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review 2018-04-18 03:17
Mistborn - Brandon Sanderson

Good day dear readers! I had originally intended to bring you this blog last week, but there was a little trouble with my WordPress account, so I had to sit on this delicious review for a couple of days. I hope that you enjoy it, and of course, if you have not read the book - you need to! It is one of the more fascinating reads I have completed in a while! 

Review:

The skaa have been beaten into submission. They keep their heads down, work hard, and do their best to survive. Some dare to dream of something more in the Final Empire. Kelsier has begun to plan something larger than the Final Empire has seen in centuries - an uprising that will destroy the Lord Ruler and free the skaa from the meager existence that they are eking out. 

While he begins to build his team, he has once again recruited several men that have worked with him before, but he is also looking to bring on another member - one that has hidden powers, that they do not fully understand themselves. As he brings Vin into the crew, her demeanor is one of distrusting and wariness. She does not trust these men, even though they appear to be a lot closer than most of the crews that she has dealt with in the past. Her last crew was one of pain, hunger and humiliation. Members would sell you out for the smallest offense. Vin learned early on to keep her head down and keep to herself as much as she could. 

Kelsier has started a small rebellion, one that started with the killing of a nobleman on a plantation - while the skaa hid in their homes. He has built a name for himself. He is a survivor of the Pits. The pits of Hathsin are a desolate place, one where people are sent to die. The atium that the Lord Ruler hoards so closely is mined there, and it is worth a fortune. No one has ever returned from the pits before, so Kelsier has become a celebrity in the underground networks, a person who should not be alive but has defied all the odds so far. As talk of rebellion begins - Kelsier lays out a plan so daring, most think he has finally lost his mind and is wandering around insane. Death does not scare him, and yet he is willing to lead others into danger to accomplish the task that they have been asked to fulfill. 

As Vin and Kelsier begin working on the powers that lay hidden within Vin, she learns that she can do so much more than soothe the people around her. While it is a good power to fall back on, there are so many other areas that she did not know she could access. She is a Mistborn, an allomancer. Allomancy is the mystical power held by the nobility, granted to them by the Lord Ruler some thousand years before as a reward for their loyalty. Skaa are not supposed to have these powers, and anyone who shows knowledge of them without being of noble birth is slated for execution. While there are some skaa who have these powers, they are few and far in between, and they have to be extremely careful, as they are hunted by the Obligators and the Inquisitors, who stifle any form of rebellion or security risk to the Lord Ruler quickly. 

The plan? Draw the armies out of the city, put the major houses in a power struggle and war against each other, and then hopefully be able to defeat the Lord Ruler. The odds are definitely stacked against them, and the chance of actual success is slim. Vin is going to act the part of a noblewoman, and begin to infiltrate the noble houses, and begin to glean some information on the members within each household. Sazed, who is a keeper, begins to give her some pointers and tips on passing as a noblewoman from the countryside, the niece of a minor nobleman. As she debuts into society, she meets the heir of the highest house, but this young man is much different from much of the nobles in the city. He thinks differently, and prefers to spend his time with books instead of people. While she is not impressed with their first meeting, feelings quickly change and a small friendship begins to open between the two.  But the tensions between the houses are rising, and nobleman are beginning to turn up dead. It is only a matter of time before the entire city erupts, and the plans that have been laid so carefully by Kelsier, Breeze, Clubs, Dockson, Ham, and Vin are about to be swept away like the ashes that rain down on the city....

 

Oh my! If you have not read this book before, you need to do so! I was immediately transported into the book, and hours would slip by before I realized, I should probably be sleeping or working. In my head I kept singing "Radioactive" by the Imagine Dragons as I was adventuring through this book. Brandon Sanderson draws you completely into the pages of his novel, and does not release the hold he has over you at all. This is the first book in a series of three - so be prepared for an epic journey! Pack your favorite treats and drinks and settle back on your couch for a vacation that will leave you breathless. 

This is one book that honestly will make you sit on the edge of your seat and wonder what is going to happen next - the twists, the turns, the secrets.... they are all there waiting for you to discover them!!

Grab your copy today - and remember - There is always another secret....

 

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-04-01 08:05
With One Shot - Dorothy Marcic

More twists and turns than a wadded up roll of duct tape…. which in this case, could have been extremely useful!

Warning…. there are spoilers..

