Burden of Truth – Kristin Ward

Welcome back everyone, you’ll notice me jumping between two series for the next couple of weeks, so I hope you don’t mind. After finishing After the Green Withered, I lasted all of 22 hours before asking for the second book so I could start reading it immediately.


Writing Style

After the unique style of After the Green Withered, I was expecting this one to follow the same style. What I found was that although there were elements that were still there, there were also elements that felt very similar to some other dystopian YA novels.

I still want to know what happens next. But I’m almost afraid to know because it’s so close to tipping into the realm of what’s been done multiple times already. Which is one of the issues I have with the YA genre that Kristin has done SO WELL to keep clear of so far.

I know it’s really hard (if not impossible) to come up with 100% unique stories these days. But this one is getting perilously close to the point of no return for me. And I REALLY hope it doesn’t go that way because I really did love the first one.

Please Kristin, do not go the way of Hunger Games, Divergent and The 100! Your story is so different, and it doesn’t deserve to be tarnished with those generic story lines!

Note: I still enjoyed those stories, I just don’t want to read another one that follows almost the same skeleton for the story and character development as so many other YA books.


Initial Thoughts

I really felt like there was hope that Enora could be true to herself and what she believes in. Maybe she could be the driving force for change in a positive way.

At the same time, was I reading the vibes between Enora and Springer properly? Were they being set up to fall for each other and be a romance within the story? I kinda hope not.

I’m really loving the focus on the survival and the truth. So, I hope it isn’t ruined by an attempt to put some romance in there just coz it feels like there probably should be some romance to balance the sorrow that otherwise overpowers the story.


Final Thoughts

By the end of the book I was wishing Kristin took a different route for the story. Almost all my fears for the story and character development were realised.

Enora and Springer end up kinda being a couple, the rebel faction is possibly just as evil as the DMC so Enora and Springer decide to make their own way. Only to end up pretty much dead (but still alive) right at the end of the book and Enora doing something quite possibly, ridiculously stupid in an attempt to save their lives.

Sound familiar to anyone?

If you’re not sure, think about Katness almost shooting the rebel leader and at the last second shooting the evil president in Hunger Games. Not to mention her weird romance with Peeta. In Divergent, don’t Beatrice and Four leave the rebels and their home in the hope of finding something better when it turns out the rebels are as bad as their ruling council?

I don’t like drawing parallels between different stories. But every step this book took towards this feel I cringed. Kristin, it feels like you have so much creativity and some great ideas that are different to anything that’s happened before. Please bring this out in full force for Ander's story!

I still enjoyed the story as a whole, there were just moments when I felt like those parallels were glaringly obvious. While at other's it was still it's own story with no other similarities that made me mourn right alongside Enora and Springer.


Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week I will be reviewing Zoe Ashwood’s second Shifter novel Truth or Bear.

After the Green Withered – Kristin Ward

Welcome back everyone, last week we were enjoying the English countryside. And this week we are exploring a dystopian America sometime in the future as part of a MASSIVE book tour.

Writing Style

My favourite thing about the writing style and the story, is that it doesn’t remind me of Divergent too much. That is, past the whole the world has almost died/humanity has almost died and there’s only a few survivors and the main character is a teen.

Like, it’s a YA/NA novel so the whole teen as a main character thing makes sense. But I’m glad it’s not written in as soppy/teen-love kind of way as Divergent.

Anyway, Kristin really gets her hooks into your skin to make sure you want to keep reading.

Initial Thoughts

I honestly thought once I started reading this “OMG, not another Divergent. I read that one, and even though it’s OK I just REALLY don’t want to read another book about how some teens life is so difficult coz the world has practically ended.”

I’m not saying that it wasn’t a bad book. I did enjoy it. But that style of writing is one I enjoy reading while getting drunk on a tropical beach while on holiday. Coz it doesn’t take concentration, I can power through it and enjoy it and move on with enjoying the beach.

But I’m not on holiday. I’m suffering through a heat wave. And I want something more adult to take me away from the pains of treating an assignment like a child (because that’s honestly what they want me to do with it).

I stuck at it. Not only coz I had a feeling I should, but also coz I committed to reading this one as part of a Book Tour.

Final Thoughts

And I’m glad I did because, I found that once I got through the drag of the first 25-30% of the book (you know, that boring setting the scene kinda thing) I just flew through the book. I double checked the length, and it’s not a short book. So, I must’ve been really engrossed in it to read it in a matter of days purely in the 10-20 mins before falling asleep. And the 40-50-minute bus trip to and from work each day.

