Monday, June 26, 2017

Sandpiper Cove~Irene Hannon | Review

Title: Sandpiper Cove (Hope Harbor #3)
Author: Irene Hannon
Genre: Adult Contemporary
Length: 352 Pages
Release: April 2017

A copy of this novel was provided through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

I absolutely loved Sandpiper Cove! When I read the summary, and discovered Police Chief Lexie Graham and ex-con Adam Stone were the main characters I was intrigued. What an original story line. This type of relationship falls outside social norms, so I couldn't wait to see how author Irene Hannon would handle this unique and tricky connection. She did a fantastic job of presenting both the attraction and the challenges to be dealt with between them, but what an amazing payoff in the end.

There's a wonderful cast of secondary characters in Lexie's son Matt, her mom Annette, co-worker Luis, Charley the taco-maker, and Reverend Baker, to name a few. The story wouldn't have been complete without Clyde the rescue dog, he tied the whole story together. They all added a rich layer of dialogue and understanding as to what it means to live as community in a small charming seaside town. An at-risk teen name Brian and the struggles he faced while trying to navigate high school and find acceptance as the new kid on the block was especially poignant and touching.

It doesn't happen often that all aspects of a story come together so well, but they did in Sandpiper Cove. Loyalty, commitment, friendship, encouragement, faith and love, the things of value that make life memorable, they're all there in this book.
"Any damaged board can be smoothed out and made new with work and patience."

Is Adam Stone a "damaged board"? Starting life over as an ex-convict, in a small town, is not an easy thing to do, but Adam Stone has managed to live a simple life as a responsible citizen, out of the limelight in his solitary cabin by the Oregon coastline. Until one day, the beautiful police chief shows up at his doorstep, tipped off by a local, about the recent vandalism on Stone's property and "a tiny ember of hope for a future that included more than a loyal, lovable dog for a companion began to glow in a long-dark corner of his heart".

Lexie Graham has hardly noticed Adam Stone since he arrived in Hope Harbor, and she would have remembered it if she had. Ruggedly handsome, coupled with a humble spirit, is a hard thing to forget. Acting on a hunch, Chief Graham commandeers Adam's help with one of the troubled youths proven to be a part of the local pranks, and in the process, discovers a part of herself that has lain dormant since the death of her husband. "Was she ready to let go of the past and take a chance on a future that could be fraught with challenges - and change?"

This addition to Irene Hannon's "Hope Harbor" series is all about trusting God to open the door to second chances. 

Friday, June 23, 2017

Threads of Suspicion~Dee Henderson | Review

Title: Threads of Suspicion (Evie Blackwell Cold Case #2)
Author: Dee Henderson
Genre: Suspense
Length: 432 Pages
Release: May 2017

A copy of this novel was provided through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

In Threads of Suspicion, Evie is part of the newly formed Missing Persons Task Force. She chooses to pursue the case of a college student who went missing without a trace in 2007. Her colleague, David, is researching the case of a missing Private Investigator who likewise vanished without a trace. While the two cases are dissimilar in time, they share a general locale which is why the two investigators are working at the same office location. As they separately pursue their cases, they bounce ideas and thoughts off one another.

There is something very relatable in all of Henderson's characters, and Evie is no different. Her personal internal debate as she is trying desperately to find the balance between career and relationships is very real to life. Dee manages to make police investigations about more than details (though her writing research gets all those details right!) but also about the people involved.

Detective Evie Blackwell is good at what she does; really good, so good in fact, that she has just been appointed by the governor to serve on an elite "Missing Persons Task Force" for the state of Illinois. Working within a team of highly talented investigators, she and her partner, David Marshal, head to Chicago to work on cases that don't seem to have anything in common except geographic location, until "threads of suspicion" begin to unravel in all directions and the two top cops feel a sense of urgency to find their killer.

This second novel in Dee Henderson's "Evie Blackwell Cold Case" series reads like an investigative textbook; full of swirling data, and confusing innuendos, but thankfully letting its readers tip-toe into the hearts and minds of two very focused detectives, whose personal lives hold just as many challenges as the facts of this case.

As the investigations continue, the cases begin to intertwine and even cross over into the personal lives of the two investigators. The resources of others are called in as the potential crimes take on even more ominous tones.

In addition to the mystery, the personal lives of the investigators are progressing. Evie has commitment issues and is trying to get to the bottom of why she is afraid of marriage. David's fiancee, Maggie, has commitment issues of her own with regards to faith.
Once again (at least for me) Dee Henderson has hit one out of the ballpark. This second in the Evie Blackwell series has a great mix of new and previous characters from other books. The intricacies of working a cold case and the intuitiveness of the requirements the law officers need to pull these cases together Dee relates in a very compelling and interesting manner. This book, though different from other books by Dee, is well worth the read.

Reading Dee Henderson's books is becoming part of the story. You love her characters, you hurt when they hurt, you smile when they smile and you wish you knew people like that in real life. When the story is over you look forward to the next one. Will it be about someone you met in this story? You hope so, because you don't want to let go of the people you met this time.

I highly recommend "Threads of Suspicion" by Dee Henderson. Evie Blackwell is a top investigator, with her partner, David Marshall. Trying to solve cases in Chicago area. They are trying to solve issuing person, but a cold case. As usual Dee Henderson has written a hard to put down mystery. A great book!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Moving Target~Lynette Eason | Review

Title: Moving Target (Elite Guardians #3)
Author: Lynette Eason
Genre: Mystery/Suspense
Length: 331 Pages
Release: January 2017

A copy of this novel was provided through Netgalley in exchange for review.

If you are searching for a spine-tingling, suspenseful thriller that will keep you peering over your shoulder, then look no further! Moving Target is a chilling who-dun-it that will keep you guessing until the deliciously creepy conclusion. Maddy McKay is one tough cookie who has an Achilles' heel where a certain tenacious detective, Quinn Holcombe, is concerned. However, a romantic relationship can't even be considered until they find the psychotic madman who is bent on exacting revenge by hunting them down like prey.

I love Quinn and Maddy. They both were dealing with family drama, and on top of that a mad man wanted them dead. This book has kidnapping, attempted murder, murder, bomb threat, embezzlement, suicide, and a whole lot more. Quinn blamed himself for what happened to his sister. He felt his family had turned their backs on him. Maddy's FBI unit had been set up and everyone blamed her for what happened, including her father. 

The story follows Maddy and Quinn as they face an enemy with an unknown agenda bent on causing destruction. The two friends draw closer together as they learn to rely on each other for protection. 

