Review of Braving the Wilderness

Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand AloneBraving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone by Brené Brown
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

True Belonging is something we all aspire to and yet something we pursue in all the wrong ways. Fitting in is not the same as belonging, as Ms. Brown discovers in her research. Spurred on by a Maya Angelou quote (“You only are free when you realize you belong no place — you belong every place — no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great.”), Brene brings her considerable research skill and dedication to the question of what does it mean to belong.

This book resonated with me on so many levels and I had quite a few A-ha! moments reading it. I love psychological books that touch on the real problems we face as individuals and as a culture. As usual, Brene Brown treads these delicate issues with fierce courage and vulnerability and tells it like it is. I’m sure this is a book I will go back to more than once to re-read and digest and course-correct myself in my dealings with others. A great read for anyone who has felt left out by the world at large. Inspiring, hopeful and vulnerable.. just like we all should be. Thank you, Brene.

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Review of Tears of War


Tears of War by A.D. Trosper

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Galdrilene’s Dragonriders are back and so are the Shadow Riders. The conflict heats up in this second book of the Dragon’s Call series by A.D. Trosper. The scope of the story blossoms from just the first eight riders to a brewing world war, as the riders must go to back to their homes to convince the nations that not all dragons are black and magic does not cause insanity. Game of Thrones in its scope, Tears of War shows us more about the world the riders must deal with and the kind of enemies they have. I cringe at the power of the Shadow Riders and found myself seriously worried for a few of my favorite characters. With a name like Tears of War, you know bad things are going to happen and if your eyes are dry at the end, you must have skipped a few chapters. A great read, and I eagerly look forward to the next one in the series.

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Review of Betrayed by A.D. Trosper

Betrayed (Raven Daughter Book 2)Betrayed by A.D. Trosper
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

You won’t feel Betrayed by this book, it delivers. (See there, I did it again)

You really should read Unveiled first and I will attempt to avoid spoilers. That said, I wholeheartedly recommend these books to anyone who enjoys a paranormal romance that has heart, a wonderful cast of characters and a good plot.

Snarky Jo and arrogant Caius are back, and I love them more with every page. As Jo comes to grips with the realities of her world, a world wherein her most trustworthy ally is a high-ranking demonborn, she begins to embrace her power and her potential role in the war she thinks is heading their way. A war prophesied by the Morrigan, the supernatural Mother Of All whose end it is foretold Jo will bring about. But prophesies are tricky things, as we all know.

The action is fast-paced and there are plenty of dangers awaiting her and her allies, not the least of which is her own unfathomable power and her growing affection for her demonborn partner. Jo and Caius sport the same rebellious streak concerning following the rules of people who are trying to kill them (which I totally love) and we discover another bond between them that makes me root for them all the harder. The loyalty they feel for each other and the sparks that fly are tantalizing and satisfying at the same time – as any good romance should be.

Again there is a slightly cliffhanger ending as with Unveiled but I am sure all loose threads will be tied up in the pending sequel and I just can’t wait to find out what happens next. You do not want to miss this series.

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Review of Unveiled by A.D. Trosper

Unveiled by A.D. Trosper
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A.D. Trosper “unveils” another engrossing and delightful story. (See what I did there.)

I have enjoyed other books by this author and I am always struck by the ease with which Ms. Trosper creates her worlds. Her language is unadorned and straightforward. The prose itself quickly slips into the background as the setting she creates fills your imagination. The world-within-worlds reality of Unveiled is truly fascinating and I can’t wait to see what further lands are explored in the sequel(s) to this book.

Moreover, Trosper manages to put us smack dab inside the heroine’s head and never lets it slip. Jo, short for Josephine, is an ordinary if extremely stubborn young woman who has never suspected anything supernatural about her life. But when her mother dies, she discovers just how wrong she was. From her unusual parentage to her decision to join the ranks of Reapers (guides who help souls to the appropriate afterlife), she has to embrace a new worldview which she does with a only a smidge of kicking and a good dollop of sarcastic snark. She is tough and vulnerable at the same time; you can’t help but love her. As for her counterpart and reluctant partner-in-crime Caius, he has a Darcy-like haughtiness that just begs for a comeuppance. The two mains play well off each other, with a great deal of enjoyable spark. I bet their relationship will bear further watching.

Trosper’s mix of angels, demons, and older gods is fun and fresh. If you love paranormal romances with a strong sense of snark and humanity, Unveiled should definitely be on your TBR list.

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Review: A Torch Against the Night

A Torch Against the Night

by Sabaa Tahir
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This sequel does not disappoint!

I was eagerly waiting for this sequel to come out, having been delighted with An Ember in the Ashes. I knew in my bones what was coming would be heart wrenching and difficult but I trusted in Ms. Tahir. I was not disappointed. I held my breath and hurried through the chapters needing to know what came next. In her world that is intricate, complicated and brutal, you grow to appreciate each of the three characters,. You want to hate some, to say this one is good and this one bad, but you can’t. An expert at the gray area, Tahir sneaks them into your heart with their hopes, their dreams, their virtues and their flaws.

As for the narration, the voice actors reprised their performances from An Ember in the Ashes and I felt like I was meeting old friends after a lengthy absence. The continuity in the voices, in the characters felt like coming home. I don’t normally like present tense, but the reading here was so smooth, that even when I transitioned to the page for a time, I didn’t even notice until I was done.

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Review: An Ember in the Ashes

An Ember in the Ashes

by Sabaa Tahir
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I had not heard anything about this title or author when I bought the audiobook. I eventually also bought it in paperback because I needed the consummation of actually turning the pages at times. Sometimes, the audio read felt too slow because I just wanted, no needed, to know what happened next.

In a world where the Martial Empire has spread to most of the continent, disobedience is brutally punished and those from subservient nations are turned into slaves. Laia, a scholar girl, must face her fears and risk death to save her brother while Elias Veturius, a member of one of the most respected Martial families, despises what he has become and longs for freedom. Their paths are destined to cross and cross again as they battle to stay alive and find what matters to them most.

I was surprised at the ease with which I became engrossed in the story, rooting for characters, feeling their pains. I was hooked from the first page. I love Ms. Tahir’s writing though I’m not sure I could say what is different about it, just that it resonates with me.

The narrators also were perfect fits for their characters, Mr. West in particular. Told from the first person viewpoint with a full cast, I felt like I knew Laia, Helene and Elias by the end of it. This book deserved its accolade of Best YA Book of 2015. Definitely worth a read or a listen.

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Review: The Immorality Clause

The Immorality Clause

by Brian Parker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Bladerunner in the Red Light District.

This title is a bit outside my usual fare. I’m not a huge fan of noir or crime novels but it looked intriguing. Unfortunately, it turned out not to be my cup of tea. (I rated it as if it was the kind of book I would like, personal prejudices aside.)

It was a cliche in a slightly over the top kind of way. And though, that is not to my taste I’m sure many would love it. It was very tactfully written for the subject matter, neither too gory nor too timid. It was moderately well-paced but I felt, at times, the clues didn’t quite follow; coincidences were too pat. Otherwise, it was enjoyable.

As for the narration, it was the bright spot in this book for me. Mr. Pena sounds just like you’d expect a rough around the edges cop to sound. A likable jerk. He did a good job with the acting, this being entirely from the 1st person perspective which is a tough job. And though he did a wonderful job altering his voice to perform the voices of the robots and other characters, I felt that at times the story let him down.

If you like noir crime, I predict you will really enjoy this book. For those of us who don’t, you may want to pass.

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