Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Healer's Apprentice

Rose is the daughter of a wood-cutter, and has been appointed as the apprentice to the healer.  She tries to her best to do well and make the healer proud, but the sight of blood makes her queasy!  When the prince comes in needing assistance with a gash in his leg, Rose must gather the strength to mend his wound thus beginning an unlikely friendship.  Hamlien encourages Rose to accept his brother Rupert despite his reputation in an effort to get her off his own mind and heart.  Hamlien has other things to worry about such as finding an evil sorcerer so that his betrothed (whom he has never met) may come out of hiding.  Rose and Hamlien struggle to hide their feelings for one another, will they be able to forget their feelings?  Will the prince find his betrothed?  Read on to find out!

I have read Melanie Dickerson's Merchant's Daughter previously and enjoyed her re-telling of Beauty and the Beast.  Healer's Apprentice is her take on Sleeping Beauty.  She does a wonderful job at presenting a new story for these classic fairy tales.   The novel is considered Christian fiction and Dickerson does a great job incorporating those elements into the story without them being too overwhelming, such as the characters praying or encouraging one another with a verse.  It didn't feel overdone or thrown in the readers face.  Perfect execution of this.  Another thing she does wonderfully are the romantic elements.  She develops the romance through friendship and interaction.  Anytime Rupert suggests something scandalous Rose rebukes him informing how inappropriate it would be.  She even flusters at either man kissing her hand in public or being seen unaccompanied with them.

This being the second book of Dickerson's that I have read, I have come to love this author.  She has an outstanding talent for writing and captivating her audience.  While this is a "romance" novel it is not typical romance in that it does not have sex scenes and shows healthy development of the relationship, something young women need to read.  I think this is a great book for a young woman and older women as well to pick up and read on a Saturday afternoon.  I finished it in an evening, okay I may have been  up until 2 am wanting to finish it.  The story really draws you in and makes you eager to know what happens next.  I know there are other books in this series and I certainly will be looking for them.

Healer's Apprentice is the type of book to make young woman daydream about the perfect man.  Every woman wants a valiant man like Hamlien, some may even want a little imp like Rupert.  I am excited and happy to have this book in my collection.  I am giving it a rating of 4 out of 5.  The story of the evil sorcerer seemed to have taken a backside to the romance, I would have liked to see more of that in the story.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Steel Maiden

Elena would do anything to escape the Pit and establish a new life for her and Rose, even stealing from the Temple of the Sun priests.  She thought she was able to do it until she went to sell it to the buyer, and he betrayed her.  Now the priests has forced her to join a race for a magical stone with the promise of releasing her and Rose unharmed.  There is a secret to Elena that no one else in the race knows about, she has magic and possibly the power to overcome the priests.  Soon Elena finds herself in the middle of a rebellion against the priests and struggle for power.  All the while coming to terms with her new-found gifts and accepting who she has to become in order to accomplish her task.

This was a fairly easy book to read as it basically gives the reader a play by play of what is happening.  The sentences are very short and sequential.  "I shifted nervously.  The wound at the back on my neck throbbed.  The pain was increasing as we neared the city."  While this makes the book easy to follow and understand, it makes it feel like the reader is being spoon fed information.  This happened and then this happened and then this....Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed reading this book, I think there were ways to accomplish the same thing without it feeling completely laid out. Elena is an interesting character in that her magic is different from what have seen in other fantasy novels.  She has the ability to weld any weapon and is immune to other magic.  Richardson does a good job at bringing that ability to life in her character and the misunderstanding some of the people have towards magic-users.  I liked how she showed prejudice through this, once the other members of the race found out she was a magic user they reacted to her differently treated her worse than they did when they thought she was just a peasant woman. 

There were times when it felt like I had already read this book, the idea of a woman being chosen to be the king/priest's champion to capture a magical relic and discovers magic within herself.  It felt like it's been done before.  BUT, Richardson takes that idea and creates something new and unique with it. Some things were a little predictable like Mad Jack being a part of a rebellion within the Pit or Prince Landon betraying her, but any reader could see these things happening as we begin to feel like we are inside Richardson's head with this book.  We can see clearly her intent with the storyline and what she was doing.  There was no room for confusion.

I think she has a great beginning novel with Steel Maiden.  It gives the readers enough story to help launch their interest and keeps them wanting more from the story.  I know I am eager to find out what happens in the next book and where Richardson's story will lead readers.   Overall I will give this book a 3.5 out of 5 rating because There were strong and weak elements, Richardson could have taken the Steel Maiden thing so many different places and I hope she does so in the next novels.

