Posted in book reviews

The Curse of Judas by Cynthia Brandel

The Curse of Judas by Cynthia BrandelThe Curse of Judas by Cynthia D. Brandel
Published by Amazon Digital Services on October 31, 2018
Pages: 112
Source: the author
Goodreads
four-stars

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Synopsis

After generations of advancement, the human race had thought they were invincible. That was until the revenant made their presence known. The humans that survived the culling must pay to survive.

The cost......their blood. The source of life for all living things.

The Covenant (a pact between the humans and the revenant) was made at the end of the war. In order to maintain power and to ensure the continuation of the human race (the food source of the revenant), the Consulate (a group of higher class humans living in the upper city) was formed. Their main job was to maintain order and to work as a go-between for the humans and the revenant.

Persephone Black (Phoebe) lost her mother when she was born and she had never known her father. She and her Pappy made a living on the outskirts of the revenant city where the poor and desolate are numerous. Every month, Pappy would give blood in place of Phoebe (his way of silently rebelling against the revenant). Persephone had kept her head low and remained unnoticed for her entire life. She was content working as a junior gardner at the nursery as long as it meant her and Pappy's continued survival within the city walls.

"As long as Pappy has a roof over his head and food in his belly, then I couldn't complain."---Persephone Black

As fate would have it, Phoebe wouldn't be able to go unnoticed for much longer. She caught the attention of Cassius, a revenant (one of the sons of Judas) and was summoned by him (through the use of the Consulate) to the tower.

Phoebe would learn more about the revenant than most other humans. Cast into a world that she was not yet ready for, Phoebe would do anything to survive.

But she would soon learn that sometimes the cost of survival is more than a person could bear.

The Curse of Judas is a post-apocalyptic adventure interlaced with biblical prophecy and religious innuendo centered around the story of Judas Iscariot.

Judas's betrayal of Jesus was preordained, but his death (his suicide) was of his choosing. When he ascended he was rejected by Peter at the gates of heaven, but when he descended into hell, he was rejected there too. Being rejected from both the higher and the lower kingdoms, Judas was forced to roam the middle kingdom (the kingdom of man). Neither alive nor dead, his spirit was forever cursed.

Judas was the first revenant, a being that lives off the blood of humans. Although he was neither alive nor dead, Judas still maintained a likeness of his humanity. His betrayal of Jesus led to him being cursed and a shift in the divine plan for humanity's future.

Persephone Black would be cast into the fray when she meets a son of Judas. Her existence is both a blessing and a curse for the revenant. If the secret of her birth ever came to light, the world of the revenants would turn on end.

I received this book for free from the author. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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My Thoughts on The Curse of Judas:

This was a book I “knew” from the description, I was either going to love it or hate it.

When the story opens, you quickly find out vampires are real-ish. The legends we all grew up with had their basis in facts. The creatures the vampire legends were based upon, the Revenant, are done hiding. They want to rule – and a truce has been established between the humans and the revenant.

Similar Premise to…

If you’ve read the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris, or watched True Blood, this will sound familiar to you. I’m doing the buddy read with Shelbi at What’s My Page Again?, so I really couldn’t help noticing the similarities in how the revenants thought and behaved, as well as how they felt about being “out” in the world.

In Charlaine Harris’ world, vampires “came out of the coffin” and wanted to mainstream (live among the humans), so they drink synthetic blood and only drink from “willing” humans. (Yes, I know that’s not a great explanation, but it gets my point across.

But in the world of The Curse of Judas, they want to feed off of humans, and, in order to be allowed to survive, every human must “donate” a pint of blood every month.

So the similarties pretty much end between the two series once you get past the fact they’re both pretty gothic in nature and both involve vampire type creatures coming out of hiding after centuries.

What I enjoyed/hated about The Curse of Judas…

The world is gritty and the characters are living in survival mode, which brings out the best and worst in people. I loved it! I pictured this super dark city where Phoebe really stands out like a light, at home, and at work. Phoebe is an amazing person who takes care of her adopted father and stands up for her friends, even when she’s terrified.

