IMG_9043

Book Review: Citizen Kill by Stephen Clark

Book Review: Citizen Kill by Stephen ClarkRating: 4/5 teacups

Summary

“When a devastating explosion kills the new President’s young son, her administration seeks to finally end the war on terror. CIA black-ops agent Justin Raines is among the recruits in a new program that targets for assassination U.S. citizens suspected of radicalizing Muslims.

Haunted by a botched assignment overseas, Justin is determined to redeem himself through the program. But when he is assigned to kill a mysterious Muslim educator that he believes is innocent, he grows disillusioned. Now he must find a way to prove her innocence and derail the program before they both are assassinated.

This explosive political thriller will keep you on the edge of your seat as Washington stops at nothing to protect the nation from terrorists, while Justin Raines risks everything to protect the nation from Washington.”

-From Amazon.com

Review

I was contacted by Stephen to read his book and at the title, I was hooked. It grabbed my attention immediately. And then I read the summary and I was just so curious as to what the story was about. It was clear that it was going to hit close to home with terrorism and all of these events currently going on in the U.S., but it was definitely worth the read.

Based in reality.
The book is based in reality and has no fantastical aspects. It is completely realistic in how it portrays the government, how it works, and how they operate and the kind of secrets they hold. Of course, it’s not based on fact, but it was interesting to see how this idea was mixed into reality and used the fears that people have in the book.

The topic of conversation was Islamophobia.
The main purpose of the book was the cover the idea of Islamophobia and how just because someone is a Muslim, people seem to assume that they are a terrorist. That was one of the points of the book which I thought was interesting to cover. Of course it is covered in non-fiction books but I haven’t come across it in a fiction book before and it was nice that that kind of issue was addressed.

Action packed.
The story kept you on your toes and kept changes and so you weren’t really sure what to expect next, up until the last pages. It was kind of like real life. You expect something to go one way but it actually ended up going the other, especially with politics and it being an ever-changing ground and you can’t predict what will happen next.

I also really liked the idea that everyone thought that they were the good guy. The bad guy thinks that he is the good guy and the good guy thinks that he is the good guy. Everyone thinks that they are doing what is best for everyone. I liked that that was addressed but it is a true fact of life. Wrong or right, everyone thinks that what they do is to better everyone else, no matter what they are doing.

Overall I really liked the book and will give it 4/5 teacups!

rating four tea cups mlcwo

I would suggest reading it, especially if you like politically fueled reads and ones that keep you turning pages. The chapters were nice and short so you were able to bite through it quickly so it wasn’t a long read.

Happy Reading and let me know what you think!

 

IMG_9043

The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry

The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry Summary

“London, 1893. When Cora Seaborne’s husband dies, she steps into her new life as a widow with as much relief as sadness: her marriage was not a happy one, and she never suited the role of society wife. Accompanied by her son Francis – a curious, obsessive boy – she leaves town for Essex, where she hopes fresh air and open space will provide the refuge they need.

When they take lodgings in Colchester, rumours reach them from further up the estuary that the mythical Essex Serpent, once said to roam the marshes claiming human lives, has returned to the coastal parish of Aldwinter. Cora, a keen amateur naturalist with no patience for religion or superstition, is immediately enthralled, convinced that what the local people think is a magical beast may be a previously undiscovered species. As she sets out on its trail, she is introduced to William Ransome, Aldwinter’s vicar.

Like Cora, Will is deeply suspicious of the rumours, but he thinks they are founded on moral panic, a flight from real faith. As he tries to calm his parishioners, he and Cora strike up an intense relationship, and although they agree on absolutely nothing, they find themselves inexorably drawn together and torn apart, eventually changing each other’s lives in ways entirely unexpected.

Told with exquisite grace and intelligence, this novel is most of all a celebration of love, and the many different guises it can take.”

