The Deep ARC Review

The Deep

The Deep is a fantasy novel about the descendants of African slave women thrown overboard into the sea by slave owners. Pregnant women were thrown overboard for being “sick and disruptive cargo,” but what would have happened if their babies adapted to the new environment and survived anyways? The zoti are the answer to this “what if.” They are born from the bodies of women thrown overboard, but rather than having legs they have tails and can breathe underwater. They do not remember where they came from, as it is too painful for them to remember. Only Yetu is cursed with being the Historian. She is overcome by the pain of the History, of all the horrific memories of the first zoti and of the women thrown overboard. She barely remembers who she is, and she cannot rid herself of the History lest the rest of her people suffer as she does with the memories. But one day, she can’t take it anymore, and flees to the surface. She leaves the rest of her people in the process of the Remembering, the yearly pain of the memories coming to the surface again, and she flees to discover herself outside of the painful memories of the ancestors.

I came into this novel expecting a hard-hitting dark fantasy book that mixed history with the secrets of the ocean in a beautiful way. WHat I read was a confusing story that jumped around in time, where I was never sure of who was speaking. Sometimes the POV only referred to the main character as “We”, sometimes the POV was clearly from Yetu, and sometimes I could never tell who was speaking at all. I kept reading hoping that things would clear themselves up by the end of the story, but they didn’t. The book was so short that I never truly felt any connection to Yetu or her people, and I couldn’t figure out how the side characters were even important to the story at all.

One thing that confused me the most in this story was Yetu’s multiple (?) love interests? I could not tell whose POV the story was supposed to be being told from at the time, but Yetu was with a male side character, and then she was talking to and seemed to be romantically interested in a female character Oori. I am not completely sure if it was even Yetu with the male character, as that occurred during a POV switch where the only pronoun being used was “we.” But it made the story confusing to read as it seemed like Yetu was with both this male character and the female character at the same time, just going back and forth between the two. This is simply one example of something that didn’t add up within the story.

I also couldn’t understand why the other zoti didn’t understand why Yetu was in such pain being the Historian. She was cursed with the Rememberings constantly, and she had to lead them through their own Rememberings as well, so why didn’t they understand her pain. They were clearly in pain during the Rememberings, so why was it so difficult for them to understand that this was how she felt all the time?

The only part that I did like about this book was the dark fantasy aspect. I was horrified by the description of the zoti helping the newborn zoti out of the bodies of their dead mothers, but I loved how it was described and how the instant connection was made from this horrific real world to the underwater fantasy one. I also did enjoy reading some of the flashbacks of history, even though I felt like they could have been expanded on.

If this book had been longer and focused on Yetu’s story alone, I believe I would have really enjoyed it. If the book had been this length and been a collection of short stories from the Rememberings without trying to connect the main plot of Yetu, I believe I would have enjoyed that as well. But as this story was written, it feels more like a hodge-podge of information than a coherent tale, and I could not recommend it.

I received an advance copy of this book and this is my voluntary review.

Overall Rating: 2 out of 5 books.

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End of the Last Great Kingdom Review

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In Sulphurium the enlighten, whose with magic, are tested at the edge of adulthood to see if they have what it takes to become mages. For Leaf, an orphan who has not awaken his powers yet the trials are insurmountable. However, by the skin of his teeth Leaf manages to pass and is reborn as Mage Brimstone. Just as Brimstone becomes comfortable with his new life, the Order arrives and turns his world upside down. Their intent is to use him as a political and military pawn. Brimstone and friends will need to learn quickly if they ever hope to survive.

The Brimstone Chronicles is a dark fantasy series following the life of the Mage Brimstone. The story is fast paced and filled with unique characters and captivating creatures. Be warned this series is not for the faint of heart. Death and suffering lie around every corner, and not even the innocent are safe.

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I truly wanted to enjoy this dark adventure story with teenaged characters, but I felt as if I wasn’t truly connected to any of them. Each character had a unique trait, but their general personalities were sort of bland. By the end of the book, the only character that I truly knew was Brimstone. The rest had melded into one big pile of “Brimstone’s friends.”