I will honestly tell you that when I finished this book, I felt a sense of relief, and regret, and a sinking “o no” feeling all at the same time. Relief, because maybe now I can focus on getting the studying I need to do done. Regret, because maybe I should’ve let this book last longer. And the sinking feeling because I immediately knew I would be fighting the urge to buy the next book and start reading it straight away.

And I was right! Obviously I needed to read the next one, so keep an eye out for that review in the coming days!

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week I will be reviewing the third instalment of the Time for Alexander series, Son of the Moon, by Jennifer Macaire. Continue to read further down to find out about the author.

Author Bio

Kristin Ward has loved writing since middle school but took thirty years to do something serious about it. The result is her Best Indie Book Award-winning novel, After the Green Withered, followed by the sequel, Burden of Truth. She lives in a small town in Connecticut with her husband, three sons, and many furry and feathered friends. A SciFi geek to the core, she is fueled by dark chocolate and coffee and can be heard quoting eighties movies on a regular basis.

    

Spring Skies over Bluebell Castle – Sarah Bennett

Welcome back everyone, we’re moving a bit out into the English countryside this week although we’re sticking to the romance genre. I’m not sure if you’ve noticed but I have a bit of a thing for historical settings and a countryside castle fits into that. I just had to give it a read to see how a castle was described, used and managed in these modern days.

Writing Style

For some books I find this really hard to describe, and this is one of those books. It almost felt like at times it was character driven, while at others it was driven by the story or the location. I don’t know if there’s a technical description for it, but I found the balance of all those different approaches really relaxing.

This let me just absorb what was on the page and feel like I was there with them as much as possible. I did find myself wishing I could enjoy reading them in the bath, but by the time I realised I wanted that it was too late to run a bath. And unfortunately, I don’t own a portable bath to travel to and from work in (not that I’m sure that’s socially acceptable?) to get my extra level of relaxation that way.

And man, those bluebell descriptions reminded me of the park behind the house I grew up in. But for me it was a field of daisies not bluebells. Not quite as fancy. But you still get the whole running in a field of flowers feeling which is amazing. So those descriptions brought me back to those childhood summer days where I’d read in amongst the flowers and my dad would almost trip over me coz, he couldn’t see me coz the flowers were so tall.

Those were good times so it’s nice to remember them sometimes.

Initial Thoughts

I was a bit confused as to what was happening in the first 2-3 chapters because it didn’t label the time to show we were covering certain days across winter with months between them. Once I realised this, I was OK, especially since it was pretty much entirely based in spring/early summer after that.

Since I’d been held on tenterhooks waiting for this book to arrive, I was ready to dive straight in and get immersed in the story. And I found this super easy to do, especially with a glass of wine on hand late on a Saturday afternoon and throughout Saturday night.

This book felt like a really great reading companion for a weekend night, which I really haven’t felt like I’ve had for quite some time.

Final Thoughts

Throughout the whole book I found myself picturing the countryside, the types of stones used, the layout of the castle, all those dogs running around and how picturesque it must be. Living somewhere like this would be a dream for me. Minus the money issues of course.

To read about how the other half live was mesmerising for me. But what I really liked were the moments when Lucie and Arthur were able to recognise their own faults and do something about them. They may have needed help sometimes to see their own faults. But they didn’t run away, gloss over or hide from them in in fear of what others would think of them.

Except a small moment from Lucie. But I can understand that and respect her for making sure Arthur found out the truth from her regardless.

My only fault with this book was the ending. I wanted more than like the 2 pages of them meeting up and making up to know what happens to them. An epilogue would have been perfect to wrap it up nicely. Unless it’s a series? Is it a series?

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week I will be reviewing After the Green Withered by Kristin Ward on tour thanks to Write Reads. Continue to read further down to find out about the author.

Author Bio

Sarah Bennett has been reading for as long as she can remember. Raised in a family of bookworms, her love affair with books of all genres has culminated in the ultimate Happy Ever After – getting to write her own stories to share with others.

Born and raised in a military family, she is happily married to her own Officer (who is sometimes even A Gentleman). Home is wherever he lays his hat, and life has taught them both that the best family is the one you create from friends as well as relatives.

When not reading or writing, Sarah is a devotee of afternoon naps and sailing the high seas, but only on vessels large enough to accommodate a casino and a choice of restaurants.

Sarah is the author of the Butterfly Cove, Lavender Bay and the forthcoming Bluebell Castle trilogies, published by HQ Digital UK.

   

#4/1 – Briar’s Book – Tamora Pierce

Welcome back everyone, this week we have Briar’s book!