The book was completely high impact and not one slow moment from page one to the last page. You will be on the edge of your seat. You find yourself sucked in and you just can't put the book down.

I highly recommend this series to anyone looking for great suspense with a little romance thrown in for good measure!

Monday, June 19, 2017

The Silent Corner~Dean Koontz | Review

Title: The Silent Corner (Jane Hawk #1)
Author: Dean Koontz
Genre: Suspense/Mystery
Length: 464 Pages
Release: June 2017

I was provided a review copy of this novel by the publisher through Netgalley

Dean Koontz is one of my favorite authors, so I was very excited to hear about this upcoming series. After nearly six years of reading his books, I'm still hooked. And The Silent Corner is no exception. 

The story follows Jane Hawk an FBI agent gone rogue when sinister forces threaten her life--and the world in general. Living off the grid, alone, Jane is searching for the reason behind the rise in suicides the world over. Because things don't add up and it has finally touched too close to home. 

Koontz has an absolutely beautiful style of writing and I fall in love with his sentences. Really, there are some that are too beautiful to be ignored. And while his subject matter can be somewhat dark at times, there is always hope. Hope can not be killed. That is evident throughout this novel as Jane fights evil, having to push her own moral boundaries in the process. It's similar to any superhero/vigilante story out there in that respect. The law is not always on her side, but does that mean that what she does is wrong? I guess that's something you have to decide for yourself. 

The concepts in this novel are plausible enough to have you questioning what if scenarios. I won't delve too deeply into that, because it's the meat of Jane's story, but it's so spine tingle disturbing that I almost expected to read about it in the news myself. That's where the power of this novel comes in for me. That big what if question that this inspires in my mind. 

Some readers fault Koontz for his slow pacing, but for me that's a plus. His beautiful writing keep the story engaging no matter how it's paced. And the slowness is generally due to the internal struggles and understanding that is happening within our characters, and a character driven story is always a plus. 

I would highly recommend this novel to anyone with interest in suspense, mystery, or even science fiction. There is action, evil, and above all hope for a new and brighter future. Because Jane Hawk is on our side, and what more could we ask for?

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Once and for All~Sarah Dessen | Review

Title: Once and for All
Author: Sarah Dessen
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Length: 358 Pages
Release: June 2017

The description created this really nice picture in my head. Unfortunately this did not live up to that image. There are things I liked, but a lot bothered me in this one. 

Going into this I expected a YA romance with a someone cynical main character who had been hurt from some previous relationship. That, however, is not really what this was. There was romance, in an odd way. To avoid spoilers I am not going into the previous relationship that left Louna feeling unsure about love, but I was rather disappointed with it. The story was sad, yes, but there was far too much instalove and that sapped it of any real emotional connection for me. 

The description leads you to believe that Ambrose will leave behind his serial dating and actually try to win Louna over, but that's not the case at all. In fact, for most of the novel it didn't seem like he was any more interested in her than in any other girl there was. While they had their cute moments, their "romance" was seriously lacking. And they way they treated the other people they dated throughout the story was appalling. Honestly, that ending made me rather mad. 

I know that Dessen's novels tend to be strictly YA aged main characters, but I was still a little surprised that Louna turned out to be only seventeen. I think it would have worked better if she had been just a few years older. And it never says how old Ambrose is exactly, which left me a little confused at times. The characters, overall, were rather lackluster for me. Louna was hurt after what happened with her previous relationship, but I also felt like she hadn't really cared before that either. Ambrose had his moments, but was overall kind of a jerk. The rest of the side characters were ok and had some nice moments. 

The main thing that I did appreciate about this one was the relationship between Louna and her mother. It's the healthiest mother/daughter duo I think I've seen in a Dessen novel and it was nice to see that side of things. Neither of them was clueless about the others life and they genuinely cared about helping each other. William was also sweet with Louna and it was nice to see their interactions. 

I also really liked Ira, Ambrose's dog. This added a cute touch and is really what made Ambrose seem like a good guy, since there were no other great indications that he really cared about anything that much. This could have been a great book, I just don't think it was constructed properly for me to feel that way about it. I'm sure that there are many people who will love it and while it wasn't my favorite, it also wasn't my least favorite of Dessen's novels. Well, that's still up for debate. 

After thinking about this book for a few more days, I think I like it less than I initially thought. There was so much potential. Dessen is my go to for contemporary novels, but this was such a disappointment. 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Writing | Tuesday Talks

Tuesday Talks is a goodreads group designed to foster discussion on various book related topics. You can join in or follow the discussions through the group.

Are you a writer?
Writing is probably the one thing that comes naturally to me. Am I perfect in my writing? No, not by any means. Am I a good writer? I like to think so. Do I enjoy writing? Yes. It's one of my greatest passions. So let's talk about this a little more. 

I have been creating stories for as long as I can remember. I loved drawing and art as a child (I still do, I just didn't develop the skill) and would carry around notebooks and drawing supplies everywhere I went. It was a long time before I was much of a reader, but I would write all the time using invented spelling and chronicling the adventures of my heroes and heroines. Some of the ideas weren't even that bad, they just need a lot of polish. 

In my teens I wrote a few novels but never edited them or did much with them after that first drafting stage. Since then, I've stared developing my skills more. I write regularly, have joined online writing communities (which can be really helpful), and completed NaNoWriMo once. The writing is the easy part for me; it's the editing that pulls me down. 

My writing journey continues and I finally released a story this year. I am hoping for many more to come. It's short, it's sweet (ish), and I had a blast writing it. Short stories and novellas have become a writing obsession for me, but I still enjoy poetry and novels. Writing is in my blood. 

If you're curious, my story is Worlds with Ruby

Are you a writer? I would love to hear about your writing journey. 

Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Autumn Republic~Brian McClellan | Review

Title: The Autumn Republic (Powder Mage #3)
Author: Brian McClellan
Genre: Flintlock Fantasy
Length: 580 Pages
Release: February 2015

While this installment didn't quite live up to the standard set by The Crimson Campaign this was a solid conclusion to a series that I will likely revisit in the future. McClellan has the potential to climb the ranks in my list of favorite authors and I'm excited to see what he produces next.

My main drawback in this installment is really the character focus in the story. While it made sense in a lot of ways, there were a lot of characters I wanted to see more of--and, alternatively, so I could have handled with a little less page time. There were some nice father/son moments between Tamas and Taniel that I had been hoping for for a while, but then Taniel essentially disappears. He crops up occasionally, to let you know he's not completely out of the picture, but he is no longer as big of a focus and I missed that. He and Ka-poel are probably my two favorite characters and having them pushed aside so far was rather disappointing. For the story it may have made sense, but I think they could have been worked in a little better.