Also, dark fantasy does not mean that all of the characters have to come off as being nearly soulless. Brimstone is cruel in this book by the end, and he is not even remorseful about it in the least. You would think that a 13-year-old would have some sort of physical reaction to such violence. I mean, he seems to be the slave boy at the beginning of the story, and those memories that he lost could have been of great suffering, but this was never explained. He didn’t even seem to be that strong at the start of the novel, constantly being bullied, so how is he this beast of a man who would never listen to anyone but himself by the end. Only a few months have passed!

Overall, I didn’t really like this novel, it could have definitely been more for me, but I did like the premise. I might still read the sequel to see if anything gets better and to find out what happens to Brimstone and his friends

I received a copy of this book and reviewed it through the Online Book Club. https://forums.onlinebookclub.org/viewtopic.php?f=21&t=98323

Overall Rating: 2 out of 5 books

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Blood Moon Review

Chroma Crossing Chronicles: Blood Moon: Part 1Hunky pheromone-laden-man meets pretty accident-prone female—it should have been a love story with a happy ever after ending. 

However, when the bored deities choose Candy and Thorne for an amusing game, the gods/goddesses put forth sets of circumstances that can tear the couple apart and wound them deep within their human souls.
City girl, Candy wanted to become a successful artist and maybe someday find a man who would make her feel loved and valued, a feeling she’d never known while growing up. However, with a name like ‘Candy Cane’, males never failed to remind her with a wink and snicker, how it sounded like she was a ‘professional’. And ‘professional’ held so many connotations, none of which she had in mind regarding relationships with men. 

With her father’s sudden demise, Candy finds she’s inherited funds and a carriage house in beautiful historic Savannah. Not only can she now afford to go to SCAD, her future as an artist looks promising. Unfortunately her step-mom (and her disturbing son Todd) resides in the main house. When Candy gets her first commission for a life-sized portrait of a beautiful woman from a rather unsettling man, she soon questions what had seemed coincidental. 

Candy is a modest female who has always found solace in her artwork, whereas her widowed step-mom, Cherry Ann, considers physical pleasure and money as her measures of worth. And as Candy pursues her art, Cherry Ann pursues a new lover who expands her world of sexual gratifications far beyond past parameters. Cherry Ann finds her new risqué sex life to be addictive and doesn’t recognize the danger of the man she’s invited into her life. 

After surviving a couple of ‘accidents’, Candy realizes someone apparently wishes her harm. When she’s chased (by the one thing she fears most) Candy accidently, or so it seems, crosses into a new dimension, land or whatever. She finds herself in an unknown wilderness without resources, let alone a map, or GPS, plus she left her cell phone at home—again. Looking around she sees a curious terrain that is void of color, thus leaving the landscape looking like an old sepia photograph, hardly the Savannah spring day she’d left behind. 

The artist in her wants to understand how primary colors could disappear to leave a land so colorless . . . so entirely beige-ish. How could such a phenomenal occurrence come about? A land without modern conveniences—almost as though she’d stepped into a time past, yet that wasn’t quite accurate either

As Candy literally stumbles through the wild terrain, an intriguing hunter comes upon her. His presence makes her girlie parts beg to become ill behaved, and before she knows it, her hormones are arguing with her strict moral compass.

This story starts off very confusing, and it doesn’t really get more coherent until near the end of the book.

By reading the synopsis, I thought that this book would focus on Candy being found by the hunter and that the majority of the book would be about her stories with him. She actually doesn’t fall into the different dimension until the book is around 50-75 pages from being over. That means that there are around 300 pages of information being given before we even get to the main plot.

We start the book by hearing from the gods, who are never really involved in the rest of the story. Then we are introduced to Candy, who has just lost her father, her horrible stepmother Cherry Ann, and her horrible stepbrother Todd. Then we are introduced to Liam, Candy’s gay roommate, and Mark, the guy who asks Candy to paint an important picture for him and then seduces her stepmother.

This book definitely has its dark portions. Candy learns about the dark past of a girl through her journal. Cherry Ann is led into a dangerous relationship with Mark, that seemed a bit non-consensual, but I couldn’t quite tell. Mark might have been manipulating her at first, but then she kinda seemed into it? Either way, it was just wrong. And that’s not even mentioning Todd’s sick relationship with his mother and his strange obsession with his step-sister. I was expecting it to be dark, and some parts of the story definitely made me cringe. If you are interested in dark fantasy novels, this might just be for you!