When Phoebe’s best friend, Val, is hurt, Phoebe does everything she can to ensure Val and her little brother aren’t killed or kicked out of the city. Unfortunately, this has disastrous consequences for Phoebe and her Pappy – but she never regrets her decision. She stands by it and doesn’t back down from it.

Too often in this type of story, I’ve seen where the heroine is whiny and complains about the consequences for their actions. But Phoebe owns up to everything she does. Her only regrets seem to come from when others get hurt because of her. She owns up to it though and I really felt connected to Phoebe throughout the story. Her fear, pain, worry (both for herself and others) was real for me and made me cry at times.

While I really enjoyed reading this book, I wish it was longer. There were pieces I wish would have been explored further. For instance, how and why the revenants first made their appearance and about the war that took place afterward. Something that would’ve made it longer automatically would be the times where it just stated a character felt something, instead of describing it (like they were unsettled, but there was no description of what that looked like).

Side rant:

The thing I loved the most about the story… it’s BELIEVABLE! I love fantasy, so I’m all about dragons, mages, wizards, dwarves, elves, etc. But I need to be able to believe those things are actually possible and that the world they’re happening in could exist. The stakes need to feel real!!! (Sorry, I just finished a book that took place in the “real” world and I found it completely unbelievable… but you’ll hear about that later in the week, so I’m gonna shut up about it now…)

This is a quote from Phoebe in the book, where she’s kind of re-examining the world she’s been raised in, a world where many families couldn’t eat a meal together:

Pappy once told me that there was a time when families stuck together, weathered every storm and every trial together as a unit, but that was a long time ago. That was before the revenant–a time when humans were favored by God. We were his children and we had misbehaved. I’d guessed the revenant were God’s way of punishing humans for their sins.

Phoebe, The Curse of Judas

This is a world in which I can see the revenant existing. It’s not so different from our own world and I could picture it all clearly.

To Wrap it all up…

I really liked The Curse of Judas and I can’t wait for the next book to come out!!! I recommend it for anyone that enjoys a good vampire story (where the vamps don’t glitter).

Have you read The Curse of Judas? Any thoughts on my thoughts?? Leave me a comment below! Thanks for visiting

Thanks for visiting and happy reading! 🙂

four-stars
Posted in book reviews

Danny and the DreamWeaver by Mark Poe

Danny and the DreamWeaver by Mark PoeDanny and the Dreamweaver by Mark Poe
Published by DV Books on July 16, 2016
ISBN: 0997680733
Pages: 104
Goodreads
Synopsis

Danny is a grumpy video-game junky. He daydreams in school and has a long-standing rivalry with his neighbor.

Yet Danny soon finds himself ensnared in a bizarre dream. Controlling his dream is Nostrildamus, an odd-looking creature with a huge nose and no eyes, yet can oddly see into the future.

Taken on a time-traveling hunt to solve an art-related mystery, Danny meets strange looking artists, like Hippopotamus Bosch and Michelanjello, while Nostrildamus tries to impart subtle pearls of wisdom.

Yet, what does it all mean? And what effect, if any, will all this have on Danny?

Find out in "Danny and the DreamWeaver," an imaginative adventure of criminal intrigue, time travel, and art history, infused into a bizarre dream that will have you scratching your head and smiling, until the end!

My review:

If I had to sum up this book in one word, it’d be HILARIOUS! I had SO much fun reading this!!!

From the very first page of Danny and the DreamWeaver, I was smiling and laughing. It’s filled with a lot of sass and humor but is actually educational at the same time.

The characters featured are so fun to read about and I was actually a little upset to see them go at the end. My favorite was a scene between Nostrildamus and a cardinal at the Vatican that had me laughing so hard I had to stop reading for a bit and come back to the book when I could pick it back up without busting out laughing again.

Even though the beginning pulled me in, it also had some faults… Danny rushes home to play games on his XBox 360 and PlayStation that I think are only available on the XBox One and PS 4 consoles. That probably only threw me off because I’m a bit of a video game junky, so I notice that kinda thing. Others probably wouldn’t.

My other issue is a pet peeve of mine in many, many stories… a character described himself for absolutely no reason! Again, this might not bother anyone else but it’s a pet peeve of mine. In this instance, Nostrildamus describes his appearance to Danny while Danny is standing right in front of him.