Through the series it was nice to see Tamas struggle with the things he has done and I really think he grew a lot as a character. He didn't let his mistakes slow him down, which was great, he just kept pushing forward, hoping that something he had done was right. And the back and forth between him and Olem was wonderful. I would have liked to see a little more of this there at the end of the book, but don't want to go into spoilers.

Nila and Bo both stepped to the forefront in this one and I think that's the main area that bothered me. I never found either of these characters particularly compelling and so their portions just kind of dragged for me. There isn't anything in particular that I don't like about them, they were just bland for me where the other characters were colorful. Vlora also had a bit more of a position in this one, though it still wasn't big. She's a character that I don't really know how to feel about. It was one of those cases where I felt like I was supposed  to like her and think she was strong and capable so instead I didn't. I don't know. She just frustrated me.

There is action from start to finish here and while I was not as into the fighting between the gods as I was the fighting between men (or even the men fighting the gods), the ending was still a solid conclusion. Things were wrapped up enough to be satisfying while leaving plenty of room open for further exploration. The characters weren't just ending on a page, they were continuing on afterward.

I definitely recommend this series and hope that McClellan can continue to improve and produce high quality fantasy adventures. His magic systems are fun and unique, his writing sharp, and his storytelling entertaining. Plus, the man can outline a battle. Now onto his new material and hoping that it's just as good as this. 

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Surprised by an Author | Tuesday Talks

Tuesday Talks is a book discussion group that you can find on goodreads. There is a new topic each Tuesday and it's always fun to jump in and have discussion with other book lovers.

What Authors Surprised You With Their Writing Skills?
One author that immediately comes to mind for this is Sara Ella. I knew Sara through booktube for quite a while before her first book was released, which was really the first time I had read her writing. I was really excited to read her book, but I never know what to expect from new authors, so I was pleasantly surprised by her skill. Her novel Unblemished is not a genre that I tend to love (I prefer high fantasy to urban), I found her writing very compelling and descriptive. I am now looking forward to reading the next book in the trilogy, Unraveling, which releases July 11th.

What authors have surprised you? 

Friday, June 2, 2017

What Happened to Goodbye~Sarah Dessen | Review

Title: What Happened to Goodbye
Author: Sarah Dessen
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Length: 402 Pages
Release: May 2011

I am now up to date with all of Dessen's published novels, which is crazy to me. It has been two years since I started, but still. Where does the time go?

Anyway, back to the book at hand. This was not my favorite of Dessen's novels, but I did really enjoy it. I think that Mclean's struggles through her parents divorce was very realistic and relatable. I have never been that close to a divorce and can only imagine what that would feel like for a young teen, knowing what she knew about the situation. So her identity crisis, while it made her somewhat difficult to connect with at times, was completely understandable.

The parents in this book, the mom in particular, were clueless. How they were so oblivious to their daughter's pain and conflict is beyond me. That said, I do think that there was a good amount of growth in these relationships. You were able to see Mclean come to terms with a lot where this was concerned.

The group of friends that Mclean makes in her new town is a lot of fun. Deb is by far my favorite. I like that she is misunderstood but extremely well rounded. She knows so much but because she is an overwhelming personality people don't react well to her. So much about her reminds me of myself. It was nice to see her being included in a group from which she had always been excluded, and them realizing that she was more than they thought. Dave was also a really nice addition. Dessen is great with slow burn romance and I think it worked well in this case. Mclean needed to come to terms with things in her life before she could really let someone else in, and Dave helped her along the way.

The restaurant side of things gave this one a nice flair. It wasn't the focus of the main story, but even the few glimpses into the workings of the business were fun. And Opal, the manager of Luna Blu, was a nice character to have around. In the beginning I wasn't sure what she would turn into, so I was happy that it turned into a good thing.

The last major thing I want to mention is Jason. He was a minor character here, a boy who worked in the kitchen of Luna Blu (and one of the few that was good at his job). This was the third novel he has appeared in after being a jerk in both The Truth About Forever and Along for the Ride. But here he seems different, more mature. And now I want a novel that features him as our main guy. It would be nice to see one of the formerly rejected boys come back and be the star. So now I have my fingers crossed for that to happen. 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Northanger Abbey~Jane Austen | Review

Title: Northanger Abbey and the History of England
Author: Jane Austen
Genre: British Classics
Length: 9.5 hours audio
Release: February 2017 (first published 1817)

I received an audio copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Northanger Abbey is one of those books that I was unsure of reading. It tends to be one of Austen's more overlooked novels and I think I heard some negative comments. That put me off reading it for a long time, which may have been a good thing. By the time I read it, I was ready to read it with an open mind. And I loved it.

This audiobook was the second time through the book for me, the first time being several years ago. While Austen's writing improved as she wrote, this is an excellent book. Catherine Morland, our heroine, is every bit the over imaginative fangirl, letting her love of Gothic novels carry her away. She's young and out in society for the first time, learning and growing as her imagination runs wild.

Henry Tilney is probably my favorite of all of Austen's male leads. He's flirty, talkative, intelligent, and just plain fun. He was voiced really well in this audio and I think I fell a little more in love with him. The relationship between him and Catherine is really nice and different to most of Austen's other romantic entanglements since Catherine was so attached to Henry from the beginning. And he was rather fond of her as well, which made it even better. There was no dislike between them, former lovers hanging on, or other love interests getting in the way. And it was perfect.

Catherine's character progression from beginning to end is wonderful. She starts out young and naive and, though not completely changed by the end (which is a good thing), she has learned that not everything or everyone is always what it seems. She always believes the best of people and this positive outlook stays with her--with a hint of caution now in the mix.

The Thorpe family, Isabella and John specifically, irritate me so much. It really shows how innocent Catherine and James are, not to be able to spot the issues early in their relationships with this family.

Northanger Abbey is full of Austen's charm and wit that makes her later novels so loved. And it might possibly be my favorite of the bunch. 

Monday, May 29, 2017

The Order of the Phoenix~J K Rowling | Review

Title: The Order of the Phoenix (Harry Potter #5)
Author: J K Rowling
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Length: 870 Pages (Hardcover)
Release: June 2003

In November 2016 I started my reread of the Harry Potter series. This is the first time I have read any of the books since reading the seventh one twice within two months of its release, so it's been a while.

The Order of the Phoenix has always been one of my two favorites, normally ranking just beneath The Prisoner of Azkaban. Reading these as an adult, I think it has now surpassed that loved installment to become my favorite.

