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review 2017-05-30 08:37
ARC Review – Elpída, by C. Kennedy
Elpida - C. Kennedy

Elpída. Hope.

Because without hope, we are all lost.

Because without hope, we have nothing.

 

The final installment of this trilogy leaves me shattered and sad, and full of anger towards the men who perpetrate this kind of abuse on children. But most of all, it leaves me with hope, exhilarated and happy, which, in this context, is nothing short of magic on the author’s part.

 

To take this extremely important and difficult subject matter, and lovingly show it without condescension or sensationalism, and give so many young people hope? Magic, indeed.

 

There is such powerful truth in this series. There is such compassionate giving of hope. It is horrid and beautiful at the same time, and it has a way of sending a spiraling sense of meaning out to young people who are hurting, telling them there is a future, there is a life, there is a way. Telling them that there are good people out there, who will love them.

 

Hope. Truly the most powerful of all human feelings.

 

We started with beauty in book one. And horror. And friendship. And love.

Omorphi. Beauty.

We continued with courage in book two. Lots and lots of courage. And love.

Thárros. Courage.

We finish with hope in this third book, as we run, and hide, and make mistakes, and fix them again. And love.

Elpída. Hope.

 

Thimi is a young boy who lived through the same horrors as Christy in Greece, and Christy finally gets to see his old friend again as he arrives in the US as a scared little waif of a boy. Thimi slowly opens up through the story, and as he starts to understand the sunshine that can exist in a normal life we get to see more about what happens inside a child after abuse.

 

When you read a YA book, not often does it also work as a manual of how to do things to help a former victim of abuse. It is not often that, in soft tones and sweet turns of phrase, you will understand and learn how to act around people who have been through the unthinkable. Who have been through the unspeakable.

 

This is a little bit like a beautifully crafted Technical Manual of Care and Maintenance for those who work with our collective youth, especially if they work with children or young adults who have had a hard time.

 

And the end result? The telling of a great, great love story — with true friendship shining through, the kind of love that inspires both happy endings and good laughs.

 

There are other new fascinating characters entering the scene, too, and especially Zero is someone I would love to see more of in a future book... I can truly say that I hope this trilogy gets a fourth and fifth instalment, because there are still things I’d like to know, (and history is full of excellent trilogies in five parts). (Just sayin’).

 

Beauty and Courage and Hope.

Because Elpida means hope.

And, as we said in the beginning, without hope, we are all lost.

 

***

 

I was given a free copy of this book from the publisher, Harmony Ink Press.

A positive review wasn’t promised in return. I also beta-read an early version of the manuscript.

 

Source: annalund2011.booklikes.com/post/1567067/arc-review-elpida-by-c-kennedy
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review 2016-01-27 18:34
Book Review — King Perry, by Edmond Manning
King Perry - Edmond Manning

I can’t explain what this book is.

I can’t explain what’s happening in it.

I can’t help you with choosing this book to read.

I can’t even tell you why I liked it.

 

But holy hell, I did.

I liked this book so much I walked straight into LOVE and CONFUSION land.

And I have no idea why.

 

Well, I know a little bit of why. Mostly it’s the fact that this author really knows his way around words. He snares you with verbs and nouns. He makes you think one thing, and then another, and then, when you fall flat on your face once again, you wonder, in your dizzy mind, What happened? How did I fall for that again?

 

Don’t ask me. I have no idea what happened. But it happened, over and over. All the way to the end. Absolutely shattering experience.

 

All I know is I might need to be Queened. Just a little. You know, just to understand.

 

Or not.

 

 

***

 

I bought this book with my own money.

 

 

Source: annalund2011.booklikes.com/post/1333032/book-review-king-perry-by-edmond-manning
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review 2015-04-05 14:00
ARC Review — Slaying Isidore's Dragons, by C. Kennedy
Slaying Isidore's Dragons - C. Kennedy

What a ride! What an amazing story. I’m still reeling. And so full of hope, for the future, for the future of these boys, all our boys.

 

In this story, as is the usual fare with Kennedy, there is action; there is no time to relax, no time to slow down, things are happening all the time, and in so many layers, it takes all my concentration to keep it together. And I love it. I just simply love it. I roll in it, I run with it. I revel in it.

 

I feel I know these people, already after a few chapters. It is as if I am running beside them, seeing what they are seeing, feeling what they are feeling. It is almost overwhelming. I scream, and I scare the cats. I giggle, and I wake Mr. Anna.

