Review: DROPKICKromance by Cyrus Parker

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Published: 6 March 2018

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Category: Poetry/Nonfiction

A collection of autobiographical poetry about healing and learning to love again from professional-wrestler-turned-poet, Cyrus Parker.

The first half of DROPKICKromance focuses on a toxic, long-distance relationship the author was involved in for several years, while the second half focuses on his current relationship with poet Amanda Lovelace. Ultimately, the collection tells about a profound journey of healing.

Rating: 5 Stars

From the first poem it was clear to see how much feeling there was in the words comprising some 178 pages of insight.

The first half of the book, about a toxic relationship that broke and was reassembled time and again, was heartbreaking because of the pain and how, even telling yourself you wouldn’t let the same thing happen to you, realizing the possibility it out there for the people we love to hurt us. Lies, betrayal, false hope, it’s all here.

There is also potential, personal growth, and finding your way to a better place. Confidence, self worth, those things exist too.

 

“i am mine before i am yours.”

 

Watching Cyrus through his poems was a journey from reliance on this past person through recovering and eventually finding a new and lasting love. The pieces that show his meeting Amanda (Lovelace, author/future wife), dealing with his ex trying to come back, and the forward movement he and Amanda share as a couple was visual, heart felt, and written so well that the words were more than that. They became tangible things I could imagine feeling myself. Some moments were more personal and hit me dead center. Being able to evoke those emotions in readers is a great skill of poets and Cyrus in particular.

As to the style of the poems, it is clear that he shares a style similar to that of Amanda. The structure and the format of the title in italics at the end rather than the beginning of the poem, will be familiar to readers of The Princess Saves Herself in This One. Each one flowed well and made consuming the book pleasant, even with the poems that were about difficult times.

Easily one of my favorite collections of the year, DROPKICKromance is a volume that everyone ought to try out, from fans of poetry to new comers unsure where to start.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

All media (pictures, quotes, etc.) belong to the respective owners and are used here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.
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Rockstar Book Tours: Dear Dwayne, With Love by Eliza Gordon

DEAR DWAYNE WITH LOVE

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Title: DEAR DWAYNE, WITH LOVE

Author: Eliza Gordon

Pub. Date: January 23, 2018

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

Pages: 380

Formats: Paperback, eBook, audiobook

Find it: Amazon, Audible, B&N, TBD, Goodreads

Wannabe actress Dani Steele’s résumé resembles a cautionary tale on how not to be famous. She’s pushing thirty and stuck in a dead-end insurance job, and her relationship status is holding at uncommitted. With unbearably perfect sisters and a mother who won’t let her forget it, Dani has two go-tos for consolation: maple scones and a blog in which she pours her heart out to her celebrity idol. He’s the man her father never was, no boyfriend will ever be—and not so impossible a dream as one might think. When Dani learns that he’s planning a fund-raising event where the winning amateur athlete gets a walk-on in his new film, she decides to trade pastries and self-doubt for running shoes and a sexy British trainer with adorable knees.
But when Dani’s plot takes an unexpected twist, she realizes that her happy ending might have to be improvised—and that proving herself to her idol isn’t half as important as proving something to herself.

This is a work of fiction. While Dwayne Johnson aka The Rock is a real person, events relating to him in the book are a product of the author’s imagination. Mr. Johnson is not affiliated with this book, and has not endorsed it or participated in any manner in connection with this book.

Rating: 4 Stars

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is one of the few actors that, in my opinion, can make a bad or poorly thought film better than ever expected. Going off with that idea, I thought that the idea of a main character writing a blog to him and trying to get a role in his film would be a lot of fun.

Danielle, the main character and narrator of the book, was a relatable and humorous character. Her struggles with finding acting roles as she gets older, familial expectations, and co-workers/bosses made for laugh out loud moments and some thoughtful ones. There’s the question of what to do when your dream seems to be fading, rallying behind your ideals and defending them to those who profess to have your best interests at heart and yet their ideas are vastly different than yours.

I liked the portions of the books that had mock script pages illustrating conversations between Danielle and The Rock. While I could almost here him saying these lines, they were really more Danielle talking to herself and working things out as opposed to real conversations. She may have doubts at times, but these script pages showed her pushing through.

There was more than a little talk about Danielle’s weight, from the clerk at Dick’s Sporting Goods when she’s buying workout clothes to her boyfriend Trevor and his past and present comments that are belittling. A lot of it brought up emotions in Danielle that she suppressed and other times she let it go. These moments didn’t make up a lot of the novel, but there was enough that I was uncomfortable.