This fifth installment is much more developed than any of the previous four books, with a more detailed plot and higher stakes. It succeeds where The Goblet of Fire fell flat for me in that everything seems connected from beginning to end. It didn't really feel like it was long just to be long, but because there was legitimately enough story to fill that many pages, which is where that last installment was a bit of a letdown.

There are many things in this book that I don't like. Harry, for one, becomes more and more annoying as the series goes on. I have never really been a fan of his character and find him to be rather selfish. It's understandable that he has problems, after the way he was treated by the Dursley's, but I don't like the direction he took after getting out from under them. I have some similar issues with Ron, but not to the same extent. Hermione is a pretty stellar friend.

The story gets darker and grittier in this installment. You learn more of the history of Voldemort rising to power years ago and what was done to stop him. There are revelations made about certain characters and their families that are not altogether expected. And even Hogwarts is not safe for Harry this time, with the Ministry taking more control. Umbridge is one of the most genuinely evil characters in the entire series.

Just like with previous installments, one of the highlights here is definitely Fred and George. Their characters are absolutely amazing. They are genuinely good people who truly care about their friends and family. They make mistakes, but they aren't cruel. They play jokes but no when to pull back. These two will forever be the highlight of the series for me.

A lot of new and exciting characters are introduced including Luna and Tonks, who are both excellent additions to the cast. We see some of our old favorites. Lots of stupid choices are made, brave things done. The ending isn't is rather bleak, as the previous book was, but there is hope.

I do have to say, while I think that Rowling's writing is good I am not blown away by it. The main characters are hard for me to connect with and I think that has a lot to do with the writing style. It also seems a lot clunkier than I remember when I was younger, probably due to changed perceptions as I've read more widely. I do, however, feel that her writing and story telling improved with each book.

I am not sure when I will be reading book six, but I look forward to delving into the next chapter of Harry's life and seeing what it has to offer. There are many things that I have forgotten through the years and it's nice to revisit some of those old memories.  

Friday, May 26, 2017

The King of Average~Gary Schwartz | Review

Title: The King of Average
Author: Gary Schwartz
Genre: Middle Grade Coming of Age
Length: 228 Pages (~6 hours on audio)
Release: October 2015

I received an audio copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. 

It's always fun for me when I hear that an author has narrated their own book. I don't know why, exactly, I just think that it adds more to the experience if you hear the words from the person who penned them. 

But onto the actual reason for this post: the book. This story follows James, a child who receives no love from his mother and was abandoned by his father. He does well enough, but no better. And thus begins his quest to become the most average person that ever lived. It is at this point that he is transported to a world where Average is a kingdom in search of a king. 

In the beginning this was a little bit of a hard listen for me. James is only a child and has to hear from his mother how he caused her so many problems and only made his life worse. Some of my own family have had similar experiences, so this was difficult to hear about in a story. It's very sad, but a reality for too many children these days. 

Once James was transported to Average, things became more optimistic. There are plenty of lessons to be learned and James makes a lot of friends along the way. There is a French Optimist and his companion the Pessimist. A talking goat. And, eventually, other children. These characters help James learn about himself and what it means to really be average. 

The idea behind this story is an intriguing one and I found it very clever. The names of the various kingdoms and the peoples that inhabit them were always so nicely devised. There were places like the Flatter Lands, where everyone was constantly flattering you. And then there were other darker lands, where paranoia seemed to rule all. The concepts were all fascinating and I found myself intrigued as each new place was introduced. 

Overall I thought this was an enjoyable book to listen to. The narration was nicely done and the story a lot of fun. I did find certain parts repetitive and thought the ending wrapped up a little too quickly without enough closure, but I overall really enjoyed it. 

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Ghostly Echoes~William Ritter | Review

Title: Ghostly Echoes (Jackaby #2)
Author: William Ritter
Genre: Paranormal/Historical/Mystery
Length: 352 Pages
Release: August 2016

This third installment in the Jackaby series was just as well written as the two previous novels and had its own mystery to be solved. Most of what we learn here is really just a set up for the final volume (which releases in August 2017). There are finally some answers about Jenny and Jackaby, who have been shrouded in mystery from the beginning. 

All of the favorite characters from the first two books reappear here, with some new additions that are not always pleasant. This volume focuses more on the supernatural element (well, more might be a bit of a stretch, since that's what these books are) with mention of the underworld, vampires, and other mythological creatures roaming the world. 

The events of all three novels are brought together as our detectives realize that everything has been connected from the beginning. There may even be connections of which we are not yet aware. This makes for some interesting exploration and some hilarious Jackaby moments. 

Interactions between Jackaby and Abigail are some of the highlights of this series. They have great banter and there friendship is really fun to watch. It's not always easy, but it's interesting. And of course Jenny and Charlie are great to have around. And then there is the question of Douglas and where his story will lead. Will he use the information that Jackaby found to take by his old life? Or will be remain in his fowl form? Hopefully The Dire King will answer this and many other questions. 

I will be eagerly awaiting the release of the final book in the series. It has been a very fun ride. Matthew Ritter has an excellent way with words and I hope he continues to produce more fun and imaginative stories.  

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Scythe~Neal Shusterman | Review

Title: Scythe (Arc of a Scythe #1)
Author: Neal Shusterman
Genre: YA Sci-fi/dystopia
Length: 435 Pages
Release: November 2016

This was my ninth novel by Neal Shusterman and he still manages to amaze me. I have yet to be disappointed by him. His world building is absolutely stunning.

Scythe follows two teens who live in a futuristic world where death by natural causes has been eradicated. In order to keep the population manageable (since people continue having children) Scythes "glean" a certain number of people each year. Our two leads, Citra and Rowan, are chosen to be apprentices by an honorable Scythe who is impressed with their moral character. But not everyone is as upstanding as Scythe Faraday and things take a rather dark turn.

Rowan and Faraday were by far my favorite characters in the story. I found them much easier to connect with than any of the other characters and really hope that we see more from both of them in the sequel. There were points throughout the novel where I felt rather detached from the characters and their concerns, but I always found it interesting.

The chapters are separated by entries from the Scythes journals, where they contemplate the things they have done. Some of these were dark, some of them sad, but all of them interesting. Again, this really shows Shusterman's skill with world building, as this made it all that much more real.

If you enjoy good young adult science fiction with dystopia elements, this is definitely a series to try. If you have enjoyed other works by Shusterman, I think you will not be disappointed with this. 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Beastly Bones~William Ritter | Review

Title: Beastly Bones (Jackaby #2)
Author: William Ritter
Genre: Historical Paranormal
Length: 295 Pages
Release: September 2015

William Ritter really has a way with words. With Jackaby I was immediately sucked into the story by the clever writing and Beastly Bones was exactly the same. 