-From book jacket

Review

This book was an absolutely exquisite read – there really is no other way to put it. First of all, a little bit about the author. She is highly well educated with a PhD in creative writing from Royal Halloway, which is a very well respected university. Additionally, she has been the writer in residence at Gladstone’s Library as well as the UNESCO World City of Literature Writer in Residence in Prague (summarized from book jacket). So clearly she knows her stuff in regards to writing and this is clearly evident within the book.

It is written in an older English kind of style as there are Old English contractions between words, as well as English spelling and longer sentences. It is more like a Jane Austen novel than a newer piece of literature, which I absolutely love. This book is nothing like you will find in the ‘new’ section of your bookstores.

It was definitely a challenging read, to get into it, as it was so different from any other book that one may generally read. It took a few chapters to get into the book and understand the flow of how it would be progressing, but once you did, it was a wonderful story. It was vividly written with beautiful descriptions and you were really able to feel the atmosphere of the book and locations mentioned with great ease.

If you are looking for a book that is fast paced, then this is not your book. It is a very slow story but it keeps you interested. I do not mean slow in a negative way, but there are no fights or action scenes as such. It was a calm book and not once did I have any of my emotions go to an extreme where I had adrenaline pumping or tears streaming down my face. It was all so calm and peaceful which I loved.

There was one small sex scene, which shocked the living daylights out of me. It was so soft and nothing really happened but it was obvious what was happening. And for the time period and what was happening in the story, it shocked me overall and was just so scandalous. In other books I wouldn’t have even batted an eyelash however in this one I was internally going “oh my gosh, wait what?!”

Overall this book was fantastic! It won’t be released in the United States until June 6th, so this is definitely hot off the press. It has been released in the UK for a few months however, like all good things, other countries had to wait for it.

So I do recommend adding this to your wishlist and giving it a buy. It’s an amazing read and a wonderful gift for any book lover in your life. I mean, just look at the cover! Who wouldn’t love to receive a book that was beautiful as that?

Happy Reading and let me know what you all think!

IMG_9043

Riven by Jane Alvey Harris (My Myth Trilogy Book 1)

riven by jane alvey harrisSummary

“Which Reality Would YOU Choose? Seventeen year-old Emily’s dad is in prison for securities fraud and her mom’s strung-out on pain meds, leaving Emily to parent herself and her younger brothers and sister. She’s got things mostly under control until a couple weeks before Dad’s release, when voices start whispering in her head, and Gabe, the hot lifeguard at the pool, notices the strange brands engraved on her arm…the ones she’s trying desperately to hide. Emily doesn’t know how the symbols got there or what they mean. They appeared overnight and now they’re infected and bleeding. She’s pretty sure she’s losing her mind. Stress, insomnia, and her wounded egos drive Emily to self-medicate, which has to be why the nightmares from her childhood have resurfaced, why they’re commandeering her conscious even when she’s awake. It has to be why the fairytale creatures she created as a little girl insist they need her help. Triggered by the return of her childhood abuser and unable to cope with reality, Emily slips completely inside her elaborate fantasy world. She’s powerful in the First Realm, maybe even more powerful than her attacker. It would be so easy to stay there, to lose herself in enchantment…to lose herself in love. But something sinister lurks in the forest shadows. Emily soon discovers her demons have followed her inside her fairytale. They’re hunting her. With the help of the Fae, she frantically searches for the weapons she needs to defeat her greatest fears and escape back to reality before the man who tortured her can prey on her younger brothers and sister, too. Time is running out…”

-From Amazon.com

Review

I have to say that this was quite a unique book – nothing like I expected at all. I received a copy from the Publicist, Paula Margulies, (thank you for that!) after I was asked if I’d host a book spotlight. Paula was generous enough to send me a hard copy of the book (which I always loveeee receiving) and I flew through the book! Well…flew through it in university free time standards.

