Book Review: Return Once More

Return Once More (The Historians #1)
by Trisha Leigh
Release Date: June 2015
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Summary from Goodreads:

If you could learn the identity of your one true love—even though you will never meet— would you?
Years have passed since refugees from a ruined earth took to space, eventually settling a new system of planets. Science has not only made the leaps necessary to allow time travel, but the process engineered a strange side effect—predicting your one true love.
If you could save your one true love from an untimely death, would you be able to resist?
Sixteen-year-old Kaia Vespasian is an apprentice to the Historians—a group charged with using time travel to document the triumphs and failures of the past—and she can’t resist a peek at her long-dead soul mate in Ancient Egypt. Before she knows it, she’s broken every rule in the book, and the consequences of getting caught could destroy more than just her new romance.
Or would you have the strength to watch him die?
But when Kaia notices a fellow classmate snooping around in a time where he doesn’t belong, she suspects he has a secret of his own—and the conspiracy she uncovers could threaten the entire universe. If her experience has taught her anything, to changing history means facing the consequences. The Historians trained her to observe and record the past, but Kaia never guessed she might have to protect it— in a race across time to save her only chance at a future.

I’ve never had a thing for time travel, but I have always had a thing for Ancient Egypt, so that’s what drew me into Return Once More. I believe that the author did a good job of describing the futuristic world and the technology that was used within it. I find that some books have to little explanation while others have far too much – Trisha Leigh got this one just right. Some of it did require a willing suspension of disbelief, but that’s why we read fantasy!

The entire premise of being about travel back in time but not forward it time made sense to me. The past is already done but the future possibilities are infinite. As long as you don’t screw up the past and make sure we have a future to return to. The other plot device used was the ability to find someone’s “One True Love” throughout all time and space. For some reason, they can predict someone’s True in the future… but not go there… hm. That felt undeveloped for me. I played along with that, because hey, I love History so the thought of being able to go back and observe was awesome!

Kaia is a great heroine, I enjoyed reading from her point of view. She is a realistic teenager who breaks all the rules when it suits her, but still has a strong sense of what is right and wrong. The supporting characters could have used a bit more fleshing out, as sometimes I was confused about who Kaia was interacting with.

While the book moved and read quickly, some of the pacing felt off to me. I found myself bored every so often and then suddenly it would pick up like a roller-coaster. I really loved the cover for this book. I like the juxtaposition of the modern clothing with the (fantasy inspired) Ancient Egyptian setting.

As I was approaching the end of the book, I knew that there was no way that it was all going to wrap up nicely in the last 10%. I went into this book thinking it was a standalone, so I was left wondering wtf was going on at the end. Imagine my surprise when I realized it was a series! I can’t wait to read what happens next.

In the end, I really enjoyed this book by Trisha Leigh and I look forward to reading the next installment in the series. She does have another series completed with CreateSpace named The Last Year, which I will also be adding to my to-read list. The first installment, Whispers in Autumn is free on Amazon!

*disclaimer* – I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a honest review. 
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Book Review: Superstition

Superstition by Lucy Fenton was a great novel. It set the bar high as one of the best self-published books I have read in a long time.

Superstition
by Lucy Fenton
Release Date: August 2015
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Summary from Goodreads:

What happens when your childhood nightmares of being bitten by strange creatures in a dark wood aren’t just dreams?
Sixteen-year-old Arden St. John’s life takes a strange turn when she finds an unusual animal injured near her new house on the south east coast of Australia. When she takes it to the local vet, a terrible truth is inadvertently exposed to her.
She discovers a secret underworld, where witches are commonplace and trolls masquerade as queen bees, terrorizing the other students with impunity. A world where vampires traffic in the lives of children, draining their bodies once they reach maturity. Where adults auction their own children to extend their lives.
Arden finds out she’s one of those kids, her life traded by the mother she never knew. Now she’s caught up in this ancient and corrupt economy operating just below the surface of modern society. She’s a hot commodity, and it’s only a matter of time before the vampire who bought her comes to claim his prize.
But Arden’s not going down without a fight.

It should be no secret now that I’m a sucker for witchcraft or occult based stories. The world building in Superstition was a neat take on traditional witches and vampires. I appreciate that the vampires are scary monsters and not sparkling hunks – I’m not at all worried that Arden might fall for one in the future. What was most interesting was the currency of lives or years, being able to buy and sell them, or even selling your children’s years instead! I know that our society surely would be doing that if they could. (If not already, but that’s a political essay for another day.)

Arden was a likable main character. The narration was dependable and consistent all of the way through. I admire her determination and grit, but some times she gets what she want way too easily. Her friends were loyal throughout, even when things got tough; and the teen heart throb Nick, well – he was your perfect boy next door. I hope things will work out for them.

I enjoyed the debate on what is good and evil, creation and destruction, and all of the grey areas in between. You can’t have one without the other, but being raised in a Western/ Christian society, if someone is labeled as destructive, they immediately related that with being evil. I like that Arden is determined to use her powers to right wrongs and fight evil.

Over all, the editing for this book was strong, however I feel like it could have been longer. The pacing was off, and some scenes seemed too rushed. The fight scenes could have been fleshed out better, they all seemed to end to easily and too quickly. For a witch with such destructive powers, I was hoping for a bit more blood and gore! The story could have easily filled another 100 pages and not been a drag.

The title fell flat for me. There are so many books out there with the title Superstition (or some close variable) that it makes it harder to search for it. I would have recommended something a bit more unique for a first novel, but naming books is something I also have trouble with.  *cough cough*

I will be checking out the play Gaslight to see how it ties into this novel. It seemed like a not so subtle name drop, and Fenton seems to be a reader of plays so I will be checking that out soon.