This series blends historical fiction and paranormal occult occurrences together so well and is filled with likable characters. The story is narrated by Abigail Rook who became the assistant to R F Jacakby, a detective who can see paranormal phenomena. Abigail has always sought adventure, and with Jackaby she found it. There are ghosts, shapeshifters, vampires, dragons, and any other creature you can think of. 

This second installment really sets up the main story that we will follow for the two later installments. Because everything is connected, of course. And you finally start to learn how and a little bit of why. 

The characters in this series are so much fun. Jackaby is excellent on his own, always with a witty remark. The banter between him and Abigail is one of the highlights. Their developing friendship is a really nice one and I like that this series highlights the fact that you can be close to someone without having a romantic relationship. Charlie and Jenny are back for this installment, each adding their own flare to the story. 

While I find Ritter's writing fantastic and the stories engaging and fun, I do find them somewhat lacking. They aren't the kind of books that leave me with questions, contemplating them long after I've finished reading. That doesn't make them any less brilliant, they just aren't as memorable as I would like for them to be to boost them into my favorite books category. 

This is a series that I would recommend to anyone who enjoys mystery, paranormal elements, historical fiction, and wants to see those all blended together. They also have some great laugh out loud moments and likable characters. 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Black Prism~Brent Weeks | Review

Title: The Black Prism (Lightbringer #1)
Author: Brent Weeks
Genre: High Fantasy
Length: 629 Pages
Release: August 2010

I had this book on my shelf for two years before finally picking it up. And I have no idea why I waited so long. The timing was never right, I suppose. 

This is a fantasy novel with a magic system based on colors and being able to draft the colors that are visible to you. Not everyone can draft and those who can have varying skills and degrees of knowledge. The Prism is someone who can draft all seven colors. 

Brent Weeks has an easy to read writing style that really lends well to this type of story. I have a few issues with how he writes, because I find certain aspects of the style distracting, but I do think he writes well and has created an interesting world here. And it's a really fast read. Once you get started it just really flows. There are some first person intrusions from the various characters who have a perspective, which I found distracting since it would pop up in the middle of a third person paragraph. Weeks is also rather fond of using ?! in dialogue, which I find somewhat lazy. It should be obvious through context if a question is an exclamation. Those things aside, I did really enjoy the writing. 

The story itself is somewhat slow, taking a while for the plot to really move. But through all of that time the characters are being built, so although the plot was stagnant for long stretches (or nearly) I never found it dull.

Gavin Guile, the Prism, is definitely my favorite character. Sometimes I'm not sure if I should like him or hate him, which makes me love him even more. I just found him fascinating and utterly charming, which I think is the goal, so great job to Weeks for making that work. Gavin is very multifaceted and even now, after having finished this first installment in the series, I have more questions than answers about him. 

Second to Gavin in my list of favorites is Karris. When she was first introduced I found her a little bland and annoying, but she quickly grew on me. I looked forward to her chapters almost as much as Gavin's and enjoyed learning more about who she was and who she had been. 

The rest of the characters were ok at times and annoying at others. Kip could be hilarious and then flip to extremely annoying, so I hope that his character levels out somewhat. And Liv...I really have no positive thoughts toward her. I don't find her all that clever or that interesting. The side characters, such as Ironfist, outshone these two. 

The overall plot surrounding the Prism and prophecies and war was very interesting. There are lots of politics involved, which I tend to really enjoy in fantasy. By the end everything is a twisted mess and I have no idea how the rest of the series will unfold after this, but I look forward to making the journey through it. 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Among the Flames~Shelby K Morrison | ARC Review & Giveaway!

Title: Among the Flames (Legend of the Liberator #2)
Author: Shelby K Morrison
Genre: YA Fantasy
Length: 300 Pages
Release: April 2017

I received an ARC of this novel. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.

This is the sequel to From the Ashes which was released in 2015. I have been eagerly awaiting this follow-up since reading that at it's release, so I was excited to hear this book was finally coming out!

Among the Flames picks up right where From the Ashes left off. I won't go into too much detail because I don't want to give away crucial information for the first book, but Aia is faced with many new challenges very early on here. There is a new cast of characters introduced, new lands explored, and more magic expanded. 

Overall I enjoyed this novel, although not quite as much as I had hoped. It's been two years since I read book one, so maybe that had something to do with my lukewarm attitude toward this installment. However, I feel that this suffers from second book syndrome. There is too much repetition and uncertainty to ever make it really stand out as its own story. 

I like the fact that the story is told from multiple perspectives, but I don't think that they were always distinct enough. Aia and Cole often sound the same, having very similar thoughts as we're in their respective heads. 

The worldbuilding, although interesting, could use some more exploration. Bending is still hard for me to visualize and doesn't seem to have that many limitations. Again, some of that is just what I have forgotten from book one, but I think it could be fleshed out a bit more. It was also difficult to imagine the scenery. There was description, but again, I didn't find it that varied. 

All in all this was an enjoyable read with likable characters. Although I didn't enjoy it as much as I had hoped, I do look forward to the next book in the series.

Enter below for a chance to win a copy of Among the Flames! If you sign-up for Shelby K Morrison's newsletter you will automatically receive a copy of From the Ashes! Great deal right? 

Among the Flames & From the Ashes Giveaway

Friday, April 21, 2017

New Spring~Robert Jordan | Review

Title: New Spring (The Wheel of Time #0)
Author: Robert Jordan
Genre: High Fantasy
Length: 334 Pages
Release: January 2004

This prequel novel to the Wheel of Time series was, unfortunately, rather disappointing. The beginning started out very promising with young Moiraine and Siuan in the White Tower, hearing the prophecy that would lead them on a quest for the next twenty years. Then we got a lot of their life in the White Tower, which I still found enjoyable, if not all that exciting. They were more likable than Egwene and Elayne, who are really the only comparison we have from the main series. 

And then Moiraine left the Tower and things fell apart from there. She had a temper to rival Nynaeve with all of the high brow snottyness of Elayne. And she liked making people suffer. For being a seeker of justice, she liked to hand out her share of misery. She meets Lan on her travels and is outright abusive to the man, wanting him to apologize for something that was not his fault. You tell me how many men are going to be ok with a woman sneaking up and trying to steal the sword sheathed at their side. That's right, not many. So let's just say I was not thrilled with Moiraine in the least. 