I think middle-grade students will enjoy this book and get a kick out of the puns. I also really liked the short bios at the end of all the famous characters.

I received a free review copy of this book from the author. This in no way influenced my review.

What do you think? Have a suggestion for my next read? Leave me a comment below!

Are you planning on purchasing Danny and the DreamWeaver?

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Posted in book reviews

The Seeker's Stone (DNA in the Deep #1) by Kelly S. Epperson

42203484Title:  The Seeker’s Stone
Author: Kelly S. Epperson
Publication Date: October 2018
Genre(s): Science Fiction Chapter book for kids 7-13
Length: 66 pages

Description:

Staring down the ladder into the rock’s dark interior, Emily and John wonder what they’re getting themselves into…
An hour ago, Emily and her brother John found themselves stuck with summer science camp instead of summer fun. Now, they’ve discovered the mysterious Seeker’s Stone, an intelligent ship that calls herself Catie.
When Catie transports them to the world of cells and DNA, they plunge into more adventure than any of them bargained for. Menacing enzymes, ferocious viruses, and monstrous predators lurk among the wonders of DNA, cells, and life beneath the waves. Can three friends find the strength, wits, courage, and teamwork to survive and escape the monsters of the deep, or will they become another link in the food chain?

My review:

The Seeker’s Stone is a humorous book that is both fun to read and educational. It begins with two siblings, Emily and John, basically begging their dad not to make them go to science camp. But their dad had won Emily and John’s spots at the camp through a contest and he insists they will have a great time. (Not to give away the ending, but something I found really funny was that by the end they’re calling home basically begging to be allowed to stay!)
Shortly after Emily and John’s father drives away from the camp, Emily and John (mostly John) make a wonderful discovery – The Seeker’s Stone!
My kids loved The Magic Tree House series and also The Magic Schoolbus television show. The Seeker’s Stone is very similar to those, so pretty much if you like that type of entertainment, you’re more than likely going to enjoy this book. There’s a lot of learning that could happen through this series, but it’s not presented in a “teachy” way, which I liked. Overall, the book has a really upbeat, funny, and even sarcastic vibe to it.
There’s a twist at the end of the book that actually shocked me a bit, which was good, but the ending seemed a little far-fetched and sort of Disney cartoonish to me… Then again, it’s a kids’ book so that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s just that reading it as an adult, it took me out of the story.
So my overall impression of The Seeker’s Stone is that it’s definitely worth picking up for fans of The Magic Tree House series.
My rating:  4.0/5.0

I received a free review copy of this book from the author. This in no way influenced my review.

What do you think? Have a suggestion for my next read? Leave me a comment below!
Are you planning on purchasing The Seeker’s Stone (#1 DNA in the Deep)? Please consider supporting this blog by using one of the below affiliate links. When you purchase using the affiliate links used on this page, I may receive a small portion of the sale, however, no additional cost is incurred by you.
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Posted in book reviews

BOOK REVIEW: Mystic Dragon by Jason Denzel

cover132474-mediumTitle & Author: Mystic Dragon, Jason Denzel
Publication Date & Publisher: July 17, 2018, Macmillan-Tor/Forge
Genre(s): Sci Fi & Fantasy
My Rating: 4.0/5.0

Description (from Goodreads):

Mystic Dragon: The enchanting epic fantasy series from Jason Denzel, the founder of Dragonmount
Seven years have passed since Pomella AnDone became the unlikely apprentice to Mystic Grandmaster Faywong. Despite having attained significant accomplishments as a Mystic, Pomella feels incomplete. She laments that her Master isn’t teaching her quickly enough.
As a rare celestial event approaches, Pomella feels her lack of experience more than ever. The Mystical realm of Fayün is threatening to overtake the mortal world, and as the two worlds slowly blend together, Moth is thrown into chaos. People begin to vanish or are killed outright. Mystics from across the world gather to protect them, among them Shevia, a dark and brilliant prodigy whose mastery of the Myst rivals even that of the greatest High Mystics.
Shevia will challenge Pomella in every possible way, from her mastery of the Myst to her emotional connection with Pomella’s old friend Sim, in this epic fantasy adventure.