Friday, November 25, 2016

White Heart

Mae is craft born, something she never wanted, something she wishes she could be rid of.  The realm of Aegunlund needs magic to survive.  The king has been searching for the first-craft born to marry his son and bring magic back to the lands.  The king's men come to Mae's village believing there is a girl there gifted with the craft, but they are not there for Mae.  In process and small battle ensues and Mae's father is killed and the potential bride is kidnapped.  She decides to venture into the woods to find her father's killer and the kidnapped girl.  Thus beginning a her quest through the Waerg forest with her stag and the prince as her companion.  She will face perils she never dreamed of, finds the meaning of being true to oneself and acceptance of her gift.

This is the first book in the White Hart series, and it is a well written beginning.  It sets the stage for what's to come in the following books.  She opens the book with Mae and her inner battle about her gift and slowly she comes to learn the truth behind it and what it means to accept it.  The theme of accepting oneself is very strong in this novel and it is done very well.  The novel ends perfectly as well leaving readers hungry for more. Dalton creates a main character that girls would want to emulate.  She is one that is easy to relate to and see yourself as.  She starts out strong and grows in strength.  She is independent and doesn't have her primary focus being on a man.  Sometimes it seems like Casimir is only there to help drive the story not as a romantic interest, and that is something that made me love this book.  Too often novels try to make a romantic interest happen when it isn't needed.  Dalton doesn't do that.

A lot of time we see magic in the form of fire, wind, ice, water, healing, electric or mind manipulation.  In White Hart it is nature based, something I enjoyed seeing, something different from what I have read in the past.  The story felt complete when I finished reading it, but knowing there is more to the series makes me want to see what will happen, where else will Dalton take this story.  The possibilities seem endless at this point.  It didn't feel predictable nor force fast.  It felt like I was beside Mae as everything happened.  I felt her emotions and actions throughout every scene.

This was a highly enjoyable read and I do recommend it to those who enjoy young adult novels.  It will show young readers a strong female lead who finds strength in herself and knows when to ask other's for help.  I will give this novel a 4 out of 5 rating. because I think more could have been done with Mae's magic.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Saint by Ted Dekker

Saint is the second book in Ted Dekker's "Paradise Series."  I have already talked about Showdown a few months back, and this book is a continuation of that story.  In Showdown, a strange man comes into town and people begin acting weird, evil almost.  Children in a monastery find books where what they write in the book, it comes true.  The children are a part of an experiment to see if they will remain innocent if they are secluded from the influences of the outside world.  Carl has been recruited for Black Ops and given his life to the most brutal kind of training any man or woman could endure. He was here because he belonged here. To the X Group, an assassin. The most effective killer in the world. And yet . . . Carl Strople struggles to retain fleeting memories that betray an even more ominous reality. He's been told part of the truth, but what's the rest. Invasive techniques have stripped him of his identity and made him someone new for this he is grateful. But there are some things they can't take from him. The love of a woman, unbroken loyalties to his past, the need for survival.

This second book in the Paradise series is just as amazing as the first.  The story is a little different and stems away from the kids in Paradise, and the kids in the monastery, but the reader gets the feeling that this story is equally important for the final showdown. This novel has a strong start and middle, but sadly the end starts to unravel and fall very short of expectations and the quality we tend to expect from Dekker.  It is a Christian novel, so there is a lot of emphasis on love and grace.  Some may think this takes away from the novel, but I think it adds a different quality to the thriller.

This is the second book of Ted Dekker's that I have ever read, and I read it a few years ago and still absolutely love Ted Dekker as a writer.  That being said, this is probably one of the novels I like the least.  As mentioned it is a part of series, but doesn't follow the story of the first book which threw me off a little but still helped cement my love for this author.  He has a way of writing that draws the reader into the story.  You will almost feel as if you are standing beside Carl as everything happens and that you are experiencing the same things that he is.  Dekker has the ability to implement the Christian elements without making it feel like the reader is being preached to, or overdone.  It is the right amount, at the right times.  While it feels like this is one of the less enjoyable books to read of his it still shows his mastery of the written word.

