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The Jealous Flock

The Jealous Flock: A Literary Epic in Miniature, 2017 by [Borodin, Ashley]3 Stars

The Jealous Flock by Ashley Borodin is a realistic fiction story that centers around the slightly strained relationship of a married couple and their lives as individuals in partnership and their young adult son. The narrative drops readers directly into the lives of the characters featured and lets you explore their lives and innermost thoughts as they struggle with identity and the maturing of unique ideas. Heavily geared towards deep thinking, challenging societal ideals, and the mass acceptance of those who are different, The Jealous Flock is a story that is designed to open the audience’s mind and heart and think outside of the box.

What seems to be an ordinary, white picket fence family in England takes the spotlight in a vivid narrative from each character’s point of view. Hints of tension between Doris and Martin, a married couple both caught up in their jobs, play their part on their son John who is beginning to phase into his adult life from that of a teenager. As Martin travels to Afghanistan to help stop a potential blood bath with jihadists, Doris is left at home to struggle through the differences in her personal opinions and morals as they pertain to her career in the law as a PR agent. Meanwhile, left behind in his parents own crisis, John quits his respectable job and flees overseas where he hopes to find himself and pursue his passion for photography. In Australia, he follows the steps of his father in participating in protests that aren’t always peaceful to defend Muslims battling hate and discrimination. Here he meets Randall, an unhappy widower pursuing an unusual relationship with a transgender prostitute who is stuck in her own shell of self-hatred.

The relationships in The Jealous Flock are realistic and relatable, breathing life into the characters both on their own and in harmony with their counterparts. The story takes on a political drive with themes of racism, xenophobia, and sexism as strong elements in the plot. Dynamics between the father and son of this story are particularly captivating, as Borodin manages to catch those meaningful moments that happen during the shift from parent to lifelong friend and mentor.

Ashley Borodin makes a strong call to arms to fight against society’s expectation of us in any walk of life. In a way, the author has created a coming-of-age story not just for young adults but for those in later years as well. This story dives deep into your thoughts and twists open the cap on unique thinking and encourages ideas of change and acceptance. The graphic, bold way that the author takes depression and insecurities relatable to everyone is a refreshing breath of life and gives you the chance to realize that you are more than what a shallow skin can provide for you. Though a bit wordy and emotionally daunting, Borodin transcribes a striking narrative that has the ability to strike the hearts of those who yearn for something more than mundane life.

Pages: 66 | ASIN: B01NAPZWB8

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This God, I

This God, I (The Onryo Saga Book 2) by [Ryg, Rocco]5 Stars

This God, I, written by Rocco Ryg, is a novel based around a group of teenagers turned Japanese superheroes as they band together in a battle against evil. The group of ordinary teenagers have their lives upturned when they gain superpowers from a ring adorned with a black rock from Sierra Leone that was passed down to Chikara from her mother. Together, three of the teenagers, Chikara, Gen and Ren band together and travel to America to help rescue their friend Michiko from the evil Damian Chillingworth. However, they soon discover there’s another evil at work, RAMPAGE; a vicious group of white supremacists and anti-government terrorists. The teenagers must learn to work together in harmony if they are to stop the world from being destroyed.

Rocco Ryg has an extraordinary talent of being able to engross the audience deeply with his powerful and exciting story line- right from the first page. This God, I, begins in 1993 where you meet Mika Kaminari, a successful woman who can foresee future events and then soon flashes forward to the year 2012. It’s in 2012 where you meet Mika’s daughter, Chikara and her friends, Gen and Ren. A ring, superpowers and a crazed up white supremacist group of militia combine together for a story of epic proportions.

Japanese anime styled characters cross political extremists set the tone for this action packed adventure. There is a super power for everybody- from an empath who can manipulate the emotions around her to others who can sift through memories to extract the deadliest ones that they need. Personally, my favourite power was being able to heal someone- imagine what we could do with this in the real world!

The superheroes come from a range of backgrounds, such as the Chillingworth family who exude power through their billionaire, lavish lifestyle. The son Damian, sometimes violent psychopath, sometimes brilliant crusader is a complicated character that the reader will quickly form a love/hate relationship with. His rich boy demeanour and sleazy lack of compassion seem to be a cover to an inner child who wishes to be seen as a superhero.

This book has political undertones and I found some of the themes to mirror some of the political issues we are facing today. The story clearly outlines the different political parties which will help explain any terms you may not be familiar with. However, the main theme of the story revolves around the mystical powers given by the ring and the ability to use them for harm or good. This can provide a breath of fresh air when the political plot begins to thicken.