Vernie Stordock was a family man, respected police officer and all around great guy – until the night he was murdered. It was not just murder… it was the slow systematic wiping out of any life he might have had before he met Suzanne. His niece, Dorothy and his daughter Shannon have had theories and questions for years. Dorothy finally decides to see if she can get to the bottom of the story, and begins to unravel the mysterious surrounding involving Suzanne, her children, and of course – how in the world a professed murderer gets only 11 months in a mental hospital to be “cured” and released.

Now the juicy parts of the story. You are going to hate Suzanne. You have to. The entire story reeks of narcissistic/pathological issues that you can see building through the fabrics of the relationships she had before she met Vernie. It was Suzanne or the highway.. her way or no way. Somehow, she always got exactly what she wanted. She used her body, she used threats, and when it came down to it – violence (for real, exactly how MANY bodies have to accumulate around someone before it gets questioned). But I digress, we are discussing the Vernie situation here..

Suzanne admitted her role in the murder, explained how she did it, and then somehow manipulated the system to barely spend any time in prison, walk out smelling like roses, and managed to claim the entire estate of Vernie, and then some. She was not happy to walk away with the life insurance, she had to hurt his first family by taking half of everything they had, just because she could.

This book… this book is a hard one for me to rate and review. I liked it, I hated it, I questioned the author and her true motives. I wanted more. I wanted to see more answers from the departments involved, the DA, the ADA (who was disbarred), the Sheriff, and most of all, the doctors who allowed this woman to outsmart them. She played each and every person like a fiddle and they sang the exact tune that she wanted. Beethoven would have been proud at the master theater production she managed to concoct and have everyone swaying to her own personal waltz.
I had to admit, I got a little irritated with all the “we had an instant connection” “they were wearing a….” moments. I don’t care what someone is wearing. This book is not about clothing and fashion, or the sound of someone’s voice. It was a fact, theory expounding, nail the murderer of her uncle book.
I honestly could not tell if the author was satisfied with the findings of the case by the time the book closed. It felt to open to me. Why was David never fully questioned? How in the world could they not go back and amend the charges? There is no statute of limitations on murder, and the fact that the person they suspected was now dead had nothing to do with it. Suzanne was a liar, and that was enough to throw everything out the window and start again. Sadly, the records from the case have mostly been destroyed and many of the people who knew anything are also passing away. This case is a huge miscarriage of justice, and the family of Vernie Stordock never got full closure. As I worked through the case putting the evidence together, it never fully fit to me that Suzanne was the person who pulled the trigger. She was a master manipulator, and would get anyone else to do their work for them (i.e. she even used her own step-daughters research for her thesis/dissertation). Suzanne was not mentally ill, she did not have a lapse in judgement, and I very highly doubt that her husband was ever violent towards her, unless he was protecting himself from her. She manipulated each and every situation she was in. Full blown narcissistic behavior, and more probable, a high functioning sociopath. This woman was the very epitome of evil, who used her children to get what she wanted, and ignored them the remainder of the time. For them to have stuck with her as long as they did, I was surprised, but then again – manipulation goes a long way and when you have been conditioned since childhood with it, there is not much you can do to get away from it.

Like I said above, I had a hard time rating this book. I felt it was really rambly in a lot of ways (kind of like my review), but I think she started off on the right track. If she had stuck to the case, and not let emotion sweep through (hard because it was family), it would have made a more cohesive read. I wonder now about the family of this master manipulator, and how much they truly knew about the “unfortunate situation”.

 

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review 2018-03-31 16:34
2.3 Out of 5 "WTF" Stars
The Vanishing Girl - Laura Thalassa

 

 

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~ABOUT THE BOOK~

The Vanishing Girl

Laura Thalassa

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Every night after Ember Pierce falls asleep, she disappears. She can teleport anywhere in the world—London, Paris, her crush’s bedroom—wherever her dreams lead her. Ten minutes is all she gets, and once time’s up, she returns to her bed. It's a secret she’s successfully kept for the last five years. But now someone knows.

A week after her eighteenth birthday, when frustratingly handsome Caden Hawthorne captures her, delivers her to the government, and then disappears before her eyes, Ember realizes two things: One, she is not alone. And two, people like her—teleporters—are being used as weapons.