My review:

I never purposefully jump into a series in the middle of it because every time it’s accidentally happened, I’ve hated the book. Part of why I’ve hated them is just how obvious it is that I’ve jumped in at the middle of the story… It either feels as if I’m missing something, or every time the author mentions what happened in the previous book(s) it makes me want to throw the book I’m reading out the window.
So when, over halfway through reading Mystic Dragon, I found out it was the second book in a trilogy, I was extremely impressed by how Jason Denzel had weaved his story. I found myself dying to read the first book, but not because I felt as if I was missing something in reading the second one first – it was because I just want to read more!
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Mystic Dragon. The world(s) itself was enough to keep me interested. It’s a little crazy because there are basically two worlds – Fayün and the “normal” world. Fayün is bleeding over into the mortal world and unnatural events are happening everywhere. The Mystics must stop the worlds from merging together forever, but they have limited time to do so and they’re up against a force much more powerful than they are!
The characters are very well-developed and complicated. I loved the way all of their stories were weaved together, as if they were always heading to the moment when the fate of all the worlds would be decided.
Even at the end, when everything came together and fates were sealed I was shocked by the ending! I literally said “Well, I didn’t see that coming,” out loud.
I definitely recommend picking this one up!
I’d love to know what you think! Leave me a comment below!

Thanks to NetGalley and Macmillan-Tor/Forge Books for providing me with an electronic copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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Posted in Author Interviews, book reviews

Q&A with Kay L Moody, Author of Truth Seer

40598920If you read my review of Kay L Moody’s Truth Seer, then you know that I fell in love with the characters and the world created in the book. About a million questions popped in my head while reading, and Kay was awesome enough to answer some of them!

