Aaru by David Meredith Review

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Synopsis:

Rose is dying. Her body is wasted and skeletal. She is too sick and weak to move. Every day is an agony and her only hope is that death will find her swiftly before the pain grows too great to bear.

She is sixteen years old.

Rose has made peace with her fate, but her younger sister, Koren, certainly has not. Though all hope appears lost Koren convinces Rose to make one final attempt at saving her life after a mysterious man in a white lab coat approaches their family about an unorthodox and experimental procedure. A copy of Rose’s radiant mind is uploaded to a massive super computer called Aaru – a virtual paradise where the great and the righteous might live forever in an arcadian world free from pain, illness, and death. Elysian Industries is set to begin offering the service to those who can afford it and hires Koren to be their spokes-model.

Within a matter of weeks, the sisters’ faces are nationally ubiquitous, but they soon discover that neither celebrity nor immortality is as utopian as they think. Not everyone is pleased with the idea of life everlasting for sale.
What unfolds is a whirlwind of controversy, sabotage, obsession, and danger. Rose and Koren must struggle to find meaning in their chaotic new lives and at the same time hold true to each other as Aaru challenges all they ever knew about life, love, and death and everything they thought they really believed.

My Thoughts:

The synopsis of this book piqued my interest and it definitely did not disappoint. Immortality is something that I think everyone thinks about from time to time and this book explores this possibility in a unique way of downloading your persona onto a massive super computer called “Aaru”.

The story was very well done…the writing flowed very smoothly and I was engaged from the first page to the last. It had some unexpected moments and ended in a way that would satisfy but also leaves me wanting more (book 2, Aaru, Halls of Hel is advertised to be released in 2018).

The characters were interesting. I did find it difficult to be on board with Koren being  only 13 or 14 years old, based on the lack of parental supervision and some of the things that happened to her (although I realize that this does happen).

Rose was a sweet character and I loved seeing the virtual world through her eyes. I did find some of the concepts of Aaru to be a bit confusing at times but overall the world building was solid.

This is not a Christian fiction book, so there was some cursing and some references to Heaven and God that I didn’t agree with.

Overall, this was a nice change from the contemporary stories I’ve been immersed in lately. It had a mixture of many genres…fantasy, thriller, horror, mystery, and romance.

My Rating:

4 stars

I received this book from the author to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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The Hunter and the Valley of Death by Brennan S. McPherson Review

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Synopsis:

Experience the psalms like never before–through thought-provoking fiction. 
A man wakes up in the Valley of Death and realizes he’s given up everything, including his memories, to attempt to kill Death so that he can bring his wife back to life. But when he fails, who will be there to rescue him?
The Hunter and the Valley of Death is a profound meditation on life, death, loss, and love. Formatted as a fantasy parable on the topic of surrender, this story shows that there is only One who could kill Death–and because of him, and him alone, we say, “Oh, Death, where is your sting?” 

My Thoughts:

This small book packed a lot of punch! The story is a fantasy parable relating to Psalm 23 and many other stories of the Bible.

Told in a fantasy style, the story moves at a swift pace and the reader travels with The Hunter through many places and encounters many creatures along the way.

The symbolism is easy to decipher for those familiar with the Bible. The story is packed with symbols, many that are subtle, so this book would be great for re-reading as new things would be discovered with each read.

It took a bit for me to get invested in the story but once I was hooked, I couldn’t put it down. The descriptions were very vivid and the story was hard hitting. I went through a vast range of emotions when reading the story, from sadness and remorse, to joy and thankfulness.

This would be an excellent story to use in Bible studies and small groups. There are author’s notes at the end that explain the symbolism and how the story relates to the Bible, specifically to Psalm 23. The author’s love for Christ and the scripture truly shines through and I am thankful to have had the opportunity to read this book.

This is the first book in a series (the Psalm series) by various authors and I am eagerly awaiting the release of the next story.

My Rating: 4 stars

I received this book from the author to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Rondi Bauer Olson’s ‘All Things Now Living’ Blog Tour and Kindle Fire Giveaway

About the book:
 

Her whole life Amy has been taught the people of New Lithisle deserve to die, but when she falls for Daniel, she determines to save him.
Sixteen-year-old Amy doesn’t like anything to die, she won’t even eat the goats or chickens her mama has butchered every fall, but she can’t let herself pity the inhabitants of New Lithisle. In a few short months the dome they built to isolate themselves from the deadly pandemic is predicted to collapse, but her whole life Amy has been taught it’s God’s will they die. They traded their souls for immunity to the swine flu virus, brought God’s curse upon themselves by adding pig genes to their own.
Then, while on a scavenging trip with her father, Amy is accidentally trapped in New Lithisle. At first her only goal is to escape, but when she meets Daniel, a New Lithisle boy, she begins to question how less-than-human the people of New Lithisle are.
Amy’s feelings grow even more conflicted when she learns she didn’t end up in New Lithisle by mistake. Her father is secretly a sympathizer, and was trying to prevent the coming destruction.
Now time is running short and Amy has to decide if she will bring the computer program her father wrote to his contact or save herself. Installing the program could prevent the dome’s collapse, but if Amy doesn’t find her father’s contact in time, she’ll die, along with everyone else.
About the author:

Rondi Bauer Olson is a reader and writer from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where she lives on a hobby farm with her husband, Kurt. She has four grown children, works as a nurse, and also owns a gift shop within view of beautiful Lake Superior.
Find out more about Rondi at http://rondibauerolson.weebly.com.
My Thoughts: I was very excited to pick up this book but overall, it wasn’t the book for me. The plot was very interesting and unique…a quarantined society that dabble in genetic alterations and a girl from the outside, given the task to save them from impending destruction and death. Unfortunately, the story was not described in a way that made it easy to understand…the world building could have been better and I was often confused about the history of this society and how they got to the present situation.
I also found the main character Amy to be very unlikeable. She was so invested in her love interest at times that she seemed to forget the gravity of the situation that she was in. The insta-love was very hard for me to read. I never like romance in books so it may  be just me, but the romance was so instantaneous and unrealistic and very immature. I think the fact that the characters were teenagers added to my dislike of the romance as they were moving very fast for their ages.
On the plus side, the cover of this book is gorgeous and the plot is very unique. I think some people would definitely enjoy the story. I just found it to be too heavy on the romance and a bit too light on the descriptions.
My Rating: 2 stars
I received this book from Litfuse Publicity Group to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Stay up all night reading this thrilling new book from Rondi and enter to win a Kindle Fire!

One grand prize winner will receive:

  • A copy of All Things Now Living
  • A Kindle Fire

Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on December 14. The winner will be announced December 15 on the Litfuse blog.

 

Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine Review

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Synopsis: Ruthless and supremely powerful, the Great Library is now a presence in every major city, governing the flow of knowledge to the masses. Alchemy allows the Library to deliver the content of the greatest works of history instantly—but the personal ownership of books is expressly forbidden.

Jess Brightwell believes in the value of the Library, but the majority of his knowledge comes from illegal books obtained by his family, who are involved in the thriving black market. Jess has been sent to be his family’s spy, but his loyalties are tested in the final months of his training to enter the Library’s service.

When his friend inadvertently commits heresy by creating a device that could change the world, Jess discovers that those who control the Great Library believe that knowledge is more valuable than any human life—and soon both heretics and books will burn…

My Thoughts: I requested this book with slight apprehension because this genre is far from my comfort zone. I do not tend to go for fantasy or paranormal but I do love books and libraries as well as dystopian stories so I decided to give it a go.

The story was unlike anything I’ve read before…a world where owning physical copies of books is forbidden and The Great Library controls everything that people read. It follows Jess Brightwell, who is a book smuggler for his father but gets the opportunity to train to enter the library’s service.

I was on board for the first half of the story, I loved the atmosphere and the things that occurred during the training. Towards the middle of the story, a mission needs to be accomplished and that’s when I started to lose interest. I just wasn’t excited about the subject and what was happening.

The concept of this story was very unique and clever but the world building was a bit lacking. I had difficulty picturing some things as they were described because I felt there weren’t enough details.

Overall, I was pleased with this book for an “out of my comfort zone”, non-preferred genre book. I found it interesting and enjoyed the adventure but I don’t feel compelled to pick up the rest of the books in the series.

My Rating: 3 stars

I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

 

The Auctor Trilogy by T.R. Wolf Review

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Synopsis: When seventeen-year-old Addie Auctor’s mother is murdered by her father, she must confront many secrets that her family has hidden from her. The worst of these secrets is that Addie’s father, Donovan Hawthorne, is still hunting Addie because of an ancient blood feud between her mother’s family, the Auctors, and her father’s family, the House of Hawthorne. In order to be protected from the House of Hawthorne, Addie and her brother, Augustus, are sent to Initiation at an exclusive University, the Wicked Cabal.
Initiation is nothing like Addie expects. She is immediately separated from Augustus and thrown in with four complete strangers – Fallon, Maddox, Liam, and Tempe. Addie must try to forge friendships with her fellow Initiates while they solve clues, battle mystical creatures, and explore increasingly dangerous places.
Readers of all ages will love this adventure filled with suspense, treachery, and romance.

My Thoughts: I was a bit hesitant to read this book when the author contacted me because the genre is a bit out of my comfort zone but the cover of it convinced me to give it a try. I am very glad that I gave it a chance, it was a perfect book to read for someone who is just getting into fantasy…it has some fantastical creatures but the majority of the story feels more like a dystopian or adventuresome story.

I really enjoyed the story…the author was great at imagery and world building. The story is very atmospheric, I felt as if I was right there with the characters, trudging through the forests, caves, and obstacles of initiation to the Wicked Cabal.

There was a lot of suspense and the story was full of action and adventure. I found myself flipping pages quickly to find out what would happen next. The pacing was great…the story had 481 pages but I found myself at the halfway point in no time.