Dragged off to a remote facility where others like her live, Ember’s forced to pair up with her former captor, Caden, to learn how to survive inside until she can escape. Only Caden’s making escape seem less and less appealing.

But even as Ember falls for the boy who got her into this mess, she knows that she is running out of time. Because the government has plans for those like her, and those plans might just cost Ember her life.

 

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~MY QUICKIE REVIEW~

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I could go on and on about all the things I didn't like about this, and there's quite a few.  There are also quite a few reviews on Goodreads that explain it all very well. 

 

I just want to say that this had the potential to be not only unique but also completely engaging.  Unfortunately, it was spoiled by hella-insta-love with a side of love-triangle…plus a little jealous-b*tch thrown in.  I also thought this was going to go in the direction of a supernatural vein, maybe, because her other books are usually that genre but this was something completely different and regrettably, it wasn't always explained in a believable manner.

 

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~MY RATING~

2.3/5 STARS - GRADE=D+

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~BREAKDOWN OF RATINGS~

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Plot~ 2.5/5

Main Characters~ 2.3/5

Secondary Characters~ 2/5

The Feels~ 1.5/5

Pacing~ 3/5

Addictiveness~ 2/5

Theme or Tone~ 3/5

Flow (Writing Style)~ 3/5

Backdrop (World Building)~ 2/5

Originality~ 4/5

Ending~ 2.8/5 Cliffhanger~ Yes!

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Book Cover~ It's kind of pretty…

Narration~ Rachel Vivette ☆3.5☆-not my favorite…not my least favorite.

Series~ The Vanishing Girl #1

Setting~ I'm not really sure…

Source~ Audi0book (Scribd)

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review 2018-03-30 17:57
4.2 Out Of 5 "Tarnished...But Not Broken" STARS
Tarnished City - Vic James

 

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~ABOUT THE BOOK~

Tarnished City

Vic James

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A corrupted city. A dark dream of power.

 

Luke is a prisoner, condemned for a murder he didn’t commit. Abi is a fugitive, desperate to free him before magic breaks his mind. But as the Jardines tighten their grip on a turbulent Britain, brother and sister face a fight greater than their own.

 

New alliances and old feuds will remake the nation, leaving Abi and Luke questioning everything – and everyone – they know. And as Silyen Jardine hungers for the forgotten Skill of the legendary Wonder King, the country’s darkest hour approaches. Freedom and knowledge both come at a cost. So who will pay the price?

 

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~MY QUICKIE REVIEW~

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I was torn as to whether I was going to continue this series because I struggled to get through the first book.  Then way before it (Tarnished City) was due to release, I noticed my library had already purchased it in audiobook format…I thought…hmmm…maybe I could eliminate some my issues with Gilded Cage by listening to Tarnished City, rather than reading it.

 

Overall, I'm happy that I gave this series a second chance because this world that Vic James has created is darkly captivating and dangerously alluring.  I applaud her ingenuity with the unique plot and the complex characters.  She also threw in some very clever twists.  While there are still many elements to this that I found confusing and I know I didn't always comprehend the situations totally, I did enjoy it, nonetheless.

 

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~MY RATING~

4.2/5 STARS - GRADE=B+

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~BREAKDOWN OF RATINGS~

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Plot~ 4/5

Main Characters~ 4.3/5

Secondary Characters~ 4.3/5

The Feels~ 4/5

Pacing~ 4/5

Addictiveness~ 4/5

Theme or Tone~ 5/5

Flow (Writing Style)~ 4/5

Backdrop (World Building)~ 4/5

Originality~ 5/5

Ending~ 4.2/5  Cliffhanger~ More or less…yes.

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Book Cover~  Awesome, I think this darker version goes with the story better.

Narration~ ☆4.3☆ Avita Jay, for having an accent, which I always seem to struggle with, I thought she was pretty good.

Series~ Dark Gifts #2

Setting~ England & Scotland

Source~ Audiobook (Library)

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review 2018-03-28 10:51
Great characters, mind-bending twists and turns, and a fantastic ending.
The Fraud or Miracle Trilogy - Christoph Fischer

I have decided to review each story separately. So here goes…

First:

The Healer (Fraud or Miracle? Book 1)

by Christoph Fischer A psychologically astute book that will make you think about your own mortality. And what an ending!