I don't think there has been a book of Dekker's that I have not recommended and this is no different.  You don't have to read the books in order to understand what is happen you could read this one first and then Showdown then Saint or Saint then Showdown.  But you do want to leave Sinner for last because it does tie the other two stories together.  I highly recommend this for those who haven't read Dekker yet as well as those who have.  I give this book a 3.5 out 5 because it does fall short at the end and becomes disappointing when knowing the skills of this author.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Nefertiti's Heart

Cara's father has recently passed away and it is now up to her to settle his estate.  She had hoped it would be something quick and easy, something she could put into the hands of someone else.  She never wanted to return to the home where she faced horrors 7 years ago at the hands of her "husband."  Her plans to only be in town a short time are disrupted when the police are looking at her for her father's death, as well as the murders of high society women her age.  The women are found wearing an Egyptian nightdress and a strange key embedded into their chests.  Cara struggles to deal with her feelings for Nathanial Trent, the viscount helping her dispose of her father's artifacts, her fears, as well as finding the truth behind this mysterious murders.  Their search leads them to Nefertiti's Heart and the legend surrounding it.  Could the legends be true?  Could her father have stumbled upon something beyond value?

I have a lot of conflicting feelings about this book, which is generally rare.  There is a lot going on in this story, so much that one would think the story wouldn't work or it would be too much, but it isn't.  It somehow works.  First we have the murder of her father, and the strange circumstances surrounding his death.  This alone would have made for a good book.  Cara searching to find out clues to who would have wanted her father dead while dealing with her own horrors.  But no there's more, then we have the romance between Cara and Nathanial.  He wants her, desires her but she is scare of physical contact.  Reasonable substory for the novel, I can accept that in the midst of searching for her father's killer.  BUT, then we have the murders of the high society girls.  The book focuses on their murders more than the father's.  It's almost as if his murder takes the back-burner because no one liked him.

I want to say that Cara is a strong character, but there are times when she doesn't seem as such.  She becomes almost a slave to her past and feelings for Nathanial.  I feel like there is so much more in Cara that readers don't get to see because so much emphasis was placed on what happened to her when she was 14.  When she reflects back to it, at times it took me away from the story, but at the same made me feel for her.  I liked Nathanial, but I would have wanted more imagery of what made him less reputable man of society.  Towards the end it felt like things were starting to get rushed, that things were being thrown at readers for suspects and things.  It began to feel like too much at one time.  The steampunk elements were nice, but I would have liked to have seen more description other than steam powered coached or mechanical horses.  I craved more of those elements.

Would I recommend this to someone else?  Sure, just because I have mixed feelings doesn't mean someone else won't completely love it.  I know this was the first book in a series, and I would be interested in seeing what is next in the series.  I would give A.W Exley another chance to simply blow me away, and I hope that happens with the next book.  I will give this book a 3 out 5 rating.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Oh such a tough life being a literary kitten.  Sometimes it seems there is no time to read a book between climbing, running, sleeping and terrorizing my brothers.  My human tries to tell me books aren't for noms, but I think she's wrong, they look tasty to me plus they take her attention away from me.  That's terrible isn't it?  My human and I are reading an interesting book at the moment...I think it's called "The Search for Significance."  Hmm her significance is to pet me and take care of me....maybe that's what this book says.  I will let you know what it is about soon.

Bye for meow!
~  Harley

Thursday, November 17, 2016

What She Left Behind

Sara and her mom had it all planned out, finally they will be able to escape her abusive father and start a new life together.  Sara waits eagerly for her mother to pick her up, but her mom never shows up and doesn't answer her phone.  She is convinced her father has something to do with her mother's disappearance, although he continues to claim she on a business trip.  Her friends know something isn't right as Sara begins to act on edge and jumpy, but she doesn't want to endanger anyone else.  As each day passes her fears and worry grow stronger as she tries to find out what has happened to her mother, and pray it doesn't happen to her.

This book is marketed as YA, but I honestly think adult readers would enjoy this thriller as well.  It is one of those books that will keep you on the edge of your seat. There is a dark, deep atmosphere to this book that doesn't waver through the story and draws you in.  I found myself almost biting my nails waiting to see what would happen next.  Sara is a strong female lead.  I like the fear in Sara that radiates off the page especially at the thought that she has no help from the cops as her father is still friends with many of them.  Bilen does a great job at making her readers feel the emotion with her characters.

While I loved this book, there were a few short comings such as the feeling of disconnection to some of the other characters.  We don't get a chance to feel connected to her mother before she disappears, and then Alex just pops onto the scene which is almost jarring.  I understand he provides the romantic interest for Sara, but in a story like this a romantic interest is not necessary and almost at times takes away from the story.  There are things that make the story memorable, but other elements that make it forgettable.  I feel like the story was very well written and well told to the readers.  Bilen does paint a terrifying picture with her words, it's just some elements were un-needed, others almost unrealistic.

