Book Review: Soul Seeker

Title: Soul Seeker
Author: Kaylin McFarren
Genre: Supernatural fantasy, romance
Year Published: October 27, 2020

Date Started: August 27, 2022
Date finished: August 29, 2022

This is a supernatural fantasy about a demon named Crighton whose job is to take human souls for the devil. Along the way, he is forced to work along an angel and the two of them end up defeating enemies. In the process, they find love.

There are two parts to this story. The first part is exposition in which we learn about Crighton. He comes across as cold, calculating, and just pure evil. He has a job to do, and he does it exceptionally well. He enjoys tormenting and destroying human lives. You almost think the story is about the man named Benjamine Poe and his family because that’s what’s mostly described. There is a reason for that though and it comes at the very end of the story. In the second part, we learn where Crighton comes from and what he’s up against. He’s sort of a perfectionist and pleaser. He wants to do what his master asks of him. We later learn that he really isn’t all that bad and that a special angel could change him.

Overall, this was an enjoyable read. I liked the action, and strangely, the unexpected romance as well. I liked how Crighton changed because he was put in a position where he had no other choice but do what he normally wouldn’t do. I also liked that he wasn’t completely evil and fell in love with someone he wasn’t supposed to. There were parts I felt was simply just telling or info dumping. I would have preferred more action, even in thoughts. However, even with that, the story was a fun read. I liked the take on heaven and hell and the angels.

Who should read this book: If you’re into angels and demons or just want a story that isn’t always about werewolves, witches, faes, etc., this one is an excellent one.

Book Review: Keeper of Enchanted Rooms

Title: Keeper of Enchanted Rooms
Author: Charlie N. Holmberg
Genre: Fantasy
Year Published: November 1, 2022 (release date for paperback on Amazon)

Date Started: October 16, 2022
Date finished: October 18, 2022

The story takes place in Rhode Island in early to mid 1840’s and is about a man named Merritt Fernsby who inherits a home that is haunted. Hulda Larkin, a woman from a company named BIKER was asked to figure out who was haunting the house. She comes to the house as a housekeeper but eventually reveals herself to have an ability to detect ghosts and spirits. As Merritt and Hulda work together, a sort of romance ensues. There is a side story about the antagonist, Silas Hogwood. Silas is determined to take down anyone who comes in the way of him gaining power and will do everything in his power to stop them.

This story was a lot of fun to read. I liked the idea behind how the house was haunted. There was bit of humor in it. I enjoyed the characters and the pacing at which Merritt and Hulda eventually came together in their realization that they had a thing for each other. I’m finding that the style of two stories (Merritt and Silas) is the trend now and I’m really liking it. If you’re looking for something light-hearted with great character development woven into a haunted house mystery with magic, romance, and a well-thought-out backstory, this one will hit the spot.

Who should read this book: This mystery-type fantasy is for those who enjoy a detective style storytelling with a touch of romance in the background.

Book Review: Gallant

Title: Gallant
Author: V.E. Schwab
Genre: Fantasy; YA
Year Published: March 1, 2022

Date Started: December 23, 2022
Date finished: December 24, 2022

This is a young adult story about a girl named Olivia Prior who grew up in an orphanage. One day she learns she has a relative and was asked to return home. When she goes to the home, she learns that the house is haunted, and the haunting was due to something her parents did when they were alive. She then learns her uncle and cousin are trying to keep death from being freed. There are consequences in the choices they make so anything that doesn’t follow what they are doing will likely cause death to be freed.

I’m on the fence on this book. I really enjoyed the writing style and the horror side of it. I like that Olivia is mute and has to sign to communicate. It makes communication a little more difficult and ads to the tension. What I found confusing and unclear was the why. Why does death want to be freed? What’s so bad where he is? Why were her uncle and cousin fighting so hard to keep death from being freed? Etc., etc. There was no real purpose to this story. The cousin ends up dying and I just didn’t feel anything for him. There wasn’t depth to him, enough for me to be sad or upset or anything. In fact, there wasn’t any depth to any of the characters including Olivia.

This book was voted as the best YA fantasy and sci-fi, but it wasn’t even close. I’m not sure who’s pushing for this book but it doesn’t feel sincere.

Who should read this book: If you are a hard-core YA reader and must read all the latest YA books out there, go for it. You won’t be missing anything if you pass.

Book Review: Vedientir

Title: Vedientir
Author: Ivan Hladni
Genre: Fantasy, Epic Fantasy
Year Published: April 25, 2019

Date Started: March 25, 2023
Date finished: April 2, 2023

This story follows Dion and his adventure through different kingdoms to find soldiers who would help him fight the enemy. This is a fast-paced epic fantasy with creatures and a cute young dragon.