I’ll say this, the author certainly made a good villain in that I hated Trevor’s guts even before some of his more disgusting behavior. Every moment he was on the page, my stomach felt uneasy and I was glade to be rid of him when his scene was over. He was a jerk turned up to 11 at least. I wish that Danielle had been able to get rid of him sooner because she seemed to understand that he wasn’t a good person, certainly not for her to be in a relationship with, and yet she held herself back.

There were some times when I felt that the humor was a bit stale: jokes about the only curls Danielle knows are lifting a bearclaw to her mouth, that sort of thing. Lines like that felt tired and detracted from the book. I wasn’t particularly happy with the pacing, either, hence the lower rating. Things slogged for awhile in the middle, making for a frustrating reading experience. The ending was a happy one, but I could’ve done with getting to the point faster.

All in all, Dear Dwayne, With Love has a cute premise, a sometimes funny main character, exuberant & overbearing family members, and an attractive love interest that make a palatable book.

About Eliza Gordon

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Eliza Gordon has excellent taste in books, shoes, movies, and friends, and questionable sanity in the realm of love. Best leave that one alone.

In real life, she’s an editor, mom, wife, and bibliophile and proud parent of one very spoiled tuxedo cat. Eliza writes stories to help you believe in the Happily Ever After; Jennifer Sommersby, her other self, writes YA and is repped by Daniel Lazar at Writers House.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Eliza’s Newsletter| Tumblr | Pinterest | Goodreads

Giveaway Details: International

1 winner will receive a DEAR DWAYNE, WITH LOVE Prize Pack including a finished copy of the book and swag! INT., ends on February 13th at Midnight EST!

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Tour Schedule

Week One:

1/29/2018- Here’s to Happy EndingsGuest Post

1/30/2018- Lattes & PaperbacksReview

1/31/2018- The Desert BibliophileReview

2/1/2018- Confessions of a YA ReaderExcerpt

2/2/2018- Book BriefsReview

Week Two:

2/5/2018- Dani Reviews ThingsReview

2/6/2018- Margie’s Must ReadsExcerpt

2/7/2018- The Hermit LibrarianReview

2/8/2018- Hauntedbybooks13Review

2/9/2018- BookHoundsInterview

 

 

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Rockstar Book Tours

 

 

 

 

 

I received a copy of this book as part of Rockstar Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.

All media (pictures, quotes, etc.) belong to the respective owners and are used here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Review: Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp

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Published: 2 January 2018

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Category: Young Adult/Mystery/Contemporary

Best friends Corey and Kyra were inseparable in their snow-covered town of Lost Creek, Alaska. When Corey moves away, she makes Kyra promise to stay strong during the long, dark winter, and wait for her return.

Just days before Corey is to return home to visit, Kyra dies. Corey is devastated―and confused. The entire Lost community speaks in hushed tones about the town’s lost daughter, saying her death was meant to be. And they push Corey away like she’s a stranger.

Corey knows something is wrong. With every hour, her suspicion grows. Lost is keeping secrets―chilling secrets. But piecing together the truth about what happened to her best friend may prove as difficult as lighting the sky in an Alaskan winter…

Rating:  2 Stars

Content warning: mental illness disregard by characters and conversations as such that could be harmful to some people.

From reading the description, I thought that I would be going into a story that was a bit of a spooky mystery. A small town keeping secrets is certainly a good setting for that. The story that I ended up reading was rather a let down. I’ll be mentioning the reasons why, some of which may be considered spoilers, so SPOILER ALERT NOW.

To begin, a couple of points:

1. First of all, it says in the synopsis that the town is keeping secrets, which is misleading as it really only had one secret. That secret being: Kyra could paint the future and they ended up revering her as some kind of prophet.

1a. Kyra’s gift actually made for an interesting plot point, but it’s never explained. There are paintings of events all over town, but was she actually some kind of prophet? Was it a coincidence? The main character, Corey, never finds out and we have no other way of knowing. Not getting an answer one way or the other bugged me.

2. I don’t think the author could decide what kind of book this was meant to be. Realistic mystery? Supernatural mystery? There were elements of both, but it was never conclusive what I was reading. Corey spends a good amount of time dealing with flowers appearing out of nowhere, whispers of potential ghosts (and even a possible ghostly manifestion before she even gets to town), a garden blooming out of season, but then she pushes them off as nothing more than a clue to what happened to Kyra. That thought doesn’t pan out, so I was left with a confused feeling about what was happening.

