member. They have really good chemistry, the story wouldn't be the same without them. I think that because of how misfit they were, and their past experiences, they accepted Kira.


Not only was there war between one alien species, but also with a second alien species. I loved that it wasn’t just a fight against aliens. There was actually a rebel alien group that they needed to join forces with against another type of alien. This again shows how amazing Christopher Paolini is at creating worlds. I could feel Kira’s pain and guilt that the second set of aliens were her fault. Though, she couldn’t have known that’s what was going to happen, especially since she hadn’t been attached to the Soft Blade for very long and hadn’t figured out much about it yet, so I wouldn’t hold it against her.


The ending was kind of strange, but I really wouldn't have expected anything less. I love that Kira was able to fix the Maw by just forgiving them. I wish she had a happier ending, by maybe joining the crew of the Wallfish, but after everything Kira had experienced, it was a good ending for her. She was a good fit for the Soft Blade, later known as the Seed. Using the Seed to create the space station Unity as a place for peace between all species was a perfect way for Kira to use the Seed for good.


The only cliffhanger is that Kira went off to search for the Seeker and the rest of the "nightmares". You aren't told that she finds them and stops them, so this is where there is an opening for another book in the future. However, I love that it ends with the Wallfish sending a message to Kira to let her know that her family is still alive. It not only lets you know that her family is okay, but that the crew of the Wallfish is okay as well. It also shows that it is possible for the Wallfish to find Kira and meet up with her, so it leaves open the possibility of them joining forces again in the future.




Favorite Quotes


“The path to our goal is rarely straight. It tends to turn and twist, which makes the journey far more enjoyable than it would be otherwise.”


“How did any of us get here? Hmm? And is it even that  important? One could argue that all that really matters is that we learn to deal with where we are at any given moment, not where we were.


“We are made from the dust of dead stars.”


“We’re off to parts unknown to tweak the nose of fate.”


“She’s the fury of the stars.”


“Take comfort, then, that whatever you choose in life has importance beyond yourself. Importance, even, on a cosmic scale.”


“When air, food, and shelter are assured, only two things matter. Work and companionship. To be alone and without purpose is to be the living dead.”


"... content to hold

And wait and here to sleep -

To sleep in a sea of stars."

July 5, 2020

The Shadows by Alex North



⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Two teenagers committed a murder, then went to sleep, believing they’d disappear. One of them did. Now, 25 years later, a couple of teenagers are trying to achieve the same thing. Detective Amanda is on the case, looking into the old case for answers to this one. Meanwhile, Paul, friends with the original murderers and the victim, returns home for his sick mom. The past is coming back to haunt him.


This book is from the same author as The Whisper Man. I didn’t read The Whisper Man first, and you don’t really need to because this is a separate story, just with the same detective. Detective Amanda mentions the Whisper Man case, but mostly just how she felt during it, and doesn’t give anything away about it. After reading this book, I need to go back and read The Whisper Man, just as anyone who enjoyed The Whisper Man will surely enjoy this one as well! 

This book made me feel like I was reading a memoir, with another story intertwined. Paul’s perspective is in first person, switching between now and before of 25 years ago, then Detective Amanda’s perspective is third person. Even though Paul’s perspective will switch, even within chapters, it doesn’t get confusing which time period is being told. The beginning of chapters will say “Now” or “Before” to signify if Paul is telling what is happening now, or if he is recalling events from years ago. Mostly the book tells the story of now, with flashbacks of before that correlate to what’s happening now. The before/flashbacks help to give background information on how Paul came to know the people involved in the murder, and events leading up to the murder.

The teenagers who commit the murder have been practicing lucid dreaming. The story is intriguing in a way that makes you want to try lucid dreaming, to see if it works like they say it does, but also terrifying in that it makes you scared to go to sleep and afraid to dream by what they encounter and achieve.

This book is the epitome of “just one more chapter”. I literally couldn’t stop reading. This was probably the quickest I’ve read a book in a long time, just because I needed to know what happens next. It didn’t help that just about each chapter ends on a cliffhanger, leaving you in suspense.

Without spoiling anything in this section, I just need to say that the ending was really good! Endings of scary movies and books can really make it or break it. I felt like this ending had some unexpected twists, but gives you closure. 

This is a magnificent mystery thriller! It leaves you wondering what’s real, and what’s all a dream...

I won an ARC of this book from Bookish First. It’s set to release July 7th, so keep yours eyes open for it!