The overall story was okay. I liked the main character, Dion, and how much he cared about the young dragon. He also had the ability to communicate with the ravens which I also enjoyed. However, I felt he appeared much younger than his age. He’s supposed to be in his early twenties but felt more like a fifteen-year-old. Another thing was that there were so many characters that it was overwhelming trying to keep up with all of them. They were thrown in almost all at once so there wasn’t enough time to really know their personalities leading them to feel very similar. I also found the voice of this story toward middle grade even though it’s supposed to be for an older audience. As far as plot goes, we never actually get an ending. I know this is going to be a series but the way it ended felt like it was incomplete.

I liked the idea of the story and really wanted to enjoy this adventure, but the execution and character development were just a bit lacking.

Who should read this book: If you’re a huge fan of epic fantasy that’s clean and fast-paced, you might like this. Otherwise, if you’re anything like me and prefer a real adult epic fantasy that includes younger characters (late teens) as well as adults, I’d recommend The Night Angel Trilogy and Lightbringer Series by Brent Weeks. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy younger age group fantasies as well, but since this one was targeted toward adults, it just didn’t fit the bill.

Book Review: Fairy Tale

Title: Fairy Tale
Author: Stephen King
Genre: Fantasy
Year Published: September 6, 2022

Date Started: March 8, 2023
Date finished: March 17, 2023

This is a story about a boy named Charlie Reade. Life was hard on him, and bad luck just seems to be something that’s been happening to him and his parents. His mother dies in an accident and his dad loses his job. Charlie ends up helping a neighbor, Mr. Bowditch, who is an ornery old man. Charlie worries for Mr. Bowditch and at first it seems mainly because Charlie didn’t want to be responsible for Mr. Bowditch’s dog, Radar. However, Charlie warms up to Radar and learns that Radar’s aggressiveness is simply how she protects her owner. She quickly warms up to Charlie. Radar barks at the shed in Mr. Bowditch’s backyard sometimes, and it piques Charlie’s curiosity, but Mr. Bowditch is adamant about not allowing anyone near it. When Mr. Bowditch dies, he wrote a letter to Charlie explaining who he really is and why he had to keep the shed a secret. He revealed the truth of the shed to Charlie and allowed Charlie to go in. Inside the shed is a whole new world, one where Charlie is known as a prince and where those who lived there, respected him and treated him like a prince.

I really enjoyed this book. It reminded me of King’s other fantasy story, “The Eyes of the Dragon,” which I enjoyed as well when I read it over some two decades ago. I think King writes excellent fantasy and should continue writing them. There is just something about the way his stories come together in his fantasy stories that make them fun to read.

Who should read this book: Fantasy lovers of all ages.

Life Update and Book Review: These Violent Nights

The book review is below this life update. You can skip and go directly to the review because it could be a bit depressing.

I’m currently playing catch up on my book reviews from the last year and before. There was a period in there when I was trying really hard to blog but my father had passed away in 2020 and thinking that I could handle it, I tried to keep going like everything was okay. But everything wasn’t okay. I just blocked all my emotions. I knew it was all going to catch up to me, I just didn’t know when and how.

In August 2020, my dad died unexpectedly from a brain hemorrhage. When he was in the ER with my youngest sister and wanted to see me (and one of my other sister–I have 3 sisters–he wanted to see all his 7 children, but at the time, only three of us were available) really badly, we sort of just told him that we’d see him later because they were running tests and stuff on him, but then it turned out, due to COVID, only one family member could be with him for the day. We also didn’t think much of it. Dad had gone to the ER before and it was always something easily taken care of. While driving back to our mom’s house, we chatted with Dad on video message. He was all hooked up but looked happy. He smiled at us and tried to talk. He was very happy to see us on video.

Later the same day, the doctor said they needed to perform an operation on his brain to relieve it from the hemorrhage but they had to send him to a different hospital where they specialized in the procedure. The next day he arrived at the other hospital and they performed the surgery. Our whole family was there including all our spouses and some cousins.

After the surgery, we were told that Dad was not going to wake up and that they’d keep him hooked up until we said our good-byes.

Three years later and I still miss him. I still dream of him (like this morning) and wake up thinking he’s still here. When he was alive, he’d often call me just to ask me how I’m doing, how my kids are doing, and how my husband’s doing. If I had missed his calls, he’d leave a message. I know it’s weird but I’ve kept all his voice mails. I don’t listen to them very often (just once since his passing).