I wasn’t a fan of the romance in the story, it felt quite forced and ingenuine (but I rarely like romance in books). I also felt that the characters lacked a lot of common sense in many circumstances, which was a bit frustrating.

Overall, I was very pleased with this book and would definitely pick up the next one when it comes out, I’m very curious to find out what happens next. I highly recommend this to anyone who loves fantasy or who is interested in dipping their feet in the genre.

My Rating: 4 stars

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

 

The Seed: A True Myth by Erik Guzman Review

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About the book:

The Seed (New Growth Press, May 2016)

Young Madeline and Roark are desperately running from the shadow that destroyed their home and is threatening their lives.

One day, they encounter Tatus, an older man who has sworn to avenge the death of his family at the hands of the shadow, and they form an alliance with him. Tatus promises that he can keep them safe from the shadow if they will help him build a fortress. So they build.

But as fortress-building consumes their lives, Madeline and Roark are increasingly filled with anger and fear, and an unseen evil threatens to ultimately destroy them. When they finally face the shadow, he presents them with an unthinkable offer that will reveal shocking secrets of the forgotten past, the unseen present, and the unimaginable future.

We’ve all had the feeling that something’s not quite right with our lives. It’s bigger than any specific failure or disappointment. It’s bigger than any person. No matter what you achieve or how much you drink or sleep, you can’t shake it. It haunts you—night and day—and propels you to do something. So you build. You build and build the maze that is your exhausting life. Sound vaguely familiar?

The Seed: A True Myth is a journey into the personal labyrinths we create to protect ourselves and those we love from the pain of living in a broken world. Guzman’s “true myth” takes the reader on an unforgettable journey that is, in essence, the grand narrative of God’s redemptive work in the world. This page-turning Christian fantasy tale is packed with mystery and drama, and readers will feel the weight and power of redemption as they journey alongside Guzman’s characters in their epic battle. The Seed deftly communicates the heart of Trinitarian theology through story—without using theological language or Christian terms—and reinforces biblical themes such as God’s character and man’s true identity and calling.

Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/1YSvMfl

About the author:
 
Erik Guzman is Vice President of Communications and Executive Producer at Key Life Network. He’s the cohost of the nationally syndicated talk show Steve Brown, Etc. and announcer for “Key Life.” His writing has been featured in Key Life’s magazine and online at KeyLife.org, Liberate.org, Burnside Writers Collective, and Sojourners (sojo.net). He is also a Lay Eucharistic Minister, a drummer, and a 5th degree black belt in Aikido. Erik, his wife, and three children live near Orlando, Florida.
My Thoughts: I was a little hesitant to read this because I have never really dipped my feet in the fantasy genre. Fortunately, this was a very easy read. I had no trouble picturing the scenes and enjoyed being transported to another world.
The story was very interesting, filled with symbolism that was easy to decipher. The characters were interesting and mysterious. This would be a great book for those who are interested in fantasy but don’t want to start with something too fantastical.
There was a bit of foul language, which I didn’t enjoy, but other than that, it was an interesting story.
My Rating: 3 stars
I received this book from Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for an honest review.

Eleanor by Jason Gurley Review

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Plot according to Goodreads: Eleanor and Esmerelda are identical twins with a secret language all their own, inseparable until a terrible accident claims Esme’s life. Eleanor’s family is left in tatters: her mother retreats inward, seeking comfort in bottles; her father reluctantly abandons ship. Eleanor is forced to grow up more quickly than a child should, and becomes the target of her mother’s growing rage.

Years pass, and Eleanor’s painful reality begins to unravel in strange ways. The first time it happens, she walks through a school doorway, and finds herself in a cornfield, beneath wide blue skies. When she stumbles back into her own world, time has flown by without her. Again and again, against her will, she falls out of her world and into other, stranger ones, leaving behind empty rooms and worried loved ones.

One fateful day, Eleanor leaps from a cliff and is torn from her world altogether. She meets a mysterious stranger, Mea, who reveals to Eleanor the weight of her family’s loss. To save her broken parents, and rescue herself, Eleanor must learn how deep the well of her mother’s grief and her father’s heartbreak truly goes. Esmerelda’s death was not the only tragic loss in her family’s fragmented history, and unless Eleanor can master her strange new abilities, it may not be the last.

My Thoughts: I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started reading this book. I’m not always a fan of magical realism but I was willing to give this a chance. The story was very unique and unusual and the magical realism served a purpose in the story. (I have read other books where the magical realism aspect didn’t seem to fit with the story).

The reader follows Eleanor, who has a difficult life, after losing her twin sister and dealing with survivor’s guilt and harsh animosity from her mother.

This is the kind of book that is best to go into blindly. A big part of the fun is discovering the many facets of the story. This book hides a beautiful and sad story with many layers. I am finding that I enjoy thinking about the story now, many days after reading it, more than I did as I read it. Everything was woven together perfectly.

I think this book will be a huge hit in the reading community. I am very thankful that I had the opportunity to read it and I could see myself revisiting it in the future.

My Rating: 4 stars

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.