SPOILER SECTION

The biggest twist in this story was who died 25 years ago. The story brings you to believe James was the one murdered. The entire time I read the book, I felt sorry for James because I thought he died, I even thought I read that he was the one murdered in the beginning. Once I found out who died, I went back to the beginning of the book to reread the prologue because I was so confused and convinced he was who died. When the police officer said it was Jenny, I was in shock. I was also confused because Paul had talked to her. He had drinks with her a couple of times at the bar, and walked her to a coffee shop. Then you find out that Paul used lucid dreaming to visit with her. Finding this out answered some questions.

Other questions of this mystery were answered when Paul talked to James’s stepdad and found Charlie’s notebook. It was cleared up that Charlie was trying to set up James and Paul from the beginning, rewriting the same “dream” into his notebook every day until it coincided with James. This showed that some of the lucid dreaming wasn’t real, just Charlie making them dream those things by also taking the boys out into the woods. However, this still leaves you to wonder about Red Hands being real. Of course your dreams are a manifestation of your subconscious, your brain sorting through your thoughts, so instances like Paul seeing Red Hands in the school basement while dreaming could have just been an actual dream. It isn’t stated though if Charlie truly did do things while lucid dreaming, or if he did things while awake and just said that he was dreaming, like hurting the teacher’s dog and knocking on James’s door. So there is still the creepy element at the end that events in dreams might influence reality.

The ending was really good, though, because most of the scary things were easily explained. Charlie made things up to make the others believe. James’s stepdad dressed as Red Hands to try to scare Paul. Charlie didn’t actually disappear after committing the murder. Finally, the recent murders were committed by a father whose son was killed based on Charlie’s influence. Having everything explained leaves you with the feeling of closure, that there isn’t some evil spirit out there lurking.

I loved the thrill and suspense of the creepy mystery, and loved how this story came to an end. Also, the way the ending was, it leaves the story as potentially written by Paul, that he finally found a story to write.


Favorite Quotes

“That it was something that had dragged itself out of the depths of the Shadows to visit me, and was now returning to its home among the trees.”

“Places are like people. They have to know where they came from - and where they are now - or else they’ll never know where they’re going.”

“As you get older, it all begins to blur into one. You start to think life was never any kind of straight line. It was always more of a...scribble.”

June 30, 2020

The Babysitter by Nancy Bush



⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Jamie Whelan desperately wants to go to the high school party, but she has to babysit. She convinces her sister Emma to take over for her. Emma is attacked while babysitting, leaving lasting cognitive effects. 20 years later, Jamie is back in town to care for Emma and another babysitter is attacked. In a similar fashion to Emma, even at the same house. Was Emma’s attacker the suspected Babysitter Stalker? Is the new attack related to Emma’s attack?


Fans of mysteries, this is a book for you! An exciting mystery with multiple twists, making you suspect so many people!

The story is written in third person, but told from several perspectives. Mainly it’s told from the perspectives of Jamie, her daughter Harley, and Cooper, a high school friend of Emma’s who became a detective. Each perspective is written in a slightly different style. For instance, the story begins when Jamie and Emma are in high school, when Emma gets attacked, written in Jamie’s perspective. This perspective has a high school teenager feel to the style, whereas the adult Jamie perspective is styled for an adult. This gives a first person feel to the story, while also providing details that only third person writing can provide. Additionally, there are periodically short writings from the attacker’s perspective, giving you insight into what they are feeling during those particular times, without giving away who they are.

I prefer books/shows/movies that don’t tell you or show you who the killer is, so you can try to figure out the mystery alongside the characters. So I liked that the attacker’s perspective gives you hints at the motive, but doesn’t detract from the overall mystery. Throughout the story, I had several guesses of who the attacker was. There are multiple possible motives, leaving several suspects. The entire time you are drawn to the story, with a need to know who is behind the attacks!

It’s a nice touch that Cooper is a detective, and was a friend of Emma’s. This gives you some backstory into who Emma was in high school, before she was attacked, and who her friends were. It also provides police work to the mystery. Emma’s attack was never solved, so Cooper is still investigating, while also investigating current crimes.

I only have two complaints, which are very small. The first being that the little bit of romance that was included seemed to move a little too fast. The second being that the ending felt a bit too abrupt to me. Both are expanded on in my spoiler section because I don’t want to give too much away.

Even though the ending felt abrupt, there was an epilogue that helped to further explain and provide closure, which made the ending good overall.

