Gathering of the Four – Book Review

Gathering of the Four by A.E. Bennet is book one of the Serrulata Saga, not counting the prequel Yours and Mine that covers how a couple of characters met. Gathering of the Four follows Leora of Mae, Roland Shallowbrook, Aurora Verte, and Leopold as they struggle to deal with being outcasts in The Realm and try to survive long enough to bring justice to a cruel and powerful sovereign. While the four come from very different living situations, they must work together and cope with the secrets that tie some closer than one would expect. The book is filled with exciting turns, making it difficult to put it down.

The first thing I want to address about Gathering of the Four is that it does contain scenes of abuse and sexual situations. So if you are uncomfortable with either of these, this is probably not the sort of book for you. The scenes of abuse and implied abuse explain the situations characters are in or have lived through. As for the sexual problems, they are delightfully steamy but not exceptionally detailed. However, the apparent affection between the feelings involved makes reading them enjoyable. These situations are few and far between, but they are common enough to make a note of.

Another thing I want to discuss is world-building. When you first pick up Gathering of the Four, you might think this is another fantasy series, and it certainly does have fantasy aspects. However, as I read, I was delighted to find out that there are some problematic dystopian situations, and this book does, in fact, take place on our very own Earth. I will not go into further details on the subject in order not to ruin any twists in the book, but the world that A.E. Bennett has created is one of the most exciting I have read about in some time.

I look forward to reading more of this author’s work.

Mandate: Thirteen – Book Review

Mandate: Thirteen by Joseph J. Dowling is an exciting dystopian novel. Like many of these books, this one centers around the dropping fertility rates of the human race. An ultra-conservative group has control of England, and due to the rapidly dropping rates, they released a new law, all females thirteen years and older must be checked for hormones and the ability to carry children. When Micheal Randell’s daughter Hope is marked as fertile, he goes as far as he can to keep her safe.

When I first saw the offer to review this book, I thought, oh boy, another one of these. Female infertility blame dystopian future has been done a lot. However, Joseph J. Dowling’s take on this popular genre is well done. While much of the focus is on female infertility, everything from birthing schools to baby farmers, there are also several instances when it is stated that males are also to blame. I found this to be a satisfying change to an often worn-out concept. Another pleasing difference in this book compared to many of its kin of a similar genre is that the main characters are father and daughter. So instead of being given a single view from a female perspective, we are also given the additional complications of a strained father-daughter relationship. Anyone who has et sort n a teenager can recall how complicated parental relationships can be.

While I touched on it briefly above, I will go into more detail here. The father-daughter relationship between Micheal and Hope is realistic, in all its ups and downs and half-thought-out comments. No man can entirely comprehend what a young teenage girl is thinking, and no young adolescent girl has any idea what a middle-aged man is thinking. This leads to several complications throughout the story that feel as though they could have been witnessed in real life.

So the real question is, is Mandate: Thirteen worth picking up? Yes. Refrain from letting the similar-sounding story fool you. Joseph J. Dowling’s take on this popular genre is a breath of fresh air.

Drive – An Expanse Short Story Review

This review contains not only my honest opinion but a affiliate link for Audible that will lead you to the story. If you sign yup for Audible using my link I get a percentage of the money and it will be used to support this blog. For more information on my affiliate disclosure please see this page.

So some time ago, I started watching The Expanse on Amazon Prime. I know picking up any Amazon show, more so one based on a set of books is a touch-and-go, which is odd, given how the company became so popular. Anyway, naturally being more of a reader than a watcher, I opted to see what I could find about the books the series was based on. I found the series on Amazon, and even better, I found it on Audible. Perfect. I can multitask, getting stuff done around the house and satisfying my curiosity.

Since Audible has the collection labeled by order, I have been going down the list. The first part I listened to was a short story that is part of the series Drive. Drive is, of course, written by the author of the series James A. Corey and is, as I stated before, a short story, which makes it a concise read or on Audible, only about an hour of a listen. While I have not read the series so far, many of the reviews in the comments stated that Drive is optional to take in the rest of the series, but it sure is an enjoyable story.