3. There were some passages of the book that talked about Corey and Kyra’s sexuality, with it being mentioned that Kyra, after researching, had come back with definitions and the two came to terms with their own identities (Corey [asexual], Kyra [pansexual).

3a. While I like having diverse characters, their identities felt shoved in as part of trying to make the book diverse rather than a diverse book growing organically.

3b. From the descriptions we get of Corey’s attitude toward Kyra and an experimental kiss, among other dialogue, I think there was some confusion in the writing about the difference between asexual and aromantic. They are two very different things and personally I think the writer mixed Corey up.

I had some issues with Corey as a character, not only in her actions and her attitude but also in her development. While the townspeople clearly had their own ideas about Kyra, who she was and what she was to them both before and after her miracles, Corey acted as though she was 100% correct in her assessments of Kyra. There were maybe a couple points she had that I agreed with, such as supporting Kyra in wanting treatment, but there were far more moments when Corey came across as one minded as the townspeople.

In the end, she doesn’t really learn anything as far as I could tell. She gets some vague answer in regards to Kyra’s death, but not a totally clear picture and she herself is much the same at the end as the beginning. I didn’t see any real growth as a person. She even admits, near the end, that her remembrance of Kyra is not who Kyra was in the end. It’s almost like she’s admitting there’s no real closure here, only the closure she made up for herself.

Corey left Kyra and abandoned her just as much as the town abandoned her as a person and took up with her as an idol. Before the opening of the novel, she moved away with her family and went to a more broad minded boarding school. Engulfed with the life she started to make there, she ignored Kyra’s letters because not writing back was easier than searching for the right words and by following the easier path, Corey lost Kyra. I’m not saying that the burden of caring for Kyra and her MI is on Corey, but she makes quite a lot of claims during the novel about caring for Kyra and being there for her when she really wasn’t.

A note on some of the pages in the book. They were set up like they were pages from the script. This very jarring as the scenes that were depicted didn’t seem to warrant being treated differently. Why these were included is beyond me and with all the other issues I had, I think the overall book would’ve been better served if they hadn’t been included in this manner.

The town was a ball of hurtful people that judged someone with a mental illness until it turned out she (Kyra) had an ability that could serve them. Suddenly she was everyone’s best friend. I spent a good portion of the second half of the book being angry at everyone. The town for treating Kyra the way they did (shunning her for her MI, then worshiping her). I’ll give that the author certainly wrote these close minded people well and knew how to inspire rage filled moments.

I wish there had been more time spent with Kyra. Even in the flashbacks to before she died were all through Corey’s point of view and tainted by her perception. There were some letters by Kyra included which were great, but beneath the deluge of Corey’s idea about right, they faded.

Reading the book, I can see that the skill of Marieke Nijkamp is there and I really think she could have other stories that I’d enjoy. The pacing and the unanswered questions and the annoying main character does not make me want to count Before I Let Go among those possibilities.

 

 

 

 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

All media (pictures, quotes, etc.) belong to the respective owners and are used here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Review: Society of Wishes by Elise Kova and Lynn Larsh

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Published: 29 January 2018

Publisher: Silver Wing Press

Category: Fantasy/New Adult/Urban Fantasy

First book in the Wish Quartet, a new-adult, urban fantasy series set in a near-future alternate reality

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR.

Josephina Espinosa makes her living as a hacker-for-hire in the Lone Star Republic, a remnant of the fractured U.S.A. That is, until the day she and her best friend are gunned down in a government raid.

With her dying breath, Jo uses magical lore passed down from her grandmother to summon a wish-granter. Her wish? To save her friend’s life. Except wishes have costs, and for Jo, the price is the erasure of her entire mortal existence.

Now, as the most recent addition to the mysterious Society of Wishes, Jo must form a new “life” alongside the seven other members, one of which being her savior himself. Living as an occupant of the Society’s lavish mansion should be quite the perk, but while it is furnished with everything its inhabitants could possibly need, it lacks one thing—freedom.

Her otherworldly identity crisis takes a backseat, however, when Jo learns that the friend she sacrificed everything for is headed down the same path to ruin. Jumping in head-first, Jo uses her newfound magical abilities to protect him, only to realize that the ripples of her actions have far-reaching consequences. When the Society’s aloof leader Snow decides to give her a taste of his own ancient magic, Jo discovers that there are threads woven into the tapestry of her new reality that reach far beyond the wishes she is now required to grant. Ones that, if tugged on, could mean the unraveling of the world itself.