I thoroughly enjoyed this mystery! Definitely keeps you on the edge of your seat with a thrill the whole time!



SPOILER SECTION

I liked the romance between Jamie and Cooper, but I felt like it was a bit too fast. Jamie has had a crush on Cooper since she was younger, which is why she wanted to attend the party the night her sister was attacked, so it makes sense for her to still have a crush on him and want to finally act on it. But Cooper was conflicted with his feelings. He describes really liking Emma and being hung up on her because she wasn’t interested in keeping a relationship with him, and then she got attacked. He goes on to describe that part of his attraction to Marissa’s mom and reason for marrying her was that she looked similar to Emma. Also, everyone says Jamie looks just like Emma, so part of his attraction to her is that she reminds him of Emma. It’s never said if he overcomes his confliction and likes Jamie for Jamie, or pursues a relationship with her to fulfill his desire to have ended up with Emma. Their relationship seems sincere and real, and seems good for each of them, but it was a bit rushed and makes you wonder if things end up as a happily ever after for them.

Even with the epilogue, the ending was very abrupt. It felt like “here’s the killer, the end.” For some of the book, I suspected Teddy was the attacker because Emma said she didn’t like the Ryerson twins, and he seemed a little suspicious. I never considered Serena until the very end, when Gwen’s parents insisted the “S” on the note was Gwen’s handwriting but the rest wasn’t, and Betty insisted her attacker was a woman. Right after realizing it must be Serena, she comes clean to Teddy and Jamie, then attacks them, then it’s over. The struggle between Serena, Teddy, and Jamie was very short, ending quickly and going right into the epilogue. The epilogue did provide enough explanation and closure, though. The abruptness just left me hung up on the book for a while. It was hard to get into another book because I wasn’t quite over this one.

June 1, 2020

All the Stars And Teeth by Adalyn Grace


⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Amora Montara is next in line for the throne, but first she must put on a presentation to convince her people that she can control her magic. When her presentation doesn’t go as planned, Amora decides to go on the run with a pirate, and her soon-to-be fiancĂ© joins them. Amora learns about trouble in the kingdom, causing her to go on a quest for a mermaid and a way to save the kingdom, hopefully redeeming herself.


This story was filled with all things great about a fantasy! Magic, pirates, mermaids, monsters, curses, and adventure!

I really enjoyed this book! There was never a dull moment, lots of action and adventure. Not to mention all the twists! I usually prefer third person writing, but I feel like this worked really well being written in first person from Amora’s perspective. It really showed what she was thinking and feeling, while also being descriptive enough.

My main criticism is that I feel like some parts could have used a bit more, and some aspects became repetitive. I feel like several aspects were only slightly mentioned, but not enough to give real meaning to the story. For example, at the beginning Amora mentions wanting to learn how to sail. She talks about it like it’s some life-long dream of hers, but it doesn’t actually come across as that important throughout the rest of the story. Other aspects are mentioned throughout, but as a repeat of what was said before. Amora will explain her magical power, but exactly the same way throughout, instead of adding to what she’s explained before.

The biggest surprises came from the couple of curses that were involved. One of the curses started to become more clear as the story went on, allowing you to guess what it is. The other curse was much more of a surprise!

I thought the ending was pretty good. There has already been announced that a second book is being written, due to release in February 2021, so the ending does leave it open for more, without complete closure. I felt like the epilogue was a bit rushed though, quickly going through what Amora is feeling after this story, and how she feels about what’s to come.

I enjoyed learning about the different types of magic within this kingdom, and, as I mentioned, enjoyed the action that took place. I’m interested to see what happens to our characters in the next book!


SPOILER SECTION

Let me start off with the period scene. I’ve seen that other people like this scene because books don’t usually include real-life situations, like girls’ times of the month. I understand that, but I feel like this scene wasn’t very accurate. I can see that it was included to add to the intensity of the situation, because Amora was disguised as a man, and the soldiers looking for her never would have recognized her without her getting her period. This added some action, since the group was now recognized and needed to escape. However, I don’t know how often the very start of a period gives off that much blood to be recognized. I also don’t agree with Amora just laughing about it when they start sailing away. When you bleed through your pants, it’s embarrassing. Also, her period was never mentioned again, which makes it seem like she bled once and was done. In my opinion, this is one of the aspects that needed more, I think this scene should have just not been included if nothing more was going to come of it.