How did you come up with the idea for Truth Seer?
Truth Seer started out as a picture in my mind. I imagined a girl tiptoeing through a dark and winding tunnel. The tunnel was filled with all sorts of things, but everything was opposite of what it seemed. The girl traveled with another person, but only the girl could see what was real and what was fake. She had to convince the other person to trust her even though everything looked opposite of what was really there. I remember two illusions specifically: In the tunnel, it looked like there was a patch of daisies, but really it was a cluster of poisonous spikes. In another spot sat the world’s most comfortable bed, but it looked like a huge, never ending pit.
Most of my original idea had to be adapted as the story evolved, but I did manage to keep the never-ending pit. 🙂
How did you come up with the idea of hilas? Was it challenging to work through all the different hilas and decide upon which character gets which one, etc.?
I remember seeing a thing on Pinterest where someone said their superpower was being able to remove sticky labels off glass objects. I remember thinking that was funny. But then I started reading the comments and a lot of people were genuinely impressed and asked for tips. I thought it was really interesting how people could be impressed by such a simple thing. And then I thought, what if that skill was trained so intensely that it actually became a superpower? Or what if being hyper aware of smells was a superpower? If we focused in on these mundane abilities and trained them to become more than just mundane, what would happen? Then, I imagined what the world would be like in a hundred years where we’ve trained these powers and almost everyone has a superpower.
It wasn’t hard to decide who had what hila, but it was hard to keep track of what their hila was actually capable of. I worked really hard to make all of the hilas realistically plausible. At first, Siluk could create smells out of thin air. But I decided that didn’t fit any of the other hilas, so I had to give him that same ability, but make it scientifically plausible. So instead, I gave him spray bottles and he knew how to use them to create any smell he wanted.
Are there other female authors (or authors in general) in the genre that inspired you to write Truth Seer?
I was more inspired to write in science fiction because of the lack of woman. But since writing and researching the genre more, I have found a few authors that I love. When I was almost done with the 2nd draft of Truth Seer, I discovered The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. I was completely blown away by the story and quickly became a huge fan of this strange genre where science fiction and fantasy are smooshed together. I’ve written a lot about science fantasy/soft sci fi on my website because the genre fascinates me. I really hope to see more books like this in the future.
Also, Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein, is basically my hero. For those who don’t know, Frankenstein is widely considered the first science fiction novel ever. And I love that it was written by a woman! I haven’t read Frankenstein yet, but it’s on my to-read list and I can’t wait to start it.
If you had to pick, who is your favorite character? Why? Were they also your favorite character to write, or did you enjoy the actual creating of another character more?
Imara is probably my favorite because she has such opposite forces working within her. She has the desire to protect other people, but she also thinks very little of everyone around her. She has to learn a lot about herself that she has tried to ignore for a long time. But of course, Abe was another favorite. Imara has pushed everyone away for so long, she hardly knows what to do when Abe comes in and forces himself in her life. Her instinct is still to push him away and instead of being offended, he tries to figure out why so he can help her.
I also had a lot of fun writing the side characters. I love all of them for different reasons, but my favorites are probably Mr. Nazari and Siluk.
If Truth Seer were made into a movie, who do you imagine playing the lead roles?
I love to imagine Lupita Nyong’o as Imara, especially since Lupita grew up in Kenya. And for Abe, I feel like Marc Casabani has the right look.
Can you give us a hint about what’s in store for Imara and Abe without giving away too many spoilers?
At the end of Truth Seer, we know a lot about Imara and her past, but we know almost nothing about Abe, other than what happens in the catacombs. In book 2 we’ll get to learn a lot more about Abe’s life and past, which I’m really excited about. There’s also a new antagonist in book 2. If you’ve signed up for my email list to get Keiko’s story, you’ll get a little introduction to the new antagonist. I don’t want to give away too much, but there will be lots of new technology and lots of crime. And there’s going to be a lot more at stake than just hostages.
What are your top 3 favorite books of all time?
I have a very eclectic list of favorite books. In no particular order, my very favorite books are Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and Cinder by Marissa Meyer
What was your favorite part of the writing/publishing process? What was your least favorite?
My favorite part was the writing and my least favorite part was the writing. 🙂 There were so many days when I’d stare at my screen and have no idea how to write what I was thinking in my head. I kept saying, “Why is writing so hard?” But I also loved the actual writing. When I got to my favorite parts, it was so fun to finally put on paper the ideas in my head. I guess the very best part was finishing and knowing that I had actually accomplished my goal of publishing a book.
What started you on the road to writing/why do you write?
I explain this in a lot more detail on my about me page, but basically my mom inspired me to write. And she graced me with the genetics to always have a story in my head. I started writing to escape the world. I loved creating worlds where my characters could overcome the struggles I faced and find happiness despite pain.
About Kay L Moody:
headshot-214x300

Kay L Moody is proud to be a female science fiction author. Her books feature cool science and technology, strong female leads, and a dash of romance. There’s a strong focus on character development and societal conditions. Kay loves books because they provide an escape from the world. She writes so that her books can provide both entertainment and edification. She believes that no matter how difficult life gets, a happy ending is never permanently out of reach. She likes to say, “If it isn’t happy, then it’s not the end.”
Posted in book reviews

BOOK REVIEW: Truth Seer (Truth Seer Trilogy Book 1) by Kay L Moody

40598920Title & Author: Truth Seer, Kay L Moody
Publication Date & Publisher: July 2, 2018, Marten Press
Genre: Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Teens & YA
My Rating: 4.0
Amazon Purchase Link: Truth Seer (Truth Seer Trilogy)

Description (from Goodreads):

A world of lies. A cell of terrorists. When her sister is taken hostage, only the power to see the truth can set both of them free.
Egypt, 2121. Imara Kalu knows how she wants her future to go: Become a police interrogator in Kenya and then graduate as a truth seer in her last semester of the summer training program. But her plans fall apart when a group of terrorists take over the school and carry out a desperate kidnapping. Devastated that her sister is among the victims, Imara leads a rescue team and descends into the dangerous catacombs where the hostages are rumored to be hidden.
Although suspicious of others because of the truth she sees, Imara knows the rescue team will need her help as a truth seer to bypass the lethal illusions laid by the abductors. But as the terrorist traps escalate, Imara realizes how much truth she’s been ignoring and that holding back could get her sister killed. Throughout the journey, Imara confronts her past and amplifies her abilities as a truth seer only to discover that her sister’s kidnapping is just one piece of a much darker secret.
Truth Seer is an enthralling YA sci-fi fantasy novel. If you like tenacious heroes, incredible mind powers, and futuristic tech, then you’ll love Kay L Moody’s fascinating world.