Honestly, this story really has potential. It has so many parts working for it, and the plot is interesting. My only problem is the way that it is told. It is told from multiple POVs, which wouldn’t be such a problem if they didn’t switch so randomly. Sometimes you would be in the middle of an important story piece from Candy, and then it would switch to Todd doing something creepy, or Mark with Cherry Ann. Definitely made me want to just rush through those parts to get back to the main storyline.

Also, the fact that the main part of the story doesn’t start until the end also threw me off. I feel like a short description of some of these parts would have been sufficient, with a prequel full of the rest of this story for anyone who truly wanted to know about Candy’s life before she went to the new realm. It just made the book feel clogged with a lot of unnecessary information about the funeral, and her friendship with Liam, and all these other small details.

Overall, this isn’t a book that I can either recommend or bash. By the ending, I think it could have potential, but it took me far too long to actually get into the story.

I received a copy of the book and this is my voluntary review.

Overall Rating: 2 out of 5 books

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Tokyo Ghoul Volume 1 Review

Tokyo Ghoul, Vol. 1 (Tokyo Ghoul, #1)Shy Ken Kaneki is thrilled to go on a date with the beautiful Rize. But it turns out that she’s only interested in his body—eating it, that is. When a morally questionable rescue transforms him into the first half-human half-Ghoul hybrid, Ken is drawn into the dark and violent world of Ghouls, which exists alongside our own.

To be honest, horror/dark action manga are not really my thing. I much prefer romance manga or slice of life that might have a side action/adventure story. Nevertheless, an old friend recommended this manga to me about a year ago, so I decided that I might as well try it over the summer.

Within the first few pages of this story, I knew that it was going to be one of the darker stories that I might not like. I decided to finish the volume, and yes, it definitely was darker and gorier than I usually read. It was very interesting though.

Ken was not a ghoul. He was a normal human boy, until he went on a date with a mysterious girl and was almost turned into her food. When he is rescued, he needs an organ transplant, and the dead girl seems to be the most viable option. Now, he is both human and ghoul. He doesn’t want to eat humans, but if he doesn’t, then he will end up randomly attacking people.

I think that this manga does a good job of discussing the issue between good and evil. Ken always thought that the ghouls were the villains, but he never thought of things from their point of view. Sure, they have to eat human flesh, but no one truly desires to be a ghoul. I feel like the details of the ghoul world will also be expanded upon in future volumes, but this book does start to delve into some of the main issues.

Also, it was almost scary to see how many ghouls inhabited the human world. Some ghouls were too loud about their killings and made the news, but most ghouls live with humans in the normal world. They still eat human flesh, but they have learned how to control their other ghoul traits.

The one thing that I didn’t like in this story was the fact that the ghouls were not very welcoming to Ken. If they wanted to continue living in general secrecy and making peace with the humans, they should have explained to Ken the details of his new life. If Ken had just gone on a killing spree and revealed the ghouls that he had met in regular life, it could have been horrible for the ghouls who had been trying to live peaceful lives. Instead, most of the ghouls hated Ken, and then only a few helped him in small ways. I could understand that they don’t have pity on him because he got to be “partially” normal, he’s still stuck as a ghoul, and they needed to help him for their own safety.

Overall, even though this story was dark, I liked it. I think that I might even continue with this story, just to learn more about the other ghouls in Ken’s world. I think I could even get over the goriness if this story continues to be so interesting!

I would recommend this book to lovers of dark manga with strong stories.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

 

Dangerous to Know Review

Dangerous To Know (The Chronicles of Breed #1)After Breed, an thief-assassin of small renown is chased by a dragon, tricked by a demon, almost killed by a psychopathic gang boss, and hunted by a ferocious spider, life really takes a turn for the worst.

Sentenced to five years bonded servitude to a one-handed priest magician, Breed must find the hammer of the ancient hero known only as The Hammer of the North within a year and a day…

Or Else.

So, with only a drug-addicted vagrant, a rat-faced child, and a timid priest for backup, Breed sets out for the mighty city of Valen and the tomb of the Hammer.

What could possibly go Wrong?