Rating: 2.5 Stars

The start of Society of Wishes is pretty funny. Elise and Lynn have a knack for humorous lines, such as the opening one, and interactions, as between main character Jo and her friend Yuusuke.

It was hotter than Satan’s tit outside…

The transition from Jo’s ordinary life to her Society of Wishes life actually came across as abrupt for my taste. Her use of magic that turns out to be real, even as she claimed in her mind that she didn’t believe it would work, felt strange, like she would have had to at least had a more present if slight belief before even attempting this sort of thing.

Meeting the rest of the Society was interesting, considering they come from different time periods. Snow, the leader, reminded me of the hero of an anime, from his white hair to his attitude. Wayne, a New York type from the early 20th century, was such an aggravating character that I wanted to kick him in the shins whenever he talked, though I’ll admit he did grow on me.

Jo, while confronting the newness of her life as a member of the Society, was a lot braver than I would’ve been. Her background in hacking, avoiding detection, and generally being smarter than the average person helped her cope with the headquarters weirdness, avoiding Ranger officers (they couldn’t see her anyway but still!), and learning about her new life.

The (I hesitate to say romance) intimate moments in this book felt like they came a bit out of nowhere. Jo and her feelings toward Snow, her intimacy with Wayne…I could see her acknowledging attraction to one or more of the people she meets, but the sex scene in Paris, while admittedly well written, was abrupt and I didn’t care for it.

The action of the book felt like it took a lot longer to get started than I would’ve liked. The first 48% of the book was mostly Jo acclimating to living in the Society headquarters, almost every detail gone over such as whose room is where, what the mansion provides in the recreation rooms vs. the bedrooms, and so on. Things started picking up around the 50% point and got a bit better, but things still felt like they were crawling a bit.

After finishing the novel and considering the pacing and the lack of engagement I felt with the characters and the story, I realized that, as long as it was, not a lot really happened. The difficulties that arose felt less than climatic so there was no real “big bad” or “villain”, so to speak. That disappointed me.

I can see a lot of potential for development in the course of the series. Society of Wishes, to me, was obviously an introductory novel to the world and its rules as opposed to a novel that embraced the story and went onward, revealing things as the narrative unfolds.

I received a copy of this book from the authors in exchange for an honest review.

All media (pictures, quotes, etc.) belong to the respective owners and are used here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

The Fantastic Flying Book Club Presents: An Interview With Gloria Chao, author of American Panda

Blog tour

American Panda was one of my favorite novels of late 2017. Not only is Mei an engaging character with real faults and real quality, but her growth throughout the novel made her a believable, interesting person that I enjoyed reading about. You can read all my thoughts on the novel here.

Gloria Chao’s debut is hitting the shelves in a matter of days as of this posting and to get everyone amped up, I’m working with The Fantastic Flying Book Tours to bring you an interview with the author herself!

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Published: 6 February 2018

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Category: Contemporary/Young Adult

An incisive, laugh-out-loud contemporary debut about a Taiwanese-American teen whose parents want her to be a doctor and marry a Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer despite her germophobia and crush on a Japanese classmate.

At seventeen, Mei should be in high school, but skipping fourth grade was part of her parents’ master plan. Now a freshman at MIT, she is on track to fulfill the rest of this predetermined future: become a doctor, marry a preapproved Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer, produce a litter of babies.

With everything her parents have sacrificed to make her cushy life a reality, Mei can’t bring herself to tell them the truth—that she (1) hates germs, (2) falls asleep in biology lectures, and (3) has a crush on her classmate Darren Takahashi, who is decidedly not Taiwanese.

But when Mei reconnects with her brother, Xing, who is estranged from the family for dating the wrong woman, Mei starts to wonder if all the secrets are truly worth it. Can she find a way to be herself, whoever that is, before her web of lies unravels?

From debut author Gloria Chao comes a hilarious, heartfelt tale of how unlike the panda, life isn’t always so black and white.

Interview With The Author

 

You and Mei seem to share a lot of traits, among them a certain skill at dancing. What song would you choose for the two of you to dance to in Dance Dance Revolution?

I love this question! Hands down, Mei and I would DDR to Matsuri JAPAN because it’s my favorite combination and because it’s a little ode to Darren. If we’re choosing a non-DDR song to dance to, I’d pick Wang Leehom’s Shi Ba Ban Wu Yi, which I listened to a lot while writing American Panda.

With many emotional moments throughout, what was the most difficult part of American Panda to write?