Anyway, I hope I don’t weird anyone out. There was a moment I thought I should delete the messages, but I just can’t find myself to do it. I think just knowing I have a part of him still near me is comforting. I rarely go to the cemetery to visit his grave site. Having his messages on my phone means more. It reminds me of how he cared about my well-being.

For the last couple of years, I blamed myself. I kept telling myself I should have gone and seen him inside the ER. I should have found a way to switch places with my sister to see him. I was angry at the doctors and I was angry at myself. It was only after hearing on the news that another man had died from the same brain hemorrhage that I forgave the doctors and realized they did all they could. I don’t hold grudges so you can see how much weight that was to hold a grudge on them for at least a year.

I’m going to stop there. I just thought I should let this out because sometimes I think people see me as a robot because I don’t tend to share my feelings or emotions very much. And for the most part, I don’t get emotional really. It sometimes makes situations very uncomfortable.

Title: These Violent Nights
Author: Rebecca Crunden
Genre: Fantasy romance; Dark fantasy
Year Published: March 31, 2021

Date Started: September 27, 2021
Date finished: June 1, 2022

This is a dark fantasy that follows two friends through a dystopian world where an alien race, the Suriias, made their way to earth via a portal and destroyed most of humanity. The remaining humans were either turned into slaves or killed. The human world was completely taken over by this race and in order to survive the humans must remain hidden or else their lives would be completely controlled by the Suriias.

The story is split into three parts. The first part focuses on the two human friends, Thorn and Thistle. The second part tells the story of a human named Nik and Lucien (the Suriias in the first part). There is a love story between the two men. Their relationship grows slowly and eventually and ultimately becomes a full-blown relationship. The third part ties both of these stories together.

This was a great story. I really enjoyed it. The magic in this story was excellent. I liked that they had to hide their magic so most of the story was about the relationships between the characters. The world is very gloomy and creates a dangerous place to be. The backstories are done exceptionally well describing the aliens path to earth and the destruction of earth.  

Who should read this book: If you’re into fantasy mixed with dark future worlds or dystopian, this one is excellent.

Book Review: Heir of Ra

Title: Heir of Ra
Author: M. Sasinowski
Genre: YA Fantasy
Year Published: August 12, 2018

Date Started: February 7, 2023
Date finished: February 14, 2023

This is a story about a girl named Alyssa Morgan. Her father, Kade, becomes ill and she wants to find a cure for him. In doing so she meets up with some of her father’s co-workers and students where they head to Peru and a few other locations to locate an artifact that could lead to saving her father. There is also another group who are after the same artifact and will do anything to get their hands on it first. Eventually, they all end up in Egypt where the rest of the action takes place.

This is a pretty fast paced story. There are multiple characters jumping from one to another quite frequently. We never truly get invested in any one main character even though it’s mainly about Alyssa. However, I think this is the style of the writing. It feels a bit like a book I read from author, Lee Child some time ago. It’s got the same vague storyline and focuses more so on the setting rather than the characters. It’s a well written story though. I liked the action and the urgency.

Overall, this was a good story. If you’re into young adult that focuses less on romance and more on the action and working as a team to defeat the enemy, this would be a great read for you.

Who should read this book: Readers of young adult who also enjoy historical fantasy fiction.

Book Review: Atonement: A Magical Warrior’s Tale

Title: Atonement: A Magical Warrior’s Tale

Author: Fred. G. Baker

Genre: Fantasy

Year Published: January 12, 2023

Date Started: January 30, 2023

Date Finished: February 3, 2023

This story is about a man named Hunter. It begins with him in childhood and then ends when he’s in middle age. The story follows Hunter as he joins the military and begins to hear a cat speak to him. Shocked, he thinks something is wrong with him only to find out that he has a gift and that he comes from a long line of gifted family members. Hunter goes on living his life not thinking too much of how important his life is. He does stupid things and tries to avoid the voices only to continuously get closer to the voices. He never gives in and constantly remains speculative, but his fate was set to defeat creatures of the unknown.

I really enjoyed this story. At first, I thought it was simply a military story but as the story moved along the fantasy stuff set in and really hooked me. Don’t get me wrong, I love military stories. Just didn’t want to be fooled by the title which sounded very fantasy-like. As the story moved along and Hunter had to face the fact that he’s sort of the chosen one (without it being said) I was smiling because now I was invested in him. The story was action packed from Hunter’s days in the military to his life as a “simple” man. I also really enjoyed the dark humor and the mistakes he made in being careless, which is just to say, he was human. I really liked that aspect of him.

This is a great fantasy story with a main character that is relatable. I’m not a man but I can understand what he’s gone through from a human perspective. I really enjoyed this book and recommend it to all fantasy readers. It’s excellently written and paced just perfectly to keep you excited.

