Book Review: Theseus’ Lostness

Title: Theseus’ Lostness
Author: Stefan Calin
Genre: Fiction, Literary, Erotica
Year Published: August 5, 2020

Theseus’ Lostness by Stefan Calin is the first book in The Journeys We Wander trilogy. The story is about a man named Allan who finds himself between two relationships. He seems to struggle with which woman to get closer to but eventually makes his decision after some soul searching.

Allan works at a newspaper agency as a reporter. The receptionist at the agency, Marry, is one of the women he’s attracted to. The other woman is named Ilsa. Ilsa was accused of murder and was hospitalized due to injuries during the altercation that allegedly led to the murders. The case was so popular that the agency sent Allan to interview Ilsa for her side of the story.

While Allan is with Ilsa at the hospital, he listens to her tell him the story about her relationship with the man who was murdered. As he listens to her and spends more time with her, he begins to fall for her. She was a free-spirit, adventurous, and willing to try different things. These qualities appealed to him and kept him excited each time he visited her. At times, she was abrupt and impatient and that clashed with him making him question why he went to visit her at all. At the same time, he was slowly beginning to have an interest in Marry. He’s worked with her for a while but suddenly was attracted to her. Marry’s character is very straight forward. She comes across a little stiff or cold because of that. Allan tries to spend time with Marry but finds that it’s not as easy as he’d thought.

I enjoyed this story. It’s not very long and took me a couple of days to finish. I had originally started it and then took a few days off to catch up on other things. When I returned to it, I started from the beginning again. Once I got into it, I couldn’t put it down. I found the story of Allan and Ilsa very interesting. My personal opinion of Allan was that he took advantage of Ilsa after she opened his eyes to what he calls “freedom.” I liked how Ilsa went about it. She allowed him deep into her heart to see all the good and the bad about who she was. I think he was attracted to that and the fact that she was easy to get along with and open up to. She had a way with pulling him to her with her words and actions and he totally fell for it. But then on the other end, he knew she had less freedom than he did, and here he was selfishly wanting the one thing she gave someone else. Marry wasn’t so easy to get close to. She was the perfect girl with a stable job and lots of friends. There were hoops to jump through to get close to her so even though she liked Allan and he liked her, she made him work for their relationship. I think Allan kind of spoke for all guys when he didn’t pursue her as hard as he could have. It took too much effort for maybe, just maybe, a chance to date. And even then, the relationship might not last. I can’t say for sure what decision Allan will make in the end. There are two other books in this trilogy so I don’t know who he’ll will end up with.

The sexual tension/erotica was tastefully done and necessary. I really liked the foreshadow surrounding this part of the relationship.

The only thing that I really didn’t care for were the surface, unclear, going nowhere thoughts and wonders Allan had. He does a lot of reflecting about life. At one point he talks to the reader as though the reader is a friend. Sometimes he will talk about thoughts in general, but have it come across as though he is preaching. It’s almost as if he thinks the reader agrees with him or the reader already knows what he just concluded. It didn’t provide any deeper meanings as I think it was meant to do. I also found the title a little confusing. Theseus was a king in Greek mythology, but I don’t know if I may have missed something in the book that was associated to him. There was no reference of any sort, or if there were, I missed it. These things were just minor though. This story was interesting with a well-developed main character and theme.

If you’re looking to read a fast-paced book with slight tension buildup, interesting perspective, and well-written erotica scenes, this would be an excellent choice.

NOTE: This book was given to me to read and review, but the opinion is purely my own.

Book Review: An American Story

Title: An American Story
Author: Mark Lages
Genre: Fiction, Literary, Memoir
Year Published: 2020

An American Story by Mark Lages is a fictional memoir about a man named Huey Baker. Huey tells us stories and experiences from his life and within it, he includes some satire, war stories, alcohol abuse stories, family dynamics, and many other facets of his life. It is a story that some might find relatable, interesting—even amusing, maybe depressing, and possibly enlightening.

Huey Baker is your ordinary American, and his life is…pretty ordinary. However, there are things in life that he can’t control. Even the demons within himself are hard to keep at bay. Huey seems a bit rough on the outside, mostly in the way he thinks and in what he believes, but on a deeper level, he’s got a good heart. Huey also likes to tell stories so not everything in the book is about him. He shares quite a few life experiences from observation or from hearing it from someone else.

Lages writes with ease and flow and the story just spills out so smoothly that it’s easy to feel as though you are listening to a friend talk. The style is like comedy. If you listen to good comedy, you’ll find that the comedian will deviate from the main story and return to it here and there, finishing it off with the main point of the story. Speaking of comedy, there were some really funny stuff that had me laughing. I’d have to say, the joke about the names of the sons had me for a bit, but I did figure it out and it was an LOL moment. There were also a lot of sad stuff that broke my heart, like the kid and the toy. An American Story is the true essence of what it’s like to be an American, and the title fits it perfectly.

I enjoyed the read. It’s one of those stories that makes you think and wonder about life and being human. It’s made me more aware that we’re not perfect and that we should do our best to be kind and forgiving.

NOTE: This book was given to me to read and review, but the opinion is purely my own.