Epic battles crossed with an intense torturous drive to gather intel means the reader will be unable to tear themselves away from the book until the very last page. The reader will question the values of the character as each one faces the ultimate battle of deciding to cross a line between good and evil. It questions the integrity of the human race and raises the question- what would you do if you were given a super power? I would recommend this for anybody who enjoys action crossed with a touch of politics and mystical powers.

Pages: 361 | ASIN: B008HL4XM0

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It’s Okay, I’m Watching

It's Okay, I'm Watching (Dear Grief Series Book 1)5 Stars

It’s Okay, I’m Watching, written by Chenee Gilbert, is a novel based around LaTrell Wiggins- a caring young girl who lives with her younger brother Daryl and her parents, Luis and Paulini. Tragedy strikes the family as Paulini’s life is taken by cancer. Grief-stricken, the family begins to process death in their own ways and learns that grief can appear in all shapes and forms. Meanwhile, LaTrell is beginning middle school which comes with the inevitable stage of life- puberty. During this confusing time, Luis, Daryl and LaTrell must come to terms with life without Paulini and the changing dynamics of their family environment.

It’s Okay, I’m Watching opens the door to conversation with those experiencing all forms of grief. LaTrell Wiggins, the main character, loses her mother to cancer whilst entering a vulnerable stage of her life- middle school and puberty. An easily relatable character, LaTrell’s journey shows how families can show strength in the face of terrible adversity.

It’s Okay I’m Watching discusses how our lives are enriched in traditions and questions the reader’s thoughts on what traditions they would pass on to others. It reminds the reader that time waits for no-one and unfortunately, circumstances are out of our control. Personally, it reminded me of the importance of holidays and the unique nuances that make my family my own and what traditions would be present in a memorial for my loved ones.

If you are looking for a companion after experiencing loss, look no further. It’s Okay, I’m Watching will help begin the healing processes and start the pathway to acceptance. This is done through discussion questions at the end of each chapter which helps the reader to reflect on their own circumstances.  It explores how grief is a reaction and a release of an array of emotions. Tragedy can strike anywhere at any time and you will be able to empathize with the characters and their journey.

One of my favorite characters is Shajuan Martinez, LaTrell’s friend. Sassy and confident; she tolerates very little. LaTrell discusses with her friends her grief counselling sessions and they begin to identify whether it is something they could benefit from. LaTrell’s other friend, Chandler, begins to acknowledge his own grief that he had been trying to mask. Her two friends shine a humorous side to LaTrell’s darkest days.

Teenagers experience loss and grief through death, break-ups and even loss of pets. Exposure to novels such as this will help them begin to understand the grieving process in an already confusing time of their life. It allowed me to normalize my own grieving processes and the impact these times had during my youth.

What I loved most about this novel is that it opens up the idea that grief isn’t restricted to those experiencing death and instead can be felt by those who are feeling alone, sad or missing someone. I would recommend this to anyone who is looking to understand their own journey in regards to grief and loss.

Pages: 110 | ASIN: B01MXKCY8R

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My Own Personal Power

Brittany Quagan Author Interview

Brittany Quagan Author Interview

REN: Awakened follows Ren as she is learning to control a power she never knew she had while being hunted by evil. What was the inspiration for you to start writing this novel and the journey that Ren goes on?

Ren’s story is actually a spin on my own, personal life story. As a kid and young adult, I struggled with anxiety and depression, only to come into my own personal power, just as Ren does. Her story is a play on both my life and the world we live in presently where humans fight good and evil everyday; those “evils” can ultimately destroy the world as we know it. I always believed energy affects every one of us, and if it can affect us as humans, why can’t it affect the earth adversely or positively? I think as a society, many of us struggle with anxiety and depression, as well, and as someone who healed from anxiety and depression through understanding the same things Ren learns, why not help others who can relate to her heal the same way? These two ideas fused together and shaped Ren’s journey. Fun fact – the road trip Ren, Kiki, and Gage take from CT to WY is based on the road trip I took with my friend (the real-life version of Kiki), where I literally wrote the shell of REN.

Ren is a fantastic character. How did you set about creating a character with such depth?