So the book covered some interesting themes from child abuse to managing depression. This kind of theme is generally glossed over in books now as children don’t like to read it, parents don’t like their children to read it and authors don’t write it because they know it will not sell. However, this is an incredibly important topic to cover in book, especially in a way that children will understand. Childhood depression, child abuse, and struggling for children is a common thing that they encounter and if they don’t understand what they are facing, they won’t know how to deal with it or how to properly address it. So that is one reason I really did like the book. The book ended with a reminder of who to contact if you, or someone you know, was struggling with abuse.

Now the story itself was a little confusing to me, but I did still enjoy it. It kept mixing between this fantasy world which Emily created to escape reality and reality. As the book progressed, you started to understand that there was a clear parallel between the fantasy world and the world which Emily was living in with the boys she started to like, her family and her father (being the bad guy). There wasn’t tons of character development until the end when the protagonist realized what she needed to do and the fact that she wasn’t alone and could do this. However, it wasn’t a completely neat ending as there are three more books to be in the series. I don’t know how the series will go, and I may check up on it in the future to see what the other two books will cover, however one book would have be sufficient in my opinion.

I don’t know if I will be picking up the other books in the series, as it’s not really my kind of story, however I do recommend checking this kind of book out because it was just so unique and beautifully covered the struggle which children can face. It also wasn’t a difficult read so it won’t take too long to get through.

I give this one 4 out of 5 tea cups! Go check it out!

rating four tea cups mlcwo

Happy Reading

IMG_9043

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

A Court of Thorns and Roses

Summary

“Perfect for fans of Kristin Cashore and George R.R. Martin, this first book in a sexy and action-packed new series is impossible to put down!

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin–one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow over the faerie lands is growing, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin–and his world–forever.”

-From Amazon.com

Review

Well, I certainly wasn’t expecting this at all. I’ve been seeing A Court of Thorns and Roses all over Instagram recently with some amazing photos of the book and it really caught my attention. Then it kept showing up on my feed and I just had to see what everyone was talking about and I am so glad that I did.

I honestly hadn’t heard anything about this book until I saw it on my timeline so clearly I’m living in my own little bubble because how could I have missed this?! I read the entire book in about 4-5 hours, with a small break for dinner, but just couldn’t put it down. It was so addictive.

First of all, the cover is beautiful! Just look at all that red and thorns and just, yes. Red covers always seem to catch my attention.  Of course I had seen some beautiful covers of it on Instagram as well. I will definitely be finishing the series after I finish my currently reading book.

The story was unique which was nice. The fairies in the book weren’t little things that were all adorable. They were badass and could kick some serious butt. It was more of a mature YA book because of that too, there was blood, violence and sex. The sex wasn’t explicit but it was enough to push it to be more mature and there was a decent amount of blood as well.

Team Rhysand
From Redbubble

Now, as for the story, the first book ended quite well in a nice neat package so you don’t have to finish the series I guess as it did finish the book quite well, but there were some things not answered and I just want to see what happens next! And the two teams to choose from; Team Tamlin or Team Rhysand. I don’t know which team I am on yet. I was Team Tamlin, but Rhysand though….

 

I mean this book was just so good and I cannot wait to be able to read the next one. It is a best-seller on Amazon which clearly shows that it is liked by many.

Team Tamlin
From Redbubble

Have any of you lovelies read this series yet? Or just this book? Whose team are you on and did you like the series?

Happy Reading!!!

 

 

 

 

IMG_9043

Riven: My Myth Trilogy, Book 1 [BOOK SPOTLIGHT and INTERVIEW!]

Riven Cover

Imaginative Heroine Uses Fantasy as
Salvation from Abuse in Issue-Driven
YA Psychological Thriller, Riven

Coppell, TX – In Jane Alvey Harris’s award-winning debut psychological thriller, Riven (ISBN 978-1944244163), readers are swept inside the fantasy world created by a teenager who finds the trauma and abuse she has endured to be vastly more than she can handle. The novel is the recipient of the 2016 Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards Gold Medal for Best E Book, Young Adult Fiction and the 2016 BookLife Prize in Fiction in the Young Adult category.