Even though I typically don’t like fantasy-comedy novels, I did enjoy my time reading this novel.

Breed has had a rough upbringing as Breed’s mother is a wizard who has let magic get to her brain. She hates Breed and is a psychopath, but she needs Breed to complete the missions that she cannot do. This is only the beginning of Breed’s troubles in this action-packed novel.

One unique aspect of Breed is that their gender is not actually specified at any point. This could have been purposefully done to allow more readers to connect with the character, but I would like to see if Breed actually discusses this in any novels later in the series.

However, even though Breed was made to feel relatable to all readers, I still struggled to connect with them. It seemed as if Breed had nothing to like in life. Even though they had a tough upbringing, it was still depressing to see negative things happening to breed continuously throughout the novel. I would have liked for Breed to have at least a little bit of good luck at some point in the novel. This actually made me a bit sad as I was reading the novel, and made Breed seem quite bitter for most of the story.

The world building was definitely unique, but I did want to learn a bit more about the other creatures in the world. You will definitely encounter a lot as you read through the book, and the element of surprise definitely worked for the story, but I will have to read the next book in the series to get more of the big picture.

The plot was fairly smooth. It took me a little bit of time to get into the story, but once I was in, I had no problem finishing the entire thing in almost one sitting.

The character development was also intense, as Breed starts by only caring about what happens to them, but then is taken in as the priest’s slave and has to care about what happens to him as well. If the priest goes down, so does Breed.

I would recommend this book to lovers of dark fantasy, or regular fantasy lovers who don’t mind some dark themes throughout the novel.

I received a copy of this book and this is my voluntary review.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

 

The Dawsons Blog Tour and Review

THE DAWSONS by Lydia & Santina Casablanca, Fantasy Romance, 432 pp., $.99 (kindle)

 

Title: THE DAWSONS

Author: Lydia and Santina Casablanca

Publisher: Xlibris

Pages: 432

Genre: Fantasy/Romance

 

Witnessing the horrific demise of everyone he knew and loved has made Derrick Dawson strong, but it has also made him cold and broken. Tormented by his past and fears for the future, Derrick drowns himself in alcohol and drugs to dull the pain he can’t seem to escape. When Rose, the granddaughter of his sworn enemy, suddenly appears in his life, his world turns upside down. The wall he has built to protect his heart is
crumbling. Will Derrick ignore what he feels or will he let the wall fall?
Francesco has felt alone and miserable all his life. The loss of his family and the harshness he receives from his constantly intoxicated older brother has left a void inside him that he thought he would never fill. Until a young princess named Rosa stumbles into him and changes his life forever. There’s only one thing that stands in his way—King Antonio has forbidden Rosa to have anything to do with a Dawson.
My Review
This novel was interesting to read. I felt bad for Derrick as he had to take on the role of the main caregiver for his sister and brother at only four years old, but he somehow managed to do it. I disagreed with the way he changed because he became very abusive towards his siblings, and then got mad at his siblings when they began to act the same way that he had been acting for years. I understand where the story was trying to go, but he and his siblings actually succeeded at making me angry at certain times throughout the book.
My favorite character was Francesco. He had been bullied by his brother and sister all of his life, and he is falling for Rosa. He does not feel that he is worthy of her love though. I loved seeing him finally have the relationship that he deserved.
Teresa was a unique character. I couldn’t decide what I thought about her. Sometimes I thought that she was another victim of Derrick, but then with the way she treated Francesco, she definitely had a mind of her own. I wish that I had the chance to see things more from her perspective, but she is left behind as the time continues to move forward.
The plot moved smoothly even with the time skips and it was interesting to see how the characters changed as the years went on. The twin princesses also have interesting stories of their own, but they have a lot of spoilers so I won’t say too much about that.
The worldbuilding was definitely fleshed out at the beginning, but as the time went on I saw the description start to dwindle. This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing because there was simply more story to cover, but I would have liked a bit more focus on the description.
When the excuse is given for why Derrick and Francesco are as sex-craving as they are, I found it to be a bit weak. I thought that they could have had a better reason for why they acted the way they did. I won’t spoil anything again, but it was just not what I was expecting. It also did not explain the reason why Derrick was addicted to alcohol and drugs.
The princesses definitely have personalities of their own. I saw Rosa’s start to disappear a bit when she got together with Francesco, but Rose’s never disappeared. Their brother also had some unique quirks that I grew to love as the story continued.
I did not find any editing errors in my copy of the novel that I read.
I would recommend this book to lovers of fantasy/dark fantasy romance novels. Even though the characters are teens for a good portion of the novel, I would suggest that you treat this as an adult or a new adult story if you aren’t a fan or adult themes in stories.
I received an advance copy of this book and this is my voluntary review.
Overall Rating: 3.5/5