I have read and reviewed a couple of the author’s books in the past and enjoyed them, and I was intrigued by this book when it came out, but due to my personal circumstances (my father suffered from cancer and died around the time of its publication) I didn’t feel I was in the best frame of mind for it. Now that it has been published as part of The Fraud and Miracle Trilogy, I was very pleased to receive a paperback copy and finally get to read it.

The story is deceptively simple. A woman suffering from terminal pancreatic cancer, desperate, follows the advice of her personal assistant and approaches a healer, Arpan. I am not sure if he would call himself a “faith” healer, but he insists that those he treats should be totally invested in the process, including transferring 50% of their assets to his account. Although he states all that money goes to charity, it caused suspicion and scandal years back, and he has been keeping a low profile ever since. After much insistence and a different deal, he agrees to treat Erica, who also has secrets of her own. There are strange conspiracies surrounding Arpan and his healing process but Erica’s life is changed forever. Things are not as they seem, of course.

The story is written in the third person from Erica’s point of view, and we get to share in her doubts, suspicions, paranoia, hope, and also to experience the healing with her. The book transmits a sense of claustrophobia, and although there are treks around the Welsh countryside and later we move to a different country, most of the story takes place within Arpan’s tent, and there are only a few main characters (mostly Erica (Maria), Arpan (Amesh), and Anuj) with some secondary characters that we don’t get to know very well (Hilda, Julia, Gunnar). There are no lengthy descriptions of settings or of the appearance of the characters, because we follow the point of view of a woman totally preoccupied with her health and her mortality, and that makes her not the most reliable of narrators. She describes the physical and mental effects that the illness and the healing process have on her, and we are also privy to her suspicions and doubts. The book offers fascinating psychological insights into how much our “rational” point of view can change when our life is at stake, and it is impossible to read it and not wonder what we would do in Erica’s place.

I kept thinking that the story, which relies heavily on dialogue (both between characters and also internal dialogue), would make a great play, and its intensity would be well suited to the stage. Although most of the characters are not sympathetic, to begin with, their humanity and the big questions they are forced to deal with make them intriguing and worthy subjects of our observations.

The ending brings a great twist to the story. Although I think most readers will have been suspicious and on alert due to the secrets, false information, continuous doubts, and different versions of the truth on offer, the actual ending will make them question everything and re-evaluate the story in a different light. And, considering the nature of the subject it deals with, that is a great achievement.

I recommend it to those who enjoy stories that make them think, to readers who are not searching for cheap thrills and prefer a psychologically astute book and especially to those who want to feel personally invested in the stories they read. I look forward to the rest of the books in the trilogy.

Second:

The Gamblers (Fraud or Miracle? Book 2)

My review:

This is the second book I read in the Fraud and Miracle trilogy, and its inclusion there is sure to put readers on their guard. But that is the beauty of it. You know something is going on, and you might even suspect what (although not, perhaps, in detail) but you can’t help but eagerly keep reading and follow the story, enmeshed in the same web of illusion and deceit that traps the main character, Ben.

The story is written in the third person and follows the point of view of Ben, the protagonist. He is a somewhat socially awkward young accountant who leads a modest life in London, who is not precisely streetwise, and who feels more at ease playing games in online communities than interacting socially in person. He is obsessed with numbers (in real life, I wondered if somebody with similar personality traits might fit into the very mild range of autistic spectrum disorder. He acknowledges that he is bad at reading people’s emotions and expressions, he is anxious in social situations and functions by imitating other people’s behaviour, he displays obsessive personality traits…) and does not believe in luck and chance. He is convinced that random events (like lottery or games of chance results) follow a pattern and he is determined to find it. He gets a bit lottery win (£64 million), and although he does not value money per se (at least at the beginning of the story), he decides to treat himself travelling to New York. Everything seems to change from that moment on, he makes a new friend (the glamorous and charming Mirco) and meets the girl of his dreams, Wendy.

The third person point of view suits the story perfectly. On the one hand, we follow Ben’s point of view and his thought processes. We are aware of his misgivings and doubts. He does not believe in luck, after all, and he cannot accept that all these good things are happening to him, especially as they seem to coincide with his lottery win. At the same time, the third person gives us enough distance to observe and judge Ben’s own behaviour (that does not always fit his self-proclaimed intentions and opinions) and also that of those around him. There are things that seem too good to be true, there are warnings offered by random people, there are strange behaviours (both, Mirco and Wendy, blow hot and cold at times), and there are the suspiciousness and rivalry between his new friends. We warm up to his naiveté and to his child-like wonder and enjoyment at the fabulous new life that falls on his lap, but we cannot help but chide him at times for being so easy to manipulate. 