Thank you so much! Ren is definitely a complex character. One of the reasons I love her so much is because she’s so realistic; not just as a teen, but for any person who struggles with who they are. But if you remember being a teen, you know the battle that can go down between the thoughts in your mind. Ren faces loss, feelings of displacement, never truly finding “home,” and a lifetime of being told she’s basically insane. When you’ve been told one thing your entire life, you grow to accept it. Then wham!, here’s an entirely new idea for you to accept that says you’re not crazy, but in fact extraordinarily gifted and the worlds survival rests on your shoulders. It should be a relief, to know you’ve got these abilities and aren’t crazy, but it’s quite a load to bear. Ren doesn’t just flip the switch to “oh ok, I’m a hero now!” Readers get to grow with Ren as she steps into this new reality and fights the old thoughts of being “nothing.” In all honesty, creating Ren was easy because I’ve lived through it. I’ve battled the thoughts, I’ve worked hard to recreate my life and move from the “I’m worthless” thoughts to empowering ones. Much of Ren’s experiences were very much my own.

Ren is an Implement, which are beings from a different plane of existence that have ties to Earth’s time line. How did this idea develop as you were writing and were you able to cover everything you wanted?

It’s fun to look back at all of my notes and see how the story started out and what ended up unfolding. It was like watching a movie that played in my head and I just wrote it as it played, so much of the surprise twists and turns were a surprise to me; including the Implements. The Implements started out based on the idea of “Indigo Kids,” a spiritual notion that a group of humans exist today with heightened intuition and gifts meant to change the world. As I wrote, their gifts were tweaked and I wanted them to have more defined characteristics (i.e. Implements of Conception being able to manipulate energy in different ways), rather than just “heightened gifts in a group of people.” That seemed too broad for me. I don’t think, as a writer, you ever cover everything you want to. Ideas forever come to you after your manuscript is complete, so in a way, it’s never complete. But I’m a firm believer in everything happens as it’s supposed to, so the book went out the way it needed to. Much is expanded upon in the following books, though, so readers will learn a great deal more about the Implements and the individual characters lives.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will that be available?

REN: Reposed, the second in the series, is still undergoing some final touches. I’m also working on the third in the series. REN: Reposed is set to come out in Spring 2017. I’m so excited for that to be released, it’s my favorite!

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Ren Awakened

Seventeen-year-old Ren Nagel knows that the strange things she’s seen are real–even if no one else believes her. But, when she’s locked up in a psychiatric hospital; she loses hope that anyone will ever truly be on her side.

Then everything changes. With the help of a new friend, Ren breaks out. It’s when she’s on the run that she learns who she really is.

Hunted by evil, Ren must learn to control a power she never knew she had, organize a coalition of people she never knew existed, and remind humanity why fighting the darkness is a big part of being human.

Sometimes, feeling different is much more than just a feeling. For Ren, it means the fate of the world.

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Seb Cage Begins His Adventures

Seb Cage Begins His Adventures (The Dreadnought Collective Book 1)5 Stars

Book 1 of the Dreadnought Collective series begins in Spain, where Sebastian Cage and his younger brother Bart arrive to spend the summer with their grandparents. Terry and Sandra Tumbler have plenty for them to do, with sporting activities and swimming to keep the boys active and burn off their boundless energy. Despite this, the rivalry between the brothers starts to fray their grandparents’ nerves, so Terry devises a plan. He enlists thirteen-year-old Sebastian as his research assistant for a secret project. Terry has noticed a larger-than-average number of little people in his town and is convinced they are aliens.

Seb’s intelligence and tenacity are put to good use. Seb and Terry’s set out to observe and follow people under five feet tall as they move about town. The pair’s activities are noticed, and a man named Skip approaches Seb and Terry and confirms their suspicions. Skip and his organization – the Sombrella Syndicate – aren’t hostile at all. He invites Seb to join their summer campus to learn special skills and advanced technology. Terry is skeptical, but he can further his research than getting the information straight from the source, even if he has to get the data by tricking his grandson.

Seb Cage is intended for middle-grade readers and offers a fantastic, “what I did on my summer vacation” adventure story. Seb must cope with discovering and controlling abilities he never knew he had, making friends with his fellow students and focusing on his education. He must also work in tandem with his partner Maisie, and develops a crush on her.

His uncertainty and awkwardness over Maisie, coupled with constant teasing from his younger brother, makes it easy to sympathize with Seb. He faces some issues that tween and teen readers will be familiar with. He’s essentially joining a new school and is soon surrounded by a group of young people his own age who come from all over Europe. He must learn to deal with embarrassment, mistakes, and successes, as well as bond with his classmates and learn from mentors who are very different from any teacher he’s had before.