Book Review: The Dawn Chorus

Title: The Dawn Chorus
Author: Samantha Shannon
Genre: Sci-fi, Paranormal, New Adult
Year Published: 2020

The Dawn Chorus is a novella between The Song Rising (the 3rd book in the Bone Season series), and the upcoming 4th book, The Mask Falling. The novella doesn’t give anything away from the main story. It basically delves into Paige’s pain and suffering from the last book. It also gives us a glimpse more into Paige and Warden’s relationship.

It’s been awhile since I read The Song Rising so I really don’t remember exactly what happened. I do remember that Paige escaped to Paris and that she wasn’t doing well. If you are interested in how Paige heals and how she gains the strength to fight back, then give this novella a go, otherwise, it’s totally fine to just wait for The Mask Falling.

Book Review: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

Title: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes
Author: Suzanne Collins
Genre: Sci-fi, YA, Dystopian
Year Published: 2020

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins is a dystopian sci-fi about a young Coriolanus Snow before he became President Snow. The story takes place many years earlier, before The Hunger Games trilogy, when Coriolanus was seventeen and climbing his way up in the Capitol in Panem.

We follow Coriolanus through the 10th Hunger Games in which he is a mentor to a tribute named Lucy Gray Baird from District 12. It’s tough in the arena and Coriolanus does whatever he can to help Lucy Gray win. Outside of the Games, Coriolanus begins to fall for Lucy Gray and starts showing his attraction for her. She notices and reciprocates.

After the Games, it was revealed to a higher up that Coriolanus assisted Lucy Gray in unethical ways so that she would win. He was forced to become a Peacekeeper but was allowed to choose which district to work in. He chose District 12 to be closer to Lucy Gray.

In District 12, Coriolanus learns that Lucy Gray, along with a few others, including Lucy Gray’s ex-boyfriend, were planning an escape. One of the other members in the plan was Sejanus Plinth. Sejanus was originally from District 2 but moved to the Capitol as a young kid and became good friends with Coriolanus. Sejanus was also a Peacekeeper in District 12. After having seen how poorly the District people were being treated, he vowed to help the small group escape. A crime occurs during the planning in which Coriolanus took part in, thus causing the escape to terminate.

Lucy Gray still wants to run away so Coriolanus agrees to go with her. He was also afraid the crime would catch up to him and didn’t want to be hanged. On the day he was to sneak out to run away with Lucy Gray, he gets a promotion and is required to head to District 2 the next morning. He has to choose between his future and the girl he loves. He chose love, but while they were out of District 12 in an area where the Peacekeepers were not monitoring, he finds the weapon he used during the murder and attempts to discard it. He also learns that Lucy Gray had betrayed him and goes after her to kill her, but he couldn’t find her. He returns to District 12 and leaves for training the next day.

During the flight to District 2, they made a stop at the Capitol. It turns out that the Head Gamemaker, Dr. Gaul, wanted to train Coriolanus at the university because Dr. Gaul found Coriolanus brilliant with his Games ideas.

In The Hunger Games trilogy, Coriolanus is the antagonist and someone we detest because of his cold-heartedness and brutal ruling. In The Ballad, he is the protagonist and someone we are supposed to like and feel sorry for. He does come across as a decent person in Ballad. His love for Lucy Gray was real. He went out of his way to help her win, even doing things he shouldn’t be doing. It felt as though he wanted her alive because she meant so much to him. Even if he never saw her again, at least she’d be able to live her life in the District. However, because he was found out, he got the opportunity to be with her and to really know her. She was all that she said she was: a singer and song writer; a free spirit. She was also very clever. In the Games, her cleverness helped her survive and it also, at one point, helped save his life.

The story goes much deeper than a dystopian story about a young adult falling in love and learning about who he is. I read the QA, which included the idea behind the story, and was completely surprised. I did get the sense of a struggle between an authoritarian world and a romanticism or “freedom” ideal. It wasn’t about which character I liked better or who I should like more than the other. It was more about understanding people’s behavior based not only on their upbringing but also the environment they’re exposed to. It was a very powerful book with so many hidden messages and meanings.

I wasn’t expecting to say this, but I’m totally shocked by how great this book was.

Book Review: The Whispers of War

The Whispers of War by Julia Kelley is a historical fiction about three friends during WWII in London. It is a story of unrelenting friendship during one of the hardest times in history.

Hazel, Nora, and Marie were roommates in school as young girls and continued their friendship into adulthood. Due to the war, Marie learns that she could be deported, or even worse, be removed to a camp for Germans who were a threat. The friends stick together and help Marie through this scary time.

I found the story a little too slow and not strong enough. The women didn’t have a lot of depth to them. The only one I felt had a strong story was Hazel. Her relationship with her husband was unstable and it was due to her trusting her friends more and spending a lot more time with them then him. I felt his frustration and felt bad for him. He tried to make it work and nothing he did could fix their marriage because she was already set on leaving him. I found it odd how easily he let her go though and how she did’t feel anything for him.