The author reflects perfectly the process Ben goes through in his reading. Mirco keeps telling him that he should forget about methods and just “feel” the game, and despite his attachment to his theories, there is something in him that desperately wants to believe in miracles, in good luck, and, most of all, wants to believe that he deserves everything he gets: the money, the friendship, and the love. This is a book about con artists and the book implements their technique to perfection. Con-games are a big favourite of mine, and I love how well the book is designed, and how it treats its readers to a peep behind the scenes of the big players, while at the same time making them play the part of the victim. Yes, we might be shouting at Ben and telling him not to be so gullible, but what would we do in his place? Wouldn’t we just want it to be true too?

The story takes place in glamorous locations and it revolves around the world of high-stakes gambling, night-clubs, and big spenders. It might be particularly interesting to those who love casinos and betting, but that is only one aspect of the book. It can be read independently from the first book in the series, and although there are tense and emotionally difficult moments, there are no violence or extreme behaviours. And the ending… You might be more or less surprised by the big reveal, but the actual ending is likely to leave you with a smile on your face.

A book that will make you question yourself and that will keep you guessing until the end. A fun read for lovers of con-games and those who always wondered what they would do if their luck suddenly changed. I’m looking forward to the third book in the trilogy.

And third:

The Sanctuary on Cayman Brac: Key to the Truth (Fraud or Miracle? Book 3)

by Christoph Fischer Plenty of lessons to learn in a twisty mystery with a jaw-dropping ending

My review:

This is book three in the Fraud and Miracle Trilogy, and after reading it, I confess I’ll miss the characters and the twists and turns.

The series deals in subjects that seem more relevant now than ever. In a world dominated by fake news, where elections are doctored, and the future of a nation might be in the hands of people who manipulate data to benefit the highest bidder, the status of the information we take for granted, who deserves our trust and how far we would be prepared to go to learn the truth have become pressing matters we all must seriously think about.

Author Christoph Fischer brings together the cast of the two previous novels, delighting the many readers who felt, like Erica, that things were not settled and they wanted to know what would happen next. Had she really discovered the truth, and was she going to let it go at that? Like we did in The Healer, we follow Erica, who has managed to locate Arpan in Cayman Brac, and has decided to confront him, gun in hand. But, no matter how determined she is, she cannot resist the connection she felt to Arpan, and she accepts his version of the truth. Of course, that might be “his” truth, but is it what really happened? Erica once again cycles from belief to doubt and back again, and although her feelings for Arpan intensify, she needs to know if she was ever “healed” or not. Thanks to her insistence we get to meet Hilda, but like many other characters in the story, appearances can be deceptive.

Readers of the series will recognise some of the characters from The Gamblers and that will make them keep a close eye on what they do. But even with the advantage we have over Erica (we follow her and share in her clues, but have good reason to doubt some of the events, as we know who some of the students at Arpan school really are), the author once more keeps adding twists to the story, and the final reveal scene (worthy of an Agatha Christie novel) is as tense as any of the poker games in The Gamblers. I will not reveal the many bluffs, but if I had to summarise it I’d say… Wow.

I particularly enjoyed meeting Erica again. Although the nature of her healing might not be what she had initially expected, she is much more open and human, able to recognise her own limitations and weaknesses, and prepared to experiment and enjoy life. While some of the other characters might not have changed much (and continue to play for high stakes), others, like Ben, have learned their lessons and now focus on what really matters. Beyond the twists and turns of the plot, there are solid characters that grow and change throughout the series and we root for them and care for their well-being.

The island and the retreat, which we enjoy both as visitors and as participants thanks to Erica, are beautiful and inspiring and although most of us would find it difficult to cope with some of the rules and restrictions of the sanctuary, we’d all love to visit it and spend some time recovering and reenergizing. Personally, I would love to experience the inner workings of such a place and perhaps even to bear witness to some of the mind games.

A great ending to the trilogy, entertaining, satisfying, and surprising, that will leave readers feeling hopeful and confident. Sometimes the teachers are the ones who need to learn the lessons and letting go of control is the way to progress and evolve. My congratulations to the author.

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