And then there was Lan's story. We didn't get enough of this, honestly. His journey to the Blight was one of my favorite things in the final installments of the series, so knowing some of the background for that was nice, but it wasn't enough. And some of the things we did learn were just...NO. They had some twisted views that no one seemed to question in any way. He also did some stupid things. But he was not a nasty person, so he was still likable. 

I've heard that this was originally a short story that was later adapted into a novel. He should have stuck with the short story. While I thought parts were interesting, I don't think this is necessary for enjoyment of the rest of the series. If you do read it, I would recommend saving it until last. 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Saint Anything~Sarah Dessen | Review

Title: Saint Anything
Author: Sarah Dessen
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Length: 417 Pages
Release: May 2015

Saint Anything is Sarah Dessen's twelfth published novel and her eleventh novel that I have read. In many ways, this was her best work yet. 

Dessen's novels are the perfect contemporary. Her characters are real, average teenagers for the most part. Her books aren't full of glamorous lives or people who don't have to work, but regular girls just trying to find their place in the world. And that's what I love about them. 

This story follows Sydney as she changes schools to run from the shadow of her perfect (but not so perfect) brother. She makes new friends, finally opening up about the things that have haunted her since her brother got in trouble. She finds a group of other kids who get her in ways she didn't think anyone would be able to. 

Dessen really showed her growth in the overall balance of this story. There is the complicated family dynamic that pops up in all of her stories. New and old friendships. A touch of romance. And general self growth. All of this was blended together so well that it just worked. It never felt like one aspect of the story outweighed the others, even when certain things were frustrating. 

Sydney's group of friends were wonderful. Layla was a fantastic character with her own flaws. Her insecurities were manifested through her various romantic mishaps as she repeatedly chose the guys that treated her terribly. And while this was painful to see, it was relatable. And you got to see her grow through it. She was the best friend for Sydney to make in this new life. Along with her brother, Mac, and the rest of their family, Layla helped Sydney see a new side of life. 

I was very frustrated with Sydney's parents throughout. It was understandable that her mother wanted to help her son, but the way she went about it was quite disappointing. It would have been nice to see a little more acknowledgement from her that what happened was wrong and that her son was the culprit, not the victim. And the father...well, he was a tad disappointing. He cared about the family, but didn't seem to try that hard. Also, why would they leave their seventeen-year-old daughter in their house with some random guy their son met while in rehab? That does not seem like a smart move. 

The ending was a bit abrupt. It would have been nice to know the outcome of a few things, particularly concerning an event that took place near the end of the book. But overall I think it ended on a high note. Sydney was being seen, and heard, for the first time in a while. 

Monday, April 17, 2017

Desmond Winters in the Realms of the Caged Sun~Lea Ryan | Review

Title: Desmond Winters in the Realms of the Caged Sun
Author: Lea Ryan
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Length: 313 Pages
Release: February 2017

I received a copy of this novel from the author upon request.
This middle grade fantasy follows Desmond Winters, a young boy with often absent parents who longs for adventure but doesn't know how to have one. When he and his friends stumble across a bookshop that is not what it seems, it's up to them to save their realm from those who would leave them behind. 

This is a portal fantasy reminiscent of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis. Four children enter a world where everything is different and the various kingdoms are ruled by a variety of people. Desmond also learns about his family and their history among these people, as they travel through the various realms. 

This was quite enjoyable. It could use some polish as some of it--the dialogue in particular--felt rather stilted at times. Children would not speak as Desmond and his friends often spoke. 

The world that Ryan created was imaginative and well thought out. I hope that she has luck with future installments because I think that Desmond and his friends would be great additions to the shelves of many middle grade readers. 

Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Crimson Campaign~Brian McClellan | Review

Title: The Crimson Campaign (Powder Mage #2)
Author: Brian McClellan
Genre: High Fantasy
Length: 596 Pages
Release: May 2014

When I read Promise of Blood  I liked it, a lot. But I wasn't blown away by it. This, however, may have converted me. 

This book was amazing. The world building has gotten better, and since it was introduced in the first novel there is less that needs to be done here. Still, the history of the various nations is explored as we learn more about the gods and their plots among men. 

The magic system in this series is fascinating. You can eat or snort gunpowder and it gives you powers? Pretty strange, yet oddly cool. And so many things can be done with these powers. Powder Mages (as the gunpowder eating/snorting guys are called) are not the only magical beings, however. There are also the Knacked, who have one special skill they can use. Some of them don't need sleep, some have perfect memory, that sort of thing. And then there are the Privileged, who can tap into the Else (the mystical other side that all magical beings pull their power from) and make crazy things happen. It's all rather fascinating and expanded really well in this second installment in the trilogy. 

I really enjoyed all of the characters in the first novel, but I fell in love with most of them here. Taniel and Ka-poel continue to be my favorites, but Tamas and Adamat were excellent too. Nila I still don't enjoy all that much and even Bo isn't a favorite. And Vlora...well, I don't really know what to say about Vlora. 

The focus of this trilogy is all on war. Everyone is at war, whether it be personal or for their nation (usually a little of both). And it's so well done. I was there in the fighting alongside our main characters, trying to save their nation with them. 

Taniel and Ka-poel probably had the most interesting story of the lot, but everyone else was enjoyable. Taniel was having to learn to live in the military without his father around for the first time, challenging the command structure. His magic is changing, he's growing up, and Ka-poel is there every step of the way. I find her amazing, honestly. For not ever saying a word (since she's mute), she has some excellent character development. I'm impressed. 

The book ends with some crazy cliffhangers that make me want to read the next book immediately. And trust me, it will be picked up soon. If you haven't given the Powder Mage trilogy a try yet, what are you waiting for? Just do it. 

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Shot Down~Steve Snyder | Review

Title: Shot Down: The true story of pilot Howard Snyder and the crew of the B-17 Susan Ruth
Author: Steve Snyder
Genre: Non-fiction, History
Pages: 376
Release: August 2014

An audio copy of this book was provided by the narrator upon request through Audiobook Boom. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Overall I really enjoyed listening to this tale of the crew of the Susan Ruth. The narrator did an excellent job; he has the perfect voice for these types of history books. 

This book was written by the son of the pilot of the Susan Ruth, using letters, journals, and other sources from crew members. It had a lot of interesting information about the planes used during the war and the overall demographic of those manning them. 

I did not enjoy the story as much as I had hoped to, and I think most of that was due to my expectations. The synopsis of the book makes it sound like this is going to be focused around the crew and their crash in Belgium, where those who survived had to live, hiding out, for months before the end of the war. That was what I expected going into this, but the focus was more on the overall operation and training than it was on focused on this incident. 