Told in the first person, Riven opens with seventeen-year-old Emily in the unenviable position of parenting herself and her younger brothers and sister. Her father is in prison for securities fraud, and her mother is strung out on pain meds. Emily thinks she has her life under control until a few weeks before her dad’s release, when she begins hearing voices. Then Gabe, the attractive lifeguard at the pool, notices strange markings engraved on her arm. Emily doesn’t know what these symbols mean or how they got there. All she knows is that they appeared overnight and are becoming infected.

Filled with anxiety, unable to sleep and driven to self-medicate, Emily’s childhood nightmares begin resurfacing. They are commandeering her consciousness even when she’s awake. The fairytale creatures she created as a little girl insist they need her help.

Triggered by the return of her childhood abuser, unable to cope with reality and desperately in need of refuge, Emily slips completely inside her elaborate fantasy world. She wants to stay here, to lose herself in enchantment and romance, but something sinister lurks in the forest shadows. Before long, Emily discovers her demons have followed her inside her beloved fairytale. They are hunting her.

“I wrote this story to document how victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse often use fantasy as a coping mechanism for their trauma,” said Harris. “I also wanted to show that the essential first step taken by those who wish to thrive in spite of their abuse is self-acceptance.”

Jane Alvey Harris has a humanities degree from Brigham Young University with emphases in art history, Italian, and studio art. She is fascinated with the visual and performing arts and enjoys playing classical piano, painting, sketching, singing, acting, and writing poetry and prose. Nonetheless, her real passion is people; she loves to watch and study human beings. An unabashed dreamer, her favorite activity is to weave together sublime settings and stories for characters to live and learn in, herself included. Jane currently lives in an enchanted fairy-princess castle in Dallas, Texas, with her three often-adorable children and their three seldom-adorable cats.

For more information on the author or Riven, please visit www.JaneAlveyHarris.com.


Q&A with Jane Alvey Harris

Jane Headshot

  1. What inspired you to create Riven and the My Myth Trilogy series?

Honestly, when I began writing Riven, I was just looking for relief. I was struggling through a really dark time in my life and was doing therapy with an amazing counselor who encouraged me to write. I didn’t have a synopsis or even an outline; I was just writing scenes from my head and connecting them together. It took me a couple years to get the first draft out and even longer to realize what the story was really about.

Somewhere in the middle of undoing myself in therapy, the narrative in my writing transformed. It matured from a pretty fairytale to a hard-hitting, issue-driven documentation of a survivor’s journey to make peace with her wounded egos and achieve self-acceptance. It was dark, but it felt important. More than that, in the act of weaving my tale I realized I was laying my hands directly on the tattered pieces of a buried map leading to rich interior landscapes I’d never acknowledged or explored before, because I considered them ugly, worthless, and humiliating.

It was about this time that other people in my life began sharing their long-guarded accounts of abuse with me. I was overwhelmed by sorrow at their suffering, but also inspired by their confidence in me, which helped me understand I wasn’t alone. With the help of my therapist and my editor, who both prompted me to dig deep and tell the real story, I gained new purpose, new confidence. I learned that I was brave, that I was strong. I realized that my writing might actually help others who struggled.

  1. Your main character, Emily, is a seventeen-year-old who finds herself in difficult circumstances. What is her situation in the story and how did she get there?

The story opens at the end of July, the summer before Emily has to repeat junior year of high school. Her dad’s been in prison for ten years, and her mom, a school teacher, becomes increasingly dependent on prescription pain meds. She loses her job and basically stays in bed all day, relying on Emily to parent her two younger brothers and younger sister. Still, Emily thinks she’s got things mostly under control. But as the date for her dad’s release from prison gets closer, Emily’s stress levels increase exponentially. She finds herself unable to cope with her reality and slips into a fantasy world she created as a little girl.