The most difficult part to write at first was the mother’s side of the story and why she had such high expectations for Mei. Part of the reason this was difficult was because I didn’t know the whys behind my own mother’s actions, but writing this book made me ask her questions. It was difficult facing tough parts of my life head on, but I am so happy I did. The mother-daughter relationship in this book was the hardest to write but also the most rewarding.

While you were studying at MIT, did you ever think you’d become a writer or did that come later?

I never considered being a writer until after dental school. I wish I had found my passion earlier so I could have taken advantage of creative writing classes in college, but I try to tell myself that my windy path made me into the writer I am today (but that could be the cognitive dissonance speaking).

Mei faces a lot of pressure in this book. Did you face similar pressures growing up? How did they factor into your school and career choices?

I faced similar pressures, though my experiences have been fictionalized, meaning I altered certain parts to fit the book and characters. I was raised to be very left-brained, with math and science being the focus. My parents never explicitly said I had to be a doctor, but it’s no coincidence that my oldest brother is a doctor and I went to dental school.

Is there one character in the book that you loved writing more than any other?

I love this question too! Mei’s mother is my favorite character to write. She’s so full of life and bossy that she practically writes herself!

Are there any books you might recommend to people who loved American Panda?

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han, When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon, The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon, Nice Try, Jane Sinner by Lianne Oelke, The Victoria In My Head by Janelle Milanes.

 


 

Thank you so much, Gloria, for answering my questions and for writing Mei’s story for the world at large to enjoy. 🙂

Here’s hoping many more people will come to enjoy the culture, the intensity, and the interesting storytelling that is encompassed in this book. Also be sure to check out the giveaway below for (1) copy of American Panda (US only).

 

Giveaway

 

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about the author (NEW)

Gloria Chao is an MIT grad turned dentist turned writer. AMERICAN PANDA is her debut novel, coming out February 6, 2018 from Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster.
Gloria currently lives in Chicago with her ever-supportive husband, for whom she became a nine-hole golfer (sometimes seven). She is always up for cooperative board games, Dance Dance Revolution, or soup dumplings. She was also once a black belt in kung-fu and a competitive dancer, but that side of her was drilled and suctioned out.
Visit her tea-and-book-filled world at gloriachao.wordpress.com and find her on Twitter @gloriacchao.

tour schedule (NEW)

January 31st

February 1st

February 2nd

Vicarious Bookworm– Review & Favorite Quotes

February 3rd

February 4th

Here’s to Happy Endings– Review & Favorite Quotes
A Bookish Abode– Review

February 5th

Vicky Who Reads– Interview & Review

February 6th

I received a copy of this book as part of The Fantastic Flying Book Club tours for an honest review.
All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

February 2018 New Release Giveaway Hop

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Welcome to the February 2018 New Release Giveaway Hop, hosted by Shannon at It Starts at Midnight.

There are a lot of beautiful, fantastic stories coming out in February. So many that I’d like to build upon my New Release Giveaway Hop from last August and do it again!

The prize: one February 2018 new release title up to $20 USD value.

Open to: Internationally, as long as Book Depository ships to your country.

 

Rafflecopter Giveaway

 

Terms/Conditions

Choice of ONE book that releases in February of 2018 with a cost of less than $20 US dollars. Winner must be 18+ or be 13+ with parental permission. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. International residents may enter as long as TBD ships to your country. Book Depository and the authors of potential titles are in no way affiliated with this giveaway.

Winner will be notified via email, and has 48 hours to respond to email or prize will be forfeit. Only one entry per household. Giveaway-only social media accounts will NOT be accepted. All entries will be verified. Winner will be posted upon verification and acceptance. Contest ends on March 1st, 2018 at 11:59pm EDT.

 

 

 

 

 

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

 

Review: Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh

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Published: 23 January 2018

Publisher: Razorbill

Category: Fantasy/Young Adult/LGBT+ (Bisexual MC, Gay & Lesbian side characters)

Odessa is one of Karthia’s master necromancers, catering to the kingdom’s ruling Dead. Whenever a noble dies, it’s Odessa’s job to raise them by retrieving their souls from a dreamy and dangerous shadow world called the Deadlands. But there is a cost to being raised–the Dead must remain shrouded, or risk transforming into zombie-like monsters known as Shades. If even a hint of flesh is exposed, the grotesque transformation will begin.

A dramatic uptick in Shade attacks raises suspicions and fears among Odessa’s necromancer community. Soon a crushing loss of one of their own reveals a disturbing conspiracy: someone is intentionally creating Shades by tearing shrouds from the Dead–and training them to attack. Odessa is faced with a terrifying question: What if her necromancer’s magic is the weapon that brings Karthia to its knees?