The story of Drive follows Solomon Epstein as he experiments with a ship he purchased without his wife’s permission. (Never a good idea, guys and gals.) It also flashes back to his life, meeting his wife and friends he spent time with when he was younger. I will not be going into fine details as this is a short story and a quick listen. It would be far too easy to ruin the plot for those unfamiliar with the story. However, I am currently interested in reading more. I may go back and compare the series as I go.

Oh yeah, and if you want to check out Drive and Audible, feel free to use my link here!

Armadas in the Mist – Audiobook Review

Armadas in the Mist is the last novel in Christian Klaver’s Empire of the House of Thorns series. Justice, her extended family, friends, and her crew continue their war against Faerie. From the start of this book, we enter the story’s climax. Plots and loose ends are pulled together in this book, giving each character and plot a satisfying conclusion. Though not the expected conclusion, this final book is all the more exciting to read as you have no idea where it is going.

Now, as this story has been told mainly in the first person for three books, we knew from the start that the main character would survive. However, the state in which she survives and those around her are entirely up in the air. The conclusions of most of the characters are well-suited and comfortable, though I found the placement of one of Justice’s brothers to come off as a bit odd. However, the rest of the cast had a good finale, and it was worth getting invested in the plots of each character.

I listened to this book in audiobook format like the first two, and once again, Fiona Hardingham gives us a fantastic performance and narration. Character voices and reactions remain spot-on for the age and personality of each character. Over Armada’s in the Mist and the rest of Klaver’s Empire of the House of Thorns series is worth reading or listening to. I will be revisiting this series at some point. It is going on my vacation playlist!

Justice at Sea – Audiobook Review

In Justice at Sea, the second book in Christian Klaver’s Empire of the House of Thorns series, we are again thrown into the complicated life of Justice and her siblings. This book picks up shortly after the first book. This second novel shows more development in both story and the characters. Justice and her siblings are growing up both emotionally and physically in some cases. Her sister has the most apparent changes as she takes on her role as a magician. However, this is just one noticeable change in what happens to the Kasric siblings as they work through a war-torn and highly complex family life. Some changes are for the best, others quite sad.

As exciting as the first book in the series and just as well written, in Justice at Sea, we spend a bit more time in Faerie and learn more about the world that has been created. This fantastic world is much more varied and has more creatures and wonders than was hinted at in the first story. This keeps the world feeling vibrant and alive. The newer characters we are introduced to in this book are as colorful as they have been in the first. Christain Klaver certainly has a knack for creating exciting characters. Some even react in ways one may not expect. I did not see the ending of this book coming.

As with the first book, I once again listened to the audiobook version of this young adult novel, and once again, Fiona Hardingham presents us with fantastic acting and narration. The characters continue to be spot, and the voices fit well. Once again, this is a must-read. Though if you enjoyed the first one, you’d want to inhale this one as quickly as you can anyway.

Shadows Over London – Audiobook Review

Shadows Over London is the first book in the Empire of the House of Thorns series by Christian Klaver. This first novel introduces Justice Kasric and her family as they are violently torn from their pleasant lives in Victorian London and tossed into a paranormal war against the Faerie. As if finding out her family is attached to supernatural creatures is not enough, Justice still has to cope with internal family struggles, sibling rivalry, and a mother who downright dislikes her. These are all painfully relatable issues for anyone who is, or was ever, a teenager.

Shadows Over London, like many books in the young adult genre, follows a teenager through the trials of life and the even greater conflicts they find themselves buried. Christain Klaver does a fantastic job of balancing the complications of being a sixteen-year-old girl with the epic war story that builds up around Justice. She and all the characters of this novel are realistic in their behavior and actions, making them solid and believable characters with personalities. The world that our author has built is also fantastic. While Victorian London is well documented, the bits and pieces of Faerie, the fictional side of the war in this series, are creative and colorful and have a delicate balance of common myths and original creations.