 

Kennedy must be the king of purple prose, and yet, somehow, here, it just works; it doesn’t become ridiculous, it just becomes powerful and full of awe-inspiring, foreign flavors.

And then another bomb goes off.

 

Why am I not surprised?

 

While reading until my iPad hits my face, I realize, just as I am falling asleep, that there is so much more to this story than meets the eye.

 

There is the careful choosing of words. The loving turn of phrase that won’t scare a potential victimized reader. Words are of such vital importance to young survivors; those of us who have never lived through abuse, can never quite understand how loaded a simple word can be.

 

And then there is the momentous message to abuse victims and survivors that there is a future, also for them. That there is hope for sunshine and love, in all our futures.

 

It is uplifting. It is caring. There is hope.

 

And then another bomb goes off, yeah?

 

This book had me sitting on the proverbial edge of my seat, jumping with excitement, smiling with bliss, and feeling the love between the two young men grow and blossom. (See? I have achieved some purple myself). I cry me an ocean, too, for good measure.

 

The way Declan and Isidore discover each other is beautiful, loving, enriching, sweet, and so sexy. Without ever going into the exploitative and crude, the physical love they explore is simply beautiful. They are both on the older side of their teen years, at eighteen and seventeen, thinking about their bodies and discovering a new sensuality, and the way Declan gets frustrated with his dick makes me scream with laughter. So many good feels, here, too.

 

There is no way I can review this book without drawing parallels to Omorphi, Kennedy’s other long novel about abused youth. The similarities are of course there, but what really strikes me is the difference between them. The main character in the first story, Christy, is a survivor of abuse. In Slaying Isidore’s Dragons, Isidore is still a victim, and he is still living with his abusers. There is such a huge difference in mindset.

 

Now, there is a special talent to be able to describe and write about this kind of abuse, without either falling into the exploitative, or brushing over the sad facts. Here, none of those things happen. There is truthfulness in these pages, but most of all, there is hope. Awe-inspiring Hope. It makes the reader understand what goes on inside the mind of an abuse victim.

 

It shatters me to see how this new life, when saved from an abusive environment, can be so overwhelming that the victim is ready to go back to the abusive home, just to get to a place where everything makes sense.

 

This is a book with really difficult themes, and it is striking how it can ring true in all its horrid details, while still giving hope and showing a way out. This book may very well be saving lives, and giving hope.

 

It is interesting how well the double POV works, where we see things mostly from the eyes of the boyfriend, Declan. I don’t think we could take seeing it all from inside Isidore’s mind, but the short interludes that we do get to see are so revealing. Thank you for showing us how completely different the same scene may seem to the victim.

 

Now, I also want to tell everybody about how much I adore Sorcha, Declan’s mother. She is a powerful, gorgeous, strong, beautiful, and loving woman. I love all those things in people, but I especially appreciate them when they are attributed to a woman in an m/m setting. This is finally happening more often, but I still want to say thank you for this: thank you, author, for a strong and good woman. Mothering is not easy, and she does shine a light. The fact that she was also an Ambassador in her own right, makes my heart sing. A real woman. Somebody with both a job and a career. Not only, she is also absolutely hilarious, and a good belly laugh really makes life worth living. The healing value of humor is well known, but is even more so to a victim of abuse.

 

It is important for me to see that the story in this book actually rings true in the ears of the intended readers, i.e. young survivors of abuse; youth who, through this novel, can visualize a potential future, a possibility of a decent life, of love, of happiness. Reading young Timmy’s review of this book, I see the story through his eyes. See his review here.

 

It is true. This story brings hope. It shows the path forward, it shows the possibility of future.

 

This is top notch.

 

On my Top-Read-Of-2015 shelf.

 

Well done, Kennedy. I just realize that I have written the word “hope” nine times in my review. That must mean something.

 

You pass with flying colors.

 

Five shining stars.

 

***

 

I received an ARC of this book from the author, and a positive review wasn’t promised in return.

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review 2015-01-12 14:34
Book Review – Red Dirt Heart #4, by N. R. Walker
Red Dirt Heart 4 - N.R. Walker

The Sutton Station final installment, and what a beauty it is.

 

And how brilliant is it that this one is told from Travis’s point of view? What a gorgeous man he is. The whole setting gets a new light, seen from his eyes. Still full of red dirt, but with the added awe of a person who has chosen to live in this wondrous land, one who wasn’t simply born into it.