The writing was beautiful as always. The world building wasn’t bad. Loved the way the characters spoke and dressed. However, the characters really just weren’t created strong enough and that was unfortunate. There was a lot of back and forth and little things happening here and there without much movement forward dragging the story on. It felt like it was done purposely to fill the pages. I think the story could have been tightened up a little bit.

The Burning White Book Signing

It was a few years back when I first stumbled upon The Night Angel Trilogy by Brent Weeks. I can’t remember how I found this trilogy but I loved it so much that I couldn’t find it in me to read his new release, The Lightbringer. I waited about a year before I gave in and I wish I hadn’t waited because it was so much more amazing than Night Angel. Don’t get me wrong. Night Angel was pretty good but it’s just your average fantasy. Lightbringer, however, is in a slightly different sub-genre…an epic fantasy.

The Burning White is the final book in The Lightbringer 5-book series. The series follows multiple characters and has a strong magic system that is thoroughly designed. The first book starts out fairly slow because of all the world-building and character development but I find it necessary. My favorite book of the four that I’ve read is the third book, The Broken Eye. It’s because there’s one main character that really shines in this one.

This was my first book signing ever and I really enjoyed it. Weeks’ talked about his journey through the series and did a Q&A session. Lots of good questions were asked and answered. I was so in awe that when I got up to have him sign my book, I was speechless. I wanted to thank him for writing such a beautiful story. Alas, I didn’t squeak out much of anything, except for “Will you take a photo of us” to his wife, and “Thank you,” and “Bye” to both of them before we left. My husband did more talking than I did. And, most embarrassing was when Weeks’ reached out to shake my daughter’s hand and she said, no. He and his wife understood and we all laughed.

We got a thingy of tissue paper during the signing. I’m so not ready for it, but I am at the same time.

Book Review: The Song Rising

The Song Rising
Author: Samantha Shannon
Genre: Fiction, Sci-fi, Paranormal, Post-apocalyptic

“We like to think we’re brave, but in the end, we’re only human.”

The Song Rising is the third book in The Bone Season series. It begins right after The Mime Order ends. If you haven’t read the first two books, the third book would be a bit confusing. This series is dependent on each other.

In this story, the MC (main character), Paige, learns of a weapon that could detect clairvoyants and destroy them. Her goal was to locate the source of this weapon but she finds that it’s harder than it sounds. She’d have to make a decision that could lead to her death.

“The only way to survive is to believe you always will.”

I found this book to be more interesting than the second book. The second book was mainly about creating the Mime order, a collaboration between a clairvoyant group and some Ranthens, in order to defeat the Rephaite sovereign. It also felt a bit slow moving. This book was pretty fast paced. A lot happened and we blow through quite a bit of flashback/history. I’m glad for that because it adds to the world building and characters development, setting the story for what’s to come. It was done nicely. There was a lot going on in this book. The characters were more defined and Warden played a bigger role. I happen to really enjoy his character and every part he’s in. I’m fascinated by his kind, pretty much. We learn of a hidden world underground. We also learn a little more about Paige’s old boss, the mime-lord, Jaxon Hall and his role with the Rephaite sovereign.

The only downside for me was that there wasn’t much said about the Emite (aka buzzers). At first I got the feeling that these creatures were going to destroy the world if not controlled. It appeared as though the Rephaim had kept them under control but somehow, through a portal of sort, some escaped. I thought Warden was spending all his time tracking the escaped. In the end of the story when Warden was to leave Britain, it didn’t make sense. Who was going to do the work of keeping the Emite away? I hope to learn more about this part of the story in the next few books only because in the first book, when Warden was training Paige, the Emite seemed to have been the focus. I thought she was going to have some part in their demise or at least in keeping them from escaping.

Overall, I enjoyed it. It was one of those books where I had to almost read straight through because it’s that good.

“The wonderful thing about living in a morally bankrupt world is that every human being can be bought in one way or another. Everyone accepts a currency. Money, mercy, the illusion of power – there are always ways to purchase loyalty.”

Book Review: Divergent

DIVERGENTQUOTE_640

*Spoiler Alert*  Don’t recommend reading my review if you plan to read the book.

I first read, Divergent, by Veronica Roth in late 2013 and totally enjoyed it. I actually read the trilogy back to back and finished them all within three days (I did the same with the Game of Thrones series…read them back to back and now am awaiting the 6th book with crazy giddiness).  This is my second time reading Divergent and I still enjoyed it, but this time around a couple of things stood out more. There is a lot about bravery. Not that I didn’t notice it before but it stood out as a different kind of bravery, like a sacrificial kind.  Her mother tells her to be brave.  So does her father and Four, and so does Will with his quote. It’s almost like they are telling her to sacrifice herself for others, not to be strong or keep fighting, but to give her life. She learns that her mother is Divergent and then her mother goes and sacrifices herself to the serum-operated Dauntless soldiers, to save Tris of course, but still, to the eyes of a teenager, that is a very strange message about being brave, and in a way, that part is sort of like a foreshadow of Tris’s own demise down the road.

What really makes this book is the tension buildup.  Each chapter leaves me wondering when Tris will break.  It is done so well that when she finally breaks down, I do too.