As I mentioned above, the curses were the biggest surprises and twists. It’s assumed that there’s something more to how Bastian’s ship works, since it sails very fast and doesn’t seem to need much guiding. Once Vataea announces that there are several curses nearby, you can start to speculate what each one is. I figured one had to do with Bastian’s ship, but it didn’t start to be real clear until they were fighting the Lusca and Bastian appeared to feel the pain when his ship was hit. So when he explained his curse to Amora, it wasn’t a huge surprise.

The Montara blood being cursed, on the other hand, was more of a surprise. Since Vataea said there were several curses, you might guess that one of them has to do with Amora, but I never would have guessed exactly what the curse was. Having the knife of Cato reveal the curse was a unique and interesting touch. It showed Amora what happened, which is more believable than someone telling her the truth. I liked how the knife showed the story as a flashback, like being transported back in time to watch the events unfold. This part of the story was very detailed and well thought out. I’m interested to see how the kingdom will change now that the truth of this curse will be made known to everyone. I also wonder if Amora will be able to break the Montara curse.

Going back to my earlier point about the epilogue, because it was rushed, it left me feeling almost depressed with the ending. Throughout the story, I enjoyed the relationship building between Amora and Bastian, and I liked that she was wanting to make her own choices about who to be with. However, the ending made it seem like Amora doesn’t actually like Bastian all that much. I understand being cursed to someone would be tough, and I understand that it would take away some choices, but everything before the epilogue made it seem like Amora really liked Bastian, and then her thoughts explained within the epilogue seemingly go against that. I’m very interested to see what the next book holds. If their relationship will move forward, and if they will be able to break the curse binding them.


Favorite Quotes

“I am Amora Montara, Princess of Visidia and heir to the High Animancer’s throne.”

“Because while this may be a demonstration of magic, it’s also an execution.”

“I don’t want you to abandon Visidia... I want you to save it.”

“The beast gnaws within me, wanting to devour this soul it senses me considering.”

“The sea is a beast more fearsome than even the Lusca.
But we don’t need to rule it. We need only for it to trust us. Work with us. Be partners.”

“It might not seem like much to the others, but I’ll use their trust as my armor, and the fate of my kingdom as my strength.”

“But even our idols - even those we want to love and trust more than anything - can let us down. It’s time we accept it and face the reality they left us with.”

“Fear is part of life; all that matters is what we do with it.”

March 22, 2020

The Wisprian World - Book I: Tears of Alphega by W. N. Cleckler



⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Lure has rebelled against Alphega. In his rebellion, the gate to Agapia has been destroyed, causing pieces to fall down to Wispria. These pieces of agapate fall into the hands of Wisprians, allowing each to possess a special ability. These Wisprians must join with the fallen Archeon to stop Lure.


This book is a fantastic twist on the Creation story. You’ll better pick up on references if you know about this religion, but even if you don’t it’s still an amazing story. There’s plenty of action, adventure, magic, and mystical creatures like mermaids and unicorns.

This story takes place after God, known as Alphega, has created Earth, known as Wispria at this point in time, but before the creation of Adam and who humans are today. Wisprians are similar to humans, but there are different forms of these inhabitants, such as Reflections and Sprinters. The story is told in terms of scrolls, with each scroll basically being a separate chapter. The scrolls are written from the perspective of Alphega, so they’re written in first person, but have more of a third person feel since Alphega can see everything going on and give details of all perspectives. For the most part, Alphega just tells the story, of what is happening in each place and to each person, but He will occasionally interject to give His personal feelings on what is happening.

I absolutely loved the writing style! With the story being told by Alphega, there was so much detail put into everything. However, there wasn’t too much detail that it took away from the story. Everything that happens is adequately explained as well. It’s like reading a description of a movie scene. You’re also not left wondering about things, for example at one point a character borrows something from another character, and you’re not left wondering if it’s just implied that the character returns the item, instead it’s explained that the character returns the item, but explained in a way that flows with the story. 

At the end of each scroll/chapter, there is a picture of one of the scenes from that scroll/chapter. These pictures are mainly of characters, which magnificently gives you a face for the name. The details and descriptions of characters is already wonderfully done, but the pictures really allow you to envision the characters. 

Additionally, there is a map of Wispria included within the first few pages of the book, as well as a colored version on the back of the book. This made it super easy to follow along as the characters traveled. I would constantly flip back to the map to see where the particular scene is taking place. This especially helped since there are several main characters, who are in different locations, and each scroll would skip around to different characters’ perspectives. 