If you enjoy mysteries, dark thrillers, suspense then this is a book you should look into adding to your collection.  What She Left Behind is Bilen's first novel, and I think it was a great beginning and look forward to seeing what she has in store for readers.  Overall I give this book a 3.5 out of 5.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Neverland Wars

Gwen is a typical 16 year old girl, dreaming about the boy in her algebra class and hoping he will ask her to homecoming to getting frustrated at her little sister and parents.  Then her little sister goes missing and her parents tell Gwen that Peter Pan has taken her to Neverland, and that magic is real.  She escapes to Neverland to try and bring her sister home only to find out there is a war going on between the two worlds.  Peter Pan is not the child we remember from the stories, but is now a teenager due to his constant visits to reality.  Gwen is faced with a decision of whether or not she will join Pan and his band of children in their war or hurry home to her normal teenage life

I have never been more disappointed in a book than I was with this one.  I had such high hopes for Neverland Wars.  I haven't read a "re-telling" of Peter Pan yet, so when I found this book I was eager to read it.  But when I got to the point where it discussed Peter Pan as kidnapping children and reality engaging a war with Neverland.  I am not sure what exactly I was expecting but that wasn't it.  Granted once Gwen gets to Neverland there is a lot of the Peter Pan elements like flying, child-like imagination, mermaids, the crocodile etc.  It was interesting of reality wanting to harness and utilize Neverland magic, I am not sure if it was executed properly.

It starts off setting the premise of Gwen being a teenage girl in love with the homecoming king, Jay Hoek.  I honestly thought somehow this would come back to him being somehow related to Captain Hook, but no cigar.  All of this becomes a moot point when Rosemary is taken and everyone is in an uproar, not because she is taken, but because they need to explain to Gwen now about magic and how it is being used to operate things like smartphones.  Ookay, cut the next scene where she runs off with Peter Pan to Neverland and the next large portion of the book feels like nonsense of the kids playing and having festivities.  At times Peter is borderline abusive to Gwen calling her a dumb girl and instead of standing up for herself, she takes it and agrees with him.  Like what the heck? any man calls me dumb and I will fight heaven and hell to prove him wrong.  So far were are about 70% into the story and there is still no sign of a war until suddenly a bombing attack of Molotov newspapers which is almost immediately forgotten.

Finally when there is about 10 - 15% of the story left is when things shift to Gwen going back to the reality (sans Rosemary which was her whole point of going to Neverland) and again nothing remotely close to the original plot line of a war between the worlds, but hey she finally kisses the boy of her dreams before being attacked by a shadow.  Yes a shadow....this is the part when I got completely confused and unsure of what in the world was happening.  I honestly have no idea what happens in this part, to the point where i kept asking WTF. 

The writing was good enough, I think the issue was there is a lot of build up for future novels.  Sometimes when trying to develop a series too much time is spent building up the story in the first book and I think that is what happened here.  I hope the next novel in the series (if there is one) follows the storyline better and provides more to the war between the two realities better.  Unfortunately because it came off as being so laughable, I am giving this a 2 out of 5.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Darkest Part of The Forest

Hazel and her brother grew up in a quiet small town, much like any other.  Everyone looked out for each other, supported one another.  They lived in a quaint little town, with one thing different from other towns.  They shared their forest with the faerie folk.  They have become a tourist attraction because in the forest is a close coffin, with a horned young man within.  Hazel and her brother grew up making up stories about who this boy could be.  One fateful night someone released him from his prison and something sinister starts attacking the children of the town.  Everyone seems to have their secrets and in time those secrets are revealed.  Will Hazel, her brother and Horned-boy be able to work together to save not only the town, but themselves from the mystery monster that plague their lives?

It has been a while since I have read such a well written book that completely captivated me from beginning to end.  I found myself whimpering when I needed to close it so I could sleep. The characters are so compelling and interesting, I could see myself as Hazel at times.  I have seen other reviews of people complaining about the LGBT element to the story (Ben falls in love with the Horned-boy).  In all honesty, I think it adds to the story.  Simply because two of the main characters are homosexual males does not take anything away from the story.  It was almost refreshing to read something that shows love from a different angle.

The story itself is well done, young prince imprisoned only to be awakened to be hunted and chased.  I was on the edge of my seat so to speak.  Black writes in  a way that drags her readers into the story.  It opens a whole new world to readers.  She ties everything together in a nice little bow that leaves readers craving more from her, I know I certainly am.  The story starts out slow while Black builds the world and characters for her readers, but once everything is established it all takes off like a bat out of hell from there.  She does a fantastic job at creating strong relationship ties that are believable and realistic.  What girl hasn't fallen in love with her brother's best friend?  Who hasn't longed for the fantasy relationship? Romantic relationships, familial and friendships are all crafted well within this story.