The humor in the book is delightful, with a distinctly British feel. Some of it is word-play, with funny scenes (mostly involving Seb’s grandfather, Terry) that range from misunderstandings and mishaps to literal bathroom humor. Since the students and mentors are telepathically linked, the occasional stray thought slips through to hilarious effect. This kind of comedy plays through the whole story, keeping the mood light and the story moving.

The students visit real historical sites, and the descriptions of these monuments, battlefields, and triumphs of ancient engineering are wonderful. The author provides an appendix of links to some of these fantastic places that inspired the story.

Seb Cage Begins His Adventure is well-suited to readers from 9-14. It’s full of adventure, science fiction, and fantasy and will also appeal to youth who enjoy sports and exploration. The novel features strong themes of friendship, discovery, and learning to care for others and the planet Earth as well.

Pages: 382 | ASIN: B00VVCVNYI

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The Onryō

The Onryo (The Onryo Saga Book 1) by [Ryg, Rocco]

“Japanese teenager Chikara Kaminari, while heartbroken by the death of her mother, inherits a strange black ring. Her mother’s will tells her to share it with her best friend, Renka, and a socialist student named Gen, so that they can save the world from political fanatics. Guided only by cryptic clues yet honor bound to obey her mother, Chikara does as she’s told. As the three develop extraordinary abilities, including emotional manipulation and control over darkness, they set out to uncover the origin of the ring and its connection to their mind-controlling school bully, Michiko.

Their destiny becomes clearer as Michiko’s power grows beyond her control, setting a classmate on a murderous rampage. As predicted, dangerous extremists appear, seeking to use the ring’s power to force their political views onto all of humanity. Chikara and her friends must put aside their partisanship and become the heroes they were destined to be.”

4 Stars

The Onryō by Rocco Ryg is a science fiction fantasy set in Japan. It is reminiscent of a traditional manga where teenagers are the main characters and take on heroic roles with outlandish situations. Some of the outlandish situations include the supernatural elements that writers often feature in Japanese manga and their other works. The book follows the main character, Chikara, through mostly a third person point of view. You get to see the thoughts of Chikara along with other people who she comes in contact, which is vital. Additionally, the main character makes exponential growth from beginning to end.

The first line of the book immediately draws you in. The writing of the book comes off as a very well done first draft that could use a bit of reviewing. Some of the emotions are not explored much, there were minimal grammatical mistakes, and there was one instance in which what was explained did not match what was said beforehand. The writing style increasingly gets better as you continue reading it. As such, it could have done with a bit more reviewing before publishing, but it does not keep one from enjoying the book.

You can tell from reading it that the person is a fan of Japanese cultures, as it reads like someone who knows about the culture and admires it rather than from an individual who was born in Japan. But again, it does not keep you from enjoying the book. The author was clearly influenced by their love of manga, as it was mentioned throughout. Additionally, there were many manga elements within the book, such as focusing on teenage girls, supernatural powers, and teenage romance

The plot of the book was interesting, but a little slow moving. However, it picked back up toward the end. The written action parts are genuinely some of my favorite scenes of the book. The supernatural elements are fascinating and the way it was incorporated not only made sense, but it is an exciting read. Although, the book did have stereotypical women in some places, it still led to some intriguing plot developments and character clashes.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys manga, Japanese culture, and action. It contains much fast-paced action, which is exciting. I can only expect the sequel to be better than the first as the writing and character development of the story improves as it goes on, making any future works by the author promising. The ending of the book, while slow to build, was fantastic. I loved the ending and the change in the main character. It made me want to read the sequel.

Pages: 237 | ASIN: B0058KSKHW

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Seed Me

Seed Me5 Stars

Would you like to try the 13 seed Remedy? It dates back generations and hails from Scotland. These seeds are the greatest of all Superfoods! If I were you I would steer far far away from those seeds. Like the olden days of the bible, beware the peddler selling snake oil, if it sounds too good to be true, it is, and will just land you in trouble. This is what happens in Seed Me by Konn Lavery. Unfortunately, for Logan and Janet the warning came too late and they ate the mysterious black and red seeds. This brings the unlikely pair closer than they ever intended to be, and into a world of magic, mystery and murder.