With the scrolls skipping between characters, it feels a bit confusing at first. The book is not told in a completely linear fashion, so each scroll is not necessarily in chronological order. It’s not hard to follow what is happening when though, and it becomes more clear as the stories line up.

What really makes this book five stars for me is all the emotions I felt while reading. The writing is so well done that I felt like I was there with each character, going through what they went, feeling what they felt, and feeling what Alphega felt. Without giving too much away in this spoiler-free section, the reason this first book is “Tears of Alphega” is that when the characters suffer a loss, Alphega is sad with them and drops a tear onto them. I cried during some of these moments, feeling the characters’ pain and Alphega’s sorrow. 

There are supposed to be three books in “The Wisprian World” series, with the next book scheduled to be released this summer!




SPOILER SECTION

Even if you don’t know the Creation story from the Bible, or if you’re not religious, I think this story is great. However, by knowing the Creation story and having some religious knowledge, I was able to pick up on the references. God is known as Alpha and Omega, meaning the beginning and the end, which when put together makes Alphega, the name of God in this story. Additionally, God’s love is known as agape, meaning a universal, unconditional love, which inspired the stone agapate in the story. Lure is also a version of Lucifer, and I’m assuming is named as such since he “lures” people towards him.

Throughout the story there are some not as obvious connections to religion. One that I didn’t pick up on at first was that after Animus’ family died and he burned their bodies, Alphega explains that He will remember the family turned to dust and will one day use that dust to start again. I think this is referring to Adam, the first human, who was created by God from dust of the Earth. Also, I suspect that Pales’ garden may be the Garden of Eden.

Speaking of Animus, his loss hit me the hardest. Each loss that was suffered was terribly sad, but I really felt Animus’ pain. He was conflicted about going to help fight or stay with his family. You can feel his regret at not choosing to stay. But you also know that if he stayed it wouldn’t have changed anything, instead he would have died too. Other characters lost parents and a brother, which is sad, but losing children is absolutely heartbreaking. I’m glad that Oze survived with Animus, so he won’t fully be alone. I also think that Animus really showcases how you can still hold your faith even when the worst happens.

On another note, I knew that something seemed off with Reverie, but I wasn’t expecting her to actually be bad. This was the biggest shock to me. From the beginning she seemed to be hiding something. I thought that she just was selfish, and maybe skeptical of joining the group, but I was completely surprised that she was actually an Archeskotos and betrayed the group.

At the end of the book, Telle reveals that Duolos is the seventh and final person to receive a tear, but hasn’t yet. It’s mentioned that her father is the king of Lithosis, so I’m wondering if that’s who she will lose, unless there’s someone else not mentioned yet. The powers of the tears have also not been revealed yet, so I can’t wait to see how they come in to play.



Favorite Quotes

“The beings and places mentioned here have been removed from the course of time. This book tells of before the Beginning and of before Adam. It tells of the old Earth, a world that was whispered - The Wisprian World.”

“I could do nothing. For, in my power, I tied My own hands, so that I would not interfere when bidden to by My compassion. I had to find out if, when given freedom to make choices, the goodness of My creation would overcome the wickedness.”

“Before long, no creature will need proof of Alphega’s existence, because they will come face to face with Alphega’s enemy, Lure.”

“Reflections were a group of beings that were created to resemble Me in appearance. They were a Reflection of My image. They were in essence like those inhabitants of the world to come, Humans - except they didn’t have the Breath, the Breath that gives Humans an immortal soul. If a Reflection or any other creature of the Wisprian World were to die, that was their end. Unlike Humans, who do have the Breath and do exist after death, whether in bliss or despair - according to the choices of their free will.”

“My perfect will was for none of My creation in Agapia or Wispria to ever perish. But My perfect will was also for liberty. I gave My creation freedom to choose their path. Unfortunately, most were not like Animus. From the beginning, Reflection and all of the other creatures of the Wisprian World sought a selfish path - this led to destruction. Likewise, in Agapia, this selfishness was fully exemplified in Lure’s rebellion. Witnessing Animus in such pain made Me wish that I had not tied my hands, and I vowed that when this first war was over, I would never tie them again.”

“Alphega forgets no one and no thing. And what the believers understand is that they can experience the blessings of Alphega in this world.”

“For My love is for all My creation, great and small, weak and strong, intelligent and simple.”