  1. What are the main themes in Riven and how are they developed in the story?

Riven is all about hard hitting social issues, including mental illness, feminism, and rape culture, to name a few. But the main theme is one of self-acceptance. My goals were to illustrate the damage that buried guilt and shame have on the psyche and demonstrate how acknowledging personal truth is the first step in healing from trauma.

  1. There are a number of fantastical elements to Riven, including the imaginary world of the First Realm. What role does fantasy play in the story, and how is important to the development of the book’s characters?

Okay, this is juicy stuff. First, like Emily, many victims of childhood abuse use fantasy to escape a reality they can’t cope with. Not only is it key in the backstory, as a plot device, and in Emily’s growth throughout the book, it also adds layers of depth which engage readers on different levels.

Fantasy keeps the readers on their toes, too. Emily is an unreliable narrator, to say the least. She questions her own sanity, and as her stress increases throughout the first half of the book, she starts to self-medicate. At times, she’s unable to distinguish between fantasy and reality. The reader experiences this fracturing along with her, catching glimpses of the past, and is sometimes plunged into the fantasy First Realm without warning. Ultimately, it’s up to each reader to decide what is really real.

Mixing fantasy elements with gritty contemporary realism also adds action, adventure, and gave me the perfect opportunity to play with some really gorgeous settings. I’m a huge fan of Guillermo Del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth. On one hand, fantasy is whimsical and innocent. It lightens some of the darker themes of Riven. On the other hand, juxtaposing the ethereal with horror heightens poignancy of tragedy and psychological distress.

Most importantly, it is through the world of imagination that Emily is able to envision herself as a powerful individual. She creates a Realm where she’s able to accept and forgive herself.

  1. Much of Riven is based on your own real-life experiences. How does your personal story inform the novel and, more-specifically, Emily’s character?

Well, Emily basically has my personality. The book began as a love story to my three children, (Jacob, Aidan, and Claire, who you’ll meet in the book) at a time I was very vulnerable in my life. So, if the strength of the sibling relationships seems super-real, it’s because that’s really them, and Emily is really me. Lots of the dialogue I’ve taken directly from real life. While I don’t claim all of Emily’s experiences, I will say they are true, a combination of stories and experiences which have been shared with me, along with a healthy dose of my dreams and imagination.

  1. Riven deals with serious issues for teens, including abandonment, drug use, cutting, and sexual abuse. How do novels like yours help survivors and supporters with awareness and solutions for these issues?

Issues like these continue to be such a huge problem, because they make people uncomfortable and because they’re difficult to talk about. It’s easy to sweep the topic of childhood sexual abuse, and the many destructive behaviors which result from it, under the rug, because it just isn’t comfortable. The vast majority of survivors never reveal their experiences because of guilt and shame. How can we heal if we hide? My hope is that telling this story will help to normalize people. Not just victims of abuse, but anyone who struggles with negative self-image.

While I wrote Riven to be as entertaining and immersive as possible, my main purpose was to shed light on darkness and ugliness that don’t have to be life sentences of suffering. There is hope. There are resources. There are networks of supporters waiting to help. My dream is that Riven and the My Myth Trilogy will spark discussion and help people heal, while calling the rest of us to action as supporters. If we educate ourselves and abolish buried guilt and shame, we can end the cycle of abuse.

  1. Are you working on the next novel in the series and, if so, what can you tell us about it?

Yes, and I’m SO EXCITED! The second book in the trilogy is called Secret Keeper. While Riven deals with the nature of legitimate victimhood, Secret Keeper is all about what comes next. Self-acceptance is just the very first step in recovery; Emily still has to do all the work of telling her truth in the real world if she wants to protect her siblings. And what happens when you speak that kind of truth? How do people react? How do you stop being a victim? How do you protect yourself from repeating the cycle of abuse? The pendulum swings in the completely opposite direction from victim in Secret Keeper, though not necessarily in a healthy way. There’s a lot of bad-assery afoot. I’m having a blast writing and meeting new characters, and I know readers will love them!