The story takes places in Alberta Canada, in the town of Edmonton. Edmonton is a tiny town where nothing exciting ever happens. The story is told from the perspective of Logan who is a recovering drug addict that plays in a band with his best friend Skip. Logan has a lot of emotional baggage from his drug addiction days, mostly the loss of his longtime girlfriend Emily that became one of the victims of the legendary 4-20 killings. These killings were thought to be done by a serial killer that is called the drainer because all the blood is drained from the victims. They are either covered in puncture wounds or partially ripped apart and still drained of all blood. The story line really takes off after Logan and Skip are out at a bar. While they are outside smoking and police chase ends across the street. When the police stop the truck a headless body is found in the back. Later behind the bar Logan starts kissing a girl who he later discovers looks exactly like the dead girl in the truck. This leads to Logan wondering if he is crazy, done too many drugs, or if he is really involved in some crazy plot.

Logan’s partner in all this is Janet, the hippy college girl that turns out to be a lot smarter than anyone anticipated. Character development on both Logan and Janet is slow going and your over halfway through the novel before you get a real idea of who Janet is and not the ‘dumb blond groupie’ she is portrayed at the start. Konn does a great job introducing the reader to the background and really gives a feel for the small town world. His attention to detail on developing the character of Logan and Janet and even Skip to a point, is meticulous. It does take a while to get the full picture but that’s because so many little details are filled in and really give the characters a full spectrum of characterization so that you can relate to them.

Janet and Logan start investigating the strange seeds and the murdered girl, revealed as a local named Vicky, and decide to talk to the truck driver. From the driver they learn about the strange group of people called harvesters. They ware long black trench coats, and have a tattoo and scarification of plants on them. They refuse to talk about these things and are very mysterious. Yet they keep showing up where Logan is.

Who are the harvesters, what is going on with the strange seeds, and why is Logan hearing voices? What is going on in him, and who is doing the draining on the bodies that keep showing up around town? Konn answers these questions and leaves the readers looking for more answers by the end. While the theme has a lot of Pagan and Vampirism traits, this is a unique twist and its own direction. An engaging read that will draw you in and connect you to the characters.

Pages: 228 | ISBN: 0988116081

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Creatures Venturing From Another Dimension

Lane Baker Author Interview

Lane Baker Author Interview

Slippery Things follows Larissa as she tries to navigate high school when she starts having nightmares of blood sucking aliens and can’t tell if they are real or not. How did the idea for this novel develop and how did it change as you were writing?

I love monsters, so of course I knew I had to write a book about them. Also, I’ve always found the concept of alien abduction beyond unsettling. And while I certainly don’t believe extra-terrestrials are visiting planet Earth, I wondered if the idea of creatures venturing from another dimension might make for a creepy tale.

The biggest change in the novel’s development was the point of view. Originally written in first person, I ultimately rewrote the entire book in third person. Two early readers of the the first draft suggested that if written in first person, the reader may not feel as urgent a sense of jeopardy for the main character.

Larissa is a typical teenage girl dealing with a cheating boyfriend and a self absorbed best friend. What were some characteristics that you tried to capture while writing all three of these characters?

For Larissa, it’s anger and disappointment. These emotions spring from a feeling of being trapped. Luckily, her sense of humor will help get her through the day. As for the others, I believe it’s typical for high schoolers to feel that the world revolves around them. Perhaps it’s difficult for young people to see just how deeply their behavior can affect others around them.

Slippery Things gives a unique twist to the science fiction genre. What was your approach to writing an alien abduction/invasion story while to keep it entertaining?

My personal interest in this story has always lived more with the main character than with the plot. That said, I was born with a dark sensibility. I thought about what I personally find creepy and tried to exploit that.

As far as entertainment goes, my favorite scene in genre films tends to be the point where “all hell breaks loose.” A goal of mine was to emulate this moment by building to a chaotic chase scene towards the end of the book.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be published?

My next book doesn’t have a title yet, but you can expect another young adult sci-fi novel entering the universe down the road. There will be a couple of similar themes, but an entirely new setting and diverse cast of characters. And although creepiness will certainly be on the menu, I’m working towards an overall shift in tone.

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Slippery ThingsJaded high school Junior and detention hall regular Larissa Locke has a recurring dream in which creatures sneak into her bedroom at night to perform experiments and extract her blood. Tiny scars on her arm suggest that perhaps she isn’t just dreaming. But wait! If she’s really the victim of blood-sucking alien intruders, then why is her bedroom window still locked each morning?

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REN: Awakened

Ren: Awakened5 Stars

Brittany Quagan’s book REN: Awakened is a great introduction into the world she has created. The novel starts out with a paranoid teen from the foster care system. It seems like Ren has nothing going for her in life and you start to feel a little sorry for her. Ren ends up in a psychiatric ward where she meets Kiki. Kiki helps her escape and they meet up with Gage. Ren is also reintroduced to what she thought was her imaginary friend Al, but Al is really a lot more than just a childhood dream. Together they will work towards completing their mission of saving Earth, and the world called Eight that they are all originally from.