I found this book to be the saddest in the whole series across all three quartets (I know the last one isn’t finished yet).

Reading about Briar being forced to work in a civilian “hospital” managing a massive outbreak that is killing people, is highly contagious and resistant to all treatment is awful. Especially because they discovered it because his mate Flick caught it and was one of the first to die from it.

Map of Summersea Harbour during the outbreak

Reading about how oppressive that environment is gave me a whole new appreciation for our doctors and nurses who work tirelessly to help those in need. Poor Briar and Rosethorn worked from the moment they woke up to the moment they passed out caring for those around them and having their own life and energy sucked from them was almost heartbreaking.

I’m pretty sure if I was to read this now, I would end up in tears because of how sad the whole situation is.

And poor, sweet and considerate Briar was the one to realise that they needed their living plants around them to perk them back up. Unfortunately, it was too little too late and Rosethorn got sick.

Briar’s attachment to Rosethorn was so strong that he leaped after her into the world of death to bring her back because he wasn’t ready to lose her. To make sure they didn’t lose him, all three of the girls jumped after him to hold him secure to the world of the living.

Briar's Book

That whole ordeal was tragic. If it wasn’t for the fact that I knew The Circle Opens was out, I’d have wondered if all four of them and Rosethorn were going to die trying to save her. Luckily, they were able to bring Rosethorn back with them and save her life.

But her speech and mobility were impacted because she was technically dead for a few minutes and so parts of her brain died. But we don’t really see too much of this in this book.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week I will be reviewing Magic Steps, the first book in The Circle Opens quartet.

#3/1 – Daja’s Book – Tamora Pierce

Welcome back everyone, this week we have Daja’s book!

This one really hit me hard when I read it on so many levels. Daja is a Trader who’s been made an outcast because her whole family died, and she survived. Because of this she isn’t allowed to speak to a Trader ever again, and they aren’t allowed to even acknowledge her presence.

Map of the Gold Ridge area

When I was reading this book, I was at that impressionable age of 12 or 13 where bullying is really ramping up. For Daja, she was excluded because of some silly Trader law while I didn’t have the easiest time because I was an early bloomer in my yr. And boys can be horrible.

What made this amazing for me was that even though the Traders hated on Daja, her friends stuck by her and made sure the Traders acknowledged her and treated her better than they wanted to. Also, Daja being the caring person she is made sure the Traders survived even though they’d been absolutely horrible to her and her friends.

She put her own life at risk in an attempt to save their lives because she had a chance of surviving, and they didn’t.

Daja's Book

Throughout all this time, Sandry, Briar, Tris and Daja had been battling with their magic becoming corrupted by the other’s magic and having to sort it out. I loved the little stories of how their magic got corrupted and the funny things that happened. But I can also agree that if it wasn’t fixed then it’d end in disaster.

Anyway, right at the end Daja is given a new staff that tells her story of her family dying, and of her bravery saving the Trader caravan which then ends with her being accepted back into the Trader world. I remember this bit being the first thing to ever get me close to tears from anything other than anger.

Of this quartet, this is probably the favourite for me. But I have others that rank higher in the Emelan world.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week I will be reviewing Briar’s Book.

#2/1 – Tris’s Book – Tamora Pierce

In this book we mostly follow Tris, however that doesn't mean that the other's are lost to us. In fact, they all work together to thwart money hungry pirates that attack their new home.

Map of Summersea's harbour

Key Story Points

All four of our characters are starting to understand their magic and learn how to use it. In this case we're mostly following Tris as she learns how to master some new and impressive powers.

Unfortunately her favourite cousin is making life difficult for her. He rocks up to Winding Circle and seems to put a few people on edge for a few different reasons. But Tris is happy to see him, and the others just want her to be happy.

Then out of the blue, Winding Circle is attacked by a bunch of pirates. And thanks to Tris's magic with weather, she's able to help clean out the pirates from Winding Circle and restore order.

Tris's Book

My Thoughts

I will admit, parts of this book makes me love it. But as a whole, it's not my favourite in the quartet.

Overall, I got the feeling that I was being strung along between great moments embedded at JUST the right moment to keep you hooked.

My Fav Part

Honestly, the main points that I remember and that pops into my head sometimes is Daja working on the city's and Winding Circle's defences. And Tris learning some cool new magic that allows them to see into the past.

I'm pretty sure this is the book where Daja almost gives her fellow apprentice a heart attack when she handles metal straight out of the forge. It has me chuckling every time I think about it.

Thank you for reading and next week I'll have the next book (Daja's Book) up next week!