Who should read this book: If you’re into military and fantasy with a realistic main character, this would be a good read. The story is a bit fast paced and goes through time pretty quickly so keep that in mind.

Book Review: Moonlight Beach: Murder and Magic

Title: Moonlight Beach: Murder and Magic
Author: Yuri Kiri
Genre: Murder Mystery; fantasy
Year Published: May 14, 2019

Date Started:January 2, 2023
Date finished: January 6, 2023

This story opens up with a murder and the detective is having a difficult time finding who did it. Alongside this murder story is a story about a few women and men who are into doing special drugs and calling on spiritual beings. The two stories eventually converge with all the pieces coming together cohesively.

What intrigued me most about this story was the fantasy aspect of it. Even though I don’t often read murder mysteries, I’ve often enjoyed them. This one was no doubt a great murder mystery. I also found humor in the writing which I enjoyed as well. Adding the fantasy element to it was like the cherry on top. I personally have never read anything like this, or if I did, it must have been ages go. I love fantasy and this one didn’t disappoint.

Overall, this book was well written with strong characters and a pretty good plot. I think a little more focus/depth on just a couple of characters would also make the story even better. The pacing was on-point for this genre. There were things about this story that I felt was not believable, like the doctor simply accepting the lung donation from the father of the child needing it. I had to really think about that. I have no idea how organ donation is done in real life (the actual process), but I have the feeling it’s probably a little more complex than showing up to the doctor with an organ. But you know, I did enjoy the idea of just being able to do that. The overall theme and conflict were nicely done. This is definitely a fun read and would be well worth your time.

Who should read this book: If you enjoy murder mystery with a bit of dark humor and fantasy, you’ll like this one.

Book Review: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

Title: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue
Author: V.E. Schwab
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Year Published: October 6, 2020

Date finished: May 7, 2022

“Be careful what you ask for, be willing to pay the price. And no matter how desperate or dire, never pray to the gods that answer after dark.” ~Estelle

This was a marvelous book full of magic, anticipation, heartbreak, and love. Once you are pulled into the story, it’s hard to stop reading.

When the book first came out, I had wanted to read it and so checked it out from the library. I got a few pages in and couldn’t get into it. My mind just wasn’t there. The book expired and I waited a year to recheck it out (because I was busy). When I checked it out, again, I was busy, so the book expired and I missed my chance. I checked it out one more time and told myself that if I can’t get to it this time, then maybe it wasn’t meant to be. Luckily, I had just finished a book and had reading time on hand, so I gave it another chance.

How I wish I hadn’t given up the first time because this is a wonderfully written book. It opens with Addie in the early 1700’s. She’s young and curious and wants to know about the old gods from an old woman neighbor. As Addie becomes an adult, her parents want her to get married, but she’s not ready—especially not ready to marry a man who recently lost his wife and has two young children. On the day of her wedding, she runs into the woods and asks the gods to help her.

“I want a chance to live. I want to be free. I want more time.” ~Addie

The darkness speaks to her and tells her he can’t grant her what she wants, but she is determined and tells him he can have her soul when she is done. He agrees and her wishes are granted.

Addie lives a very long life. She finds things to do and places to see, but it’s lonely because no one remembers her. One day, she goes to a bookstore and meets a man named Henry. When she returns a book to exchange for another, Henry remembers her, and that changed everything.

“Everyone wants to be remembered.” ~the darkness

I truly enjoyed this book. The characters were well thought out, the dialogues were beautifully done, and the storyline was executed excellently. I might say that it did start out a bit slow, but it picked up pretty fast. It was a strangely thought-provoking story. It made me think about what I’d wish for if I were granted a wish in exchange for my soul. I’m not sure I’d wish for anything, but it’s very tempting. One thing I really liked about the book is that there are references to artwork that Addie is in, a few are done without her knowing it like the painting of her on the shore by a famous painter. I loved the way they were presented. It really piqued my interest because I almost thought they were real, that they were actually of her!

Who should read this book: The book reminded me of Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, and the movie, The Age of Adaline. I found some similarities between those books and this one. So, if you’re into any of those stories, you’ll probably enjoy this one. The character “darkness” reminds me so much of the main character, Lucifer, in the T.V. series, Lucifer. For some reason that’s how he appears in the book to me, however, I don’t think darkness is meant to be portrayed as the devil. He feels more like the reaper. Also, the book is being made into a movie, so if you’re anything like me and prefer to read the book before seeing the movie, you might want to get on it.

Btw, I ended up buying a hardcover. Just couldn’t help it.