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INTRODUCTION

There is a world like no other, a world where anything is possible, where no
mortal walks—or lives. This world is on a planet called Magika, a place like
Earth with the same identities, the same personalities, and the same countries.
The only difference is the people on Earth are mortal, and the people on Magika
are witches, which makes things very different. All kinds of beings and
creatures—any supernatural thing you can think of—live on this bizarre planet.
Mortals aren’t allowed to visit Magika; nor do they even know that the planet
exists. Though it’s located close to earth, Magika is barely possible to find
in space, given that it’s invisible to the mortal eye. If somehow a human were
to miraculously figure it out and enter the magical land, the rulers of Magika would
make sure he or she never returned. Mortals can never know Magika exists; their
knowing would change everything, and drastic measures would have to be taken.

The only way in or out of Magika is through several portals around the
world, and they open only once a year at twilight. Witches in books and movies
on Earth are nothing like witches in the witch world. On this planet, witches
fly without broomsticks and heal quickly. They are given a gift from an angel
on the day of their birth, but they also receive a curse by a demon on the same
day. The only way to get rid of the curse is to kill the demon who gave it.
However, if you do get rid of the curse, you will gain another. Witches senses
are heightened. Their eyes and hair can grow any colour. They will never age
and can never die, unless they are given the curse of mortality. Child witches
usually grow faster than do mortal children. You can never tell how old a witch
may be, and it would be better not to guess, if you know what we mean.

And so our story begins one night on the shores of Casa
Palace.

Lydia and Santina Casablanca are twin sisters who were born in
Brisbane, Queensland Australia. They grew up mostly in New South Wales,
moving around all the time and never staying in one place for more than
three years. Growing up, Lydia and Santina were left at home a lot with
nothing to do while their mother worked to provide for them. The twins
had wild imaginations and would often play make believe where they lived
in this world where only the supernatural inhabited it. They made up
all kinds of characters and story lines, and in doing so they did not
realize that they were creating magic.

When Lydia and Santina were 14 years old they noticed they were
starting to forget the stories, the characters and the families they had
made up and they didn’t want to forget, they wanted to always remember
the adventures they went on when they played, pretending they were
witches who lived in a magical place. The twins decided to put down all
their adventures they had had, all the characters and the families they
had made up on paper so they would always remember them.

While writing their book they were suddenly aware that they had a
passion for it, and realized they didn’t want their stories to be
hidden, to just be shared between themselves. They wanted to share the
families they had created, the adventures, the characters with the
world. The twins wanted to share their love of writing, their magic and
write for a living.

Lydia and Santina worked on their first novel (The Dawsons) for ten
years, adding to the story, maturing and professionalizing it, editing
it and trying their best to make it as perfect as a manuscript can be
before they approached the self-publishing company Xlibris in October
2016. The twins knew that self-publishing a book is not cheap so they
saved up for years, working at Gloss Cosmetics, Coles, etc. to earn the
money that would help them to publish their first novel.

Lydia and Santina’s book “The Dawsons” was finally self-published
with Xlibris Publishing in April 2017. The twins went through a crazy,
exhilarating ride making their book a reality, and haven’t regretted
taking all the nerve-racking risks in the hopes of being successful.
They have been trying to get as many people as possible to know about
their book, contacting radio and television stations, bookstores,
newspapers and social media in the hopes that their dreams will come
true.

The twins are now 24 years old and are living on the Central Coast,
New South Wales. Lydia is currently working on the second installment to
The Dawsons. She is also working on the first novel by contacting
anyone she can to popularize their book. Santina helps Lydia with the
marketing of The Dawsons whenever she can.

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