I love what Holly Black has created and I look forward to seeing what she has in store for readers.  I would give this book a 4.5 out of 5 because the beginning was a little slow to begin with.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Heir Of Fire

I am falling more and more in love with this series.  In the third installment we find Celaena begins to train and learn more about who she is the power that resides in the fae form.  While she is training she learns that there is someone or something targeting demi-fae and sucking the life energy out of them.  Meanwhile things at the castle are heating up and Chaol discovers more of the king's treachery as Dorian begins to fall for one of the healers who has a secret of her own.  Celaena grows stronger in her power and gains more allies to become the queen she is meant to be, but is she ready to take on this role and power that comes with it.  Is she ready to begin a battle save her kingdom and her people and rebuild all that they have lost?

I think so far this is one my favorite books in the series.  I loved that there was more of her fae form and she comes to accept who and what she is.  I also suspect a new potential love interest in Rowen.  Even though the book doesn't focus on that and doesn't suggest it, as a reader who loves the characters I want to ship them even is Maas doesn't.  I wish we had a little bit more from Rowen, but the mystery adds to the charm of his character.  I expect to see great things from him in the next novel, and interested to see how Chaol will react to his presence.  I liked how all three books have flowed together seamlessly.  It didn't feel like I have stopped reading the series for a couple of months.  It picked up right where the last one left off and provided enough backstory to remind readers of what happened in the previous novels, but not too much that made readers think it was simply re-telling the previous volumes.

Sarah Maas is an exceptional story teller.  I admit I was a little weary of the series when I started it, but I simply cannot wait to get my hands on the next book and have already started telling people they need to read this series.  Mass captures her readers from the very first words and develops a world that makes readers want to visit become a part of. I found the Blackbeak story line interesting as well and look forward to seeing more from them and seeing how Manon changes as we already started to see.

Overall this is a fantastic book that fantasy lover will enjoy greatly.  If you haven't started reading this series then you need to begin it,  I give this book in the series a 5 out of 5 as it just keeps getting better.  Characters remain flawless and continue to develop even when you think they can't anymore.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Newest Addition

 Recently there was a new addition to the Literary Cat family.  A gentleman at my church had brought in a basket of kittens and this precious gem sat on my shoulder and purred away.  At the moment she is a little over 2 months old and completely made herself at home.

Her name is Harley and she is a little fluff ball of energy and likes to climb, particularly my back while I am sitting on the floor.  At first we were worried about how she would get along with the other two cats, but she worked her way into their hearts as she has done mine.  Harley makes a beautiful fun, youthful addition to the family.  We shall see how she responds to books.  Once already I have had to tell her we don't nom on books.  She is precious and I love having a young kitten in the house again.   You shall see much more pictures of her cuteness.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Hyde by. Lauren Stewa

 Eden is a kind, loyal, sweet woman simply trying to escape her demons.  She doesn't lie, cheat, or anything else that would trigger the monster, especially not waking up in a random man's bed.  But that is exactly what happens, and the scariest part is that Eden doesn't remember how she got into his bed.  She begins having flashbacks to people and places she doesn't remember and the one person who could have the answers is the man who's bed she woke up in.  Mitch has his own demons he battles on a regular basis.  He struggles to keep people at bay and goes out of his way to try and avoid Eden's attempts for answers until he finds out that she faces the same demons he does.  They both think what they are battling within is something they were born with, not something that was created and controlled within.  Nor do they know they are being manipulated into different scenarios.  Where will this take them, will both Mitch and Eden learn how to control the beasts within.

Okay so this is supposed to be a take on the Jekyll and Hyde story, but isn't marketed as a re-telling.  While there are other amazing reviews of people loving this book, I do not share their enthusiasm for this book.  While I did find it a good read, and full of potential there were points where the book had lost me.  The book took a long time to progress and develop, the characters while interesting and seemingly complex they fell short of believable.  Some of the transition points felt choppy and difficult to move on.  It left me with more questions than answers.  For example had did Mitch and Eden be chosen for what they are?   Why did Mitch know what he was but Eden not know?

Regardless of the points where the book fell short for me it was an interesting story and not what I was expecting at all. Honestly I am still not sure how i feel about this book.  It is the first in the series so I am willing to read the other books to see where the story goes and if some of the questions I have get answered.  I am going to give this a 3 out of 5 stars because there were moments when I wondered what the heck was happen and how things were progressing the way they were.