 

So, author. You proceed to break my heart in so many pieces I’m still looking for some of them. Then you go on and mend it, like it was never broken in the first place.

 

As I sit and read, I get lost in the red dirt trails, and I rightly don’t know where I am when I look up from the pages. It takes a moment to realize that I am in my home, not in the outback, struggling.

 

What I really loved in this last book was the fact that there wasn’t any mandatory romantic crisis, no shocking turn of events to put everything upside down. Just life, and all its quirky happenings of deep joy, coupled with deep sorrow—that’s what a good story is.

 

The only minus note I have is that the women in this last installment were extremely traditional in their roles, except for a very small window of red disappearing into the setting sun at the end. All the other women, from Ma, to Travis’s mother in Texas, they were all cooking and taking care of their houses. It irked me a bit. One yiihaa-cowgirl scene doesn’t make up for all the fabulous roles these ladies could have presented.

 

Another thing I absolutely adored was the fact that all the love scenes were mostly fade to black. I am very weary of the explicit sexing, and this was just amazingly well done. Thank you. It was sweet, and good, and just enough.

 

The epilogue was great, I loved it. It added a lot of little nuggets of fun facts, little things that I know I would be wondering about, later.

 

Because, you see, this is a story that stays with you. For days, dare I say months? Charlie and Travis are real, to me. They live very far away, so I don’t hear from them very often. But they are friends, nonetheless.

 

The first three were my Best of 2014.

This last one lands smack-bang in the newly instated Best of 2015.

Read this series.

 

*** 

 

I was given a pre-edit ARC copy of this book. A positive review was not promised in exchange.

 

 

Source: annalund2011.booklikes.com/post/1085015/book-review-red-dirt-heart-4-by-n-r-walker
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review 2014-10-15 18:06
ARC Review — Red Dirt Heart 3, by N.R. Walker
Red Dirt Heart 3 - N.R. Walker

I just read number 2 in this series about a month ago, and I positively love that I get to walk into Ma’s kitchen again at Sutton Station, and sit down for a new episode. I love that place.

 

This time there is a little drama, handled in the calmest of ways, and then there’s the added bonus of a wombat that walked straight into my heart and sat down and nested. By DOG I love Nugget.

 

The Aussie drawl is perfect, without ever going into any kind of tedious weird spelling. It just flows right, and I hear a voice-mixture of all the Australians I’ve ever heard, (which are admittedly far too few, and including Steve Irving, the ladies of Drover’s Run, and some of the cast in Spartacus. But hey, it works for me).

 

I love cattle work, I have done it for years, and this setting rings true. For sure, it tells a good story also about some strong and feisty women, which I cannot but adore. Thank you for them, thank you for Trudy, Ma, and Nara. Thank you for giving Nara a future, and for not quitting on Trudy. Ma? Thank you. Thank you.

 

I adore the modernization of the station, the look to the future, and I am simply amazed at the evident research behind this story, to bring it alive. Or maybe N. R. Walker is in the cattle business? One would believe so.

 

There were moments of tension here, and there were moments of knee-slapping hilarity, too. I think the naming of the poddies had me screaming out loud. Travis is to die for, truly.

 

Here, I’ll leave you with a short paragraph, just so you can see what I’m talking about:

 

I scoffed out a laugh. “My life used to be boring! I can still remember thinkin’ nothing ever happened out here. It wasn’t that long ago.”

His eyes went wide. It matched his smile. “You make it sound like it’s my fault!”

“It is!” I told him. “Since you got here, it’s been not-boring every day.”

 

Language is important to me, and even though I was given a pre-edit ARC copy, I found very few errors and typos. This is a serious author who self-publishes, with respect for the readers. I salute that, and point my finger to this series in evidence for those who say that self-published isn’t up to par. It may be true sometimes, but with this author, not at all.

 

Absolutely smashing work. Top marks.

 

And the best part? At the end there, in the list of books written by this author? It says Coming Soon, Red Dirt Heart 4.

 

YAY! DOUBLE YAY!

 

I love a series where every book is a complete stand-alone piece, where I don’t feel cheated at the end. Where the storyline is rounded and I feel I’ve got all the answers I needed, for now. That means the next book is just going to be a bonus-new-encounter-with-favorite-boys. Where Australia can re-enter the scene, and charm my socks off.

 

*** 

 

I was given a pre-edit ARC copy of this book. A positive review was not promised in exchange.

Source: AnnaLund2011.booklikes.com/post/1014944/arc-review-red-dirt-heart-by-n-r-walker
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