My review:

If you had the ability to see (literally SEE) others truths and intentions, would you really want to?
Before reading Truth Seer, I would have said “Um, Yeah!” without thinking twice about it. But now?!?!? I’m not so sure…
Truth Seer takes place in the future, after we’ve tapped into innate abilities that allow us to basically have superpowers (hilas). It seems a little far fetched when I say it that way, but Kay L Moody actually had me thinking I could totally have a hila!
Basically, we’re currently in a world where we all have “abilities” we just haven’t tapped into yet. Are you good at nursing people back to health? You’re probably a healer. Have an incredible sense of smell? Yep, there’s a hila there! Can you predict when it’s about to rain? You’ve probably got the same hila as Imara’s sister, Naki. OR at least, you would…if only we’d figured out how to unlock our hilas already. Not gonna lie… I’M SUPER UPSET WE DON’T HAVE SUPERPOWERS!
Oops! I got distracted. I’m supposed to be telling you what I thought about the book…
The main character, Imara, is a truth seer. She’s able to see the truth and intentions behind what people say. I both thought this was awesome, and felt so bad for Imara that this was her hila! Because she knows anytime someone is lying, she can’t trust anyone. Everyone lies.
Imara and her sister, Naki, have some issues that go far deeper than most sibling rivalries. But when Naki is kidnapped by a terrorist group called “taggers,” Imara risks her life to save Naki and the others who were taken with her.
My favorite thing about Truth Seer was definitely the characters! I was drawn to Imara and loved how complicated she was. She is constantly seeing the truth around her, but the truth about herself is much harder for her to see. While Imara is my favorite character, there’s a mystique about Abe that has me dying to see what happens in the next book… I’m really hoping to learn more about him!
One of my favorite scenes was probably really only my favorite because I found it hilarious and could totally see the scenario taking place in the not so distant future. And I could totally see me talking to my grandchildren the same as Mr. Nazari talks to the students…

… “There’s writing on it. There’s actual writing on this paper. By hand!”
Mr. Nazari snatched the paper from Darius. “Let me see that.” He masked his curiosity with a patronizing look. “You children. Getting excited over paper. It used to be commonplace, you know.”

Because of Imara’s hila, no one ever questions her. They just go along with whatever she says. But she falls for Abe, who questions everything about both her hila and Imara herself. I loved their back and forth and they may be my new favorite fictional couple!
So those are the pros, on to the cons…
While I loved the book, there were times when Imara rubbed me the wrong way. She said and thought things that just didn’t make sense concerning her sister. It really got to me – to the point that I started not to like her so much. But you are given an explanation later in the story and it’s this “AHA!” moment, where suddenly it all makes sense and you think “Okay, now I’m shocked she wasn’t having even worse thoughts.” (So I guess this wasn’t actually a con. But I put it here because Imara REALLY angered me a couple of times before I knew what was going on.)
There were quite a bit of typos in my copy, but it may have just been because I had an ARC and these may be taken care of. In case they aren’t, I feel I need to mention that it was a problem. There was also a couple of times when the dialogue didn’t seem quite right…it either wasn’t something I would have expected the character to say, or it didn’t sound natural to me.
But basically, I loved Truth Seer and I definitely recommend it for those that enjoy young adult science fiction/fantasy novels. Book 2 in the trilogy is coming in January and I’m excited to get my hands on it!
In case you’re wondering…my hila would totally be truth seeing, just like Imara. And just like her, it’d cause me to isolate myself from everyone… What would you’re hila be? Would you actually want one, or do you think you’d be happier without it?
Do you plan on reading or have you read Truth Seer? What did you think? Do you want a hila now? Let me know!

***UPDATE: Since the original posting of this review, it has been confirmed that the typos mentioned above were because they had not been fixed prior to my receiving the ARC from the author and typos were corrected prior to final version of book.

 

Amazon Purchase Link: Truth Seer (Truth Seer Trilogy)