I was pleased to find out from the author’s Goodreads page that a sequel was in the works. She noted that it takes her a year or more to write a book, which is totally understandable and I was grateful that she wrapped up the end perfectly – leaving you wanting more but not hanging over a cliff!

*disclaimer* – I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a honest review. 
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Book Review: Redeemed (House of Night 12)

This image pretty much sums up my feelings about the House of Night Series by P.C. Cast and Kristen cast.

Yeah.

So, this review isn’t going to be a long one, but I would like to say that I really did start off liking the House of Night series. I thought the Casts’ take on vampires (or vampyres in this case) was original and interesting. They mixed lots (sometimes too much) mythology and science into the world. The characters were OK at best and the story line could have easily been edited into 6 books (give or take).

I loved the first three books, and then after that my reaction to everything was WTF.
It just dragged on and on and on and on… you get my point. Riding the YA gravy train.

I picked this book up because I’m OBVIOUSLY a fan of vampires. Except Twilight and such other atrocities. When I read the teasers for this series I had high hopes. Not that those hopes are completely faded, because as I said the vampires themselves were interesting and unique. These vampires sport magick face tattoos when they Change, and Zoe gets body tattoos because she’s the High Priestess of Mary Sues. I found the tattoos lame, but I can see how a younger audience would like them.

The story itself was just flat and most of the characters were annoying tropes involved in typical love triangles. I also did not like the portrayal of the homosexual characters and the African American characters. They were unbelievably stereotypical and offensive – though I appreciate that the authors were trying to be inclusive, it was a complete failure. There were also quite a few complaints online about Zoe getting to “hoe-ish” (to use Cast’s term) with all the love triangles and Warriors and Consorts etc.  Now I’m all for triads and I’m against slut-shaming, but in this particular series it became an over used plot device.

So! You’re probably asking why I bothered to continue reading after the 3rd book. Because I try my best to never give up on a series (I nearly gave up on Harry Potter – no joke) so I never want a bad book in a series to cause me to miss out. I actually though House of Night had redeemed (no pun intended) its self at the end of book 11, Revealed. The ending was so powerful, the last scene with the bull and Neferet had me nerd-gasming for days. Literally. When I finished, I still had months to wait for Redeemed to come out so I hopped on the waiting list and hoped that House of Night would have a strong finish.

Upon finishing Redeemed today, I’ll just say it was a satisfactory ending and I’m glad this series is over so I can carry on with my other reading lists. I was really hoping for a bigger showdown than what was written and the pacing was off, considering how long the other books took. So many awesome characters could have been included in the finale and even the High Council was absent from the end. (Not including the new High Council run by teenagers – that’s laughable.) The fight scenes were ok, the dialogue was over worked and Neferet’s reign of terror finally ended. The epilogue wrapped most things up in a neat little bow – however, it was left open for sequels. Hopefully the Casts will take a break from House of Night world for a while.

The covers were pretty, all of them. I enjoyed the formatting and presentation of the books very much. I also heard rumors of a movie or tv series was in the making. Let’s just say that if it happens, I will not be watching.

The Curse – Now in Paperback

41GFlXT8TFL._SL500_AA300_ The Curse (2010)

Published by Xlibris, avaliable at Amazon.com

E book – $8.89

Paperback *NEW* – $17.99

Synopsis: Joseph is a homeless, desperate prostitute until Donatien offers him salvation. Unknown to Joseph, Donatien is a vampire determined to pass on his Curse. Joseph finds the darkness in the shadows of his soul- the Black Phoenix. Everything appears to be fine until the Ancients want him dead. The Black Phoenix threatens the way of life that vampires have conformed to for centuries. Joseph doesn’t want to be the monster he’s becoming. The problem is: he’s too scared to live and he’s too scared to die.

Exerpt – The Curse Chapter 18

21909128-256-k584847

The Curse can be read in it’s entirety for free at WattPad.com

http://www.wattpad.com/story/21909128-the-curse

The following is one of my favorite fight scenes in The Curse.
Nothing like some blood and gore to start the day off right, enjoy!

The Black Phoenix growled and reached out with his claws again. Rick managed to grab him and wrestle him to the ground. “Let’s see how tough you are now!” He pulled a switchblade from his back pocket.

     Joseph could smell the beer in Rick’s breath. The Black Phoenix survival instincts boiled over and he mustered all of his strength to slash Rick across the face and send the blade flying across the room. It fell against the wall with a clatter. He got back to his feet quickly.

     “Joseph! No, don’t kill him!” Sora could see the bloodlust in the vampire’s eyes.  His pupils reflected the light from the kitchen like an animal.

     Rick would not let himself be defeated. He threw a punch and it landed square on Joseph’s jaw.

      The bone splintered with a loud crack. Blood trickled from the corner of Joseph’s mouth as he stood in shock. The pain only lasted a few moments. There was another loud click as the bone began to fix itself.  The Black Phoenix gave Rick an evil crooked smile as the blood started drying and flaking away. He laughed and spat out a molar in a gob of blood. The blood on the floor dried to a stain leaving only the tooth on the carpet. 

     “Care to try that again?” The Black Phoenix hissed. He wiped the dried blood from his nose.

     Rick’s fists dropped along with his jaw. He stared in disbelief and gasped.  “What the hell?” He could only mutter.  His heart was pounding in fear.

     The Black Phoenix grinned, spitting out the last of the blood stained saliva and wiped his chin. “Don’t pick a fight with a vampire. You can’t win.” He laughed and brought his hand to Rick’s throat. His claws ripped into the man’s pounding jugular. He did his grisly deed, leaving the man spilling blood all over the floor. The room was silent.