#1/1 – Sandry’s Book – Tamora Pierce

The first book in the Circle Universe is Sandry's Book, and although she is a main character. She isn't THE main character.

Map of the Pebbled Sea

Writing Style

The way Tamora has written the first two series in the Circle Universe means that each book has a main hero; who the book is typically named after. So with this book being named after Sandry, it means that she will be the main hero.

Since this book is written for the Young Adult audience it's not as complex or as deep as most of the books I read these days. But I've grown up reading Tamora Pierce and I just love how she writes her stories.

In this case I could feel the despair, anger and confusion that Sandry, Daja, Tris and Briar feel as they are found by Niklaren Goldeye. Then as they try to find their places in their new world.

My Thoughts

Since I wasn't much older (I think a yr or two?) than they were when I first read these books, I could really relate to the emotional turmoil they were going through.

For me, my school friendship group was changing. And since I'm not very good socially (and neither are these 4) this was a bit stressful for me. But with the help of constantly reading Tamora's books in those few years (see evidence below if you don't believe me about how many times I read these books) I managed to get through it.

And I even discovered some other people who liked reading, and who even liked Tamora Pierce as well! That was a bit of a turning point for me when I realised I had something else in common with others. Which actually seems hard to believe since I'd already spent the last 6-7 years with most of them by that point in time.

My poor, broken, over-read copy of Sandry's Book

My Fav Part

So I have a few different fav parts, I mean, these characters and their stories are written in such a great way that you can't help but have a few parts of the book you just can't wait to read again!

Ok, so my all time fav is when Sandry pulls rank on some snobby noble girl (Sandry's family is like upper upper upper echelon of society and only the people actually ruling a few different countries rank higher than her) to get Daja a seat when Daja first arrives and doesn't know where to sit in the dining hall.

A girl nearby muttered, "If that's a lady, I'm a cat."
Reaching out, Sandry lifted the pitcher of milk from the table. Cradling it in both hands, she walked over to the mutterer.
"I am Sandrilene fa Toren, daughter of Count Mattin fer Toren and his countess, Amiliane fa Landreg. I am the great-niece of his grace, Duke Vedris of this realm of Emelan, and cousin of her Imperial Highness, Empress Berenene of the Namorn Empire. You are Esmelle ei Pragin, daughter of Baron Witten en Pragin and his lady Colledia of House Wheelwright, a merchant house. If I tell you my friend is a lady, then you"- carefully she poured milk into Esmelle's plate-"you had best start lapping, kitty."
She set the pitcher down and returned to her chair.

When Sandry and Daja first meet

Being someone who HATES bullies and will actively fight back I practically bounce in my seat with glee every time I read that bit. It's just so hilarious and it just sets the tone for Sandry's personality in a way no other quote can quite grasp.

I do love a number of other moments throughout the book. Those moments of banter, discovery and amazement are heady feelings. The way Sandry, Daja, Tris and Briar grow, make discoveries and learn about magic together never fail to strike a chord with me and give me a good chuckle and/or smile

Thank you for reading and next week I'll have the next book (Tris's Book) up next week!

Trust the Wolf – Zoe Ashwood

Welcome back everyone, I hope you enjoyed Monday’s review and the Wrap Up post yesterday. Moving into March I will be winding down on these reviews on Friday’s as I move back into my series reviews.

So, I thought it would be lovely to finish off my string of Friday reviews with one shared to me through the book blogging community.

Writing Style

Zoe's writing style was really engaging and pretty much had me hooked right from the get go. I don't know if I was due for a paranormal romance fix or not. But I certainly finished the book needing more.

I wanted to know what happened between Jason and Emilia. I wanted to know if Emilia's goal was realised. And if it was, how'd it go? How long did it take? What impact did it have?

And I wanted to know the story behind the big secret of the book.

Am I looking forward to reading more of Zoe's books to get even more drawn in? You betcha!


Initial Thoughts

Initially I was a little confused about what was happening because it'd been a while, with a lot of other books read in between, since reading the blurb. I knew it was a shifter story, with a wolf and a bear. But I couldn't remember anything more than that.

So, having a girl at a club get practically attacked by some random guy. And then have another hot random guy save her felt weird.

Then to have the hot guy sniff Emilia when she has no idea what he's talking about when he's asking for her SANA ID feels weird.

For some reason, going into this I thought Emilia knew she was a shifter. So, her not knowing confused me a bit. How was this going to play out if she didn't even know she was a shifter?


Final Thoughts

As I got further into the book I enjoyed it more and more. By the time I finished the book, I knew I'd been long overdue for a shifter style romance novel. I actually don't remember the last time I read a shifter novel which is really sad for me.