“For all it takes is the smallest light to penetrate the darkness, but when there is no light, the darkness is all-consuming.”

“Do not view yourself with too much importance, because that is itself another evil altogether, and one much more insidious. After all, Lure’s inflated self-worth is how this entire war began.”

March 1, 2020

Pernicious - True Evil by Angelika Koch



⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Astra has noticed some shadows seemingly following and watching her. She might just be seeing things due to her recent loss. Until two shadows in the forms of monsters attack her. She then wakes up on a strange planet. Another monster, similar to the first ones, informs her that she was brought here to destroy the human race.


My only critique is that there is a bit of an overuse of the pronouns of characters, which makes it hard to follow along. Most of the time I understand that “she” refers to Astra, but farther into the book there are several males, so I get confused who is being talked about.

However, I think that the characters and the world of Pannotia are cleverly created. I loved learning about the creatures and plants that live in this world. It’s completely unique, and also creepy, that the plants and even the ground seem to be alive. I think that I’d have an even harder time than Astra to eat what the planet offers.

There is so much detail put into each character and each aspect of the planet. But not too much that it loses you or takes away from the story. There is still so much to learn about each character.

This books ends on a cliffhanger, with the assumption that there will be another one. I wish that this book was longer, but I’m sure the stopping point is within reason for what comes next. We can finally start to understand some characters, and start to see the connection of the characters in the prologue to the main characters.

This was a real page-turner. I found myself constantly needing to know what happens next. I will eagerly be waiting for the next book to see how the story continues!

As a note or warning, there is some strong language used throughout. There is also mentions of drug addiction, rape, and suicide, which even though is not explained in full, lengthy detail, could still be hard for some readers.



SPOILER SECTION

The story begins with a prologue that introduces characters from the demon world. There is still a lot of mystery from this scene that is not explained yet in this book. We don’t know yet what Lamia did that Cadoc found out about and is after her for. I am assuming it has to do with helping Astra since we find out that Lamia’s love is Vojin, who is the friendly demon trying to help Astra once she is on Pannotia. We also don’t know what exactly Zephyra did to Lamia to save her. We do however find out that towards the end of the book that Zephyra must not be bad since she helps to have Sagan brought back to life for Astra.

Another mystery is the death of Astra’s mom. The book only provides small details, that she died and Astra blames herself. We don’t know how her mom died or Astra’s part in the death that could make it her fault. Towards the end, Astra does have a dream or vision about her mom, though, which allows her to have some closure and know that her mom doesn’t blame her.

I am a bit confused when it comes to Sagan and Alek. We know that they were friends on earth which is how they got stuck on Pannotia together. I kept wondering how old they are and exactly how long they’ve been on Pannotia. They were teenagers when they got transported to Pannotia, and they said they’ve been there for a few years, but time is different on Pannotia so a few years for them could be very different compared to earth. They each do have very unique personalities and character development. We learn a lot about Sagan, how he was addicted to drugs and his sister committed suicide because she was raped, but I feel like there is still more that needs explaining for him. Alek on the other hand seemed really nice to start, but then he would go back and forth between being nice and being a jerk, until he tried to rape Astra. I think that both Sagan and Alek show how much a person can change when left in a situation. Sagan has physical changes, while Alek has behavioral changes. As much as I didn’t like Alek, I still feel bad that he died at the end.

We learn that there is a connection between Vojin and the characters in the prologue, but we really don’t know much about him. He is still a complete mystery. There’s no telling how much he can be trusted.

The ending felt really abrupt with fighting Prosperine, bringing Sagan back to life, and Vojin finding Astra. I was surprised to come to the end when there’s so much left. I look forward to seeing what comes next for Astra’s adventure.



Favorite Quotes

“Your species is a virus and you are the antibody fated to save both worlds.”

“Just because you were taught something, doesn’t make it true. You have to question the information that you are fed.”

“Because humans on earth would kill anything that they are not comfortable looking at or being around, no matter the innocence.”

“Just do what I do and empty your mind. Pretend like your reality is nothing more than a dream because maybe if you are lucky, one day it will be just a memory of a tough time you survived.”

“No longer did she fear death or pain but instead the deep primal urge to watch the demon’s blood seep onto the snowy ground was far greater than any urge she ever felt before.”

The Shadows by Alex North

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Two teenagers committed a murder, then went to sleep, believing they’d disappear. One of them did. Now, 25 years later...