As I was given a copy of the audiobook of Shadows Over London to listen, I will take a moment to cover that aspect. Fiona Hardingham’s reading is spectacular. A talented narrator Fiona Hardingham gives us a well spoked and brilliantly acted narration. Each character has a voice that fits perfectly. The narrator’s voice and accent are spot-on for the characters and locations of this novel. In short, I can’t find a single complaint about Shadows Over London and suggest you pick it up.

The False Prophet – Book Review

The False Prophet by J.M. Hart is the fifth book in her Chronicles of the Supernatural series. This exciting novel, picking up right after book four, Separated by Evil, follows the characters, Jade and Casey, as they travel back to the US and, with the assistance of some of Jade’s native friends who she got close to in a previous book, try to get as many people as they can to a sacred site to prepare for the end of the world. The two go through various physical and emotional complications. Dealing with loss, particularly during an apocalypse, more so when you are still a teenager is difficult.

As this is the fifth book in the series, you can tell J.M. Hart has grasped the characters she has created. They remain in the same vein as in previous books though they also have further development. After five books, how much further can characters develop? Well, you will be amazed! Jade comes into her own in this novel, and Casey manages to at least cope with the difficulties he has been facing. The story of this novel is as exciting as the previous ones. The high-stakes feeling remains in most of the actions of the characters. The story itself remains compelling, and you are on the edge of your seat, wondering what will become of the survivors. Will they get to ascend?

Like the rest of J.M. Hart’s work, this book is worth picking up. However, I can not wait till the last book comes out!

Real Women of the Regency – Book Review

Real Women of the Regency by Leah Gail is an entertaining dive into history. Written in a casual tone this book is easy to read and follow. While not as in-depth as if we were presented with the work of each individual covered in the book, in fact, in some cases, there is so little known of the women mentioned that their book would be impossible, we are still given a fair amount of information on each one. We are given information on romances, fashion, authors, etc. Some of the information is widely known. Other bits I was excited to learn. As a reader from the US, I found some of the information on Regency UK and Europe to be particularly interesting. For instance, women who worked towards abolishing slavery in the UK are not something they cover in our schooling over here. (They barely cover it in our own case.)

Back to the book. As said above, Leah Gail’s writing is easy to follow, and she moves smoothly between each individual covering several women in each chapter. We are given dates of birth, where they are known, the most well-known details of each individual, and eventually, the date of their passing. Despite the many lives covered in this book, each woman seems to be given the perfect amount of time needed to tell their story. None of the tales feel rushed. So if you are looking for an entertaining and informative view of Regency-era women, you should certainly pick this one up.

Darcy Lane – Book Review

Darcy Lane by James T. Graham is an exciting novella following the journey of Elise Rose, a young woman fresh out of a mental health unit, as she tries to cope with her childhood trauma and the difficulties of readjusting to the world after two years in a medical facility. I will state from the beginning this novella is dark. It starts on a particularly dark note and remains pretty level with this first violent act for the remainder of the story. So if you have any qualms about murder, child negligence, or alcoholism, I strongly suggest you avoid this. However, for everyone else, this simple yet intriguing story will keep you wondering what will happen next.

James T. Graham’s writing is simple to follow. He does not use needlessly large words to describe the very dark and complex situations that Elise goes through. This is good and allows the reader to focus more closely on the problems. A reader with experience in mental health issues, either firsthand or through someone else, may quickly recognize Elise going through some very common and unhealthy coping mechanisms. Graham has done a great job displaying these mental complications without making them seem cartoonish, a common issue with many writers regarding certain mental illnesses. Now moving on from the mental health aspects of this novella, the plot is entertaining and moves rapidly. I found myself constantly wondering what was going to happen next.

Pick up this book if you want an entertaining and quick read.

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