Once Ren has escaped the psychiatric ward she starts to learn more about who she is, and what is happening to her. Ren is what is called and Implement. Implement’s are beings from a different plane of existence that has ties to Earth’s time line. Each implement that travels to earth has a different ability. Ren discovers quickly she has the ability to heal, both physically and emotionally. She absorbs energy from the world around her and she now has to learn how to control this energy and her abilities. Her companions, Gage and Kiki have different abilities, Gage controls elements like fire and weather, where Kiki is like a living computer absorbing and processing information at speeds that are unreal. Kiki also has a quark that she loves eating tin foil and raw meat. Al is different from Kiki and Gage, he is an Orum, a protector. Al’s job on this mission is to protect Ren at all costs. As the story reveals itself you learn Al was once more than a spirt protector for Ren and their history goes back many generations. One of the first memories of Ren’s past life we see through her flashbacks is back to the days of the witch trials where Al and Gage were both with her. All of their destiny’s, and souls, are tied to what they keep calling the Tapestry. This Tapestry will determine the fate of Earth and planet eight.

While the novel takes place in modern times here on Earth it gives flashbacks to early colonial history as well. All the story lines and flashbacks are on Earth, we only get a glimpse of their home planet when Kiki talks about Karma and the Weavers. The glimpse we do get is a good lead into what the rest of this series can bring. The bad guys in the novel are Perils and their creator and leader Erebus. These Perils feed off all the negative energy that Earth puts out. Ren has been charged with restoring the balance of the world and bringing back the light.

Overall REN: Awakened is an engaging and exciting book. It has lots of twists and back stories that are brought in and out. This book can stand on it’s own as it completes one small part of the story line, but is still leaves enough for readers to want to pick up the next book in the series when it’s out. I look forward to reading the rest of Ren, Gage and Al’s story. Also, who wouldn’t want to know how Karma actually makes things happen?

Pages: 244 | ASIN: 1504362942

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The Heart of Hannen

The Heart of Hannen (Atriian Trilogy, #1)4 Stars

Christine Clavin is not a typical teenage girl. Her past is marred by a violent attack so scandalous that her peers avoid her, whispering behind her back. The only redhead in a family of dark-haired people, she’s certain she was adopted and doesn’t belong. She has no friends, and her rage is so deep that when she loses control, she’s dangerous, even to her own family. Her family is at their wit’s end and wants to have her committed, but her older brother Sam does what he can to protect her. Christine wants to be normal, even dating a dashing newcomer, but the date seems to end badly although she still has feelings for the boy.

Christine finds solace by the pond near her house, something catches her attention, so she dives in, and when she comes up for air, she’s in a completely different world. Struggling with the language, the oppressive culture, and her own nightmares, she must find a way to survive and get back home. Her inner fire becomes her greatest asset, but it could make her either a well-treated slave or a fugitive trying to get back home.

The Heart of Hannen is one of the most unique books I’ve read all year, with elements of dark fantasy and gothic romance that tie together seamlessly. Christine is magically transported to the world of Atriia where men rule, and women are bought and sold like horses. This is definitely not the place for hotheaded seventeen-year-olds with anger management issues to thrive, and she runs afoul of men and women alike. When she’s sold to the staff of a local Lord’s castle, she learns—the hard way—how to fit in.

I especially enjoyed that Christine could use her wits, temper, and sharp tongue to do great things, even under the control of an oppressive culture and evil men. Without spoilers, let me warn you that there are twists and turns that you will never see coming, and they are fantastic.

The best part of this book was the invented language. There’s a glossary at the back of helpful words, but I decided to figure it out myself. This helped me get deeper into the story and the main character, since we were both trying to make sense of words that were just out of reach. As she becomes more used to Atriia, so did I, and the story got even better from there.

My only complaint about the book is that the pacing is slow. The plot advances at a snail’s pace, characters are indecisive, and some scenes—while interesting—do little to advance the story. While some tension is good, drawing it out too long invites skimming to a scene where something actually happens.

If you’re a fan of dark fantasy or romance, you’ll find much to like in The Heart of Hannen. Though the main character begins the tale at age 17, this is a land of kept women, fierce battles, blood, and sensuous love scenes, so I’d recommend it for mature readers.

Pages: 488 | ASIN: B00IWYP17S

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