It was nice hearing about the various crew members, but I never really felt that connected to them. It was a very detached story, overall, and I think it would have been more emotionally charged if it had gotten more personal. We don't really know that much about the guys the book talks about. 

A nice overview of the fighter pilots and their crews during WWII. It's obvious a lot of work went into this book and that the author tried to be as accurate as possible. I learned a lot through listening and hope to learn more on further study. 

Saturday, April 8, 2017

The Sweetest Kiss~Susan Hatler | Review

Title: The Sweetest Kiss (Kissed by the Bay #4)
Author: Susan Hatler
Genre: Romance
Length: 150 Pages
Release: August 2016

I received a copy of this novel through Netgalley upon request. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.

While romance is not a genre that I reach for all that often, Susan Hatler's books have become a go to for me. When I need something that reads quickly, has fun characters, and is sweet while being clean, this is my author. 

This story, however was slightly disappointing. I found Megan's internal dialogue more juvenile than Hatler's normal characters, and not in a good way. She seemed too caught up on issues common to a fifteen-year-old, not a twenty-seven-year-old. And I get that these problems and struggles still follow us through our lives (I'm around Megan's age in the story and can relate), but I found it rather off-putting when she didn't seem to learn from the issues she was having. 

The romance in this was also a bit odd for me. I didn't feel any spark between Megan and Brian. And usually the romance aspect is really sweet, so I was upset to find it lacking here. It was nice that they had known each other for so long and were already friends, but I found it difficult to believe that he would have treated her like a sister for so long and then suddenly expressed his feelings. It just didn't fit. 

The art aspect of the story was interesting. It was nice to hear about Megan's paintings and in some ways I wish this had been more of an involved part of the novel. The only thing I didn't like about this part of the story was the obvious "mean girl" Chelsea. Her character was very one-dimensional. 

Overall this was enjoyable but not up to Hatler's normal standard of feel good romance. It had sweet and cute moments, and I still recommend the series, this one just wasn't my favorite. I am looking forward to reading more (and hoping that two certain characters get their own story soon).  

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

When We Collided~Emery Lord | Review

Title: When We Collided
Author: Emery Lord
Genre: YA Contemporary
Length: 352 Pages (Hardcover)
Release: April 2016

It's hard for me to put my feelings on this book into words. While there were a lot of things that I really enjoyed, there were also a lot of things that annoyed me. Let's start with the good stuff. 

Jonah's family was fantastic. It was great to see the struggle that an average family was experiencing after great loss because so many people (myself included) have experienced similar loss. Also, the big family aspect was done splendidly. The only thing that I don't think was done well here was the arguing. I don't find it realistic that Jonah had never made his siblings cry before, or that he would find that strange. People argue, people say hurtful things, and they move on. Particularly families, no matter how happy. But Jonah's interactions with his younger siblings were beautiful. I wish this had been more of a focus than it was. 

Now let's look at some lukewarm feelings. Jonah and Vivi's relationship had it's cute moments. It was very rushed, but I guess that went along the summer romance theme that was presented. I was never fully invested in them as a couple, but I do think they learned from each other. Maybe not the lessons they really needed, but it was cute and sweet nonetheless. 

Now to the main dislike. Vivi. It's not that I hated her character, I just found her extremely hard to have consistent feelings about. She was very selfish and this got really old. I don't feel like there was enough development from beginning to end with her. It felt more like she was back to what she had been at the beginning of the book, like she had gone in a circle through the summer. 

I've suffered with anxiety and depression for my entire life. I know they present differently in everyone. No two people have the same symptoms or fixes. I was not entirely satisfied with how the mental health aspect of this was handled, however. Vivi seemed more into letting her mental health problems control her than actually learning to live with them and work with them. There is no way to just fix things, but you have to acknowledge them before you can learn to change. And I don't think there was enough acknowledgement happening in this book. 

This was a well written story and it addressed some important topics, I just wish it had really delved into them a little more. Overall enjoyable, but not a favorite. 

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Worlds with Ruby | Cover Reveal

As many of you may know, I am a writer. My first story, the novelette Worlds with Ruby, will be published on kindle around April 1st. In preparation I decided to do a cover reveal on social media. My writing blog (C P Cabaniss) will have a post going up, and so will both of my instagram accounts.

This story was a lot of fun to write and I am excited to continue exploring this world. Check out the cover and blurb below and add the book on goodreads, if you're interested. I would love to hear what you think! The cover art was done by my writing friend Grace Crandall (author of Ashes).

You can now preorder Ruby on Amazon here.

Worlds with Ruby (Ferris Wheel Stories, #1)
When you’re already dead, why should you be afraid?

When Ruby finds herself on the edge of a
cliff in a land between life and death, with an ominous
creaking coming from the nearby woods, she is left with no
choice but to follow it to its source. Nothing is what
it seems and Ruby soon finds herself being whisked away to
worlds beyond her imagination. Worlds in need of saving. Along the way, she
discovers that in saving these worlds, she is saving

And now for the cover...

Monday, March 27, 2017

Jackaby~William Ritter | Review

Title: Jackaby (Jackaby #1)
Author: William Ritter
Genre: Historical Paranormal Mystery
Length: 299 Pages (Hardcover)
Release: September 2014

You know when you read a story and it's just downright fun? That was me with Jackaby. The story itself was not amazing (though it was entertaining), but it was so much fun. 

Jackaby is basically Sherlock Holmes who can see and interact with the supernatural. Our first person narrator, Abigail, becomes his assistant at the beginning of the novel and the fun begins. 

The writing in this book was perfect. It kind of has a classic feel, which was great and really fits the story. It's set in New England in the late 1800's, which was an a added bonus. And the characters are phenomenal. I absolutely adored them. 

The cover is one thing that initially drew me to this book. And it really fits the story. It's kind of otherworldly, but normal all at once. I'm usually not one for faces on covers, but here it works well. I love the muted colors, the splashes of red in the darker shades of blue and black, the cobbled streets, everything. 

This is a great mystery that follows a fun detective and his adventurous assistant as they try to solve a string of murders in New Fiddleham. I don't feel like I can go into detail without giving too much away, so if any of what I've written sounds intriguing, just read it. I think you'll enjoy it. 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Goblet of Fire~J K Rowling | Review

Title: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Harry Potter #4)
Author: J K Rowling
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Length: 734 Pages (Paperback)
Release: July 2000

The Goblet of Fire has never been my favorite of the Harry Potter series, but it was enjoyable to revisit the world nonetheless. There are many things that I had forgotten and having them all refreshed was a lot of fun. 