Rating: 2 Stars

Visually, Reign of the Fallen was intricate and stunning. There were colors everywhere and different lifeforms were described beautifully. Even the Deadlands were attractive in an eerie sort of way, with their blooms, meadows, and gardens, though lacking the color and scent of living plants. Food and drink were described in a way that made it easy to envision the feast laid out before the attendees, to almost smell it coming off the page.

Odessa was a difficult character to get to like, though like might be a bit of a stretch. I forgot her name only a little bit into the book because the point of view is first person and it hardly came up. Having to flip back and figure out who the main character was doesn’t bode well, especially as early as 13%. Then there was her personality, which felt all over the place. One moment she’s a strong bad necromancer, the next she’s easily offended by a comment Evander makes that she misread. Yes you can have variances in personality, soft moments among the rough, but that wasn’t what was going on. I felt like she made a lot of foolish decisions, not thinking things through, and that muddied any positive feelings I might have had.

The relationship between her and Evander felt very forced to me. The way they interacted came across as stilted, like a textbook head over heels couple but without any spark, any life to make me believe in them. There were very few moments in which to see them as being together; most of the time they were in groups which I think hindered any attempt to get me to care about them.

After a certain event happened, I was reminded very strongly of Bella’s situation in New Moon by Stephenie Meyer. Odessa took a page out of her book with the calming draft she became addicted to and doing so came across as infuriating and ridiculous, a waste of whatever strength Marsh wanted us to believe resided in Odessa. Her giving into grief was a combination of Bella and Padme (in Revenge of the Sith). There are a variety of ways to experience grief in reality, that I can admit to, but Odessa, on top of the fact that I couldn’t really get to like her to start with, felt like someone I couldn’t care much about after this.

The secondary relationship felt very convenient, like it had to be there and the person involved, other than Odessa, was the most “logical” choice. It could have been something, maybe, but the way it sort-of developed, sort-of floundered contributed to an apathetic feeling about the whole thing.

Valoria was easily my favorite character. In a kingdom that has forbidden change for the last two hundred years, she’s secretly working on inventions and improvements for the city. As the second living heir to the king, she’s in a unique position to be able to work on these illegal items and hide them away, waiting for a chance to enact a new canal system to help prevent the common plague or stable enlargement for animal comfort. She was brilliant and intense and the only one of Odessa’s circle to push her to give up the calming draft that brings hallucinations of Evander and imaginary monsters.

Something I didn’t understand about this world was: if there are so few blue-eyed people (the only ones who can see Deadlands gates) and even fewer that are chosen to do necromancer training, why aren’t they protected more? Why aren’t they guarded so that they don’t get hurt or try to leave the country, as Evander wanted to do? Even though there were times when Odessa would mention other mages, such as beast mages or weather mages, they also seemed to have slight populations and yet no one besides Odessa talks about that. It seemed weird to have so few magical people and yet have no protections in place, even if they were misguided or bad methods.

Another thing was when Odessa made an observation about the nobles trying to forget that a necromancer had been ripped from their lives, that they were sorrowful. I didn’t feel like this observation, or any of Odessa’s about the citizens level of despair toward Master Nicanor’s death rings true. Necromancers are a close group and they’re valued for their skill, but as people they don’t seem important to nobles. I think the citizens are fine so long as there are more necromancers and Odessa thinking they’re drowning their sorrow in cake comes off fake because we don’t see any emotional connection to the necromancers as people.

I had issues with the pacing of the book. Things seemed to alternately happen too slowly or jump ahead too quickly, making for a jarring experience. The characters added to my blase feeling about the plot line. I was more interested in the secondary characters than the primary ones, which made it difficult to really get into the story as I spent a lot time focusing on the “wrong” people. There were at least a couple of inconsistencies with the information given, scene changes and the like, that irked me as well.

There was also the matter of the villain of the piece, the big bad that’s supposed to be on the “wrong” side and be the person we cheer against. The villain in Reign of the Fallen was more than a little disappointing. I felt like they came across as petulant and boring. It’s as if, while I was reading, I saw the name and thought “Oh, then. Okay then, moving on.” There was no shock, no suspense, nothing to have me invested in the hero finally discovering the identity of their enemy and trying to defeat them.

I can easily see why this book would attract fans, as it’s written well enough, but not to my liking. I hope a lot of people can find enjoyment in it, but for me, I think I’ll go back and read Marsh’s earlier book Fear the Drowning Deep.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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