One of the things I really enjoyed about Emilia's character was that she never changed who she was. Throughout everything that happened, she stayed true to herself and showed us that it's OK not to know what you want to do with your career yet. That it's OK to know what you want from a relationship.

There are so many dialogues out there saying women should have a career AND a family. But to do that they're basically saying you need to know what your one and only career will be by the time you're like 22. And that's ridiculous.

I'm 28 and I've already had like 4 or 5 career changes for various reasons. I love what I'm doing now and I have a pretty solid idea on how to achieve my career and financial goals. But to expect women to have this figured out by 22 (roughly) is just crazy. You just don't have the life experience to really know for sure by then.

Anyway, back to the story! The fact that Jason supports her, and what she wants to do is awesome. Because she needs his support in more ways than one to achieve what she decides she wants to do.

Her passion takes her down an avenue that I find truly inspiring and I wanted to know how it all played out. Unfortunately, I didn't get that satisfaction in this book. But I'm hoping to get some in the coming books.

Zoe has also given me the second book, Truth or Bear, to read and review. So expect that to have a review in the next couple of months!


I hope you enjoyed this review, please continue down to find out more about Zoe and you can find her on all her social media pages. I look forward to seeing you again on Monday with Tom Stone Day of the Dead.


Author Bio

Zoe Ashwood is a romance writer with a passion for sweet stories with a sexy twist. While she’s always been a reader, Zoe’s writing used to be limited to diary scribbles and bad (really bad) teenage poetry. Then she participated in NaNoWriMo 2015 and never looked back.

Some 400,000 words later, she’s still in love with the art of making up stories—and making her characters fall in love. Trust the Wolf is her debut novel.

When she’s not writing, Zoe works as a literary translator. She’s happily married to her best friend and has two small boys who are as stubborn as they’re cute.

She’s active on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, but her newsletter or Facebook Group are the best way of keeping in touch!

           Group                    Pintrest

The Adventures of Jilly and June in Russia – Denise Drew

Welcome back everyone, this review is a follow up on last week’s review and will be the final one from my guest reviewer. 

I hope when you read these reviews that you remember writers all need to start somewhere and being able to provide feedback can help them make improvements. I’ve already seen other small authors improve from my feedback, and I hope these reviews will help Denise continue to grow and improve in the future to make even better stories for us to read our kids in the future.

In this story Jilly and June, a mother and daughter duo, seek out new experiences as they travel across the globe in their magic, flying house. This adventure sees their interest in Russia sparked after eating a warm bowl of borscht. Much of their journey revolves around the harsh weather conditions to reach their destination and their encounters in Moscow. Arriving in the centre of the Red Square, they make friends with traditional nesting doll makers, explore The Kremlin, take in the wonders of the Moscow Metro architecture and the acrobatic feats of the Cossack dance.

After reading The Adventures of Jilly and June in India, I found that their Russian adventure provided more thought into the cultural aspects that the pair were exploring. I liked to see June providing Jilly with a background on The Kremlin,and the Cossack dance to help her understand why they were important to Russian culture. This provides children reading this book more knowledge about the places Jilly and June were visiting, making it a fun way to learn about Russia.


What held this story back was the time spent on aspects that didn’t need to go into detail and other points that should have given more time. There were close to five pages describing the flight over to Russia and in addition to a number of pages describing the weather and how cold the setting was. There is a lot more to Russia than the winter season and this time could be better spent to explore more of what Moscow has to offer than discussing what clothes to wear or what equipment to keep on board the house. The part where Jilly and June are confronted by a crowd in front of their house also fell flat when it had the potential to add more excitement to this scene than it did.

While The Adventures of Jilly and June in Russia is an improvement on their Indian adventure, there is still a lot of work to be done to get the balance of culture, energy and wit in the right places to truly captivate a young audience. The ideas Drew is presenting hold a lot of promise and I am look forward to seeing a revision of her work.


Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed the last two reviews on The Adventures of Jilly and June in Russia.

Continue to read further down to find out about the author.

Denise Drew was born in Liverpool in 1970. She has raised her daughter, as a single parent, since her daughter was two years old. Never deterred by being a one parent family, Denise worked full time, provided a loving home and continued life in a strong and positive light.

As a small family, they were lucky enough to have holidays every year and this lead Denise to dream of writing adventure stories about her and her daughter travelling the world. Denise would say that she would love to pick up her house and take it on holiday with her, so they could have their home comforts. What an idea! A flying house. A magical house, with sails, that flies them to "wherever takes their fancy".