Each installment of the Harry Potter series gives a darker vibe, hinting at a final battle between good and evil. And this installment is no exception. It had darker themes than the previous three installments, with more death and destruction. But it is nicely layered with the regular day to day life of a fourteen-year-old wizard. 

The length of this novel is the main thing that I really have an issue with. At over 700 pages (in paperback, at least), the main plot point--the Triwizard Tournament--barely makes up 100 pages. Each task is only around a chapter, and even then things seem kind of rushed. There are many side plots that happen between the three tasks, and finding out about other wizarding communities is interesting, I just expected more from the tasks themselves. 

Throughout the novel I also became very frustrated with Ron and Harry. I understand them both, in theory. I just wish it felt like they learned something from the experiences they have. Instead they continue as they have before, hoping that nothing challenges them in that way again. Or ignoring whatever it is that does bother them. There are a few chapters where they are both extreme jerks, and I was not ok with that. 

Obviously Fred and George were my favorite portions of the story, though they are not featured much. The entire Weasley family is pretty great and it's nice to see them interacting. They don't all get along, they are all different, but they have a connection that no one else can truly understand or appreciate. 

Also, this is probably a very unpopular opinion, but I really don't understand why Dumbledore is needed in most of the books. I understand that he plays a role overall, but I find him mostly useless. Instead of actually doing anything he lets other people (usually young teenagers) solve his problems. And things that he should notice just slide right past him. All of this is extremely frustrating, particularly when all of the characters are singing his praises. 

It was nice revisiting this installment and I look forward to a reread of The Order of the Pheonix very soon. 

Monday, March 20, 2017

Valkyrie Rising~Ingrid Paulson | Review

Title: Valkyrie Rising (Valkyrie #1)
Author: Ingrid Paulson
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Length: 352 Pages
Release: October 2012

I'll be honest. The main reason I read Valkyrie Rising is for the alphabet challenge I am trying to complete this year. (A book title for every letter of the alphabet.) When a friend recommended it (because I had no V), I decided to give it a try. It sounded like it might be fun. 

While urban fantasy in general is not a genre that I really love, I did find this story fun. Ellie travels to Norway for the summer, expecting the same quiet trip she's had before. But ancient myths are coming alive and Ellie is right in the middle of them. 

All of the characters in this were fairly enjoyable. Ellie's progression throughout was a little unbelievable, but she was an alright character. The relationship she had with her brother was really nice. I would have liked to see more of their evolving relationship, where Ellie was taking more control of her own life, but this was written as the start of a series, so maybe book two (if it ever comes to be) will delve more deeply into that side of their sibling dynamic. 

Tuck was by far my favorite part of the story. He was fun, sassy, a little cliche, but really likable. He has a twisted family life (though we don't get many details) and puts on an "I don't care" act. Watching him and Ellie with each other was pretty fun, though the overall romance in this was very predictable. It still had it's sweet moments. 

The setting in Norway was great. There were never any great details about the country, but knowing that it was set there was a plus. The towns that were described sounded interesting. Having never visited, I don't know if these descriptions were accurate or not, but I enjoyed them nonetheless. 

The overall story with Ellie finding out about her heritage and the existence of gods and Valkyrie, while not my normal reading taste, kept me interested. It probably would have helped my enjoyment if I were more versed in Norse mythology, but I found all of the old traditions and superstitions interesting. 

Overall this was enjoyable and I would consider reading the sequel if it ever comes to be. The ending was closed enough that the series doesn't have to continue, but open enough for many possibilities. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

A Memory of Light~Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson | Review

Title: A Memory of Light (Wheel of Time #14)
Author: Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
Genre: High Fantasy
Length: 909 Pages (Hardback)
Release: January 2012

My journey with the Wheel of Time series is drawing to an end. The prequel is the only thing between me and this completed series. What an odd feeling. I started this in January 2016, reading one book a month. How did an entire year pass already?

While this final Wheel of Time book was not quite as good as its predecessor Towers of Midnight it was a very satisfactory conclusion. All of the major story arcs were tied up, the main characters given direction, and the death toll wasn't nearly as high as I expected.

Androl was definitely my favorite character in this final installment. His and Pevara's portions were always exciting and full of character exploration. Since he was a late addition to the series there was still plenty of background to be uncovered. And the fact that he was weak in the One Power but extremely skilled in certain areas made him a character that you could really root for.

Another of my favorite characters arcs is Logain. He was such an underplayed character, but he was given these moments to shine that really worked. His snippets of progression from the beginning of the series to this conclusion were amazing.

Perrin and Faile became somewhat less irritating in this final chapter, working more toward the overall outcome than their own selfish whims. Part of this is probably that they weren't together much in this one, which allowed Perrin to be more the Perrin that I liked in the beginning.

Mat and Tuon are one of my favorite pairings in this series. And there was plenty left open where that is concerned. I know that some people think Mat's character was completely destoryed when Sanderson took over the series, but I disagree. He was working his way into my good graces toward the end of Jordan's novels and with Sanderson's additions he continued to do so. He ended the series as one of my favorites.

Nynaeve and Lan were always two of my favorites and I really like how their story ended. It was much better than I expected and I liked that I was surprised by how well that was wrapped up.

Egwene was never my favorite character and unfortunately she never quite managed to make me like her. She had her moments, there for a while, but she digressed in this book. She had some heroic moments, but I still coulnd't really warm to her. And I really don't like Gawyn, so their pairing just compounded my issues. There were some sad moments with these two though and even I felt bad for them.

I was not at all happy with how things played out with Siuan and Bryne. This was the biggest disappointment for me and felt more like something that needed to be done for the emotional factor than that it actually made sense. So very upset with how their story played out. But they did have some nice moments here that I appreciated.

Galad is a character that I would have liked to see more. I wish there had been more of his character through the entire series. He had so much potential and never really reached it. And there could have been some great bromances with him and our main guys. We got glimpses of this with Perrin, I just wish we had more.

Rand and his three loves had an interesting story arc in this one. Min was mostly with Tuon and the Seanchan, Elayne was heading her armies in the main fight against the shadow, and Aviendha was in charge of the fortifications around Rand's position. If only Elayne could have been killed off...Ooops, did I say that out loud? I just found her character useless and annoying the entire series. Oh well. The main story of Rand's epic battle had an interesting, if somewhat confusing, conclusion and left plenty open where the three women are concerned.

I'm sure there are many little things I would like to mention, but those hit the main highlights. While I am not in love with this series, I very much enjoyed reading it and am glad I did so.